Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Things I Love About My Husband’s Cancer Diagnosis



Day 41
Things I Love About My Husband’s Cancer Diagnosis

Before you question my sanity, please let me explain.

I cried while I was making eggs the other day. Not because the eggs were bad or the milk was soured. I cried because a thought came to my mind like an arrow. As serious as Rodney’s cancer is, how many more times will I be able to make eggs for his breakfast before the effect of this aggressive chemo rears its ugly head and takes away his appetite and ability to keep food down? How many mornings have I bemoaned the fact that I needed to get up early to cook eggs for his low carb lifestyle? How many mornings have I wished that he could just eat toast or cold pizza from the refrigerator?

One thing (of many) that I have learned in the last few weeks is that a C-word diagnosis changes a person. Not just physically, although that will happen. Rodney is facing multiple challenges in the coming months. More chemo, more scans, more shots, more nausea, more extreme pain as the poison that’s become a part of his body does its work of killing the “bad stuff” but taking the “good stuff” down with it too. SO. MANY. UNKNOWNS. Will he lose all his hair? Will throwing up become a daily occurrence? And how about that tiredness that won’t give up and the realization that putting in a 4-hour workday is a gargantuan accomplishment when you are accustomed to 10+ hour days? What about Reilly’s basketball games? Holidays? Visits with family and friends? Can he preach? Will he feel well enough to come to church? Visiting the shut-ins? Checking on the widows? “Swinging by” to see visitors? Continuing the discipleship meetings he had already established? There is very more to this evil disease than the physical aspect of it.

I have mentioned some things that I dislike about cancer (see the above paragraph for ideas). Now let me tell you what I LOVE about cancer.

I love that everything about my relationship with my husband is completely clear.
I love him.
I have always loved him (for the last 25 years anyway). I will always love him. That’s it. No matter what tomorrow holds. Everything is summed up in this sentence . . . I LOVE RODNEY HOLLOMAN. I love simply holding his hand. I love him being near me. I miss him when we are apart for too long . . . all things that were true weeks ago, but are so unambiguous today. I remind him often that when we were engaged, he promised me an adventure. (I told him that this is NOT QUITE what I had in mind, but an adventure regardless.)

I love that the things that previously may have caused me some angst (i.e. snoring, etc.) are precious to me now. As I type this, I am sitting in the living room of our home. Rodney, being himself, thought that he could conquer the world and went to make some visits. He came home just a few hours later exhausted. He crashed on the chair next to me and almost immediately fell asleep. The sounds of him breathing (albeit somewhat loudly at times) are like sweet music to my ears. Why did it take cancer for me to see this?

And the most important thing I love about cancer is the renewed focus we have as a family to “make much of Jesus” (as Rodney would say). Sometimes we get to a place in our lives where we are content and even complacent. The day-to-day seems to be all-consuming. Ball games, meal planning, Sunday school lessons, worship team practice, work . . . the list goes on. A cancer diagnosis helps put everything into perspective. What things are essential and what things can be put away for a season. I can tell you, that some things I thought I HAD to do...NOPE. Not right now. I guess you could say that serious “bend in the road” gives you laser-focused clarity like nothing else. Our family mission has always been to “love Jesus, trust Jesus, and to live for Jesus”, but it wasn’t until a bit ago that we put it “on paper.” If everything our family experiences in the coming months doesn’t point someone to the One Who loves us like no other, then we have not used our new adventure for His glory as we have hoped.

Lest anyone be confused, I DO NOT have it all together and would never claim to have it all figured out. (Remember I cried in the eggs?) But I know that this is God’s plan for us right now. This season of trial is the path that He has allowed. He will give us the grace to face the coming days.

One of my favorite passages that I often refer back to is found in Psalm 107. The part that I love the most and paints the best picture of a stormy time in my life starts in verse 24… (italics mine)

These (the people who rely on the sea for their livelihood) see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep. For he (God) commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They (the waves) mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They (the people) reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end. Then (at their wit’s end) they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he (God) bringeth them out of their distresses (the storm). He maketh the storm a calm so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they (the people) glad because they are quiet; so he (God) bringeth them unto their desired haven.

I take great comfort in knowing that my God, Who allowed this storm to happen in the first place, will “bring us out of our distresses . . . into our desired haven.” Rodney has said repeatedly, “if this is the next thing I get to do for God or if it’s the last thing I get to do for God, I want to do it well, pointing people to Jesus.” We want to make much of King Jesus.

Friday, September 6, 2019

“God is so good, He’s so good to me!”



“God is so good, He’s so good to me!”

We sang this chorus as kids. We taught our children this song. They can learn this simple chorus, even as a toddler. It has a catchy tune and the lyrics are infinitely interchangeable. “He loves me so…” “He answers prayer…” The list could go on.

Take a moment and really think about these words.
  • God- the perfectly holy one, omnipotent, omniscient, the Creator of the universe, yet He still chooses to love me--a mere sinner in need of His grace.
  • Is- He is present. Perfectly. Always. He never goes away. There is never anywhere we can go, that He is not there.
  • So- “to such a great extent.” How great is His love for us? He sent His Son to die. His own child. That, by its very definition, is a great extent.
  • Good- One of the definitions of the word good is “the part of someone that is kind, honest, generous, helpful, etc.” Psalm 100 lets us know just how good He is when it says, “For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.”
These past few weeks (18 days, actually), God has shown His goodness to us in many ways. From Rodney's general physician who has called on multiple occasions to pray for (and with) him, to the pulmonologist who pulled multiple staff members to work on getting him the urgent (and hard to schedule) appointments that he needed. Then there’s our Christ-following oncologist who “everyone wants, so you’ll never get an appointment with,” who not only gave us an appointment but made it for the next day!

Nurses who were God’s hands and feet to us (Deanna and Darlene) when we were at the hospital, nervous and confused, trying to wrap our heads around what was happening to Rodney.

God used technicians who took their lunch breaks to squeeze him in for yet another scan. The food service worker who gave us a cookie just because… “he might want something sweet” (I may have hugged him and wept on a total stranger.) My Peace Lutheran family who have treated us like life-long members, even though I am “that Baptist girl who works in the office.” The staff and team at Hobby Lobby (Clinton Highway) who have surrounded us with care and concern-and a year ago we didn’t know any of them.

Our Hardin Valley church family, who through tears and broken hearts, have risen to the challenge of taking on much more responsibility because we will be unable to for the foreseeable future.

We have had multiple phone calls, text messages, cards, and letters come from friends and family around the world. We have compared it to the final scene of the movie, It’s a Wonderful Life, when George stares in amazement as people from every chapter of his life (from childhood to present day) willingly come to his rescue and help him in ways he cannot help himself.

So when you ask me if God is good, just like the children’s chorus says, my answer is a definite YES. He’s so good to me!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Overwhelmed and Thankful



We are unable to begin to thank you for your support, calls, messages, and offers to do “anything we need, anytime we need it” from just so many. 

Over the last 48 hours, we have been reduced to tears so many times as you have communicated your love to our family and our church. God is so good to show His love to us through His people. Thank you for helping to bear our burdens during this season of our lives.

Today began the next part of our marriage adventure as we met with my oncologist. The meeting went well with lots of explanations of what is going on in my body, the stage of my cancer, along with what seems to be ahead for us. God has favored us with a doctor who is a Christ-follower and an expert in this field. 

He has scheduled me for a port for my chemotherapy and a bone marrow biopsy. This is all happening quickly, and then we will start my fight in earnest. In God’s good providence, I should take my treatments less than 5 minutes from our church and also very close to where Andrea is employed. 

Our urgent prayers are that the bone marrow will be healthy, the med port installation will not result in infection, and that the most substantial “dessert plate-sized” tumor will not impede any further than it is upon my lung or windpipe. (I have grown rather fond of breathing.) Truly, our most urgent prayer is for God to use this in our lives for His glory.

Our family is so glad to be a part of the family of God. Thank you for joining us in praying that we will ‘Love God, Trust God, and Live for God.” We continue to be in awe of His grace and goodness and overwhelmed by your love for our family. ~Rodney

Thank God for Pneumonia -- I Have Cancer


Out of all the words I have ever spoken to my wife, these may have been the hardest yet. On Tuesday, August 20, my Pulmonologist’s PA told me I needed a CT scan immediately. I had been dealing with fluid on my lungs and pneumonia that seeming would not let go since the first of July. As I argued and said I was tired of writing checks to doctors, getting x-rays, and feeding hungry vampire phlebotomists, she simply said that I HAD to get the test done.

As it turns out, the multiple doctor visits and repeated x-rays uncovered at least 2 malfunctioning lymph nodes. On Thursday, by using the scans as a type of flipbook, you could see the tumor spreading out towards my lung and encroaching upon my windpipe. Then, he said we needed a bronchoscopy, a PET scan, and some oncologists. My doctor proceeded to empower his staff to get it done. I saw three total strangers throw themselves into getting everything he asked for my care. I am forever grateful to the Statcare people in Knoxville. They not only got me the PET scan with half a day’s notice, but they also did it in one of the most advanced facilities in the region. It was read that afternoon and they conveyed it to me by 3PM. Rarely, has a phone call ever been so frightening as they summarized all the rest that is going on in my body. They have booked me a “crack” team to do the biopsies on Monday and will have a pathologist in the surgical room to examine the samples right then.

They went after the oncologist that no one could get into and would be months to see if I did get on his list. They said I should pick an alternative cancer doctor. I told them I didn’t have another name. By noon on Friday, waiting under a warm blanket with my body full of radioactive dye, they called and said I had the appointment with the man no one could get into and I had no chance to see on Tuesday morning at 8AM.

We have spent these past days telling our family and others of our news about my aggressive non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I feel like I have made more people cry than at any time in my life combined. Today, our church learned of what was in our path. They cried too.

Tomorrow, I will take a good nap and wake up with a sore throat for a biopsy. Tuesday at 8AM, we will start the rest of our journey together.

We are simply overwhelmed by the love and outpouring of calls and messages from people in the states and around the world. We cannot thank you enough. Thank you for praying. To all of those we did not get to contact personally, we hope you will understand. It was just impossible to contact all of those we love who mean so much to us.

Our new family motto is that we will “Love Jesus, Trust Jesus, and Live for Jesus.” Regardless of this outcome, I don’t want to waste this cancer. If this is the next thing I do for Jesus or the last thing I do for my King, I want to do it well. Please pray that we glorify God in the next stage of our adventure.

Our children, in particular, need your love and support. Our church is hurting mightily tonight as well as our extended family. Andrea and I are in the chaos of the storm, with emotional waves of all kinds tossing us about. With every deluge of fear, doubt, confusion, and the nagging sense of future loss, we cling tightly to the God who is greater than our storm. ~Rodney

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Finding I Am

Just because I can't SEE Him working, doesn't mean He's not.


#LysaTerkeurst #FindingIAm #P31OBS #LifewayWomen

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

My New Favorite Bread Recipe


Here is it folks, the BEST bread machine bread recipe I think I've tasted. I use the dough cycle on my bread maker and then bake it in the oven. I *tried* baking this recipe in my maker on the rapid bake cycle and was not at all pleased with the results. 

This recipe makes one "regular" sized loaf.

INGREDIENTS 

  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 teaspoons yeast
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups white flour


DIRECTIONS

  1. Put your hot water, yeast and sugar in your bread machine. Let stand 6-12 minutes depending on the temp of your water. Your yeast will foam.
  2. Add remaining ingredients.
  3. Use rapid or basic white cycles.
  4. Or bake for 25 minutes @ 350.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Thankfulness During the Wait

 
One thing that is been very helpful to me during times of wait is to keep a “Thanksgiving Journal”. Basically you take a moment each day and write one or two things you are thankful for in a pretty notebook, or keep the document on your computer or your phone. It helps during times of wait, to be able to look back and see all the wonderful things that God has done for you.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

My Seester, with the Stink Shirt . . .


Erica used to be an annoyance. She would tattle on me in a heartbeat, throwing me "under the bus" repeatedly (at least, that's how I remember it). She was always the chaperone when I went on dates, but I realized quickly that she could be bought off with candy! LOL
We fought like all siblings do, but something "happened" when I went to college. She went from being my nemesis, to being my friend. As we have grown older, our relationship has grown and developed. I can honestly say today that she is one of my best friends in the world. She is stylish, crazy talented, compassionate, and loving.
She is an awesome daughter, a wonderful sister-in-law, and amazing aunt, and is going to be a spectacular mom very soon (as soon as her adoption is approved). 
Today, I would like to wish my amazing sister the happiest of birthdays. I hope your day is as wonderful as you are sis! I love you.

Buttery Sweet Bread

I have had this recipe for years (so long, in fact, that I cannot remember the source) and used it for many different things. It makes a great loaf bread, it also makes spectacular cinnamon rolls. Just make the dough as normal, roll it out, fill it up with cinnamon and sugar, and then make a basic cream cheese glaze to go on top when they're done…

I only use my bread machine for the dough cycle. I let it rise in the pan, and then roll it over to my bread pans, let it rise, and bake it in the oven. I like the texture a lot better this way.

Buttery Sweet Bread
1 1/2 pound loaf
  • 1/2-cup milk
  • 1/3-cup water
  • 1 egg, large
  • 1/4-cup butter or margarine, cut into small cubes
  • 1-teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/3 cups bread flour
  • 1/4-cup sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
To make in the bread machine: 
Add ingredients to bread machine pan in the order suggested by the manufacturer. (Mine suggests that I put all the dry ingredients in first, make a well in the flour mixture, and then add the wet ingredients in the well, making sure that anything warm does not get near the yeast.) Set to "dough" cycle.

Remove from bread maker at the end of  the dough cycle. Place in prepared bread pans and let rise. (Makes 2 loaves.)

Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown. 

Brush melted butter on top while bread is still hot. 

Let cool before slicing (if you can)! 

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Things I Love About My Husband’s Cancer Diagnosis

Day 41 Things I Love About My Husband’s Cancer Diagnosis Before you question my sanity, please let me explain. I cried while I was ...