Friday, March 26, 2010

Good News!!!

I'm still a bit "under the influence" but just want you to know that we received a call from Dr. Herline this afternoon to tell us there was no cancer in any of my lymph nodes. My cancer is stage 2 which means NO CHEMO!!!

God is good!! Thank you SO MUCH for your prayers!!

Supernatural answers:
Two church members were nurses one in pre-op and one in recovery
Had no nausea at all (while at the hospital)
Left way sooner than anticipated
The man who wheeled me out seranaded Mikel, me and my mother with old hymns all the way from my room to the curb where Tom waited, the ones I remember singing with him were "The B I B L E" "At the Cross" "Trust and Obey" and I know a few others...only God would give me a hymn sing on the way to the car.

You and your prayers have meant more to me than I will most likely ever be able to communicate in words. (and that's a lot since I enjoy communicating with words)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Living for the Greater Good

I don't like cancer. My colon is sick, and you don't even want to know what that is like. I don't like surgery--it's scary. Being put to sleep does not appeal to me. What will they do to me while I'm sleeping? Will they talk about those stretch marks that my 9 pound 12 ounce baby tattoed on me some 16 years ago? What if I wake up too soon and they don't know it? Or, what if I don't wake up at all?

Cancer stinks.

But when Dr. Caudill told me I had it I had a choice to make. I could choose to make God small and decide that cancer was bad for me or I could choose to watch to see how God will take cancer and transform it into my GREATER GOOD.

I choose to wait and watch for God's GREATER GOOD.

Too often we cling so tenaciously to our limited understanding of what is "good" that we demand God to give us what we think is good and in so doing we forfeit what He knows is best.

Cancer stinks but thus far God's used it for some really great things.

I'm the prayer minister at TSC. And for years I've dreamt of our congregation experiencing corporate prayer together. I know that where 2 or more are gathered God is in our midst, but when 1000 are gathered 998 others get in on the experience!

My cancer brought 1000 people to TSC on Sunday night March 7 for the most powerful corporate worship and prayer service we've ever experienced. The March 7 service was originally scheduled for January 31, but we had to postpone it due to snow. I was aggravated at God for doing this and wondering why on earth He wouldn't let us have our gathering on the date we'd scheduled (and marketed for). Little did I know that He was rescheduling for my good and His glory.

1000 people experiencing God in prayer (while the rest of the world sits at home watching the Oscars) is certainly the GREATER GOOD.

When the Christ followers in the Vanderbilt Endoscopic Clinic chose to be bold with their faith and pray with Tom and me before my procedure--God brought to us His GREATER GOOD. There are simply some things about God you will not know unless you meet him in the prep area of the Vandy endoscopic clinic.

Our family has not cooked a meal since March 1 but we've eaten better than we have in years. My son TJ assures me that these meals are the GREATER GOOD!

Many people have promised me they are praying. I have people praying for me from Africa to Mexico, from Las Vegas to Florida, and just about everywhere in between. Some of them have chosen to fast when they pray (for the very first time), and all for me. Anything that draws people to the Throne of Grace and stretches them to exercise spiritual discipline is the GREATER GOOD!

It's a no-brainer for me. Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
And if Jesus allows cancer in me then I am confident He will use it for my GREATER GOOD and His GREATER GLORY.

You want to know Dr. Caudill's dangerous prayer he shared with me?

"Lord, teach me what I need to be taught; take me where I need to be taken; and use me in the way I need to be used."

It's a prayer for the GREATER GOOD.

P.S. This will be my last pre-operative post. Tuesday, March 23 Dr. Alan Herline will be taking the cancer out of my colon. I cherish your prayers for him, for Tom, for my children and for me. We will post my status on our church's website (Tom doesn't know how to blog). The address is

Monday, March 15, 2010

God is moving mountains

One tendency I have on here is to be a bit too open with what really goes on in the lives of my children. Somehow they ALWAYS hear about what I say and I have to "cover" by assuring them that "no, I did not talk too personally about you." So, let me see if I can share with you how God is moving mountains without sharing too personally for the sake of my children.

If you are a mother you know what it is like to be "consummed" with prayers for your children. You know what it is like to hurt deeply when they hurt, to feel their dreams as if they were your own, and to wish to goodness that you knew then what you know now--also wishing that they would realize how much they need YOU to tell them what you know now!!

Well, I've had two specific mountain size prayers for two of my children. One has been prayed fervently for almost a year and the other has been prayed fervently for 4 years. Both these prayers depended on major break-throughs by God. I had done what I could do, and only God could impact the answers to my prayers. I have to confess that at times I was more disciplined in my fervency even adding fasting to some of my prayers. But right now I have not even had the energy to keep up with them. In fact, the moment I heard "you have cancer" God told me to let go of one of my children. He clearly said that He would take care of her/him and that I didn't have to. I was incredibly impressed with how much faith each of them has demonstrated in the past two weeks since we got our news.

And since March 1 when I was diagnosed with cancer both my fervent, mountain size prayers have been answered! I mean mountain-moving answers!! I so wish I could give you the exact details...but, I can't. Just suffice it to say that when I say God is moving mountains...they are Colorado kind of mountains, not the middle TN foothills.

I had a PET Scan today in an old building off Murphy Avenue. It was a sentimental journey. For 20 years ago I went to Murphy Ave each month for infertility treatment. As I sat still waiting on the radioactive glucose to make its way through my body I was reminded of the day I also sat still after artificial insemination. I thought about how different this journey is from that one. Instead of asking for new life to come into my body, I am hoping to protect and preserve the only life I have.

And I couldn't help but reflect on how faithful God has been to me through the years. He let my body conceive and birth life not once but 3 times and even now He's still watching over and intersecting those lives in ways that I can't. Surely the God who holds the world together can take care of cancer in me--and move mountains for my children.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

And lo, I am with you always

God found me today at Vanderbilt. Had I not arrived an hour early He might have lost me in the crowd! But nevertheless, He let me know again today that He is waiting for me in the "belly" of this thing.

You've just got to hear how He's been waiting for me every step of the way. Two weeks ago I finally got up the nerve to call Dr. Caudill's office. You see I knew I was having a problem, but I thought I could fix it with yogurt--you know the activia with "bifidus regularis"--sounded medicinal to me! But Tom kept encouraging me to call his friend Max. (Max Caudill, now one of my favorite doctors in all the world.) Tom and Max grew up together, been knowing each other since the 5th grade.

Now isn't that nice? Tell me, all you women out there reading my blog, is that the doctor you would want to call for a problem like the one I was having?! NOT!!!! So I looked in the directory of Williamson County medical professionals and decided Max was the kindest looking (that is a subjective opinion, I'm sure the others are great), took a deep breath and called Tom's friends' office. This is how it went...

"Good morning, Dr. Caudill's office, this is Ruby." (I can't write it southern saturated with sweet tea...but just imagine because that's how she did it.)
"Hello, Ruby, this is Leighann McCoy."
"Well, hello, Leighann, how are you today?" (still sweet tea, deep south overtop friendly).
Before I answered I smiled and thought, "they sure are friendly at Max's office." When it dawned on me that I might know Ruby!
"Is this Ruby Barnhill?"
"Yes, it is!"
"Oh, my goodness, Ruby. I'm SO glad it's you..." After which I told her more than she probably wanted to know about the reason I was calling.

When Tom and I came to Thompson Station we went door knocking on the first Saturday we were in town. At the first house we met a mean woman who told us she knew where to find us if she ever wanted a church (which she apparently did not!). At the very next house we met Sweet Tea Ruby Barnhill and her wonderful husband and son. Not long after that her husband was the first person to pray to receive Christ in our ministry at TSC. This was 21 years ago.

What are the odds of me needing this exact kind of doctor, of him being Tom's childhood friend and of RUBY being his receptionist???? I would venture to say they are greater than .2% of the population!

But that was just the stepping on place. Since my cancer has been diagnosed, Dr. Caudill gave me a "dangerous prayer" on his prescription pad (I'll blog about that sometime later); he prayed with us, my surgeon is a believer, and even in the "cancer mill" at Vanderbilt hospital, today

Rosemary (member of our church) met me in my little cubicle thrilled that we ended up in her world, Melanie asked if she could pray with me (both she and Rosie prayed with us), Dr. Sumner whom I'd never laid eyes on before today (the one performing the ultrasound) shared with us that he too was a believer and praying for me (then he held mine and Tom's hand while Tom prayed for us both), AND Dr. Herline (my surgeon) all ministered to Tom and me as if we were mere patients and they were our pastors!!

Now, how can I be bummed about cancer when God is showing off so beautifully!!! I'm in for the show, I don't want to miss one minute of this. What a tremendous privilege to be loved so sweetly by the CREATOR of the Universe. To think of all the other things going on in the world, and He found me in suite 1649 at Vanderbilt Hospital today.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Different Journey

I thought I was going to Africa. The last week of January Tom and I fasted Sunday through Sunday asking God to prepare our hearts and minds for all that He had for us in 2010. We were thinking mostly about our church, our children and our "chores." On the 2nd day of that fast I sensed God call me to go with Sumer to Ethiopia. I laughed about it every time I mentioned it! God confirmed that call when I heard Sumer's story and saw the pictures of the "children in the dump."

I've been reading Hudson Taylor's biography this year (it's long) and two weeks ago knelt by our bed and said to Tom, "I don't think we really 'get it.'" I was referring to the TOTAL SURRENDER to God's heart for His world that I saw in the missionaries who served China in the mid 1800's. They challenged me! God was speaking strongly to me about complete surrender. He knew something I didn't know, and was graciously preparing me for the news.

Monday, March 1 I discoverd that God was taking me on a different journey. Instead of going to Ethiopia on March 24, I'm going to Vanderbilt Hospital on March 23 to have colon cancer removed from my body. I never, in my wildest imagination dreamt I would experience cancer. When other people "got it" I assumed they had poor genes, or that they ate too many twinkies. My children are fussing at me. They are convinced that eating healthy has caused this cancer. I saw a poster that told me I'm in .2% of the population who "gets" colon cancer before the age of 50. (Lucky me.)

This is not the trip I signed up for. I told someone yesterday that I felt like I was being inducted into a sorority I never wanted to join. It's like all the other "cancer people" have adjusted to their situation and are eating and drinking and even laughing at times with one another and I'm frantically looking for an open window I can crawl through to escape. It's not fun.

But already God has been so incredibly REAL to me. I'm not even going to try to explain or describe it to you. You'll see when you get your turn to "dance with disaster." (Tom preached on that just a few Sundays ago!) Those of you who have already "danced" know exactly what I'm talking about.

Many people have marveled at my faith and some have encouraged me that I don't have to be strong all the time. (Believe me, I'm not.) But when Dr. Caudill put his arm around me and said, "you've got cancer" my mortality forced me to take notice. I cried, I looked at Tom's face and pleaded for it to not be so, but when we got in the car I took a deep breath and realized death isn't the enemy I thought it was. From deep within me I knew (in my KNOWER) that Jesus took care of death for me a long time ago on a cruel Roman cross.

Guess what the name of the Hudson Taylor biography is, "It's not Death to Die."

And it's not. Since Monday, March 1 we've discovered I'm not dying afterall, at least not now. Seems I just might live another 40 or 50 years. I do have quite the ordeal to endure. But I'm going to look at it this way; God has invited me on a journey. A sweet and precious invitation to put everything I've ever taught to the test. It's like lab work in my college biology class. Either what I've been teaching is true or it's not.

I've trusted God since I was 11 years old. He's never let me down--not ever. Now is certainly NOT the time to stop doing what's been working for me. I asked Him what He wanted of me when we were talking on Tuesday morning. Very clearly He said, "Leighann, I want you to trust Me. I want you to depend on Me. And, I want you to be obedient." It was a great relief to hear this command. I responded, "Lord, I can do that! I know how to do that." You see, I've been doing that for years--He's not asking anything more of me now than He ever has before.

Thank you for being interested enough to keep up with my journey. I'm not going to bog this site down with medical details. To tell you the truth I don't really want you to know the specifics of what I'm having to go through with my "innards!" But if you want to come visit here and see what God is teaching me I'm going to try to keep that flowing.

Thank you so much for your prayers and your expressions of love. I am humbled that God has so richly blessed Tom and me with incredible ministries filled with friends across the globe. We love you dearly and are sustained by your love in return.