Lights. Camera. Action.

People were offering to help us left and right. They were praying for me and “officially” announcing my situation at church in front of so many people. I had heard talk of tee shirts, wristbands, badge holders. All things that people were doing out of the absolute goodness of their hearts, but the thought of being the center of attention on such a large scale, sort of made me want to vomit.

I have always been slightly socially awkward. My dad and siblings can talk to people with such ease, and I usually end up standing awkwardly to the side, hoping people forget that I’m there. It takes a few times of talking to me to realize I’m not quite as awkward as I first seem. Only slightly!

Don’t get me wrong; once we get to know each other, it’s hard to shut me up, and I have actually gotten much better than I used to be.

I swear I did not order my own food at restaurants until I was well into high school; always having my parents or siblings order for me.

To this day a waiter could bring me the complete wrong meal with a giant hair in it, and I would accept it with a polite smile.

After this week, it was clear that God was going to pulling me kicking and screaming out of my comfort zone.

I was going to be in the sympathetic limelight, and there was nothing that I could do about it.

I wanted to keep my lousy news quiet until we had some answers, but that ship had long sailed. I was so worried people would bombard me questions I didn’t have the answers to, and I was not mentally prepared for that.

Much to my surprise, it wasn’t people prying or drilling me with questions, but people graciously offering prayers and support, both physical and emotional.

I had two options. I could keep everything a secret and decline all of this help people were offering so freely, or I could be upfront and accept these sincere acts of charity with as much grace as I could muster.

Every time I saw someone from my family they were telling of another person or organization that had plans to help Jordan and me. It was so overwhelming. I didn’t want to put people out or have them think I was abusing the charity they had offered.

I’m sure it has a lot to do with pride. I didn’t want to be the “sick” one needing help. I want to be the one helping others.

In light of all of these people coming out of the woodwork to offer their help and my ever growing anxiety over all of this, the night before my PET scan I bargained with God, big time!

I was so concerned that my diagnosis would turn into a spectacle with my name being plastered all over Facebook or my face on posters for benefit dinners. (These are an introvert’s WORST nightmare).

I prayed and begged God for good PET scan results, and in turn, I would let him make as big of a spectacle as he wanted. (Not the most spiritually mature thing to do, I’m sure) Shoot! I would print off the posters with my face on them myself! I would accept the help offered to me, not turn people away, tell everyone what God had done for me, if he would just heal me.

Well, the next day, as you know, yielded fantastic news from my scan and the morning after that…God made a pretty funny joke.

We dropped the kids off at our babysitter pretty early that next morning. I hadn’t been able to see Robbyn the day before because of my slightly radioactive status and wanted to be there in time to feed her.

We had not been in the room 15 minutes when a tall man in a suit walks in from ”marketing” and says they are shooting a video for nurses’ week and wanted to get shots of a NICU nurse with a family. Our family.

It was quite a production. Lights. Camera. Action.

Well if you think I’m not a fan of being in the spotlight, then you should meet my husband! Compared to him, I have the social graces of Miss America. I’m pretty sure most people think he is in physical pain during social gatherings based on the RBF plastered on his face.

We are a great deal alike though, in that once you get to know him he doesn’t stop talking, and he is loud. Seriously loud.

He yells all the time in the same tone whether he’s happy, mad, funny, or quoting a movie (which is a well-honed skill of his).

I swear, he is so loud that all of our children knew his voice better than mine at birth.

So, this marketing guy really didn’t know how horrible of a situation he was putting Jordan and me in.

I’d done it though. I told God I would gladly be made a spectacle of and he delivered, very quickly I might add.

Now, God has blessed us with free will and I had every opportunity to say no, but I was serious when I bargained with him.

I wanted to be obedient, and see the plan he had in store for me.

I have failed in the past when God has given me opportunities to share my faith and chickened out; using my God-given awkwardness as an excuse. I didn’t want to fail him again.

There is a man in the Old Testament, in Judges Chapter 6, named Gideon. He lived in occupied Israel, and when God appears to him, he is cowardly threshing wheat in hiding, so his food isn’t stolen by the country’s enemy, the Midianites. God is coming to Gideon to tell him to raise up an army to rebel against Israel’s captors. God arrives on the scene and says “The LORD is with you mighty man of valor!” 

God is calling this man to do something extraordinary. A man who is clearly not acting very bold or mighty. A man who is a farmer, not a warrior. A man who knows “My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” (Judges 6:15).

He is the smallest man, in the weakest clan, from the smallest tribe of an enslaved country.

He has some legitimate concerns if you ask me.

Gideon and I have a lot in common. Mainly, we are cowards, and we come prepared with excuses.

But thankfully, another thing Gideon and I have in common is that we serve a God who sees us not as we are, but as the extraordinary people HE created us to be.

God came to cowardly Gideon and called him a mighty man of valor. God saw Gideon as the marvelous creature he designed and gifted with the ability to do great things for God. Gideon didn’t even want to believe it when God himself told him.

I could feel God calling me to be brave.

To step outside my comfort zone.

He has a job for me to do and I have been hiding. I’m not special. He has given the same calling to me as all Christians.

Love God.

Love People.


(So if you don’t think you know what God is calling you to do, start there!)

I have been so cowardly in the past. I have missed so many opportunities to share the love of God with people. To share how great my life is because of Jesus Christ. That I have peace and hope because he died for me.

How could I experience this magnificent love and not want to tell everyone I meet?

I mean, seriously, when I can tell the cashier at Walmart how to get great discounts at Dunkin Donuts but am too scared to tell them Jesus loves them… That is a problem.

I think God used this nurses’ week commercial as a way to pull me a little further out of my comfort zone before he pushes me head first into the waters of something great.

I don’t know exactly what that is, and to be honest, it makes me nervous but as Judges 6:14 says “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”

He has sent me. So I will go.


Dignity & Strength

I am the mom who never sent my babies to the nursery in the hospital.

If the nurse had to take them, I waited on pins and needles until they returned.

I wanted skin to skin as soon as I popped them out. I didn’t care if they looked like someone had pulled them out of a giant tub of sour cream.

I wanted to breastfeed exclusively as long as I could.

Their precious rear ends rarely touched a bassinet or swing because I would just snuggle them and watch them sleep.

I waited almost 10 months to finally hold these sweet things in my arms, I didn’t want to miss a single second of bonding once they were finally here.

Well, the reality that my experience with Robbyn would be completely different set in as I sat in a dimly lit postpartum room by myself.

I forced Jordan to get some food with his parents, we couldn’t see Robbyn for a couple of hours, and my left leg was still so numb I could barely stand up.

The room was quiet. Had I really just had a baby? Or did I dream all of this?

No newborn snuggles. No awkward fumbling as we try to figure out breastfeeding together.

No breastfeeding in our future either, due to the toxic medications I would soon be starting and the bilateral mastectomy in my very near future.

No sneaking a pacifier in her mouth while the nurse is out of the room.

No peeking into the sleep sack to recount all of her fingers and toes.

My baby was on the floor above me in an incubator.

Don’t get me wrong; I knew this was our destiny once we found out she would arrive a full 6 weeks early. I was ecstatic she was strong, and I was able to hold her for almost an hour, but her tiny body had tired out, and now she needed to rest.

She hadn’t needed to be intubated and only required a small feeding tube through her nose, but that was to be expected. At 34 weeks, she had not yet developed the reflex that allowed her to suck, swallow, and breathe at the same time and she could not eat enough to gain weight without tiring.

She had done phenomenally well, and I was so grateful that she was healthy. This could have been so much worse, and I personally know some of the world’s strongest parents who have watched their babies go through much more terrifying circumstances. After seeing a tiny glimpse into what they have gone through, I have the utmost admiration for them and how they handled their trials with such grace.

So, it didn’t seem fair to be upset about our small hiccup when God had already blessed us so much.

The two other moms and their sweet babies I know who have very recently endured long NICU stays, and multiple surgeries have inspired me with their strength and reliance on God.

Chapter 31 in Proverbs is all about what it means to be a godly woman. (The whole chapter is excellent if you are curious about what it says.) In verse 20 it says, “She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”

I was in a pretty “needy” state once we were home and Robbyn was still in the NICU without a foreseeable discharge date. Both of these women who have experienced this before checked on me multiples times offering prayers, advice, physical and emotional support every time I see them.

They have been doing just what Verse 26 says a godly woman should, “She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” They used the previous trials God allowed them to face, to now assist me. Something that I intend to do for others now that I have been there. These two women continued to care for their husbands, their households, their other young children in the home and continued to nurture their children spiritually by assuring they rarely missed a Sunday of church to learn that Jesus loves them.

I also know another mom who waited years, YES, YEARS, to get her already adopted son and daughter out of Africa because of paperwork and red tape. She had so much strength. How could I be upset about a possible month-long NICU stay when she waited patiently for years for God to allow her beautiful babies to be brought home, and she gave praise and glory to God every step of the way? She has inspired me to be a woman like verse 25 describes. “She is clothed with dignity and strength. She laughs without fear of the future.”

Dignity and strength.

No, that was not me.

Such powerful words.

Guilty and afraid was more like it.

Fearful that this baby in the incubator would never know who I was pending my PET scan results. Guilty for having to induce labor forcing her into a possibly lengthy NICU stay. Guilty I wasn’t with her most of the day providing her care. Guilty that she would have a different newborn experience than my other children. Guilty that I was dumping two small children with relatives every evening so we could see our new baby. Guilty for not seeing our baby to go to Reed’s first baseball game or having Ryanne’s second birthday party while Robbyn was 30 miles away in an incubator.

I was having some serious guilt. I feel like I hear this over and over again from moms around my age. You have probably heard the phrase too.

Mom guilt.

Feeling guilty for leaving your child while you go to work or them not having as many playmates because you are a stay home mom. Feeling guilty for not putting them in enough activities or debating if you have them in too many activities. Worrying about not having a Pinterest perfect Christmas, to retaking your Instagram picture so your messy house isn’t shown. This mom guilt comes in all different forms and it torments us no matter the mom’s circumstances.

Definitely not Pinterest perfect but perfect nonetheless

Definitely not Pinterest perfect but perfect nonetheless.

We forget that we are daughters of the King, and He gave of these children, whether biological or adopted, knowing we were the perfect woman to raise them.

He knew that you might have work full time or night shift to provide for them, or that you wouldn’t be able to afford to throw the best birthday party, and still, he handpicked you to raise them. He entrusted you with these precious children. I am learning that the negative thoughts and fears about whether I am doing the right thing for my children are Satan trying to take time and energy away purpose God has designed for me.

Proverbs 31 also say a Godly woman, “arises while it is yet night and provides food for her household.” I believe whether you care for your family by staying home or by working part-time or full-time, you are providing for your family the best way that God has shown you.

One is not nobler than the other. Whatever the job God has given you, you should do it to the best of your ability. I am also learning that if I approach God in prayer about the role he has for me, then I need to have peace with that decision instead of this misplaced “mom-guilt.”

James 1:5-6 says “If any of you lack wisdom you should ask God who gives generously to all, without finding fault and it will be given to you. But when you ask you must believe and not doubt. Because the one who doubts is like a wave in the sea, blown and tossed about by the wind.”

I don’t want to be like a wave tossed about, second-guessing whether every decision I make about my children is the right one. I want to be the the Proverbs 31 woman whose “strength and honor are her clothing” I am trying my best know to turn over my concerns, fears, and misplaced guilt to God and have peace about my circumstances.

He knew when I had Robbyn that she would be in the NICU and he knew I had two small children at home. He also gave me a fantastic support system to care and love on my kids when I’m not there whether it is our family or the amazing NICU staff.

“She is clothed with dignity and strength. She laughs without fear of the future.” Did you read that? She laughs! Laughs! She’s not even saying, “I know God has my future under control, and I’ll try and be ok with that…”

No! She boldly laughs because her God, My God, the creator of the universe, has already has a plan for her future, so she has nothing to fear! I want to be that bold with my faith in God. I’m not anywhere close yet but I will keep running toward him.


A Time for Baby

Two shots in my rump and now we were ready to meet our baby bird! I have been jokingly calling her the grand finale for months now. Well, this girl really knows how to make an entrance! This is quite a lot of commotion she has created in just under a week. However, we think she is pretty special despite not having met her yet.

How many little girls can say they saved their mama’s life before they even left the womb?

The doctors told me that my tumor is not hormone driven, but it grew to such a massive size so quickly right when my milk started to come in. This may be too much information for you but when I began to leak at 32 weeks (roughly the same time I did with my previous daughter) this tumor accumulated fluid (20 ml worth based on the first ultrasound) making it very noticeable.

I have dense breasts anyway, and I would have never noticed a small lump, and pregnant bodies are so strange anyway, I probably would’ve assumed it was pregnancy related.

So, being pregnant with Robbyn at this time allowed the tumor to grow to such a noticeable size so quickly for some reason.

I believe this was another one of God’s magnificent blessings to our family. We were able to find this mass before it had spread anywhere else in my body.

Saturday afternoon, we dropped the kids off for a fun weekend with Jordan’s parents, and I met up with my sister for our ceremonial pre-delivery pedicure. Heaven forbid anyone in our family pushes a baby out without having professionally polished toes at the ends of our very swollen legs. Holly’s method of comfort usually involves pedicures, retail therapy, and ice cream, so we had to make a few stops before meeting up with Jordan.

I’m sure you have heard of love languages, and all of this is Holly’s love language and an afternoon of escape was just what I needed after this week. I’m not usually good at doing these sorts of things, I’m more task driven, but Holly has always had a way of forcing me to have fun.

After being properly pampered, we met Jordan for an extremely greasy burger and fries since I didn’t want hospital food for dinner, and I would be cut off entirely at midnight.

Jordan and I carried our bags into the hospital. It’s always a strange feeling walking in not knowing the next time you will be outdoors. Jordan held my hand, but honestly, I wasn’t even nervous about this impending delivery. I was just so excited to be doing something instead of sitting and waiting.

I was genuinely surprised I hadn’t gone into stress-induced labor earlier that week. Robbyn definitely could tell something was not right I had been having pain and contractions all week.

I had Cervadil that evening and had to be on a fetal monitor through the night. Miss Robbyn decided to roll around all night, and we kept losing her on the monitor.

*That means the nurse was in every 30 minutes to try and find the runaway baby again. *

Not the most conducive environment for sleep.

Not that I was in the mood to sleep anyway.

The next morning the nurse came in to start my Pitocin, and we were off to the races!

I prayed to God early that morning

I wanted that day to be a joyful occasion. I didn’t want to think about my cancer. As I said in my prayer, I wanted to enjoy the blessing that Robbyn was to us. Ecclesiastes 3 says “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

Today was a time to be born and celebrate.

I did not have an epidural with my other two children. I am a cheapskate and didn’t want to have to pay for it, but we met our deductible 3 times over in just over a week; so what the heck!

I also knew there was a possibility I could start chemo that week, and I didn’t want to be utterly worn-out from labor so I thought I would give the epidural a shot. It was a strange feeling or rather unfeeling. And the “laboring” continued.

The nurse, being a good patient advocate tried to get my mom, dad, sister, and Jordan to stop talking so much so I could rest, but that is my family.

We are loud.

There are always four different conversations going on, and everyone just keeps talking louder. It was calming to me to hear the chatter.

I much prefer the soothing sounds of my chaotic family to the numbing silence.

While they chattered away, I laid with my eyes closed convinced I was not progressing because I wasn’t feeling anything.

My sweet nurse kept asking if I was feeling any pressure.

No pressure. No real pain. Nothing.

Holly and I forced Jordan to go to the cafeteria and grab something to eat since we had no idea how much longer I might be laboring, and Robbyn was almost promised a stay in the NICU.

Our nurse took that opportunity to go ahead and drain my bladder since it had been a few hours. I swear she emptied a 5-gallon bucket from my bladder. That’s when I started to feel a little uncomfortable.

Nothing terrible just slightly uncomfortable.

She said she wanted to check me, but I told her I KNEW it was not anywhere near show time. Well, she is the labor and delivery nurse and not me for a good reason.

She proceeded to check me and said, “You’re a 10, we are going to have a baby.”

She started rushing around, moving in tables, calling the doctor and the NICU. Holly called Jordan and told him he better hustle back because Robbyn was coming quickly.

I just sat there in disbelief.

The doctor was gowned and seated at the foot of the bed, and I was in the “ready” position when Jordan finally rushed into the room.

The doctor said, “Ok Kari, on this next contraction you are going to push.”
I looked up at the nurse and said, ” You are going to have to tell me when.”
She said, “Now!”
I said, “Now?!”
I seriously couldn’t feel anything.

Three or so pushes, and we could hear our angry little girl screaming!

She was here, and she was mad about it.

An excellent sign when we were worried that she would come out with difficulty breathing.

The NICU checked her out and packed up and left, leaving Robbyn on my chest! She was doing so well we were able to hold her for about an hour before she had to make her journey up to the NICU.

As she lay on my chest, I could hardly believe she was really here. I literally had not even broken a sweat during labor. I was not expecting her for at least six more weeks. And here she was; all whopping 4 pounds 15 ounces of her!

We had our ecclesiastical time to dance!

Now that she had made her arrival and was safe, our gears had to shift.

It was now time for war.

I was raised in a very military-minded family. Our vacations always revolved around which battleship or military museum we could visit. My dad is a retired chaplain, my brother is an army ranger, and my sister is a former Army ICU nurse. (I am clearly the slacker in the family.) So it was no surprise when Adam texted me this:

“I was going to tell you today; I think these next 16 weeks are going to be your “deployment.” You might not get to see your kids as much and do the things you want to do with them, but you are fighting for something far more important, and only for a season. This is “a time for war” (Ecclesiastes). Phase one complete. Robbyn is out and safe. On to phase two: destroy the enemy. So stand in the face of fear and let God win the day. He is able. 2 Chronicles 20, “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours but God’s. You will not need to fight this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD who is with you.

This battle is not mine, but God’s and our battle is just beginning.


The Final Countdown

So can you believe it? We are only on Wednesday! It hasn’t even been a full week since my OBGYN told me I had cancer.

My world had been completely turned upside down in seconds.

But this is the lot that I was given, and with the optimistic news from the Community Breast Center, I felt like I had hope again.

Of course, there were still critical pieces of our mystery missing: the small matter of ALL the testing that could not be completed until I had delivered Robbyn.

We needed a clip put in the mass because much to our surprise, the doctors said the tumor would shrink very rapidly once chemo was started and the surgeon will need to know the original site was when she operates this fall. We also needed a breast MRI to see if the cancer was only in the left breast and exactly how dense the mass was. And last, but certainly not least, we needed a PET scan to see if there was cancer in anywhere else in my body.

To make matters a little more complicated, we wouldn’t know if it was going to be chemo first or baby first until after we met with the OBGYN and the Maternal-Fetal medicine doc the next day.

So, my mom and I took this appointment-free Wednesday as an opportunity to prepare for whatever the rest of the week was going to throw at us. We did so by going to the most magical place on earth, (no sarcasm here) one of my most favorite places, WALMART. I had things I hadn’t bought yet for my upcoming hospital stay because I thought I still had roughly 7 more weeks before Robbyn arrived, and now I had a new list of supplies to pick up as well.

Supplies for something I never thought I would be preparing for: Chemotherapy.

I was too scared to google side effects from the chemo I would soon be receiving, so I did what any 28-year-old mom in 2018 would do…I pinterested chemo care packages for ideas.

We had things for baby: premie diapers, pacifiers, a few preemie outfits, and other unmentionables for the havoc wrecked that accompanies delivering a baby.

We had things for chemo: multiple gallon size buckets of hand sanitizers, Lysol wipes, soft toothbrushes, dry mouth spray, sunscreen, chapstick, and an eyebrow kit.

And one item that I have been told by both cancer survivors and mothers alike that is 100% necessary: Stool softeners.

The poor cashier must have really wondered what was going on in my life with this vast array of items piled high in my cart.

In preparation for the next morning, I spent that night praying that God would keep aligning circumstances for us so we could kick start our plan. I knew I would feel better once we were physically doing something about our situation because at this point in the game we were still planning and information gathering.

I started a journal a few days prior to keep track of all the information we were being given, since everything was happening so fast. Not to mention, I was not at my mental or emotional peak being 33 weeks pregnant and told I have cancer. I also tend to be a worrier, and when I physically write out my fears and concerns, I have an easier time of letting them go instead of playing them over and over in my head.

After my recording of daily events, I write down my thanks, confessions of sin, prayer requests, rants to God, etc.

Even not very far out from my diagnosis, it is incredible to see all of the prayers and concerns that God has already answered or addressed. It is really humbling to go back and look at how worried I was over concerns that God was already handling on my behalf.

One of my goals for this season of my life is to go from a worrier to a prayer warrior.

If a prayer journal is something you haven’t tried, I highly recommend it. I’m scatterbrained, and my thoughts get derailed pretty quickly if I’m not organizing them on paper. It’s not something you have to spend all day doing either. I keep my small journal in my purse, and I jot things down during the day that I am concerned about and try my best to hand them over to God. Later, I spend more time in the evening writing out a full prayer. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Mine is a $5 black journal from Walmart but looking back to see how God is working in my life is priceless.

Here is an excerpt from my prayer journal that night,

”LORD, I need to trust your timing and your plan. You have been so good to us so far setting the right people in our path. I want to fight for my babies, and my sweet husband and I want to start now! Please help me to be patient. Please give me peace.”

I prayed I wouldn’t have to have a sparring match with the maternal-fetal medicine doctor to make my case for not wanting Robbyn to have a chemo bath in utero. As I said, I have made it only of my goals in life to fly under the radar but my mama bear instincts we’re now in overdrive. I could not be held responsible for what I said to the doctor the next day.

Well, after spending the whole night worrying about how the next day would play out, the next day turned out to be an absolute breeze. We met with the OBGYN first. We had little bit of a wait because he fit me in on a non-office day between two surgeries he had to perform in another building. (God definitely provided!)

He said as long as the maternal-fetal medicine doc agreed, we would be able to deliver as early as Sunday! And as fate (or as I believe God’s providence) would have it, he was already on call Sunday and would be there for my delivery.

One baby doctor down, one to go! Next was the Maternal-Fetal Medicine doctor. A title that I didn’t even know existed until this week. He is a high-risk pregnancy doctor, and he would be in charge of monitoring Robbyn should I have to receive chemo first, if she wasn’t developed enough to deliver. He was also the one to determine if she was developed enough to safely deliver. I had to have a very detailed ultrasound first to see how developed her organs were at 33.5 weeks, especially her heart and lungs.

The ultrasound technician was very thorough and explained every picture she was taking. She showed us how Robbyn was actually practicing her breathing and estimated her weight at over 5 lbs. (Another HUGE answered prayer)

She tried to get a picture of Robbyn’s face, but I think this little girl was upset that I’d had three breast ultrasounds that week already and she hadn’t been the star of those shows. Now that we wanted to see her sweet face rather than my left breast, she WAS NOT going to show it to us. The tech pushed and poked on my belly trying to get her to move her hand out of the way, but Robbyn was stubborn and could not be swayed. A trait I am 100% sure she received from her father.

The technician left the jelly and a towel on my stomach just in case the doctor wanted to take more pictures. He walked in very confidently, shook my hand and pulled the towel off my belly.

I introduced Jordan as my husband. He then asked, “And are you are the one who impregnated her?” Jordan almost fell out of his chair but I could spot a fellow sarcastic kindred spirit a mile away! After our other introductions, he cut to the chase and said

“I think we can deliver this baby now. Although I have a feeling this train was rolling whether I thought so or not.”

He shared my concerns about starting chemo before delivering her. He also made a point we hadn’t yet considered. The chemo would attack my immune system as well as hers, and we would have to monitor her blood count and mine before we could deliver. This is one of the many reasons why he is the doctor and not me.

So all I had to do now was receive a steroid injection immediately, and another one in 24 hours to dry up Robbyn’s lungs. Finally,we would come back to the hospital Saturday night for an induction!

God had provided again! This cancer appeared when Robbyn was developed enough to be delivered safely. I cannot imagine being given this diagnosis when I was only 15 or even 25 weeks pregnant.

Her lungs were in great shape, her weight looked fantastic, and both doctors were on board with our plan A.

The best part of the day was when the maternal-fetal medicine doctor asked to pray with us before he left the room. He obviously had a strong prayer life based on the ease and passion that he prayed with.

He prayed for Robbyn’s health and safety, prayed for my upcoming treatment, and prayed for strength for my entire support system. The act of him praying with us was just another confirmation from God that he was directing our path and we were right where he wanted us to be.

I had prayed to God, and he gave me more than I had expected. I have a tendency to underestimate Him, and he was showing me just how wrong I can be.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Jesus Christ, throughout all generations forever and ever! Amen.”

Ephesians 3: 20-21


Decisions, Decisions

Baby, surgery, chemo? Chemo, baby surgery? C-section/surgery combo, chemo? Which surgeon, OBGYN, oncologist, maternal-fetal medicine doctor? Which hospital?

These are all questions I never would have dreamed I would be asking myself a few weeks ago.

I have always thought I was very good at multitasking. So God must have thought he would see just how good I really am.

Or more than likely He was trying to show me how weak I am and how much I should be relying on him instead of myself.

In addition to multitasking, I am also a planner. It drives my husband and most of my family members nuts. I want to know what time we are having our family dinner 13 days from now and what side dish everyone is bringing. Are we meeting at 5 or 5:30? It doesn’t matter I am going to show up at 4:45 just to make sure we are not late.

As any good planner would, I had everything for this baby scheduled out on my timeline. My other two children set up camp in my uterus and probably wouldn’t have come out until their 3rd birthdays had my doctor not evicted them. My due date with Robbyn was May 24th, so I fully expected to still be pregnant well into June.

I was on cruise control having passed my glucose test, genetic testing for baby bird came back normal, and I had all the girl clothes washed and ready. I just had to coast through this last 7 weeks of pregnancy to enjoy my last maternity leave that happened to fall in the summer months. (If my coworkers are reading this; I swear I didn’t plan it that way)

But after Friday’s groundbreaking revelation, my life was in complete and utter upheaval. All of my plans flew out the window, and the only things that mattered were getting Robbyn out safely and getting treatment started so that my kids still had a mom to sing them to sleep at night.

Enter Robb Barlow.

My dad and I have many similarities. We are antsy, most people can’t follow our train of thought, we have less patience than a toddler, we get fixated on problems, and we HAVE to fix said problem like 10 minutes ago.

My dad had talked with another doctor who was able to set me up with a different hospital in Indy early the next week for a consultation. This hospital thought they would be able to coordinate care between all of the different specialties my unique situation was going to require.

I was so relieved. Friday at 3:30 I felt like I had no solution to this problem, and now I had TWO options thanks to my dad’s Mr. Fix-it personality and my favorite surgeon. Now I didn’t have to just pick whichever provider would take my unique case.

Instead, I could weigh the pros and cons and make an informed decision. God bless Robb Barlow and his meddling ways (which thankfully I inherited tenfold.)

So what now? How would I know which provider to use? What if I made the wrong choice and the outcome was poor because of my choice?

This was the first time in my life that I decide to “give” God complete control over a situation. I had no idea which providers’ hands to place mine and Robbyn’s lives in. I had a grade 3 breast tumor.

For those that don’t know, grade 1 grows the slowest and 3 grows the fastest. Awesome, right?

So, time was really of the essence for me to figure out who would provide my care. I decided this was all so sudden and SO gigantic of a problem, that I would not be able to fix it.

Yes, in my control freak mind, I assumed that I was actually running the show, not God.

Sure, I pray, quite a bit actually, but most of the time, I already know in the back of my mind what decision I am going to make. I am just running it by God really quickly for formality sake. I mean can He really expect me to wait ten minutes for an answer?

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the lord with all of your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

I had so many paths in front of me. So many different possibilities for how the next two weeks might play out. How would we coordinate all of these moving parts before this aggressive tumor spread too far?

Well, the short answer is…we couldn’t.

WE could not coordinate this monstrosity of a problem. WE couldn’t control the rate at which the tumor was growing. WE couldn’t make sure Robbyn was developed enough to be delivered early. WE had no control over how quickly all 8 of these new doctors could coordinate care to set a plan in motion. As much and Robb Barlow and I wanted to manipulate the situation to work in our favor; WE couldn’t.

God is sovereign, meaning he has complete and total control over every situation. I think He was using this to show me just how in control He really is and just how powerless I really am.

How else can we grasp the magnitude of how powerful God is except when we are at our absolute weakest?

In 2 Corinthians 12:9 it says, “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Had it been up to me I would have lopped my own breast off at work in an empty OR the moment they told me I had cancer. In my mind, everything would be ok if we could just control it, contain it, FIX it right now.

But I am not a doctor, and it was the weekend. The longest weekend of my life. And God was telling us to wait. He had a plan, and we needed to wait on his timing.

I don’t know about you, but it is very frustrating when God is trying to grow you in a spiritual discipline. Am I not patient remember? I get to movies AT LEAST 30 minutes before the previews start. And God was expecting me to wait until Monday morning to hear back from our second opinion provider???

Well, Monday morning came and as my mom and I sat at Cracker Barrel my phone rang…and rang, and rang. Literally, 7 different doctors’ offices called me within 10 minutes. They all had appointment times for me that week, and none of them conflicted with the others. I was scrambling to writes down all of this information as fast as I could and keep the 3 hospital systems straight. I had begged God ALL weekend for information.

It’s funny how God answers our prayers in ways we never would have imagined. Monday morning, I had more information than I knew what to do with!

I know that I am sarcastic. I personally think it’s one of my best features, despite what my husband might tell you. I also know that I am made in the image of God. This leads me to believe that God must be pretty sarcastic too! I pleaded for information and, now I had so much my head was spinning.

Disclaimer: For those of you following along, in two weeks’ time I had so many appointments, testing, and information thrust upon me, it is going to take a few more posts to catch you all up to speed on our current situation. So stick with me! I have SO much more to tell you!