"As for me and my household, we will serve the LORD."
Joshua 24: 15

Changing Lives @ Hillcrest - Michelle

March 24, 2011

Last October I was approached by a friend of my sisters who works for an area hospital. She told me that the hospital was preparing for a new marketing campaign and asked if she could share my story with the marketing department responsible for picking the patients they would feature in their ad campain. Since the first few moments after diagnosis I have wanted nothing more than this tragic episode of life to bring God glory so I gave her my permission. To make a long story short there were lots of different interviews and selection committees but in the end my story was chosen to represent the Women's Center (where my Breast Surgeon practices). The first week of January I went to an area studio, got a professional makeover (so much fun) and then had a photo shoot and video interview (nerve-wrecking!). In the last couple of weeks the ads have begun to air. TV commercials, Radio spots, Web-commercials on You-Tube, and even a huge Billboard in the middle of town. And while I can't stand to see myself on TV or hear my voice on the radio I am brought to tears because I'm reminded of just how much God has done for me, what he saved me from! I remember how scared I was at first and how His love took that fear from me and gave me peace. I remember how weak I was on Chemo and how he was my strength to continue on as a mom when it exhausted me to just get out of bed. I remember the pit that formed in my stomach with the first few handfuls of hair that began to fall out and then later looking at my bald head and realizing my beauty is in Him and not in my hair. I remember having to summon the courage to look at myself after having my breast removed only to find that God's grace so fully abounded that their was no fear or revulsion looking at my empty and scarred chest. So, when I see my billboard I see God's faithfulness, His love, and His blessings. I'm so blessed to be alive today. To get to sing silly songs with my kiddos or go on a date with my hubby. Life is precious and I've been given more time here. My prayer remains the same as it did on the day of diagnosis...Lord may my life bring you glory in whatever comes my way!

March 14th, 2011

It's Spring Break here in T-Town and since the weather didn't get the memo that we wanted warm and sunny weather we decided to designate today as "Craft Day". I grabbed the bins of craft supplies while the kids gathered old socks, and we set to work making a troop of sock puppets.

Ethan started out making a Karate Kung Fu Master while Christlyn went to work on making an ORU Cheerleader. Jadon wanted in on the action and found on old green sock that was perfect for a crocodile...with a little help from Mama "Crocky" was born and spent the rest of the day giggling and playing with Jadon. By the end of the day we had one ORU Cheerleader, one Waiter in a Tuxedo, two Dinosaurs, one Kung Fu Master, two Zebras, one Alien, one Puppy, two crazy people, and of course one "Crocky". Not to mention a very messy house. All the kids pitched in and helped clean up the mess and get the house back in order before Daddy came home from work...their reward...Incredible Pizza!!!

Poppy Paparazzi...Photographer Extraordinaire!

(she will be going with me to RFKC)

Sometimes I feel like I’m suppose to have it all figured out. That since I faced death and was spared that I’m suppose to wake up each day with some special purpose. And have an unquenchable zeal to accomplish that purpose. But every day I wake up overwhelmed by the same world every other mom does. With breakfast and lunches to be made, kids to get dressed for school, backpacks to pack, homework to check, a messy house, piles of laundry, stacks of bills, I could go on and on but you get the point. I wonder if what I do even makes a difference, if I’m really impacting the world for Christ, if there is something more I should be doing. I feel guilty that I’m not more involved with ministries at church or taking my children on community outreach projects. Overall I feel ineffective and then guilty for not having the energy to do more.

But then there are these little nuggets, chunks of days, moments really when I realize that I’m right where I’m suppose to be, doing exactly what I was called to do. A simple prayer by one of the kids, an extra big hug, or the sight of my six year old curled up on the couch with his bible and a highlighter searching for verses he wants to memorize. It’s then I know I’m doing something right. I know that in God’s gracious love I was given more time to be a mom, to lead these three amazing children to the foot of the cross.

It’s sometimes difficult to accept God’s call on our lives if it’s not spectacular. If I don’t start a food pantry, move overseas, teach Sunday school, volunteer at rehabs centers, or take in foster kids then I’m not doing God’s will. But for this season at least that’s not what God wants from me or for me. He’s got me here, in the middle of the mundane, to disciple these three amazing children. It’s here really, in the everyday, that we fulfill God’s will for our lives…to live for Him and serve Him in all we do. Then, if and when He calls us to something bigger, we’re already practiced in saying yes to Him, in doing His will, and in drawing strength from Him.

November 5th, 2010

I can’t do it all! It’s not easy to admit but it’s time I started facing reality. Here’s my track record for the last 27 months (since diagnosis).
- 9 Surgeries
- 3 Months of Chemotherapy
- 3 Months of Radiation
- 5 Months of Weekly Breast Expansions (very painful)
- 3 PET Scans
- 3 MRI’s
- 3 Mammograms
- 17 Various Test/Procedures – Stress tests, X-rays, Treatments for clotted port, etc.
- 113 Doctors Appointments (for me, this does not include all the trips to the pediatrician/ER for sick and injured kids)
- Menopause
- 3 Small Kids
- 1 Husband with two jobs
- 1 New Business that I run – book-keeping, receptionist, and scheduler.
- Home-schooling a 2nd Grader and 1st Grader.

I’m INSANE!!! On paper it’s easy to see. But after conquering Chemo I thought the tough stuff was behind me and that I had to hit the floor running. But life this past year has been the HARDEST thing I’ve ever done. It’s made chemo look easy. I’ve dealt with more depression, mood swings, and emotional breakdowns than I ever thought possible…all while trying to keep a smile on my face and make people believe life was great and it was wonderful to be alive! I’ve wrestled with God over and over again on why he even bothered to save my life, and with the scripture that says He came so that we might have life and have it more abundantly. What I was experiencing wasn’t abundant life.

The final straw was this past surgery. What was suppose to be my final surgery. I woke up with only half of the scheduled procedures completed and breast implants that were once again crooked. My plastic surgeon didn’t think much of it and just said we’d have to keep on trying. Trying? TRYING? I wanted to scream at him! Didn’t he know what I’d gone through…2 years of extreme pain and having either only 1 breast or two crooked breasts. One so crooked for a 6 month period of time that it was literally 4 inches higher than the other breast and only one inch below my collar bone…it was impossible to hide and his suggestion for hiding it was to wear a scarf (it was summer and 110 outside). Then on top of it all I got another infection, this time just in the incisions but we were all very concerned about it going down to the implant again and losing the reconstruction all over again.

So Monday I had a major breakdown and I began to face reality. I can’t do it all! I have to let things go and get better…truly, fully, healthy! I re-enrolled the kids in public school, fired my plastic surgeon, and opened my hurt and hardened heart back up to God. He saved me for a reason and living in misery isn’t his reason or purpose for my life. I don’t have to do everything to please Him, but everything I do I want to do well for Him.