Wednesday, April 16, 2014

even when it hurts

[Not only is all your affliction momentary, not only is all your affliction light in comparison to eternity and the glory there. But all of it is totally meaningful. Every millisecond of your pain, from the fallen nature or fallen man, every millisecond of your misery in the path of obedience is producing a peculiar glory you will get because of that.

I don’t care if it was cancer or criticism. I don’t care if it was slander or sickness. It wasn’t meaningless. It’s doing something! It’s not meaningless. Of course you can’t see what it’s doing. Don’t look to what is seen.

When your mom dies, when your kid dies, when you’ve got cancer at 40, when a car careens into the sidewalk and takes her out, don’t say, “That’s meaningless!” It’s not. It’s working for you an eternal weight of glory.

Therefore, therefore, do not lose heart. But take these truths and day by day focus on them. Preach them to yourself every morning. Get alone with God and preach his word into your mind until your heart sings with confidence that you are new and cared for.- John Piper Do Not Lose Heart]

Last Tuesday, April 8, I took mom to an appt with her oncologist. She was one week out of her first chemo treatment and not feeling very well, but we thought that was typical chemo illness. However, her oncologist said we needed to see her kidney doctor to be sure that everything was running smoothly since she was retaining a lot of fluid. By God's providence, her kidney doctor was able to see her an hour later and we got some blood work done. They sent us home after the blood work saying they would call with the results, a few hours later, I got a call from them saying that I needed to get mom to the hospital because her creatinine was 4.1 (normal is 0.7-1.2) and they needed to get that under control right away. (A creatinine of 4.1 is technically considered kidney failure) At this point, we were in shock and didn't know what exactly was happening.

The doctor explained that it was hard for them to know the exact reasoning for her failing kidneys. One explanation could be a problem called tumor lysis syndrome where essentially too many cancer cells were killed from the chemo, that the kidneys get overloaded with toxins and dead cells and they stop working because the can't handle it. If her condition was caused from this, IV fluids would help and potential short term dialysis could be needed. However, the other explanation that they were considering was that this was caused by her light chain deposition disease ( a very very rare disease that can attack organs and cause failure). If that was the case, then the damage is irreversible and she could be on permanent dialysis.

Unfortunately, without doing a kidney biopsy, there is no way for them to know which of these caused this sudden kidney failure.

So, her doctor decided to start her on fluids and see how her body would respond. The first night, she went from 4.1 to 3.8, which was a good start. The night after, it went down to 3.4. Because of this, her doctor said we could put off dialysis longer, but the numbers needed to get below 3 soon. The next day they went down to 3.1 but then after that went back up to 3.4.

And that is where we are at today. Because her numbers did not get below 3 and it has been over a week, her doctor is afraid she has plateaued and he is fairly sure that her light chain disease has caused the problem. Because of this, he has advised that we start dialysis soon. There are a few tests that they need to run before they start but then they are going to get her on it as soon as they can. In the short term, it really will help her to feel better and filter out the toxins and extra fluid that have been hanging out in her body since she started the chemo. However, there is still a lot of unknown in this because it is unsure whether she will ever come off the dialysis once she starts.

(*of course, there is a lot more medically going on than just these numbers and this little I have shared but for those who do not understand the medical jargon, I thought this was the easiest way to explain what we know right now...if you'd like to know more, feel free to message me and I can try to explain it better! :)) )

We had a good talk as a family though and we know that God is in control. This is no surprise to Him. We want whatever is best for mom and keeps her feeling the best she can. We are excited to one day be able to see the "big picture", we trust that the Lord has a reason for this time of suffering, and we are excited for Him to get the glory through all of this. We are thankful for the incredible nurses and doctors that we have and we are ready to learn this new "normal" that our life will be.

Thank you to everyone who has prayed for mom and our family. We also wanted to thank everyone that has tangibly showed us love whether by visiting mom, flowers, food, rides, etc etc. We feel so so loved and couldn't ask for a better support system.

It seems like this will be a long journey so please continue to keep us in your prayers. Praise God that He has worked it out so that most of us are home to help and it is almost summer so my dad will have time off to be able to spend more time with mom.

Finally, I wanted to share the words to one of mom's favorite songs these last few months. We listened and sang this together the night before she started chemo. We sang this together as a worship to the Lord and I know it plays in her heart everyday.

I come, God, I come
I return to the Lord
The one who’s broken
The one who’s torn me apart
You strike down to bind me up
You say you do it all in love
That I might know you in your suffering
Though you slay me
Yet I will praise you
Though you take from me
I will bless your name
Though you ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need
My heart and flesh may fail
The earth below give way
But with my eyes, with my eyes I’ll see the Lord
Lifted high on that day
Behold, the Lamb that was slain
And I’ll know every tear was worth it all
Though you slay me
Yet I will praise you
Though you take from me
I will bless your name
Though you ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need
Though tonight I’m crying out
Let this cup pass from me now
You’re still more than I need
You’re enough for me
You’re enough for me
Though you slay me
Yet I will praise you
Though you take from me
I will bless your name
Though you ruin me
Still I will worship
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need
Sing a song to the one who’s all I need

Friday, March 28, 2014

Be Strong and Courageous

I wanted to be sure to update everyone on the new developments in my mom's cancer story.

Last year, my mom was diagnosed with Lymphoplasmacytic Lymphoma with light chain deposition disease. Those are really long words for a slow moving cancer of the blood. It is a very rare cancer and because it is slow moving, it is not an emergent situation but we need to get it taken care of before it attacks her organs. Essentially what is happening is that her body is producing too much protein and that is clogging up her organs reducing their ability to function correctly. After her first round of treatment last year (a very non toxic medication), a few of the infected lymph nodes decreased in size but generally the nodes stayed the same instead of getting better. Also, the protein production did not decrease.

Because of this, they have decided to do four months of actual chemotherapy to try to get rid of the rogue protein. If this round of chemo works, she should months, even years of relief from the rogue protein as well as her lymph nodes should reduce in size. Because this is cancer, this treatment is not a cure, however, it could give us a lot of time before we have to think about this again.

Obviously we wish that we didn't have to go through the next four months of chemo. But, we are so thankful that there is a lot of hope at the end of this valley we will be in. We have hope because we know this is not a surprise to God and He has a plan in all of this. It WILL be for our good and His glory no matter what and I am so thankful for that!

I have been reading in the Old Testament the last few months and God so perfectly worked out for me to read Deuteronomy and Joshua the last few weeks. The Lord chose Joshua to be the leader of Israel and to lead them in to the Promised Land. Before Moses died, he summoned Joshua and said to him, "BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS, for you shall go with this people into the land that the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it. IT IS THE LORD WHO GOES BEFORE YOU. He will be with you; HE WILL NOT LEAVE YOU OR FORSAKE YOU. Do NOT fear or be dismayed." (Deut. 31:7-8)

The minute I read these words, I knew I was supposed to read them for these next few months that we are going to be enduring as a family. We will continue to follow the Lord and we will be strong and courageous and He will be with us. He has promised that He has gone before us. He has conquered the grave through His Son and He will conquer the devil one day. I cannot wait for that day, but until then, we will remain faithful and we will cling to Him. I am so thankful for these promises and will cling to them in the weeks to come.

Please be praying that God will get the glory through this time and He will shine through our family. Pray for strength for my mom. We are thankful that when we are weak, then He is strong. She will need to rest in His strength these next few months. (How lucky she is to be able to cling to the strength of the Creator of the world in such a practical way these next few months!!)

Thank you for your support of my mom and our family. We are so blessed to have such an incredible support base and we don't take any of you for granted.

Love from the Bolanders! :))

Monday, February 24, 2014

When God Closes a Door...

If you had told me four weeks ago that I would be writing this post, I would have NEVER believed you. But, isn't that how our Savior works? When you give him your life with an open hand, He closes doors and then open news ones that you had no idea existed. 

Many years ago, I felt the Lord impress on my heart to reach the nations. My eyes were open to the need for the Lord around the world and I knew that the Lord wanted me to be an active part of it. I knew I was called to "GO". The Lord allowed me to go to South Africa and then to Ghana, West Africa. Again, my heart was opened and I knew I was where the Lord wanted me to be. I was able to not only use my nursing but share my love of the Lord to people who had never heard before. I was able to reach the unreached and there is nothing greater than that! 

My plan was to pursue overseas missions as soon as I completed nursing school. I had gone to Ghana with a missions agency called Pioneers whose mission is to "mobilize teams to glorify God among unreached peoples by initiating church-planting movements in partnership with local churches."  I loved their vision and I knew that I wanted to pursue going long term with them. However, the summer before my last semester of nursing school, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Crohn's disease.  For the time being, I am not able to pursue long term missions overseas because of potential complications related to Crohn's disease. This was the first big "door" the Lord shut on this journey. 

I felt very lost after the Lord shut the door to what I believed to be His will. I didn't understand why He would deny me the ability to serve Him in that way. I wrestled with Him for a while, but I finally surrendered to His leading and pursued opportunities for my life in the States.

I moved home with my parents and shared a room with my little sister. I searched for opportunities to serve others and I was able to become more involved in my home church. I was very happy where the Lord had me and I was getting excited about my potential life in Lafayette. So much so, that when a house went on the market across the street from my parents, we decided to look into buying it. The price was right and it seemed ideal, so we jumped at it. Unfortunately, we didn't get the house. This was the second big "door" the Lord had shut.

And again, I didn't understand what the Lord was doing. He shut the door for long term missions and now He was seemingly shutting the door for what I saw as a ministry in Lafayette. I was upset and confused but again, I eventually surrendered and entrusted my life to into my Saviors hands.

A few weeks after we didn't get the house, I graduated nursing school and then took my nursing boards. I spent weeks preparing and I was ready. The day leading up the test, I was calm and excited to get the test over with. However, as soon as I sat down to take the test I freaked and I psyched myself out. The test took me 5 1/2 hours and it was 265 questions long. My brain was fried at the end and I immediately felt as if I failed. And unfortunately, my intuition was correct. I did not pass my boards the first time. I was extremely close, but I did not pass. This was the third "door" that the Lord seemed to slam in my face.

As you can imagine, I was devastated. I felt like a failure and a completely incompetent nurse. I started listening to the lies that Satan was feeding me and I really struggled. I couldn't understand how the Lord could lead me so far and helped me throughout nursing school and then have me fail my test. Thank the Lord that in His lovingkindness, He brought me back to Himself and He showed me ONCE AGAIN the truth of His word.

It was then that my eyes were opened to the possibility of going into ministry and using my nursing knowledge to impact the Kingdom just not in the traditional "nursing" way. I emailed my friend from Pioneers to ask her to pray for me that the Lord would soften my heart towards whatever was coming next. And that He did. That email lead to a phone call, which lead to a few more emails, which lead to a few more phone calls, which lead to skype calls and more emails which ultimately lead to me saying a big "YES" to the Lord.

I was offered a position to join the mobilization team with Pioneers. Essentially, I will be joining a group of people who love the Lord and spend their lives connecting with people and mobilizing them to reach the nations (more information in the previous post).

So let's bring this full circle really fast. The Lord put missions on my heart years ago but for the time being He wants me to stay in the states. But before I was "on staterest" I was blessed with the opportunity to go to Ghana with Pioneers and develop a relationship with them. Then the Lord allowed me time with my family before eventually leading me back to Pioneers where I can still be actively involved in spreading the gospel to the unreached. HOW AWESOME IS OUR GOD?!?!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

God's Perfect Plan

Oh how I love living my life in service to my Savior. He never ceases to amaze me. The past few months He has been leading me on a journey that I never expected but I am so excited about.

After alot of prayer and phone calls and emails, I am so thrilled to announce that I have accepted a job to work as a recruitment coordinator for a mission agency called Pioneers.

Pioneers' mission is to mobilize teams to glorify God among unreached peoples by initiating church-planting movements in partnership with local churches.

They are "an evangelical mission movement with 2,593 international members serving on 248 church-planting teams in 95 countries among 180 people groups in 100 languages.

For more than 35 years, Pioneers' passion has been to see God glorified among those who are physically and spiritually isolated from the gospel of Jesus Christ—from Muslim bedouins in the deserts of North Africa and animist villagers in the jungles of South America to secular humanists in Eastern Europe and middle-class Buddhist urbanites in the sprawling cities of East Asia."*

I feel extremely humbled that the Lord would allow me to be a part of a team whose goal is to facilitate workers to reach the ripe harvest around the world.

I know that there will be a lot of questions so I have tried to think of a few to help clarify as best I can.

1. What exactly will you be doing as a "recruitment coordinator"?

The main part of my job is connecting with people who are eager to be involved in missions and help them to not only recognize their role in reaching the nations but then to facilitate them following through with that.

2. Since it is a faith based organization, how is your job funded?

I will have to raise 100% of my support for this position. As daunting as this may seem, I am excited to offer my friends and family the opportunity to partner with me in bring God's name to the nations.

3. Where is the job located?

As much as I wish the job allowed me to stay in Lafayette. I will be moving to Orlando, Fl to join the mobilization team at Pioneers home office.

4. What about your nursing degree?

For the time being, I will not be using my nursing skills. I pray that the Lord will use this as a time to heal and prepare to potentially be healthy enough to go overseas and use my nursing as a avenue to share the gospel. However, there is a potential that I will be able to use my nursing knowledge to help facilitate medical missions overseas.

5. When will you be moving?

As soon as I am 100% funded and I pass my Nursing Boards I will move South. :) I am hoping to be fully funded by August 1. But that is a goal date and by no means a permanent date.

6. How can I be praying for you and/or what can I do to help in this time?

I need PRAYER. I need the body of Christ to remember me in prayer as I raise support and transition to life away from home. I also will be needing supporters, emotionally and financially. In the weeks to come I will have more information as to specific prayer requests and specific financial needs. 

Thank you so much for your love and prayers for my life. I am really excited about this new opportunity that the Lord has literally laid in my lap and I look forward to seeing how He will continue to guide and lead me in the months to come.


Thursday, December 12, 2013


I cannot believe that after four and a half years of school, I am two days away from GRADUATION!! It has been quite the ride full of ups and downs but I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have met some of the greatest people in my time at nursing school. I was blessed to spend everyday for three full years with some of the coolest and most interesting girls (and a few boys) on the planet. I have learned so much from them and am starting to get a little upset that we won't get to see each other everyday from here on out. I love them all to death and wish the best for each and every one of them! The world of healthcare is lucky to have these 90+ graduates.

Our first picture together as a nursing class! 

 We were very productive students that first semester! 

 These girls were with me EVERY step of the way! 

 Clinical group our second semester! Love these girls! 

 Having fun in the Sim Lab Leigh?!

 Such awesome friendships were formed through these years!

My LAST clinical group!

Ugh, I don't know what I'm going to do without these FOUR! 

Our last week together as a nursing class!

I am beyond blessed and SO thankful to see what the future holds for ALL of us! Congratulations IU School of Nursing Class of December 2013! :)) 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

growing in grace.

Sometimes the Lord does things that we don't understand.

Too many times in the last few years, I have written out a plan for how I want my life to go. I have categorized it, and alphabetized it and planned down to the minute. Then I take the liberty of "delivering" it to God and hoping that He will take it into consideration.

None of the plans I have for myself are bad. They are actually really great. Full of adventure and serving the Lord, but that doesn't mean that that is what He desires for me to do with my life.

I read the following quote a few years ago on a blog of a woman that I aspire to be. I had no idea how much this quote would mean to me now as I am nearing the end of college and the beginning of "real life."

"Turns out, God rarely asks us to give up our dreams. He’s usually the one who gave them to us in the first place, so his plan is to use them. He just asks us to give up the limits and expectations and unnecessary timelines we add to our dreams. And he asks us to be brave enough to ask him for them, even after we might feel like they have died. Sometimes he says wait, sometimes he says ask for something bigger, and sometimes he says just do the next right thing." -Mandie Joy 

Whatever he says, his plan is so much better than mine.

The Lord did not ask me to give up my dreams when I realized I could no longer serve in Africa. He just shifted that dream a little. I know that one day I will still be able to love on children in need. I will be able to offer them a safe and loving home where the Bible is taught and God's grace and love are shown. I will be able to feed and clothe them and give them the attention they need and deserve. That is my passion and my greatest desire.  [More to come on this at a later time...]

It will be a fun adventure to see how the Lord will continue to change my dreams and plans and make them more like Him.

Now an update on my mom...

She is doing really well! She has completed her four rounds of "chemo" [it is technically chemotherapy but it is the kindest version of it...for that we are so thankful!] She will continue to be monitored and in about a year they will know for sure how well it worked and what the next steps will be.

We are so blessed and have clearly seen God works through hard times and changes us always to be more like Him. We have grown as a family and in God's love and peace. For that, we are thankful. Just so so thankful.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Once again, I sit here in awe of my Savior.

At the beginning of the summer, my mother and I started a new kind of trust journey together. Mine took the form of Crohn's disease. While my mom's was in the form of what we thought was cancer.

Since February, mom has been having some kidney problems along with a few other symptoms. After a lot of tests and some difficult appointments, her doctor suggested that we go see an oncologist about potential multiple myeloma. 

Multiple myeloma is a very rare cancer of the bone marrow and causes destruction of the bones and sometimes other organs. Based on the pathology, they thought for a while that mom had multiple myeloma. Of course, after hearing this, initially we were in a state of shock. In the past few months, mom has been feeling better than ever. She is on lasix and that has helped alot of her swelling go down and makes her feel alot better.

After our day or so of shock, we decided to go about this and make sure that God was glorified in our actions and attitudes. Mom did incredible. In everything, we did our best to look to the Lord and trust that He is in control. We learned to "extend grace" to all the nurses and doctors and to show God's love at all the appointments. When this journey started, Mom made a journal of all the cards, quotes, and verses she received from her friends. It is an incredible book and so encouraging to look through. Even though we didn't understand what God was doing or why this was happening, we knew God had us in His arms.

Fast forward to this morning. Mom had a big appointment with the multiple myeloma specialist in Indianapolis. We hoped to understand the exact diagnosis and prognosis at the end of the appointment. We figured he would say it was for sure cancer and extensive treatment.


At this point, it is NOT multiple myeloma!! Mom has been diagnosed with Light Chain Deposition Disease. That is a long name for a disease that causes her body to make too much of a specific protein. This protein is very sticky so when it gets in the bloodstream and is filtered by the kidneys, it clogs up the kidneys and causes decreased functioning. That is why her kidneys have been problematic recently. They have luckily, found this very early and should be able to treat it with 4 rounds of intensive medicine. They hope she could be in remission for a long while.

After today, we are completely SPEECHLESS. We honestly went into today with the worst in mind and we were ready for it. We are still prepared for other complications that may come about because of this disease. But for now, we are just so THANKFUL. God has been so good to us. We see Him so clearly in His grace for Mom and our whole family.

I want to say thank you for everyone who has been praying for us through this time. It has not been easy but we most definitely know and love our Savior more today than we did at the beginning of the summer. We also are so aware of taking every opportunity to show God's love and share Him with those around us, because life is short.


Emery is going to be a BIG SISTER and I'm going to be an AUNT AGAIN!! Beyond excited for my sister and brother in-law. 

I'd say all in all its been an incredible day.
God is good.
ALL the time.