Garrett and I laughed after we had our "So, what's your new year's resolution going to be this year?" conversation because his answer was simply "I don't have one" and mine was "Well, I never follow through with mine so I'm not going to have one either." I feel like year after year I jump on the "I'm going to get healthy!" bandwagon (yea right, I say I'm going to lose weight... I never really cared about 'being healthy') and shortly after the year starts, life gets in the way and I end my 48 hour 'resolution'. I've never really taken it too seriously or even given it much thought. Until this morning.

Our church has started "Reading the Bible through in a year" together. The past month or so Pastor Alan has talked about beginning this journey through the Bible, which has left me reflecting on my attempt this past year to read through the Bible. Mom gave me "The Daily Walk Bible" last year, which I absolutely love and highly recommend for those like me who have trouble making sense of everything. I started it mid-July this past summer and was on a roll. I woke up 30 minutes earlier than my usual morning routine, read my reading each day (most days at least) and went off to work. Little did I know, God was allowing me to set a deep spiritual foundation for when I would soon be diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. The past year, before being diagnosed, my "spiritual game" was stepped up and I was walking closer to God than ever before. When I found the lump on my neck July 4th I laid awake at night for hours thinking of all the bad things that could happen and that I just knew were going to happen - then I remembered the promises I've been reading for the past several months. His promise that if I lean on Him he will give me strength. That he is there to take my anxieties and fears off of my shoulders and wear them on his own because I am simply not strong enough without him to hold them. 

                Psalm 55:22
                      Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.

I prayed and asked God to take my fear and anxiety about this silly lump away. I would make myself go crazy worrying about it and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it. I could be told this lump would take my life in a month... and still, there's nothing I can do about it. It didn't matter what I was told my doctors I was still left with - there is nothing I can do about it. But God can. Since that night I said that prayer, I haven't been anxious about it - and what a great feeling it is! This walk allowed my diagnosis to do nothing more to my spirit than make it stronger. God let me know time and time again that He was with me. He was holding me. He would carry me through what ever I was about to face. 

A few days into the whole process of seeing doctors every day, going through tests, and playing the waiting game I opened my Bible and saw a sticky note dated back to Dec. 2012. "God heals from the inside." Pslam 103. I let out a relieving sigh. "..who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases." 
When I started treatment a couple weeks after reading this, I began reading the book "The Circle Maker: Praying Circles around your biggest dreams and greatest fears"" by Mark Batterson. The first thing I wrote down from this book in my journal was this story,

"Two blind men stops Jesus and asks for him to have mercy on them. Jesus asked them what they wanted him to do. Even though it was obvious- they were blind- Jesus made them verbalize what they wanted."

Pray with specifity. The more specific you pray the more glory God receives. If we aren't specific we second guess wether or not he really answered it or not and he gets robbed of the glory. I had been praying for healing...if that's what God wanted. While I reading this book, I was about 4 weeks away from my first PET scan after starting chemo. I began to pray a specific prayer. A prayer that I scribbled in my journal that went something like this..

"I pray for healing. Lord, I pray that your healing hand is upon me and your will, will be done. I am thankful for the situation I'm in and the opportunities you have given me through this sickness. I ask that you continue to use me and that I have open ears, heart, mind and eyes as you lead me through this. I pray for a clean scan in 4 weeks. That you will continue to surprise the doctors with your work. I thank you for the blessings - no sickness - no hair loss - no side effects of chemo. You are good. You are faithful. You are sovereign. 

The specific prayer was a clean scan in 4 weeks. I felt bad praying for it. I felt greedy. I felt like I was asking too much. If a scan wasn't clean in 4 weeks it wasn't because he didn't want to answer my prayer, but His plan is for something else. I knew that then and I know that now. But what did happened was this.
The first picture shows two very bright spots, one in my neck and the other next to my heart. These are the cancerous spots. (All the other brights spots are my organs working :) and is completely normal) The second picture is scan that shows the same spots...with nothing there. The bright spot in this one is my heart.

A scan that showed "no active spots" where there once were active spots. After 4 out of the 12 treatments there was nothing there! The biggest prayer I have ever prayed has been answered. A prayer that hundreds of people have been praying on my behalf has been answered. A miracle was done right before my eyes. My doctor was nice enough to call me only a couple hours after my scan was completed and let me know the good news right then rather than making me wait 3 days until my actual appointment. I was relieved. I was thankful. I was anxiety free. I called everyone I could to tell them the good news. Sent these pictures out to those who needed a visual. I couldn't stop smiling. 

Then it happened. My mind went to the thought of.. "I wonder if I could be done with treatment now. Could I bypass the next 4 months of treatment. Not have to endure the next 8 dreadful chemo treatments?" I went to my appointment a couple days later and immediately asked the doctor before she could explain, in depth, the pictures I was looking at, "Am I done now?!" Her response hit me hard, "No, we will need to finish the rest of the treatments." My spirits were shattered. Oh, I was wanting her to just tell me I was done. Heck, I would have even loved the thought of 4 more treatments rather than 8. But, Nope. 8 more treatments, no ifs, ands or buts about it. I couldn't get over it. People were texting, calling, emailing me nonstop the next few days. Words of support. encouragement. praise. thankfulness. and I accepted all of them with a smile, but secretly I was pouting. When someone would notice I was down they would ask what was wrong and my response would be honest, "I know I should be happy, but I was hoping I was done, ya know?"

How dare I. I am a product of the world I live in and like so many of us are. I went through treatment for 4 weeks and wasn't satisfied with the results. Results that say, for now, I am cancer free. It wasn't like God made me wait 40 years after delivering me from Egypt .. it was 4 weeks! How can I so quickly turn my back on Him? How can I overlook this massive miracle that he been performed on ME! He hasn't allowed me to endure any of the side effects the doctors told me I would expereience. I have been able to do everything I did before I started treatments. I have it easier than most people that go through chemo treatments and I still find myself thinking that i's not good enough. What?!

God has again answered my prayer. "Open my ears, eyes, heart and mind." I have drawn away from God over the past several weeks. Not on purpose. Not because I wanted to. Just because that's what happened. I got out of my old habit of reading His word every morning, spending time with him to ensure our relationship grows. He is always there, waiting to talk and I have just made excuses why I didn't have time. No wonder he gets frustrated with us - just like he did with the Israelites. We see these miracles He performs and then act as if it is normal, like it is just a part of every day life and then almost instantly forget about them. Well, its not what is supposed to happen. They are miracles. And we need to make sure we see them. Experience them. Not take them for granted. And give Him the glory for what He is doing. 

This brings me to my point of this whole post. As I reflect on this past year, it is painfully obvious that I am guilty of over overlooking miracles. Not allowing myself to experience His miracles and definitely taking them for granted. My New Year's Resolution is to go back to Him. Walk with him. Grow closer to Him. Allow him to live in me. Open my ears, eyes, heart and mind to Him so that He can guide me as I live here as this earth. And to be able to see these miracles, His blessings and His hand in everything we do. 

Romans 12:2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Sandi Griffith
1/2/2014 11:07:25

I so enjoyed reading your blog, Amber. You have come such a long way in understanding and accepting these unfortunate circumstances and I am so happy for you that you have had HIM beside you all along. You have a wonderful way with words, but more importantly, a great grasp of casting away your worries. Be well, and please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Yavonne Dorsey
1/2/2014 23:12:22

Thank you for sharing! You are an amazing young lady & I really admire you and your strength - and honesty!!

Shannon McGahren
1/5/2014 05:02:05

Happy New Year, Amber! Thank you for your honesty in this blog post and for helping to "set me straight" as well!! I get so frustrated with Sam on a daily basis, but he is truly one of God's miracles (as are my other two micro preemies.) Here's to remembering every day to count our blessings!!!!!

Becky Hennesy
1/8/2014 22:58:36

Love your writings. Love you. Proud of you. Your life is a testament, read by all men.


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