Prayer Warriors

That’s a term I have heard used in Christian circles my entire life. For some reason, I was never very impressed with the term. Warriors were supposed to be big, strong people who kicked butt like the action heroes in movies. But as an adult, I am more impressed with these kinds of people than I know how to say.

The Bible calls us to “pray without ceasing.” This is something I have found harder to do as I get older. It’s not because I don’t believe in God or what He can do or how important prayer is. It’s because I let myself get distracted with so much of the day-to-day, that I am go-go-go and not always praying as I do it. Honestly, in high school, I was someone who prayed all the time. In between classes, on my drive to and from school, during some classes, in practices…I just found myself having little chats with God about all the things going on in my life or in my day. Now, I’m not so good about it. I’m trying to improve that area of my spiritual life. I want to be the kind of person who says, “I’ll pray for you” and actually do it. And do it more than once or twice. But do it constantly so that as soon as I see you again, it’s the first thing I ask about. Or so that I don’t even wait until I see you again to ask.

Tonight, I’ve been seeing a lot of prayer warriors online. I follow Promise Tangeman‘s blog. She’s a Christian and an artist and photographer in Phoenix, Arizona, and she has some friends, the McRaes, who are just going through tremendous heartache right now. They’re facing something that it seems more and more people are facing-cancer. More specifically, their middle child, six-year-0ld Kate, has a brain tumor that is very aggressive and cannot be removed completely with surgery because it is wrapped around a blood vessel feeding blood to her brain. I don’t need to tell any of you how horrifying that is, because we have seen the myriad of ways cancer can come in and destroy. Holly and Aaron McRae found out about Kate’s tumor about 6 months ago, and of course, it has turned their entire family dynamic upside down. Aaron is a preacher, and Holly was helping him start a plan for a new church when this struck. I’ve been following them for months now, and it’s been a jumpstart to my prayer life. I feel so attached to this little girl I’ve never met.

However awful their experience has been, they are determined to use it to the glory of God. They immediately set up prayer support with friends through as many means possible. They hold online chat room prayers when significant milestones in her journey arrive. Dr. Phil even found out about Kate and requested to interview her parents and to go meet Kate and her sister, 7.5 year old Olivia, and brother, 5 year old Will. Then Christian author Karen Kingsbury decided she wanted to help by raising money for Kate through her Forever in Fiction writing. Holly, Aaron, and their kids decided to use Kate’s new fame by helping others as well as for asking for prayer. So this year, they asked that anyone who could donate toys to please send them to be given out to the oncology floor at Kate’s hospital. Presents poured in from people all over the world and from 48 of the 50 states in the US. There were so many that they had enough to give to every toy room in the hospital, every oncology child in two hospitals, and the other pediatric units in her hospital. They said it was emotional simply to see the number of toys representing the sheer number of prayers being sent up all over the world for this one little girl.

It has been rough. Today they got another MRI scan showing the tumor has shrunk, barely, and that it is still inoperable at this point. But it hasn’t spread. And it’s getting smaller. They’re trying to focus on the good things. And they held another live online prayer vigil for Kate tonight. It was amazing to see the volume of prayers and praises to God being lifted up in chatroom as Kate’s dad and Promise’s husband talked about their prayer requests and led the prayers and worship music. I felt like I could see an army forming in front of Kate, all strong warriors, ready to stand between her and this disease and pray to the only One who can truly decide her fate. It is exhausting to pray and pray for the same thing for a long, long time. And honestly, 6 months isn’t all that long when it comes to cancer. This will be a concern for the rest of her life, even if she is declared to be in remission. She’ll have scans continually. But these pray warriors were taking up that fight on her account.

If you feel led to pray for her, here are some specific requests of the family. Pray for the McRaes to continue to have an uplifted spirit and the ability to fight. Pray for Kate’s hearing and her kidneys, which can be affected by the chemo, as well as for her body’s right side functionality, as it was affected during the first surgery to remove part of the tumor. Pray for Holly and Aaron, as they spend countless nights stressed out, tired, and apart from one another, as one of them is always with Kate. Pray for Olivia and Will to continue to feel loved and cared about and to not live in fear while their sister is going through this difficult time. Pray for the doctors and for Holly and Aaron to make wise decisions concerning Kate’s health.

And above all, just Pray for Kate.

~Meghan

In Sickness and in Health

A couple of weeks ago today, Tom and I were getting ready to pick up our puppies from the kennel and head home to Alpharetta from the Thanksgiving holiday when I started to feel pretty awful. We still had to get the dogs and go home though, so off we went. The whole way home I was either nauseated and cramped up or sleeping (which was preferable).  When we got here, we needed to bathe the dogs, but I couldn’t help Tom with that because I was feeling so bad. Soon after that, I began vomiting and having an upset stomach. Tom called my dad to see if anyone else in the family was experiencing this, but no one was. He recommended I take some Benadryl, so Tom ran out to buy some and some gatorade for me. While he was gone the vomiting grew worse, and I won’t go into detail, but it was really bad. I couldn’t keep down the benadryl, and when Tom saw how sick I was getting, he called dad again. Nothing that we tried would stay down-soft drinks, gatorade, water-nothing.

At this point I was starting to freak out a little. I hadn’t come into contact with anyone sick over the break, I had eaten the same foods as everyone else, and so much had come out of me that my coloring had changed to a yellow with dark eyes. I didn’t know why I was sick, and I couldn’t stop being sick. Then we noticed blood, and that was really scaring me. This continued until 3 AM.

On Monday, Dad said I needed to go see a GI specialist, and I thankfully had been told of Dr. Steinberg, a GI doctor out here, by a girlfriend of mine from our smallgroup. Dad set it up for me to go in the next day-I think he made an exception to get me in early because my dad is a doctor and was worried about me.  So on Monday, I didn’t eat anything, and I had ice to get my fever down and to help rehydrate me. I was able to keep that down. Tom had to help me get off the couch, walk back and forth to the bathroom, and blow dry my hair for me. I had NO energy, and I didn’t eat anything, so that didn’t help.

On Tuesday, I went to see Dr. Steinberg. He prescribed some anti-nausea medication and scheduled me to be at the Northside Outpatient Center at 6:45 Saturday morning, the first available time, to have an endoscopy and patial colonoscopy. Basically, the main fear was that I would have Colitis, an intestinal disorder that would be regulated with diet and medicine for the rest of my life. The reason for this concern was that there was blood coming out of me where it shouldn’t, and they didn’t know why.

Tom had been my nurse and chauffeur for two and a half days and working full time from home. But he needed to get back into the office, so mom came up on Wednesday to help me and stayed until Thursday afternoon. By then I was doing a little better. I could eat rice, saltines, and other bland foods. I had more energy, and it was weird to be excited when I had the stamina to blowdry my own hair or take a shower without panting, but we were excited. I was ready to know what was wrong with me, and I was worried it would be colitis.

They did the endoscopy and partial colonoscopy on Saturday morning, and afterwards told us that I had ulcers in my esophagus, which they biopsied to see if it was something called Barrett’s Esophagus. This is a precancerous ulcer, so that would not be the best news. It’s pretty uncommon in general, more common in men than women, and usually shows up in people around their 50’s. They also found that I have a hiatal hernia from acid reflux and prescribed Nexium. Finally, they found both a polyp and a small hemorrhoid in my colon. They said the bleeding was caused by the hemorrhoid, which is really great news because the rest of my colon looked normal, meaning I do NOT have Colitis. They polyp was removed because later in life a benign growth left to continue growing could become cancerous.

My doctor called me on Monday night and told me that they got the results back for my biopsy, and I do NOT have Barrett’s Esophagus. That was really a relief, and I was so happy to hear it. Dad must have been relieved too, because he called me to tell me not long after the GI doctor did. (As my primary care physician, Dad got all my medical reports also.) Anyway, even though it was unlikely, the possibility of having some precancerous growth in my throat was a bit unnerving. I have pictures that he took with the scope that Tom and I keep looking at and not throwing away, haha. It’s kind of gross, but I am not an easily grossed out person, at least not with bodily stuff.

Anyway, I’m getting back to normal. The doctor said I can’t eat some certain foods until he sees me in his office again, and I’m tired out pretty easily, but other than that, I am getting back to myself. He said it looks like this was all a result of an acute infection of my system, though we don’t know how I got infected. Tom had to take care of everything from laundry to picking out our Christmas tree without me, and I’m so grateful for all of his help. And I’m ready to get into all the Pre-Christmas activities that I’ve been missing out on. I’m so happy not to be throwing up, on anti-nausea pills, or needing assitance to sit up or get off the couch anymore. =) Tom definately held up the “in sickness and in health” part of the vows that week, and he was so patient and sweet to take care of me so selflessly while juggling all the housework, the dogs, and a full workload. God blessed me with my wonderful husband, and He blessed me with good news from the doctor.

I should be going back in to see Dr. Steinberg for a follow-up appointment soon, so I need to schedule that, but thankfully the worst is behind us! =) Many of our friends and family members that Tom contacted were praying for me during this ordeal, and I appreciate it so much. God was so good to me.

Love,

Meghan

The Calm Before The Storm

This weekend, Tom and I were planning to go to Augusta to visit Jonathan, Lisa, and the kids (and to meet little Violet), but Lisa had some migraine pain, so we are rescheduling. That left us with an unplanned weekend, and we have been (and still are) taking full advantage of it. We have something planned for every weekend until January, so we are chilling out this weekend. The puppies don’t mind that either since they have some kennel weekends coming up (though I’m not sure they know that’s part of the plan).

Our fun actually began on Thursday night. Lydia and Jeremy Hatfield, a couple from our small group, had us over for dinner at their house. We had such a great time! It was so fun to unwind after work with another couple. They have done a great job with decorating their house, and it makes us really eager to find a house of our own. I think I’ve got Lydia talked into helping me go garage sale hunting for a few decorations when I get ready to put those kinds of touches on our first house, too. She has great taste, and we share a mutual love (or should I say “obsession?”) for all things Pottery Barn. I couldn’t believe some of the great deals they found on Craig’s List. Tom and I used that website for a lot of our furniture as well, but I’m always impressed when I hear a great “deal” story.

Friday night I made steak and potatoes for Tom and myself, and we had a relaxing evening watching Scrubs. We LOVE that show. And I talked him into helping me get down the Christmas decorations from the top shelf (which I most definitely cannot reach) in our guest bedroom closet. Poor Tom-a HUGE metal candle holder fell and hit him hard on the shoulder, breaking the skin. He’s a trooper though, and he got the rest of the stuff down anyway. That way I can start going through it to save time when we’re ready to put it up in the apartment.

Today, Tom went for his long run of the week, like he does every Saturday, and he ran an impressive 12 miles straight. I can’t even run one mile before I start getting stitches in my side and reaching for an inhaler (am I sounding geeky and out of shape, or what?), so I’m always so impressed at his endurance when he runs. After he came back and had lunch, we both worked on different things on our computers. Tom finished his Christmas list (I think), and I got a lot of headway on mine.

Tonight, we watched Wall*E and ate pizza (YUM)!! Tom and I had never seen Wall*E before, but I’d heard so many good things about it that we decided to buy it. I’m glad we did. It was amazingly well done. I’ve never seen an animated movie that incorporated real people like that before. I will not spoil it in case you haven’t seen it, but it was a really great movie. I couldn’t believe how much affection I had right off the bat for a little machine. =)

Tomorrow, Andy is starting a new series at church, and I am really excited to be there for it. Tom and I have really grown a lot in our faith at Northpoint, and we feel like God has really led us there. After lunch, we are planning to go get a few things from Target for our Christmas decorations that I realized we didn’t already have when sorting them out.

I’m so glad that next week is a short one for work. Tom and I will be heading to Covington Wednesday night. We’re going to see a lot of family, eat wonderful food, and get some Christmas shopping done. We’ll probably help mom and dad get their tree this year (I’ve never missed that tradition) and hopefully decorate it before we go back to Alpharetta. The UGA/GT game is also next Saturday, and that should be interesting. There is so much to look forward to next week! And so the holiday madness begins….
Love,

Meghan

Happy Halloween!!!

This week at work, although we are not even supposed to say “Halloween,” we celebrated “Harvest Week” with the kiddies, and starting on Wednesday, classes started having their Harvest Parties. This included dressing up and doing a parade through the school. It was so precious to see how cute they all looked. Even the babies in the Infant 3 room got dressed up and were wheeled around on the “Bye-Bye-Buggy.” It was so fun to see all the kids dress up. I still taught them how to say Halloween in Spanish along with all kinds of things that go with it-costume, witch, monster, ghost, bat, spider (I’d already taught them this word, but it never hurts to reiterate), pumpkin, candy, trick or treat, etc.

Tom and I had trick-or-treaters this year, probably just because our apartment is on the ground level, and it was so fun to see them all go by with their parents. We gave away almost all of the candy we had bought, so that is definitely a good thing. =)

After handing out candy, we got dressed up to go to a party at Jessica White’s apartment. We went last year as well, and this year was just as fun, if not more so. Tom dressed up as Neo from The Matrix, and he pulled off the look really well. I went as a “wood fairy” (according to my costume label). Tom helped me do some designs on my arms with eye liner to make my dressing up a little more interesting, and I was wearing more eyeshadow than I think I have in my entire life. =)

When we got to the party, Robert Lee and Tom made a very dramatic entrance, as Robert Lee was dressed up as Agent Smith from the Matrix. It was so funny. We were excited that Alejandra and Jose were able to make it as well, because we didn’t think they were coming. We had a really good time. Here are the outfits we got to see last night:

Tom-Neo, Meghan-Fairy, Jessica-Scarlett O’Hara, Daniel-Rhett Butler, Robert Lee-Agent Smith, Andy-Tony Romo, Caitlin-Jessica Simpson, Liz-An 80’s Aerobics Instrucor (from NJ), Kevin-An 80’s Aerobics Instructor (from NJ), Jose-A French Chef, Alejandra-A 70’s Chick, Odinaka-Dave Chappelle, Micah-Himself, Kat-A Scary Clown, Ryan-The White Rabbit.

We’ve had a pretty busy month, and I’m sure November will be no different. Next week, Violet Grace Patton is scheduled to enter the family. Andrew James Fill was born in September, so Tom and I are planning to go meet him in Albany in a couple of weekends. We also have Tommy’s birthday, Thanksgiving, The Georgia-Georgia Tech game to watch, dog parks to visit, and Jose and Alejandra’s engagement party to plan, and that’s just what I can think of off the top of my head for weekend stuff (besides church). I’m sure we’ll have more pictures and stories to post as the month goes on, so check back!!

Love,

Meghan

How Beautiful is the Body of Christ

When I was little, or maybe even before I was born, a song that I loved (and still love) called How Beautiful came out, sung by Twila Paris. It basically pulls from Isaiah 52:7 which says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!'”

Like I said, I’ve always loved the song, but I had a really strong visualization of what that verse and song are about a few weeks ago (and each week since) while at church. At North Point, where Tom and I attend in Alpharetta, there are two auditoriums. The speaker (usually Andy Stanley) is typically in the East Auditorium, and in the West Auditorium they project what is going on in the East. The only exception is during the music worship-for that there is a band in each auditorium. Anyway, in the east wing, there is a balcony, and that is where Tom and I like to sit if we can get to it before it is filled up. We just began sitting there a few weeks ago, and that is when I first noticed that there is a person translating everything from the lyrics of praise music to announcements to the sermons into sign language for people in the first few rows to the right of the stage.

I watched them while I sang the songs, and it really struck me how beautiful it was that though they couldn’t hear to carry a tune, they were “singing” so exuberantly with their hands. The person who was translating was also so joyful as she sang with her mouth and her hands. It almost moved me to tears to think how those who were deaf could be bitter about not having the ability to hear, but instead they were doing what they could to praise God in the way He allowed them to do so. That is truly a beautiful thing to behold.

This part of the song immediately came to mind, and I remember it each Sunday that I see them :

How beautiful the feet that bring
The sound of good news
And the love of the King.
How beautiful the hands that serve
The wine and the bread
And the sons of the earth.
How beautiful
How beautiful
How beautiful is the body of Christ.

~Meghan

Adopting Twins

Tom and I have been planning for a while to get a dog. We wanted to get an Alaskan Klee Kai around Christmas time as our present to each other. But lately, we have been thinking about the fact that we could get a dog that needs us from a shelter for a fraction of the price while saving it from being put down. We’ve also been thinking about how much fun it would be to get a dog while it’s still nice outside.

After deciding that we wanted a female puppy in a small breed, we started looking around online, specifically atpetfinder.com. So after church and lunch today, Tom and I decided to go to some of the places we had seen online.  The first place we called had nothing available in what we needed. Petsmart didn’t have what we were looking for either, so we drove out to Georgia SPCA in Suwanee. That is where we saw a litter of five adorable puppies. They were reported to be a mixture of  Jack Russell Terrier and Australian Shepherd. We aren’t sure what else is in them. We aren’t so sure they got it right with Australian Shepherd. Mainly, we think they have Miniature Pinscher in them. See what we mean? Just compare that picture to ones of the puppies.

There was only one girl in the litter, and she is adorable. When we reached in for her, one of her brothers was so persistant about being held that we took him out to play with as well. By the time we had spent half an hour with them, we were in love with them both. They are 10 weeks old and about the size Lucy (my dog that lives with Mom and Dad) was at 5 weeks old. We don’t expect them to get very big. We were told the largest they could possibly ever be was 30 pounds. After talking it over for about an hour, we decided to adopt them both. That way they could have a sibling to play with while we are at work, and we would rescue two dogs. The fee to buy them helps keep the rescue center going, and it also covers our puppies first 2 rounds of vaccinations, some Advantage for keeping away ticks and flees, deworming them, and having them spayed and nuetered.

After we adopted them, we went to Petsmart (about a mile from our apartment) to buy their collars, leashes, crate, puppy pads, chew bones, squeaky toys, food, and bowls. We are totally in love with our new “babies,” and I think they know they are going to be a bit pampered.

We’ve decided to name them Liam and Samantha (Sam for short). We will have pictures on flickr soon, and the link is on the right. =) There are also some pictures below; you can click to enlarge them. We will try to add a video later.

Love,
Meghan

Happy Birthday, Indeed. =)

Hello All,

It’s been a wonderful weekend, and I thought I would write about it. On Friday, I had probably the most relaxed day at work yet. Due to scheduling, I only had to teach 3 classes before noon, and the rest of the time I helped other teachers and in the front office. At noon, I left for the day because Jessica Prater, my lil sis in Gamma Phi Beta and one of my best friends (and bridesmaids) from college, was getting married, and I was a bridesmaid. I needed to be in Canton ready for pictures by 3:30, so I decided to take off half the day for work. While I ate lunch at home, I got a delivery from St. Louis. My sister and brother-in-law sent me a Sangria set with a pitcher and glasses. What a fun summer gift!! I can’t wait to try it out. Mom and Dad had given me two place settings of my silver pattern for my birthday too, so I’m finally busting out my silver-keeper that we received for a wedding present. =)

Jess and Jacob had a BEAUTIFUL (and hot) outdoor ceremony, and I was so honored to be a part of their special day. They are such a fun and beautiful couple. She was one of the most stunning brides I have ever seen.

At the reception, I got to see lots of my sorority sisters, and it was great to catch up with them. Tom got to meet some of them and their boyfriends as well. It was really fun, and her dad made such a cute toast. The only thing was that it started raining (we were in a tent outside), and the power went out. It was too much for the lights and the sound to be on in the tent, so they left most of the lights off and let the band stay connected. Her dad finished his speech, and we moved indoors for cake cutting and the such, then back out for some fun dancing. The rain cleared up before they left, and Tom and I were way past our usual 10pm bedtime, so we left immediately after they did.

When we got home, I saw a gift in the living room from Tom. It was a TomTom Portable GPS for my car. You have NO idea how excited I was to receive this. I’ve been talking about wanting a GPS forever, and I have a HORRIBLE sense of direction. It just gives me peace of mind to know I have some help now, haha. It’s so nice too-we just sat there and played with it for about half an hour. =)

Saturday, I woke up to another surprise. Tom’s brother and parents had bought us John Mayer tickets for his concert in Alpharetta in August! I was over the moon about it because I LOVE John Mayer, and so does Tom, but we have never seen him in concert. A few of our friends are planning to attend the concert as well.

A little later, Jason (Tom’s big brother in Theta Xi) and his wife Mariah came by to bring us a wedding present. They stayed for about an hour, and it was just nice to catch up with them a little bit. Tom and I spent most of the day cleaning the apartment and getting groceries.

We also had reservations for the Cheesecake Factory (just down the road from us) for dinner. When we arrived, Tom had another surprise for me-about 6 of our friends from Atlanta and Covington had come up to eat with us. We had a great time at the restaurant, then we all went back to the apartment to hang out some more. We ended up playing what was probably the funniest game of Charades I’ve ever witnessed. Tom and I were up late again, but it was worth it to spend time with everyone.

Today is more relaxed, with church, lunch, thank-you notes and some leg-work to do for classes this week. But it’s been one of the most enjoyable birthday weekends I’ve ever had, thanks to Tom and all the family and friends who made that effort, and my birthday isn’t even until tomorrow! Thanks everyone!!

Love,

Meghan

Honeymoon, Apartment, and Job Search

Well, since we’ve been married, it’s been a whirlwind of going on the honeymoon, moving stuff to the apartment, unpacking everything, cleaning, cooking, and now job searching for me. Tom came back from the honeymoon and went back to his job at careerbuilder.com, which is currently supporting both of us.

It’s nice that he’s able to support us both, but I would like to find a job out here, so now I’m trying to overhaul my résumé. It’s more difficult than I had anticipated, mainly because I had always planned to work with animals, so I always focused my volunteering and interning on jobs that interacted with animals, such as training animals at Bear Hollow in Athens or interning with Zoo Atlanta. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I interned at Zoo Atlanta that I realized their keepers never get weekends off. Or, at least, they don’t get weekends off until they have worked there for 30 years or something long-term like that; there’s no set time period, but the only people I knew who had weekends off were curators who were once keepers.  Anyway, the point is, now that I am interested in working in an office environment, I realize I haven’t got very much relevant experience to speak of outside of my being a research assistant for psychology experiments my senior year at UGA, and that’s not exactly what I had in mind for work.

I’m more into the idea of doing something in Human Resources. I like the idea of interacting with people throughout the day and helping them have a better work environment. I talked to someone at an employment agency today about it, and he said that a lot of companies like to take people fresh from college and train them for how they want their HR people to be. I’m praying that he’ll find something good for me in that field where all I need is a B.S. in psychology and a willingness to learn, but we’ll see.

In the meantime, Tom and I have been enjoying married life. Everyday when he comes home from work, I stop what I’m doing, and we go on a mile-long walk and talk about how the day was for each of us. I love the chance to just spend time with him. After all the years of long-distance, it’s so great just to get to live with my best friend…not having to go home at night or only see each other on the weekends-it’s awesome. =) I’m working on getting my name legally changed, and there are a LOT of things that come up after marriage if you change your name: credit cards, drivers license, social security, passport, emails…just to name a few.

One last thing before I go: Tom and I have more honeymoon pictures posted on facebook than we do on this site. If you are interested in seeing them, you can follow this link. Also, feel free to add us as friends on facebook and/or send us a message.

~Meghan