Home Sweet Home

26 Aug

So today will be 2 weeks that Nathan and I are settling into our new home in Salado, TX. It has been an experience living in “the country.” I almost stepped on a scorpion that mysteriously got in. He did a great job of playing dead, until Nathan helped him reach his ultimate doom. I’ll give it to Nathan, he tried to save the poor creature…but he was a squirmer. So he squashed it with a tuperware.  We have created quite a bird habitat in our backyard. We have several bird feeders and baths, so Nature Nathan is in full affect! It is wonderful living in a house! So much space! This weekend we will start hanging pictures and paintings and it should start feeling more like our home.
Yesterday I had my follow up with Dr. Soliman at MDA and everything is healing as it should.  I will continue to see her for follow-ups with my next appointment being end of October. Once Nathan and I get the all clear to get pregnant, I will find a gynecologist in Temple who specializes in high risk pregnancies and they will co-manage with Dr. Soliman. Scott and White is a LARGE facility in Temple and I should have no trouble. So it was a great visit.
We are looking forward to labor day weekend and spending it with family at Lake Livingston. And then end of September Nathan and I head to CA for a wedding of my “little brother” Johnny Serpa. I am so excited!!!  It will be quite the event.  But even before all that, I turn 33 years old on Monday. My thoughtful mother stocked me up with some great gift cards, so I think I shall spend the day shopping in Austin. Anywhere there is air-conditioning!  (I have chosen not to bore you all with weather talk, but we are like on our 70th day of over 100 degrees! And the biggest drought TX has even seen! Ridiculous!)  I had a great time during my visit to CA (and I laughed when my mom said it was hot at 93 degrees. Ok..no more weather talk).  Reese was my little companion and I loved spending time with her. I got to attend one of Jackson’s football practices and he is such a little man! He plays offense and defense.  Luckily Nathan will be able to see one of his games this year.  I also got to spend time with John, my best friend Vanessa’s son. If I knew how to post pictures and videos to this blog I would! (Maybe I’ll investigate that….) The kid is 10 months old and can already swim!  There was also a Minnie Maids reunion with my girls (minus Gina, as she was still in London). The  most exciting moment is when I introduced Reese to the movie Grease 2. Such a great cheese film. Gina, Vanessa, and I grew up watching it…even before seeing the original Grease. I would recommend watching it with an open mind. The lyrics of the songs alone are so worth it.
My next mission, besides setting up our house, is finding a job!!!!! I would ideally love something using my degree, but would be open to anything that fits my experience. Salado is a pretty small town, but there are larger towns all around us. There is even a great Christian college nearby called University Mary Hardin Baylor that I’d love to look into. Nathan is loving the short commute to work now and that he can come home for lunch. But I think he is most excited about Direct TV giving us the NFL Sunday Ticket for free! Every single game televised for our enjoyment. And I will enjoy playing the “Name Game” and “Commentator Dirty Talk” with my sister. (Just ask if you would like to join in.)
So our second year living in Texas has already had a great beginning. Our first year had us face many hard life lessons and experiences. However, we felt the Lord guiding us all the way. Sometimes we would be thinking, “Really God?! I mean, really???” And at others times it was- “I put this all in your hands Lord. Give me the strength, peace, and compassion that only you can provide.” We are both confident that we are much stronger than we ever thought. So hey….if any of you Texans want to visit The Best Art Town in Texas, come to Salado! We got a blow up bed with your name on it….unless you know of someone wanting to get rid or sell a bed = )

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Back in California

2 Aug

Well, I made it safe and sound. It was a pretty easy travel day and I got extremely lucky with a “no plane change” flight on Southwest. I was greeted by my parents, and then a surprise Jackson and Reese hiding behind a pole. Reese greeted me by shaking my hand and saying, “Welcome to Chicago buddy!” ??? She is a character. Then we made the drive to one of my favorite places in the world….In-n-Out Burger. I had a very tasty Double double with no onions, fries, and a root beer. It was lovely. (I don’t normally do the double double, but my policy is to not eat while flying. I have a weird, sensitive stomach so I prefer it to be empty. Therefore, when I get off a plane I am usually starving. I know…I am weird. I do not deny that.) Jackson and Reese had a sleepover and we all went to bed early. We had a very relaxing day. I was pretty sore from my travel day, so we all just laid around until my mom took the kids back to their house. Got to e-mail and text with my hubby most of the day, so it is always nice when technology can keep you close to a person even 2000 miles away. We started our relationship long distance, so we are pros.
I was about to head off to bed and I decided to peruse my parents book selection. I found one of my favorite books as a kid: “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum. I decided that would be my book of choice for the next few days. Already in the first chapter, I remember why I loved it so much!  In the introduction, the author talks about the book being a collection of bits throughout his life. Just things he wrote and decided to gradually piece it all together for a book. I have always wanted to eventually do that. I have been writing myself for many years and have always thought I was pretty entertaining. When I share stories of my life with people, I will often hear- You should write a book! I mean, if some of you know the story of Nathan and I….that would be QUITE the novel! I would not even need to embellish (much)! But anyway…..
Part of this blog has been sharing things that I have read that have inspired me. I want to share with you a little part of the first chapter in All I Really Need To Know… The author charts out all the lessons he learned in kindergarten, which is all we really need to know for the rest of our lives!  It is so simple and so true. Here ya go:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Flush.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life- learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup: The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows why or how, but we are like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the styrofoam cup- they all die. So do we.
And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned- the biggest word of all- LOOK.

I just think that is all great! And applicable at any age!
Okay…time for bed. I have a teeth cleaning at 8am tomorrow that I am really looking forward to.

Best day of recovery! (yesterday)

28 Jul

Hello all. It is Day 6 of recovery and just received the best news possible last night! My pathology results came back from the procedure and I am cancer free! They got everything out they intended to- all cervical dysplasia,  squamous cells, and the adenocarcinoma tumor. (Basically everything that has the existence of cancer in my body). Dr. Soliman went further and beyond what she had intended to remove, deciding to get those areas that were around the tumor and possibly unseen by my prior scans.   The procedure was originally timed for 30-45 minutes, however with Dr. Soliman being overly thorough it ended up being an hour and 15 minutes. It made for a very nervous Nathan, but he did really great.  And apparently so did I! I was initially very queasy and nervous, but once the anesthesia hit me (with my response being “Whoa! There it is!) I did not remember a thing. Recovery is 4 weeks and this first week will be the most difficult. For you women out there, it is very similar to a bad day on your period. It is difficult to sit for very long, so I spend most of my time in our comfy bed. Nathan’s sister-in-law Heather has been taking care of me and Nathan. She is a fabulous cook and we have been eating well. (And thank you Bill for your grillin’ skills). Nathan’s mom Dena got here yesterday, so Nathan and I are very fortunate to have family looking after us.  I had asked in my pre-op if I could travel in week 2 or 3 and they said yes…so I am headed to CA on Sunday to have my second week of recovery there. It will be very nice to see my mom and dad after all this and be wrapped up in their arms. I can’t imagine what it has been like for them.
Some day I will know God’s purpose for this period in my life, but until then I can’t make myself crazy with the “why” questions.  Oswald Chambers talks about the process being the purpose, not necessarily the end result. That if I can rest on God in the middle of the storm; if I can relinquish control where I do not have it; if I can focus on this minute and not the future- then I may have a grasp of God’s purpose for all this. It has certainly brought me into a deeper and more intimate relationship with the Lord. It has restored my faith and assurance. I used to become more angry with the Lord over money problems and such, but surprisingly not these past few months. It is hard to believe that from diagnosis on June 17th to pronounced cancer free on July 27th was only 41 days. It is unbelievable how long 41 days can feel.  Especially when you go from “you may never have children” to “you can start in 6 to 9 months.” But instead of worrying about the future, I will breath in and out every day and be grateful for whatever God brings our way. On August 13th we move into a house in a quaint little town called Salado. It will be a new beginning, a new chapter…and I cannot wait for what is to come! If I can be content accepting each day as it comes and finding the Lord in the midst of it all, then that is a successful day to me. And a little piece of the broad purpose that the Lord has for me.
Just because what started me doing this blog is over, I will not abandon it. I love feeling close to people who are so far away. I love your comments and we feel your love and prayers. Nathan and I are blessed with such an extraordinary support system of family and friends. Thank you.

Prayer Request

21 Jul

Hi everyone. Today was my pre-op at MD Anderson for my procedure. The day was easy and pain free. I spoke with Dr. Soliman, who will be performing the cold knife cone, and got all my questions answered. However, my stomach is still a bit in knots this evening. I am saying my prayers and have been reading Dear Jesus by Sarah Young. It seems to bring calmness and comfort right where I need it. (As well as my wonderful husband Nathan!)
I check into MDA Outpatient surgery at 8am. That tells me the procedure will probably begin about 9 or 9:30am. It should take about 30-45 minutes, and then I will be in recovery about an hour. We have a suite at the Hampton (thanks to my great dad!) about a mile away from MDA. I’ll do my relaxin and sleepin there and then head back to Austin on Saturday.
Please pray for my nerves, for peace and calmness for myself and for Nathan, and may the Lord guide Dr. Soliman’s hands as she removes the cancer from my body. She told me I will get a call in about a week to confirm that I am cancer free! After that, I will meet with her every few months for check ups.
This evening before I take my Ambien and doze off into a nice slumber =)   I am reading Isaiah 41:10. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
I know the Lord will be holding me during the procedure, after in recovery, and while resting easy in our hotel bed. Nathan and I appreciate the outpouring of prayers, love, and support throughout this time.

Big hugs and kisses to all of you!

Devotionals

9 Jul

I am overflowing with daily devotionals that I begin every morning. Many have been gifts and some I bought while I was in school. I admit that I was not as committed or relied so heavily on them before I was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer. But of course, God can do some miraculous and perplexing things to bring you back into relationship with Him. I find that I hunger for them right when I wake up. I don’t want to preach or share EVERY eye opening devotional I read…but sometimes I just feel compelled to share.  I feel that the Spiritually gifted authors I share my day with are just so masterful, articulate, and to the point. It all seems like common sense, but that could be because of where I am in my life.  Oprah likes to call them her Aha moments.  I want to share things that really inspire me and make me content in God’s goodness and compassion for His children. I want to share 2 with you all.  They spoke so deeply to me, and gave me such peace and understanding of the nature of God. The first is from Billy Graham “Hope For Each Day.” I like Billy Graham because he is simple, to the point, gets to the heart of the Word. He does not try to get to fancy or intellectual, like the second devotional I will share. He was put on this earth to bring the Word to life for all generations.  He has the ability to take a verse or bible story and meet us right where we’re at.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Matthew 5:6
God is the only source of true happiness, because He offers those intangibles that we mistakenly believe can be found on earth: contentment, security, peace, and hope for the future. None of these can be found in a job, a human relationship, money, power, or position. They are God’s alone to give. How hard it is for us to believe this, however! This is understandable if we haven’t given our lives to Christ; then, the Bible says, our spiritual “eyes” are still blinded, unable to see God’s truth until the Holy Spirit opens them. But it can happen to us as believers also- falling into the pattern of the world, vainly pursuing happiness in the same ways the world does. That is why the Lord Jesus, in His Sermon on the Mount, told where ultimate happiness lies: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” This is God’s promise- and it is true. Riches…or righteousness? What will be your goal?

My next fave goes a bit deeper into the Word; it is complex and thought provoking. Oswald Chambers is old-school, much like a C.S. Lewis. Most of his devotionals have to be read twice, or they can sometimes go completely over my head. “My Utmost For His Highest” was probably one of the first daily devotionals I ever read, and it was a toughy! My parents actually had several copies and I snagged one of them. I don’t know what year I started reading it, but I will continue with his daily messages every day as long as I live. I have so many scribbles and highlights in this book, and I know I used it as a constant reference in school. He titles this day- The Will To Loyalty:

Choose you this day whom ye will serve. Joshua 24:15
Will is the whole man active. I cannot give up my will, I must exercise it. I must will to obey, and I must will to receive God’s spirit. When God gives a vision of truth it is never a question of what He will do, but of what we will do. The Lord has been putting before us all some big propositions, and the best thing to do is to remember what you did when you were touched by God before- the time when you were saved, or first saw Jesus, or realized some truth. It was easy then to yield allegiance to God; recall those moments now as the Spirit of God brings before you some new proposition. “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.” It is a deliberate calculation, not something into which you drift easily; and everything else is in abeyance until you decide.  The proposition is between you and God; do not confer with flesh and blood about it. With every new proposition other people get more and more “out of it” that is where the strain comes. God allows the opinions of his saints to matter to you, and yet you are brought more and more out of the certainty that others understand the step you are taking. You have no business to find out where God is leading, the only thing God will explain to you is Himself. Profess to Him- “I will be loyal.” Immediately you choose to be loyal to Jesus Christ, you are a witness against yourself.  Don’t consult other Christians but profess before Him- I will serve Thee. WILL to be loyal- and give other people credit for being loyal too. 

Both messages can meet you in different ways, but they are both right to heart of a Christian. Or even someone who is not quite sure of who God is. I find them to be perfect descriptions of happiness and will.  Like I have said, it is tough to be a true child of God. My sister Gina shared with me a quote she heard about being a believer…I think it was from Pastor Jeff.  It went something like this: Becoming a Christian is tough because it means 2 things- belief in an unbelievable story and it will cause you to completely change your life.
Thanks for letting me share a part of my day with you all.

The Next Step

9 Jul

So I got the call from MD Anderson on Thursday night concerning their “Gynecology Oncology Planning Clinic” about me. The panel of doctors decided to go ahead with the cold knife cone procedure, and it is scheduled for Friday, July 22nd. With my age and the fact that I have not had children, they chose to remove the cancerous cells in my cervix. However, this does put me at high risk for pre-mature labor.  I went to my gynecologist, Dr. Neyman, here in Austin on Friday for my post op from the LEEP procedure and she was very informative.  Most likely when I get pregnant, I will have to have a transvaginal cervical cerclage. Because I have had the LEEP and now a cold knife cone, my cervix may not be strong enough to hold a baby in the uterus.  Dr. Neyman told me a cerclage would prevent the baby wanting to come out earlier than he/she is ready for. With the thinness and weakness of my cervix, it would not be strong enough to withstand any early contractions. Therefore, when the time comes, I will have to have a C-section.  I probably will not see Dr. Neyman again, since we will be moving to Temple.  She was a great doctor and I will miss the care I received at Renaissance Women’s Group.

Nathan and I will be headed to Houston Monday the 18th. He has training all week, and my pre-op at MDA will be on Thursday the 21st. From what I see on my MDA page, I have a jam packed day of tests and assessments! For whoever is in the Houston area that week, let me know! I would love to have some pleasant distractions throughout the week. We will be staying at the Inn at the Ball Park in downtown Houston during the week, and then headed to Hampton Inn and Suites on Thursday and Friday. The time of my surgery on Friday is tentatively scheduled for 7:30am.  Dr. Soliman suggested we stay the night in Houston for recovery, and then Nathan will drive us back to Austin on Saturday. My recovery for the procedure will be 4 weeks…and we are moving August 13th! Soooooooo….I will be packing up the apartment this whole week, since I will not be of much use after my procedure. At least not for a move!  But I am a grrrreat packer and will get it all done before we head to Houston. Thank you, in advance, Tyler and Josh, for helping Nathan move! (Even though we have not asked them yet….) It looks like we will be getting the country house in Salado! I am taking Nathan to see it on Sunday and we will (hopefully) be putting down a partial security deposit.  It is just important we get all these little things taken care of before surgery time. God’s timing on everything can be quite humorous. He never makes it smooth sailing for The Sturrocks, does he?!  If anyone reading this is in the Austin area, and you have access to boxes, please let me know!!!

I will find out 2-5 days after my procedure if they got all the cancer out. That will be a glorious day and I will keep you all well informed. I know I will still be in the care of Dr. Soliman at MDA for quite a while for monitoring after the procedure, and I am so thankful for being put in her care.  The Lord put me through this trial for a reason and I look forward to finding out what is next for me. I have lots of ideas for our new life in Salado, including job and education opportunities for myself. Please pray that the Lord will direct me in the right path and place me somewhere I can bring him glory. I will keep you posted….as always! All my love.

Verses to claim

5 Jul

I have a lot of various notebooks throughout my closet and most of them have a plethora of verses. I collect verses like my husband collects baseball cards and coins. (I also collect candles and Bath and Body Works products, so either myself or my surroundings always smell lovely.) These verses I have collected can apply to my life in any moment I find myself. I believe I began collecting them when I started college at William Jessup in 2005.  I have been inspired from people, retreats, sermons, books, devotionals, homework assignments, and songs. I have shared them freely with the people in my life, and I would hope they have been staples in their lives as well. I want to share some with you all. Some you may know by heart, are familiar with, or they could be brand new and EXACTLY what you needed to hear. Lately whenever I have felt myself getting down, anxious, worried, disappointed, even joyful- I turn to the God-breathed words of the Bible. Or my many devotionals that I keep all over the apartment. There are big events coming up for Nathan and I, and there are many burdens that are weighing on our shoulders. We are trying with all our might to let go and Let God, but that is just so hard. I can turn to these many verses I have collected and find peace and comfort. I read once that even though God knows what we will say before it comes from our mouth and He knows our thoughts before we think them, we must still have the discipline to pray the actual prayer we want. Yes, He already knows what we are going to pray, but we must take the action to do it. Yes, he has already planned our entire lives for us before we were even born, but we have to live it and make the right choices. Being a child of God is never easy, but it is in those trials of life where we can find hidden blessings. And we know that joy is just around the corner.  I also have written down 2 random quotes in my phone that I like to read every once in a while. I do not know who said them! Go dream dreams so big that they are sure to fail unless God intervenes. And… Contentment comes not so much from great wealth as from few wants.  Those are little quotes that I always think about.  I hope the verses I share with you will meet you where you are at in your life. (I will start with some doozies!)

Psalm 139:4   Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.

Psalm 139: 16   Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life prepared before I’d even lived one day. The Message

Romans 15:4   For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope. 

2 Corinthians 4:18   So we don’t look at the troubles we have right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.

John 14:13-14   You can ask for anything in my name and I will do it, because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father. Yes, ask anything in my name and I will do it!

James 1:3-4   For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when our endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.

Philippians 4:6-7   Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace which transcends all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

John 15:13   Greater love has no one than this; that he lay down his life for his friends.

Proverbs 3:5-6   Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your path straight.

Matthew 7:7-8   Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Psalm 139:23-24   Search me O God and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.

Matthew 6:33-34   But seek ye first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

John 14:27   Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Galatians 6:4-5   Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself without comparing himself to somebody else, for one should carry his own load.

Philippians 1:6   Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Jeremiah 29:11   “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.”

Philippians 4:12-13   I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being confident in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

I John 3:18-20   Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and knows everything.

I Corinthians 5:7   For we walk by faith not by sight.

I Peter 5:6-7   Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.

2 Corinthians 2:16-18   Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

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. 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.

I Peter 3:10   Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

I know there are so many more verses that speak to the heart and needs of others. You can freely share with me some of your own heart verses. I am about to register on MD Anderson as a patient and leave a message for Dr. Soliman. I know that a group of doctors are examining my case on Thursday and I would like to put my 2 cents in as well. Nathan and I have decided that I would like to have the cone procedure. No matter the size of the tumor, I would like to have any abnormality out of my body. Especially a part of my body that involves carrying a child. I am eager to hear what the doctors decide and how soon I can schedule my procedure. Until then, I am busy finding us a place to live near Temple. I am going to look at a house for rent in Salado tomorrow, which is a very cute town that Nathan and I would love to live in. I encourage your prayers concerning the upcoming doctor’s meeting at MD Anderson and the search for our new home.