A Confession

Yesterday we drove to my sister-in-law’s house in Ladera Ranch to celebrate my nieces’ birthdays. We knew it was raining there and we told Boo and she immediately turned to the dog Diesel and said “It’s RAINING, Diesel!!!” I love that she talks to our dog like he’s a human. We saw some incredible rainbows along the way….it was so windy Mr. LBB had to be really careful so our car didn’t get blown off the road:

 

My two little nieces, Sawyer and Cari, were born only a day a part. These two gals are my little buddies. Seriously, they make me laugh all day long. And they couldn’t be more different from each other.

Sawyer is so sweet and polite…..once I accidentally knocked her down and she apologized to me instead. She’s very organized and follows every little rule. But she gets a one track mind….and reminds me of the talking dog Dug in UP…..when she sees something she wants, like maybe a potato chip…..she’ll repeat “chip, chip, chip, chip, chip……” 4,000 times. She doesn’t like to be dirty or messy. Her vocabulary is better than mine. Sawyer just kept calling me a pirate and saying “arggggh” and then laughing hysterically.

 

And then there’s Cari……she marches to the beat of her own drum. I call her my little “pig pen” because she will do a face dive into dirt or sand and just lay there and enjoy it. And she’ll eat a little of it too. She’s the most independent child I’ve ever met….and the most fearless. She makes up her own language and it’s awesome. She’ll decide if she’s going to talk to you…..and when she does you feel like you’ve hit the lottery, literally.  I took off my hat for the first time for Cari…..and she kept looking in my hat for the hair. Oh and she’s almost impossible to photograph.

 

While we were gone for the day the crazy wind storm set off our burglar alarm. The alarm registered on 4 different doors…..THAT is a lot of wind. Poor Diesel! There were palms all over the place and you could tell the desert had been buffeted! The Internet was out and we went to bed and I slept in late this morning:

 

 

So I have a confession to make……I haven’t been going to church. I haven’t been in a long time….like years (except for holidays). I don’t want you to misunderstand though…..I am very religious. I read my devotionals and I pray several times a day. Boo goes to a Christian school.  I grew up in a very religious home and I know every bible story inside and out…..I can even recite the books of the old testament in under 14 seconds (I use it as a party trick).  But I’ve just never felt like church was for me….why do I have to worship in public?  I’m the one that plays tic-tac-toe in church…..or makes my grocery list…..and checks off the items in the bulletin to keep track of the progress. Yes, that’s me.

It’s the first weekend since my mother left and she had been taking Boo with her to Sunday school. So I asked:

Me: Do you want to go to church this morning?
Boo: YES!!! I LOVE Sunday school!!! Get UP!!!

Well, I don’t want to be guilty of depriving my child of the word of God…..so we got up and went to church. The church was PACKED when we got there and Boo TOOK off running and sat in the very front on the side where no one was sitting. I was sure they were reserved seats at first…..but she knew where she wanted to sit. So much for going under the radar and sitting in the back. We had to follow her and walk all the way down in front of everyone and sit where literally where everyone in the whole congregation could see us….and then Boo starts waving to everyone that she recognized.

So we sit down and the first thing I realize is: my NAME is on the prayer list…..which is a blessing, except I’ve been skipping out on church even when I felt up to going…..so I felt super guilty. Then the first announcement is that 2 church members had passed away from cancer in the previous days.  This isn’t starting out so great. Next came the children’s sermon in the front before all the children are dismissed for Sunday school….and the teacher brings out a huge ultrasound photo. I was just waiting for Boo to yell out something like “hey guess what, we were talking about this last night and my mom can’t HAVE babies anymore.”  At one point, my pelvis area started hurting and throbbing and I felt faint and couldn’t stand anymore….so I had to sit down while singing. Then, I drank so much water….I had to walk in front of the entire congregation for an emergency bathroom run. The women’s room was occupied so I used the men’s bathroom and just prayed that no one would come in. When you have to go, you have to go.

Of course everything is in God’s plan…..because today was the first day that I felt like God was IN church. I’ve never felt that way before. I like to do everything in my own time and I always felt like I was being forced into a time slot with God on Sunday mornings. If I feel like I’m being forced into something….I’ll run fast the other direction. But on the other hand, every day I feel like I am overflowing with faith….and trust…..and peace……except that I am lacking in the scripture knowledge to back it up.  Today….I listened to every word….and for the first time, in my whole life, the words made sense to me.  I was interested. Pastor Julie’s sermon was on Psalm 25 and I related to every sentence: YES, that’s why I’m not fearful! God IS giving me guidance…..I just couldn’t put it into the right words before. All that I am DOES belong to God…..that’s why I have faith and know that this is how my life is supposed to be! That’s what I’ve been trying to tell people!

The hymn after the sermon was Surely the Presence……and I felt like God was saying “don’t forget this for next Sunday.”

Then I got home and pulled out my dusty bible to mark Psalm 25…..and I found 100 post-it notes all throughout it that my mom left me marking passages. Thanks Mom.

So, I can’t promise that I’ll go to church EVERY Sunday. But, I’m already looking forward to next Sunday.

****

So….now I’ve had a few days to think about the fact that my cancer is chemo-resistant and there is something growing inside of me that hasn’t been stopped yet.  Yes, it does cross my mind every once in a while that I might die from cancer.  I even asked Mr. LBB to make sure there wasn’t any “cancer clause” in my life insurance policies. But it’s not fear….it just crosses my mind. The only thing I actually get nervous about is being in horrible, horrible pain. Let’s be honest…..I “dialed-a-c-section” with Boo…..because I had no desire to go into labor if there was an easier way to get her out……and I tried breastfeeding ONCE because it grossed me out and I thought I might throw up on the baby. This Thursday can’t come soon enough…..for the start of the new chemotherapy…..I’m being really impatient. I’ve filled every day until then with an activity so this week will go fast. We are also starting to look outside of the desert at some specialists. Dr. L is doing the best he can, Dr. R at Loma Linda has been great, and I hate to go far from home, but that might be what it takes! No dilly-dallying around.

I hope you all had a wonderful Sunday with your families!

Show me your ways, O Lord. teach me your paths.
guide me in your truth and teach me.
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in your all day long. Psalm 25:4-5

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Comments

  1. 1

    I’ve always thought it strange that people are allotted ‘appointments with God’ in that way, too. And I’ve always thought it strange that you’re not seen to be ‘religious’ if you don’t go to church. As far as I’m concerned, church is one way of guiding your beliefs. I don’t feel like I belong in a religion, because I just believe what I believe and appreciate what I have, and I don’t go into detail with it too much. But I do like going to church at Christmas, just for the feeling of community and warmth and to remind myself that, day after day, week after week, people join together in worship of something that they all believe in. It’s nice. But you can still be religious on your own, too, in your own way.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family too, even if I just say them on my own, before bed at night : )
    xx

    • 2

      maybe it is spiritual personal relationship with one’s Savior rather than “religiousness”

  2. 3
    scrummy squirrel says:

    I get it.

    Praying God will make you better.

  3. 4

    Ashley,
    I so can relate to what you’re talking about. I was raised that church was everything and I followed all the rules and things didn’t turn out the way they were supposed to. I couldn’t help but feel that God wasn’t in all of the rules. He is about people and He loves us whether we are in church or not. That realization really helped make some decisions that turned my life around even though they weren’t popular with some in my “Christian” community. Thanks for being so open and honest. My prayers and thoughts are with you. Can’t wait for my Choose Joy bracelets to arrive so I can wear a physical reminder of how God really wants our lives to be and give them to my friends and family.

  4. 5
    Meredith K says:

    Just sending you some love.

  5. 6
    Aimee Jongejan says:

    I totally get it. I’ve always been very religious. Gone to church pretty regular ,till I got sick. Now there are days when I…just…can’t. And I completely appreciate your candor. You’re in my prayers.

  6. 7

    Praying for you! As long as the relationship with God is there, it is all good!

  7. 8
    Jennifer Harrell says:

    Hi Ashley. I found you last week through a post on eighteen25. I started reading and couldn’t stop! I’m on the East Coast, so every day I wait (im)patiently for your post. I am in total AWE of your positivity and your desire to honor God’s plan for your life. You are a true source of inspiration in my life. Thank you for being such a real person- allowing us to see the good, bad and ugly. I pray for you every day – not just for your healing, but that many,many others will be blessed by your faith, just as I have been. Thank you for your abundant encouragement to CHOOSE JOY!

    With Love and Prayers, Jen

  8. 9

    Reading your posts take me back in time.
    I pray you are able to look back on this time and see it as a far off memory.
    That is my wish for you.
    Even when your are strong 99.9% of the time… it’s okay to be scared too.
    You can lean on us.

  9. 10
    Jennifer Dingman says:

    Completely understand. When we go to church, it always seems our pastor gives the exact sermon I need. Today was about suffering. God has a plan for us all and while at times I don’t necessarily like it or understand I know it’s the right one. Choosing Joy more and more. Goodness knows it takes a ton more energy to be negative than positive! And life is too precious to waste that energy on being negative or letting fear rule. Prayers continue to be with you and your family.

  10. 11
    Kitty Schaefer says:

    Awesome I totally get what your saying, and I believe God let Boo lead you to church today. You needed to hear him and prepare for this coming Thursday keeping you in my prayers :)

  11. 12

    I think you’re awesome. Keep up the amazing work you do! Enjoy everything around you. And Just know you inspire me everyday!
    Thank you for all you do!
    :)

  12. 13
    Marti Hall says:

    I can relate about going back to church. Thank you for all of your posts, maybe you don’t realize this, you are a hero to a lot of us in cyberland, and a great source of encouragement. I will keep you in my prayers daily.

  13. 14

    I understand. Over the last few years, I’ve gone to church less than I have in my entire life. According to all the teachings I received over a lifetime of church-going, this makes me “backslidden”, but when I search my heart, I don’t feel that way at all. I pray, I listen for the voice of the Spirit, I read scripture, and I try every day to live a life that is pleasing to God. I think He’s okay with that because I still feel His spirit and I hear His voice.

  14. 15

    I’m just like you Ashley….tell me I have to do something….chances are it will not get done….let me figure it out and do it on my own….it will get done. I too believe in God….a higher power….but I find it hard to SIT in church (the reason both my husband and myself have not been in a LONG time)….I don’t feel the need (not sure if need is the right word) to be seen in church by people from our from small town to know that I am religious….you know what I mean? I do believe….I do pray….and I thank God everynight for the blessings he has bestowed on my family. I too am looking forward to you starting your new “high octane” chemo this week. You are always included in my prayers and think of you all the time….hope you had a restful day ♥

  15. 16

    I understand and relate. I do love church, but my sister was so much like you. I don’t even know if this helps…but we took her to an acquaintance of mine at MD Anderson…I can give you his name, etc. If he can’t help, I’m sure he knows who could. The docs there worked with her doc in AZ so that she just got some treatment in TX and the rest at home in AZ. She also checked out Cancer Treatment Centers of America and liked them. But she was like you…other than sucky cancer in her body, she was healthy…so the doctors wanted to fight with all the ammunition they could. I think it is perfectly fine to feel how you feel…and isn’t it better to have God with you anywhere and everywhere, rather than just in a building on a Sunday morning. No confessions necessary, my friend! Let me know if I can help! xo!

  16. 17

    God calls us when He wants us and WE have to listen! It looks as though you listened to His calling. It isn’t about church, it is about our personal relationship with Christ! I go to church because it keeps me accountable and that is as important to God as anything. There are some days I walk out of church and don’t feel like I “felt” Him there, but I keep going for the times that I DO feel Him there and that is amazing. He is in You, You are in Him! I recommend listening to K-Love if you have a station there. It will do amazing things for you heart, mind and soul!

  17. 20

    Blessings, blessings, and prayers for you, Ashley! Isn’t it sooo awesome to hear the word of the Lord just for you??? I love it when He speaks to us…that is the breath of life that keeps us going, for sure!! I read your updates everyday and smile and cry through all of your posts. And normally, I don’t take the time to comment, but today, while reading about you searching outside of the desert for other treatments, I got an overwhelming urge to post a comment! I just wanted tell you that if you need to come to Houston and one of the best cancer treatment centers here (MD Anderson), my home is open to you for free lodging!! I know it may sound weird, but God sometimes works in weird ways, right?? hugs!!

  18. 21

    I am happy you found comfort in church…I just want you to have comfort where ever it may be. You are teaching us all. I will be praying for all of you ♥

  19. 22

    Sending lots of love and happy thoughts your way!

  20. 23

    I was raised to go to church rather than worship God. As a grownup I still went because I knew my kids needed to go but mostly because I would have to answer to my parents if I didn’t! I was depressed and felt literally nothing–just dead space inside. I actually thought of church as “me” time, I could sit there for an hour and think about whatever I wanted to with very few interruptions. But then things started to change at my church and I went into a MAJOR tailspin the end result was that I changed too. Now I love to go because I can see my church family and learn a little bit (hopefully) and actually worship God. It only took 4 years of therapy, LOL! When I was at the depths of my depression I would go to our Saturday night service because the music was so loud it drowned out the depression. I could literally feel the music and for that one hour out of the week I was pain-free. We all are at different stages of our journey and we all have bumps in the road. That’s okay as long as we get where we are going!

    PS–your name is on at least one other church’s prayer list this week (first name only–God knows who you are!) so if/when you have a bad moment remember there are a couple hundred brothers and sisters in Texas praying for you too!

  21. 25

    Ashley,
    Everyday you are in my thoughts and prayers.

    Jonie Brooks

  22. 26

    I love how open and honest you are. I guess you could say I grew up in a Catholic household, but we never went to church. We would only go for a wedding or a funeral. I never put much thought into church growing up. Don’t get me wrong, I believed in God and prayed once in a while. It wasn’t until about a year ago when my fiance met a nice guy at the gym who invited us to his church youth group. It was a non-denominational Christian church. We decided to go just to check it out. I was blown away by what I felt and saw. Many young people around my age, praising and singing for what God has done for them. We were going faithfully for a good 6 months, then due to some personal issues of my fiance, we didn’t go as much, or at all. Going through hard times really was a test for me, but through it all, I still prayed, was thankful and never lost faith. By the grace of God, my fiance has made personal progress, not completely over the battle, but God is doing what He does to help us through it. We recently started to attend church again. We may not go every single Sunday, but I still pray, praise and thank Him for all he does and has given and gotten me through this far. I truly believe that no matter what or where you are, God is always by your side. Thank you for sharing this and I pray that He blesses you and your family and you have a fast, painless recovery. I saw this quote on Pinterest and they are great words to live by: “In the happy moments, praise God. In the difficult moments, seek God. In the quiet moments, trust God. In every moment, thank God.” Take care.

  23. 27

    Thinking about you every day.I feel like God lead me to you through this website,you are a catalyst..God Bless!

    • 28

      I couldn’t agree more. Saw this on pinterest, Oh how fitting for you AShley:

      The number of prayers we say will contribute to our happiness. But the number of prayers we answer may be of even greater importance.

      You are an inspiration, a role model, hope for many and a friend!

      Blessings.

  24. 29

    Honest and raw, as always :)
    Pain is scary. My hope for you is nothing unmanageable as you go through this, lots of good painkillers for the days you are uncomfortable, peace that passes all understanding (think you’re already filled with that!) and a tumor that DIES. DIE, TUMOR, DIE!!!!!!!

  25. 30

    I so get this. I struggle with going to Church too. Hearing your story makes me want to give it another try.
    You will be in my thoughts and prayers,

  26. 31

    Hi Ashley,
    I just came across your blog a few days ago searching for hair ties. I have really enjoyed looking at your blog and all your crafts..you are SO talented. I also have been reading about your cancer which I’m all too familiar with as my precious daddy passed away from prostate cancer two years ago. I just wanted to let you know I’ll be praying for you. I believe in miracles and healing and know that God has a plan for you. There is an awesome devotional called “Streams in The Desert” that has really held me up during some low times. You should really read it. There were so many times I read it when it seemed God was speaking directly to me. Oh, also I had heard that Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York is a great place. One lady I spoke with said that they paid for her flights and everything. I wish I had known about it for my dad. Oh and that is so awesome that you are on your church’s prayer list. There is power in prayer! Sincerely, Kaye

  27. 32

    Dear Ashley,

    A friend shared your website with me just today. My name is Dallas and I live in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Whether you will read this or not is obviously something beyond my control. I do feel compelled to share. Your story (especially your post today) brought tears to my eyes and made my heart ache.

    See, my wife Tatiana (the absolute Love of my life and the mother of our Amazing little girl Sofia) passed away at the age of 33 this past August. In fact just yesterday marked the 5 month period since the day she passed. She too was fighting Cancer and although it was a different kind, she too had similar challenges as you have experienced.

    I know when we went through the fight and boy was my wife a fighter, everyone had “the cure”. Although I am not proposing I have a cure, I thought I would make a suggestion being that you live in California (so close to the Mexico border). We spent the time and money (you can read about it in my wife’s blog) to travel to San Diego and then down across the border to see Dr. Perez and Dr. Garcia at Hospital Angeles in Mexico. They are offering some treatments that you can’t really get in the US or Canada. Things such as IV treatments for high doses of Vitamin C (highly effective in strengthening your body for the fight) along with IV treatments of Amino Acids and many other things. The best thing they offered though was something called Hyperthermia that was having some pretty great results.

    I will leave it with you to review: http://www.angeleshealth.com/procedures/functional-oncology/.

    I know I am a stranger however, if your husband ever finds he would like to talk with someone that has experienced similar things, please, he can email me any time.

    I will pray for you Ashley… and your family. Every day. I am so very sorry to hear of your fight, your battle. I am so glad you too, like my wife, are choosing joy and are keeping a positive outlook in what many make a dark time.

    God Bless you for inspiring others with your words and your story. Be strong, God is with you.

    Sincerely,

    Dallas Smith

  28. 33

    Just a thought…. maybe if church feels like it’s a lot of rules – you’re going to the wrong church.

    For years I went to a church that I loved but I felt like there were ‘church rules’ The kids had to be dressed appropriately, there were times to sit, time to stand, time to sing etc. A couple of years ago my family changed churches ( I know, GASP!) We still attend a United Methodist church but found one with a contemporary service. They actually call the service “Current”. Two different services, Saturday night or Sunday morning. Refreshments served before the service. Cafe tables all around the perimeter. A coffee bar. Jeans are worn by all. The idea was born out of today’s more relaxed lifestyle. God doesn’t care what we wear or when we stand. He cares that we are there and worshiping.
    I’m glad you went to church today! I hope it strengthens you for this week!!! I’ll be praying for Thursday to get here really fast!!

  29. 34

    I’ve been following you for a little over a year and a half now, and I can really relate to this post the most. I went through a very similar time in my life, where I didn’t go to church, for very much the same reasons. I battled cancer at 27, NOT as serious as yours, but I got through it, and it has not come back. I can’t say I am the most “faithful” in my church, but I do try to attend now. I’m with you though, there are a lot of times I feel more at peace on every other day of the week. It’s always something I go back and forth with. I’m praying for this new treatment for you, and hope you know so many are lifting you up in prayer. Thinking about you, and thanking you for being so honest, open, and full of life.

    xoxoxoxo

    Kelly

  30. 35
    Stacey Kirk says:

    Came across this Psalm in my reading this week: “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of JOY!” Thank you for being so open and honest – religion is a hard thing for many to be open about! Keeping you in my prayers.

  31. 36

    Hello Ashley,
    I have been reading your blog for a while and i have to say that i admire your positivity.
    you are one strong woman!!
    I’m glad you went to church today. Its true we don’t need church to be save or to be called religious but it is good to just sit down and hear someone deliver the word of God to us.
    just remember that at all times call the name of Jesus (it is one powerful name)
    blessings your way !!
    c

  32. 37
    Meredith M. says:

    Ashley thanks so much for your honesty. I am Christian and have been a believer for a long time but I know how unfortunately the humanness of church can be a turn off. But I am so glad it seems you felt God there today. I still go to church so I can worship and take a minute back from the world. He is there for you. I know He is even when we don’t feel Him or don’t understand why in the heck a beautiful fun-loving woman like yourself has to get cancer. It sucks. But I will keep praying for you. And bust out those Psalms. I love the Psalms. Psalm 27:8 is my all-time favorite. I will pray you find the very best doctor too. I know MD Anderson in Houston is supposed to AMAZING. I had friend diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in her spine and she said they saved her life. LOVE you and your posts!!

  33. 38

    You are such an inspiration and no words can describe the impact you have on us. What a beautiful, uplifting testimony.
    You have so many people pulling and praying for you. There are not enough words to say everything that needs to be said – though the other posters certainly do a great job!
    Praise God that Lil Blue led you to that special place, for you to experience Him in that special way – for you to enter into His presence and be reminded of His love in that time. And praise God for a mother who is in tune with Him and with you.
    You are leaving such a beautiful legacy and you are helping lay a strong foundation not only for your own family but also for your readers.
    May God bless you and keep you. May He make His face to shine upon you. Blessed be the Name of the LORD!

  34. 39

    I love your honesty. We all find spiritual strength in different ways, and I’m glad you found some today. :) Sending prayers your way. I’ve just recently started following your story (AFTER BECOMING ADDICTED TO YOUR KUNG POA CHICKEN) and am amazed by the woman you are. XOXO, Shelley {HowDoesShe.com}

  35. 40

    I’m not a person for organised religion…the bible tells us to keep our eyes on Him and not on man. If we are the temple of God…then should we not seek shelter and knowledge within? If we study His word I believe He teaches us. After all isn’t He the best teacher of His word?

    When I’m at a loss and need direction for Him…I will hold my bible and pray and when I feel so moved I just open the bible anywhere and honestly…every single time I have done so…He has taken me to His word that guides me.

    It’s not always what I want to hear and I don’t always understand why…but with thought and prayer…He is always true to His word!

    I went to church faithfully for years and the longer I went the more issues I saw. Not with my pastor…not ever with him…but with elders and others. Issues I didn’t want to get involved in.

    My pastor by the way is Pastor Dave Hess at Christ Community Church in Camp Hill Pennsylvania…he survived stage 4 leukemia. I became a true believer in healing after that. The battles we fought for him in church were intense to say the very least. Maybe you can google him and find his testimony on line. I promise you that you will be lifted in all kinds of ways.

    One other great testimony to read about…well actually you can watch it on you tube is Ian McCormick … he testifys that he died an went to Heaven…I saw him in person and his story is truly amazing.

    Ya know…I’ve thought about commenting so many times and I don’t have words to say…but when it comes to God…He just moved my fingers and my heart on this one!!!

    With many blessings and a hope that you can read Pastor Dave…maybe while you have time during chemo…………………..smiles

    Huge hugs girly…yer always on my mind <3 And His as well~

  36. 41

    Ashley,
    i recently came across your blog because of your great craft ideas. I was touched to tears by your story and more recently your right of passage video. You are amazing. your strength and courage is motivating and your smile is radiating and inspiring. I am amazed at you. you wouldn’t believe how you have been such an example to me and have touched my heart. thank you for being a amazing role model for those that are watchign you. You are so beautiful inside and out. Thank you!
    Amber

  37. 42

    Ashley I think about you at least 5 times a day. I wonder how you cope with all that God has thrown you and I also wonder why I don’t have faith like you do. I pray for you constantly that God will perform a miracle in your life! I’m so happy that you went to church and finally was able to feel somewhat comfortable there and hear what God wanted you to hear. I hope tomorrow is just as beautiful if not more than today!!

  38. 43

    I am glad you went to church. I know it’s hard sometimes to get yourself there, I feel the same way.
    I think it’s a great idea to get another opinion. The doctors in the desert are amazing, believe me I feel like with my family situation as it was we had seen all of them for various reasons. But I also think that there are so many resources out there and somewhere there might be some go-getter doctor who is on the cutting edge of something and you are just the patient he/she is looking for to heal. Stay strong and keep it real. You are an amazing woman.

  39. 44

    Prayers for you Ashley. To your family for God’s healing strength.

    Have you looked at MD Anderson in Houston? I know its a long way off but its the #1 cancer hospital in the nation.

    I will keep you in my prayers.

  40. 45

    Dear Ashley,
    Thank you for the most honest sharing today. I’ve witnessed the healing power of God and praying that for you too. I pray and hope that these healing testimonies which have encouraged me and my family could also be a great source of encouragement to you.

    http://www.awmi.net/extra/healing
    http://news.awmi.net/home/tag/healing-testimonies

    Blessings
    Esther

  41. 46

    I’m so glad little Boo told you to “Get Up!”
    I’m so glad that you felt God today.

  42. 47

    I just “get” so many things you talk about! I can relate to how you feel about church, having a C-section….and just the thought of breastfeeding makes my nipples hurt! LOL
    If you decide to venture out to sloan-kettering in NY for treatment, you let me know. You will have a friend here and I’ll bring you donuts! I promise! xo

  43. 48

    Ashley, I also can’t get to church all the time either (didn’t go today) Sometimes with Anna it’s hard (she can’t sit in the main church or even the “bawl room” because she disturbs it so much. She does go in the Kindergarten church (even though she’s in 2nd grade) and John will go with her, but she does cause trouble so I only go ever few weeks to not be too much of a burden. I do love church, but sometimes it’s just easier not to. I always feel guilty but God knows your heart.

    Our church is also online now and you can watch sermons from home on Sunday morning or anytime, here is the link: http://www.glasgowchurch.com/

    Our Paster (Chuck Bettors) was sick for a bit, so his son (Chuck L Betters) is leading right now but it will only be a few weeks until he’s back. I love his point of view. His son Mark died a few months before my husband John (both in sudden accidents in 1993) I always felt God was there then, like he was preparing me. All the sermons from July 6 to when my husband passed were on sudden loss, and then it happened. God doesn’t make mistakes. You were there today for a reason even if it was to see that people are praying for you and to find the passages your mom left! God is good.

  44. 49

    I just want you to know how inspiring your posts are. You are certainly in my prayers, but I also hope that if I ever find myself facing uncertainty, that I have the same courage and faith that you show. Thank you for sharing!!

  45. 50
    Tleshia Farrar says:

    Ashley,
    I’m so glad you felt God today while at church! What a blessing that feeling is. I’m a former pastor’s wife. We were in full time ministry for over 5 years. In the end, I actually dreaded Sunday’s, because I always knew that I was going to be in the spot light and EVERYONE was going to be watching how quiet I could keep Lilly Kate, how Brent and I interacted with each other and how well I “worshiped”!!!!! I loved the other 6 sweet days with God and the time we spent together, but that one day was really hard….we are now one year out of the ministry and I’m still healing from some very hurtful things that people did to my family..My first time back a church after months of not going and in another state I might add…I had a panic attack! Brent was still in CA and I had taken Lilly Kate to church by myself. I really thought that I was going to have to crawl out on my hands and knees. I’m saying all of this to get around to this point…..God uses corporate worship in the most unusual ways….he uses others to speak to us on His behalf and He usually shows up if we do. God does not care if we are in church every Sunday or Saturday or what ever day your church has worship, it is the heart-reason for being there. Are you there to check it off your list of to-do’s, are you there for your kids, are you there to be seen, or are you there to hear what God has to say to you this week……To be honest, I’m still not going to church on a regular basis, but I’m healing to get back there. Keep your hope and eye’s set on God, that is what matters. I’m praying for you and that God will heal that which medicine can’t. He healed my cervix before a surgery and I was able to use His healing for His GLORY! I’m praying for your sweet family. I often pray about how thankful I am for knowing you (via the internet) and being blessed by your words on your blog! I memorized Romans 5: 1-5 and recite it in my head almost daily for 2 years now and I sing “praise you in the storm” by casting crows at the top of my lungs after dropping Lilly Kate off at school every day!!! I know it seems strange, but I love you as I do my local friends that I can go have coffee with this week, even though we have never met! I will continue to lift you up in prayer. Keep on keeping on, God will show up!

  46. 51

    Love this post… God is with us. Always. Doesn’t matter whether we go to a church building. Most of my times I feel closest to Him, isn’t actually inside a church. So, I am glad you got to go, and I am glad you had a good time, and that the message was just for you, and I have to say, I love your Mom. That is the best thing ever to have someone that thinks of the little things.
    Praying for you.
    -Evelyn.

  47. 52

    You are amazing!!! You are a hero and an idol. God Bless you.

  48. 53

    I’m happy you felt extra loved today!

  49. 54

    You know, that sounds like me… I can’t focus during sermons. I once played tic-tac-toe with a random little kid who was sitting next to me that I had never met. I can’t say that I go.. I went all the time as a kid, and maybe I felt too pressured and stopped.

    But, my grandma once said that church helps you meet people and not be lonely.
    Earlier this year I was thinking… maybe church isn’t about me. Volunteer work, mission trips, talking to others in the church, sharing experiences of faith, teaching the kids… that kind of thing. Maybe I’ve gotten things mixed up, but I think the church is called the “body of Christ?”

    Earlier in college, I thought… why should I dress up to go learn/sing when I can do that anywhere? But, I think services provide uninterrupted time for people to learn things they didn’t from sermons and feel a part of something with others in their faith that it’s hard to get at home. Being of a faith alone would kinda suck, and having a church would help that. I think pastors do have a useful knowledge of scripture and an understanding of it that we don’t have. That’s another reason I hadn’t thought of. I also thought… why dos a college church have services at 9 a.m.? Why do we have to schedule this? But, it would be hard to church staff to have a service all day when people just drop by whenever. I guess it sounds lazy for me not to want to go at a certain time, but I’m just not a morning person.

    I used to see churches as not there enough for each other when I was a young teen. I had seen the usual array of people not acting how they should.. even church leaders and attenders. But, I’ve since seen how good churches help their own. A young guy at my relative’s church was jobless… the church gave me a grant, a suit, helped him find a job. Another guy discovered he had AIDS… the church held the funeral free, and didn’t say anything of judgement. An elderly man was sick… the church visited, brought food, and prayed together. Not all churches do that like they should, but if you can find one like that, it sure would be comforting.

    I can’t imagine the fears or ?? you have with chemo-resistant cancer. Praying that the next form of it does it’s job!

  50. 55

    Thankful that you felt God in church today. It’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it? Even though we don’t know each other, I pray for you and your family every day. You are an inspiration!

  51. 56

    I enjoyed your post :) Do whatever you feel is right and go with it. Keep your chin up and I’m really praying you well soon. Good luck on Thursday :)

  52. 57

    Ashley, for some reason *this* post made me cry. My husband and I just walked away from working for an international youth ministry in Texas where he was the Director of Marketing. It wasn’t pretty. In the aftermath, we’re wrestling with a few things regarding “church” and what exactly “church” means. Up until now we’ve been sort of the opposite of you– super duper involved, multiple times per week at church.

    But you know, I so share your heart that I’m still crazy about the Lord and hold strong to my faith. Thank you for being so transparent– about this and about your life in general. It has to feel a teeny bit strange feeling like you have these people all over the world who think of you sort of like we feel about our “in real life” friends. You’re just absolutely precious and I will keep praying for you and lifting up your family. {{hugs}} I’m so glad that this morning was an encouragement to your heart!

  53. 58

    ‎”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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” || 2 Cor. 12:9

    I get your view on church, it’s about your Relationship with Christ not Religion. It took me until my mid-30′s to find a church I fit with. If you get a sec watch this clip about religion, this guy does spoken poetry & is really wonderful. http://youtu.be/1IAhDGYlpqY

  54. 59

    Ashley after reading your post this song came to mind. It’s one of my favorites and perfect for what you’re going through!

    Aaron Shust – My Hope is in You http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RRZgr7wNDs

    I will keep you in my prayers!

  55. 60
    Beth Morrow says:

    PraiseTheLord! You got it! He loves you perfectly…He orders your steps daily…He surrounds you with people that believe His Word and pray The prayer of faith.
    I don’t know if you are familiar w M.D. Anderson in Houston, but it’s the best of the best.
    Thank you so much for being so transparent today. You are so real! I am praying and believing for complete restoration in your body!
    Love ya girl,
    Beth

  56. 61

    i’ve gone to church my whole life and just in the last year and a half i feel like i’ve come to love going to worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. however, i feel like it’s been more of a change in my heart and my relationship with Him rather than a change in my church. praying for you ashley. oh, and definitely *choosing joy*. :]

  57. 62

    Been thinking of you Ashley,

    I don’t like people who offer opinions about where to get treatment, but I will anyway (sorry).
    Like Amy (#15) M. D. Anderson is considered among the top 3 cancer treatment centers in the U.S.
    I had issues about a mamo. reading, earlier this month. I was offered an appointment the following week.
    What ever you do, God will be with you,
    Much Love to you and your family
    Helen

  58. 63

    come to UNC we have the best cancer care you could ever ask for… and you deserve it!

  59. 64

    Thank you!

  60. 65

    I prayed for you in church today .
    Jeremiah 29:11
    New International Version (NIV)
    11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
    God Bless.

  61. 66

    If you ever find yourself wanting to check out the drs. at Sloan-Kettering in NY, you have a place to stay!! Just email me!!

  62. 67
    Nicole Dein says:

    Thank you for being so honest and sharing your journey with us. I love your blog and look forward to your posts. I totally get what you are saying. I havn’t been to church in a few years…I need to find one that I feel at home with. God is so special in the ways He reveals himself to us:) God Bless and have a great week!

    PS I ordered Choose Joy bracelets and I can’t wait to pass them out!!

  63. 68

    Ashley – I have been following your blog for a couple of years now and look forward everyday to your posts. I was diagnosed with cancer when my son was just 3 years old. Its not easy explaining to your child whats going on and why they can’t have a sibling. I can remember not being scared of the cancer, yet scared of leaving him and my husband. Its been two years and as I anxiously await my two year follow up next month – I find comfort in your faith, strength, and your joy. You are you a blessed individual with a wonderful supprt system and you have a beautiful outlook on life. I wish I could be as strong as you have been – but I find that I relate more to Lisa’s post the other day – I am scared of everything. There are so many different ways to react when life doesn’t turn out as planned and because of you I am finding myself choosing joy everyday.

  64. 69

    I love days like you had today, where God’s hand is evident and you can see all around you that He’s in control, He’s got this. Everything lines up from the sermon, the prayer list, people’s comments to finding the notes your mom has left in your bible. All in His perfect timing. He is there surrounding you with peace that surpasses all understanding. It doesn’t make sense but when you feel it, it’s undeniable. Praying for you and encouraged by your faith journey in the midst of this storm. :)

  65. 70

    MD Anderson has an amazing reputation. That would be my first stop…. It is great you know God & know your faith. That right there, priceless.

  66. 71

    This is the most amazing post you have written yet! I have often wondered why, if you seem so “religious”, that you never gave the credit for your joy, strength, and peace during this trying time to the Lord of all. You have such an audience and it seemed you were taking the credit in a round about way. I am so happy to see this come about! I truly hope that worshipping and fellowshipping with other believers bouys and blesses you!!! Thank you for always sharing your heart so openly and honestly!

  67. 72

    Hebrews 10:24-25 ESV
    And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

    Just another way to look at Church. I used to go for different things, bible study (so awesome, it’s a mom’s study so we all have kids etc), kids church, Sunday AM, Sunday evening Substance where a super sweet band performs and there is a speaker…there are alot of things you can do to be “in Church” without feeling like it’s an obligation that you can’t or don’t feel like fulfilling.
    I unfortunately “fell off the boat” and have only been going now and then the last 6 months. Funny thing…life has been unbelievable hard and challenging for the last 6 months… coincidence? Nope.
    XO hang in there thanks for the update

  68. 73

    that’s awesome you got to hear a sermon that fit.. i love that Boo “drags” you to church.. so funny.. sometimes i find that the sermons fit exactly what i need to hear that week.. church can be so uplifting at times, and the people can be trying but i love those times when things seem to fit.. but its just like in life, you can sit in the congregation and wait to be blessed or you can stand up and be a blessing to others… i believe you bless others.. i hope that you find comfort in your church whenever you go but you should know you’re a blessing in your positivity.. praying for you everyday!!

  69. 74

    God is using your daughter in ways that go beyond our understanding. There is so much truth to those words in Psalms as to there is in the whole Bible. God is leading your way, He is going before you. He will walk with you as you go to your appointment on Thursday.
    Many of us will be praying for you also.
    This is an amazing post, really.
    He is holding you by the hand.
    Praying for you!!

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    Thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers.

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    Praying for you!

  72. 77

    Life is funny sometime….amazing how different situation in ones life can change how you view certain things. I have been absent from church for a long time also…and just recently I felt I should go back and make peace with myself…bow my head, close my eyes and…pray. I do pray at home but to be brutally honest only when “I need something”…once I heard a joke…imagine how God feels…to put it into prospective it’s just like a parent…their kids move out…never call to see how they are…they only call when they need something…..or money ;) ain’t that something? It is true…in my case I only call him/’pray’ when I need something…I want to make more room for him in my life, I want to teach my daughter about him. We are so blessed in many different ways and I just want to tell him ‘thank you’. I’m thankful that you Ashley have become part of my daily life…I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way…I feel like I know you…and I would love to meet u and Lisa someday…you give me the inspiration, strenght, dreams, hope…you made me believe in myself again…that I am capable of following my passion and do what I love most….’create”. I’m thankful for you ❤ and without wanting to sound too weird… today I prayed for you in church…I also listened to every word…funny you said ‘it made sense’…..it made sense to me too. :)

    “BELIEVE” Ashley, I Believe in you. ❤

    By the way: U got me into Juicing again… ;)
    eLisa
    ❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀❀

  73. 78

    You know, you’ve spread joy and your faith so much… especially since last summer. I’m surprised you don’t attend church regularly, but you have such strong faith and all the “choose joy” posts you’ve made have radiated that faith and hope.
    Forgot to add that in my previous comment. :)

  74. 79

    P.S.S.- Here’s another invite if you need a place to stay or an overcooked, icky-attempt-at-a-homemade-meal if you visit the cancer center in my area.

  75. 80
    Princess Perry Joslyn says:

    Dearest Ashley,
    It has been a long time since I saw you, your mom, dad, brother, & sister. (You came to visit us in Virginia when we lived there.) When I received a note from your mom this Christmas, my husband and I immediately began reading your blog. We have been so moved by your entries and amazed at your ability to express all that is happening to you. You are an inspiration to us and our family. Our love and prayers are sent to you everyday. We live in San Diego now, so please let us know if we may ever help you in any way.
    Love,
    Princess & Bill

  76. 81

    I have been following you for… well what seems like forever. You have been in my prayers since the day I read you were ill. I can so relate to this post. Forced time for God just doesn’t work for me but I do believe and feel I have a relationship with him. I saw this on UTube the other day and thought it fit my thinking pretty well. Maybe it fits for you as well.
    Love Jesus but hate religion

  77. 82

    May God continue to bless you and keep you in His care.

  78. 83
    Amanda B. says:

    Hi Ashley! :)

    If you come to MD Anderson in Houston, I’ll bring you donuts!

    Much love..

    Always in my prayers,
    Amanda

  79. 84
    Becky Warg says:

    It’s amazing how your words are touching complete strangers lives! Thank you for that. :)

  80. 85

    i do lots of praying and talking to god too, just not in church. i know he still hears me. it was shoved down my throat growing up and i just went without question, but it left a bad taste in my mouth. but i would love to find my way back, i think i am finally ready.

    i worked as a photographer for the queen of hope pageant (for women of all ages who have had someone they currently know or who passed away from cancer, who are currently fighting it, or who have won their battle with cancer) in phoenix for the past two years. it is amazing to hear all of their stories, but it also provided me with the opportunity to visit the cancer treatment center of america twice, and i can’t say how speechless it left me. everyone their was amazing and it just was really a beautiful place to be recovering (plus they have a salon where they will come to you during chemo to give you pedicures!)!

    if you end up in az, i would love help you in any way i could. your strength is incredible.

  81. 86

    I was raised in a Christian home and attended a Christian church. I have attended church most of my life, although there have been periods where I did not attend. Since my husband and I moved to southern AZ we have a new church. We had options of choosing one with 5000+ attendees or… we could choose a very small church with maybe (on a good day) 40 attendees. We chose the small church. I have NEVER been one to get “involved” with church… I only attended. Due to some changes in the church I have recently become the church clerk, webmaster, AND secretary of the women’s group!! WOW if that isn’t a 180 for me! The point of this is… God works in mysterious ways. He knows when we are truly ready to receive the lessons of our lives and the messages from Him. You truly are an inspiration for so many! Prayer heals! You are receiving prayer from SO MANY… do not ever lose faith! Hugs and Blessings

  82. 87

    i pray that you will go as God leads you–to fully know, love and serve Him.
    i also offer you my continued prayers for a complete healing if it be God’s will for you.

    may the peace of Our Blessed Mother be with you as you are drawn closer to her beloved son, Lord Jesus Christ. may His JOY continue to be your strength.

    Pax Christi, lena

  83. 88

    That is awesome! Thanks for blogging your story. You’re such an inspiration to many/most that probably read your posts. I don’t believe it’s a coincidence, I believe it’s a God thing. Our sermon today was pretty much about the same thing. Hebrews 10:19-25. How to live w/ an unshakable God. As I’ve read your posts, I wouldn’t have guessed you didn’t attend church regularly, b/c it sounds like your confidence is in God. Jeremiah 17:7 “but blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. “. Even though we’re miles apart & just a name on Facebook, you’re in my prayers. God knows you by name & he knows your situation. Go get you a donut & enjoy your day! ;)

  84. 89

    There are no words for your story. I am so moved by your journey. Your posts resinate with me in such a personal and touching way. What a blessing you are to us readers!! I have been through some dark times in my life, although not with cancer, but still, there seemed to be no way out except through it. AT which point I was saying to God, “really??” We’ re really going here?? But like you, I got on my knees and opened the book of Psalms and this is the verse He gave me: I have set the LORD continually before me; Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. It gave me the strength to put my trust in Him. And you what,in the dark shadows of my trail, when things seemed there absolute bleakest, I would say that verse over and over & it brought me true peace. Looking back, God was so unbelievably faithful to me. I mean unbelievably faithful. Miracle after miracle, He brought me through absolute darkness in such an incredible way. He is so faithful. To me and to you. While I only know of your struggles from the brief but beautiful glimpses that you share, this one thing I know: God will be faithful to you. It says in 2 Timothy: if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself. God loves you and delights in you. I am praying for your peace and healing! I Pray also GOd will give you a special verse. Just for you. TO hold onto when things get hard. GOd bless you sweet girl!

    One more thing ;) Here is a CD I thought you might like:
    http://www.sherriyoungward.com/music_scripturesongs.aspx

    This amazing woman sings the Psalms of the Bible with out adding anything to them. It is so amazing & has brought me so much peace. Click on #11. So beautiful. These are the words below:

    Psalm 121
    I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come?

    My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.

    Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand.

    The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night. The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever.

  85. 90

    i am so sorry for what you are going through and pray for you often. have courage dear ashley,God sees you and hears your prayers. your positive attitude is a wonderful example.

  86. 91

    FOUR rainbows! It sounds like God was revealing himself to you all weekend long! It’s a powerful thing He is doing through you, Ashley. I hope you can see it.

  87. 92
    Claudia Méndez says:

    Hola Ashley, creo que tienes derecho a sentirte cansada y en ocasiones recibir a Dios en tu casa, en la cama, en el coche, en las donas, en tu trabajo, simplemente en ti, creo que el esta contigo y te cuida, solo le pido que te quite el dolor y que te de la fuerza para seguir sonriendo y contandonos tu vida, te queremos muchisimo.

    Con amor Claudia.

  88. 93

    I’m kind of glad to hear this kind of honesty from someone! I have felt that way for a long time. That is, I don’t feel “spiritual” in church. I feel much more spiritual on the back of a horse out in the wilderness. I am not really a “praying” type, per se. I have some of the same feelings as others….that “religion” can be problematic. At any rate, I am very happy to hear you are feeling good about those things and that you are finding peace in it. You are in my thoughts very often. My very best to you.

  89. 94

    Thankyou again for such an amazing post that makes me think wider about life and be grateful and of course choose joy. Sending you hugs and peaceful calm vibes ahead of Thursday. Bring it on and knock those cancer cells for a massive six!

  90. 95

    I think of you everday and the term “Choose Joy” seems to recite through my every day thoughts. You’re positive thoughts have given me some peace as I can be a BIG worry wart!

    I will continue to pray for you and your family. Like yourself I had a c-section and don’t deal well with pain, so I will send up a BIG prayer tonight that the pain bullies keep their distance.

    BTW, God will be with you where ever you are, weather in a pew at church, in a seat having chemo, on the road picking up fabric . . . . ANY where, just call his name.

  91. 96

    Going to church makes you no more of a Christian – than standing in a garage makes you a car….
    that being said- you show and live your belief in God every day…. THAT is what matters most. I think you ROCK!
    Keep it up!
    xo,Adele

  92. 97

    I love reading your stories – you are very inspirational!

    As far as looking for some other cancer specialists, I don’t know how far you want to travel, but in San Diego, UCSD has a fabulous cancer center, and they have some of the best doctors in the nation there.

    http://cancer.ucsd.edu/Pages/default.aspx

    Sending prayers your way!

  93. 98

    I went to a Christian college and my children go to a Christian school. I don’t go to church regulary. I just seem to feel out of place and cant get back into the habit .My daughter thinks I am hypocritical for talking about God but never going to church. I dont believe not going has anything to do with how religious a person is . You have to form the habit of going andit is easier if you have a network of friends that want to see you there and you look toward to seeing. What I have learned about church and witnessed many times is it’s a wonderful thing for people who are hurting or need help. I have had 2 relatives pass recently and the chuch was wonderful to both families. They were always bringing food or driving them to doctor appointments or collecting money . My husband recently had surgery and I was literally alone .my friends have lives ans jobs so I hated to ask for help. Church can be such great help in times of need and I would love to find a congregation that is like the ones I witnessed who helped my family members.I am praying for your healing . Your positive energy is contagious

  94. 99

    I too found your blog the other night via a link. I saw the side bar “cancer chronicals” and couldn’t believe that this talented, creative person also has cancer. I stayed up until 4 am reading the history of your story. I am utterly amazed by the happiness and joy that you convey. Sometimes, crappy things happen to amazing people. I am learning that we have to make it through these experiences one way or another so we might as well do it with a positive, optimistic attitude. Thank you so much for reminding me of this fact. I cannot stop thinking about you and your beautiful little family. I am keeping you in my prayers, as I know you are in many. You have done so much good by letting us have the chance to learn and grow from your experiences. Thank you.

  95. 100

    As soon as I read your post I thought of a you tube clip that we watched at our church a few weeks ago. I wasn’t sure I could find it but fortunately I had a look through some of your comments and at least two other people have linked it as well. (Love Jesus but hate religion) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IAhDGYlpqY&feature=youtu.be Being a christian is not about being religious but about having a personal relationship with Jesus. So this means that instead of feeling like we have to go to church each week to earn points, Jesus would like us to want to go. To both learn more about his word and to also spend time with other christian people. Don’t put pressure on yourself about going to church. Pray about it and hopefully looking forward to hearing a great semon each week will become a regular thing. I find your blog so inspiring and have no doubt that you are being used by God as a shining example. Praying for you from “Down under” :)

  96. 101

    God calls us to meet him in ways we would never imagine. I’m so happy you felt God was there, near you, in the Church!!!

  97. 102

    Morning :)
    I was not brought up in a religious household, AT ALL! I do go to church (for weddings and funerals!!) and so I don’t belong to any particular faith.
    But I have my own set of beliefs, Im not sure where these beliefs ‘belong’ but they are mine ;)
    I do believe in the powerful universe we live in, and I talk (pray?) to it asking for its help and strength in helping you fight and beat this dratted tumor.
    I think that what ever you can do to help you with that, then do it!! If it’s going to a Church, then go, if it’s laying in bed praying/talking/thinking, then lay!!!
    You have soooo much support out there all around the world (Im in the UK) and with all of us thinking of you, and your amazing outlook, this tumor does not stand a chance :)))
    And as for the dilly dallying, there will be none of that!!!! No sireeee, no dilly dallying here, bulls and horns hun, bulls and horns xxxxxxxxxxxx

  98. 103

    Hi Ashley

    I love your honesty! I have been a Christian since I was 14 (21 years ago!), but it is only this last 8 years that I have found a church which feels like home and that I want to go to each week (mostly). Even then I feel like I spend more time being Mum (mediating, changing nappies, picking up crayons…) than getting to listen to the sermon or sharing in the worship, but it is still worth it for those moments when I feel like I actually connect with God – and the people around me, that He uses to give me reassurance.

    The thing I have found though is that God will find you and touch you wherever you are, because He is there too, not just on a Sunday morning.

    I have also been wanting to say thank you to you for your full expressions of faith on your blog – speaking as an English woman, that up front openness and honesty is not something I have come across in many UK based blogs (including my own!) and I have found it both encouraging and challenging.
    You are in my prayers.
    Gaenor

  99. 104

    Hi Ash,

    Thanks so much for sharing that. An awesome reminder for us all. I know that God is using you for HIS greater good. The amount of people that you are touching through your journey would probably astound us all. Thank you so much for your openness, honesty and pure joy that continually shines through. I pray that God will bless you each and every day as you continue to fight this battle.

    xoxo

  100. 105

    I’m so glad you shared here. It’s something lots of people struggle with. Your honesty is refreshing. I’m praying for you. (The post-it notes in your Bible made me laugh. Sweet mamas.)

  101. 106

    I totally can relate to the church thing and am guilty of it myself. I admit, once I’m there I always feel an inner peace that is wonderful, so why I don’t go back I don’t know.

    Thank you for reminding me this morning, as I get ready to go to work and start another week that my day is not so bad. I have my family and my health. You are facing a monster and have a better attitude than I have had this week just because of small stresses.

    Praying this new chemo attacks the cancer at full speed. I can see why you’d be impatient…praying here every day and more!

    • 107

      You say it so well and you are lucky you have the faith that you have. I hope the new treatment works and hope you find the best place to get the treatment you need. You are an inspiration and I am really sending good thoughts to you and your family and friends.

  102. 108

    there are many ways to worship God and going to church is just one of them! Do what feels right for you and God!
    Take care of yourself mentally, physically and spiritual and hopefully everything will turn out okay. You are in my thoughts and prayers every day!

  103. 109

    YAY! God has you right where you need to be now! Once He speaks directly to you that way…good things will follow!

  104. 110

    Thanks for “confessing”! I’m so glad that when you did end up in church that you found God was right there waiting for you. But I also think that even without church, you are exactly like you said: someone who believes God. That has been apparent in every post I’ve read from the very beginning. He shines through you, no matter where you are or aren’t. So, keep being you. Thanks that you can “confess” here and tell the scary truth. But also know that all it makes us think is that it’s awesome how infinite God is, how He works in a variety of ways, and that it’s ok to be different from the “norm” because God is in all of it. Love you!

  105. 111

    Ashley,

    My heart goes out to you and your family. I have been looking at your blog and just am amazed at your talent! My mom is going through a journey also with cancer. We have moved her down to live closer to us. I know your faith and strength will help you through this!
    You’re in my prayers!

  106. 112
    Trennalonon says:

    Ashley, I just started reading your blog a week ago when my daughter told me your story and then reading today that you haven’t been in church for a long time shocked me. Because I sat in a Sunday
    School class yesterday about a mile from Charlotte Latin and told your story about what your doing every day in this blog is such a powerful witness of your faith and it is! You are such an example of how God is with us in the good times and the bad. Ashley I’am so glad you felt God ‘s presents in church yesterday Because I know you’ve made him more real to me by reading this blog.Love and prayers to you in this difficult journey.

  107. 113

    I’m so glad you were able to go! Better yet, Boo loves it! Faith in Christ and the worshipping of Him is intimate and personal and worshipping as a community is so important too.
    If it werent for fallible man, the church would be perfect! But we are not, we are all in a state of growth and ALL in need of daily mercies and His abundant grace.
    It’s important to remember we are not alone, all believers in Christ are part of one whole… I think this part of the value of the church worship experience. It’s often said separating one from the whole is easier to “take down” than when the flock is huddled together… There is value in being numbered together (as rough, smelly, and unpleasant as we can be sometimes).
    Each day is another opportunity to start fresh and new… One of the many beautiful things about relationship with Christ!

  108. 114

    im glad you went to church. its the best tool for me to stay connected to the lord and remember to make my daily choices the right ones!

  109. 115

    There is a big difference between relationship and religion. Looks like God’s just trying to use this to teach you some things and grow your relationship with Him. Awesome! “Going to church” is more like being part of a family, not fitting God into a time slot, at least that’s what I strongly believe. Getting to know people there and being involved in their life and then coming together on Sunday mornings to worship and learn together. I bet there are a lot of people at that church who could greatly benefit from your awesome attitude.
    Thanks once again for being real and sharing your story.

  110. 116

    Just wanted to ask have you contacted MD Anderson in Texas? i live in the south and that is the place to go around here. i have had many friends travel there and it is suppose to be one of the best.

  111. 118

    God is definately using you for His glory Ashley. He is with you always and will never leave you or forsake you. I just looked up one of my favorite verses to share with you (Habakkuk 3:19) and couldn’t help but notice verse 18….”JOY”….just for you Ashley!

    Habakkuk 3:18-19

    ” Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. ”

    “The Lord GOD is my strength,
    And He has made my feet like deers’ feet,
    And makes me walk on my high places.
    For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.”

    He will comfort and help you during this time. As John Lee Hooker said on the 700 Club….”Jesus is my good friend. He is a star that shines in the dark when I don’t know where to go. When I’m lonely I can speak with Him. He’s my hope and He is my joy. He’s caused my name that people didn’t trust; now I have a good name. Not because I’m a celebrity. But because of what He has done for me!“

    Knowing how artistic you are I didn’t know if you have ever seen David Girabaldi paint the portrait of Christ. It is truly amazing. Here is the link…

    http://www.cbn.com/media/player/index.aspx?s=/vod/AR62v1

    Praying for you, your husband and Boo today!

  112. 119
    Stephanie says:

    I think you might like this song “overcame” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xpCuZWSs7M&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  113. 120

    You are amazing…simply amazing! I TOTALLY relate to your thoughts on church and csections and BREAST FEEDING…gaaaagggg! Your strength in this battle is mindblowing! I sit and think about you and pray for you…I often wonder if I could be as positive and strong….but ya know?…those people that do put up a fight with positive thoughts, humor, attitude…those are the ones that win:-) You’re going to win!!!! You are amazing:-)

  114. 121

    I get it. You are seeking Him every day. Unfortunately many of those you saw in church on Sunday are only there for the social obligation.
    Our children asked last week, why do we go to church. Because Hebrews says we should. And, to hear what someone else has to say about God. Sometimes we just need to hear it from someone else….
    He is always everywhere, but we need to want to hear from Him to know He’s there.
    I’m absolutely sure He’s with you….everywhere. Enjoy each day this week…and next Sunday!

  115. 122

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE that the Lord used Boo to get you to church. He KNEW you needed those verses to strengthen you. We KNOW that we have faith and believe and trust, but it’s so comforting to have a verse to confirm that. I’m so thankful that your Sunday was spent in the presence of the Lord. And God Bless your mom for marking your Bible up. LOVE THAT!

    Praying for you Ashley!

    He’s got this!!!!!

  116. 123

    He knows exactly what you need – when you need it! You and your family are in my prayers for sure. Remember that church isnt just a slotted time with Jesus (He is with you everywhere all the time!) BUT it is also a place to connect with fellow beleivers who will stand by you in prayer during the tough times and celebrate with you when you come out on the other side!
    “But He was wounded for our transgressions,
    He was bruised for our iniquities;
    The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
    And by His stripes we are healed. ” Isaiah 53:5

  117. 124

    I’m blown away by your strength and courage Ashley.

    Sending you happy thoughts and prayers from the UK.

  118. 125

    I have been following your blog for a year or so and I just wanted to tell you….you simply inspire me. To live. To love. To choose joy! Thank you for sharing your story.

  119. 126
    Amy/Thrifty Treasure Hunter says:

    I’m glad this time in church was different for you and touched your heart so…

    here is a song that was created by your verse by Aaron Shust
    http://youtu.be/-RRZgr7wNDs

    Still praying for God to work miracles on your behalf & peace for you & your family.. still soo glad you CHOOSE JOY thru all of this…

    -Amy

  120. 127
    Tiffany Bridges says:

    My family and I just started going back to church at the beginning of this year. I have to say that the way you felt Sunday is the way I have been feeling these past 3 weeks. Before when I would go to church I would sit there and be like how does this apply to me? Now all of a sudden it’s like a gift I understand everything the preacher is talking about. I know that God is moving in my and my families lives. I now know also that he is moving in yours. Thank you for being so honest and open with your faith and life.

  121. 128

    Hi Ashley! Ami (from the Baby Center Molar PG group) here… A couple of things – #1: Thank you for posting over there. I don’t know how much help we’ll end up being for you, apart from having all experienced molar pregnancies as well… but your energy and joy will be a blessing for so many that are there. #2: God is so good! I love that He called you back to church, through Boo. What a difficult Sunday being “Sanctity of Human Life” Sunday to have as your first week back, but you are right – there is a reason. I have been praying for you and will continue to do so. #3: I’m glad that you and your medical team are consulting with other professionals. I’m going back through my notes and stuff from 5 years ago when I had my molar pregnancy to see if I can offer any more help or contacts, too.

  122. 129

    God always has our number that’s for sure! :)
    I love that hymn, one of my faves.
    Much love and prayers for you beautiful girl.

  123. 130

    I started reading your blog about a month or two ago and I love it! You share your heart and are real! I love it! I read this other blog called “Don’t Waste Your Cancer” and Libby has been cancer free for almost a year now. Your blog reminds me of her. Check out her blog at http://libbyryder.blogspot.com. Stay strong and trust in the Lord! Prayers are coming your way

  124. 131

    {loved} this entire post, but my favorite {that made me cry} is when you said your mom left you post-it notes in your dusty bible.

  125. 132
    lesley valentine says:

    Amen sister. You are in our thoughts & prayers daily. Xox Lesley

  126. 133

    Thank you for sharing your journey, Ashley. I have been suffering for years from chronic illnesses, but in no way close to what you are dealing with. I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. Everyday I think about you and your strength, courage, determination and positive attitude. When I am feeling sick or down, I think about you and you give me hope to take it one day or one minute at a time and I always want to “Choose Joy”!! Praying for you!!!

  127. 134
    Dana Levine says:

    I am so glad that I am not the only one who grew up going to church and doesn’t go now. I try every now and then, but I don’t feel at home. Thanks for your post!

    Prayers to you and your family!

  128. 135

    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 kept this close to me through 57 weeks of chemo, countless surgeries and hospitalizations. 17 years later I still rely on this verse to remind me HE is there, even though things don’t always go as planned. Stay strong and go forward. You’re amazing girl.
    Much love coming your way, every day.

  129. 136

    Still praying for you. MD Anderson is the best there is from what I’ve heard. My grandfather and bff’s brother went there. I know it’s really far but they have tons of trials etc. My Bff’s brother is in a trial right now with great success. He’s not even finished all the treatments and already considered to be in remission…he has to complete all the treatments but that’s pretty darn amazing.

  130. 137

    you’re the sweetest person i don’t know

  131. 139

    Wow. That is a powerful post and I want to thank you for getting it out there, Ashley. Just beautiful. And the part about your mom and the post-it notes? That’s just so incredibly special and it touched my heart deeply. Proverbs 3:5-6 are my favorite verses (original KJV). Those verses brought me through the Raid on Libya, the bombing of the Berlin night club (just missed that one) and several other events in Europe in the 80′s. I won’t agree/disagree the church debate because, truth be known, the whole city of Tulsa would feel another quake if I walked into a church – what with God falling off his throne and all. :D

  132. 140

    Miss Ashley – I have read with rapt interest your post and the responses to it. I was raised “in church” and have always loved being in worship with other believers. Our little family is a blended family and a blended family always results from a tragedy. We carried our tragedies and our baggage as best we could until things began to completely unravel and unravel they did. Like a thread that has no knot. My family and I were hurt and wounded and sick – physically, emotionally and spiritually. I didn’t love Jesus less – I just needed Him more and I learned what it is for God to be silent. In those silent moments darling Ashley – when we are as transparent with Him as you are with your cyberspace sisters, sometimes He is silent and I believe it is then that He weeps for us, He intercedes for us and He begs us to abide in Him. Attending or not attending the fellowship of Believers does not change the condition of your heart or your relationship with Jesus. Steep yourself in the Word and in prayer and abide dear one. Simply abide. He WILL speak and you, INDEED – as you did so clearly this weekend – will hear. Loving you with HIS love – Andrea from Peoria

  133. 141

    my husband has melanoma which until recently, did not have many treatments that were successful. when he was originally diagnosed he had surgey and we were told that no other treatment was needed. unfortunately this was very bad advice and later we learned that his best bet was seeking a clinical trial. we missed out on possibly getting into a trial for a vacine because the window was closed before we realized that we should have pursued a clinical trial that was offered outside of area. he continues to fight and actually has lived much much longer than we ever expected,
    these are the very hard lessons we learned:
    1. check behind your doctor & question everything( your brain will hurt from the overwhelming info on the internet….but the one tidbit you pick up on can be very very important.
    2. if the accepted method of treatment for your cancer does not get the greatest results …search for a clinical trial . http://clinicaltrials.gov

    3. dont believe survivor statistics. if the numbers you see on the internet were true then i would have been a widow years ago. the methods of compiling those numbersa are questionable at best. also they dont take into consideration importanat things like your overall heath,age, strong human spirirt,and your personal motivation to fight (your beautiful daughter & handsome hubby!)
    bless you & yours and i hope you see a rainbow every single day for good luck!!

  134. 142
    Sharon Paul says:

    I can totally relate to your blog and love reading it each day! I also have cancer – a rare type which is gall bladder cancer that has spread to my liver and lymph nodes. It took negative comments and my home town (Ohio) not being sure what to do for me to get me to the best place in the world for cancer. You should get an opinion from the nearest Cancer Treatment Centers of America! I am being treated at their Chicago location which is really about an hour north of there in Zion, IL. It is the most positive, caring, wonderful and loving place and I love coming here for treatment! Your blog is so funny, positive and I can so relate to much of what you are experiencing!! Hang in there and know that with God – all things are possible! Love and hugs to you and your beautiful family!!!!!

  135. 143
    Leigh Ann says:

    This is just one of my favorite verses that I like a lot. Just wanted to share it with you. I hope you have a great week and I pray for strength, peace, and healing for you.
    Hugs!

    Jeremiah 29:11-13

    11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

  136. 144
    faith wafford says:

    I always love the line in Pretty Woman when Dolly said “God don’t care which church you go to as long as you go” I feel that God doesn’t care WHEN you go either. Or if you if talk to him when you are showering or cooking dinner.

    The comment on how you related to the passage was…Cant find the right word…Honest, soulful, raw, spot on (In my best English voice)

  137. 145

    Ashley, you are such an inspiration for positive attitude! I am very sorry to read about the cancer not responding to the last treatment. You and your family are in my thoughts! I hope the new treatment works!

  138. 146

    Ashley, is there a chance your doctors could contact Melvin V. Gerbie, M.D., at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago, IL. Dr. Gerbie was in residency there when I was treated and cured of Chorio Carcinoma in 1963/64. They were conducting a study of Chorio Carcinoma funded by the National Institute of Health under the direction of John I. Brewer, M.D. (now deceased) and I was one of the patients. Dr. Gerbie might be able to advise your doctors or refer them to the doctor(s) most knowledgeable about Chorio Carcinoma.

    Dr. Gerbie is affiliated with Northwestern Memorial Hospital, 251 E. Huron St., Chicago, IL. When I looked up his profile, the phone number I found was (312) 695-9797. He might not be at that particular number, but they should be able to get you to the right place.

    I went with my daughter to Chicago last year to give the hospital a gift of thanks from my parents as instructed by them before they passed away. We went to the address where Passavant Hospital had been and it was no longer there. A huge building was in it’s place, part of Northwestern University/Memorial. I had hoped to see the ole stomping grounds. The whole area was totally different. I guess that’s part of progress.

    P.S. I’m so happy Boo took you to Church and I pray that you will see this post.
    xoxo

  139. 147

    I too grew up in a religous and Christian home and for that I am thankful. The church that our family attended had a way of making you feel guilty for something you hadn’t even done yet! I also was a rebel and didn’t go to church for years. After we got married my husband, kids and I attended a church that had such a great minister that you didn’t want to miss one Sunday! You can’t call them “sermons”, they were lessons with a moral…written for each of us it seemed. He retired and we again haven’t been to church in years. But that doesn’t make me any less of a Christian. God also created nature so why not worship him in the forest? It doesn’t have to be “organized” religion.
    God Bless!

  140. 148
    Leigh ann says:

    I have been reading your blog for the past few years and let me just say you r an inspiration. I work for an Aveda solon (plant based haircare) and this past weekend I went to a “better yourself” conference in new Orleans. One of the speakers there spoke about holistic and vitamin-based treatment for cancer. His website is doctoryourself.com. He talks about extremely high doses of vitC and Niocin. He makes sense. The whole time he was speaking I thought of u and how I felt like this might be the whole reason for my trip, to hear this message and relay it to u. He has several books. “fire your doctor” was one he spoke about. Please check this out. You are an amazing person.

  141. 149

    Stay strong and think positive!

  142. 150

    I have never commented on your blog before, but I’ve been a silent lurker for many, many months. :) Just wanted to say that I have been so inspired by your journey…mainly your absolutely unwavering positive attitude. The reason I decided to comment today is because I feel so similar to you with the whole church thing. Recently, my family has been through a lot. I grew up in church but never really felt like it was something I had to do as an adult. BUT, things got really tough for us with pregnancy complications and a scary diagnosis for our unborn son, so we found ourselves back in church. Just like you, it felt right. For the first time ever, I was inspired, the words made sense, and I found myself looking forward to our new Sunday morning ritual. We are still going through a tough time and are unsure if our unborn son will live or die once he’s born…but I know with God’s help and a few good bible verses…we’ll get through it. Feel free to check out my blog if you want to read more of our story. In the meantime, I’ll continue praying for you and your amazing family. Stay strong and thanks for sharing your story. It really does make a difference in people’s lives. :) Promise.

  143. 151

    You are not alone in feeling boxed in to Sunday service for worship. I think a lot of people go through that. But once you do go back, it’s like a breath of fresh air. When that happens to me, I remember that fellowship is something that I need, so I go. We will continue to pray for you as you endure this new challenge. Holding you up to the Lord.

  144. 152
    Felicia Adkins says:

    I was reading random blog posts of yours for the first time today. I am glad that you enjoyed going to church and really sort of “got it” today. You never know exactly what God’s plan is for you and your family. I will be praying for you and trying to keep up with your blog. I love your tutorials. My mom could do anything! Reading your tutorials helps me to gain the confidence that I too, can do anything I put my mind to (with God’s help of course). Have a blessed day.

  145. 153

    Glad you had your “I got it” day. I come from a religious family and went to church schools and through the years have found that it is what is in your heart that matters the most. God knows our hearts and is with us on our paths.

  146. 154

    you hit the whole going to church thing right on the nose for me.. I am that girl that has to be dragged to church, not because of not being Christian but because it is uncomfortable to pray and listen about a subject in the bible someone else picks out to discuss, I am right along with you checking off the list on the program as well waiting to beeline the exit when the message is done.. thank you for confessing..makes me feel like I am not horrible for not going to church either most of the time

  147. 155

    Ashley,

    I haven’t been blogging nor blog hopping for many months…and it shocked me when I come back here again and see you got cancer…reading this article made me shed tears. I pray that you’ll be strong…I also put a lot of my faith in God, though I rarely go to church…May the pain be bearable and may the best happens to you and your family.

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