Monday, January 21, 2013

It is finished

Today we went in to have Mom's port removed.

That's the quarter-sized device surgically inserted into a vein by Mom's upper chest. It stayed under her skin for an entire year, and was how the nurses accessed Mom's circulatory system to give her chemo treatments, (by sticking a needle in through the skin, into the port).

The procedure was very quick. They did a local numbing, cut in, got it out, and sewed her back up. We're so thankful for our great doctors and very kind nurses.

It was a significant event, signaling a finish of all the chemo treatments.

We thank and praise God, our Healer.

There was a beautiful snow fall this morning; light, fluffly flakes.

Then we drove to another part of St. Vincent's campus for Mom's mammogram. We watched the 44th President's inauguration festivities, prayed for the country, and said, "Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day," to people.

Finally, it was off to Maggiano's, a tasty Italian restaurant, to celebrate. We used a gift card provided by one of Mom's students, which was an extra special gift for the day.

During our meal, we shared things that we remembered from the past year.

I remembered sitting with Mom before her first chemo treatment, and I was worried about whether or not we should let them pour all those 'harmful' (also treating) chemicals into her body. We received a text from my uncle saying he had been praying for Mom that morning and saw a picture of angels around her chair. Praise God.

Mom remembered the nurse leaning forward that day, and a cross necklace dangling out into the light.

She also remembers the nurse asking if she wanted any 'happy juice' to take the edge off any pain. Mom took a little and wrote a bunch of funny texts to her co-workers.

Dad remembers when Mom got the call when we were out in California, at Universal Studios, and the family immediately gathered around her to pray.

There are many, many more memories, and treasured moments from this past year.

Today, at the mammogram place, there was a Mission statement of St. Vincent's hospital, and it said, "We recognize Jesus as the Healer."

It reminds me of something my sister-in-law said. She has learned that we go to doctors for treatments and to God for healing.

Our chemo doctor said, "Pray for us [doctors]. We are only men."

Our oncologist said, "Thank God, these are the best results you could hope for."

I remember the runner's bib, "I am the cure."

Yes, Jesus, the Great I AM, the One who revealed himself to Moses, saying, "I Am the LORD who heals you."

So we praise this healing God, this present-one, our Savior, Redeemer, Friend, Creator, Sustainer, Beautiful One.

And we get to pass along a message of hope to people at various stages in their own journey. A woman today at the mammogram place had tears in her eyes of her concern about her biopsy. We were there a year ago, and were able to give her words of encouragement from our own story.

"Read Psalm 91, that's a good one," I told her.

“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
    “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
    if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
    I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
    give you a long drink of salvation!” (The Message version, Psalm 91:14-16)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Radiation & Last Chemo Treatment

Radiation is over (mid-Sept).

The Lord was a shield and shade to Mom. The technicians commented on how little reddness and irritation her skin showed. Thank you, Lord.

Her heart regained pumpability strength.

Her first counts were 80%, which is very healthy. Then it dropped to 60. We prayed a bunch for the Lord to heal and strengthen Mom's heart. She tested again and it was up to 73. Praise the Lord! She was able to finish chemo.

Chemo is over (Dec 13th).

We went in for the last Herceptin treatment. The blessings were: 1) Mom's teaching buddy, Susan, was assigned the same day for her treatment. 2) Our dear nurses were both present 3) Dad brought a huge tube of Kroger's whipped frosting to ice a cake Mom made to celebrate. 4) Mom rang the freedom bell for the final time.

Up ahead:

Mom will get her port removed (how they accessed the chemo/iv). She will take a pill for five years. She still has neurapothay (numbness in her fingers and toes), a side-effect of chemo, so we're praying for the re-growth of the nerve cells. Her hair is growing back fuller than ever, and it's a new, peppery-grey look with a wave! (It used to be straight and brown.) She gets lots of compliments on her new doo.

God protected her the whole time, a whole year, of not getting virus/cold sick. Today is the first day where she's had a bad cold, so we praise God it didn't happen when she was going through treatments! :)

Christmas Blessings

Reading time, Josiah & Grandma

Josiah with Grandma and Grandpa

Annalise Mae Smiley

 Great parents
 Uncle Mark

The whole family 
(Mandy, Annalise, Craig; Mark & Janelle, Ericka, Sabrina, Josiah, Ryan; Dad & Mom)

Tomorrow is the one-year anniversary of when Mom received the phone call that her biopsy was cancerous.

Today, she is cancer-free, by the power that raised Christ from the dead. We are so thankful for the doctors, the researchers, the medicine, the prayers, and the work of the Holy Spirit.

We had a great Christmas with 2 grandkids this year! Yes, Craig and Mandy had Annalise Mae, born on Oct 27; another huge blessing of 2012.

Mark and Janelle were also home, as well as Ryan, Sabrina, and Josiah.
We have a lot to be thankful for.

Thanks for all your love and care.

Blessings and Christ's favor be upon you and your families this Christmas and into the New Year's.

The Smiley's

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Let Faith Arise (I Lift My Hands)

This is a super-uplifting song my cousin, Ashley shared on her blog.

Thanks, Ashley, and thanks to the artists, and to the Greatest Artist, who designed us to show his glory.


I lift my hands, by Chris Tomlin

Part 2 Treatment: Radiation

So today at 3:30, Mom goes in for the second part of her treatment: radiation.

Radiation means X-rays specifically targeted to her right breast area, and there is a protective shield around all other parts of her body, so just the desired tissue gets the treatment.

The other day when praying, I asked the Lord how to pray for radiation. The thought came that the Lord is a shade and a shield. Cool.

Psalm 121:5 The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand.

Genesis 15:1 God’s Covenant with Abram ] After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward."

2 Samuel 22:31 As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. 

2 Samuel 22:36  “You have also given me the shield of Your salvation; Your gentleness has made me great.

So, today, I'm praising the Lord that He is Mom's (and all who trust in Him) shield and shade, specifically in Mom's body during this treatment. Praying and believing that his touch accomplishes his purpose in her life/body.

Looking back, we can see God's Emmanuel-ness (God with us-ness) through her entire chemo treatment, even that first day when I was afraid. My uncle received a picture of angels around her chair. That is really encouraging. Even though it was difficult, Mom was protected and the Lord sustained her great attitude of trust through it. He provided just what she needed right as she needed it. (Here's a neat prayer my cousin wrote for those going through chemo.)

Thanks for your prayers for Mom today, however the Lord leads you to pray for her.

I pray for blessings for you and your families, today, too. May each of you experience the LORD as your shade and shield today, strong and mighty, kind and compassionate, in Jesus' Name.

~written by Ericka

Monday, July 9, 2012

Lumpectomy Results: Clear

Huge praise from biopsy of sentinel lymph node = clear, no cancer.
(That's the first line of defense lymph nodes that receive drainage waste from the breast area. Mom really liked the name sentinal, or guard, node, making her think of the protection God builds into our bodies and lives. When they removed one node to check for cancer, it made me think of this guard 'laying down its life' to show the results of all the treatment (chemo and prayer and praise, trust, surrender to the Lord, walking/trusting through treatments, etc.) . . . Cancer free! Halleluiah! Praise God in the highest!)
Another praise: the area around where the lump used to be is also clear of cancer.
The titanium marker was removed during this 'lumpectomy' (even though they found no lump to remove), but they still go in to take away the 'margins' and see if the tissue is clear or not. It is!

The doctor said we have everything for which to be thankful and humbly gave credit to God, saying it was the best report one could hope for. Lord, we praise your name for this deliverance. Thank you for all the work that went into the whole process and what you will continue to do, for your glory. We love you and trust you. You are worthy. Thank you for laying down your life for the forgiveness of our sins, and being raised again, to bring the greatest deliverance of all, to provide a Way (yourself) to have eternal life in/through/because of/for/by you. Halleluiah! 

You love us so much. (For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotton/one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.) We believe you Today. Thanks for tangible reminders of your love each day. We look for them with great expectation because your character remains the same yesterday, today, and forever. Halleluiah! (a Hebrew word that means praise to God, the covenant-keeping One!)
~written by Ericka

Friday, June 29, 2012

Prayer Insights/Pictures

Many, many people, from all over the city, state, country, and even other countries, joined together to pray and seek the Lord for my Mom's healing. Thank you.
"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5. 

These pictures I found on the Internet give a visual for what the people 'saw' in their heart/mind through prayer for Mom.
The first day of chemo, my uncle prayed for Mom and a picture came to his mind of angels surrounding mom's chair. He texted that encouragement to her, and she was really blessed. That whole day she felt like she was wrapped in a cocoon, actually feeling a tangible peace and comfort.

My aunt spent some time in listening prayer, waiting on the Lord to hear any insights or receive any pictures. She got two. The first was a picture of the Lord turning prayers into heat-seeking rays, targeted specifically to cancer and pre-cancer cells in Mom's body. Her encouragement/insight was for Mom to actively receive those targeted rays, because sometimes it's hard for us to receive, but easier to give. So having a heart posture of "I receive, Lord, this gift of healing. I receive these rays targeting and zapping the cancer and pre-cancer cells, right now in my body, in Jesus' Name." 
(Why in Jesus' name? Because that's his title of authority and position as the Son of God, equal with God, because there is only One God; The God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Moses, the Prophets. And His Name is the most powerful; over every aspect of creation.)

The second picture my aunt received was of Mom surrounded by an electric blue column like a huge MRI. My aunt prayed and sensed that the blue (Mom's favorite color) represented the encompassing presence of the Holy Spirit, God's presence, over, in, and around her life, through her faith in Him/Jesus. Signifing that he was working at the micro level as well as the macro level in her life. My aunt didn't know it, but about a year ago, my dad purchased a creative lamp set for my their renovated bedroom, which encluded electric blue columns (shown above) that hang over mom's head as she sleeps. Pretty amazing.  
My brother received a picture in prayer of a powerful lion standing beside Mom's bed, guarding her, ready to roar at anyone or thing that would attack or harm her. We know from Scripture that Jesus is referred to as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5), a warring King of kings, adamant about protecting His Tribe/His Bride/His People. So we praise God for His tenacious love for His Creation, available to all, and experienced by those who receive His salvation. We must believe and receive the testimony of God the Son in order to gain access to God the Father. It's a full-package, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, gift.

I love how God reveals himself to man throughout Scripture. It's like he's pulling more and more of the curtain back over time. Exodus 6 says that God revealed himself as God Almighty to the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob). And then he revealed his personal Name to Moses, as "I AM" or "Yahweh" when he delivered his people from slavery. Later, Jesus, born of the mysterious virgin-birth, from an overshadowing of God's Holy Spirit, so is called Son of God / Son of Man, makes claims that he and the Father are one, and that, "I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!" (alluding to identity as eternal God or Yahweh, I AM, revealed to Moses in the burning bush experience). He says he's the fulfillment of Daniel 7, is Israel's king, and will come again in glory to set up his kingdom, the Kingdom of God, that will have no end.

So the One God, no other gods before me, Only God, reveals another mystery of his nature, that there are three aspects: Father/Son/Holy Spirit, which we realize after the Son becomes incarnate on the earth. So now we have a fuller picture of God. He's like a single-unit family: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Isaiah 40 records to Israel, "Here is your God! . . . His reward is with him." And in the last chapter of the book of Revelation, 22:12, Jesus says, "I am coming, and my reward is with me." The phrase is the same. Jesus is God, he's coming, and his reward is with him. Halleluiah He is good and loves, cherishes, highly esteems mankind. The Gospel, or Good News of Jesus Messiah is an amazing mystery revealed to those who believe.

Thomas, one of his apostles, after doubting says, "My Lord and my God!" The disciples worshiped him after he was taken up into heaven (Luke 24:53). You don't worship anyone but God, or you get in trouble for it. But every time in the Bible God revealed himself to man (like Exodus 34, he revealed himself to Moses) the people WORSHIP because He is WORTHY. One day we will see and fully know and understand. But for now, LORD God Almighty, Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, give us eyes to see and a heart to believe and follow You, forever.

Another time, some children gathered around my mom to ask Jesus to heal her. It was so precious. "Jesus, please take the cancer away." "I feel like Jesus is just, like he's ready and wanting to heal your mom. It's just a sense I get." "Please heal her, in Jesus' name." They prayed with such expectant and faith-filled hearts. He is ready and fully Able! Glory!

Here's a fun activity: do a Biblegateway search on the words, "Healing", "Heal", "Comfort", "Eternal Life", etc and see what verses, eternal words of the Lord, you find. Ask the Lord to help you believe in His Name and believe/receive His personal word. Ask Him to teach you about Himself or whatever else you want to ask Him. He wants to be found by us. That's why He made us. "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you." (Matthew 7:7) In Jesus' Name. For His eternal glory.

Mom says, "So many classrooms at Heritage were full of children and youth, from pre-Kindergarten through high school, who, along with their families, were very diligent prayer warriors. James 5:16 says, "The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much." So I want these children to know how much I appreciate their fervent prayers and let them know the victory He brought. To God be the glory!"

~written by Ericka