“I cried out to you, O Lord. I begged the Lord for mercy, saying, “What will you gain if I die, if I sink into the grave? Can my dust praise you? Can it tell of your faithfulness Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me. Help me, O Lord.” Psalm 30:8-10
This has been my prayer since January 25 when I was diagnosed with cancer. Lord, can I tell of your goodness if I’m dead? Save me so that I might tell the world of your great love.
That’s it. I just keep reminding God who He is, what He’s done and what He called me to do long before cancer was a common word in my life. He called me to write of His good deeds in my life. He called me to speak of His redeeming mercy and great love. He called me to share my story.
For years I have asked Him to teach me how to do that. Last year, I finally felt Him moving me forward, felt Him ushering me down a clearer path. There aren’t many things I know about what He’s asking me to do. One thing I do know is that He wants me to attend a conference for Christian writers and speakers called She Speaks.
Each year Proverbs 31 Ministries sponsors this conference and each year they hold a scholarship contest to award some lucky ladies scholarships. Last year was the first year I heard about the scholarship. I entered. I was nervous. But I was obedient. I posted my writing with a hundred or so other nervous women. I didn’t win the scholarship. I was slightly disappointed but knew that I knew that I knew “next” year was the year. Not the year I’d necessarily win the contest but the year that I would go to She Speaks.
Next year is now this year. This year I got cancer. This year everything changed in an instant. Money is tight. Andrew and I agreed last year we would seriously consider me attending She Speaks. This year tuition money dwindled and finally disappeared as we went without a steady job for a few months, visited more doctors than we could ever imagine and paid for a surgery our insurance wouldn’t cover. She Speaks was slowly falling off my radar and I was so sad. My last hope would be the contest.
Contest day came and I posted my entry along with about two hundred other nervous women. This year was different. I knew I would win. I was nervous but confident. You know, there just aren’t that many instances in life when you think you’ve got it but for me, this was one. The winners were posted at 12:00 AM on Good Friday. My name wasn’t there. I cried. Alone in the dark that night, silly, little girl tears fell down my cheeks. Tears that made me feel like I did the day my name wasn’t on the list for fifth grade cheerleader.
I was so disappointed I didn’t win, my good news was overshadowed by discouragement’s dark cloud. I questioned God. I questioned myself. I reasoned God knew what my future held and maybe I wouldn’t physically be able to travel in July. I was still sad.
In the sadness, I realized something. Last year and all the previous years, I wanted to attend She Speaks because I know that this is the place God will show me what my next step is to be. I know He will reveal to me things about my book, my vision, my calling. But on Good Friday as I was driving down Highway 105 on my way home from MD Anderson Cancer Center, I realized I wanted to go this year for another reason too. I wanted to go because it was something to look forward to. The thought of boarding a plane and sitting in a place with others who share my passion excites me. Going to a place where God speaks makes me want to fight. Realizing this dream makes me want to endure treatment with grace and dignity and without giving in to the pain, fatigue or depression that cancer treatment brings. It makes me want to fight hard… and win!
As I shared that with Andrew, we decided then and there I needed to go. We committed to register and make She Speaks a reality for me. We decided as soon as our house sold I would register.
A few days later I received an email. It was a message from Renee Swope of Proverbs 31. She was calling to tell me that she had a scholarship to give away and she was giving it to me! I was stunned. I sat speechless on the phone as tears slipped down my cheeks.
God had heard me. I had heard God. He is allowing me to receive the training I need to preach His name and His message in the form of my story to the world. I am so excited I can hardly stand it! I have to pinch myself each time I think about it and I am grateful beyond words to this ministry and these ladies. God has surely brought the rest of Psalm 80 to pass in my life.“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever! “ Psalm 30:11-12