It’s Always Been You, Jesus

Hospital Selfie 2017**Selfie above was a Hurricane Harvey hallway selfie so please excuse my lack of makeup and lack of sleep. Harvey post coming soon!*

I wrote this post a few months ago, but just now posting. I’m now working full-time at the hospital and I absolutely adore it. So thankful. 

 

I have grown up completely terrified of needles and blood. Even just getting a shot, I would get weak and nearly faint, so I’ve figured out how to lean my head back and pretend I’m laying down as I get a shot or have bloodwork taken.

God certainly does have a sense of humor, doesn’t He? In the past two years, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, had consistent bloodwork every other month, visited a dear friend of mine in a rehab center five weekends, and I’m currently sitting at the hospital waiting on a friend to get out of surgery. She chose me to accompany her because of all my experience in hospitals. What!!?!

I’ll never know how I went from being terrified of hospitals, to being a patient and visitor in one, and now in just a few months, WORKING in a hospital each day, but I think it goes back, like everything does, to Jesus.

He is Master Healer. He knows what we need before we need it. He knows our sicknesses to come, our sicknesses past, our fears, hopes and dreams. He knows the amount we can handle on our own and He knows the amount we can handle with HIM. He knows how to stretch us, challenge us, get us out of our comfort zone (can I get an AMEN?!), and overall He knows what gifts He has given us, and therefore He knows how deeply He has buried them inside of us.

I truly never knew how much I would love working with patients until I got to visit my dear friend Josh Fohner at his rehab hospital and watch him improve each day, getting to see the sweet nurses and therapists and doctors taking care of him.  

I never knew I would have the strength – or the stomach—to take care of a friend post-surgery, but here I am.

I never knew I could walk into a cancer surgery with crazy insane peace. But then I did. Only Jesus.

I heard a song today called “Make a Way” by Desperation Band and the bridge is just the anthem of my heart lately, “It’s always been You, Jesus.” I think that’s the answer to life, yall. It’s confusing and messy and weird and beautiful and awkward and rough and wonderful and stunning and quiet and peaceful and chaotic and terrifying and…….Jesus. It’s always been about Him. The amount that we give Him credit for is up to us.

Any good in our whole life? Jesus.

Any peace during any sort of turmoil or trouble? Jesus.

Any blessing in any of our 24 hours a day? Jesus.

Any friendship or relationship that is life-giving? Jesus.

Any trial that draws us closer to our Creator? Jesus.

Any needle that scares us and makes us run to our Father? Jesus.

“It’s always been you” is a popular phrase that people in love say to each other….which is precious and wonderful and adorable of course.

But it can’t entirely be true, because when they were seven years old and stumbled on the playground, it was probably NOT their future spouse that picked them up off the pavement and took care of them, right? So they are meaning, “As long as I have known you, it has always been you.” Which I totally don’t deny that they loved their spouse before they met them…..but you get my point.

HOWEVER, how blessed and rich and favored are we, that the God of the universe, LONG long long long long before we ever knew Him, HE was loving us, choosing us, and drawing us to Himself?

So indeed, to Jesus, we can say, “It’s always been You, Jesus.” Because it HAS. He chose us in HIM before the foundations of the world…..EPH 1.

It has always, always, always been Jesus.

If you’re like me and you look back on parts of your life with confusion or misunderstanding, just choose to stop staring at it, and see it through the blood of Jesus. It’s always been Jesus. It will make more sense on the other side of eternity.

If you look at the good parts of your life and long for them to come back to pass, just see them with the blood of Jesus covering them. That He gave them to you in His grace and we can bask in that with gratitude.

It’s always been You, Jesus.

The world has been spinning for over 2,000 years and will continue to spin hundreds of years after we die. And it has always been and will always be about Jesus. His cross, His grace, His gospel, His love, His salvation, His joy, His heart, His GLORY.

Why do we live our little lives, running to and fro, convinced it is all about us? Our comfort, our health, our lives, our future, our money?

This life is SO not predictable or easy, but in the highs and lows, so thankful for Jesus. 

 

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The Best Kind of Waiting Room

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snap taken from, you guessed it, the waiting room

I don’t really like waiting rooms – I get impatient when I’m not seen immediately and as we all know, sometimes waiting rooms are crowded and stuffy. Also, simply being in a waiting room usually implies that something is wrong and you need a trusted doctor to bring his expertise, so usually you’re not feeling great – whether it be antsy from anticipation or physically weak from a sinus infection, etc.

On Monday though, for me, I didn’t mind the waiting room. Time flew by and I didn’t even notice or look at my clock. After my appointment, when there was a line for check-out and a lady hurriedly asked me into her office so I wouldn’t have to keep waiting, I sat down and told her not to worry about my waiting. I said, “I don’t mind waiting. I would wait all day for Dr. Karni. He’s my hero.”

Dr. Karni is my Amazing Surgeon who found my thyroid cancer in September 2015 and removed my thyroid in October 2015. He is the best in his field, the kindest man you’ll ever meet, and he showed so much compassion and care for a wide-eyed 26-year-old girl with a million questions when he said the word “cancer.” He found the thing that was trying to kill me, and he got rid of it. And on this side of heaven, that’s about as close to having a real-life superhero as you can possibly get.

I only get to see him once a year, so you can imagine the joy I felt when the day came.

And now you understand why I didn’t mind waiting. And you see why I’d wait five days in that waiting room for a chance to even just say hi and have my brief check-up with him.

Dr. Karni brought me healing, showed me so much compassion, and I know he cares so much about me. I trust him completely and I’d wait all day for the chance to see Him. But this is the thought that’s brought so much conviction: God brought me healing, showed me so much compassion, and I know He cares so much about me. I trust Him completely. BUT, why am I so impatient in God’s waiting room?

I couldn’t get the thought out of my mind. God has proved Himself time and time again in my life, and yet, I am impatient, I worry He has lost His expertise, I worry I’ll be late for other “appointments”, I wonder if He has forgotten about me out in the waiting room, and I forget His deep care for me. How quickly I forget!

I would never tell Dr. Karni that he was slow, not skilled, or that I needed to conduct my own surgery. (!!!!) But oh how quickly I can tell God that my plans are better/faster/stronger than His!

If you need a reminder: our Great God is Healer, Redeemer, Restorer, Savior, King, Good Father, Joy-Bringer, Creator, Life-giver, Sustainer, Rock of Ages, Prince of Peace, Lifter of the Heaviness, Author, Refuge, Good Shepherd, and Friend. He’s everything good and life-giving and wonderful. And He deeply cares about YOU and He deeply delights in YOU.

The more I focus on HIM, His character and His Great Love for me, the more patient I am in the waiting room. I’ve learned the secret for enjoying waiting rooms: it is all about WHO you are waiting on.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

PS if you need a song to put your eyes on Jesus, this is a GOOD ONE: “Worthy of Your Name” by Passion.

 

Thankful For The Scars I Bear

family“Thank You for the wilderness
Where I learned to thirst for Your presence
If I’d never known that place
How could I have known You are better?

And it’s worth it all just to know You more

You’ve done great things
Jesus, Your love never fails me
My soul will sing you have done great things

Thank You for the scars I bear
They declare that You are my healer
How could I have seen your strength
If You never showed me my weakness?

Through the fire and the flood You have never let me go
And my soul will sing You have done great things
I am weak, You are strong
You will always be my hope
And my soul will sing You have done great things”

Great Things by Elevation Worship

THIS SONG Y’ALL. It makes this past year make sense. If Spotify could count, it would probably tell me I’ve played it 17,494 times this year. On repeat. There just aren’t many songs like it. How many songs can you think of that thank God for the wilderness, the scars, the fire and the flood? REALLY!!!! But that is LIFE. There are fires and floods and scars and I am so thankful we serve a God who is in control of each moment and working all things together FOR our good. (Rom 8:28)

Last October 19, I had one of the very best nights of my whole life. I went to Lamar Young Life, briefly shared my story with my friends there, got to sing Good, Good Father with 150 friends, wore a thyroid cancer awareness ribbon boa made by one of my precious girlies (shoutout to Zayra!!), and woke up the next morning at 4am for my 7:30am total thyroidectomy surgery.

Last October 20, I had a Most Blessed Day of Healing where Jesus used Dr. Karni to completely remove every cell of cancer from my body.

One year later, I am overwhelmed by God’s goodness and celebrating His healing.

I have a 3-inch scar across the center of my neck, and although I was terrified of it before my surgery, now on the other side, I love my scar. Every time I see it in the mirror, I am reminded that Jesus healed me. I am reminded that Satan’s plan for my life was to “steal, kill, and destroy, but JESUS came that I may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10). I’ll never “un-have” my scar, but I wouldn’t want that anyway, because that would mean that I’d “un-have” the season I got to walk through with Jesus – where I grew closer to Him than ever before. He used the pain to draw me close. And I would rather be closer to Him through pain than further away with no pain.

Gosh I wish I could remember that lesson in other parts of my life! That no matter the disappointment or pain or sadness, HE is using it (I trust and believe!!) for our GOOD that we’ll look back on in gratefulness!

I think I thought that once I got over the mighty mountain called Cancer, life would fall into place and be smooth sailing from there. But, it’s just not. There are still fires and floods and scars like the song says. The past few months have included a job change, a move, some heartbreak, and sadness with my friend Josh in the hospital in a coma right now, among other things. I even hesitated writing a blog post today because I can’t tie a cute little bow around life right now. But, that must be right where God wanted me. Back on my knees – looking to Him as fervently as I did last October 19.

In October 2015, despite pain and fear, I saw my FAITH in God soar as He came through, and I will not ever be the same.

He’s still writing your story and my story, you know. When we look back on today, what will we say in a year?

In October 2016, despite ______ and _______, I saw GOD come through by _________ and I will not ever be the same.

And we’ll be thankful for the scars we bear.

Come, let us return to the LORD. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. // Hosea 6:1

Singing His Praise

I’ve always loved the verse, “Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.” Psalm 51:15. I could have never imagined how the Lord would bring this verse to life in my life though…..

From the day I began piano lessons as a five-year-old, I have loved music and singing. In high school, I took up guitar and began leading worship. For the past four years in Houston, I’ve gotten to lead worship at Lamar High School Young Life every Monday night.

When my Amazing Surgeon diagnosed my thyroid cancer, he calmed nearly all my fears – I can still hear his words, “You won’t lose your hair, you can have kids in a year, you won’t need chemo or radiation, you might lose your voice…..” Wait lose my voice? He described how the thyroid is right by the vocal chords and practically on top of the vocal nerves. He told me he’d be as careful as he could, but he could not promise anything. My talking voice might change a little bit, and my singing voice may never fully come back.

A very well-meaning thyroid cancer survivor told me her singing voice didn’t come back for ten years after her surgery. Ten years?

I know there are so many other things that should have scared me more about my surgery, but honestly losing my voice was at the top of my list. I had already been hoarse for all of July and August (God’s way of getting me to go to the ENT) and I had desperately missed singing in church. I could not imagine my singing voice disappearing forever and the thought made me so, so sad.

But, God was calling me to surrender my voice. To be okay with the fact that He might take it forever. I wrestled a lot and cried a lot, but I trusted Him and I had to just be grateful for the years He let me sing. And I had to trust that it was up to Him if He wanted to bring it back. During that wrestling, I’ll never forget my friend Kelsey’s text, “I’m praying your voice comes back completely – and maybe even better than before if that’s a thing?” The best example of godly friends carrying our burdens with us. I needed her faith in that moment! I hadn’t even thought of praying that boldly.

No matter what the future held, I wanted to seize the moment and record some songs. If I never got to sing again, what songs would I want to have recorded?

  • Good Good Father – for sure. This was my anthem all summer/fall and I wanted to always remind myself of His goodness
  • Holy Spirit – a super special song to me since Beth Moore’s series on the Spirit when Lisa Pierre sang this at the Bible Study 2 years ago
  • You Will Find Me & Cannons – two Young Life songs that will always take me back to Lamar Young Life with 150 friends singing along with me
  • & 6 others!

Exactly one month after my diagnosis (Sep 3), my incredibly talented friend Austin and I went to Houston’s Barron Studios and recorded all day (Oct 3). I went back on October 10 and recorded more. I got to share my story with Jason, the amazing sound engineer.

I surprised my my parents with my album for Christmas (and they cried – video on my insta).

After my Oct 20 surgery, my singing voice was hoarse and scratchy for about three weeks. High notes took a couple months to come back, but as of January, my singing voice came back – completely!!!! Hundreds of you prayed with me for that – so thank you, thank you, thank you. Jesus heard. I am so thankful to Jesus for going above and beyond in first healing me, but then also keeping my voice in tact.

Job 1:21 – The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of Yahweh.

So with that introduction, I’d like to present to you the first song Austin and I recorded, “Good Good Father.”

Spring is Coming & Psalm 23

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This was last summer….and what I cannot wait for again this year: sunny days!

Spring is coming. It will come. Winter will not last forever. I need to remind myself of that these days! Maybe you too?

In Houston, it is 80 degrees today and so gorgeous – the perfect reminder that spring and summer are coming. As I think back on my fall and winter, I don’t know if I’ve ever been more excited for a new season; lighter, brighter weather, and sunny days.

I totally did not account for the Recovery season. I got through my surgery, got my miracle clearance on November 10, had an insane work event/festival, traveled for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and sat back in January asking myself “What just happened?” and “Why don’t I feel normal?” and “Why didn’t I just bounce right back to my perky self?” (and my body was asking me “Where did Thyroid go and how do we live without her??”)

Just like winter and pain will not last forever, the recovery process will not last forever. Spring will come.

Hosea 6:3 – Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”

My word for 2016 is RENEWAL. Psalm 23:3 – He renews my life. 

After a miraculous surgery and miraculous clearance from further treatment, I expected to walk right back into everything the very same, but pretty much everything is different! The recovery process is teaching me to have grace with myself and patience with my doctors as they guide me to the right medication. This has been much harder than I expected! A dear mentor of mine told me that I was strong and she had seen me grow in strength. Strong! Strong? No – surely not me! I have never thought of myself as strong. The past two months have made me feel more weak and frail than ever before – I am more tired than I have ever been my whole life (side effect of meds – this won’t last forever!) I realize HOW MUCH I need Jesus for every. single. day. Every decision, every doctor appointment, and every minute.

I’m adjusting slowly – ever so slowly – to my thyroid replacement medication. Spring will come. I will find the right dosage soon. He will guide me to the right doctor and the right medication.

This is a season of reminding myself HE is the Author of Life, not me. HE is the Giver of Good Gifts, not me. HE is the Lifter of My Head, not me. HE is the Source of my Joy, not me (so glad!) HE is the Reason to Sing, not me.

Psalm 23:6 – Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

My lack of posting has been a lack of knowing how to frame this season and tie it with a bow. But I simply can’t! Of this I am sure though: He is STILL my Good, Good Father and His plans and timing and heart is GOOD. Spring will come.

I listen to this song by Big Daddy Weave everyday and I hope it blesses you!

To tell you my story is to tell of Him!

If I told you my story
You would hear hope that wouldn’t let go
If I told you my story
You would hear love that never gave up
If I told you my story
You would hear life but it wasn’t mine

If I should speak then let it be

Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
To tell you my story is to tell of Him

If I told you my story
You would hear victory over the enemy
If told you my story
You would hear freedom that was won for me
If I told you my story
You would hear life overcome the grave

If I should speak then let it be

This is my story this is my song praising my Savior all the day long

xoxo,

Mary Grace

November 10: The Day of The Miracle

This is the Thanksgiving post that has been swirling around in my head and only now am I sitting down to write it.

But- crazy enough – today is my one-month celebration of the doctor declaring me cancer free AND telling me I did not have to have the follow-up radioactive iodine treatment. HUGE PRAISE!!!

On October 29, my surgeon called and told me that my nodule was indeed cancer. This was what I was expecting of course, but hearing the words with finality was truly strange. But the best part of hearing the words “yes, cancer” was that is was NO longer in my body.

On November 10, when I walked into my endocrinologist’s office, I expected to schedule an iodine treatment for early December. But, she told me that my 3.5cm nodule had reduced in size when they took it out, down to only 2.1cm. This bumped me down a category from the “Recommended for Iodine Treatment” to the “Not Recommended for Iodine Treatment.” She pointed to a graph of recommendations and told me that my cancer was completely marginalized aka nothing had spread ANYWHERE and the cancer was contained to its 2.1cm self.

ALL of these things added up slowly but surely in my head as she said, “You are right on the line – but I do NOT recommend that you move forward with the iodine treatment. We will keep our eyes on you – but I do not expect this to ever come back. We feel confident that we got all the cancer.”

Praise, praise and more praise!! I had not even expected this news until a scan in mid-December- so to have this news on November 10 was ABOVE and BEYOND what I even knew to pray. That’s just like God though – showing up in bigger and better ways than we thought. In my head, the nodule had to NOT be cancer for me to not move forward with the treatment. But God knew better. He knew that it could be cancer AND He could still come through and erase the treatment that I’d been praying so hard about. And He did.

I knew He could do it -but it still blew my little mind – so I am calling it The Day of The Miracle.

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Margaux NY – started by a friend!

Later that day, I ended up buying some super fancy shoes to celebrate, and then while shopping there, my car got towed. But I didn’t even care. It was Miracle Day and truly nothing could stop my joy. Even when the credit card company called to make sure I was really spending all that money in one night. (OOPS & sorry, Capital One! All me!)

Today is December 10 – and I have been praising Jesus for that Miracle for a full month now.

It was truly one of the most exhausting months of my life following my

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Thanksgiving in Tyler

recovery: three insanely busy weeks at work, our fundraiser festival Houston Via Colori with early mornings and late nights, traveling for Thanksgiving, and a nonstop but amaaazing Young Life retreat we call Polar Bear. The one thing missing this whole month has
been: sleep.

Hence the reason that this blog post is just now making its way up.

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Lamar YL Polar Bear Weekend @ Pine Cove Silverado // COLOR WAR

I had bloodwork done last week to make sure I’m on the right dosage of thyroid medicine. But I am truly feeling good aside from still being pretty tired.

As I look back on the past two months – I am still blown away by the LOVE that was poured out to me from each of you. I am still holding it so close and so blessed by it. And rest assured I will remember it forever.

On Monday night, I got to share with my Lamar friends about the greatest gift I’ve ever been given: salvation in Jesus because God sent Him down here as a baby at Christmas. Last time I spoke in front of them was October 19, the night before my surgery. I got to tell them the good news about my surgery, and they all erupted in cheer. I told them about the cancer being all gone, and they erupted in cheer again. My heart was so full, so full.

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We take Christmas Club sweater-ing very seriously.

SO much love from me to you,

xoxo,

Mary Grace

PS – While I was in the hospital, my mom and I listened to this podcast from Louie Giglio’s Sunday message. It was so aptly titled, “When Darkness Falls.” It will bless you!

 

 

 

 

Most Blessed Day of Healing: Oct 20, 2015

I get my pathology results back tomorrow, and it does feel a bit strange to write this post before all that, but ultimately it doesn’t change the miracle of the day: Jesus used the surgeons to remove whatever growth was in my thyroid. And for that, I will write and celebrate and point to His goodness. No matter what answers comes tomorrow. Thank you for walking alongside me in this!

After my mountaintop October 19, I went home from Young Life at 10pm simply floating. I had just told 200 people about my Lord’s goodness through the trial….and now my chance to live it out was here!

By the time I read all of the text messages that were pouring into my phone (thank you for every single one by the way), showered and packed for the hospital, and prayed along with some friends who had called and left prayer messages on my voicemail, it was 1am before I just spent some time on my knees with Jesus. He used my soul-filling lake weekend with friends, my soul-filling Young Life, and just so many Scriptures and songs to bring my heart to the place I could have never imagined it would be: completely at peace and ready for my surgery. Completely. At. Peace.

It had to be all of your prayers. So thank you. It was the peace and courage I’d been praying for…but oh when it comes!! It is a tangible reminder of the goodness of God! He gives us grace for those scary moments. And I thought of a quote from my journal about a month ago: “The scary things are just not as scary with Jesus.” They are still scary, like we all know – right?? But they are just not that NEXT level of scary. They are a lower level – the kind that is “I-really-wish-I-wasn’t-facing-this-but-oh-I-am-so-glad-I-have-my-hope-in-Jesus” type of scary.

Tuesday, October 20

I had imagined the morning of October 20 so many times – usually with some fear. But when it came, it was far sweeter and calmer and more quiet than I had ever pictured it. I woke up in the stillness of the morning, knowing that there were hundreds of dear friends who had prayed for me for that very moment. Overwhelming. I am crying now. Mark and Morgan texted me that they were praying in Florence, Italy. I love that city and I love those friends. From 4:30am – 6:30am, 20 of you texted me that you were praying for me. Just wow. And thank you. And that is early!! Ya’ll are rockstars!!

I woke up with joy. I had asked Jesus to meet with me that morning – and He was there. He was there all day long. I soaked in Psalm 139 that morning.

Car ride to the hospital with my sweet mom was a mixture of: Good Good Father, Favor – fast song to keep my mom from crying- (thank you, Emmanuel for the rec!!), and some Snapchatting, of course. 🙂

I think hospital timelines are so boring, so I’ll fast forward here and just say: it truly was a blessed day of healing! Besides the nurse bruising my left wrist and saying “Dangit!” as she kept trying to get my IV in (OW!), every single thing went so smoothly.

PRAISES!!!

  • The surgery went “perfectly” according to the doctors and only took 1.5 hours (far less than usual)
  • They were able to track my vocal nerves the whole time and all should be fine there. I am letting everything heal before I try to sing, but my talking voice is completely normal and great.
  • My parathyroid glands are great (they can usually get hurt during surgery) – they are rightttt by thyroid and they control calcium levels. All good there.
  • The surgeon was able to keep my scar smaller than he usually is able to. It is about 3 inches and healing well right now.
  • I had courage and was never anxious – even for 3:30am blood draw.
  • No side effects to any medicine the whole hospital stay. I truly felt great the whole time.
  • And I am still feeling great now!! Huge praise.

Thank you for praying for me. I know that every single praise listed above is a direct result of yours and my prayers and Jesus’ grace and kindness.

The story behind the post’s title: When I found out the date of my surgery, like all other appointments, I started to write it in my planner, but I wanted to make it something to look FORWARD to, not to dread. After all, it was a GOOD thing to get this thyroid taken out, I just needed to trick my brain into wanting the day to come. So I named it. I named it the Most Blessed Day of Healing. And who doesn’t want a day with that name to come? 🙂 So it came. And I didn’t dread it. And it was blessed! And now my Facebook album is named the Most Blessed Month of Healing.

Love you all so very, very much. If God is calling you to something scary and/or unknown, my encouragement to you today is to remember that your brain and your fear CANNOT calculate God’s intervention in the moment when you need it. I can plan all day for the way I think a surgery day will go, but I am calculating without adding my Jesus to the equation – and HE changes everything. So for that frightening, unknown thing in the distance in your life, remember that when you ask Him, He will meet you there. In it, before it, beside it, with it, through it. He is there. He was with me on October 20 & 21 in what would be considered a “nightmare” for this “faints-at-blood-and-needles” girl. HE is good.

The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. – Zephaniah 3:17

Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.  Psalm 34:8

xoxo,

Mary Grace

The Night I Will Remember Forever: Oct 19, 2015

Hi sweet friends!! Your prayers were heard by Jesus and felt by me. Thank you thank you thank you. I am home, happy, rested, and feeling so good. I have so many God stories of the past week to share. The surgery went “perfectly” according to the doctors – I will update here very, very soon. Thank you for the overwhelming love and support through the past few weeks!! I felt His peace that surpassed all understanding. 

For now though, I have to share with you the amazing night before my surgery, Monday, October 19 at Lamar Young Life’s Club. I get to sing at club each week which I absolutely love – but with my surgery upcoming I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to sing much more/ever again. So the night before my surgery, we sang some of the best: Hey Ya, Blank Space, Mirrors, I Won’t Give Up, and then for the first time, we sang my anthem, Good Good Father. But before we sang it, I got to intro it and tell 170 of my high school friends just what was happening to me the next morning. I got to tell them that no matter what mountain they are facing, God is their Good, Good Father who is with them every minute and loves them dearly. And that my mountain just happened to be the next morning at 7:30am. The videos are here if you want to watch 🙂 The lapses in my singing are me getting choked up….it was just that special. I will remember this night forever.

The night was also incredibly special because one of my precious senior girls made me a thyroid cancer awareness ribbon boa that I wore the whole night. Then, as the hundreds of students poured in to the club room, they were all wearing matching ribbons!! Even students I had never seen before. Oh the sweet love of that whole room! Jesus was there.

And to completely top the night off, my 86 and 85-year-old grandparents surprised me at club by driving the 10 hours from Arkansas to be at my surgery, and sat next to my sweet mom, Aunt DeeDee, and friends Jan, Laura, and Meredith to hear my testimony and hear me sing.

Mimi and Grandpa

The night was the most amazing combination of butterflies and fears about the next morning’s unknown, a calm and bravery and peace that I’d never known before, so many tears seeing so many dear people in my life and realizing the circumstances that brought them all to Houston but overall just seeing LOVE straight from Jesus lavished down on me from every.person.in.that.club.room. All 170 students + 20 leaders + my 10 visitors = 200 people cheering for me, praying for me, and hugging me (nearly all of them!!!!) before I left for the night. Not to mention the 200+ of you who texted me on Monday and Tuesday. I have just never ever felt so loved in my entire life. Thank you thank you.

I hugged my precious senior girl Zayra who I’ve gotten to know and hang out with these past four years and thanked her for my boa and for crafting all the ribbons to make me feel so incredibly loved. And I told her, “I will remember this night forever.” And I will. It was the night I shared about the scariest upcoming day of my life, the night I sang my heart out about my Jesus, the night I felt more loved than ever before, and the night I fell asleep with more peace than I could have ever even imagined.

I slept soundly and woke up with that same peace at 4:30am to leave my house at 5:00am to get to the hospital at 5:30am. More to come on all of that.

Love you all!!

Mary Grace

Dear Prayer Warriors:

Today is a crazy full day at work, then a full night of Young Life, but I had to take time to THANK each of you for being so incredibly faithful to pray for me and over me. I can FEEL your prayers. It is a peace like I have never known. 🙂

My surgery is the first one of the day tomorrow at 7:30am!

As you pray, could you join me in praying that:

  • MIRACLE prayer but my God is this BIG to do this if He wanted to: that my 3.5cm nodule would be benign and that the doctors would know instantly when they see it and decide to only remove left half of my thyroid – saving my right half
  • the Lord would miraculously protect my vocal chords throughout the surgery
  • God would guide the doctors and nurses with wisdom and precision for a smooth surgery
  • the Lord joins me all day tomorrow – every minute – and that I feel His presence. I have invited Him to come and He has told me He will be there. 🙂
  • my body would absolutely love my medicine Synthroid and I would feel like myself – and maybe even better than before!
  • if it is cancer like they think, that every single cell would be removed, and I would not need the radioactive iodine treatment
  • Jesus would give me courage and joy and peace and that I would glorify Jesus in all of this
Saying goodbye to this nodule tomorrow! You can only see it if I strain my neck.
Saying goodbye to this nodule tomorrow! You can only see it if I strain my neck.

I have been tearing up about five times a day lately. Out of just happiness and love for all of you and for Jesus. The texts and calls and cards and most of all prayer have been filling my soul up.

I have dear friends in India, East Asia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, California, Colorado, Alaska, my sweet Arkansas and Texas praying for me (I mean WHAT!!?!). My favorite two pastors of life have both texted me that they are praying for me. On Saturday night at Bekah’s lake house under the stars, ten of my closest Houston friends laid hands on me and prayed mighty prayers to Jesus on my behalf.

Here’s some Psalm 27 if you need it like I need it today. These verses, especially the ones in bold, have been giving me courage lately:

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom should I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom should I be afraid?
When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh,
my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell.
Though an army deploys against me,
my heart is not afraid;
though a war breaks out against me,
still I am confident.

I have asked one thing from the Lord;
it is what I desire:
to dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
gazing on the beauty of the Lord
and seeking Him in His temple.
For He will conceal me in His shelter
in the day of adversity;
He will hide me under the cover of His tent;
He will set me high on a rock.
Then my head will be high
above my enemies around me;
I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy.
I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Lord, hear my voice when I call;
be gracious to me and answer me.
My heart says this about You,
“You are to seek My face.”
Lord, I will seek Your face.
Do not hide Your face from me;
do not turn Your servant away in anger.
You have been my helper;
do not leave me or abandon me,
God of my salvation.
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord cares for me.

11 Because of my adversaries,
show me Your way, Lord,
and lead me on a level path.
12 Do not give me over to the will of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing violence.

13 I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and courageous.
Wait for the Lord. – Psalm 27

I will post on Facebook tomorrow after the surgery. Thank you ALL!!!!

so much love from me to you,

Mary Grace

The Full Story

Since I started this blog mostly for myself, I realized it sort of starts in the middle of the story, and I have left a lot of questions out there!!

Here’s a little timeline recap for those of you who have been wondering how I discovered all this:

  • July 1-27: My voice is super hoarse and mostly gone…I could not figure out why! I go to Young Life camp and make it wayyy more hoarse! haha.
  • July 28: My voice comes back! So I dismiss any thoughts about damage to my voice.
  • July 30: I happen to mention to my speech therapist co-worker that my voice had been gone for four weeks and she tells me that is not good and I need to have an ENT look at it. I freaked out (thinking about damage to my singing voice) and booked the first ENT I could find.
  • August 4: I go to the ENT and he says my voice will be fine. Then, after feeling my neck, he tells me to have a thyroid ultrasound. This was the first day I discovered where my thyroid was! (I guess I did not pay attention in high school anatomy??!)
  • August 7: Thyroid ultrasound. I am so convinced that it is nothing.
  • August 26: Back to ENT for follow-up. He walks in the room, puts his hands on his hips, and says “Let’stakeyourthryoidoutitdoesntlookgoodoutofworkfortwoweeksokaybye.” In one breath pretty much just like that. No kindness, no explanation, nothing. He tells me we should biopsy it. I leave his office and determine to never walk back in it. Off to find a new doctor.
  • August 27: I contact an amazing Pediatric ENT on the Board of the Center that I work for, and he refers me to his partner, who is an adult thyroid specialist surgeon. (Like– a text straight from heaven!)
  • August 28: I start doing research on the thyroid and self-diagnose myself as iodine-deficient to explain the growth in my thyroid. My dear family fasts for me as we pray for the upcoming biopsy. I have not really told anyone else yet.
  • September 3: My first appointment with my AMAZING surgeon. He immediately does not like the looks of my nodule and uses the words “funny-looking” and “suspicious.” My best friend Bekah comes with me and keeps me laughing in between some crying. Amazing Surgeon does three fine needle biopsies and then sends away for pathology. God reminds me He is a Good, Good Father. Then, Amazing Surgeon walks me through the entire thyroid cancer process (still speaking hypothetically at this point) with so much compassion, kindness, and grace. He tells me I need my entire thyroid taken out, followed by iodine treatment to kill any remaining cancer cells. He tells me I don’t need chemo or radiation, and I can have kids in a year (woo!!! but still waiting on husband!) 🙂 He tells me he has done FIVE of these surgeries this week. He points to the screen and shows me why the nodule looks very much like cancer. And he CONCANtells me I have probably had it 2-4 years. I leave pretty sure that I have cancer.
  • September 4: Labor Day trip to the Frio River with the best friends a girl could ask for! Jesus and I talk a lot this weekend while I stare at the stars. I keep my little secret from my friends and enjoy one last weekend of no one really knowing.
  • September 8: Full Neck Ultrasound. Blood Tests. Thanks for coming again, Beks. 🙂
  • September 9: Taylor Swift Concert. Just too fun to not include!!! #loveyoutaylorrrrr #icried
  • TAYLOR SWIFTSeptember 10: Amazing Surgeon calls me and tells me the pathology report is “highly suspicious papillary thyroid cancer.” Still a 10% chance they are wrong, but he feels very confident they are right.
  • September 15: Endocrinologist appointment. Learning about my new best friend medicine for the rest of life: Synthroid!!
  • September 16 – Oct 14: Just a lot of processing, praying, waiting, researching, crying, sweet texts, calls and amazing notes from soooo many of you, and getting connected with sweet people who have walked this road before me. Thank you Mary Catherine, Laura, Mandy and Martha Kate for all of your wisdom and encouragement!!
  • October 20: Total Thyroidectomy Surgery — or what I have named, Most Blessed Day of Healing 🙂 // I am a little nervous and just overall don’t like needles or anything scary really…..but I am trying to take the going-to-BATTLE approach to give myself courage. Let’s get this enemy, cancer, OUT OF ME!

Courage, dear heart.” – C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

RECAP:

  • GOD IS GOOD. And He is taking care of me. 🙂
  • I have felt GREAT this whole time. Zero symptoms. Which makes walking into a surgery harder….but I am thankful.
  • I don’t have to have radiation or chemo. Just a surgery and possible radioactive iodine treatment.
  • All of ya’ll – feel your neck every now and then!! Your thyroid is below your Adam’s Apple…so just give it a little rub every once and while and make sure you don’t feel any bumps. 95% of nodules are benign but it doesn’t hurt to CHECK!!
  • WOW you are a dear friend if you read all of this.

Prayer requests coming in a post very soon. Thankful for all of you. I am SO feeling every single one of your prayers. Jesus has been carrying me with them.

You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5

much love,

Mary Grace