A Really Good Friday

What a week.  After such a celebration last week you would think that was the final note, the end, the last tale, but alas I was not out of the woods yet.  In fact the chemo has been dragging the cancer out of me this week…..kicking and screaming all the way.  No one ever told me that cancer would be easy to beat nor did they say that it would go off without a hitch.  I just stupidly assumed those things.  This last chemo treatment went in without a fault and I got many congrats and lots of pats on the back, but the thing is that the treatment is only half the journey.  The rest of the journey is what it does to you on the way out.  I was living on the high of being done with my chemo regime.  Friday I taught all day, Saturday I had Keifer’s (really great greek food) with my wife on a beautiful day.  I got to celebrate with my very good friend Adam in preparation for his wedding in a few weeks.  I was really living.  Sunday I knew would be the beginnings of the tough days so I took it slow that morning and then actually made my way to the MS Mu Alpha Theta competition.  I was the needed second sponsor for our trip and our high school brought about 25 kids so I came for moral support mainly.  Truly I sat with the students that were inbetween events or not in other events and tried to just stay chill.  I made it through Sunday without incident and really enjoyed my time with our Mathletes (Mu Alpha Theta is a math organization for high school and junior college students).  

Monday would be doomsday.  
Even with all the rest and relaxation I could ask for, the cancer was not ready to say I give up.  Around midday I felt Migraine 1 float into my life.  I sadly took my leave early from the math competition and traveled home to my bed, medicine, cold patch, and sleep.  I spent the next 3 hours sweating, writhing, and taking trips to the bathroom to be sick.  I barely ate that night and went ahead and called in sick for the next day.  In all the excitement, I completely forgot about an important meeting for my graduate project.  When it rains…it pours as they say.
Tuesday, the migraine hit at 8:30 and did not dissapate until mid afternoon.  That is when I got some truly quality sleep.  At this point however, I was exhausted from pain, nausea, and my room was covered in kleenex, ice packs, and pill bottles.  I called in Wednesday sick as well.  This time something different happened….I woke up with the migraine.  Another fun first.  Again the morning was spent on meds and trying to sleep, but at least there was not as much nausea.  Wednesday evening I was feeling much better, but also feeling like I had just been through a blender.  Thursday was my first attempt at going to school all day and it worked.  I took it slow and barely left my seat, but I got most of my classes caught up, but there were at least two scares where I just knew I was about to go down again, but I took precautions and actually made it through completely fine.  
Thursday ended up being a great day, because not only did we get our home professionally cleaned (we have a baby shower here on Saturday), but my dad also came and cut our yard for us.  So not only did I come home feeling like a better, healthier person, my house smelled wonderful and looked fantastic.  Then it was time for the season finale of Parenthood and I got to do my last podcast of the season with my good friend Axel.  Thursday was the turning point and now it is time to have a Good Friday.
I don’t know if you have been able to read all my posts since I started blogging in January, but if you have I think you will have noticed a few things.  First of all I love Jesus, and I truly want you to know that it is because of Him that I have such a “positive” warrior spirit about going through cancer.  It is also because of Him that I live.  He is the one that delivers these ideas for blog posts to me and He is the one who deserves the credit for the “good writing.”  Secondly, The Lord has brought some incredible things to light during my time of chemo.  Other survivors and fellow warriors are contacting me all the time to talk and encourage.  Students, have come to me with questions and concerns because someone in their family was just diagnosed.  I have seen things in me that I definitely need to change and I have been reminded that I have a chance to do that.  Another thing that you might have noticed while reading the blog is the impeccable timing.  I mean some of the greatest posts have come from the cancer being right on time.  How ironic right?  Or maybe it was the treatment?  Or maybe it is just God moving?  Either way there are a few that stand out.  Losing most of my hair, having chemo during the olympics, chemo on my exact birthday, chemo in the middle of my Spring Break, chemo on the same day as the most impactful episode of Parenthood of the season (I’m Still Here), and finally the end of all the suffering right on the day when all our suffering ended: Good Friday.
Impeccable timing God.  Or as Gandalf would say, “A Wizard is never late, He arrives exactly when he means to.”  Not saying that God is a Wizard, I am saying that God has a purpose for everything.  Good Friday is good to us because it is the day that Jesus took our sins on the cross.  He took all of them so that when we stand before God with Christ as our Savior we will be clean.  We will be clean because Christ paid that price.  It is a really, Good Friday.  Not only do I feel great and know that the migraines are behind me, but I also know that Christ took all the sin suffering that I created myself and took that away today too.  He paid it all.  I owe Him everything.  
Celebrate your Good Friday and continue to Journey Strong.

I’m Still Here

Disclaimer:  If you watch Parenthood and did not see the episode from tonight 4/10/14 I WILL spoil it for you if you read on.  That is all.

Today is a day that I typically dread.  It’s chemo day.  But today was last chemo day.  So naturally I was pumped.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still pumped to be done.  Since last week I got to spend a great weekend at Lake Bruin, LA with some great friends for some much needed down time.  This week has been super busy at school and I really haven’t had much time to think on the magnitude of this trip to the chemo dock.

Carly surprised me by being at the house when I got off work early today for chemo.  This was a surprise because this morning I did not know who was going to take me and sit with me today and Carly did.  It is truly a blessing to have your spouse so on board and supportive of you no matter what. Also today was the last day for me to get Chick-fil-a before chemo.  I almost could not finish my meal due to the nerves.  They have gotten worse the last three treatments.  I dread nausea and the metallic taste that comes in my mouth for the week after chemo.  I had my Mississippi State Game Day t-shirt on and I truly was ready for it to be over with.  After my last visit to the lab ladies where they take my blood it was again the waiting game.  Finally we were led back to a room to begin.  I felt sick already.

However, my spirits were high.  I constantly updated my facebook and twitter accounts with the final treatment festivities.  Festivities being sitting in a chair getting poison pumped into my bloodstream.  I did however do something unique.  Not only was today the final chemo treatment for me, but it is also Disney’s It’s a Small World’s 50th anniversary celebration.  Last Friday my students and I uploaded a video of us all singing the theme from It’s a Small World to help benefit Unicef.  Our video was epic.  So of course during chemo I watch one of the men that wrote It’s a Small World, Richard Sherman, live in front of the ride in Disneyland answering questions about the song and the ride.  This ride of course gets a song stuck in your head and you will all probably hate me for mentioning it.  But that’s where our connections begin in this blog post.

It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears
It’s a world of hopes and a world of fears
There’s so much that we share
That it’s time we’re aware
It’s a Small World after all  – Richard and Robert Sherman

Readers it truly is a small world.  A great big, beautiful small world.  Over the past 18 weeks I have battled through 8 chemo treatments.  It  has been one of the most terrible experiences of my life, if not the worst.  And yet it has been one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me.  Cancer sucks mainly because it is like the white witch from Narnia.  It comes in all shapes and sizes.  It can be aggressive and angry or it can be slow and sneaky.  No matter which way it comes at you, it disrupts and dismantles.  Through my diagnosis, I have met so many others with similar, easier, and harder diagnosis.  I have met amazing people who have lived through worse treatments than me, and I have seen others who have passed since I started treatment.  The thing is that any one of those people could have been me and I could have been any of them.

Tonight’s episode of Parenthood was incredible.  I told my wife (who currently has to wake up at 3:15) that I needed her to be with me to watch it tonight (which meant staying up til 10:00).  She graciously did.  The reason is that I had seen in passing that a character would be returning to the show for an episode.  That character was Gwen.  Gwen was Christina’s (one of the main characters) friend throughout her bought with breast cancer last season.  Gwen is constantly showing up on the show having a relapse of cancer.  This episode was incredibly tough, because Gwen passes away in the episode.  Christina immediately wants to know why.  Why does she get to live and be a mom, wife, daughter, sister, etc. and Gwen does not.  Why?  It’s such a hard question.  In the end Gwen gives a gift to Christina of money to help open a new charter school for exceptional children.  Carly and I sat on the bed and wept, because that could be me.  That could be me.  I will never stop getting checked for cancer for the rest of my life.  Also that could be my friends, family, or strangers that I will never know.  That could be them.  The weight of this disease is incredible……no wonder it makes you so strong.

Wednesday nights I have had the opportunity to lead a bible study on the book of Romans for the past few months.  Of course I have skipped a few nights because of chemo side effects, but for the most part I am there.  This week we studied Romans 9, which I found tough to teach from.  But, there was a verse that I want to talk about now.

“But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’  Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?”  – Rom 9:20-21

As a sinner, I deserve death, but Christ gives life.  I want to tell God all the time, “I know what’s best for me.  Here is a list of the things you should make happen.”  But see God, the potter took a lump of clay.  The same lump of clay that he used to make everyone else, yes even you.  He took that clay and made something out of it.  He could make a special vase used for special occasions or he could use an everyday cup that gets worn out from daily use.  Both these items fulfill a purpose for His glory and we as the clay have a hard time seeing that purpose from the beginning.  I have no idea why some die from cancer and some live.  I have no idea why I’m still here, but I know who does.  Readers many of you have known me since I was a born, maybe you were even there when I came into the world.  Many of you might have cancer just like me.  Most of you know someone with it.  I want you to remember that we are all from the same clay and the same creator.  We were molded for a certain purpose and put in this small world.  You are still here for a reason.  Right now I am the piece of clay that writes what the Potter tells me to each Thursday night.  I will continue to do that until He tells me it is time to go back on the shelf.

At the end of my chemo today, a few amazing things happened.  The nurses brought me a Purple Heart Certificate to celebrate that I had finished my regimen of chemo.  Now I have a Purple Heart like my grandfather does.  Although Papaw (Jimmy Clayton) got his from the Battle of the Bulge and another off the coast of France.  So completely different, but then I heard the Andy Griffith show theme and remembered Mayberry.  I remembered that right now he is there with no diabetes and he is there with my other grandfather Papaw Knot (Benoit Yelverton) who passed from this cancer disease before I met him.  I know that right now they could be swapping stories of war because one was in Europe and the other in the Pacific.  I just know they are both in Mayberry.

I don’t know all the answers Readers, in fact I know very few of them.  All I know is that there are lessons here for all of us.  We are all so similar to each other.  Love one another.  I also know that I’m still here for a purpose.  And I will continue to serve the one that knows that purpose.  Love God.

“Somewhere down the road, they’ll be answers to the questions
Somewhere down the road, though we cannot see it now
Somewhere down the road, you will find mighty arms reaching for you
And they will hold the answers at the end of the road.” – Amy Grant

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Rom 8:28

As Ernest Hemingway said, “no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.”  I assure you I have cried my share on this post.

I am still here, it’s a small world after all, and there is a reason.  I love you all Readers. Journey strong.

Not what you think

First off let me say this has been a great week….comparatively.  We tried some anti-anxiety medicine to calm down my heart rate and nerves and stop the onslaught of migraines.  This worked.  Also, I took it easy.  I didn’t do much to write about.  Also a gift from our now good friend Patty, has done wonders as well.  She sent me a few boxes of Migraine patches that work sort of like ice packs, aromatherapy, and Dr. Scholls for your head.  At the first tick of a headache, I put one of these cool patches on my head and there is almost instant relief.  Definitely a blessing.  I say that I took it slow this week and I am being honest.  The weather was so beautiful this week and we really wanted to get out and take a walk.  I had the start of a migraine by the time we were around the block.  Home we went and we stopped it before it started.   So needless to say, Chemo has made me pretty pitiful when it comes to athletic activity.  

Another new discovery this week was the bath.  Carly told me I really should try to take a hot bath to relax.  I was skeptical at first, but after I spent half an hour soaking in our jacuzzi tub with the lights out and acoustic guitar pandora playing, I was sold.  I have taken more baths this week than I have in the past 20 years.  Now for us to just put in the hot tub out back…..(or install a Prefects bathroom, that would be even better minus Moaning Myrtle).  
So with this new regimen of medicine, patches, baths, and other sorts I have had a pretty good week.  Those around me have probably had more fun watching me deal with the medicine.  It has made me a pretty goofy person for most of the week.  I already make jokes, but now I am singing and laughing as well.  It’s pretty comical.  But I would much rather be goofy than wiped out from a migraine any day.  So if you catch me singing songs from Footloose or Disney show tunes today, you know why.  
As I have been this different person for the past couple of months I have seen a constant need to change.  Christ calls us each day to leave our selfish desires behind and follow Him.  I am the biggest person at fault for this.  Although Cancer has truly shown me how easily a body is broken down, it has also shown me how easily a will can be.  My words might help others and people might read this blog and think that I have it altogether.  That I have a perfect relationship with Christ, that I make good decisions at every cross roads, that I am never evil minded towards others, that I study the bible and know it front to back, and so on and so on.  I am here to tell you that all that is false.  I am not what you think.
This week I have been a different person due to my goofy side effects.  Daily I am a different person due to how close I am to Christ.  It is posts like these that bring up Brennan Manning and The Ragamuffin Gospel.  I am a beat up and burnt out follower.  The journey is tough and honestly I can’t do it.  Again don’t believe that I am a Saint or some perfect person, no I am the worst.  I am the lowest of low.  So where do I go from here.  Where do I go from knee deep in sin and selfishness.
“But God demonstrates His love like this, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” -Rom 5:8
“My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” – Brennan Manning
I am reminded of something that a friend told me in college.  Before you sin, Satan reminds you of God’s forgiveness.  After you sin, Satan reminds you of God’s wrath.  What a trick, we are fooled by.  We think we are too dirty, too wrong, too ugly, too broken, too beyond gone, too lost, too mad, too doubtful, too scared, and too much work for God.  We are wrong.  He wants us.
He says come to me those who are hurting, those who are weary, those who long for love.  He says come just like you are, bring all that dirt with you.  I’ll clean you.  
No, God is not what you think either.  He is so much more than any of us can think.  And He wants you with all that comes with it.  What a joy divine.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Rom 8:38-39

The Final Countdown

When I began this journey with Hodgkin Lymphoma a few months ago, I really didn’t know what to expect.  My father went through the same regimen for the most part, but even though I was very close to him during all that struggle, I was still not ready for the full “Cancer” treatment.  For those of your that really know me, you know that I am not a very patient person.  That goes for having patience and being a patient (see what I did there?).  Today was chemo treatment number 7.  If you remember my first treatment was on December 27th of last year.  That seems like an eternity ago.  That was even before I started my blog.  Now I am a veteran of the chemo ward.  Everybody knows my name there, just like Norm from Cheers.  I have now had the pleasure of sitting in all the different nooks and crannies in the chemo dock.  I have also run the gamit of side effects.  I went through hair loss, metallic mouth, exhaustion, nausea, and migraines.  I have had some of the worst days of my life these past few months, but I must say I have also had a few of my best days.  And you know readers, I really couldn’t have had those best days without cancer.  Really think about that.  Our trials in life are what make life beautiful.  They are the things that expose us for who we really are.  A few years ago through a series of actions some good, a lot bad, I lost many of my closest friends.  It was one of the best times of my life, because it was so awful.  When my father went through chemotherapy I was in middle school.  Then my parents separated for a time.  Because of my dad’s journey, I had a guide here with me every step of the way.  Because of that time apart, my parents love each other more today than they ever did, and they love us (the kids) better too.  I know I probably sound like a broken record by now.  Maybe I look at the bright side of life too much or maybe thats just the way God wants it.  Don’t get me wrong, many days I am just ready for this to be over.  However, I can’t help but sit back and think, “God what are you really doing here.”  It has got to be good.

When I was in high school I was a part of the nation’s #1 showchoir in America, Clinton Attache’.  I played trumpet in the pit.  Being in this group was one of the top 5 choices of my life (bet you wonder what the other 4 were).  We traveled the country competing and my class never lost a competition.  Now I get to see my students perform just like I did when I was there age.  There are three songs that were my absolute favorite songs that Attache’ ever did.  Two of them I got to perform.  Gold by Prince and Separate Ways by Journey.  One of them I never played and that was The Final Countdown by Europe.  That’s where I am readers.  The Final Countdown.  Can’t you hear the music? (ba-da-da-duh, ba-da-dat-da-duh, ba-da-da-duh, ba-da-dat-da-da-da-duh).  One more treatment to go.  Wow.
But here’s the deal.  Today we met with the doctor and I thought we were going to go ahead and place another PET scan and set the final treatment and talk radiation and the next steps, but that really didn’t happen.  See we schedule the last chemo treatment for this time.  And we scheduled a scan for a month after my last visit, May 7th.  Then we changed some nausea med that I was getting to try to combat my migraines.  Thats it.  No talk about next steps.  Then I realized why…..It might not be over.  Some people can’t talk about their cancer story and now I know why.  I can’t imagine going back.  I can’t imagine a recurrence of this experience.  But it happens….everyday.  After Carly and I were alone in the room after our doctor left, the tears came.  Not because I was thinking of death, but because I was thinking about life continuing with me visiting the Red Devil every two weeks.  But readers, I can’t live like that. (cue the music)
It’s the Final Countdown.
Oh and cancer and me are not done yet.  I have a bone to pick with it.  Don’t think I haven’t forgotten about the big announcements coming to the blog.  They are still coming.  Some of you think you know them all, but you don’t.  I am seeing more and more why I have to go through this and I hope you continue on this ride with me.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complet, not lacking anything.” – James 1:2-4
ba-da-da-duh, ba-da-dat-da-duh, ba-da-da-duh, ba-da-dat-da-da-da-duh

“Looking back at the road so far
The Journey’s left its share of scars
Mostly from leaving the narrow and straight

Looking back it is clear to me
That a man is more than the sum of his deeds
And how You’ve made good of this mess I’ve made
Is a profound mystery

Looking back you know you had to bring me through
All that I was so a afraid of
Though I questioned the sky, now I see why
Had to walk the rocks to see the mountain view
Looking back I see the lead of love.”  – Caedmon’s Call – Lead of Love

It’s the Final Countdown

ba-da-da-duh, ba-da-dat-da-duh, ba-da-da-duh, ba-da-dat-da-da-da-duh

April 10th – last treatment
May 7th – we get to see the hole where a diease used to be.


What Mr. Rogers Taught Me

I watched a lot of TV growing up.  It wasn’t that my parents weren’t interested in me or that I was terribly unathletic (although I was terribly unathletic), I just really enjoyed it.  Being a kid of the 80s and 90s really set me up for some quality television.  More on that at another time.  Really I wanted to focus on not my favorite show, but a show that came to mind to me this week.  Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood was one of the oddest shows ever made.  Really lets be honest the puppets were terrifying.  They were something out of a horror movie and the voices they had were equally disturbing.  Really the big draw of the show was not the puppets and other characters, but Mr. Roger himself.  The way that he introduced himself to his audience.  He always made you feel comfortable and welcome.  Then he spoke words that were just for you.  Made you hear them, not by force, but because you wanted to hear them.  That’s when I heard about being kind to others, sharing, lending a helping hand, and that hard word to understand, empathy.  Another key thing that Mr. Rogers said is listed in a small book I have on my desk at school.  Its a book of quotes by Mr. Rogers and on the front is a mirror and the words, “You are Special.”  I think I got this book as a graduation gift.  I still look at it and smile today, because I mean how can’t you smile at that.  Well in that book is a quote that goes something like this:

“Sometimes it is not a sign of weakness when you ask for help….sometimes it is a sign of strength.”

I don’t know if I have ever been the kind of person that liked to handle things alone.  I have always been the one to want to have someone there with me through every situation.  I like companionship and friendship.  However, I am one stubborn kid.  I hate to be told no and thats not possible.  I also don’t like to be taken care of.  You can ask my parents.  I hated to be told what to do.  For instance, if I was supposed to clean my room it had to be on my terms.  I didn’t want to be told now was the time to clean.  I wanted to clean in Bryce’s time.  Same thing with getting out of bed in the morning.  I wanted to get up when I wanted to, not when anyone else wanted me to.  This obsession has overflowed into my classroom.  Not that I have the most organized room in the world, but my process is set and my way of distribution and grading and leading class is perfect for my room.  I love it.  All of this is leading up for me to tell you that this week was the worst week of my year.

It started off just fine.  All the problems arose on Tuesday at lunch.  See my “bad days” after chemo are typically the Tuesday and Wednesday directly after treatment.  This Tuesday saw the arrival of another migraine episode.  I really hate migraines.  I used to suffer from them a lot more in high school and college, but they have only just resurfaced again since chemo.  Migraines are very elusive things.  No one really knows why they happen or how to effectively stop them.  Everyone who suffers through them like me have some tricks of the trade to handle them.  Sometimes these little aids help and sometimes they just do nothing.  Really nothing works well to stop the pain.  A migraine means I am out for the next 3-4 hours.  And there is nothing I can do to stop it.  The most frustrating part is that a migraine looks like nothing to the common bystander.  They see no physical pain besides that which you show on your face.  No one around you really knows the pain you are going through except you.  At least when people see someone break a leg they aren’t wondering if the guy is faking it.  With me I am always like, “I have a migraine.”  But I feel like people hear me say, “my head hurts a little bit.”  I wish the pain I felt was visible on the outside, like my head was bulging or something.  Here is how my migraines start:

First, one of my eyes, usually my right eye begins to have blots of my vision missing.  I can’t focus, my vision begins to blur, and I lose a bit of depth perception.  It is almost like I lose sight out of my eye with it being completely open.  As my vision comes back, a slight ache begins above my left eyebrow.  My vision comes back completely, but the pain is becoming greater.  I begin to sweat from the stress and strain.  My words start to slur and stumble.  I can’t figure out what I am trying to say.  The pain is now so great that it is all I focus on.  Light hurts to look at.  Sound begins to feel like it is bouncing in my skull.  I have to run.  Nausea sets in.  All I want to do is rip the pain out.  Nothing makes the pain subside.  And there I twist and turn for hours until I either throw up all that is in my stomach and fall asleep or I get medicine that knocks me out before the nausea is done.  Laying in the dark with an ice pack on my forehead helps, but it is no match for the pain.  And there I am waiting for the pain to subside.

That scene was my Tuesday afternoon.  That scene was my Wednesday most of the day.  That scene was my Thursday afternoon.  Each day I tried a different medicine approach.  Each day the medicine failed to help.  Every day I woke up feeling good and went to school to teach.  Every day I felt my vision begin to “short out” and I knew what was coming.  After three days of nausea, headaches, and frustration, I took Friday off just in case.  I took the day slow and tried to pick up the pieces of my mess of a week.  We found out that migraines really weren’t usual chemo side effects.  So that means I am unique….yay.  Another theory might be that the migraines are caused by anxiety brought on by the chemo.  Also I have two more treatments left and if this is a sign of things to come, I really dread the last two trips.  But I can’t think like that for the anxiety in me might explode.  All I know is that I am ready for the end.

I really had to learn that lesson from Mr. Rogers this week.  I could not have made it through this week alone.  I needed help.  I needed my wife to fix me the best ice pack ever made and hold it on my forehead while I slept.  She also covered up windows in our bedroom to block the light out.  I needed my fellow teachers to step in and take care of my students that I had to leave in the middle of the day.  Again I am reminded of how amazing it is to have willing and able people around you who care about you.  I had to sit down and swallow my pride and say, “I can’t do this.”  I think Mr. Rogers is right.  It is harder sometimes to say you need help.

So many people ask me all the time what can they do and I always say, “oh nothing,” or “just pray.”  The fact is that it is so much harder to accept the gift of help.  We are such selfish beings.  We think we can do it all, but the truth is that we really can’t.  So thanks everyone for stepping up and saying, “let me do that.”  This week, I really couldn’t have done it without you. 

Spring Forward……..Fall Back

Most people love Spring Break.  I am one of those people.  I have always had a Spring Break.  It is one of the many perks of being a teacher.  Ever since I was young, Spring Break has always meant vacation.  Mainly those vacations were in Disney World.  When I was in 9th grade, I went to Disney World with my good friend Geoff and his family.  It was epic.  In college, I went with a group of friends from Mississippi College.  That trip too was epic.  After college, Carly and I traveled to Disney World with my sister and her now husband.  Then yet another year we went with our good friends Steven and Chrissy.  Both trips were, as you guessed, epic.  This year there would be no Disney World.  Instead there would be chemo.  I love this time of year at Disney and really just this time of year.  Spring Break this year began with Daylight Savings Time, which is great that there is more sunlight after 5 pm.  I love long afternoons that extend into the evenings.  It is a grea time to have a walk or play some frisbee.  It is also a great time to be at EPCOT at Disney World.  EPCOT just started their annual Flower and Garden Festival, which showcases the Disney Park’s green thumb.  You really can see the change from Winter barren to Spring bloom.

So what did I do on my Spring Break?  The answer is a lot, just not what I wanted.  Saturday and Monday were work days with my father and brother in law.  I married Carly for many reasons.  Her family was a bonus.  They came over and helped fix my front door handle and the front of our bathtub in the master bath.  Monday we installed a new microwave, replaced a busted headlight, hung pictures, fixed a hole in the fence, and I got the pleasure of visiting Comcast.  Tuesday I visited the Mississippi State Capital with my dad.  He works there when the legislature is in session and I enjoy learning more abou his work and visiting with his collegues.  Many of them have been praying for me and I wanted to say thank you and also show that I am alive and well thanks in part to their support.  Wednesday saw lunch at the Old Capital Inn for some Crab Cakes, some work on my graduate project for MSU, and some Settlers of Catan with my good buddy Adam.  I was one wheat away from victory. They should have let me win…..I mean I do have cancer.  Today saw the end of that.  Today was chemo treatment 6.
I agree that this Spring Break did have good times.  I was blessed by many of the experiences listed above and others not listed.  However, it was not what I wanted to be doing.  I wanted to be at EPCOT, watching the flowers grow, or the beach, eating seafood, or the mountains, watching the sunset over the Smokies.  This week kind of reflects the experience I have had with cancer.  Yes there are good moments and good memories.  Yes I am learning and growing and truly thriving in this treatment process.  And yet it is really not where I want to be.  
A new list of things that I hate about chemo:
1.  I literally dread the saline solution used to clean out my port before and after treatment.  Everytime I drive by the Cancer Clinic on I-55 I feel the metallic taste in my teeth and gums.  It truly is terrible.
2.  I hate. I repeat, hate the drip machine.  beep, beep, beep, beep, BEEP, BEEP, BEEP.  Yes the alarm gets louder when it is time to reset the timer or cut it off.  I almost threw it out the window today, which would have been comical because I would have gone out the window with it.
3.  I hate the Red Devil.  After 6 treatments, I feel the nausea.  Its a different nausea though.  Instead of being intense, it is a dull nausea.  Like I just can’t shake it.  I actually asked the nurse today if anyone cried when the Red Devil was going in.  I promptly held back tears.
4.  I hate feeling groggy afterwards and really just like a pile of dump.
But see back in the day, I had a great youth minister at my church.  Her name was Jan.  She has since passed away.  On every youth trip with her we would sit around at night and play good and gripe.  Everyone said something they hated that day and something they liked.  Your goods had to be greater than or equal to your gripes.  So with that here are the good things about this week:

1. fixed door and microwave
2. much needed hours of doing nothing
3. lunch at both Two Sisters (fried chicken!) and Old Capital Inn(Crab Cakes!)
4. lunch before chemo with our great friends the Sharpes and their 5 amazing kiddos at Chick fil a
5. listening to acoustic guitar Pandora while talking with my wife
6. listening to EPCOT background music with my wife while driving around running errands (yes I married the right woman, and yes if you want some EPCOT background music just ask)

So there the goods out weigh the gripes.  Sometimes its great to just have a little perspective.  Life will always have the Spring Forwards and the Fall Backs, but we have to keep the positives.  I could sit and complain all day about my metallic mouth or the nausea  OR I could laugh it off and know that I am getting healed.

There is a season for everything under the sun.

There is a time<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”> for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:    
a time to be born and a time to die,
 a time to plant and a time to uproot,    
a time to kill<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(C)”> and a time to heal,    
a time to tear down and a time to build,     
a time to weep and a time to laugh,    
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent<sup class="crossreference" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: top;" value="(D)”> and a time to speak,
 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.  – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Now it is a time for something big.  BIG NEWS coming soon to the blog.  You can go to my website bryceyelverton.blogspot.com and subscribe to the blog with your email, simply type your email address in the blank on the right side of the page.  Keep waiting for there is a time for everything and soon it is time for ACTION!

What’s in a name? Part 2

“Hello my name is Child of the One True King.” – Matthew West

“Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.” – Genesis 32:28

Childlike Empress: He doesn’t understand that he’s the one who has the power to stop it(the Nothing).  He simply can’t imagine that one little boy could be that important.
Bastian: Is it really me?
Atreyu: Maybe he doesn’t know what he has to do!
Bastian: What do I have to do?!
Childlike Empress: He has to give me a new name.  He’s already chosen it, he just has to call it out.

– The Neverending Story
“Remember who you are.” – Mufasa 
Part 1 of this week’s thoughts focused on my name: Bryce David Yelverton.  As I said before, my name was never enough for me.  I am a guy who loves titles.  I love to be thought of as someone more than Bryce.  Like for instance: I love DIsney stuff.  Like I can talk movies, theme parks, company history, etc. til my tongue falls out.  So naturally some people around me refer to me as the Disney Guy.  I like that.  There are also titles that I hate.  For instance: I hate being called a jerk.  Yes it has happened more than a few times.  Yes I did deserve it.  But again you can probably agree that being called the Disney Guy is way better than the jerk.  
One of the most influential books I have ever read is Wild at Heart by John Eldridge.  I read it once as a high school kid, but I read it again when I was older.  I also joined a Wild at Heart men’s group for a few years not that long ago.  Wild at Heart had so many good things that I apply to myself now.  One of those things is a question that all men have.  That question is, “Do I have what it takes?”  So many times I look in the mirror and ask myself that question, “Do I have what it takes?”  Even though I feel like that question has been answered many times, I still ask again and again.  Last week I got an answer to that question in the most amazing way.
So go with me back to my childhood.  Really the childhood of most kids born in the late 80s/early 90s. There were a few staples to films that all those kids would know.  I am going to talk about two.  The Neverending Story and The Lion King.  Let’s start with the wildcard: The Neverending Story.  If you haven’t seen this movie, do yourself a favor and watch it.  I must warn you it is weird.  The story is a journey of a young boy, Bastion, who loves to read and in fact the book that he reads turns out to be real.  The book focuses on the journey of Atreyu, a young warrior, who is trying to save the world of Fantasia from destruction by helping to save the life of the Childlike Empress (still with me here?).  So the end of the movie has Bastion realizing that he has to be the one to save the Childlike Empress and the only way to do it……is to give her a name.  What?  Give her a name thats it?  When I was a kid I thought this was ridiculous.  Plus in the movie you can’t even understand what name Bastion gives the Childlike Empress (because he yells it in a storm).  However, it worked.  Giving the Empress a name, saved the whole world of Fantasia.  There is power in names.
Another great hit of the 90s was The Lion King.  Probably a film you are more aware of.  The Lion King is one of the best animated movies of all time.  Simba is a young lion cub and heir to the throne.  Mufasa, Simba’s father, dies in the middle of the movie (and thus tramatized my childhood).  Simba, thinking that he was the cause of his father’s death, runs away and his evil cousin Scar takes over the throne.  Simba escapes to a tropical paradise and leaves his cares behind, but Mufasa appears to him in a dreamlike sequence to tell him he must go back and take the throne.  The key part of this movie is this scene where Mufasa appears to Simba in clouds and tells him a key phrase that still resonates with me today: “Remember who you are.”  
I am constantly asking my question to God and everyone else in my life.  Do I have what it takes?  God’s answer; Remember who you are.  
So recently I have been battling the urge to give up.  I hate cancer.  I hate chemotherapy.  I hate the metallic taste in my mouth.  I hate the numbness in my fingertips.  I hate the dull nausea and the fear of headaches.  I hate it.  Last week was my birthday as most of you know.  I received lots of cards and letters of love from dear friends, new friends, and even strangers.  I also received a package in the mail from a great family friend of mine: Maggie.  Maggie’s parents have been friends with my family for years.  They used to help babysit me and my sister, Becca when we were little.  I even pooped on Maggie’s dad’s leg as an infant (he still wishes his kids had done the same to me, but alas that has not happened yet).  Anyway you get the point.  During Thanksgiving week, Maggie made me a Rainbow loom bracelet.  If you don’t know what a Rainbow loom bracelet is, just ask any kid you know that is under the age of 12.  I started wearing the bracelet during my cancer treatment to remind me that people are praying for me and that people love me.  Maggie’s mom told me that Maggie was making me a new bracelet that was Maroon and White for Mississippi State.  I assumed that this was what was in the package.

Opening the package, I found not only a bracelet for me, but also bracelets for my whole family.  Each set of bracelets had the name of the design of the Rainbow Loom bracelet that she made.  For my parents, they received Fishtails.  For my sister and brother-in-law, they received Ladders.  For my wife, she received a Zippy Chain.  And this was what my design was called:


Warrior.

At that moment, not only did I start weeping (really it was snot crying), but I also heard clearly the answer to my question.  “God, do I have what it takes?”  And He said, “Remember who you are, you are my son and a warrior.”  He gave me another name.  Warrior.  I know that crying is not neccessarily a warrior thing to do, but beating cancer is.  The name was not yelled in a storm, nor was it in the voice of James Earl Jones, it was written by the hand of a child, who chose to make a nice bracelet for a friend.  A child that God chose to use as a vessel for his voice.

There is so much power in names.  That is why so many praying people, use Jesus’ name when they pray.  They say, “In Jesus name.”  Because His name is powerful.  And the names He gives his children are powerful too.

Do you have what it takes to ask if you have what it takes?


Jesus in Your Name we pray
Come and fill our hearts today
Lord, give us strength to live for You and glorify Your Name
Your Name is a strong and mighty tower
Your Name is a shelter like no other
Your Name, let the nations sing it louder
‘Cause nothing has the power to save but Your Name   – Your Name by Phillips, Craig, and Dean

“The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.” – Isaiah 62:2

And for all of you that want to know what name Bastion gives the Childlike Empress – it’s MoonChild.  Yeah I know, I was disappointed too.  Oh, but I do have a dog that looks like Falkor.