Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Going Back

Last Friday, I had my oncologist appointment. I also had to go to that lab to get blood work done. The usual four vials of blood. It was a bit unnerving going back after the last visit. It was also amazingly quiet in the lab that morning. I did see the woman who made my arm bleed the last time I was there. It was uncomfortable, awkward, but I did get another woman who seemed to be a little more careful. This tech made a comment that made me wonder if they all knew who I was. Might just be me.

When I got to Dr. K, she asked how I was doing, and I ended up telling her about what had happened the last time I had gone to the lab. And then... I shed a few tears. The stress of going to that lab and having a few more incidents happen that made me think that they all know who I am made me lose it. Dr. K told me that it is normal for patients to request a particular tech and that they probably don't remember me. They remember me.

But don't worry, I'm ok now. Really.

The last time I had seen Dr. K, she had said that we would do three more rounds of chemo and then have a CT. This time, she said to get a CT before seeing her again. Apparently, my blood levels have been improving, especially my CEA levels. The CEA levels show the tumor markers in my blood. Normal people have levels between 0-2.5. My levels had gone up to 30 over the summer. Now, they have gone down to 3! Thank You, Lord!

There was an added plus to all of this. After this round of Xeloda, I can have two weeks off before I see Dr. K. She will be on vacation the week that I am supposed to see her (every three weeks), so I can be off the Xeloda an extra week. Yes!!!

I was able to be off the Xeloda for an extra week this past cycle because of a trip I made to L.A. What a difference! I realized that that extra time off the meds makes such a difference. It really allowed my body to recuperate from all the side effects, especially the hand/foot syndrome.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Natural Blood Stain Remover

Yesterday, I talked about how I got this stain.

Today, I will show you how I got this stain out.

The secret is paper towels and hydrogen peroxide. Yes, hydrogen peroxide!

First, I put a paper towel inside the sleeve of my sweater.

Second, I started spraying hydrogen peroxide onto the stain. As you spray the hydrogen peroxide, you will see how it bubbles up. Let it soak in.

Third, blot the blood stain with a clean paper towel. Remember, blot, don't rub! Keep spraying more hydrogen peroxide on the spot and keep blotting. You might use up a few paper towels. Patience is needed.

Fourth, when the stain was out, I took out the paper towel from inside the sleeve. You can see that it was also stained.

In the end, the stain came out. But remember, blot don't rub!!

It took me over 20 minutes to do this for this sweater and my cardigan. I actually sprayed and blotted a few more times after this picture, because I found some more spots on the side. Thankfully, all the stains came out.

I have not tried this on delicate, dry clean only fabrics - like silk. I have tried on the above cotton/wool sweater, carpet, and washable cotton fabrics. If you are going to try this on a delicate fabric, try a small section first.

We also used this method, a few weeks ago, when A2 fell nose first on our stairs. It was bloody. I have never seen so much blood in my life. I had to cup my hands to try to catch all the blood. It was streaming out like a faucet. Thankfully, A2 did not break her nose. We called the doctor, put ice on it, saw the doctor the next day, and, thankfully, A2 was fine. I did learn that head traumas produce a lot of blood and that it is better for the blood to come out. Hemorrhaging is the other alternative.

The carpet on the staircase was full of blood stains. It looked scary. My husband and A1 spent 40 minutes spraying and blotting the carpet. Thankfully, all is well with A2 and the carpet.

Hydrogen peroxide: it's natural, it's cheap, and it works!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

To Complain.. Or Not?

Last Thursday, I had an appointment with my oncologist. It was the "off" week for my 4th cycle of Xeloda. The beginning of the week was a little painful for my feet and hands, but it did get better. I even got painful spots on the tip of my tongue!

Anyways, Dr. K told me that my CT scan had gone well. The spots on my liver have continued to respond well to the Xeloda. Some spots have gotten so small that they don't appear on the CT. Others have shrunk significantly (one shrunk from 18mm to 11mm). Dr. K said that she would like to try 3 more cycles of the Xeloda and then take another CT. If the spots on my liver continue to shrink, she would like to switch to two combined hormone drugs. I guess the Letrozole (Femara) that I had been on will not work for my body any longer.

Now, I have to write about what happened in the lab. Every time I go to my oncologist, I have to get blood drawn first. It is usually four vials of blood for all the different tests that have to be taken. Then, I go upstairs to see my oncologist who evaluates the results.

This time, like the last, was not that pleasant. I had the same woman I had last month. Last month, after she called my name to get my blood drawn, her and another worker started speaking in an Eastern European language (I won't mention which one). I heard the other woman say, "Monica," and then they both started to laugh and talk. I thought that they might have had another patient with my name? Didn't want to get upset.

We got to the room where she was going to draw my blood, and she was "no smiles." She didn't say much, drew 2 vials of blood, and I left. I thought it weird that Dr. K had only ordered two vials, but I let it go. Well, the tech had made a mistake, and I had to go back down and get two more vials drawn. I didn't complain. People can make mistakes.

Okay, now to last Thursday. I had the same person, which isn't really common. Anyways, they were supposed to have another order from my endocrinologist, who wanted to see if he needed to reduce/increase my thyroid medication. The tech couldn't find it. She looked in the files and on the computer. I tried calling the endocrinologist with my cell phone, but the phone call wouldn't go through (that happens in certain parts of the hospital).

The only thing I could do was ask the tech to call the office. The office said they would send the order again. We waited, but it wasn't showing up.  The tech wasn't too happy. I was pressed for time and told her to just draw for my oncologist, because I had a 9:00 am appointment and it was 8:55 am. I told the tech that I would come back. She drew an extra vial of blood saying that she knew what the endocrinologist would ask for. This way she wouldn't have to draw my blood again.

I made sure she drew four vials of blood and quickly rushed to my oncologist's office which was in the same building. As I went to Dr. K's, my arm felt a little wet, but I thought I was imagining things. Anyways, I quickly forgot, because I was in a rush to get upstairs.

After my appointment, I went back to the lab. I asked for that particular tech, and she told me that they couldn't draw up the order on their computer. So… she told me that I had to walk down to another area to get my order. This was weird because she was sending me to the scanning area desk to get my order? Are you following me. Well, I didn't complain and went down to get it. They did find it, and they asked me why I had come down to their area. I told them that the tech had said that she couldn't get it, and the woman behind the desk remarked, "They can."

I'm a little slow in reacting to some of these situations. Can you tell? I figure that people can make mistakes, and that I need to be patient in these situations.

Well, I got to the lab again and the tech said she had found my order. She gave me a "lecture" on how it wasn't her fault. She said that my oncologist's office sends orders under my first and last name. The endocrinologist's office sent orders under my first, middle, and last name. Ok, I was a bit stunned. I just said that I would contact the endocrinologist's office and have that changed. She kept on complaining. Can it be that hard? But, once again, I gave her the benefit of the doubt.

That day, I had two sweaters on - one being a cardigan. When I lifted my sleeve to get blood drawn, again, the gauze pad was soaked with blood. There were even marks on my arm from the dried blood that had run down my arm. Still, I did not complain. The tech scolded me about how I should have pressed firmly on the area where she had drawn blood. Other techs always mention that, but this tech (I remember) never mentioned it. But, I wasn't about to complain to someone who was about to stick a needle into my arm.

She drew blood (two more vials because I don't know what she did with the other one), and then, I had to go to another building to get my monthly Xgeva shot. I lifted up the sleeve on my left arm to get the shot, because I can only get shots/blood drawn on my non-mastectomy arm. The majority of the times, I lift up my shirt/sweater sleeve and never look. I don't like watching them stick my arm with needles.

When I got home, I wanted to change my clothes because I wanted to sleep. I needed to sleep, and I had felt a little faint. I was exhausted. To my shock, I took off my dark cardigan and found that I had a huge spot of dried blood on my gray "inside" sweater. The cardigan was also stained, but you couldn't tell as much because of the dark color. That wetness that I had felt was now explained.

For the next 40 minutes, I spent time trying to get the blood stains out of my dry clean only sweaters. (I will share the trick I learned tomorrow.)

I also wanted to get a better look at the wound, so I got a bandaid to switch out the gauze strip (from the second blood withdrawal). That is when I saw that I didn't have two poke holes but a cut in my arm. I am clueless as to what she did.

(The gauze from the second blood withdrawal.)

My husband came home for lunch, and I told him what had happened. That is when it finally clicked in me that what had happened wasn't right. To my surprise, my husband got really mad. Mad because I had been treated like that. Mad because they should have taken good care of my left arm, because it is the only side that I can get blood drawn from, IVs hooked up, or shots given to.

He encouraged me to call and file a complaint. I don't like causing waves. I don't like making scenes, but this time went too far. I called the office and left a message. A worker, whose voice I recognized, answered and asked what the problem was. I asked for the supervisor, but he said that I could tell him. I'm slow. I should have insisted for the supervisor. I thought that he might be the head tech there? I talked to him, and he told me this: "We don't want to get anyone in trouble. When you come in next time, just request someone else. No need to hurt anyone's feelings." That is when I said that I would really like to speak to the supervisor, and that is when he gave me her phone number.

I did talk to the supervisor. I was very polite and did not raise my voice. I did tell her all that had happened, and she was very responsive. She apologized and offered to have my sweater dry cleaned. I told her that that was not what I was calling for.

The bottom line for me: I go to that lab every 3 weeks. I don't need the stress of having that tech draw my blood again or of even having to see that tech. I told the supervisor that I did not want to have that tech draw my blood again. She did give me the name of another tech to request and told me that this issue would be addressed. I also sent her pictures of my sweater and arm.

Did I tell you that A3 was with me the whole time this occurred? 

I'm still learning about when to speak up for myself. I second guess myself. A lot. I'm slow to pick up on these things. You would think that I would have learned by now. I can speak up for others, but why is it so hard for me to pick up on these things? Ugh.

Pray that God would give me wisdom (quickly) in these types of situations.

Friday, November 8, 2013

40 Days of Prayer

The leaders at our church decided to have 40 days of prayer. It is so exciting to see the desire in the leadership to pray. The last time we did this (May-June), we prayed 24 hours a day for 35 days. Sounds crazy! But, it wasn't. People signed up for different shifts and prayed at church. There were prayers lifted up 24 hours a day for 35 days in our physical church building. It was such a blessing to all who participated. The wonderful part was seeing people draw closer in their relationship with Jesus. Another exciting part was to see the fruit (or results) of our prayers.

This time, we are having 40 nights of prayer leading up to Thanksgiving.

The purpose: drawing closer to Jesus.

Each night, my husband has been giving mini sermons on different people in the Bible who offered up humble prayers to God.

Each night, we have been gathering together as a church family to pray, sing, and worship our Savior.

Yes, everything is in Korean. Yes, I don't understand 100%. But, God. He is my Helper. He helps me understand. He helps me to worship with my church family. He helps me appreciate this strength of the first generation Korean church: fervent prayer.

Someone told my husband that she couldn't come, because she didn't know how to pray. If you don't start, how will you ever know how to talk to your Heavenly Father?

Some people come after a long day of work. Some come without being able to eat dinner. Some come, even though their physical bodies are in pain.

There are so many blessings in being able to pray together.

by ChristianMedia7

Monday, October 28, 2013

Crazy Xeloda Cycles

It is really interesting to see how each Xeloda cycle is different. I would have thought that there would be some type of pattern, predictability, or consistency to all of this, but there isn't. I've had nauseous cycles. I've had fatigued cycles. I've had not-so-bad cycles. I've had half-and-half cycles. I've had I-think-I-can-do-this cycles. And oh-no-it's-back-to-the-beginning cycles.

This cycle started off ok, but it has progressively made me want to spit. I just want to get rid of this yucky taste in my mouth. The only time I can spit is in the shower. Then, I spit, spit, spit. Thought of a spittoon, but that grosses me out. Ugh!

Last Friday, I thought that I might throw up for the first time. The feeling in my stomach and certain smells just overwhelmed me. This queasiness, yuckiness (is that a word?) followed me throughout Saturday. I tried walking, thinking that some exercise would help. Unfortunately, it didn't.

The thought of throwing up is very scary to me. Too many toxic chemicals. So I tried to preoccupy myself with other thoughts.

The rest of my week?

My oldest, A1, had a cold last week. His nose was runny and he was sneezing up a storm.

Now, my youngest, A3 has a bad cold, cough, fever, and some asthma as a result. He threw up right before we left for church. We still had to go to church because I am the pastor's wife. Also, a missionary couple that our church supports and whose daughter attended seminary with me visited our church. I had to go. I wanted to see them. So, A3 sat with me in the back.

We can't leave out A2. She got hit by a frisbee, above her eye, on Sunday. Her eye is swollen and a layer of skin got taken out. Who would have thought that a frisbee could do that?

Pray for us.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fourth Cycle of Xeloda

Last week was my ninth week and the "off" week off of the Xeloda. I had more energy, could tolerate most smells (didn't have to open the windows as often), and could eat some Korean foods. It was so wonderful! I felt such freedom to do more things - and I did. There is so much to do around the house and errands to run!

I went to see my oncologist last Thursday. The visits are now every three weeks. The tumor markers in my blood seem to be going down, which is a good thing. This is what I wasn't expecting: Dr. K told me that we should continue with the Xeloda since it seemed to be working. I thought: maybe in a week? But, Dr. K said to start on Saturday.

So, I am on my fourth cycle.

It was really interesting to see the progression of my hand/foot syndrome. It got progressively worse during my off week. Who would have known? Well, my nurse did, and she told me that that is very common for it to get worse during the off week. The bottoms of my feet got redder, my skin starting peeling, and more brown spots formed.

The skin around the nails of my big toes also got a bit infected. Don't know why. They got really red, and I pressed on one side and yellow stuff came out. They kept hurting and any time I bumped my toe it hurt an awful, awful lot! But it was refreshingly, fascinating to see the yellow stuff come out. Just saying. I've been putting an ointment on it, and it seems to be getting better.

Another thing to be thankful for: it is colder and I don't have to expose my bare feet anywhere!

Because of the medication, I was told not to use a pumice stone on my feet. When those first brown spots started appearing on my feet, I began slathering lanolin on my feet (morning and night) and putting socks on. It helped to keep my feet smooth, despite not using a pumice stone. But, the Xeloda is building up in my body and is now wreaking havoc on my feet. The lanolin used to make such a difference, but now the skin rubbing off when I walk or wear shoes can't be helped.

My hands are also super dry. The tips of my fingers scratch smooth surfaces when I touch them. I hate that feeling. When you look closely at my hands, they ain't so pretty. I've been slathering lanolin on my hands before going to bed and putting socks over them. I look very interesting before I go to bed.

This is my new reality, and I am trying to keep flexible and adjust. When it comes down to it, I am thankful for the Xeloda. Because I am able to take the Xeloda, I don't have to go through intravenous chemotherapy. That is a good thing.

I can also be thankful for this cancer because it has brought me closer to Jesus.

by OneThingAdventure

Today, I am going in for a CT. Please keep my in your prayers.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Three Cycles of Xeloda

I was trying to write but I couldn't. Couldn't think. I would get an idea to write and then forget it. I would try to write and then the words would slip away. I cannot tell you how many things I forgot last week. My family knows... You might know but not realize that I forgot.

I took my last three pills of Xeloda at 6:40 pm Friday. Yay!!! So thankful to Jesus for helping me through. Still feel like a baby for not being tougher, especially to those who have had intravenous chemotherapy...

After three cycles of Xeloda:
  • my hands have turned dry and brown
  • the tips of my fingers hurt even to button something
  • I've gained 4+ pounds
  • my face has spotted and turned darker
  • there are sores on my feet that hurt when I walk
  • had extreme food smell, anything smell sensitivity
  • could not eat a lot of foods, but could eat what I could eat (make sense?)
  • don't even want to attempt any type of mathematical equations
  • forgot many things, even when I wrote them down
  • can't think
  • had some major hot flashes
  • had less hair loss than when taking Letrozole (Femara) 
I finally gave in and took Prilosec. It helped so much! It cut the acid in my stomach and the burning in the back of my throat. I took it every day before taking the Xeloda in the morning. So thankful that it worked and I didn't have to take that antipsychotic medication!

Each morning I would wake up, take my Levothyroxine (thyroid meds), wait 40 minutes (you're not supposed to eat food until at least 30+ minutes after taking Levothyroxine), take Prilosec (supposed to take this on an empty stomach), eat a hearty breakfast, take 3 Xeloda (have to take this within 30 minutes of eating or you have to eat again), wait 3+ hours (had to do this because of my thyroid meds), take my first round of vitamins, wait 4 hours and take my second round of vitamins, eat dinner, take 3 more Xeloda, and take my last round of vitamins before going to bed. As you can see, this took a lot of concentration, on my part.

During my time taking Xeloda, I had to add B6 vitamins (300 mg) to my pile of pills. (Take the pills not the capsules because the capsules have a strong taste to them). B6 (not the B-complex) is supposed to help with the hand/foot syndrome. Normally, I took it during the two weeks of taking the drug and would stop during the off time. This last cycle, I realized that I should have taken it for, maybe, two or three more days after getting off the drug. At the end of the two week cycle, the meds have built up in your body and the hand/foot pain is its strongest. Taking the B6 makes a big difference in curbing the intensity of the drugs. I felt it, those days that I forgot to take it.

You might be asking yourself: why does she write all this stuff? Well, I'm hoping that it will help someone who is starting Xeloda. It helps to know. I searched for blogs of people taking Xeloda when I was about to start taking it. There is some comfort in knowing what to expect.

This Thursday, I have an appointment with my oncologist. I believe that she might order another CT scan. Then, we will go from there. Maybe continue with the Xeloda? Go back to the Letrozole (Femara) - my hormone medication? Don't know because I forgot to ask the last two times I saw her. I really need to write these questions down and safety pin them to my shirt.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Another Weird Thing

I'm taking chemo drugs and I'm gaining weight. Who would have known? I'm getting some squishy wishy rolls on my tummy, as my third, A3 pointed out. My pants are getting tight. I feel like my face is getting bigger. It doesn't help that this 7 year old in my house keeps squishing my squishy wishy tummy. Someone make him stop!

One thing I realized was that I have not been eating as healthy during my chemo. I went on survival mode and ate whatever would go down. I've been eating a lot of things that you should eat in moderation: white rice, white sugar, and white flour products.

I have been stuffing my face with whatever I can stuff my face with so that I won't feel nauseous. There are a lot of foods I can't stand to think about or look at right now, but once I find a food I can take... the stuffing begins. I've gone through red meat week, soba noodles week, I can't remember what I ate week, caramel and cheddar popcorn week, and last week was my cold, white rice with pickles week. Oh yeah, and cake. Yummy to my tummy cake.

Thankfully, I can still drink my husband's green smoothies. They keep me regular and pumped with kale and other nutritious fruits and vegetables.

Here is another weird or shall I say embarrassing thing that happened to me last week. I had to go to the grocery store so I took A3 with me. I have not been fond of my friend, water, during my chemo. Because of this, I had to find something that I could drink. As I tried different drinks, I found that a certain brand of expensive ice tea helps. So I took A3 to the grocery to get some of this ice tea and some other things... okay, I confess, pumpkin donuts. I love pumpkin donuts.

Anyways, as we're walking in the very crowded store, A3 says, "Mom, can we get naked?" I was like, "What?!??!!!!!!!" But, before the words could come out, it registered in my mind that he meant the drink brand (juice drink). I could see that some people heard. You see, A3 takes after my husband: loud voice. This was definitely one of those mommy moments where I wanted to hide in a deep cave or yell out, "YOU MEAN YOU WANT TO GET A NAKED JUICE DRINK?"

My mind wasn't so quick. I just told him to shush and follow me.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Off Week

I cannot express the happiness that comes when your physical ailments and maladies hit the road. There was such excitement in knowing that I didn't have to take the Xeloda for a week. I felt so much more energy, I could eat more things, I could stand more smells, I could drink water again, the sores on my feet didn't hurt...

There was this urgency to get as much done as possible. I tried to switch out my kids summer clothes for their fall clothes, do several loads of laundry in one day, meet people, clean the floors, vacuum... but then I realized that I was doing too much. Pushing myself too hard. This body is not the same. Exhaustion would catch up with me. I would eat a meal thinking that it would give me more energy but it didn't help. My speech got slurred, answering questions took too much energy, couldn't keep my eyes open, just wanted to lay down.

It is all about pacing. I'm still trying to pace myself with this new body of mine.

Oh yeah, that thing on my outer arm, near my armpit, seems to be a spot like those that are supposed to form on my feet. The nurse had never seen them form in the arm area. She actually called another nurse to take a look at it. I have been putting lotion on it, and the time off of the Xeloda seems to be helping it go down. Not very pretty. Thankfully, its not little, round spots. That, my friends, would freak me out.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Weirdest Thing

You would think that I would lose some (or all) hair during chemotherapy. It is the expected thing, right? After hearing from Dr. K that I would have to undergo chemo, I braced myself to expect to lose all my hair. It isn't an easy thing for a woman. It isn't an easy thing for a man. I cannot tell you how thankful I was to hear that hair loss with Xeloda is not very common. I had to ask the oncologist and the nurse several times before that fact got processed in my mind. Who would have known? God's grace once again!

As I started taking the Xeloda, I had to stop taking my daily hormone, cancer drug: Letrozole (Femara). This is where is gets really weird. I am experiencing less hair loss while taking the Xeloda than when I was taking Letrozole. I couldn't believe it at first. As I showered, blow dried, or brushed my hair, not as much hair fell out. No clumps. I thought that it was some freak thing - for the day, but, it continued like that. Those baby hairs that had been trying to grow back and kept falling back out, now, have a chance to grow!

All these months on the Letrozole, this hair loss had been unexplained. I visited my endocrinologist because I had thought that it might have been due to my thryroidectomy. Nope. Couldn't find anything in my blood levels or exam. I asked my oncologist and she couldn't find any explanation either. There is relief in finding the answer to your perplexity.

I am so thankful to God for this grace that has been given. Time and time again, I see His hand in this life of mine. I am still overwhelmed by the fact that He chooses to show such grace to such a sinner as me.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Thursday, Thursday, Yeah!

I cannot tell you how much I was waiting for Thursday to come. I was counting down the days like a little kid counting down to his/her birthday. Thursday was the last day of my second cycle on Xeloda (an oral chemo drug). Before taking my meds, I said a prayer, like I usually do. After taking them, I was jumping up and down and throwing my hands in the air.

The last week "off" the meds was so nice. I could eat most foods again and had so much more energy. I am praying for the same type of "relief" this week.

You wonder if things will ever be normal again with your body. My hands are starting to hurt and it is getting a little more painful to walk. I have brown spots all over my face, hands, feet, and body. I actually got some red, dry patches near the outer parts of armpits. They look like the spots that are supposed to form on my hands and feet as you continue the Xeloda. I had to call the nurse because the area is really itchy and is starting to feel sore/hurt a bit. My nurse said that she has never seen that reaction in that area of the body, so I have to go see her today. Hopefully, she can tell me what it is and help me to manage it.

I broke down and started taking the Prilosec for my acidic pit of a stomach. This has helped a lot with my stomach and the burning in the back of my throat. Although I always feel like I just ate a Halls cough drop. I'm also noticing an increasing problem with diarrhea, which is another side effect. I had my husband get Immodium for me, but I haven't gotten myself to take it yet. My nurse will probably get very frustrated with me, for not taking it, but you know me... Maybe tomorrow, but this time it might really have to be because of the increasing uncomfortableness and unpredictability of the matter.

There was continued frustration with food during this second cycle. I craved red meat one week, and then hated it the next. I felt extremely refreshed with watermelon one week, and then was repulsed by the thought of it the next. My poor husband keeps asking me what I want to eat and all I can say is: "I don't know." I abhor certain smells that used to make me go "Yum!" I have always been a water drinker but now I need to force myself to drink it because it makes me think of the meds which makes me feel queasy. I find something to eat and then wonder if I will abhor that food the next day. Tiring? Pray for my husband and children.

But despite all of the physical discomfort, I am continually reminded of how blessed I am to be able to take oral chemo pills vs. intravenous chemotherapy. There are so many who have gone ahead of me and have suffered so much more physical pain. God has placed many around me. That gives me perspective and strength. Sometimes my eyes do get cloudy and I stray a bit from this, but God always brings me back ever so gently and lovingly.

Thank You, Jesus.

Friday, September 13, 2013

I Remember You

When we first moved to Chicago from Argentina, we went to church for the first time. There weren't as many Koreans living in Chicago at that time, so church was a central meeting place. People came to make connections, find out information about the area, and to be comforted by other Korean speakers. Our family first went with those intentions, but God had other plans.

It was at this church that I met this young mom. She had three children: a girl and two boys. She was always busy with those children but she was always calm. Once in a while, I would run into her because my parents were in a Bible study or some meeting.

I remember this mom because she always had a kind face. She never seemed flustered. Her daughter, who was the oldest, always had some type of caste on. She had some type of disorder that caused her bones to break easily. I remember the little girl limping around with her caste(s).

One day, this mom gave me a small bag of candy. I remember. I felt so happy that she singled me out and gave it to me. Back then, people didn't have bags of candy at home. You didn't buy a container of 40 packs of candy at Costco. You bought one bag at a time. That candy was a treasure to me. I think that I might have even kept the wrapper for a while, just to remember.

My mind gets foggy, but then I heard that that mom was sick. Very sick. And then she was gone. She had died, leaving her husband and three young children. I remember being really sad and remembering how kind she had been to me.

I never forgot about her.

Over the years, I've asked my mom about the father and children. I heard that he became a pastor and never remarried. The children are all grown up now. I've wanted to write to them. I've wanted to paint a beautiful picture of their mom. I'm not even sure if they have any recollection of their mom. They were so young.

Her smile. Her kindness. Her peaceful and calm face.

I still remember her.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Viruses and A Sour Stomach

The week off of the Xeloda was so nice. I didn't have to worry about any nausea. My sense of smell wasn't as sensitive. I could look at certain foods and not get grossed out. I even ate some Korean food. I could even drink water again without having to think twice about it.

Last Friday, I started my second cycle of the Xeloda. I wasn't sure how my body would react the second time, so I went into it with some fear. Memories of the first week of my first cycle loomed over me. Would my body go into nausea/fatigue mode and then ease up during the second week?

The first day went well. The second day went well, so did the third and the fourth. I was getting things accomplished and running errands. Then, it hit. My stomach went sour or shall I say that it became an acidic pit of trouble. I felt like the back of my throat was radioactive and that I might spew out a few things. Thankfully, it didn't.

On top of this, this never ending virus won't leave our house. My oldest (A1) had it, my husband had it, my daughter (A2) had it and the lymph nodes on her neck got enlarged, my youngest (A3) had it, and I had it with each of my children... The first two times weren't as bad, but this time it is a little stronger (headache/hot flashes/runny nose/needing sleep). Thankfully, no fever. I don't get fevers. My husband gets fevers, but I never really did. One of those interesting facts about me.

But, please pray.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Wonderful Week

My week off of Xeloda was wonderful. The nausea was gone. The funny taste in my mouth was mostly gone. We had an in-church family retreat. My energy levels were higher. My husband asked me to share my life story on the last day of the retreat. I could eat (most things) without having to think twice about it.

I did become aware of some mouth sores but they are manageable. My hands feel better. I had some diarrhea, but it is better.

Yesterday, I had to go to Dr. K's office to check my blood levels and to see what symptoms I was experiencing. My blood levels are good but my white cell count is going down-as expected. But, it is good enough for me to continue my treatment. My doctor asked me about the nausea and kind of chastised me for not taking the prescription (anti-psychotic, schizophrenia) medication she had prescribed. I still prefer to eat ginger candy.

My nurse (I have an assigned nurse) urged me to try Prilosec (if I wasn't going to take the anti-psychotic drug) for the nausea. I guess acid builds up in your stomach during the chemo (which explains my aversion to acidic foods). She said that some people said that that helped. Oh yeah, and Immodium for the diarrhea. BUT, you know me, I would like to try eating more bananas first.

I got the second shipment of Xeloda for this next cycle. Friday is the big day. Pray - please. I believe that God has used your prayers to lift me up in so many ways.

Here is a song that we sang during the retreat. It keeps resonating in my heart. It is an old song made new.

by AngelofLordJesus

Thursday, August 29, 2013

One Cycle

Today is the last day of my first cycle of Xeloda. Hip, hip, hooray!!! After tonight's dose, I get a week to let my body rest. I can't believe how quickly two weeks passed. I kept waiting for this moment so that, hopefully, I could feel a little more normal again. Maybe I can bake?

The first week was filled with nausea and great fatigue. I just wanted to sleep to forget about the nausea and sleep to sleep.

The second week was a lot better.

Nausea. I kept craving meat. As I filled my stomach with more red meat, the nausea seemed to get better. There were two times when I ate meat and I, literally, felt my eyes brighten. Brighten like Jonathan (King Saul's son), when he ate honey when he didn't know he was not supposed to.  The ginger candy also seems to help. Oh yeah, and I gained 4 pounds. When I find something that I can eat, I stuff my face to get rid of the nausea. Not good.

Morning sickness-likeness. Make sense. Cannot tolerate strong tastes or smells. Right now, I don't even like the smell of rice cooking. Or garlic, cilantro, Korean food, water. Ok, water doesn't have a taste but it reminds me of the meds that I have to take which makes me queasy which makes me want to not drink it even though I have to. I have to pray a lot and psych myself out before I eat.

Fatigue. The fatigue is still with me but it is so much better than dealing with the nausea. There are times when I have to support my head in my hands, slur some words, or not talk at all. I learned that it takes a lot of energy to yell up the stairs for your children to come downstairs, so I don't do it. It also might not help that I keep waking up in the middle of the night. A lot, lot. Don't know why. It just happens. Pray that I can have restful sleep.

Feeling radioactive. Okay, maybe not radioactive, but having extreme hot flashes. They come and they go. It is way worse than my menopause hot flashes. I feel like I am building up in radioactive energy and just might glow in the dark. Maybe I watched too many Avenger cartoons?

Fingers and feet. There is also this thing with my fingers and bottoms of my feet. My fingers and feet get these little "needle-poke-like" feelings when I press on them. It's as if there are little needles all around. You might be saying, "Well, stop pressing on them!" It ain't easy! Living life, you have to press, in order, to open or do anything. Even when I wash my hands, I try not to rub too hard. Also, another reason for my radioactive theory is that my hands and feet are warm. Sometimes hot. This is extremely unusual for a woman who had hands and feet made of ice bricks.

Brown spots. I didn't realize that when you take any type of chemo drug, you have to stay out of the sun. I put on spf and try to stay out of the sun, but there are times when it can't be avoided (in the car). I recently noticed more spotting on my face. Those of you that are young, you'll understand when you're older. Be thankful.

Cold. I am always in fleece or a sweater. I walked out in the 90 degree weather and sighed in relief. It was just right for me. I shudder to think about winter. Oh yeah, I also caught a cold. Don't know how, don't know where, but I have a cold. Last night, we also realized that A2 has a fever and swollen lymph nodes! Please pray!

But, overall, the second week has been so much better. Thank you so much for all of your prayers! I truly feel that God has been answering your prayers for me!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

He's Been Faithful

As I got ready to go to bed, this song kept going through my mind. This joy, renewed hope, and excitement kept springing up inside of my heart. I was reminded of a truth that I could never deny: He's been faithful to me. At times, I have been faithless, but throughout, He has stayed by my side. 

My prayer is that all of you will see what a good and faithful God He really is. It is not about what other Christians have done or not done. It is about Him. Him alone. Have you read the Bible lately Have you read about who Jesus really is? Start with the book of John and see for yourself. 

He is gentle. He is strong. He is kind. He is passionate. He is full of grace and truth. He is faithful. 

Have a blessed Sunday!

by AGCChurch

Friday, August 23, 2013

One Week With My Friend, Xeloda

Last Friday I started taking my oral chemo drugs. I take three pills in the morning and three at night. I have to take the Xeloda for a two week period and then let my body rest for the third week. This will happen for three cycles which total nine weeks. In order to not touch the pills, I use a small spoon to pick up the pills and deliver them into my mouth. Now, I can swallow all three in one gulp.

The first day wasn't so bad. I kept expecting the sky to fall on me. I did feel this weird feeling in my stomach and hands, but I started to second guess myself and wonder if it was psychological. When nothing really happened, I started to feel guilty for not having any side effects. Guilty to all those people who have endured aggressive chemotherapy.

Then Saturday came around. That is when the nausea and this burning sensation at the back of my throat hit me. Thankfully, I didn't throw up. It would be tragic for all that lethal medicine to come back up. It felt like I might feel better if I threw up, but in this situation it would make things a lot more complicated.

It has been a week since I started the Xeloda and here is what I learned:

  1. I can be such a baby. I will not lie, I lost it a few times during the nausea.
  2. When you're body tells you something (in terms of cravings), you should listen. My body kept wanting meat, and last night I think I figured out why. Yes, my body needs the protein, but something else. Plain and simple: meat takes a few days to "rot" in your stomach. Just the way it is. Having that "something" in your stomach keeps you from the stronger nausea that comes from not having anything in your stomach.
  3. Real ginger candy helps with the nausea. Never thought that I would enjoy eating ginger candy. All Korean Americans have a story or two of biting into a chunk of ginger in their kimchi. Not pleasant. But, I feel a whole lot better eating the candy with the bite than eating the antipsychotic, schizophrenia drug the doctor prescribed for the nausea.
  4. Your body gets super tired so you need to rest. When your feet start to shuffle rather than walk, it is time to rest. When you start slurring your words, it is time to rest. When your eyes are ready to close, it is time to rest. 
  5. Stay away from dairy and acidic foods. Gotta keep the stomach happy.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


I had to take A1 to the doctor on Wednesday. He has a virus and some of his insect bites (that were blisters) had become infected. As a result, he started taking antibiotics.

My body has been fighting something also. I still don't feel 100% so I called the oncologist office about it. The nurse said that I could wait another day before taking the Xeloda. Hopefully, I will be starting the Xeloda on Friday.

God has been working a lot of exciting, unexpected things in our lives. I will write about them later, and my spirit keeps singing that His "grace is enough!"

by Charlesc28

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Reflections From the Oncologist Office Waiting Room

The oncology office was bustling when I went in. To avoid the crowd, I chose a seat facing the window-wall. I love those kind of walls. You know, the kind of walls that aren't really walls but are all glass. I guess it technically is a wall but you know what I mean!

It was a beautiful day. On my drive to the hospital, I had to keep myself from driving off the highway because I kept wanting to stare at the clouds. I love staring at the clouds. They are so grand and beautiful and fluffy! The clouds were exceptionally brilliant against the blue sky!

As I drove on the highway, I felt like the clouds (which covered the horizon) were all leading me to a spectacular, heavenly place. It felt as if they were all pointing to one place. Don't know if that makes sense, but it was exciting to me. Calming.

I had to sit in the waiting room for quite a long time, but I enjoyed just staring at the sky. The clouds were so white and the sky was so blue. And, it was one of those days where the clouds were moving so quickly.

During this time of solitude, I felt as if God spoke to my heart. He was reminding me of the things that I could be thankful for:

*that my breast cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes*
(where others have had to have their lymph nodes removed and suffer the effects)

*that I had hormone therapy*
(where others have had to have radiation/chemo)

*that I could have oral chemotherapy*
(where others have had to have surgery to have ports put into their bodies for intravenous chemo)

*that I have hair*
(where others have lost all of theirs)

When I saw Dr. K, she gave me a hug. I could feel her care and concern. She went over the Xeloda with me. I will be going through 3 rounds of this medicine. Two weeks of medicine and one week off (to give my body time to recuperate before the next round), and so forth. Dr. K actually told me of another patient who was on the same drug and was running a daycare. I was like, "Say what?" She said that that woman was experiencing minimal side effects. Amazing!

The nurse that is assigned to me explained the common side effects and the procedure for taking the medicine. It was a bit overwhelming, but I have a booklet to go over at home. The most common side effects:

1. diarrhea
2. hand-and-foot syndrome
3. nausea
4. throwing up
5. sores in the mouth
6. fever

One of the pamphlets also said that dizziness was a side effect. That brought back horrifying memories of my morphine reaction. Yikes! 

There are different medications to take along with certain side effects. I am not too excited about taking more drugs to help me take my drugs, but if they help... 

Fear still looms around me. Fear of the unknown. Fear of what types of side effects I might experience. In my experience, I experience a lot of side effects. But, I know a lot of people are praying for me! Pray, people, pray! Please!

Please also pray that I will be 100% when I start taking the Xeloda on Thursday. I haven't been feeling myself since Monday. I had a queasy stomach, chills, hot flashes, achey body... When I got back from the doctor, I found that A1 had a fever and chills. Not a good situation. 

Oh yeah, one more thing to be thankful for: no hair loss!

Monday, August 12, 2013

My Prognosis

Before leaving for Panama, I had to have another round of CT and bone scans. It was the usual scans that I have every three months. I had mentioned that some of my blood levels were going up and were unexplained. If nothing came out on the scans, Dr. K wanted to have some other tests done.

Well, I got a call the day of my scans. Dr. K had gotten the results. She needed to get in contact with me because she would be gone for two weeks. My cancer had spread to my liver. There were spots on my liver that had not been there before. She ordered a CT-guided biopsy.

The week before leaving for Panama, I had to go in for a CT-guided biopsy of my liver. They sedate you with "twilight" anesthesia. You are out but they can ask you to do different things and you can respond. Then using the CT, they guide a needle to a specific area to get a sample of the cancer.

For my first CT-guided biopsy (of the cancer in my spine/hips), I was knocked out and could not remember anything. For this biopsy, I remember waking up a few times and looking at the doctor. He was guiding the needle into those spots on my liver. He said something and then I felt a jabbing pain. It hurt. I was in and out of consciousness. I kept hoping that I wouldn't wake up or remember anything. I do remember.

It took two hours for me to wake up from the sedation. I felt achey - your liver is on your right side under the rib cage. Thankfully, they didn't have to go between my ribs to get to my liver. If that had happened, recovery would have taken longer.

Now what?

Tomorrow, I will be going to see my oncologist. She wants to start oral chemo with a drug called Xeloda. My close friend has gone through chemo and she said that the oral type is a lot better than the intravenous kind. Very thankful for that.

I was grocery shopping when I got a call from the pharmaceutical company that is shipping the Xeloda to me. It was a bit scary. For example, they said that it is ok for me to handle the medicine because I will be taking it. But, if someone else has to handle it for me, they have to wear gloves. There is nausea, mouth sores, hand/foot syndrome, lowered immune system...

Am I afraid? Hello......... I would be lying if I said I wasn't.

Please pray for me. Also for my family. They have to watch me and take up the slack for what I can't do for them.

What Not to Say

A week before we left for Panama, we visited a samonim (pastor's wife) that we know. She had endured a grueling year of aggressive chemotherapy. I believe that her husband had said that the doctors had switched her treatment 8 or so times because her cancer was so aggressive.

We went to visit her because she had been admitted to a hospice. Patients enter a hospice when there are no more treatments available and when it is too difficult to take care of the patient at home. She had endured all that she could and was now awaiting her entrance into her eternal home.

It was not easy seeing her. We had seen her before going to Kona and she had been full of strength. She even taught me how to make this awesome kale/tomato soup. Entering her room, we saw that her cancer treatments had taken all strength, fat, and muscle from her body.

Someone else came a few minutes after we had. They brought two women who were strangers to the samonim. They said that she needed to eat. Had Samonim not been trying to for the past two months? They told us not to cry when we were praying for the samonim. Should we not be able to express our love for her in this way, especially after all the pain she had endured? They told her that she was going to hop out of bed soon... if she took a certain supplement. Yes, that is what they said.

I wanted to yell, "Get out of here!" But, I stayed quiet out of respect to the person that had brought these women. At the end, there was even, "If you order right now, they can send it to you by tomorrow for a $70 charge." The moksanim (pastor) and samonim were desperate. The person was persuasive. A lot of money went out for those supplements.

As we went to our car, I told my husband:

1. I was angry at those women for offering such false hope. Those supplements couldn't guarantee anything. Jesus is our only hope. Our eternal hope. The only One who can comfort in these types of situations.

2. If I am ever in hospice care, I do not want strangers to come into my room. I want people who knew me and loved me to surround me.

There is a time for everything. When you go into such a situation, be Jesus' hands, feet, and mouth. Comfort. Pray. Listen.

Samonim passed away into eternal glory that Saturday.

We were so thankful that we could go to her funeral the day before we left for Panama. We took our children because they knew her. I have written about this before. I do not want to shield them from this reality: life and death are a part of living in this world. But, we are so thankful that this is not all there is.

When we accept Jesus into our hearts, we have an eternal home. We are sad because we won't see her in this world anymore, but we know that we will see her again one day. Her two daughters praised their mother for teaching them about establishing a sure foundation in Jesus. They were devastated by the loss of their mother, but they knew that they would see her again.

All I could do, was pray for Samonim's husband and daughters and say, "The Lord comfort you."

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Here We Come!

A1, my husband, and I are leaving for Panama today! There are 8 others on the team. We leave our city, stop in Miami, and then go to Panama City. Once we get to Panama City, we have to drive a few hours to our final destination. 

Please pray for us! 

I am so excited to see all that God is going to do through our team!

Please pray for us!

A2 and A3 will be with my parents and sister-in-law/brother. 

Please pray for them!

Different people have asked if it will be okay for me to go there. Simply put:

He is the one who sends me.

He is the one who will strengthen me to do His work.

Please pray for my physical health!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Domino Effect

We underestimate what God can do through us. We can feel alone and overwhelmed by the culture to do anything for the kingdom. But, God. He can work miracles that can move nations. During our time in Kona, one of the speakers showed us this video to illustrate this point.

What do we need to do? Seek Jesus, stay connected to the Holy Spirit, and move when He asks us to move. We can make a difference for His kingdom.

by smorris123

Monday, July 22, 2013

Unexpected Surprises

Last week, this bundle of Hawaiian goodness was delivered to our home. I stepped out to get the mail and almost fell over. I didn't fall for joy (the joy came later), but because of the strategic location the mail carrier had left this box. So thankful that I didn't break anything.

Anyways, memories of Kona flooded my heart...

The person who sent this to us now lives on the mainland, but she had gone to Oahu for a friend's wedding. She was so thoughtful to think of us. It brought back so many blessed memories. God used her thoughtful, generous heart to bring such joy to our hearts!

Thank you, YKL!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

This Week Friday

It's time for another round of CT and bone scans. This time, I finally got the courage to ask my oncologist if we could put off the scans another month (so that I could have scans every 4 months instead of every 3 months). Somehow, I haven't felt like the radioactive material, iodine contrast, and radiation have been helping my body. What do you think?

My oncologist said that we could try that after this round of scans. Dr. K told me that certain levels in my blood have been elevating and she doesn't know why. She was concerned because it has been progressive and unexplained. She said that if my scans don't show anything, she might have to order a colonoscopy or enteroscopy. 

She also told me something that I couldn't remember from my first visits with her in 2011. When I first had gone to her office, I had to have some blood work done. That was after returning from Korea with the biopsy results that I did have thyroid and breast cancer. Well, Dr. K told me at my last visit that the initial blood work in 2011 didn't really show signs of cancer. There were certain levels that were a bit above average but they were very minute.

What does this tell me about my cancer? It wants to be different. It wants to go outside of the norms. It is unpredictable. It needs Jesus.

Please pray.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


On this particular morning, I went to a prayer meeting at church. When I got back home, I looked in the mirror and realized that this was probably what the other pastors' wives had tried not to look at, tried not to laugh at, tried not to make direct eye contact with.

Humidity and my hair don't mix well.

Or could it have been that our prayer meeting had gone to new heights?


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Kimchi Tears

Did you know that kimchi is considered a superfood? Not just food, but superfood!

World's Healthiest Foods
Kimchi SuperFood for the Flu Season
Kimchi each day keeps the doctor away?

Yesterday, as I was writing a post for this blog, I got a special surprise.

We had run out of this superfood at our home. I had actually been praying about this. Yes, sometimes I do pray for kimchi. And this special delivery came. I told the giver that this was an answer to prayer. Really.

Then, I took the bottle of kimchi and placed it on the floor... and prayed... and cried. God is so good to us. He knows all of our needs: from the smallest to the biggest.

Why am I so faithless at times to believe that He will take care of all of our needs and things that He asks us to do?

Thank You, Jesus.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Out of the Mouth of Babes

Our church supports a missionary in the city of Boquete, Panama. For the past few years, we have been sending mission teams to that area.  The team goes and does a mini VBS while my husband speaks to the adults. Last year, they were also able to travel to an Indian village, in the mountains of Panama, to minister to the children/adults in that area. The trek was difficult, four hours of driving (paved and gravel roads) / four hours on horseback, but the team came back so excited to be used by God.

When it came time to prepare for another team to be sent to Panama, my husband and I prayed. As we prayed, we both felt as if God wanted us to go together this year. Side by side. We took that in, and then got caught up with the 35 days of prayer, summer school planning, and vbs.

As time passed, we kept it to the side. There were too many things going on that we needed to take care of. For me, I still had not learned.

Remember Kona? Remember raising the funds to go there within three weeks? Remembering not having to worry and just preparing to go? Just obeying what we felt God had spoken to our hearts?

I put what God had spoken about Panama to the side. The side that is furthest from me. The side that is furthest from God's will.

The worry of finances had squelched the fire that God had started to burn in my heart.

Well, fast forward to last week. I had given up in my heart to go, but I felt myself praying about it again. On Thursday night my husband had to Skype the missionary to talk about last minute details (the team is leaving on the last day of this month). I walked into the room to put away laundry when I heard the missionary strongly urge my husband to bring me to Panama. He gave several reasons why I should go. After their conversation, my husband and I prayed.

Friday night, I slept over at church with the elementary school children. We had a "Sweet Prayer Night." The children learned about prayer and praising Jesus from their hearts. It was such a blessed night. There was freedom to praise and pray.

One of the things that I felt that God was impressing on my heart was to have the children pray for my cancer. So what did I do? I asked them to pray for me! The children lifted up such pure prayers for me. Then, this little girl lifted up two prayers for me that were 1-2 minutes apart:

first prayer: "Please heal Mrs. Monica so that she can go on missions."
second prayer: "Help Mrs. Monica go to Panama."

That Friday morning, I had asked God to give me a sign. Unbeknownst to me, my husband had done the same.

Do we feel like that was a sign? Yes!

Why couldn't have I just obeyed the first time? Why did I waiver? Sometimes, you think that you have come a long way, but then you realize...

Advice: obey the first time God tells you to do something.

Yes, I am a pastor's wife. Yes, I still make daily mistakes. I am human too.

I can't wait to tell you about all that God is going to do in Panama!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Something Written Last Month, That I Forgot to Post

It was a Monday morning and it was rainy. I am not particularly fond of rainy days. I don't like getting my shoes and clothes wet. Maybe if I had some rain boots? Then I wouldn't have to care about getting my shoes wet, and I could step in every puddle I saw? Okay, back to that Monday morning. I drove to the hospital to get my quarterly CT/bone scans.

I had to go back and forth from the main hospital and the cancer center for my scans. Usually, they are both in one building but there weren't any time slots open. Went to nuclear medicine for my injection and ended up staying there for 30 minutes. My veins are supposedly tiny. They also can't use my right arm because it is the mastectomy side. They never touch that arm when they withdraw blood or give shots.

When they stuck the needle in my arm to get the port set up, apparently, my veins started to move around so that they couldn't get the port set up. The first stick in my arm, I actually couldn't feel the nurse poking around as she was trying to get into the vein. It was weird. Then, the nuclear medicine tech got a specialist nurse who deals with difficult people like me. She tried another section of my arm and the same thing happened.

That is when the specialist nurse started to feel for veins on the top part of my wrist. That is also when I told them that the last time someone put a port there, he got yelled at by the CT tech because they couldn't use that port and they had to poke another part of my arm. Are you following me?

Well, this is how it looked the next morning morn. Beautifully colorful. A conversation starter?

A week later, I got the results that everything was stable. In other words, the cancer in my spine has not grown or spread to other areas. The emotions that followed were a bit more complicated, but I will try to write about that another day.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Long Hiatus

We came back... And I still haven't been able to get into the swing of things. I think I have adjustment issues. There have been too many things for this forgetful mind to process. I missed two oncology appointments - two weeks in a row. I've never missed (or forgotten about) an appointment before. I think my scheduling nurse is mad at me because she won't return my calls. 

So many things. Too many to count.

AND, this June it will be our church's 35th anniversary. In praise to God, we dedicated 35 days of 24 hour prayer. That means that people are at church 24 hours a day for 35 days. Sound crazy?! But, it is so not crazy! We are choosing to spend time in His presence. Yes, we can do that at home, but we want to give Him this time for His faithfulness. We want to honor Him through this sacrifice. 

But honestly, it's not a sacrifice. It is a time where He pours into our hearts. Where He strengthens us. Where we find rest and comfort. Where we realize that Jesus is all we need.

Please pray with us.

by MelissaSarahBlack

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Back From Kona

We are back home now. We left Kona on Tuesday morning and made it back home on Wednesday morning. It was a restful flight from Kona to Honolulu to San Francisco to the Midwest. I am still trying to adjust to the cold weather and not-so-simple-life on the mainland.

Kona, almost, seems like a dream. Did I really live there for 3 months? Should I wear a t-shirt or a sweatshirt? Flip flops or winter shoes? What would I be doing if I were there right now?

So many thoughts. So many memories.

But, there were some deep waters that were stirred in my heart. I can never forget and can never go back.

Thank you, Jesus.

by diamy00

Monday, February 18, 2013

Triple Ugh

On Sunday, we went to church with the same excitement we always do. Last week, we had just made the last shuttle for the 9:00 am service. This time, we got there a bit earlier. We were waiting for the 7:30 am service to end and A3 grabbed one of the snacks (mandarin oranges). Everything was fine, until we got by the seats. Then, there was throw up. He had eaten breakfast and had been fine up to that point. But then, that happened. 

I ran to one of the snack tables and got paper towels and napkins. A3 had a difficult time during the service because his stomach felt so uncomfortable. On our way back home, I spotted a plastic bag in the van, and I asked the driver for it-just in case. It was well used on the car ride back. Unfortunately, it spilled over onto my husband's pants and part of the van. We cleaned it up as best as we could. 

When we got home, more came out of that little tummy. In two different ways. He was achey and cold and then fevery. But towards the end of the day, he was able to hold down some food. 

But then... my husband and I started to feel a bit nauseous. We went to bed and slept. At 12:00 am, he got up to go to the bathroom. Then, he conked out on the little sofa we have. I got up 1:00 am with the words, "It's time." And sure enough, it was time for me to go to the bathroom. In the morning, we woke up very achey and not so well. A3 was bouncy and back to his old self. 

But, we had to go to our class. This week the speaker's topic was going to be: Spiritual Warfare. When we got to class, we found that a large part of the class was sick. My body ached. I was afraid that I might throw up. But I was so glad that I went. I needed to hear that lecture.

Pray for us. Please.

Monday, February 11, 2013


We have been quite busy these past few weeks. Between reading, studying, praying, eating shaved ice, meeting in our small groups, eating macadamia nuts, meditating, going to the beach, and walking a lot, I haven't had time to write. We are so thankful to be in Kona! We are reminded everyday that this is, exactly, where He wanted us to be!

God has been blessing, encouraging, challenging, comforting, and rebuking me... sometimes I need a little (or a lot of) rebuking. I learned long ago that a loving rebuke is priceless.

There is so much to write about but I will end with this little nugget that someone shared with me:


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sunday Service

We have been going to the same church each week. Some people like to explore different churches, but my husband and I like to settle in. We went to our current church and decided to go there the rest of our time here. The songs we sang and the sermons we heard were based on His Word. The perk was that the church was right next to the ocean and that we could enjoy the service outdoors.

We eat breakfast at 7:40 am. After we eat, we have to pack our lunch for the day because they give the lunch team a break during the weekend. Then, we walk down to the school gate to catch the van that comes to pick people up for church.

Last Sunday, we got to church a little bit early. The 7:30 am service wasn't over, so we waited by the rocks... by the ocean. Right on the ocean. The waves were coming in and crashing on the rocks. Waves here are scary, but that's another story. But, everything was so beautiful.

We waited, meditating on God's creation, on His magnificence, on His power... then we went to service. Outside, remember?

No worries about rain. It rains at night here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Worthy of It All

Every Monday morning, all of the YWAM community gather in 'Ohana (which means "family") Court to worship together. We start the week putting our focus where it needs to be: Jesus. Grandmas, grandpas, moms, dads, singles, and children gather for this sole purpose.

I can't tell you how powerful and healing these times of worship have been. Tears have flowed as I have sung to my Savior. Songs that are focused on His goodness. Songs that are focused on His greatness. Songs that are focused simply on Him.

This is a song that has blessed me tremendously. As I sing it, I can't help but be overwhelmed. Only He is worthy of it all.

by Chris Hu

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Non-Chance Encounters

Let me ask you something. Have you ever had a tug in your heart to do something? Maybe to help  someone, ask a question, exercise a random act of kindness... I felt that the other day. There was this woman I saw. I felt as if God wanted me to talk to her. Not for evangelism or anything like that. Just to talk to her. I can't explain why, I just felt like I should.

We can get into a very long discussion about my personality. I can be shy. I can be antisocial. Ask my brother and sister. Ask my husband. But I can also be very bold and daring. Can't understand me? It's okay. I'm just glad that God understands me and loves me!

Well, I asked God to give me an opportunity to talk to her if that is what He wanted me to do. And the opportunity came that day at the children's school PTO meeting. Her younger daughters are in A2's classroom and the oldest daughter is in A1's class. As she left A1's classroom I asked, "Are you Korean?"

If you ask that question to 90% of the Asians (in my informal estimation) on the Kona campus, they will say, "Yes." They might either be Korean American or Korean Korean. Get it. Got it. Good.

It turns out that this beautiful woman was a Korean Norwegian. She had been adopted by a Norwegian family when she was a few months old. We had a conversation about our families (her daughters are beautiful), her and her Norwegian husband's involvement at the Crossroads DTS, and Korea.

It was a delight meeting her and talking to her. We exchanged email addresses and it turns out that we live across from each other. She is in the building in front of ours.

God opened the door for me to meet this woman. I just had to take that step forward. And I was so blessed.

I know that there have been other times in my life when God has asked me to do something or speak to someone. And I know that I chose to not listen. And I lost blessings that I could have received. I regret those times.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fourteen Years

Today (1-9-13) was my fourteenth wedding anniversary. Truthfully, I have been so busy with the DTS schedule that I completely forgot! Really! What is wrong with me? I know!

I am so thankful that God reminded my husband. He had been thinking about what to do. Our schedule has been really tight, and he started his work duty yesterday. He worked 3 hours, but he did something that blew me away! He asked the leader if he could skip today so that we could celebrate our wedding anniversary. He even borrowed another student's car so that we could go to Costco, Target, the farmer's market, and a Korean eatery for dinner!

We had to get back on campus by seven so we had to rush, but it was so nice. After our meeting with our group, we had to walk up the mountain to pick up the kids at a different building. It was really dark and we could see all the beautiful stars in the sky. That was when it hit me: we got to go to Hawaii for our 14th wedding anniversary!

God is so good to me!

(I have to figure out how to change the time on my computer. It is still on Central time.)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

We Are Here

God is so good! The Sunday before we were scheduled to leave, God gave us all the funds that we needed to come to here. I was so thankful that it all came together on God's day! 

We left Chicago at 1:30 pm, stopped in Los Angeles (didn't see any movie stars), and arrived in Kona past 1:00 am (Central Time). We were on a plane filled with people with the same destination. We couldn't make out what they were saying but we could hear the occasional, "YWAM" and "DTS." When we arrived we got out of the plane and walked down the stairs to exit the landing area and into the open air baggage area. Who would have thought? But, you have to think "tropical" and "island."

There are over 49 countries represented here. Students are in many different DTS programs. This semester is the largest they have ever had. The staff and student population is over 1,400! The picture below is of the Plaza of the Nations (flag court). A flag is raised for each of the nations represented on campus. 

Nothing prepared me for all the different nationalities that I would meet. There are people from Finland, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina, Mongolia, China, Russia, Latvia, Kenya, South Africa, oh yeah, and those Canadians! There are two North Koreans who had escaped to freedom to South Korea. I even met a former Pennsylvania Amish guy who had a German accent because he grew up speaking German. He was shunned by his family and friends because he chose to follow Jesus. Please pray for Benjamin.

Here we are and we have already been so blessed! I am still getting adjusted to the packed schedule. My head is still spinning a bit. Once we are a bit more settled, I will write more in-depth about our experience here. Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support. I need to go to sleep.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Haven't Disappeared...

I know, I know. I should have written something. I've wanted to so badly, but I have been adjusting to a few things. Once I am settled, I will write about the wonderful things God has been doing.