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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Expect Good

The following is a post I wrote for my church's women's ministry page.  It references a sermon where the pastor called us to "Expect Good" as part of a series about "moving life forward".



An Encouragement to Expect Good.

Pastor Scott’s sermon from back in September keeps kicking around in my head. Expect Good.  Expect that God has good things for you in your life.  Expect that good things are yet to come.  Then in my reading plan I read these verses from 2 Corinthians in the Amplified version and I had to stop. God was speaking. And not only am I to expect good, I am to be certain that this expectation is “firmly grounded”.  (I include the surrounding verses as they are powerful).

Grace to you and peace [inner calm and spiritual well-being] from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, who comforts and encourages us in every trouble so that we will be able to comfort and encourage those who are in any kind of trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as Christ’s sufferings are ours in abundance [as they overflow to His followers], so also our comfort [our reassurance, our encouragement, our consolation] is abundant through Christ [it is truly more than enough to endure what we must]. But if we are troubled and distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted and encouraged, it is for your comfort, which works [in you] when you patiently endure the same sufferings which we [b]experience. And our [c]hope for you [our confident expectation of good for you] is firmly grounded [assured and unshaken], since we know that just as you share as partners in our sufferings, so also you share as partners in our comfort.

The idea of expecting good resonated with me.  I am an optimistic person.  But when science started to tell me that my days are very numbered I didn’t know how to reconcile being optimistically hopeful when science and statistics were telling me to prepare for the worst.

I battle fear on a regular basis.  It pops up and then disappears and then comes around with a new face.  I fear my cancer coming back and the loses that would involve: my hopes (even my newly remodeled hopes post-diagnosis), my passions (to write my heart out in hopes of sharing God’s love in this way), my desires (to grow old with my husband and to raise my children and see their children enter this world).  I know that giving in to the fear will only steal this day, today, that I have right in front of me. So I fight the fear hard.

The past couple weeks fear has taken new shape.  I’ve been reading a book called, Unashamed by Christine Caine.  In this book she discusses overcoming shame through the power of God.  As I was reading one story stood out.  The author references the story in 2 Kings 6&7 where 4 lepers sit at the city gate begging for food amidst a massive famine.  They are outcast and downcast; but, are given clarity to their situation:

Now four men who were [b]lepers were at the entrance of the [city’s] gate; and they said to one another, “Why should we sit here until we die? If we say, ‘We will enter the city’—then the famine is in the city and we will die there; and if we sit still here, we will also die. So now come, let us go over to the camp of the Arameans (Syrians). If they let us live, we will live; and if they kill us, we will only die.”

On the other side of the gate God has already gone before them and spooked the Armeans out of their camp leaving food and abundantly good resources for these 4 lepers.  The author here asks us to consider what gate we are sitting at that we need to get up from and walk through.

Think about it.  What gate are you habitually sitting at?  What gate are you at that may have treasure on the other side if you are boldly willing to go to the other side?  What gate do you need to be bold enough to actually go through?

Not a second lapsed and the Holy Spirit said to me, “You need to walk through the gate of trusting me for healing.”

Bam! This smacked me in the face. 

My response was, “Okay, God I hear you.  I trust you to heal me.”
As I unpacked what this meant I realized that I was actually not so much disbelieving God’s power to heal me; rather, I was scared of being made a fool.  I feared that if I asserted my faith in God to heal me that if the cancer comes back I would be made a fool. 

But God has called me to be all in.  He has called me to expect good, the goodness He desires for my life.  As I see it now I am sitting at a very clear gate.  I can either sit here and wait to die.  Or I can be bold and risk being called a fool and I walk through the gate of trusting God to heal me.  I choose to walk through the gate of FAITH.  I choose to walk through the gate of EXPECTING GOOD in ALL areas of my life.  ALL of them.  Even the impossible ones.  Even if it appears foolish to many. 

Interestingly, I browsed a secular book recommended to me by a fellow glioblastoma survivor.   This book’s audience is cancer survivors and it notes the improved outcomes of those who have “positive expectations” about their disease.  Sound familiar?      

Expect good.
Be bold to walk through the gate.

I’ll admit here that I hesitated to post this before my MRI results which I’ll get next week.  (The enemy tries to knock me down by making me feel foolish to expect good MRI results).  But in an act of faith I post this because my faith has been bolstered to always expect good things from my good God.

I invite you to pray with me to this end.  I also invite you to share what gates you stand at so we can pray together with you for the boldness to walk through them.


Be bold women of God. God has good things for us.



Thursday, October 26, 2017

october 26 2017

I continue to petition you to pray for me.  As I do so I will share this:

This is what is kicking around in my head today.  It’s not concise; but it is real- real life.  I feel compelled to champion being an open-book kinda human – sharing my unedited story, inviting you to do the same. 

An insight into my life:  Today I started getting flashing in my right periphery vision.  This happened pre-op.  It stopped me in my tracks this morning.  It is an acute symptom.  Pause.  Call Ryan. No answer.  Call mom.  No answer.  I lay down and breathed, citing “Be still and know that I am God.”    I was angry.  Angry that I had just arrived to have my “retreat day”.   Angry that I have to go through this.  Angry that my life is riddled with the caveats of incurable cancer. Ryan called back, my mom called back.  We had a plan: Call oncologist.  Left message.  Ryan left to come join me.  Silence. Relative calm, but the desperate “No, no, no!!!” ran through my mind.  I have too much to complete yet, I can’t die yet- I want to write my story, write a novel. More than that, I want to be there for my kids!  Today is my twins’ second birthday.  ( I want to celebrate many more birthdays with them)

I am not ready to die, cancer I’m not ready to succumb.  So here I shout out: “Nuts to that (death, tumor)!”  Oh Satan you have no hold of my brain!!! Scram Satan. Get your hands off of me.  God heal me.  I’ve been weary this past week, near worn out with sick kids and the like.  It’s a hard life.  My emotional life is so topsy-turvy.  Faith is not my gifting.  I’ve learned it this past year.  I sought God and I asked for faith.  It took 1 year of pressing into Him to have some semblance of faith.  Faith that I know no matter what it will be okay.  Faith that God will be with me no matter what. Faith that truly what matters is being one with God.  Faith to know that my ENTIRE purpose is to serve and praise God, whether in this life or the next.  (Whether I live or I die, its all to the glory of God).

And now I see it.  On the drive up to “the ranch” where I retreat God spoke to me.  He spoke that He was there with me.  He was in the passenger seat with me.  That He would always be right beside me.  Right beside me. ALWAYS.

Sometimes, admittedly, that doesn’t seem to be enough.  The bible tells me not to cling to my life or I will lose it.  How hard it is to fully release my life.  Even now, I have God’s work to do and I cling to that.  How much irony is in that?!  Oh how I cling to MY LIFE.

Yesterday in my visit for our church to one of the seniors home, I met a man who shared something spectacular.  He had a near death experience.  He saw God.  God was the brightest light imaginable and amazingly you could look at the light even though it was so bright.  God told him to go back and tell people about Him and His love for them.  Isn’t that what it’s all about? Telling people about God’s love.

I renewed my passport this fall.  This is a simple task.  But we have a choice now: 5 year or 10 year.  Pause.  I’m not supposed to live even 5 years.  These are things other people don’t need to think about.  I chose the 10 year passport.

I spoke with my dearest friend this morning.  She called out that this could be a spiritual attack.  “You’re a force to be reckoned with.” She said, “The enemy knows it.”  So, all the more I rally your prayers.  I am considering fasting for the purpose of prayer for healing and God’s presence.  I just read Esther, she fasted with her people for 3 days before petitioning the King for her people’s lives.  I’ve never fasted, but I think I shall set aside solid food for taking time to petition God for my life, for my ministry I have yet to do here on earth.  Join me if you are compelled. 

And I am compelled to again remind you to look for deeply at the people around you.  So many people have a story lurking heavy and deep beneath the surface.  Last week, with sick kids (hence lack of sleep) and the heaviness of 2 people with brain cancer dying and the underlying fatigue I face as “brain injury”, I was barely coping.  Thank God my Mom was here and that my Mother in Law is a big help in our lives (What would we do with out moms?......I don’t want my kids to have to answer that question).  What I am getting at is often people need to be asked “How are you?” with actually wanting to hear the answer.  People want to be seen.  They need to be heard.  They need God’s love.  God’s love flows through us, people. WE ARE THE CONDUITS OF GOD’S LOVE.   I am very admittedly still learning this, but I want to learn it in parallel to you.  I want to hear your stories.

I’ve wrestled with my faith and belief system lately.  I’ve looked square at what I believe and acknowledged, “What I believe is crazy!!!!”  God became man, died for our sins and rose again to life, went back to live in heaven.  If we believe this we get our impure heart forgiven and not only that we get access to be with God--- on earth through him living in us via the Holy Spirit and when we die in the direct presence of his glory in heaven.  This is far-fetched and crazy.  Think about it!  I have been.  “How can I really believe this?”  Well, my friends, if you unravel the gospel message, it is the ONLY one that can properly deal with all the uncertainties and emotions and struggles I face with this cancer diagnosis.  So I will take the crazy at face value.  Jesus was kinda a crazy guy.  Strike that, he was crazy.  He loved like crazy.   He turned norms on their heads.  His teaching was strikingly wise and profound.  He didn’t care what people thought or expected.  He talked to women.  He took time for children.  He was God.  Do you realize how incredible the message and Good News of the Gospel is?  It is spectacular.  And as I was processing the “How can I believe this?” I read in Romans, Paul explains that God purposefully chose an unconventional way of sharing His Love and Good News.  Ordinary and Main-stream just doesn’t work for something so extraordinary. 

I invite you today to think about these things.  Most of us will overtly stare death in the face one day and inevitably we will all die.  These are pertinent matters to think about.  Give Jesus some more thought.  I truly believe, as crazy as the faith he calls us to is, that he is THE answer.  The only way not to lose our lives while we’re still living.


I’m far from perfect.  My faith is weak.  But I believe.  I am all in for Jesus.  God is good, all the time He is good.     



Update

Update: My symptoms have subsided (I feel 'normal') and I just spoke with my oncologists nurse. My oncologist is NOT alarmed by this flashing vision. Next MRI as scheduled, mid November. We'll prayfully await those results.❤️

PRAYER NEEDED

PRAYER NEEDED. I have just had vision flashing like I did preop. This isn't good.  Please rally your prayers

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

My Vegas Vacation

   Ryan and I are in Las Vegas celebrating our (belated) 15 year anniversary and my 1 year survivor anniversary.  We flew in Monday (Oct 2/17).
    I awoke Monday morning and had a message from my friend asking if we were ok, she thought we were in Vegas already.  I checked Vegas news. I started shaking. This devastating shooting happened from the hotel (Mandalay Bay) we were to be staying at that night.  I couldn't believe what I was seeing.  We wouldn't have been at the concert, but news reports since make it clear that if we had arrived 1 day earlier that Sunday night for us would have been frightening chaos.  We would have likely been in our hotel room at the time of the shooting where we would have been frantically evacuated by police (required to leave our belongings).  I was shaken enough just hearing this news.  I am grateful to not have had to go through the turmoil.
    Last minute at the airport we were able to book into a new hotel and are relaxing in "Paris" and it is lovely. In my gratitude for being able to still enjoy my vacation my heart weighs heavy.  The devastation to so many lives is saddening.  My humanity aches for the families of those lost. The darkness of this act is pitch black.
    ‎I revisit the reality that our days are numbered.  But most of all  ‎I cling to the Light of God to blot out this darkness.  I am overcome with the belief that only the light of God can heal such devastation.  Only the light of God can bring the Hope that's needed in such hopelessness.
    ‎
    ‎ My God is good.  All the time He is good.



  ‎

Friday, September 22, 2017

Cancer and waterslides

I've decided I need to rip a page out of my daughter's playbook. With no lead-in tonight at bedtime she asked, "what do they do if a kid gets cancer?" In our house we know the value of facing truth sensitively, but head-on. So, I told her that treatment is often more limited for kids. "Does cancer hurt, mom?" She asked. I told her that I have never had any pain from my cancer, but that her Grandma (my mom) had alot of pain from the damage her cancer did to her bones. I assured her there are medicine to lessen any pain and that we have really good cancer doctors.

no pause just the next statement that came from her lips: " I really like going to the waterslides. It's fun isn't it mom?"

Yes, it is; life is full of fun and full of not-fun, my dear sweet child.

The simplicity of a 5 year old's words were just what I needed tonight.  I snuggled her as much as she allowed and kissed that beautiful head more than usual and let her stay up late to lengthen the moment.  She had no idea what news I had just heard; but, her presence helped cut through the heaviness that a brain cancer contact I had made upon diagnosis just got big (tumor size), bad (inoperable tumor location) news.  This is my real life folks. There's no hiding it and at times like this it gets frightening.

So I turn on Lauren Daigle, "trust in you" and remember that there's cancer in my life, in my head in fact; but there is A BIG mighty powerful and faithful God who holds it all steady. Steady, so I can get to dreaming with my daughter about June when the waterslides open again.


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Remembering to remember

We want comfort.  We idolize easy street and when we hit bumps in the road all we want is to get back to the smooth.  But I've come to see: life is a  a collection of bumps and detours. What really shapes us is not the picture perfect that we post on social media. What shapes us is the junk.  I feel like my past year has 'pressure-cooked' learning and growth for me. And when I reflect on that aspect of this past year it's mind blowing (for lack of eloquence)! Verses tell us to consider it joy when trials happen. why? Read these verses in Romans 5:3-5.

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us --- they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengths our confident expectation of salvation. And this expectation will not disappoint us. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love."

These verses describe my life! Would I ever have chosen cancer? No. Do I think God gave me cancer? No. But being ripped from comfort, thrown into stormy waves, many beautiful things surfaced.  I met my Jesus anew, I fell in love with my husband all over again, humanity showed her beautiful compassion to me. These are things that can not be taken from me.  This reflects 1 cor 13:13 "there are three things that will ENDURE -- faith, hope and love - and the greatest of these is love!"

Jesus's love for us wasn't picturesque. No, it was gruesome. Similarly, I've come to see that life's beautiful in an ugly and uncomfortable way. This began to happen when I  let Jesus's love take center stage. 1 Cor began to have more meaning when I needed a love that endures all things (vs 7). I desperately needed Jesus's love as my life was exploding.  There were many weeks this past year that I clung- desperately clung- to the image of Peter walking on water. The part where he started sinking and freaking out.  The part where he is reminded to just keep his eyes on Jesus.  Those desperate weeks I felt like peter- sinking.  The waves threatened mightily to overtake me, so I just kept looking to Jesus so I could do the impossible- get through the storm that all but engulfed me.

I battled hard for joy, courage, strength, hope, and faith.  Jesus said, "if you seek me you will find me if you seek me with your whole heart". So I sought Jesus with my whole heart. And I surrounded myself with an army of Believers.

Now, the Storm has lulled and I feel like maybe we are catching our breaths.  Yet, I am reminded to keep actively remembering God's FAITHFULNESS . Just as the Israelites were continuously told to remember and commemorate the faithfulness of God I hear God reminding me of the same.

You see as life is calming down I've starting thinking about things like what will my kids wear for their birthdays, for Halloween costumes, for family photos. These are all good things- but I must remember they are not the main point.  Not the main point at all! (I'm reminded of the phrase- let's keep the main thing the main thing)   You see life just got really real again in our peripheral life. In the wake of this I see it clearly again: I may not get costumes organized for Halloween or birthday party planned all pinteresty. And that is just fine. That is absolutely fine; because that stuff really doesn't matter. What matters is being actually present to celebrate.  Praise God I get to see my twins turn 2!  Praise God I get to celebrate my 1 year survivor anniversary! I never want to forget this lesson of what REALLY matters! I am frightened of how easily I felt myself starting to forget.  It shocks me that the "norm" around me so easily begins to draw me in.  I am appalled that I forget my days to spend with my precious children are limited.  Though these days are a smattering of teeth-gritting, tired-exhaustion, frustrating, heart-warming, awe-filling, proud-momma, marraige-straining, marraige-building they are the richest most treasured blessings. And I want to live actively present in this blessing, because I've got alot to celebrate!  But make no mistake, this is a choice, an active choice.

In this house, we choose to rejoice in the Lord as long as today is called today!

Because that IS the main thing.

Forgive me God for so easily forgetting.

Thank you God for being faithful.

Our God is good! ALL THE TIME HE IS GOOD!

Will you join me?

I invite you to recalibrate your compass with me. I'm striving to ensure I'm not being guided by comfort; but rather that Jesus is my true North.

 I invite you to keep your eyes on Jesus through the storms of life.

I invite you to continuously reflect on and remember what God has done for you through salvation and what He continues to do throughout your own life story.

I invite you to rejoice everyday for God is Good, all the time!