Thursday, July 29, 2010

She Dreams

I’ve been staring at my blank computer screen for hours. Days really.

In just a few hours I will board a plane that will take me one step closer to a dream. When I land I will be in a place I’ve only seen before in my dreams.

I am going with great expectations. I am going scared.

This weekend I will be attending a conference called She Speaks. I know God will meet with me there. He’s made it clear it’s where He would have me this weekend.

And yet, I am scared.

Tomorrow I will get all dressed up in structured clothes and cute pointy-toed shoes to tell my story. I will be giving two talks this weekend. I have one all ready to go. For the other all I have is a blank computer screen and an open heart.

For some reason I’m having trouble putting my story into words. The tears started last night just after midnight and haven’t stopped yet.

I have but one prayer.

Lord, don’t waste this on me. Don’t let me waste this.

You see, as much as I want to know Him, I want to make Him known. I want my life to be a blessing to others. I want it to count.

I feel pressure to be uniquely me in this three-minute talk. I’m just still not sure who me is. After all this time and all the promises God’s so gently placed within my heart, I still can’t figure it out. I feel lost, twelve-years-old. Again.

If you’re like me, you get this feeling. It’s something I’ve wanted for so long and yet, I’m still not quite sure what to do with it! I feel the dream is within my grasp… I pray I don’t let it slip away. If you’ve ever felt this way, please share!

And if you’re going to She Speaks, look for me. I’ll be the girl whipping flip flops out of her purse when no one is looking.

I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand Isaiah 51:16

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Joyful Expectancy

It seems all I’ve done since January 18 is wait. I waited for the results of a biopsy. I waited for a complete diagnosis. I waited for a treatment plan. I waited for an appointment with a specialist. I waited for my insurance to approve surgery. I waited for my insurance to change. I waited for treatment to be completed. I waited for clear scans. I wait to find out if they will remain clear. I wait.

I have so desperately wanted relief from the wait, relief from the uncertainty, relief from the feeling that I’ve been holding my breath forever.

While I was running I was simply pouring my heart out to the Lord when He spoke.

Lisa, what is it you're really waiting for?

Lord, I want relief.


Okay, Lord, please tell me what I'm really waiting for.

Lisa, you are not waiting to get over cancer; you are waiting to come home.

The created world itself can hardly wait for what's coming next…God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Romans 8:20

So then I pondered.

What it is I really want. What is it I’m really waiting for. Could the impatience I feel in life possibly be a misplaced longing to be with God?

I thought I wanted relief. I thought I wanted the end of this cancer thing. As I thought about that, the thought occurred to me that I had lived my whole life like this.

At one time I couldn’t wait to graduate from high school and go to college. Then I couldn’t wait to get married, buy a house and have children. I couldn’t wait until my children were potty-trained, slept through the night and through with the ear infection stage. I can’t wait until my husband can retire, we have the time to travel and I get to hold my grandchildren.


The type of waiting I’ve done is simply the type of waiting that makes a hard situation end. The reality is that each end brings about a new beginning.

I couldn’t hardly stand the wait until my first child was born; however, relief was the furthest thing from my mind when I held her for the first time. As soon as my eyes locked with her clear baby blues and jet-black hair, my heart was gripped with the fear I wouldn’t be able to protect her from this big, bad world.

So it is with cancer, relief was the furthest thing from my mind as I got the report of clear scans, spots unchanged. As the doctor explained I am his only breast patient to not receive chemo, I was gripped with the fear this cancer will come back.

This is why I wait. Yes, I wait for the Lord to lead me day by day; but also I wait for the day the Lord comes back for me. True and complete relief will not come until true and complete redemption comes. Redemption will come when Jesus stands up on the clouds and declares to my enemies, cancer included, that I am His and no one and nothing else can even touch me.

I have been disillusioned I am not waiting for the day cancer is cured I am waiting for the day Jesus calls me to my true home. That is day the struggle ends. That is the day relief comes in the purest of forms. Until that day, I will wait. Expectantly.

These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy. Romans 8:23

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Sigh of Relief

Give me relief from my distress…

This cry is found in Psalm 4. My prayer since I was diagnosed with cancer goes something like this, “Please give me relief, God.”

After each step along this journey, I look for a feeling of relief. I want to let out a great big sigh of relief. I want to stop holding my breath.

After a diagnosis of cancer, a feeling settled over me. It took me months to recognize it and figure it out. It is a stress like none other. It’s a crazy fear, a cumbersome underlying worry that threatens to squeeze the life out of me on certain occasions. It’s not always visible, but it’s always there. It’s a heaviness that lurks just under the surface of my days.

As I visited doctor after doctor, I kept waiting to feel it lift. I kept listening to hear someone say the sarcoma would be treated and I’d be well again eventually. I wanted to place my security somewhere. I wanted that feeling I used to have when I never really gave a second thought to the fact that I was walking and talking and breathing and living well.

I thought I would feel relief when I saw my pathology report and received a treatment plan. The pathology was a long time in coming and held more questions than answers. There is no protocol for treatment. A treatment plan was slow in coming. Relief never manifested.
So I sought out specialists’ opinions. I wanted their words to bring me relief from the uncertainty of sarcoma.

I wanted to feel relieved after my first visit at MD Anderson but I couldn’t because my insurance wouldn’t approve the surgery I needed to have. I reasoned that when the insurance battle was over, I’d feel relief and could move forward in the fight against cancer. I fought that battle fiercely and passionately because I wanted the sigh of relief when it was over. Instead I got the nerves you get before major surgery. The surgeon’s words didn’t calm my nerves and relief never came.

After surgery and a report of clear margins, I expected it to lift. I thought when I finally saw a sarcoma oncologist it would lift and I’d be able to breathe again. I really expected to feel all light and celebratory when I left that appointment. I left bawling. I left scared I couldn’t be fixed. I left with a keen realization the only security I would truly ever have in life would be the hope found in God’s promises. Yet, I still wanted relief to come from a doctor’s words.

You’d think I’d learn.

I expected to feel better after radiation. I wanted to feel like I was doing something to fight the cancer. I wanted to feel like I was taking measures to keep it away. Instead I felt like I was putting myself at risk for a million other disorders including another sarcoma. Radiation can cause some pretty bad things. Again, I faced a stark reminder that there is no relief from cancer. It will be with me for life. Regular scans, close monitoring, great faith. I looked forward to the proof clear scans would bring and the closure that hearing a doctor report it to me would bring.

You’d think I’d learn.

I wanted to be all relieved that my scans would certainly be clear and I could put some of this behind me. But there’s just something about sitting in a room full of people, mostly bald people, hooked up to iv’s waiting for scans. There’s this feeling I get in that room that reminds me of cancer. It reminds me of what could so easily be, what could so easily have been, but what was not. This time.

I left last night feeling incredibly grateful and incredibly overwhelmed with uneasiness. Thursday night it was late when I left. I saw lots of suffering. I saw lots of victory too. I was tired. The tests had taken a toll on my body physically.

As I lay in bed shedding tears of release and exhaustion and yes, fear, I asked God to make my sleep sweet. I begged Him for peace that would defy my emotions because I have learned that relief from the emotions of cancer is elusive. Cancer just changes things. I thanked God that although cancer had changed things, He never changes. And, I fell asleep looking forward to hearing Dr. Ravi jubilantly deliver good news. In my mind's eye he reported my great news complete with a fist pump and hug. Good news that would surely help me move forward, relieved to have cancer behind me once and for all.

You’d think I’d learn.

When I finally saw the doctor, he told me it was okay to be cautiously optimistic. He told me that chemo wasn’t completely off the table and it was too soon to jubilantly fist pump but it was okay to celebrate today. Things are good today and that is very good.

I got a crazy good reality check. The doctor told me I was his only breast sarcoma patient not to receive chemo. Scary but I see it as God’s protection. He told me he’d never seen a breast sarcoma less than ten centimeters. Mine was three. Incredible and I see it as God’s provision. Early detection allowed me to receive a less harmful treatment. Dr. Ravi reminded me that it’s sarcoma. It’s aggressive. I’m one of the lucky ones. I think that’s because I have “half the world” as someone put it praying for me.

I left slightly disappointed that the relief didn’t come today. Maybe I’ll always leave with that feeling. I see that tense feeling as God’s way of reminding me to be thankful for the gift of each morning I wake, each breath I take, each hour I live. And, I am thankful.

I’m thankful that the scriptures are clear. Relief can certainly be found through prayer to a faithful God. And the scriptures are clear, only God's words can bring relief.

Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer…I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:1 & 8 

Friday, July 23, 2010

Quick Update

We are finally home from MD Anderson... We got good news today. The doctor says there appears to be no change in my scans. This is good news and we are thanking God for His diving protection.

Please pray tonight...
"I will lie down and sleep in peace,
       for you alone, O LORD,
       make me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8

Visiting MD Anderson always opens the floodgates to a whole host of emotions. I credit my good news to the prayers of God's people to a God who hears and answers and who is good all the time. I will tell you of my own miracles later, the doctor said I am one. Thanks to you all for your encouraging posts yesterday and today... They lifted me high.

Good night, ya'll.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

No Matter What

I'll be leaving shortly for my check-ups. The phrase that keeps running through my mind and the phrase our pastor used on Sunday with our fiery furnace guys as an example was a challenge for us to have a "no matter what" faith.

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, "Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn't, it wouldn't make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn't serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up." Daniel 3:16-18

This is the song I'm singing this morning as I go.

This post is part of Sandy's series 30 Days of Hearing God.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Scan Time

I am tired, sisters, real tired. The exhausted, I can’t see straight or lift my hands anymore type tired. I’ve had some long days lately. I’ve got some more long days this week. And next.

Last night I called off all evening activities and tried to get to bed at a decent hour. It was wonderful to be home, fixing dinner at 6:00 instead of 8:00. I think I was out of the kitchen before nine and that was a treat!

This week’s lesson has been coming to terms with the fact that I just finished cancer treatment and I’m not fully recovered. The main effect of radiation is fatigue and sometimes it can hang on for a few (or many) months following treatment.

When I get to bed early, I’m great. But when I have long days that melt into late nights, I am sidelined for a few days. The sidelines aren’t my favorite place to be. I prefer the action of the game.

Trying to make “healthy” choices and reworking my thought process on why a person needs rest has been tough. By nature, I’m a pusher. I just keep pushing forward. Even at a detriment to my body. That’s not always good.

I’ve been telling my husband that maybe the scans, tests and doctor’s appointment I have at MD Anderson tomorrow and Friday are making me a little anxious. I mean, they don’t consume my head space but when I think or talk about it I get butterflies in the pit of my stomach. So just maybe that has something to do with the fact I haven’t been sleeping much or operating very coherently the last week or so.

Anyway, would you join in us in prayer for clean scans and a good report?  Let's expect great things together!

May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! Romans 15:13

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Hairy Issues

I’m getting my hair done tomorrow and that makes a southern girl smile. And, speaking of hair I’ve been thinking lots about it. Again.

The first days of thinking about my hair faded into not really having to think much about my hair. Because I still had it and it didn’t go anywhere even though I went through cancer treatment. Did you get that? I still have hair. My hair.

When I first wrote this post, my friend Amber pointed me to this verse.

“And isn’t long hair a woman’s glory?” 1 Corinthians 11:15

She said maybe if this is true then when I lost my hair, I could just trade it for God’s glory.

Isn’t that an awesome way to think of a terrible thing? I heart my friends.

So when I didn’t lose my hair, I told God I still wanted His glory in all of this. This, meaning cancer and my whole life in general. He so gently whispered to my heart.

Silly girl, you don’t have to lose anything to behold my glory. It’s yours for the taking.

The thing is I don’t always take God’s glory. I sometimes put it down to take up my glory. Sometimes the glory I choose is to simply to get all wrapped up in a good hair day. Yeah, me I like compliments. And if you’re like me, you do too. Admit it. It feels good to hear how cute we look. Again, that makes a southern girl smile.

So I began to ask God to help me rise to the challenge of pointing people to His glory on good hair days and on bad hair days. My life is full of both kinds. More of the latter lately. Just put it this way, I’ve been wearing a hat for the last few days and I still have my hair.

I mean, I knew I could give God glory on the bad hair days. I knew I could give Him glory when we were in the thick of it. When we were battling cancer and insurance and time, everybody was watching. I’m good like that. When people are watching, I tend to stay really focused. I tend to handle big things really well. It’s the little stuff that gets me. It’s the living in a new city where nobody knows my name… or my history.

It’s living in the mundane. I don’t want the mundane to be like it used to be. I don’t want to take it for granted ever again. I want to be thankful and full of joy when I wake up each day. I want to find joy in peanut butter sandwiches and jelly kisses. I want to be thankful when I brush my hair, no matter if it's a bad hair day. I want my brush with this deadly disease to matter.

Sunday, God reminded me of this.

“Then the high officers, officials, governors, and advisers crowded around them and saw that the fire had not touched them. Not a hair on their heads was singed, and their clothing was not scorched. They didn’t even smell of smoke!” Daniel 3:27

He reminded me that He saved my hair. He reminded me of the first time He simply said my name. He reminded me that He will not let me keep silent. He will give me opportunities to share of His glorious grace. Grace that saved much more than my hair, grace that saved my life.

"Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more..." Luke 12:7

This post is part of Sandy's series 30 Days of Hearing God.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rescue Me

This morning at church, the sermon reminded me of The Great Rescue.

He encouraged us to have a "no matter what" faith and used this verse.

If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” Daniel 3:17-18

It became one of my favorites when I did the Daniel Study during the time of my cancer diagnosis.

He invited us to examine our faith and tie knots in any loopholes that were allowing compromise.

And, then God gave me a strong yet gentle reminder of His grace. It was deeply personal and I will pondering it for awhile. When I can put it all into words, I'll share.

Happy Sunday ya'll.

This post is part of Sandy's series 30 Days of Hearing God.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sometimes You Hear and Sometimes...

Driving down the road, I hear the phone inside my purse ring. Trying to stay focused on the road, I don't answer it. It rings again and again and again.

I finally ask my daughter to dig for it and answer it. It's my husband asking where we are. I answer, exactly where we're supposed to be, almost at your office. He replies that my daughter was supposed to be there thirty minutes ago.


That's not what I heard. I heard him say it would work beautifully into my schedule to drop her off on my way to church. I was dropping her off on my way to church.

He heard me say I was leaving at 5:10. I decided to leave at 5:50. The class they were taking together started at 5:30 which works perfectly with a 5:10 departing time from the house. I changed my schedule because there is less traffic at 5:50 and it takes me less time to get to the church.

Needless to say, we had a communication bumble. He and my daughter were late. I hadn't heard all that he'd told me. We decided then and there I needed all the details of a particular commitment instead of just a couple. Has this ever happened to you? You mess up because of something you didn't know or notice.

I was reading the Bible this morning with this mentality. I was asking God to fill in the gaps. I don't want to miss anything because I didn't hear.

For example, why did Jesus tell John to care for his mother? The scriptures say after Jesus died, Mary moved in with John and lived with him. Mary had other sons. I'm really curious.

And, Nicodemus who only visited Jesus at night before his death, now visited the cross in broad daylight. I want Nic's report. I want to hear him state the obvious.

I'm also left pondering the cross, the way my sweet and perfect Jesus died and what I would've done had I been one of the women kneeling at the cross.

This morning I don't have answers. I am left with questions. Things to ponder. Ways to think about what I've read this morning.

How about you? Do you ever think about the whys or the other angles of the historical events reported in the Bible? Any ideas of your own from your reading today?

Let's ask God to turn our eyes upon Him today and open our ears to hear His voice.

This post is part of Sandy's series 30 Days of Hearing God.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wonky Thoughts

My head is all wonky.  That’s the only way to describe the racing of my mind right now.

You see, I’ve been on this journey with the Lord for a couple of weeks where all He’s been doing is showing me where my thought life is responsible for luring me into a life of compromise. Take this for example, I bake a pan of brownies. I intend to eat only one. I cut one, lick the knife, gather the stray crumbs and eat. When I’m finished, I reason that I’ll just eat a sliver more and before I know it, I’ve eaten six brownies a fraction at a time. This is, of course, followed by feelings of guilt, shame and failure. So, I just eat a couple more since the damage has been done.

Sound all too familiar?

The Lord has taken this basic principle and turned my life upside down in the last two weeks.

Take example number two.We just had a conference call about how to prepare for She Speaks. I entered the call feeling excited, prepared and ready. I left the call feeling ill prepared, inexperienced and overwhelmed. Because I know the ladies at Proverbs 31 meant for this call to be uplifting and encouraging, I asked the Lord to change my thoughts.

He led me to be thankful for a group of women who care enough to instruct me so I can arrive well equipped for success. He led me to humbly submit to the leadership of those with more experience in a shared calling and in ministry. He basically told me I had a choice. I choose to learn and grow. I am accepting their challenge.

Take yesterday’s example. I attended a seminar that was quite honestly maybe the most valuable business seminar I’ve ever attended. And I’ve been to some good ones. In a nutshell, it was about thinking. The presenter taught how to give an entertaining and powerful presentation if we would just think differently. I will introduce you to him and tell you more as I process all of this but God is really taking my thinking to a new and different place.

This morning I have just been thanking Him for caring enough about me to take my mushy brain and nurture it into a fruitful place. I’ve been overwhelmed at His goodness to me in this area. He is so good. And His way isn’t wonky. It works.

“I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree. For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think…So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them. So you’ll go out in joy, you’ll be led into a whole and complete life…No more thistles, but giant sequoias… Monuments to me, to God, living and lasting evidence of God.” Isaiah 55:8 -9  &11-13 The Message 

This post is part of Sandy's series 30 Days of Hearing God.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Prayer

Today as I sat before the Lord, I really didn't have anything. I am feeling rather tired and stretched a little as today will be a very long day. I am attending a workshop at my husband's office. It should be fun. It's on increasing our memory skills. My husband said I definitely need it!

Then I will pick up my sweet Hunter and drive to MD Anderson for our group. I want this to be a fun time as it will be just the two of us.

I opened my Bible to John 17. It's worth reading or rather, soaking in. As you read, think of Jesus himself speaking the words over you. Here Jesus prays for all of those who will come to know Him for all time. That means Jesus is not only up in heaven somewhere praying for me but he prayed for me while he was on earth. That thought strengthened me.

Then I thought about how just like I'm praying fervently for my children while they are away from me, Jesus is up in heaven somewhere, my true and future home, praying for me now. Until we are reunited. That thought gives me enough strength to tackle today. And all it's mountains.

Sandy's post from yesterday is a really good word about climbing mountains too.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Moving Mountains

This morning was a little crazy.

My girls left for camp today.

We had VBS before camp.

We were a bit disorganized getting camp into the car before VBS this morning and getting camp to the church. We had tears over things lost/left that didn't quite make it to the car. You know, precious things one can't survive a week of camp without. Things like a functioning water bottle that looks really cool, a wallet to hold spending money that looks really cool and a hairbrush that is a certain cool color.

These certain issues of coolness made enjoyment seem impossible to two terribly excited little girls. I graciously informed them that they had a mountain to climb. They could choose to take a step at a time until they suddenly found themselves so immersed in the climb that they were actually enjoying it without giving a second thought to the forgotten items. Or they could choose to receive less than the full camp experience and think only of what was lost.

Each agreed they could probably make the best of it.

We had joyous and loud laughter at the prospect of a few days with new friends. At summer camp! We had a bit of anxiousness over the "new" part in the previous sentence. As in new, yet to be made friends.

Once again I informed them that any nervousness or silly feelings that would stop them from asking someone's name or if they could play, talk, sit or bunk with the new, barely known friends were feelings that were not meant to rule us. They could choose to take the first hard steps of introducing themselves to others until they forgot that they didn't know very many people when they first got in the bus. Or they could receive less than the full camp experience and think of only what was not.

When I walked back in my door late this afternoon, I realized I have some choices to make too. I need to take the first hard step of tackling some of my own mighty mountains. Mountains named laundry, dishes and papers.

Will you pray for the sweet group of children who go to camp to have fun, make friends and meet Jesus? That's what I spent my devotion this morning doing and will continue to do without ceasing all week. I am praying that God would move mountains to get to each child's heart in a personal way.  You know the song? "Jesus, He can move the mountains, He is mighty to save. Mighty to save. Jesus, Author of Salvation, He rose and conquered the grave. Conquered the grave."

The mountains take one look at God
   And melt, melt like wax before earth's Lord.
The heavens announce that he'll set everything right,
   And everyone will see it happen—glorious! Psalm 97:5-6

This post is part of Sandy's series 30 Days of Hearing God.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Suffering Scale

In my immature, selfish and faulty thinking, I’ve always seen suffering as scale. The suffer-a-meter. On one side is a little bowl that holds suffering and bad stuff that happens to us and on the other side is a bowl of the same size that holds blessing and all the good stuff in our lives. It is a precarious balancing act for the scale to perfectly measure a balanced life. Yet, so many days I find myself checking it hundreds of times to see if the scale is tilted at all.

My parents divorced. Tilt. But, they both remarried people who happen to be a couple of my best friends. Balance.

I never made cheerleader. Not in fifth grade or any other year. Tilt. But, some of my best friends were made on the drill team. Balance.

When I was part of a single-parent family, money was really tight. We were poor. Tilt. My mom remarried and we had to move away from the only home we’d ever known and all our friends. Tilt. But, my mom remarried. Balance. And, our needs were always provided for. Balance.

We had to move away from our home in College Station, our church and our friends. Tilt. But, we get to make new friends, live near family, enjoy the lake and my husband loves his new job. Balance.

I was diagnosed with cancer. Big tilt. But, I’m done with treatment and hopeful it won’t come back. Precariously balance.

Does anybody else think like this? I almost breathed a sigh of relief when I found out I had cancer because, in some sort of weird way I was sure that meant I’d been dealt my horrible suffering for this life card and once I got through it, life would be all rosy again. I mean, I know that’s faulted but my brain is a strange and scary place sometimes.

Because I know this is a lie, I began to ask God to let me view suffering in light of His truth.

I discovered that the Apostle Paul refers to suffering as a fellowship he wants to share with Jesus. Some of the definitions at are companionship, the state of being an associate, a company of equals or friends and the foundation of providing of provision.

In light of these definitions, I think I’d like to share companionship, become an equal and have the foundation of Christ’s provision in my life. What about you?

This week these truths have been pressed into my heart with a fiery branding iron it seems. There are so many who can’t say their scale is precariously balancing. There are many whose suffering side is so weighted to the ground, it seems like it would take lots to get back to balance. At least to me.

I have a bloggy friend who has gone through something that I consider would weight one side of my scale to the ground forever. And, way too many of my friends have gone through it too. She buried her child. On top of the loss of her only child, she has walked with her husband through medical trials.

Now, don’t get me wrong. She enjoys life. She has interests and friends and most importantly she loves Jesus. She’s been one of my biggest cheerleaders, sharing bloggy love with me regularly. She lives as one with hope.

That’s why when she found out she had breast cancer she just saw another mountain to climb. She saw a climbable, traversable mountain, another surprise in the game of life.

I, however, saw unnecessary, overwhelming hardship to someone who has quite frankly suffered enough already.

Upon hearing her diagnosis, my heart went straight to the whys of it all. Once again I had to take my thoughts captive and run straight to the Lord. Many gut-wrenching prayers have been said for my friend this week. I find myself alternating between tears and sighs. I honestly don’t have words to pray for my sweet friend.

So today I’m asking you to pray for my sweet bloggy friend. Would you pray sweetness would fall into her blessing bowl as she begins walking on cancer’s dark road? I know some of you in bloggy land have a story similar to hers. Would you go meet Jan today? She needs her sisters.

Even though the closest I’ve come to answering the whys is that we simply live as foreigners in a fallen world where a battle for our very souls is ongoing, I can continue to put on the truth of Christ instead of letting the whys take me to a full-blown pity party. I can remember that I want to share companionship with Jesus, become His equal in grace through my Abba’s spirit of adoption and have the foundation for Christ’s provision in my life. Simply put, I’m willing to belong to the fellowship of the suffering in order to know Him more.

One thing He has shown me about suffering is that He will use it as a fragrant offering if we will let Him.

He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too… I gave up all that inferior stuff so I could know Christ personally, experience his resurrection power, be a partner in his suffering, and go all the way with him to death itself. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 & Philippians 3:10 The Message

Lord, I’ll go all the way with you. All the way to death no matter how the scales fall. Amen.

This post is part of Sandy's series 30 Days of Hearing God.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Stepping Again and Again

This summer I’m participating in a group doing this Bible study. Today’s homework was so rich!

The Lord has me thinking lots about who I am, how I think, what motivates me… for real and my unique calling. Part of my homework for She Speaks is to give a public introduction of myself and to tell my story.

John 14 spoke volumes to me as I lingered there this weekend. My heart began to race and the adrenalin shot I needed to start my morning came when I decided to linger on the truth that melted my heart this weekend again.

Remember how I love to read in different translations of the Bible? Sometimes God can reveal a new truth from something you’ve known your whole life. I memorized this verse in college but when I read The Message, I got pumped up all over again.

That's my parting gift to you. Peace. I don't leave you the way you're used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don't be upset. Don't be distraught. John 14:27

The morning jolt came when I next opened my Bible study book and the first verse on the page was John 14: 27. I love it when God wants to make sure I really get something. Then these other passages were there too just speaking to the same old insecurities.

I am reminded this morning that, “Perfect love casts out all fear.” (1 John 4:18) That is the fear of rejection by others, the fear of abandonment by those who are supposed to care for me and the fear of failure even though I try my absolute hardest.

I am learning a valuable lesson right now. If I stay focused on Perfect Love, I can press on making one more successful choice rather than if I think in terms of the mountain of successful choices victory would cost. Sometimes I can’t run 26 miles (or even five) but I can take one step. Again and again and again.

So today, take a step as you focus on His perfect love for you.

These are some of the places my heart and mind will be as I step today (all from The Message):
"If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God,
      "I'll get you out of any trouble.
   I'll give you the best of care
      if you'll only get to know and trust me.
   Call me and I'll answer, be at your side in bad times;
      I'll rescue you, then throw you a party.
   I'll give you a long life,
      give you a long drink of salvation!" Psalm 91:14-16

For even if the mountains walk away
   and the hills fall to pieces,
My love won't walk away from you,
   my covenant commitment of peace won't fall apart."
   The God who has compassion on you says so. Isaiah 54:10

God is striding ahead of you. He's right there with you. He won't let you down; he won't leave you. Don't be intimidated. Don't worry." Deuteronomy 31:8

Then I said to myself, “Oh, He even sees me in the dark! At night I’m immersed in the light!” … Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you! Psalm 139: 11 & 19

This post is part of Sandy's series 30 Days of Hearing God.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

For Your Worshiping Pleasure

I woke up with this Psalm lingering in my head. I approach my day with it lingering in my heart. 

Lord, may we worship you with thankful and full hearts today. All day. Even in the rushing of getting to Sunday service on time, may we approach one another and You with gladness in our voices and heart. Amen

On your feet now—applaud God! Bring a gift of laughter, 
      sing yourselves into his presence. 

  Know this: God is God, and God, God. 
      He made us; we didn't make him. 
      We're his people, his well-tended sheep. 

  Enter with the password: "Thank you!" 
      Make yourselves at home, talking praise. 
      Thank him. Worship him. 

  For God is sheer beauty, 
      all-generous in love, 
      loyal always and ever.

This post is part of Sandy's series 30 Days of Hearing God.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The B Team

As an eighteen-year-old college co-ed, I was disillusioned with life and people and most importantly, I was disillusioned with God. The Christian life had failed me. I had come to college and decided to find my own way. God had constantly let me down.

I grew up in the church excited about Jesus and His promises. At the tender age of six, I asked Jesus in my heart. I knew I would be in heaven with Him one day and I told all my friends about it. I even got in trouble a few months later in kindergarten for talking about my faith too much. Using words like heaven, hell, only, always and forever always sparks controversy no matter what age.

But just a few months after Jesus and I became intimately acquainted, my daddy left our home. My parents announced they would be divorcing. My world collapsed and with it my precious little girl heart broke into a million jagged pieces.

I reasoned that if God loved me, He would send my daddy home. My daddy never came back to our home and in my faulty little girl thinking I lost the hope found in God’s perfect love.

It was obvious to me that God didn’t care about me quite as much as His more “special” girls and I began living my life of second best. I never doubted my salvation and I knew that God still loved me, just not quite as much as everybody else. I was second rate to Him, a bench warmer, a B team player.

The eighteen-year-old college girl was tired of living on the B string. Disillusioned with rules I couldn’t follow well enough, promises that rang hollow in my heart and all the grown up worldly knowledge I could muster, I stepped outside of God’s promises with two feet. Now I had played dangerously close to the line and even poked a toe outside of His best but never had I decided to walk a different direction. As a freshman in college, I did.

After only a few short months, I knew this wasn’t working either. The world was just as hollow as God said it was. I felt like a total failure. I wasn’t a good Christian but I could never fully walk away from the truths that were buried deep in my heart. I decided I was destined to live a miserable existence.

Then I was invited to be a counselor at youth camp. Our church had just gotten a new youth pastor. He really understood me for some reason. He and his wife encouraged me like no one else I’d ever met. Just to be around them a little bit more, I said yes.

I sat in my bedroom in the wee hours of the morning the weekend before we were to leave. I told God this, “I’ll give You one week. If you are who You say You are change me. Use me and change me. I am available to You.”

I don’t know if that’s the end of the story of just the beginning but needless to say, I’ve never been the same again. The verse God used that week to show He could and would change things in me is found in John 14:14

From now on, whatever you request along the lines of who I am and what I am doing, I'll do it. That's how the Father will be seen for who he is in the Son. I mean it. Whatever you request in this way, I'll do.

I found it interesting as I read today that later on in the same chapter, Jesus addresses the very fear that was holding me back in my relationship with Him. Being abandoned by my father. (Now for the record, my dad continued to be involved in my life and I saw him regularly but these are the impressions left on a young girl’s heart.)

This is how The Message puts it.

I'm leaving you well and whole. That's my parting gift to you. Peace. I don't leave you the way you're used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don't be upset. Don't be distraught. John 14:27

That’s a message this lonely little girl’s heart never gets tired of hearing. My Father will never leave me.

“be content with what you have, because God has said, 
   "Never will I leave you; 
      never will I forsake you." Hebrews 13:5

This post is part of Sandy's series 30 Days of Hearing God.

This morning I spent a majority of my time praying for Sarah. We are traveling to see her and Brian get married today. They are so special to us and we are excited. Sarah is an amazing servant. She thinks through things before acting and serves with her whole heart. My prayer is that she will enter into marriage the same way she has everything else in her life, with passion, gusto, inquisitively with a desire to learn and with a giant heart to serve. I can’t wait to watch this family grow in love for each other and the Lord. The Smith’s love you Mr. and Mrs. Langhoff!! She has blessed us so much with her coordination of the prayer wall and her design of the Pray for Lisa magnets. Please take a second to pray a blessing for her on this special day and go bless her.

Happy weekend ya'll!

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Cool Factor

How do you measure your coolness? I have a coolness factor. It works something like this: I say something funny. How many laugh? I wear a cute outfit. How many notice? I walk in a room. How many say hi? I need a place to sit.  How many invites? When the laughs, compliments and scooches over don’t come, I feel totally uncool. I feel like the new girl who spent many lunch periods her sophomore year hiding in a stall in the girls’ bathroom. Again.

When you are in a room full of people, what causes you to feel insecure? What are feelings that make your lack of coolness and popularity feel like the same old constant companion it was in your teen years?

Mine. Rejection. Failure.

Even in a room full of churchgoers, God’s girls, I hear my heart begging me to stop moving, stop talking… What if they find out what type of wife/mom/homemaker/housekeeper I really am? What if they don’t but then my silly words or clumsy actions give me away? For some reason, I just feel like I never quite fit in. Worrying about how I’m dressed, why I didn’t dress up more or what I look like or act like or really just excuses to give in to those same old fears. Excuses to settle for less than what God has for His people.

You see I really love people. I love to get to know them. I love to be around them. Especially women. But the enemy would love for me to just stop that and stay disconnected, lonely and insecure. That’s not how God’s called us to live. He’s called us to live in community, sharing our personalities with each other, encouraging one another because He knows we need that. We can’t walk through this life solo. Loneliness is hard.

Maybe I’m just struggling with all these crazy feelings because I’m the new girl on the block right now. Or maybe if I’m honest with myself, I can admit that even in my community of those who’ve poured out their love and acceptance of me when I was less than loving, I still felt a little (or a lot) insecure. I still feared that I would fail at doing the “right” thing and I still feared that they would reject me for being totally uncool.

This morning, I read as I read these words, I asked God to reprogram my brain and my heart helping me to choose to let Him protect me from those fears, those wrongs, those compromises because my fears will disappoint me every.single.time. When the big ole social fear comes, I want to remember that, “Love covers a multitude of wrongs.” I want to be able to reach outside, way outside my comfort zone because I have a Father who will never reject me, never count my failures, always help me to be successful and always protect my ever-fragile heart.

“It is good for me to be near you. I choose you as my protector…” Psalm 73:28

This post is part of Sandy's series 30 Days of Hearing God.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

My Ole Restless Heart

This post is part of Sandy's series 30 Days of Hearing God.

I’m frazzled, restless. I’m familiar with this old feeling. I don’t like it much. I feel like a bad country song. Remember the one about the fast moving train? That describes this ole heart of mine. Can’t get focused, stay focused or decide what it really wants.

This morning I’m frustrated but not really sure why and I’m irritated with myself because I didn’t get up when my alarm went off. Instead I chose to snuggle deeper into a warm, soft bed until the ticking clock forced me up to round up the kids and rush them out the door to VBS. That refrain is all too familiar in my life. I love my sleep.

I don’t like the basic facts, what this says about me. You see, when I get down on a deep gut-honest level with God, I want to want to meet with Him first thing much more than I want to snuggle a few more minutes in a warm, soft bed dealing with my racing, pounding heart and my ever-growing daily list. But, I don’t.

Once they’re off, I decide to put some things in proper perspective and spend time in God’s Word. I’m so jumpy this morning, I don’t even know quite where to start. I decide to open my Bible to where I left off in John. Before I begin reading, I bow my head to pray.

Lord, help me to say yes today.

That’s it. My one simple request, my goal for this day is to recognize His leading and follow without reservation.

As I read my mind drifts back to my unwillingness to get out of bed. Again. I’m not sure if there are any lingering effects of the radiation but I know me. That would just be a convenient excuse to stay wrapped up in night’s warmth. I’m a slow starter. Always have been. Mornings are hard. Always have been. It’s an area I’ve asked God to help me conquer over and over again. I will do so well for a while and then back to rolling over and turning off the alarm. I want to kick this bad habit once and for all. After all, I have a million lovely reasons, or at least four, to jumpstart my morning each and every day.

There it is.

“In the same way, anyone who holds to life just as it is destroys life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.” John 12:5

The extra hour in bed snuggling in a warm little ball isn’t eternally worth it. I want to love Jesus so recklessly, I will deny my tired fleshly body what many would say it deserved, after radiation treatment and all, an extra hour after I’m already awake in bed.

Lord, I will get up to meet with You. My own desire isn’t enough. In Your strength only can I do this. I confess how much I need You.

I want God’s best in every area of my life, no matter what it looks like. That’s what I want. No compromise. That’s why I’m choosing to get up with my alarm this week. I want to be ready to say yes. Ya’ll hold me accountable, ok?

How will you follow His lead this week? What will you choose to do?

“If any of you want to serve me, then follow me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moment’s notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.” John 12:26