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Happy Thanksgiving!

What a wonderful time of year when we can gather together and express all of the reasons that we are thankful to our Lord for His provisions!  He has not only provided for our physical needs and blessed us with wonderful families and friends, but He has supplied for all of our spiritual needs with the finished work of Christ on the cross to forgive our sins!  The thing that we are most thankful for!!

Here in Costa Rica, they do not have the Thanksgiving holiday, but we are celebrating none the less.  We are going to have a few tico friends over and I am going to attempt to cook an entire feast – including cooking turkey for the first time!!  We not only want to share with them this United States tradition of a big day of food and perhaps play some football americano, but also share with them how God has blessed us and how we owe Him everything for all that He has given us. 

God has truly blessed us with another year in Costa Rica of service for Him.  At this point, Jacob leads 11 Bible studies each week!!!  That is amazing and a huge answer to prayer!  The kids enjoy going with him to some of these and they enjoy playing soccer each week with the kids in Cipreses!!  The kids and I are enjoying homeschooling and I am thrilled with my health progress!!  In the last couple of weeks, I have been able to chase the kids around like I used to and play ball with them!  I am feeling better than I have in over a year!!  God is so good!

We have been so blessed by great friends and family that love us from a distance and continue to pray and support us!  Thank you so much!!  God is using you mightily here in Costa Rica, even though you are in the US.  We are praying for you as you pray for us!! 

Colossians 2:6-7

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

Here are some recent photos…

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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A Year of …. GRACE

What a day…. for that matter, what a year.  But I’ll start with today and go back.  We woke up to devastation from flooding here in Costa Rica.  It is reported that at least 20 have died because of landslides and flooding and many more are without houses.  Please be in prayer for our country.  While Jacob was helping Jorge repair our driveway and I was teaching the kids, I started getting a migraine.  Not much has helped relieve it and even while having that, I could not seem to sit still and rest.  So I sat down at my computer a couple of hours ago and opened my email.  Simple enough.  I noticed I had almost 900 emails in my Inbox, so I thought I am going to clean this out.  It was like a fun step back in time.  I was mostly delete happy, but occasionally a title would catch my attention and I would open it and walk down memory lane.  It went from preparing to leave SC in 2008, then to our year in language school and then to returning to the States for a brief trip and then back here to Costa Rica in fall of 2009…..

Then I came across an email to Johnny in December of 2009 and I decided to read it.  I was describing the fact that we had decided to bite the financial bullet and me go to the doctor here and then I described my symptoms. ….. It took my breath a bit…. all of the memories started to coming back of this past year….. I immediately remembered calling my parents on a Saturday morning probably right after that email and they were telling me they thought I needed to come back to SC to MUSC to be examined…. I yelled at them and fussed and carried on and told them no. (I cannot think of a time in my life that I had ever acted like that to my parents)  They said that MMBC leadership also thought I needed to return and so did their friend Dr. Joe John whom I had been talking to already asking his opinion.   I then proceeded to call Johnny and guess what, I fussed at him and I think I may have even yelled at him.  DIDN’T THEY REALIZE THAT NOTHING WAS WRONG WITH ME?  I WAS NOT COMING BACK TO THE STATES!!!  I then called Dr. John to fuss at him too.  🙂  (I hope that you all realize this is not my normal personality)  I will never forget that conversation with him.  As he was talking to me I started to cry.  He was right, perhaps I did need to return.   Dr. John, you were the one that got me to return.  Thank you…..

Back to the emails…. I started to go back to deleting them again.  I came across the one from Dr. John from the day after I fussed at him on the phone.  He was so kind and telling me that he had contacted a Dr. Gary Gilkeson, a professor of Rheumatology at MUSC who had agreed to see me as soon as I flew in.  I had no idea at that time what a huge blessing him sending me to Dr. Gilkeson was going to be…. My memories went to flying back and saying goodbye to my husband and kids and saying, “Mommy will be back in a week.  Everything is fine.”  I packed for 4 days.  I sat on the plane, honestly thinking, “Ok, so something might be wrong, but it will end up being small and I will be right back to Costa Rica by the end of the week.”  Looking out my window on the plane, praying, a rainbow followed outside my window the entire 4 hours finally disappearing into the sunset…. Got a call the next morning from Dr. Gilkeson and he saw me that day.  At that appointment I asked him if he knew I had come back to SC “kicking and screaming.”  He smiled and said that he had heard that  🙂  ….

Back to my emails…. I started rereading many of them after this….. I began to get very overwhelmed…. I am actually very overwhelmed right now as I write this….. I started noticing many things.  First, Dr. Gilkeson is a saint for putting up with a ton of emails and questions from me.  And he answered each one….. blessing, blessing, blessing…..   Then I started noticing that there were emails with 60, 70, 80 responses….  It was you guys…. I am weeping as I write that (wish I could give you all hugs right now)…. why?…. Because it is just so overwhelming to me how God has blessed me with so many people praying for me and loving me…. I began to reread some….. I had to stop….. I went to my bed, got in it, put on my iPod and began to weep….

All the memories of this past year started to rush back….. leaving my precious family here, Dr. Gilkeson explaining blood work, biopsy results,  medicines, my immune system, these diseases, being without Jacob and the kids, prayers, new friends, love, God’s love, God’s goodness, God’s power, God’s miracles, GOD’S GRACE.  Many people have said to me over this past year that I am some person special.  That I inspire them.  If that is the case, it is not me they are seeing.  I am just a person trying to live my life for the Lord.  HE, our God, is the one that gets all the credit for the person that you see.  HE is the One who has carried me.  HE is the One that has never left my side.  HE is the One that has kept every promise.  He is the One that has not allowed me to complain.  He is the One that kept me from not falling apart with my family in one country and me in another.  He is the One that held me together as I had to relearn to put pants on with my physical therapist Renee.  He is the One that did not allow me to get depressed over this whole past year.  He is the One.  He is the One.  He is the One…..

It is His Grace.  It has been a year of His Grace.  For without it…. can’t and don’t have to go there….  I can say that I am thankful for this past year.  I am thankful for these diseases.  I am thankful because I have been able to experience God in a way that I never have in my life as a Christian.  And I pray that somehow He will use it for His glory.  I go back to my Scripture verse that was on my heart during my last infusion….

2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What does the future hold with dermatomyositis, interstitial lung disease and Courtenay?  I don’t know.  And I don’t need to know.  Because I have my God and Savior who will always be with me and THEIR GRACE is sufficient.  If you don’t have them, please click on our tab that says The Big Question.  Contact me or someone else that is a Christian that you trust.  He is there for you.

Me and the kids!! :)

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Questions answered!!

So many people have been sending me messages of encouragement, prayers and questions.  I am so thankful for each of you thinking of me and loving me across the world.  I have people praying for me in Europe, Africa, North and South America (according to geography as taught in Costa Rica – there is no Central America, only North and South)!!!  I so much appreciate everyone sending me things and letting me know that you have not forgotten about us and I have even learned of churches where I might not personally know anyone and they are praying for me because you guys are passing along my situation.  So thank you so much.

I am writing this about midway through my infusion on Sunday afternoon.  I am feeling up to it, so I thought I would go ahead and answer some of the questions that many are asking and others many be wondering about, but not asking.  So here we go….

1.  Why a chemo drug when you do not have cancer?  Answer – THE DEFINITION OF CHEMOTHERAPY WOULD BE A MEDICATION THAT DESTROYS OR KILLS CANCEROUS CELLS. IN MY CASE, THE MEDICATION IS ELIMINATING CELLS THAT ARE PRODUCING INFLAMMATORY SUBSTANCES IN AN ABNORMAL MANNER, BUT NOT A CANCER. THE SAME APPLIES FOR METHOTREXATE.  THAT WOULD BE THE B CELLS THAT ARE PRODUCING THE AUTO ANTIBODY ANTIJO1 THAT IS ATTACKING MY LUNGS.  THE METHOTREXATE IS ANOTHER CHEMO DRUG THAT I ALREADY AM TAKING ONCE A WEEK.

2.  Don’t you feel that you need to come back to the US and to SC to your wonderful doctors here at MUSC?  Answer – YOU ALL ARE EXACTLY RIGHT.  THE DOCTORS THAT I HAVE AT MUSC ARE FANTASTIC!!  GOD TRULY BLESSED ME WITH THE ABSOLUTE BEST PEOPLE TO DIAGNOSE AND TREAT ME.  HOWEVER, HE HAS ALSO CLEARLY CALLED JACOB AND I AND THE KIDS TO LIVE AND SERVE IN COSTA RICA.  HE HAS ALSO GIVEN ME FANTASTIC DOCTORS HERE AS WELL.  MY DOCTOR IS THE ONLY RHEUMATOLOGIST RECOMMENDED BY THE US EMBASSY AND HE IS EXCELLENT.  THERE IS A FANTASTIC PRIVATE HOSPITAL HERE CALLED CLINICA BIBLICA AND SINCE WE HAVE INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE, I AM ABLE TO BE TREATED AT THE BEST HOSPITAL IN ALL OF COSTA RICA!! I HAVE BEEN ABLE TO TAKE MY TREATMENTS IN MY OWN ROOM WITH A FLAT SCREEN TV WITH FOOD NETWORK TO WATCH (I love food network and cooking and we don’t get this at our house)!!!  IT OBVIOUSLY HAS WIRELESS BECAUSE I AM WRITING AND POSTING THIS!!  🙂  WE ARE HAPPY WITH MY CARE AND DO NOT FEEL AT THIS POINT THAT GOD IS TELLING US TO RETURN TO THE USA.

3.  Are you able to handle the chemo well?  Do you need extra help?  Answer – GOD HAS BLESSED ME WITH THE GREATEST FAMILY IN THE WORLD.  JACOB HAS STEPPED IT UP AND HELPED WITH THE HOUSEWORK AND SO HAVE THE KIDS.  THEY ARE PATIENT AND QUIET WHEN I NEED TO BE AND THE KIDS HAVE BEEN FOCUSED DURING HOMESCHOOLING AND HAVE BEEN FANTASTIC.  LAST TIME, IT TOOK ME ABOUT A WEEK TO GET OVER ALL OF THE TIREDNESS AND MOST OF THE STOMACH PAIN AND NAUSEA.  OUR NEIGHBORS JORGE AND ILLIANNA HAVE BEEN WONDERFUL.  ILLIANNA HAS BEEN SENDING FOOD AND OFFERING TO HELP IN ANY WAY THAT SHE CAN.  I TAKE AN HOUR WORTH OF PREMEDICATIONS BEFORE WE BEGIN THE INFUSIONS TO INSURE THAT MY BODY HANDLES IT AND THEY SEEM TO BE DOING THEIR JOB!!  🙂

4.  Is the chemo working?  Answer – WE TOOK BLOODWORK ON FRIDAY TO MAKE SURE THAT WE COULD GO AHEAD TODAY WITH MY SECOND ROUND AND IT SHOWED IMPROVEMENTS ALREADY.  THERE IS STILL AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT BUT ON THE FEW DAYS WHEN I WAS NOT TIRED, I FELT BETTER THAN I HAVE IN A VERY LONG TIME.  WE ARE VERY HAPPY WITH THE RESULTS SO FAR AND LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING HOW MUCH I IMPROVE WITH THIS IN THE FUTURE!!

I hope that this answers your questions.  If you have anymore, please send them and I will try to answer them.  I have always tried to be transparent through this entire process so that God could show how He is working and how sometimes He uses modern medicines to work His miracles in our bodies!!  I am happy and encouraged.  🙂

“He says, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I’ll accept my weaknesses, even brag about them, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ” 

– 2 Cor. 12:9-10

 
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Posted by on October 31, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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“This is my desire….

to honor You.  Lord with all my heart, I worship you.  All I have within me, I give you praise.  All that I adore, is in You.  Lord I give you my heart.  I give you my soul.  I live for you alone. Every breath that I take, every moment I’m awake, Lord have your way in me.”  Those are the words to the song that I found myself listening to tonight as my infusion has just ended and I am trying to sleep.  According to my doctors and nurses, it should have made me very sleepy and I should be asleep right now.  I was listening to my iPod and meditating and worshipping and I realized, “I’m awake, He wants me to write.”   So I will write.

More words now to the same song right now as I write, “And I will live for You.  And I will live for You.  And I will live for You.”

So, wow!  What a day.  It started with us thinking things were looking so great on the scan of my lungs.   And what results we had gotten looked like all of my medications were working fantastically.   But we had more blood work out there, so we were waiting…..

More words from my iPod at the moment, “Jesus, I’m living for you name.  I’ll never be ashamed of You.  Take, take, take it all.  Running to the one who heals the blind.
Following the shining light.  In Your hands the power to save the world  and my life.”

We got back some results and Dr. Manley came to let me know.  He wanted the opinion of the lung specialist.  The lung specialist said that he could see me around lunch.  So I called Jacob and told him that I was going to see another doctor around lunch, but I am probably going to be able to go home around 2, so if he could come then.  So the doctor came, was very thorough and did an exam and wanted to re examine the scan of my lungs.  After a bit, he came back and said that he had talked to Dr. Manley and he felt that something was missing from the print out of my lungs and he was going to go down stairs and look at the original on the computer to see if there was something missing and if was not still in the computer, he was confident that I needed to do it again.  So we waited….

More from my iPod right now, “What to say, Lord? It’s You who gave me life and I Can’t explain just how Much You mean to me now That You have saved me, Lord I give all that I am to You That everyday I could Be a light that shines Your name Everyday, Lord, I’ll Learn to stand upon Your word And I pray that I I might come to know You more That You would guide me in every single step I take, that Everyday I can Be Your light unto the world.  Everyday, it’s You I live for.  It’s You I live for everyday.”

So he came back and said indeed they had the original in the computer still and infact they had missed the inflammation where I had been feeling burning as I was exercising.  So he had talked again to Dr. Manley and Dr. Manley would come up in a bit and let me know the treatment they had agreed upon.  So in a bit, Dr. Manley was here (he was running back and forth from his office in the next building over to the hospital).  He explained all the blood work to me and what the lung specialist and himself had discussed and I needed this new drug infusion.  It would be best to do it today.  So I called Jacob back…..

My iPod right now, “You go before me.  You shield my way.  Your hand upholds me.  And I know You love me.  At the cross I bow my knee.  Where Your blood was shed for me.  There’s no greater love than This.  You have over come the grave.  Your Glory fills the highest place.  What can separate me now?”

I was very emotional because it was just a roller coaster of a day.  Up and then down.  Jacob encouraged me.  I called Johnny and talked to him about it.  He encouraged me and prayed.  I called my parents and explained it to them.  Then I put it on facebook and sent out an email to our prayer partners.   The nurses started coming in and giving me all of this preventative medicine, pills and 2 different IVs.  And I was a bit overwhelmed.  I think because of just a huge range of emotions all at once.  And the responses started to come in on facebook and in my Inbox……

My iPod right now, “Saved by your mercy.  Found in Your Grace.  Totally surrendered to Your embrace.  And there’s nothing more than You.  See Your perfection.  I’m lost in Your peace.  Your faithfulness sings over me.  And Your love is alive in my soul.”

I don’t think that it was a coincidence that I had this procedure on a Wednesday night.  Because everyone was letting me know they were going to go to their churches and pray for me.  I started being prayed for all over the world.  Prayers were coming in and rising up for me.  I believe that it honored God and He was so pleased and He truly blessed this time.  For He granted me a tremendous amount of peace.  I had to sit here for a little over 5 hours just letting this cancer medicine enter my body.  I had some strange sensations and my stomach is not feeling great at the moment, but all in all, I was able to handle it well.  Dr. Manley came to hang out with me for a bit so that I had someone to chat to as well!  So nice of him to take time like that.  I also had a sweet friend send me an awesome song on facebook that God used to sooth my soul.  I am so blessed to have so many people praying for me.  It humbles me to call on your guys and your love that you pour out for me each time I need it.  You guys have blessed and honored and given glory to God my/our Great Physician, Father, Friend, Never Give Me More Than I Can Handle, Always Beside Me, Savior, Guide, …..

Right now on the iPod, “Take me, mold me, use me, fill me.  I give my life to the Potters Hands.  Mold me.  You guide me.  Lead me.  Walk beside me.”  “Falling on my knees in worship, giving all I am to seek Your face.  Lord all I am is Yours.  My whole life I place in Your hands.  God of mercy, humbled, I bow down.  In Your presence at Your throne.  I called.  You answered.  And You came to my rescue and I want to be where You are.”

And guys I am not sure what more to say, but “Thank you.”  Thank you for being there for me.  Thank you for going before the only One that could truly help me in that moment.  Thank you for giving Him the chance to bring Himself glory through your prayers and His response by just blessing me with His peace and patients while I had that treatment and allowing my body to handle it well.  Thanks.

My iPod right now, “In my life be lifted high.  In our world be lifted high.  In our love be lifted high.”

I feel that is an appropriate place to leave this.  🙂

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Potter’s Hands

I am so in to being encouraged through music.  Sitting quietly and putting praise and worship music on my ipod and just listening is like snuggling in God the Father’s lap and letting him heal me, comfort me, guide me, encourage me and be my all in all.  This song, Potter’s Hands is one of those that bring me such comfort and encouragement.  Here are the words.  I would encourage you to try spending time with our Father in song.  Try it now with this song.  The link where you can listen to it on YouTube is here.

Beautiful Lord, wonderful saviour
I know for sure, all of my days are held in Your hands
Crafted into Your perfect plan

You gently call me, into Your presence
Guiding me by, Your Holy Spirit
Teach me dear Lord
To live all of my life through Your eyes

I'm captured by, Your Holy calling
Set me apart
I know You're drawing me to Yourself
Lead me Lord I pray

Take me, Mold me
Use me, Fill me
I give my life to the Potter's hands
Hold me, Guide me
Lead me, Walk beside me
I give my life to the Potter's hand
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tE3RyFA5ZgE&feature=related
 
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Posted by on September 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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New Videos!!

We just made a new tab for videos of the work here!!  There are 4 new ones!!  Check them out and enjoy!!

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Our week with Enon!

We have just finished a fabulous week with a group from Enon Baptist in Easley, SC.  They were a hard working group that worked in the town of Cot for the week!  They were able to paint the outside of the library where Francisco holds church.  They also held kids clubs with a great turn out of an average of 30 kids.  And some of the kids that they shared with even showed back up for church on Sunday!!  It was so exciting.  Here is their picture!!

Enon Baptist mission team!

And for those of you keeping up with the jalapeno eating contest…..  The last team to come through was the Enon team!  So they had 4 contestants trying to beat the old record!!!  Well, their pastor, Scott Willis is the official winner for the summer contest!!!  He blew all other contestants out of the water!!  His official count was 42 jalapeno slices with the closest other contestant eating 34!!!  Way to go Scott!!  You are the official winner and have bragging rights until next year!!!  LOL!!!

The champ!!

Please keep the prayers coming for my health and the mission going on here on the Irazu volcano!  The new Sunday morning Bible study going on in Cipreses has been so encouraging and all the new believers there are so eager to take in every word taught from the Bible!!  God’s work has been amazing this summer and we are praising the Lord for all of the teams that have come to work on the volcano!!!  God used each team member tremendously and He continues to bring fruit from your labors here!!  I am sick for the first time with a cold here in Costa Rica.  God has been good to have provided some Zyrtec here to help me with this.  Please pray that this does not turn into an infection.  Also, I have had a bit of a flair up, but each day I am improving – Praise the Lord!!  He is so good!  Living on the missionfield with dermatomyositis has been such a time for me to grow in His grace and love.  It continues to draw me closer to Him.  All praises to Him who created us all and who continues to work in each of our lives for His glory alone!!

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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