Sunday, December 5, 2010

Moving Back To Indiana

It was announced this morning that I have resigned from the Jefferson City Church of the Nazarene. My last Sunday will be December 19th. I am going to be the Associate Pastor at the North Vernon Church of the Nazarene in North Vernon, Indiana. I’ll be on staff with both of my parents and will be leading both the children and the youth.

This is a bittersweet time for me. I’m very excited about moving back to Indiana and being close to family and friends again. It’s been several years since I’ve been close enough to be a part of family activities or hang out with my dear friends who I’ve known forever. It never ceases to amaze me that no matter how many times I move, these friends have stayed close regardless the miles between us, so I’m glad that the miles will be much fewer now.

On the other hand, Jefferson City now holds many wonderful people that I will miss. I hope that we are able to stay in touch. God has been very good to me and I’ve enjoyed working and living in Jefferson City. It will always hold a special place in my heart, as will the church and the people who I have come to know and love.

And so…the packing begins…

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Recovery...slow, but sure.

Well, it's been two weeks and two days since my surgery and I'm still in recovery mode. I had hoped that by now I would be off my heavy pain medication, but I'm still taking it...however in much lower doses so that's a good thing. I'm back at work on a limited basis because I just get exhausted very quickly as yet. Not to mention I'm still having a good bit of pain if I'm up too long. I have great difficulty sitting in or getting up from chairs that don't have arm rests, but all in all, I'm healing up nicely.

I have been blessed beyond all measure to have my Mom here with me to help me because for quite a while I was fairly helpless. You don't realize how much you use your stomach muscles until you simply can't. It's crazy. For awhile even trying to lift up enough to move or place a pillow was excruciating, but she found ways to help me. Not being able to bend or reach anything is beyond annoying, but she found ways to help me. She even tackled my closets while I could do nothing to stop her, and if you saw my closets you would understand what a feat that is. I can not put into words what an amazing woman my Mom is and what great care she has given to me. She’s planning to go home tomorrow and I’m going to miss her more than I can say.

I’ve also been taken care of by wonderful people in the church. Delicious meals were brought every day for two weeks. We have spectacular cooks at our church and I’ve enjoyed every meal that was brought. My entertainment center is overwhelmed with all the cards and flowers I’ve received as well. Not to mention, a very cute little stuffed dog (named Dotters) that was given to me by our Senior Adult Class. I can not fully express my gratitude for all the love and support that has been shown to me.

I just wanted to update you all on my recovery. Thank you so much for all your kind notes and prayers. I’m convinced that I have the most fabulous friends and family in the world.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It’s good to be home!

Well, yesterday, I went into the hospital to have my gallbladder and appendix removed. It all went well and the surgeon told me this morning that they were both so bad that she could hardly tell which was worse and that it was a good thing that we took them both out. She also said that I should start feeling better now. PRAISE THE LORD!!!!

First of all though, I have to recover from the surgery. They were able to take both organs laproscopically so that is a huge blessing. However, it’s still going to take a few days to get past all this pain. They have me on oxycodone and tramadol. So hopefully that will help. I’m now home from the hospital and my Mom is with me for the next couple weeks to help me.

Thank you so much for all your prayers and support over the last few months. It’s good to know that I’m on the backside of all this and I appreciate all your well wishes and love.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Hallelujah we have an answer!!!

So, this morning I went to see the general surgeon. She looked through all my tests and has finally found an answer for me. Apparently my gallbladder is only functioning at 43% (something that was shown in a test I had done in APRIL, but no one paid any attention to because apparently if your gallbladder is working at 35% then it’s ok. Does that sound ok to anyone else??? Good grief!!!) and some of my symptoms also seem to be appendix related. SOOO, on Oct. 18th, I will be having surgery to have both my gallbladder and my appendix removed. The hope is that once both are removed that the majority of my symptoms will go away! I’m so excited to finally have an answer that I can hardly stand it.

For the surgery itself, I’ll be staying in the hospital overnight and then there is about a week of recovery time at home. But hopefully, after that, I’ll be getting back to normal. I don’t know if I even remember what normal is, but I look forward to finding out.

Thank you all for your prayers and support. God is good. All the time!!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

A Weekend With My Brother…

Wow! What a fun weekend it’s been. My brother, Rick, came out here to do some concerts for us and what a great time we had. I think this is the first time we’ve ever spent the weekend together where it was just the two of us. We are about polar opposites on just about everything. If I’m hot, he’s cold…in fact, he says my apartment is freezing. I’ll give him that one though because everyone tells me that. My friend, Erica, says I live in an igloo. Oh well…polar opposites or not, I love him lots and I was so excited that he was coming out here that I could hardly stand it.

Rick came in on Friday and we had a great time at Colton’s Restaurant with some folks from church. Then we got to spend all day Saturday just going around Jefferson City and checking out the toy/comic/music type shops. We also checked out a couple museums. Rick had sushi from a restaurant in town called “LOVE SUSHI.” I, however, did not. Not enough money in the world to make me eat sushi. YUCK. I don’t enjoy fish all that much when it’s cooked regular. Anyway, we had a great time. Rick found my “Lois and Clark” Seasons so we watched those when we were at my apartment. We used to watch that show back in High School. Was fun to watch them again.

Then Saturday night, Sunday morning, and Sunday night Rick held concerts for our church and it was amazing. I know that I’m probably bias, but I was at all three concerts and I thought they were fantastic. The Spirit was moving and Rick has such an amazing talent for reaching those listening to him. God really worked through Rick this weekend and it was a blessing to be there listening. If you’ve never heard Rick’s music, you should check out his website. There is a link on this page.

Sadly, he is leaving early in the morning, but it’s been such a pleasure to have him here. I hope he can come again soon. I’m blessed with family that I adore. What could be better than that? Not a thing! :-)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Medical Update: The Search Continues...

Well, since so many people were telling me that a hysterectomy was quite drastic, and I quite agreed, I decided to see my general practitioner and see what she had to say. Needless to say, she agreed with everyone else. I got the report from my ultrasound (where the fibroid tumor was first found) and it didn’t recommend surgery at all. It recommended that I have an MRI to get more information because there were several things that had not been visible or not clearly visible on the ultrasound. SOOO, my general practitioner set up and appointment for me to have the MRI as well as a second opinion from another OB/GYN.

I had the MRI this past Friday and it went fine. However, it didn’t give any more information on the tumor. One funny thing (well, I thought it was funny), there were about 4 techs in the room for the MRI. One of which seemed to be in training. They were all very kind and helpful. Halfway through the test, they needed to inject some sort of contrast stuff into me. And who would be the one to give me the injection??? Yep, the new guy. The person training him gave him some instructions and all seemed to be fine. I finished the test and went on about my day. Later on, I couldn’t figure out why my arm was sore. When I took off the band aid, I found out why. YIKES!!! I had the biggest, ugliest, bruise I’ve ever had on my arm from a shot. No wonder I was sore. I guess he has to practice on someone. Might as well be me. Oh well, this too shall pass. Ha ha!

This morning I had the second opinion from the OB/GYN. She was wonderful and listened to all I had to say as well as looked at all my test results. She totally disagreed with my first OB/GYN and didn’t recommend surgery at all. She did think that there was a possibility of endometriosis and wanted to start treatment for that until she realized that the majority of my pain is actually in the middle of my stomach, on my right side and my back. She said that while, I don’t have all the indicators of it being my appendix or gallbladder, I do have some (like fever and pain) and that it was still possible that one of those was the problem. Now, I’ve had tests to check those organs, but she said that sometimes it doesn’t show up easily and you don’t know if there is a problem until you actually look at the organs. So, before we start treatment for the possible endometriosis, we are going to rule out the appendix for sure (since pain is on my right side) and possibly the gallbladder.

So, I now have an appointment with a general surgeon to get her feedback on the situation. That appointment is for a week from today. Until then I have pain meds to help me when the pain is bad.

So, the Saga continues. Praise God that I don’t have to have a hysterectomy at this point. God is good. Hopefully, the general surgeon will have an answer. I’ll post again when I have more news. Thank you so much for your continued prayers. I appreciate them more than I can say.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Welcome to Confusion: Population Me

About a year and a half ago, I started not feeling well. The doctor in California said that it was probably stress and pretty much ignored my symptoms. At the time, I was under a lot of stress, so I accepted what he told me because most of my symptoms could be stress related…except for the fact that I was running a semi-constant low grade fever that just wouldn’t go away. As far as I know, stress does not cause a fever. However, the symptoms eventually went away for the most part after a couple months.

Then in March of this year, all the craziness began again but this time, it didn’t go away. I started going to the doctor out here in Missouri and that began an array of tests. The problem was that all the tests they ran came back clear, but I was still running a fever (low grade, but still 1-3 degrees higher than my normal), was having pain in my stomach, and a few other symptoms that would come and go. The fever was the only absolute constant. The second most constant was the stomach pain. Talk about infuriating. I thought I was going to lose my mind. Fortunately one of my doctors was very encouraging in that he agreed with me that something was definitely wrong, we just hadn’t found it yet. So, the search continued.

A week ago, I was told that I have a fibroid tumor on the top of my uterus. It is 3.5 x 2.8 x 3.3cm. It’s not cancer, but surgery was an option! I was so excited because I thought this was the answer to all the problems. I wasn’t all that excited about being cut on, but hey, if it would solve the issue, bring on the knife!

So, today I went to see my OB/GYN to talk about surgery options. She gave me two. Option one: Keep the fibroid…it’s degenerating so it might not cause more problems. However, one you start to get fibroids, you will probably continue to do so.

This didn’t seem like a good option because I’d have to keep all the symptoms that I’ve been dealing with. So, on to option two….

Option two: Hysterectomy.

WHAT???? Seriously…those were the only options I was given. I was heartbroken. But at the moment, I knew nothing else to do. I’ve had an Abdominal Ultrasound, Hyda-scan, Pelvic Ultrasound, Upper GI, Colonoscopy, more bloodwork than I can remember and another test that I can’t remember the name of (but it made me sick) and EVERY test came back clear. I have my regular doctor, a gastroenterologist and now an OB/GYN on the case and this was the only abnormality that had been found at all. So, I told them to schedule the surgery. However, the earliest spot available is Sept. 24th. I told them I would let them know next week if that would work.

I talked to an OB/GYN who used to attend our church and he gave me some very wise counsel and advice. At his suggestion, before I make any decision, I’m going to talk to my general practitioner and ask her to relook at all of the test results and see if she can find a reason that has perhaps been missed. And if not, what the next step should be in her opinion. It’s too late to make an appointment today, so I’ll call about one for tomorrow or Friday.

I had planned to have some answers to put into this blog tonight, but I only have more questions. I appreciate your prayers as we continue to search for whatever this mystery illness is. You are a blessing to me. Thank you so much for your support.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

August Birthdays

It's been a couple weeks since I posted a blog. August is a very busy month in my family. As I posted before, my Mom's birthday is in August, but so is my Dad's and my brother's.

My brother, Rick, was born on August 12th, 1977 and my life would never be the same. We are only 18 months apart, so growing up we were each other's constant companions and playmates. I loved playing with my brother's cars and his action figures. And he and I would build stuff with legos and lincoln logs. When you live in a trailer there's only so far you can get from each other, so we grew up pretty close. We also started singing together as very young children. We usually sang on every Sunday and Wednesday during the revival's my parent's held as evangelists. "Grandma's Rocking Chair" and "Family Circle" were two songs that I'll probably never forget singing. As adults, he has become one of the most talented singer/songwriters I've ever heard. I remember the first time I heard one of his songs and it touched me to my soul. He was in high school and it was a song called "Halfway." As I listened to the words, tears welled up in my eyes. Tears not only because of the words, but also because I was so impressed with how God was using my "little brother." I knew then, that God had given Rick a very special gift and I was so excited to see where it would take him. To this day, I get excited when he writes a new song. I love to see what God is going to say through him. He travels the country now, sharing his music in concerts, at camps, in revivals, and wherever else the Lord opens a door. He'll be here in Jefferson City in September and I'm so exicted that I can hardly stand it.

On August 15th we celebrate my Dad's birthday. I can't tell you how blessed I am to have Randy James as my Daddy. He is one of the wisest people I've ever met. He's taught us about Jesus and how to follow him. He leads us not only by telling us what is right, but also by example. He has the gift of preaching and teaching and has been doing so for as long as I can remember. There's something very special about knowing that there are no stupid questions. That we can come to him with any problem and he will listen without judgement and help us find the Biblical answer. He has read the Bible through more than 25 times and continues to do so every year. That's amazing to me. He currently pastors in North Vernon, IN, but he has ministered and taught in more states than I can remember as well as Kenya and Belize, plus he's written a book called, "Unraveling the Revelation" that makes the book of Revelation easy to understand for everyone. That's no easy task, but he's done it. God has used and is continuing to use my Dad in amazing ways. I'm so blessed that I get to watch and learn from his example in my life.

I suppose blogs are supposed to be about the person writing them. However in my last two blogs I've told you about my family. And make no mistake, I would not be who I am without them. To really know me, you have to know my family. I am blessed beyond words because God has given me a family that follows Him.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A quick trip home...

On Monday, I flew out of St. Louis to come home for my Mom's 60th birthday. My plane arrived in Louisville, KY where I was met by an old friend who I hadn't been able to see for about 10 years. What a blessing it was to spend some time with Faith and her adorable son Brady.

My Mom picked me up outside Louisville and we headed up to North Vernon, IN where my parents live. We went to "I'm Stuffed" for pizza that night. What a cute little restaurant. If you're ever in North Vernon, I highly recommend it. Great food!

Tuesday was my Mom's 60th birthday and my Dad had planned a big party for her at the Ruby Tuesday's in Anderson, IN. However, the party was in peril when Mom got sick in the night. She was ill all night and all morning. However, by about 2pm, she was beginning to feel better and wanted to go to the party. She got progressively better as the evening wore on. We were so glad!!! At the Ruby Tuesday that night, we filled up the back room with family. What a fantastic time we had. There were about 24 of us and while it was a large group, it was only a portion of our vast family. We missed those who couldn't attend, but thoroughly enjoyed being with those who could. Because very few in my family have the ability to laugh quietly, we can be a rather loud bunch. We didn't know how noisy we'd been until, when we left a patron stopped my Uncle and said, "You guys have just been having such a joyful time back there. It's been such fun to listen to you all." I thought that was pretty cool.

We spent the night at my Grandma's house. My brother had come in for the event and it was great to see him even if only for a short time. We don't often get to have all of us together so it's always nice when we can be. We all hung out for a bit at Grandma's after the party. My Aunt came over too. We all were pretty tired though, so it was an early evening.

This morning, Dad, Mom, and I came back to North Vernon. I so enjoy getting to spend time with my parents. Whether we are watching tv, playing games, or sharing a meal, it's always such a joy just to be in their company. I am so blessed.

Tomorrow, I fly home. Mom and Dad will take be back to Louisville to catch my flight. However, since I have a layover of more than two hours in Chicago, my cousin Corey is going to meet me at the airport so I can see him for a bit. That will be so very fun and a great way to end my brief trip.

So, this whirlwind trip is nearly over and I'll be home soon, but I'm so glad I got to come. Happy Birthday Mom! You may have turned 60, but I think you'd be hardpressed to find anyone who believes you look it. You're amazing and I love you!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad!

Today is my parent's, Randy and Mary Jane James', 36th Anniversary. They were married in Selma, Indiana at the Christ United Methodist Church on July 27th, 1974. From what I'm told the church had no air conditioning and it was so hot inside that my Dad's best man (his older brother, Rick) passed out. But, they continued with the ceremony and here they are 36 years later and still going strong.

They are such an amazing couple. They are total opposites in almost all their interests, but they have made those differences work for them over the years. They have ministered together in countless churches all across the country and in Kenya too. There are people who love and care about them in more places than I can count.

They have been and still are the most amazing parents. They love my brother, Rick, and I unconditionally and without question. They taught us from as early as I can remember to follow Jesus and make Him first in our lives. Then they encouraged us to follow where the Lord leads us no matter how many miles it takes us from them. We are blessed beyond all measure to have Randy and Mary Jane James for our parents. Happy Anniversary Mom and Dad! I love you so much and am so proud to be your daughter!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cousin's Weekend

This weekend is a special one on the James side of my family. It is the phenomenon known as “Cousin’s Weekend” and I’m sad to say that I’m missing it. I haven’t gotten to go for several years. But, I wanted to write about it anyway because I think it’s such a neat thing.

I have an enormous family. I’m sure you probably think I’m exaggerating, but I’m really not. When we all get together (on either side of the family actually) we could make up the population of a small town. On my Dad’s side, the James side of the family, our family is a bit unique because we are double cousins. You see, my Grandma has two sisters and one brother. One of Grandma's sisters married my Grandpa’s brother. And my Grandma’s brother married my Great Uncle’s (by marriage) sister. I suppose it sounds confusing, but it’s really not. We lost both of my Grandma's sister's in the last couple of years. Aunt Jean and Aunt Shirley were two of the most amazing women and we are truly blessed to have known and loved them. They are greatly missed.

We are this huge group of people who love to hang out together and support one another even though the miles separate us. I rarely get to see this extended part of my family, (it’s literally been years since I could attend a Cousin’s Weekend) and yet, when we do get to be together, it’s like I’d never been away. Thanks to facebook, I get to be in contact with quite a few of the family members on a semi regular basis and that’s awesome too.

So, here’s to this year’s Cousin’s Weekend!! I hope it’s a blast and somebody better send me some pictures. :-)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ahhh Thursdays…

For about five years now, I’ve been taking Thursday as my day off. I guard it very protectively. It’s not that I don’t love my job, because I really do. However, Thursday is the day that I recharge my batteries. I rarely plan anything special on a Thursday. It is specifically a stay home day. I suppose that sounds lazy, but it’s really more self preservation. See, in college, I was diagnosed with Myoclonus. It’s a neuromuscular disorder that makes my muscles have a mind of their own at times. If you knew me in college at Trevecca, you would no doubt remember my twitching…especially if you were in one of my classes. Not to worry though, these days the myoclonus is under control with meds and stress management. See in the 13ish years that I’ve been dealing with this disorder, we’ve discovered that it seems to feed on the stress in my life. Seems ironic that I would go into the ministry since it’s such a stress free lifestyle. Ha ha! However, unlike most folks in the ministry, I pretty much know when the stress is too high in my life because my body has given me my own personal stress detector. If I have the ability to sit, stand, or walk without twitching like crazy then I know that my stress level is manageable. The way I keep my stress level down it by keeping Thursday as a veg out day. So far, the plan has seemed to work.

So, what’s on today’s agenda, you ask? Well, it’s going to be mostly a laundry day with a little bathroom cleaning thrown in. Now, aren’t you glad you asked? :-)

Until next time!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Toni Times is back!!!

During my life, my parents have been Pastors, Missionaries, and Evangelists for the Church of the Nazarene. So suffice it to say that we moved a lot growing up. In order to keep in touch with all my friends across the country, I used to write letters. Yep, you read that right. Real letters. Used a stamp and everything. :-)

After college, I decided it would be easier to send out a newsletter. I used to send it out every month and I called it "The Toni Times". As the years went by, the "Toni Times" sort of dwindled away.

However, I missed making it. So, I've decided to begin it again in a blog version. So, if you are curious about the things that are going on in my life, then this would be the place to find out. I'll post pics and stuff from time to time. This is just a place for random thoughts and funny, crazy, or normal happenings.

Since this is the first post, I'll give you a very brief synopsis of me at the moment. I'm the Pastor to Families with Children at the Jefferson City Church of the Nazarene. As part of my position, I also lead worship for the Sunday Evening services as well as the Youth Bible Study at the Ricker Memorial Church of the Nazarene. I love my job. I love Missouri. It's a beautiful place filled with wonderful people. And, I'm pretty much smack dab in the middle of the US. So that's pretty cool too. Biggest craziness in my life right now is trying to figure out a mystery illness that is bugging me. Good doctors are on it though and I'm confident that we will eventually figure it out. Till then, I press on. Lots to do!

I lived in Sacramento, CA for three years and I loved it there too. I've also lived in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Florida and those were pretty cool places too...except for Florida. It's HOT HOT HOT in Florida. :-) God is good and I've been blessed to make wonderful friends in all those places. This is my way of trying to stay in touch. So, if you're interested in following along, just feel free to do so.