Thursday, December 17, 2015

One Year

What a difference a year makes! Only 8,760 hours.  This last year has felt more like a lifetime to me. A lifetime of learning and growing.

Exactly one year ago today, one of the hardest days of my life, I was headed to the hospital to have treatment for thyroid cancer.  I would need to be in isolation for 3 days.  I could only have 15 - 30 total minutes of contact a day.  So, the nurses bringing in my food and checking me with a Geiger counter (not kidding...) a few minutes each day would be all of the contact I had.  As we began to prepare for the isolation, Mark, (my husband) and I got the phone call that my big brother, Bob, - one of my heroes - had died, and I couldn't leave, but Mark had to go.  It was miserable but I was NEVER alone! I needed a hug but I knew that God was with me.  It was a hard time, a very hard time, but I'm not telling you this for your sympathy, I want to tell  the "why" of it all.

When I got out of the hospital I began counting how many people had been praying for me - I've forgotten the numbers but it was hundreds - some even out of the country - many I didn't know.  One gentleman I didn't know who worked at the hospital was even stopping to pray at my door each day as he passed by while working.  So humbling.  Unbeknownst to me, God was beginning a work in me that day.   I missed my big brother and family, I was sick and lonely, BUT GOD. . .

God began to teach me through my pain and grief.  He began to show me a strength that I never knew I had:  a strength and ability to lean in on Him for comfort, for encouragement, for my every need.   I began to see how small my trust in Him had actually been.  He began to gently lead me to deeper levels of trust and healing. Even though I knew some of these truths and had been taught them all of my life, I didn't really KNOW them.  God showed me He was big enough to hear me cry out to Him, "You hurt me!" without being disappointed in me or turning from me.  He showed me that He understood and wasn't leaving or changing.

God began to show me that He wanted me to begin asking bigger questions.  Rather than always asking "why?" He wanted me to begin asking "what do you want me to learn through this?", "how do you want me to respond in this situation?", "where were you, who are You to me during this season?" and "Where do I go from here?".  He has used this year - my time of having absolutely no energy - to give me opportunity to draw near to Him, to begin to know Him, to be still, to listen, to grow and to rest.  God didn't shy away from my questions, in fact I believe he delighted in them and rejoiced to be able to answer some of them for me.

I was taught that I had a choice.  I could either look at my problems and feel sorry for myself and seek sympathy or I could look at the size of my problem as being the measure of how big of an opportunity it is for God to work miracles and bring changes.  I learned that I have a voice and that I'm not invisible.  That my voice and my story need to be heard.  I know that other people have been through so much more, and even still my story of how God worked in my life can be an encouragement to others.  I can now do as others did for me.  I can say THIS is what God did for me THIS is what God taught me during this time of pain.  I can tell you that God is still in the miracle business and that if He can do this for me He can do the same and even greater things for you and through you.

So many have helped me this year.  People have prayed, called me, sent cards, driven me to Dr. visits, loved on my children, opened their homes for me, cooked for me, given to me, sponsored me to go to Bible conferences, taught me, coached me, listened to me complain, cried with me, encouraged me, - in short have loved me and given me room to grow.  So, thank you.  Thank you for your prayers and all of your encouragement.  It made a difference.

I still miss my brother, and I still have moments of regret, but I have been brought to the point of being able to say I am so thankful for this year.  For every moment of the hard times, for the pain as well as the joy.  I know I have a long ways to go and many more things to learn, but now I know that I have a purpose and a voice. More importantly, I have God walking right beside me teaching all along the way. He can do the same for you.

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Door

Jesus doesn't open up doors of opportunity for us, He IS The Door. We can go in and out freely and we WILL find pasture.

John 10:9Amplified Bible (AMP)

"I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Take me out to the ballgame

Tonight I was thinking on the subject of peace.

 The first time I was facing the possibility of cancer was several years ago when the Dr. thought I might have breast cancer.  (I didn't.)  I confess to you that while I waited for results of tests, I literally lived frozen in fear, unable to do much more than wait, sitting on my couch day after day jumping every time the phone rang, waiting for the call.   Fast forward to July 2014:  while I waited on results of  tesst to see if I had thyroid cancer (I did.) - I suspected the results would be positive and yet I was still able to function.  Why?  Because I thought that I had heard the Holy Spirit tell me, "cancer will not kill you."  Really?  That is supposed to be a comfort?  But, surprisingly, it was.  Did you know that one of the names for Holy Spirit is The Spirit of Truth? (see John 16:13)   He is nothing if not truthful!  Baby step by baby step I'm learning to truly trust. 

 Scripture tells us in Galatians 5:22 that the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of peace in our lives. But what does that really look like? Peace should not be determined by our circumstances. I can have bad health, live in poverty, have broken relationships, or even live in times of war and still have peace. Peace really is not an emotion either. I can be sad and still have peace! Even though I DEEPLY desire joy, health, a peaceful atmosphere and comfortable surroundings, I need to quit looking at my surroundings and look to God because true peace is allowing Holy Spirit to reign in my heart. It is knowing Him intimately and trusting Him no matter what the circumstances are. My peace is anchored in God.

A book I've been reading, The Holy Spirit, An Introduction points out that Colossians 3:15 tells us to let the peace which comes from Christ rule in our hearts. The amplified version actually says "And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts". So I looked it up on a nifty app on my phone (Blue Letter Bible). And the word "rule" in Greek is βραβεύω (brabeuō) and can actually mean to be an umpire. The author said to imagine being in a baseball game and behind you squats the Umpire of Peace (Holy Spirit) and each ball the pitcher throws at you is a decision that needs to be made. Then he asked "How important are the Umpire's calls?" (hint: they're pretty important....)

Now I know absolutely nothing about the game of baseball so I was asking my husband about it and said "you'd think that the comparison would be to the coach instead because the coach tells you what to do before the ball is ever thrown." But Mark reminded me that the coach is just guessing at what will happen as he's giving instructions.  The Umpire is actually IN THE GAME and the one in charge. He is making calls as the ball is being thrown. So taking the baseball comparison a step further, in a game it is the umpire's full decision on a call and if I argue with him I can be kicked out of the game. Without an umpire, the game could become total chaos. So I must fully rely on the Holy Spirit to guide my decisions, step by step, as the ball is coming toward me. I must  trust Him and obey Him in my circumstances, without argument, to be able to remain mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually calm and peaceful in the midst of this "game" called life. I don't know about you, but I'm thankful that God the Holy Spirit is in the game with me bringing peace.

 I have to admit I never dreamed I'd blog about baseball!

Peace be with you.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Some Pig!

When I hear the word humble, I can't help but think about Wilbur the pig in the book Charlotte's Web.  Charlotte the spider is trying to save Wilbur's life and begins spinning words in her web to show the world what a great pig Wilbur really is.  One of the words she uses to describe him is "humble".  She says, "Humble has two meanings.  It means 'not proud' and it means 'low to the ground'.  That's Wilbur all over."

As Christians, I think that is often how we view humility, being low to the ground, inferior, a pig wallowing in the mud.  After all we ARE told to be humble more than once in the Bible.  So we become proud of being humble, of seeing ourselves as lowly and self-incriminating.

At a retreat I was recently able to attend, the leader pointed out that we are made in God's image. There are over 7 billion people living in the world today, and each of us is a unique representation of part of God's greatness.  It has taken well over 7 billion people to even begin to  express the greatness and image of God.  I am (and YOU are) a unique reflection  that is unlike anyone else.  We have the enviable job of finding the greatness of God in others and in ourselves.  We practiced doing that at the retreat.  We sat facing each other in groups of four, sitting knee to knee declaring to each other, "the greatness of God I see in you is...."  And I have to tell you, it was life changing for me.   But how does being humble, "low to the ground", fit in with seeing greatness in each other and in ourselves?   The answer is really quite simple.  Instead of a pig wallowing in the mud, being low to the ground looks a lot more like this:

It's saying the greatness that we have in us isn't about us at all.  It is boasting on God's greatness in us and being thankful for it!  My sister said it well,  "That's  worth telling people about.  And if I dismiss His greatness in me...I'm just displaying false humility.  I'm taking away His glory."  

What better way to use the voice God has given me than to declare the greatness of God I see in others?  So, I've decided I want to be like Charlotte the spider.  Because in the long run, that's really what she was doing - seeing the greatness of God in His creation (Wilbur) and declaring it - "terrific, radiant, humble, some pig!"  What better place than to start with my own family, my children?  So, on a personal note to my kids:  when you start getting texts, phone calls and messages from me for the next few weeks, know that I am sincerely telling you that YOU are made in God's image, a special reflection of God's greatness and that I see the work God is doing in you, and it is GOOD!