Well with my Soul

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Staring out over the water on the day after Thanksgiving, my mind was swimming in thoughts about a shirt I’d seen and wished I had bought during my Black Friday trip. The shirt was simple, but on the back it said “It is Well with my Soul” in a beautiful script and bright colors. It was perfect. Now staring at the smooth water of the Orange Beach Bay, I longed for it. Instead of soaking in the serenity of the creation around me, I yearned for a material fix.

Watching the water wash in and out onto the banks of the shore, I realized something. Instead of the actual shirt, I longed for the shirt to be true. My soul yearned for it to be true.

I longed for my soul to be well.

I wanted to wear the shirt because I needed the reminder for myself. I wanted to stand confidently on the bank and sing with conviction…

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well, with my soul” *

In that moment my heart was humbled. I don’t need a new shirt. I need the Living Water to flow through my soul and make me whole.

Four years ago I wrote these words on this blog as I celebrated Thanksgiving under humble circumstances…

“Humility is not an easy or natural posture and yet it is essential to a heart of gratitude. And isn’t gratitude the heart of a true Thanksgiving? … May we always remember to humble ourselves before our Creator and foster an attitude of gratitude not just on Thanksgiving but everyday!”

Some days I’m more broken than others. But each day I yearn for the peace that comes from knowing that no matter how my “sea billows roll,” I know the one that makes it well with my soul, and I am thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving!

*”It Is Well With My Soul” by hymnist Horatio Spafford

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Choose Hope

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Four years ago, doctors surgically removed the unwanted guest from inside my head. Today I reflect on the impact of something so dangerous yet invisible to the passersby. No one who knew me could see that I had a tumor, not even myself. No mirror reflected the mass that was hiding, secretly growing and damaging the tissues of my body. Nonetheless, the reality of its presence remained.

I can say with confidence today that the brain tumor is gone, but I must confess I still have unwanted guests inside my head.

Negative thoughts, fears, doubts, and insecurities plague my mind almost daily. Unfortunately, no doctor can surgically remove this plague I allow to grow inside my head. Just as no passersby can hear the battle which rages.

This plague in my mind eats away at my confidence, steals my joy, and ultimately affects my interactions with others, especially those closest to me.

It starts with just one small, almost invisible thought. But one thought, if left unnoticed, grows into 2, then 3, then 4 until they have redefined who I believe I am. Just like the tumor, a passerby may not even notice, but if left untreated the thoughts can change the entire fiber of my being.

On this blog on Nov. 4, 2012, merely 5 days before my tumor’s eviction, I wrote …

“I wanted the tumor gone, but more than that I didn’t want it to define this year. I wanted a new perspective.  I wanted to never forget the details, the emotions, the amazing ways I have experienced God’s presence through this process. I wanted to feel the full hand of God on my heart and to never lose the awareness of His presence in every detail in my life – not just with the hard times, but in the every moment. That night as I prayed, God answered.”

I have a confession. I’ve forgotten. Or at least I don’t always live in a way that reflects my memory. During the darkest time in my life, I chose hope. I clung to the only One who could save, and He answered. However, today faced with the daily trials of life, I’ve lost my perspective. I allow thoughts of self-doubt and fear to rule in my mind and define who I am. God’s presence hasn’t changed, but my memory has waned. In my darkest days, God placed His full hand on my heart and made his presence known. He showed me hope.

Most days I’m fighting a battle, only I can hear. Nonetheless, the battle is still real.  Instead of believing the lies in my head, I can hold tightly to the truth of who God says I am. The hope I found in 2012 is still the hope I have today, if I chose to remember.

I am not a victim of my thoughts or my circumstances, and neither are you.

I don’t know the battles that you are facing, but I know the One who can win.

He’s fought for me before. He’ll fight for me again. And the empty grave is proof He’s victorious!

Share with me times that you’ve chosen hope. Let’s encourage each other.

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The Cloud is Lifting – Praise for What’s NOT in My Head

My last 6 month follow-up with Dr. Jean at Georgetown confirmed that I still do NOT have a tumor or any remnants of foreign tissue in my brain. Praise the Lord!

But the news gets even better…

I also got an all clear to begin yearly check-ups instead of scans every 6 months. This is an amazing blessing – not just for peace of mind, but also for insurance, gas mileage, and scheduling with 4 children.

We are feeling very blessed this month with the knowledge of what is NOT in my head.

The journey is not over, but the cloud is starting to lift even if just by 6 months.

As you know I’ve been out of the world of blogging for several months. My mind has been clouded, but not with tumors. Thoughts, anxieties, and chaos can cloud even the healthiest of heads. A cloudy head has kept me from writing, but today I take time to release the chaos and count my blessings. For my head is not only empty of tumors, but much of the cloud of chaos has been lifted.

- In August my mother began chemo treatments for Leukemia. After a physically draining battle, she has finished 6 rounds of chemo and is in remission. I was unable to be with her in body as often as I would have liked, but my mind has been with her throughout. She is a strong , stubborn, southern woman, who fought her battle with faith and grace. I am proud to be her daughter and thankful for God’s healing hand. The cloud is lifting.

- This fall I had plans to continue blogging and even work on a book. However, God had other plans. With the help of Julie, Lynn, and Tammy, we began an American Heritage Girl troop in Bristow, Virginia. As the troop coordinator, I spent many hours with these women planning, laughing, and building a troop for over 45 girls in the community. Little did I know I would not see the year through, but instead have the privilege of handing my leadership off to a very dear, driven, God-fearing, and passionate woman, who I am now blessed to call friend. The cloud is lifting.

- Then in November rather expectantly, we heard God’s call to sell our house and place an offer on a piece of land near Charlottesville. Within 24 hours the house was sold, and within a week we were on our way to being land owners. Packing, Christmas, and more packing filled our days  and our minds as we moved in with Rob’s parents in January. We’ve now closed on the land, finalized building plans, and settled into a new routine in a world of transition. Life is good. The cloud is lifting.

I am not going to make any promises about regular blogging but I can say I am starting to see more clearly.

Thank you all for your continued prayers, encouragement, and love!

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Happy Anniversary, Toomy!

One year ago today, on October 15, 2012 my life was changed forever.

This is the day Toomy (our affectionate name for my not so affectionate tumor) announced his presence via a MRI.

Toomy brought with him fear, anger, sadness, and MRI’s that will reoccur every 6 months for the foreseeable future. But Toomy  also opened the door for me to experience blessings beyond measure. Last fall may have started with an announcement of a tumor, but I also found community, transformation, perspective, a chance to be still, and an overwhelming understanding of God’s power and provision.

Today I remember all that Toomy brought to our family, and I praise God for healing and Toomy’s departure on Nov. 9, 2012. Toomy is no longer “inside Rose’s head”, but the memories, lessons, and transformation will be in my heart forever.  For these I am eternally grateful.

Happy Anniversary, Toomy, and thank you for all the gifts.

God is Faithful. He was powerfully present last October. He is powerfully present today! And He WILL BE powerfully present tomorrow!

I am changed forever, and I can rest knowing God will ALWAYS be the same!

 

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One Day

As many of you know in July, I got a new haircut.

Here’s an excerpt from my July post.

I have been losing hair since the beginning of the year. This probably has something to do with the doctors pulling my scalp back during surgery last November. Well, after a few tears and many stray hairs around the house, I chopped it off! My neighbor and good friend, Allison, from Salon Xhilaration used her expertise and gave me a brand new look. So now instead of frizzy, thinning, long hair, I have a chic, new, short cut! Here’s a picture I took on the way to a friend’s wedding.

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For those of you who don’t know, I’ve never had short hair like this before. What I’ve learned is brain surgery can give you the courage to do just about anything.

So as we are approaching the one year anniversary of my brain tumor diagnosis on October 15, I’ve gathered the courage to try something else that I’ve never done before. See I’ve always been a blonde. Maybe with a little help sometimes, but I was born a blonde. All my girls are blonde, and all I’ve ever seen in the mirror is blonde. (Okay, hold off on the blonde jokes. Although my husband would agree some are probably true.) Never before have I ever dared to be anything other than blonde.  My husband and I have always talked about what fun it would be for me to dye my hair one day. Keywords being “one day”.  But never did I believe that day would come. Well, with my tumor anniversary around the corner, “one day” has come.

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As I reflect on my new do, I can’t help but think about the keywords “one day.” For me, “one day” is today for my hair. But what about all the other times I say “one day ?’  “Oh, I’d love to change one day.” Or “I’ll take that risk one day.” “I’ll follow my dream one day.” Or “I’ll do what God is calling me to do one day.” I’m actually saying, “I’ll think about it, but I’m not willing to do it today.”And if I’m not willing to do it today, when will I be willing? When will “one day” come? What makes the difference between “one day” and today?

Whether it be hair or a more significant life change, “one day” is safe. There’s no risk in “one day.”

But for “one day” to become today, I’ve got to be willing to take action. But with action comes effort and risk.  And where risk is involved, I have to have trust. Trust in who I am and who I was created to be, but more importantly trust in my Creator.

I know that blonde, red, or purple, I am a child of God’s. My confidence comes from Him. So why keep waiting for “one day? Why not let “one day” be today?

Now, I’m not saying go and do something crazy. I mean my hair can always go back to blonde and probably will before the end of the year. But my brain tumor scare last fall has taught me 2 things (actually more, but 2 for now):

You never know if you’ll have tomorrow, so why wait for “one day?”

And, my Creator can be trusted. He didn’t leave me in my darkest hours, so why not fully trust and live for Him today – not “one day.”

What is your “one day” dream or calling? I’d love to know. Maybe we can help encourage each other to live for today, instead of waiting for “one day.”

 

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Hearts Above

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For those of you who don’t know, I have another blog I am building at http://www.heartsabove.com

Since the tumor is gone, I’ve realized there is more in my head to be shared. So I am moving to a new spot for sharing thoughts about day to day struggles and how we can look outside our circumstances to things above. Please join me in a conversation at http://www.heartsabove.com/blog/.

I will continue to write medical updates, and personal updates on Inside Rose’s Head. On Wednesday, Rob and I will be making a stop in Georgetown to our favorite neurosurgeon and campus cafeteria. Come back later this week to find out about my 9 month check-up.

Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement!

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Time to Check In

August 7, 2012  - I had an MRI at Heathcote Medical Center which found the herniated disks in my neck and set the path for last fall.

October 15, 2012 – The tumor was discovered and the path took a gut-wrenching turn.

November 9, 2012 – Amazing doctors and staff at Georgetown University removed the tumor and redirected my path to one of healing.

Since then the journey has been uphill, but filled with victories and hope.

This week we celebrated the 9 month anniversary, of a journey we never wanted to take, but wouldn’t trade due to all the blessings we’ve received.

But, the journey isn’t over.

Every 6 months I get to check in with my friends at Heathcote Medical Center, the 45 minute nap in the MRI machine, the fear and joys from the past, my surgeon at Georgetown, and my dependence on the only One who carries me through.

So here’s what we know today…

August 9, 2013 – The MRI based on our uneducated eyes appears to be normal. At least we don’t see any oranges that don’t belong in my head.

August 28, 2013 – I will meet with Dr. Jean to discuss the official report and hopefully hear the all clear.

Today, we our eternally grateful for our family, our doctors, our friends, the growth, the peace, the provision, and the communion with our Creator, Savior, and Friend!

 

 

 

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Where has the time gone?

I know that I have been away from regular blogging for a few months.  Thank you for continuing to check in on me and for your continued prayers. Here  is a quick update on where I have been and where I’m headed…

I continue to homeschool my daughters throughout the summer. We are on a 3 weeks on and one week off schedule. In June, I started the month by writing and leading a women’s retreat in Fredericksburg entitled Burdens to Blessings, and then speaking at a women’s Bible study on the same topic.  Rob and I attended HEAV’s homeschool conference in Richmond, where we visited with dear friends and refueled for the homeschooling year. During our week off of school, we  filled the time with Vacation Bible School and my oldest daughter’s 8th birthday party! Where has the time gone?

July is filled with amazing opportunities, large challenges, and God’s continued provision. I am very actively working with my church and a team of amazing women to begin an American Heritage Girls troop in the Fall. With God’s guidance, I will be the troop coordinator for this new troop. If that wasn’t enough, doors have also opened for me to begin pursing and educating myself towards the end goal of writing a book. I keep praying God will provide the strength or close the door. His answer thus far has been to swing the doors open! He continues to provide the opportunities and encouragement necessary to follow this path. At the end of the month, I will be attending the SheSpeaks conference in NC and presenting a book proposal to at least 2 different publishers. Please keep me in your prayers. It is only with God’s words and provision that I’ll be in NC. Regardless of the outcome, God has made it clear that the conference is where I am supposed to be in July. So your prayers are always cherished. Where has the time gone?

In August, life will slow down tremendously for us. However, I will have my next MRI. I have felt healthy, continue to be on the weight loss/fitness path (13 lbs total lost), and feel blessed with each new day. Although August’s appointment does not come without some anxiety, I am hopeful that all will be well. Tomorrow will be 8 months, since having brain surgery. Where has the time gone?

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New Haircut

As many of you know, I have been losing hair since the beginning of the year. This probably has something to do with the doctors pulling my scalp back during surgery last November. Well, after a few tears and many stray hairs around the house, I chopped it off! My neighbor and good friend, Allison, from Salon Xhilaration used her expertise and gave me a brand new look. So now instead of frizzy, thinning, long hair, I have a chic, new, short cut! Here’s a picture I took on the way to a friend’s wedding. Can you believe this week will be 8 months since brain surgery?!

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