A Vessel of Hope

When I visited the Cancer Center at Pali Momi for the first time, I met Sonia. Sonia is a greeter there and boy oh boy is she good at what she does! Sonia smiles, she encourages, she spreads hope and love and does everything within her to uplift each and every person who passes through the lobby. Sonia is the type of person whose enthusiasm and gratitude for life overflows with joy.

Sonia not only encouraged me on the way in to treatment but also waited with me while my daughter brought the car around at the end of my treatment. While we waited, she talked with me and helped me to stay positive and strong. I had only met her that day but I instantly knew that she was someone whom I’d love to bless with some Stampin’ Up! cards that she could give to others. Sonia has a God given gift to encourage others, so why not give her an opportunity to share her gift in a hand stamped card! I made the decision that the next time I saw Sonia I would definitely need to bring her some cards.

It just so happened that a few days after my treatment, my friend Cindy’s daughter, Raymee told me that her school had asked her to do some type of community service project and Raymee thought it would be a good idea to ask me if I needed any help with any of my projects. What perfect timing! I told Raymee about my new friend Sonia and how I wanted to gift her some cards. Raymee thought this was a great idea so we quickly got to work. Raymee loves to craft and has often been my little helper at classes and events over the years. Since I have not been working due to needing time to rest while going through chemo, it felt great to have a reason to go into my stamp room to help Raymee get started on a project that she could call her own.

Make a card, Make a difference!

Make a card, Make a difference!

As I showed her the card and told her what she was going to make, I said, “You are about to have the MOST fun you have ever had in your life making these cards to bless Sonia” and Raymee just smiled at me. I hope she still smiles like that when she turns 18 and can officially become a part of my Stamped With Aloha team, LOL.

Cindy and Raymee

Cindy and Raymee

I designed a quick and simple card using products from the Come Sail Away Suite. Because I knew the type of people Sonia would be inspiring with these cards, I wanted the message to be uplifting and filled with hope. The message I used on this card says, “Let HOPE be your anchor through the storms of life”.

Come Sail Away Card of Hope

Come Sail Away Card of Hope



Raymee packaged her cards in a cello bag and tied it with a long piece of our Navy Denim Ribbon.

Come Sail Away Cards

Come Sail Away Cards

When I went back to the Cancer Center for my next appointment I saw Sonia and gave her this package. She was SO encouraged and told me how much she LOVES cards! She said, “I will use all of these”. Sonia even asked to send a card to Raymee to say thank you as she was so touched by the thoughtful gesture.

Sonia and Cindy

Sonia and Cindy

Since receiving by diagnosis, I have been so inspired by the way people have encouraged me with love, support and hope. I have been encouraged by so many people. Some who I’ve known for a long time and others like Sonia who I have just met. I’ve even been encouraged by some whom I’ve never met at all.

A couple weeks ago I got a package from my demonstrator friend Colleen who is a part of the Vessels of Hope ministry from River Oak Church in Virginia. Inside the box was this beautiful soft pineapple knotted blanket, a card filled with words of encouragement, and a devotional book called, “Praying Through Cancer”. The note inside the card said, “each knot tied on our blanket represents a prayer that has been said for you”.

This just made me cry and feel so special. As I held that blanket I felt the prayers from not only Colleen but also from the group of loving sisters who surrounded her and were a part of tying knots and saying prayers for me as they assembled this blanket. I felt humbled, honored, uplifted and INSPIRED! I want to make others feel the way they made me feel when I was down. I want to be a Vessel of Hope!

Blanket from the Vessels of Hope Ministry

Blanket from the Vessels of Hope Ministry

I think God wants all of us to be vessels of hope. We all struggle and at some point or another will find ourselves in the midst of a storm. When we come together and encourage each other, pray for each other, have each other’s backs, it’s such a beautiful example of the love that Jesus has for all of us.

I am thankful that I met Sonia, who showed me what it looks like to be a vessel of hope.

I am grateful to Colleen and the Vessels of Hope ministry for reminding me of what is most important in the world today, to be a vessel of hope to everyone, even people I don’t know.

I am blessed that I had time with Raymee to teach her how to serve others by being a vessel of hope using her creative gifts and talents and amazing Stampin’ Up! products.

I am at peace knowing that the God of hope is transforming me into a vessel of hope to encourage others even during a challenging season.

So, as I close todays post, I hope this verse from psalms will encourage you and fill you with hope no matter what your circumstances are today.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Psalm 15:13

Let’s be vessels of hope,

Cindy

Snow Much Love

When our holiday catalog was released, I combed through the pages to see what would be my favorite new stamp set to work with. This year the choice was easy! I picked the stamp set Snowman Season which is a part of the BEAUTIFUL Let it Snow suite seen on pages 18-20 of the holiday catalog.

I LOVE snowmen. Very soon we will pull out our Christmas decorations which include an entire bin full of snowmen that I set up in my kitchen. Believe it or not, I even have a Christmas tree that is dedicated to just snowman ornaments. Just thinking about it makes me happy and I look forward to decorating this year.

As you know this season is going to be different. Upon receiving the news that I have two different types of stage 4 Lymphoma, I realized that this battle would be taking place during my MOST favorite time of the year. My treatment plan that started this month will continue until the start of the new year if all goes as planned. At first, I was really bummed. I realized that this would affect so many things. My mind was filled with thoughts such as, what would happen to the holiday traditions I love? How will this affect my business with me not holding classes or events? How will I get ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas when I am not going out of the house except for Dr’s appointments and treatment? Will I even be here to celebrate the holidays with my family this year? Then I realized that I needed to let all of that go. Instead, I want to embrace this new season and allow God to direct my steps each day and I feel like its going to be one of the best holiday seasons ever because I have recently become aware of how much LOVE surrounds me and how incredibly BLESSED I am. God is so good.

When you face challenges you have an opportunity to either grumble or to find reasons to be grateful. Although I have had moments where I do grumble, I am working at keeping an attitude of gratitude because I know that when I am grateful it draws me closer to God. This awareness brings me peace and joy even in the midst of a storm. When I sit back and count my blessings, I realize I have SO much to be thankful for.

One of the things I am grateful for today is the ability to breathe. For the past several months I have been so extremely exhausted because I simply couldn’t catch my breath. I was so weak and tired I could barely move from the couch to the kitchen without having to reach for my emergency asthma inhaler. There were even days that I thought would be my last because I felt so exhausted from the struggle to breathe.

My treatment started 2 weeks ago. I went into with a positive attitude believing because I had been feeling so bad, treatment would make me feel better and guess what? It DID!!!

Chemo Treatment #1

Chemo Treatment #1

I know that everyone who goes through chemo experiences different things. Common symptoms are a tin taste in your mouth, mouth sores, nausea, extreme fatigue, hair loss, etc. I was told by more than one person that whatever I experience in the first round, I will experience in all the rounds. So, for instance, if on day 2 I feel nauseous, I should expect that day 2 of round 2 I will feel the same. I was also told that I should feel the worst the second week when my immune system is at its lowest.

So far, my journey has been that the first week I felt mostly tired with occasional feelings of being nauseous but I was able to manage that with medicine. The first week also felt like it dragged on forever and I felt discouragement thinking I had 5 more rounds to go and that seemed like an eternity. But besides being a bit discouraged, tired and slightly nauseous, I wasn’t feeling that bad. In comparison to what I was feeling prior to chemo, I was feeling great.

Week 2, the one I was told I would feel the worst happened, and guess what? I feel even better, stronger and have more energy than I’ve had in weeks. I was able to bake a batch of healthy pumpkin muffins. I was able to stamp one card. I was able to go for a ride on errands with my husband on the weekend and although I stayed in the car, it was nice to just be out of the house and take in the beauty of God’s creation all around me. I am amazed, God is certainly answering prayers.

Speaking of prayers, I have been so filled with awe at the amount of people that are praying for me. I can feel the prayers and they have given me so much peace. I also am surrounded by so much love and acts of kindness that have inspired me to want to do more for others to make a difference.

I know this Holiday Season is going to be different. We are skipping putting up Fall decorations this year, but thats ok. The pumpkin muffins I made provided the house with such a wonderful smell of Fall! God also blessed us with a couple of really wet rainy days where it was fun to be indoors looking out at my plants, that desperately needed watering, get watered from above!!! Guess what, I’ve already done some online Christmas shopping too.

I was told that my hair should be gone on the fourteenth day, which was yesterday. A day where I had a visit from Carlene, one of my childhood friends, whom I hadn’t seen in 38 years. I warned her in advance that I might be bald when she came over and she reminded me that beauty has nothing to do with your hair. What a sweet reminder from my thoughtful and caring friend.

Childhood Friends

Childhood Friends

My hair has begun to fall out, a little. Whenever I brush it, there are more stands than usual coming out. I am not sure what I think about losing it, but I’m keeping a positive attitude. I think until it happens, I won’t know exactly how I will feel about it. Who knows maybe I will love having the opportunity to wear different colored wigs so I can be blonde one day and a red head the next!! Again, I am just taking life one day at a time and asking God to give me the strength, I know that He is with me every step of the way.

As far as my Stampin’ Up! business goes, I hope to find a way to continue my classes this season, even if I am not the one running them. I have had a few very kind offers from people willing to host the classes for me. I haven’t decided yet if this will be possible, but I HOPE to be able to have at least one or two.

I have set up a Hostess Code for October, it is DA74ZQVV. So, if there is ANYTHING you need, please go to my online store and use this code. If you need a holiday catalog, let me know and I’ll do my best to get one to you.

I am also very excited to say that two of my favorite holiday traditions will be moving forward as planned. The first is our annual Stamp Camp. My leadership team has set EVERYTHING up and invitations have gone out, I believe there are only a few spots left and registration closes this week. If you didn’t get a registration form and would like one, let me know asap as registration closes this week. The theme is Snowman Season and will feature products from the Let Is Snow Suite I shared with you about at the start of this post. When I received my set, here is the first card I made.

Hula Snowman Card

Hula Snowman Card

You know I HAD to do this!!! This brought back memories of building sandmen at the beach with my kids when they were younger. The hula skirt was made using our Dino Dies. I just cut two pieces and used Paper Snips to trim them a tiny bit. Here’s a closer look.

Hula Snowman Card

Hula Snowman Card

The second card I created was for a swap that I do every year with my advisory board sisters. They are some of my favorite stampers who create such beautiful cards.. The cards I swapped with them will be on display at the October 26th, 2019 Snowman Season stamp camp.

Snowman Season Card

Snowman Season Card


This card is done in non traditional colors. I made it with my friend Kim Williams in mind who hosted the swap. Kim loves pink and is also a breast cancer survivor like me.

The sentiment on this card says, “Hoping this season builds heartwarming memories”. I love this and believe this will be true for us as a family. I can already see how my diagnosis has brought us closer together and on top of all the love we already share as a family we are so excited that we will soon welcome a new addition to our family, when Kalani and Joyce’s baby is born. What an exciting season this will be to build heartwarming memories.

The second event that will be happening this season is our annual HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS craft fair. Save the date for Saturday, November 30th in Waikele. I will have more details out as it draws closer. My daughter Jessica has offered to run my table for me and a special group of my demonstrator friends from the mainland have already been sending me items for my table. I can’t wait to show you their creations. I have offered to send them money, supplies, etc but so far everyone has just shared how they have loved being able to do something for me to help me through this season. What a labor of love, I don’t know how to thank them enough. Knowing that this tradition will continue just makes me soooooooo happy. I haven’t checked the calendar to see where I will be in my treatment plan at this time but I HOPE I’ll be able to at least stop by because this event is one of my most favorite holiday traditions and thanks to this creative and thoughtful group of demonstrators, my table this year will be better than it ever has been in the past! What a blessing!

As I end this post I just want to say thank you again because I know its so many of you, my blog followers, who have been sending me so much encouragement and hope! I so appreciate you lifting me up daily in your prayers. Your prayers are being answered and I am soooooo grateful.

With SNOW much LOVE and a heart filled with GRATITUDE,

Cindy

God's PERFECT Timing

A few months ago, I was lying on the couch at home alone. A friend texted to check on me and asked, “How are you doing”? I had no strength to text her back. I just lifted the cell phone and took this photo of myself and hit send.

A Challenging Day

A Challenging Day

I was tired and could barely breathe. I had been out three days prior with procedures at the hospital in town. Two of the procedures were biopsies in which we got results right away. The results left the doctors scratching their heads! They knew something was wrong but all they could see was inflammation! On this day I felt like I was nearing the end of my life. I didn’t know how much longer I could go on struggling to breathe like I was. I thought about my family and then I thought about my grandchildren to be and I tearfully lifted up a prayer, “Lord, I really hoped to one day see my grandchildren”.

The next day we had plans to go out to lunch as a family. Derek wanted to take me to someplace where I could sit outside and get fresh air. He chose my favorite place in Waikiki, the Royal Hawaiian because he knows that Diamond Head is my favorite landmark in the world. At the Azure restaurant you can sit outside and eat and enjoy a Diamond Head view.

Royal Hawaiian Hotel

Royal Hawaiian Hotel

I didn’t feel great that day. I had to walk really slow and my breathing was labored most of the time we were there. It was still a beautiful day and I felt blessed to be off the couch and out of the house. The thing that makes me feel the best is just being with my family. We always have such a great time together and its a good distraction to how I was feeling.

As we sat together, Kalani and Joyce surprised us all with a wonderful announcement. They shared that they were going to have a baby. As soon as they showed us the ultra sound picture, the tears began to flow.

Baby Baughman

Baby Baughman

What a precious gift, I could see my first grandchild. I was so touched watching Jess tear up as she realized she was going to be an Aunty and Uncle Brett looked so happy too..

Aunty Jess and Uncle Brett

Aunty Jess and Uncle Brett

Oh what a happy time this is for our growing family. Derek and I are so excited to be Grandparents.

Our Growing Family

Our Growing Family

After lunch, when I got home, I immediately thought of my prayer about hoping to “see” my grandchild. I said, “Lord, can I please rephrase my earlier prayer, I would love it if I could be there to not just see my grandchild but to hold him or her and watch them grow and maybe graduate high school, too”. LOL.

I don't know God’s plan for me. But I know he knows the desire of my heart. I also know that during my most challenging days, I think of this little bundle of joy and it makes me fight harder.

When I think of God’s perfect timing, I”m amazed at the miracle timing of this summer. I got really sick in April. In May and June we knew it was a mass in my lungs and I was having all kinds of crazy symptoms but after several biopsies and hundreds of tests, nothing was diagnosed. People were praying hard and in July, I was healthy enough to travel. I JUST got better!!! However halfway through our 2 week trip to Europe my symptoms came back which only interrupted a day of our travel when I went to a Rome hospital. We were able to get the meds I needed to finish our cruise to Greece and as soon as we returned to Hawaii, we got new test results that required me to have surgery and then the discovery that I had cancer.

Now, I could get upset and say, “why didn’t they find it in June”. If they had, I would have missed out on the MOST AMAZING FAMILY TRIP EVER. They found it however as soon as we got back and now with our grandbaby on the way I have a new reason to fight harder for this miracle healing.

For now I can rest knowing that God is in control I trust His plan and not my own. Jeremiah 29:11-12 says, “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you”.

My first chemo treatment was on Tuesday, it went well and 4 days after that treatment I am feeling better than I did before. I’m still tired but I’m not coughing and my breathing is better!!! This is thanks to the prednisone…. and lots and lots of PRAYERS from so many people all over the globe. .

This week, I received a beautiful hand made knit prayer shawl from my friend Martha with a card signed by a whole bunch of people at her church in Tennessee who prayed over it. That blanket is covering me now as I write to you. I feel completely covered and surrounded by so much love.

And now you know another reason you can pray for me, that my prayer to be there for this little baby will be answered. Thank you for your continued love, support and prayers. I am feeling extremely blessed because of you.

Trusting in God’s perfect timing,

Cindy

PS.. Derek wants to be called Papa, but what should I be called? Any suggestions?

Be Patient!

Today I have been meditating on Romans 12:12. It says, Be joyful in hope, PATIENT in affliction and faithful in prayer.

Being patient is not one of my best qualities. So today has been extra challenging as I am still waiting to find out test results that will determine my treatment plan. This result was supposed to be revealed on Friday but there was a delay so we had to push back my treatment start date till tomorrow. However, if I don’t hear something soon, I’m wondering if there will be another delay. So, I continue to TRY and patiently wait for the results to come in.

Romans 12:12 says to be joyful in hope. This weekend I was filled with so much joy and hope! My breathing has been improving. My coughing fits have been happening less. I had the energy to put some dishes away. Imagine that bringing me joy, but it did.

On Saturday, we have some friends we had not seen in over 30 years. they were here in Hawaii and we really wanted to get together with them. Since we were not sure how I’d be feeling, we asked them to stop by our home early in the day. I can’t believe how great I felt while they were there. It was so good to talk story and visit with the Barkema’s. We met them when we were a part of an organization called Youth With A Mission in the late 80’s. We all lived in Manoa Valley at the time where Dave, Gina and Derek were a part of the staff. I am thankful to God that he filled me with strength so that we were able to have a really nice time catching up with our friends from so long ago.

Visit with the Barkema’s

Visit with the Barkema’s

Later that day Derek and I went to visit the Cancer Center that I will be going to. I had an appointment to meet with a nurse to go over what treatment would be like. The Cancer Center was really nice. Everyone we met there was so kind. I felt peaceful and comfortable and READY to begin my treatment. Since we don’t know my plan yet, we went over both scenarios of what would happen regarding my treatment. I enjoyed the meeting and it was really helpful to get some questions answered and to see what it is going to be like when I begin treatment. I am thankful that I will be able to be in such a beautiful place surrounded by some very kind people.

On Sunday morning I came downstairs to find my family watching three different football games. Brett loves Green Bay and we love the SeaHawks. I love watching football and the fall season!!!

My favorite player of all time is SeaHawk Quarterback Russell Wilson whom I’ve thought of a lot as I’ve battled cancer because of his work with the Strong Against Cancer Organization. He visits the Seattle Children’s Hospital weekly to lift the spirits of the children hospitalized there. I can’t even imagine going through what I am going through as a child or being the parent of a child who has cancer. Praise God for people like Russell who give so much of themselves to make a difference.

Football Loving Family

Football Loving Family

Well, I am thankful that Russell and the SeaHawks won this weekend are are now 2-0 to begin the season. The Packers won too and have had a great start to their season as well. So, our football loving family had much to celebrate in our home that day!!!

Just after the game a group of our close family friends came by. Unbeknownst to me, a family meeting had organized that I was not allowed to attend. I went upstairs until they called me down to pray over me. I don’t really know what they talked about but it sounded like they were creating a plan to support me during treatment. I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to be surrounded by so much love and aloha.

Before she left my house, my friend Cindy gave me the most precious drawing that her son Andrew made for me. Andrew is 7 and when he was younger he used to love coming to my stamp studio to play with my punches. He is super smart and knew the name of every shape. The front of his drawing made me smile as I remembered that special season I shared with him punching shapes.

Andrew’s Shapes

Andrew’s Shapes

When I turned the paper over, Andrew had drawn me the Solar System (something this little 7 year old is passionate about) and it was surrounded by some very sweet and encouraging words. I loved his picture so much that I put it in the front of a binder that I will keep all my treatment information in. I’ll carry it with me to encourage me and give me hope!

Andrews Encouragement

Andrews Encouragement

After the meeting, Derek had to go to work, so I spent the afternoon and evening with Brett and Jess. In the early evening, we decided to borrow my Dad’s small wheelchair and go over to the Lagoons for a walk. It rarely rains in Kapolei but wouldn’t you know as soon as we picked up the chair it started to pour!!!

Rainy Walk at Koolina

Rainy Walk at Koolina

We didn’t let the rain dampen our spirits. We waited till it let up a little and then Brett pushed me through a couple of puddles and we had fun. It felt good to be outside and enjoy some fresh air. Also, it is so beautiful there as it was close to sunset.

Koolina Sunset

Koolina Sunset

Today, I woke up again without a lot of breathing problems. My breath is still short but I have been able to move around more without any major coughing fits. I’m still tired so I still spent most of my time sitting or laying down but I am so grateful because I know so many people are praying and I am feeling strengthend by those prayers.

I have kept my phone close to me all day, anticipating the phone call that will determine what my life will look like over the next few months. As the hours went by I grew more and more anxious. In times like these I knew I needed to get into God’s Word and take my mind off my circumstances. So I was led to read Romans 12:12.

Let me share it with you again but this time the Passion Bible Version.

Let this hope burst forth within you, releasing continual joy! Don’t give up in a time of trouble but commune with God at all times. Romans 12:12 (TPT)

As I reflected on this verse, I’ve focused on the joy I felt over the weekend as I’ve experienced the blessing of being able to breathe better and the joy of being surrounded by loved ones who are doing so much to care for me during this battle.

I’ve tried very hard to not grow impatient, to not complain, but to continue to put my hope in God knowing that his timing is perfect and I just needed to talk with him and tell him how I was feeling The more I grow closer to him, the more peace I feel. I trust that he has a plan so I just prayed that he would reveal it and then did my best to leave it in his hands.

I wanted to blog today but I thoughts I’d wait until I had an answer. However, as I prayed I felt God tell me to just start to write and share honestly how I was feeling. To let you know that I struggle with patience but that I also trust in God’s timing. God is so faithful, do you know what happened? Just minutes ago, in the midst of writing this post, I got the phone call. I have the answer and now I can share it with you.

Are you ready? Drum Roll please……. our prayers were answered. I do not have the gene so I can begin OUT PATIENT treatments starting tomorrow. This is what we hoped for as doing the more aggressive IN PATIENT treatments would have meant being hospitalized 6 different times over the next couple of months. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all who prayed and believed with us for this result. We are rejoicing in this miracle and excited to get the party started tomorrow.

We don’t always understand God’s timing but that’s ok. All that matters is that we trust in His perfect plan and in Him. Since I struggle with being patient, being in this position gave me the opportunity to grow a little more in learning to be patient. This delay also gave me the opportunity to share with any of you who may also struggle with patience! That way, we can learn and grow together and encourage one another to never give up but to continually commune with God who is our every present help in time of need.

Thank you for your prayers. I hope you know that as I go in to begin my treatment I carry with me all of the love, support and prayers you have been sending my way. I feel joyful, strong and ready to take on this next step in my journey knowing God is with me and so are you!

With much love and a heart filled with gratitude,

Cindy