Sunday, July 16, 2017

July 16, 2017

It has been one month ago today.  It seems so engrained to measure things by time, such a calculable yet confining concept.  The further we move away from the date, the further I feel away from Aimee and the life we shared.  I hated flipping the calendar and in a sense "moving on" with life.  I just wanted things to stay.  It has been difficult as fear and thoughts bounce around like, "Will I remember her well, or will the memories start to fade?  Will the business and busyness of life take over?  ...Just wanting to hold on...

In this place of fear of losing memories and fear of what the future holds, I am learning to hand it over to God and let Him give me the patience and contentment  for the moment that I have right now. It's been a challenge but a good one in letting the Spirit fill the deep void that's been left with Aimee no longer with me and by my side.  The kids and I miss her singing and dancing around the house.  There was a radiant and beautiful energy with her here and I miss that so much.  It hurts... and I wonder why God did't heal her in the way I was really hoping He would.  We had a good marriage and we were best friends and we laughed, cried, prayed, and did everything together.  I cannot understand God's ways but I am learning a lot about Him in suffering.  The strength Aimee had in her crisis is the strength that I now feel in mine.  God's hand is holding mine and by faith I can feel His presence guiding me.

Though sometimes I cringe at the effort it takes to be still and let the Spirit speak, I am learning that He does speak and comfort me in the midst of the pain.  Sometimes I want something so tangible to hold onto and my ragged old Bible doesn't seem like enough but then as I open up, its pages pour life and hope back into my soul.  In moments of weakness I feel that God is just too invisible but I am learning that there is so much more in life than meets the eye.  As 2 Corinthians 4:18 says, we need to look at the things that are not seen, "The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow.  But the things we can't see now will last forever."  I envision Aimee now just beholding with her new eyes, King Jesus in all His glory!

In the message I heard this morning in church, the preacher opened up with the illustration of Mary Poppins' carpet bag.  It contained a whole lot more than it looked like it could.  That's how life is here.  Things look so limited and small and impossible.  We look at what our earthly eyes can see and say "there's no way a floor lamp could come out of that carpet bag."  I've been learning that God's power is so unlimited and boundless.  When I put my eyes on Christ, I can rest in this foggy and unclear pilgrim journey knowing that His eyes can see all that mine can't, so He will be my vision, giving me sight beyond what these two eyes can see.

The other night I was struggling to find solace in the restless silence.  I needed to hear something, I needed a word, I prayed for God to speak and He took me to John 16:16-23.  It seemed like a random and confusing text to land upon and even in my somewhat frustrated state, I was right there with the disciples asking myself, "What the heck is Jesus talking about here?, "a little while..."  They said amongst themselves, "What is this that He says to us, a little while and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me?"  Jesus of course is talking about His crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and second coming in figures of speech.  But what really stood out to me was the repetition of the phrase, "a little while" seven different times in this short passage.  God was reminding me that that is what life is like.  It's just a little while.  No matter how long we live, we all only have such a short span.  The passage goes on to speak in verse 20, "but your sorrow will be turned into joy."  It then talks about childbirth and the hard time of pain and labor giving way to the joy of a new life which wipes out the memory of the pain.  I witnessed the three amazing natural births of my children and I can remember watching anguish wash away under the magnificence and beauty of new life.  Peace and Joy.  In the new life when we are made perfect, there will be no more pain and sorrow, what an awesome thought!  I have a picture of Aimee holding a jar with a chrysalis inside just about to turn into a butterfly.  I also took a later picture of her holding the new creation right before it's wings open to flight.  It was taken just weeks before she emerged from her own shell to be made into a new and beautiful, colorful addition into the heavenly kingdom.

I am learning that any pain and sorrow in this life can only add fuel to the joy that will be mine just as the lyrics in the hymn says, "Be still my soul, Jesus can repay from His own fullness all He takes away." Chariots of Fire was the last movie Aimee and I ever watched together, just a couple weeks before she hit the finish line after her own Eric Liddell style, passionate, sprinting race.  I learned later that "Be still My Soul" was Liddell's favorite hymn so it has new meaning to me now.  Her eyes were on the prize and after the funeral service I overheard a pastor there say, "Isn't heaven going to be just Awesome?"  The question is so potent because it is so true!  We will all get to unite together in glory and it makes me want to run now with such perseverance.   Living now as 2 Corinthians says,  "as unknown, and yet well known, as dying and behold we live, as chastened and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things." As Hebrews 12:1 also says, "We are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses... let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."  MSG vs. 2, "Keep your eyes on Jesus who both began and finished this race we're in.  Study how He did it, because He never lost sight of where He was headed."  It was for His joy that He endured the cross and despised the shame, finally to be seated at the right hand of the throne of God!  This is my hope...

I want to take this opportunity to personally thank each one of you who have blessed us in prayer, with words of encouragement, cards, gifts, time and just overall being the outpouring of God's goodness, providence, and grace in the midst of this difficult time.  Here are some more specifics for prayer...

- For wisdom in guiding the children through the loss of their mother ( praise God they are doing well so far and we also were blessed to have a restful couple days on the beach just me and the kids)

- For patience in developing new systems and schedules for everyone

- For continued favor in the guest house project in the back yard for my in-laws

- For my father and mother in law as they adapt to life here helping out with the kids, that they would have peace, strength, and joy to guide them in this new season

- For The Name of Jesus to be glorified throughout the world

Inspirational song to me lately... Invisible by Leeland

Monday, May 22, 2017

Update May 22, 2017

Dear Friends and Family,

I have entered into a deeper season of waiting which has stretched me in ways I could not have imagined. Most days are hard, some days much harder. I am in pain at times, at times just extremely uncomfortable. I am weak and tired and struggle with my thoughts especially when I am feeling poorly. My mind shifts from hope and thankfulness to utter despair and yes even agony. Most of my prayers are taken directly from the Psalms as I have so little to say in my own heart right now. 

I am learning that God's timetable is not mine, that his ways are not my ways, that despite my feelings or confidence (or lack of confidence) HE is faithful and good to me. Yes good to me in the midst of hardship and unknowns. Do we only take the good that comes from his hands or can we bow our hearts and hands and receive the pain and sorrow too? I have learned that its in the dark days, the times of great hardship, that we draw closer to our Savior who has walked where we walk and promises to comfort and guide us. 

Praise God that he has not abandoned me and he will be glorified no matter what the outcome of my situation might be. I am so thankful that I am covered in his love and power. I pray that whatever you may be going through that you can sense his love and power in your own life. We have full access to the Father through Jesus Christ and he is waiting for you to cry out to him in your time of need. Reach out to him. 

Continue to pray for me and my family. I know SO many of you are and we are so blessed by your faithfulness! 

Love to you all,


Friday, May 12, 2017

Update May 12, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for the outpouring of love, support, and prayers that we have had from all of you over the last month and a half. I wanted to just let you all know that although my days are up and down, that I am being sustained and cared for in a mighty way. I am surrounded by a core network of family who have tirelessly cared for me, my husband and children. It has been such a blessing to see loved ones pull together to surround me with support.

I am taking one day at a time as I have stepped out in faith, and wait and watch for what the Lord is going to do, or show me which direction to go. This has been extremely difficult as you can imagine. To wait and not run ahead takes such patience and trust. Many mornings I am hopeful and peaceful, yet as the day progresses I begin to despair and as the night comes I am just undone. I am learning that my strength is not strength enough and that my eyes must be full on Christ despite how my emotions might fluctuate. I am also learning how to come before my Father boldly reminding him of the promises he has for his children.

The first question I usually get when talking with people about my situation is how am I doing, how is my pain. I do have pain and discomfort but I am trying to manage that wisely, while also nourishing my body with supplements and IV treatments that help support my immune system. I still have days where eating is hard, but other days when I'm able to eat more. I am learning that I must be gracious with myself and do the little that I can do right in front of me.

Right now the biggest thing I need is your prayers. I recently received a message from a dear friend who said "I was praying for you today, and I had so much hope as I prayed. We pray for you everyday and I always have a great sense of hope for you. You are easy to pray for, in that I am not trying to conjure up a prayer that I don't really believe in." This was such a blessing for me to read as I want all who pray for me to feel that hope that God is working and moving and his love is my shield and he is the victor over my life and this struggle I face daily. I am overwhelmed by the love that Jesus has poured out to me during this time, how he blesses me with his powerful spirit, and I know that he is doing his perfect work through this situation.

Thank you for not giving up and being faithful in prayer for us! Blessings to each one of you.

                                                                   Relentless Pursuit 
                                                                  Kim Walker-Smith

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Update April 13, 2017

Two days ago Scott and I went to a follow up appointment with my Oncologist in regards to my current situation. After looking at the CT scan it became quiet clear to us things are worse than we initially thought. I have tumors some as big as 3 cm all throughout my liver. He said it kind of looks like swiss cheese in there and I could tell that he was right. He said this is a visceral crisis.

However despite this news Scott and I have graciously been given joy and peace. Not only that we have hope that this diagnosis will be used to glorify God in a might way. So if you are reading this and feel despair or anger, please don't. This is the time to go before God in boldness and rejoicing and  with great expectation of his mighty hand doing powerful things in my body. I have gotten to the end of myself and my striving and I am resting in the power and blood of Jesus. My eyes are fixed on him and he will not do anything that he doesn't deem fit for my life.

I have been in some pretty bad pain the last few days but it seems to me that each day my pain is actually lessening, and that I have been able to eat small nutritious meals throughout the day. I am still tired and rest a lot but I'm thankful because God has allowed family and friends to surround us with support, care and love.

I also want to make it very clear that I am not looking at this situation in a naive way. I fully understand that I may die from this disease and I have watched people with cancer do the same. However even in this I have peace. We will all someday die, this is the reality of living in a sinful world, but praise God that through Christ, death has lost its sting and no matter which way this goes God will be glorified. Take a moment to let that concept soak into your heart. So often we run from the thought of death, we fill our days with things that make us feel important and strong. I have been given the gift of staring death straight in the face and although it is not something I wish to do it allows me to align all my priorities and realize what is truly important. My prayer for all of you who are reading this, is that you would understand more clearly what it means to put your life and will into the hands of a God who loves you. I do believe despite this situation I'm in that God is loving and faithful and good. Let me make it very clear that this strength I have is NOT from me. I have been filled up with a supernatural love and peace. In my own nature I am a worm and freak out about most everything. Christ is sustaining me. Let him do the same for you.

As we approach Easter, take some time to really think about what Christ did for all of us on the cross. He was being obedient to the Father. In so doing he has made a way for us to enter into the throne of grace and have a relationship with God. What a blessing and joy that despite what we all might be going through there is hope through Jesus Christ!

Scott and I are praying about the next step we need to take in terms of treatment. We have a pretty clear idea of what that will be but we do want to take time to really pray about it.

Here are a few things to be praying about for us right now...

~ Please pray boldly for complete and full healing. I believe that he is willing and able to do this for me.

~Pray for wisdom as we make decision about my health.

~Please pray for my Mom who has and will continue to help us during these days. Pray that the Lord would give her strength and joy for the days to come.

~ Lift up Scott as he is trying to juggle work, helping me, and caring for our kids.

~Pray for our children that their hearts would be guarded and filled with joy.

Thank you all so much for your support and prayers!


                                                            God I Look To You

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Update April 9, 2017

I want to thank you all for praying for my family and I as we have been battling through sickness the past few weeks. I think we are all in the clear with the flu which is a blessing and I was so thankful to have my Mom come in last Saturday to help. On Friday Scott and I decided to take advantage of my Mom being in town and had a little staycation. Unfortunately what was suppose to be a restful time turned into a trip to the ER. I have been having abdominal pain off and on since before I left Germany. It only happens randomly and feels like spasms and cramping in my right side and back. Friday night and early into Saturday morning I had an attack that wouldn't go away. So we headed to the ER. After a thorough ultrasound it seemed I had a slight blockage in my intestines, but more importantly they found spots on my liver. I was given a CT scan and it was confirmed that I have lesions that very well could be cancerous on my liver. This was a complete shock to us as I thought I was doing well and the tumor under my armpit had been slowly shrinking.

I will be setting up an appointment with my Oncologist as soon as possible for him to look over the scans and give me his opinion. As you can imagine Scott and I have been trying to process this new information and feeling the gamut of emotions that such news brings. I am still weak from being sick for so long and have been struggling to eat enough. This new news makes it even hard for me to want to eat, or do much of anything for that matter.

I know it goes without being said but we desperately need your prayers right now! I know many of you will probably want to call or reach out but if you don't get a call back please know that we are tired and need to just be focusing on our family right now. I love all of you but visits and rehashing is draining and hard. Please understand.

I don't understand or know what God is doing right now and to be honest I'm scared and overwhelmed at times. I know though that I have not been abandoned, that my Redeemer is working out HIS perfect will through this dark time, and his love will never ever leave me.

Would you please join in prayer for all of us! Here are some specific ways you can pray...

~Pray boldly for complete and total healing of my body.

~Pray that I would want to eat, and have the energy to do what I need to keep myself as well as possible during this time.

~Pray for us to have energy, peace, joy, love for ourselves, and our children.

~Please pray for our children as we try to explain what is going on, that the Lord would give us wisdom and give them peace.

~ Pray that we can order our days well and find a rhythm that works for us.

~Pray for doctors appointments and figuring out the next step we need to take with my care.

~Pray that God would be glorified through all of this and through my life.

"Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls--
 Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 

 The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer's feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. To the Chief Musician. With my stringed instruments. "

                                                                                 ~Habakkuk 3:17-19

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Update March 8, 2017

Dear Family and Friends,

I would like to take time to share with you some ways that the Father has been faithful to us these past few months, as well as a few new ways you can be lifting us up in prayer.  As we continue to walk the path that has been so perfectly set before us we are humbled and thankful by new provisions and love.

We found out on Friday that the tumors that can be monitored via ultrasound are slightly smaller compared to the last ultrasound done in Germany. This means that the treatment plan I am currently on is working. It also means that the CT scan I was suppose to have in April will be postponed. In the mean time I will be getting ultrasounds every month as a bench mark to see how my body is responding to treatments since my tumor markers are not available as a means to monitor progress.

We have also seen a great provision in the way of care for our children, as they will be attending a tutorial starting in August. Sophia and Louis will both be able to attend Monday- Thursday from 9-1 pm. It gives me the chance to have a support system set in place so that Scott and I are not carrying the responsibility of schooling solely on our shoulders during this season of recovery and healing. I will have the opportunity to help once a week with the tutorial which bring such joy to my heart as I love teaching and learning along side children.

There has also been so many little ways the Lord has blessed us and he seems to be weaving the threads of our days together is such a way that all of our needs are being met. Friends and family continue to use their very specific gifts to love on us in all manner of ways.

With that said, we do have a few prayer requests and would so appreciate your prayers during this season...

~As I write this I am in some pain. I'm not sure exactly the cause, it could very well be from the high dose of Tamoxifen that I am currently taking, stress that is causing muscle tension, or some other cause. Please would you pray for my mind and heart to rest and in so doing let my body rest. I recently had a  thermography done and it was showing sections of abnormal heat which basically means that there is inflammation in my body. It is mostly in my jaw, neck, chest and my gastrointestinal area. Ironically my breast area is relatively cool with no hot spots which is a blessing.

~ Please pray that any underlying infections or inflammation will heal completely. I plan on getting my teeth checked soon as this can be a big cause for infection which dumps into your adrenals. I don't have any root canals but infections in the mouth or the tonsils can be a major problem and contribute to chronic illness.

~ Please pray for my heart and mind to focus on Christ. It is so easy to focus on pain, symptoms or physical treatments. I know that this is important but just as important is the emotions and mental health. Please pray that I would rest on Christ and that stress would be gone from my heart.

~ Please pray for Scott as he has had to bear so much during these past months. I know this is wearying on him at times. Please pray for his own health and strength as he is juggling so many things... picking up the slack where I leave off.

~ Please continue to pray for our dear children as they transition from being home to a more structured school setting. Please also pray that their hearts would be turned towards Jesus despite they stress and struggles they see me face each day. That the Lord's peace would reign in our hearts and home. Please pray that we can find childcare for Peter next year as I will be having treatments, and helping in the class room once a week.

God's blessings and peace to you all,


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

January 25, 2017

Its been about three weeks since Scott and I came home from the Hufeland Clinic, and we have been going non-stop since then. It has been a hard transition coming from a place of complete rest to the everyday business that we have here at home. I took this time to process and get back into loving on my kids, starting school back, setting up appointments and going to treatments. With all that going on I haven't had much time to update. We are finally getting into a new rhythm and I wanted to take some time to share with you how my time went in Germany.

It was such a blessing and privilege to spend six weeks in Bad Mergentheim, at a beautiful clinic, being treated with such amazing care. To rest, stepping out of the stress and anxiety of my life ... that in and of itself was a gift. Yet, there was so much more that both Scott and I experienced that brought healing and understanding to our lives.

Of course the thing that most people want to know is how my physical treatments went. They were hard and good all at the same time. Because I have no tumor markers to check, my tumors are the only indication that my doctors have to see if the treatment protocol I'm on is working. So early on in my stay I had an ultrasound to check the residual tumor in my breast and also the tumor cluster under my left armpit. The tumor near my right lung was not able to be seen on the ultrasound because of my sternum. The residual breast tumor extension was 18 x11 mm and the conglomerate of lymph node tumors was approximately 32 x 20 mm. After 20 days of treatments the residual tumor in my breast was 10 x 6 mm and the tumors under my armpit were definitely smaller measuring 28 x14 mm. This basically meant that I could continue on with the treatment protocol that they had me on knowing that it was working.

One of the things I found interesting about my doctors in Germany was their emphasis on the emotional side of treatment. Of course they would talk about my physical treatment but often I found we were discussing my heart, my mind, what emotional pain I had from relationships, and how I was dealing with stress. It took a while to get use to but it was amazing to experience this wholistic type of care. For me the most surprising thing about my time at the clinic was the emotional healing that took place. I was able to spend time doing art therapy which spoke to a very deep part in me. Sometimes its hard to express how we feel and painting or working with clay can be a tool to draw out. It was that way for me anyway.

I was also struck by the beauty that was all around me. The clinic was clean, simple, and beautifully decorated, the town of Bad Mergentheim was ancient, and lovely. A stream meandered through the park, fountains gurgling and dripping softly, trees covered with frost, cobblestone streets pressed into shell patterns, and the tolling of church bells so commanding yet jubilant.  I was literally feeding on the beauty that surrounded me. We went on hikes and saw birds and plants I didn't know the names of... we biked up steep hills and meandered around town and into inviting cafes. It was healing for both Scott and I to have this time together. I wrote about it in my journal one day...

Beauty is not extra, it is essential to life. Our eyes must feed on beauty however simple. We must tease out the mess and madness and see the light and truth. We are beautiful and so much around us is too. I choose joy even when nothing turns me in that direction. We can speak life with our words and thoughts. We can only do this very mysterious turning with the help of the joy giver; everything flows from Him. Fix our eyes on Jesus and choose joy. 

And I tried to do that while I was at the clinic. I was thankful to be there everyday, no matter how hard the treatments or how many times I had to get stuck with a needle, I was blessed to be there and I wanted to be a joy to those around me. It was easy to be joyful. I felt a lightness, also a brilliant gold  color stands out in my mind. My theme color while at the clinic. It was all of your prayers. I felt covered in prayers. My parents felt the same way. While I was getting treatment they had strength to care for my children and they had such joy. It was your prayers. My children missed both Scott and I but they thrived and enjoyed their time with Oma and Opa. It was the power of your prayers and the gracious love of Christ that carried us through that whole time away. Thank you. And God continues to answer prayers now that we are home.

I was given a treatment plan to follow upon my arrival home. The most significant part of that plan involved IV therapies that are not commonly found in the states. I was able to find a doctor 20 minutes from my house who is working with me. He is the same doctor who helped me with my Lyme disease back in 2006 when I first moved down to Chattanooga. He just so happens to know my Oncologist, Surgeon, and the doctor I saw back in PA even before I moved to Chattanooga! So once a week I go in to get my infusions using that port that was put in last year (that has been waiting for such a time as this). The other part of my protocol for treatment is heat therapy. In Germany I was able to do local and full body hypothermia treatments. I was told to do infa-red sauna before my IV treatments if I could possibly find it. Well it so happens that just three months ago Chattanooga opened up its first Sauna studio. I am seeing provisions met on all sides. No detail seems too small and I praise God for his continued love and care. However there is so much going on right now, my days are full. I get tried and overwhelmed but I continue to slowly move in the direction laid out for me. I was recently reminded of this hymn...

  1. Jesus, Savior, pilot me,
    Over life’s tempestuous sea;
    Unknown waves before me roll,
    Hiding rock and treach’rous shoal;
    Chart and compass came from Thee:
    Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
  2. As a mother stills her child,
    Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
    Boist’rous waves obey Thy will
    When Thou say’st to them, “Be still!”
    Wondrous Sov’reign of the sea,
    Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
  3. When at last I near the shore,
    And the fearful breakers roar
    ’Twixt me and the peaceful rest,
    Then, while leaning on Thy breast,
    May I hear Thee say to me,
    “Fear not, I will pilot thee.”

    It has become my prayer.  I am still healing, still having my ups and downs, but I know that I am not alone, even when I am at my darkest hour and I can't see how things are going to work out and I forget all the ways that God has provided and loved me, I am still not alone. I can't see everything but I don't have to. I'm learning to let go. 

    I have in my minds eye a picture of the crucifix of Christ. Arms outstretch, vulnerable, broken, rejected alone. totally alone. As my husband and I drove out of the small town in Germany, on our very last day, every mile for about 5 miles or so there was a crucifix on the side of the road. It made this impression on my mind. I felt like God was showing me the way to trust. Arms outstretch, vulnerable, broken.. but never alone... never totally alone. 

    The painting in my room. A light shining.

    Scott was the biggest support to me through all my hard treatments and emotional healing. My friend, lover and art partner.

    After two hours of full body hypothermia treatment, the sides zip down and you get wrapped up like a giant hot pocket... hotttt pooockeettt. This is loving called the hotbox by all the patients. 

    This amazing young man reminded me of the great power of laughter, singing and simple kindness.

     The view from our balcony. It was very cloudy all throughout our stay, but every once in a while the sun would peak through...

    "Just let it like a child... no judgement ... just... let it flow" the words from my art therapist.

     The giant sycamores of Bad Mergentheim and the castle walls encircling them.

    The basement of the clinic was were all the detoxing therapies were and the best wifi hotspots. 

    Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland... [for] the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise. 

    Isaiah 43: 18-19,21