Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Day to Celebrate!

December 20, 2011 has been a day to CELEBRATE!!! 


Today I went to see the oncologist and was told that my most recent PET scan was NORMAL and all my blood work was PERFECT!!  All the doctors, nurses, and staff were smiling. They told me not to come back for six months!  This was the best early Christmas present ever! Thank you God, for this gift!

Me, rockin' the paper gown and red shoes!




Today Mark and I celebrate 28 years of marriage! I am so grateful to be married to my best friend! We have had the most amazing life together and we are looking forward to many more years of adventures together! Thank you, God, for this gift!

December 20, 1983




Today we celebrate my dad's birthday too!  I have the best dad in the world! He has always prayed for me daily, pointed me to Christ, and supported and encouraged my dreams. I am so thankful for his consistent example of a man "after God's own heart."  Thank you, God, for this gift!

Daddy




Today my girls are home and it's almost Christmas! I am so thankful that God "loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life." Thank you, God, for this gift!


Celebrating Christmas 2011




I pray that each day of this Christmas season is a day to CELEBRATE for you and your family! I am thankful for each one of you and your faithful friendship! Thank you, God, for this gift!



Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Think Again

The past month has been the most difficult of our 30+ years of ministry. We have faced situations that we have never experienced before. Our hearts have been broken, our trust betrayed. 


In the middle of all of these experiences, I read this in Jesus Calling one day:


This is a time of abundance in your life. Your cup runneth over with blessings... I want you to enjoy to the full this time of ease and refreshment. I delight in providing it for you.


I literally laughed out loud! This had been the worst month ever. The church had been rocked to the core, the people and staff were hurting. I thought to myself, "Well, this devotion is off the mark today; this is certainly not a time of abundance and blessing and ease and refreshment! I'll just disregard this little devotion."


Then God opened my eyes and spoke to my heart: "Laura, you are looking at it wrong. Your focus is off. These words are true. They are always true of your life, not based on your circumstances, but on my character."


God is still God. He is still on his throne. He  is continually pouring out his blessing and abundance on me. He continually offers refreshment to me if I will look to him to find it. He will ease the way if I let him carry the burden. He promises to be strong in my weakness. He delights in providing it for me!


What a change of thinking! What a profound turn-around of everything! The circumstances don't matter - they don't change the fact that my life is overflowing with God's goodness and blessing always, no matter how it may seem or how it may feel, or how difficult it may be.


Last weekend Mark preached from 2 Chronicles 20, the story of King Jehoshaphat, my favorite story in Scripture. God performed an amazing miracle and turned what the enemy intended to be the destruction of God's people into a "Valley of Blessing." That's what God does! I can't wait to see all that God is going to do as he turns the past 30 days into a "Valley of Blessing" for me and for my church!


"Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever." 
2 Chronicles 20:21


Saturday, October 29, 2011

He Knows

"The Lord is like a father to his children, 
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
 For he knows how weak we are, 
he remembers we are only dust.
Psalm 103:13-14


I have a weakness for pottery. I love the different shapes, the designs, the textures, the curves. I am intrigued by the fact that someone's hands formed the items I treasure; their creativity on display for others to enjoy. The bright colors bring me pleasure! 


Whenever we travel, I usually find some sort of pot or vase to bring home as a reminder of the culture and country we visited. Many in my collection have been gifts from friends around the world, making them even more special to me! 


One of my most prized possessions is probably the least expensive piece of pottery I have. It's value comes from the fact that it was given to me by my sweet Batwa friends in Burundi, Africa. They spent a week mixing the mud themselves, forming the pot, smoothing it with their hands, delicately carving designs around the side, and lovingly setting it in the fire to dry. They diligently worked together with me in mind, making gifts for all the guests who were coming. On the day of our final visit to their village, they thanked us for our friendship, they danced with us, prayed for us, and presented each of us with the gift of their handiwork. I was humbled and honored by their generosity. 


I knew this piece of pottery was extremely fragile, and I desperately wanted it to survive the journey to it's new home in Texas. I carefully wrapped the pot in my clothing, filling the inside and wrapping several t-shirts around to protect it. I put it in my carry-on bag, placing things around it to keep it from bouncing around during the trip. I cushioned it above and below. I carried it with me in the car to the airport. I kept it in my hands all through the airport. It never left my sight, except as it passed through the x-ray machine at the security check point. Even then, I was watching my bag go through the machine and I grabbed it as soon as it passed through. I kept it with me as we waited to board the plane, and I gently set it under the seat in front of me on the airplane. I kept my eye on it during all three flights home, making sure it didn't get bumped or roll around. 


I knew that this pot was delicate. I knew that even an unintentional blow could shatter what was so special to me. And because I knew, I took extreme measures to take extra special care of the pot. Thankfully, the pot made it to Houston and is now proudly on display in my home!


As I was reading Psalm 103:13-14 the other day, God reminded me of the Batwa pot. It's the picture of what God is saying in this verse. He knows how weak I am. He remembers that I am only dust. Just as I took extreme care of the fragile Batwa pot, God is lovingly caring for me. He wraps me up in his love. He fills me, he protects me. He never lets me out of his hands, and he never takes his eyes off me. He knows me, and so he carries me. 


I am grateful for a God who so lovingly "remembers we are only dust."



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Today I want to acknowledge...


I've been reading through the book of Romans in the New Testament. Just the other day I opened my Bible and picked up where I had been reading and this is what it said,

“Since these people refused even to think about God, he let their useless minds rule over them. That's why they do all sorts of indecent things. They are evil, wicked, and greedy, as well as mean in every possible way. They want what others have, and they murder, argue, cheat, and are hard to get along with. They gossip, say cruel things about others, and hate God. They are proud, conceited, and boastful, always thinking up new ways to do evil. These people don't respect their parents. They are stupid, unreliable, and don't have any love or pity for others.”  Romans 1:28-31
I finished reading those verses and I sat there, deeply convicted that this is the most common lie I believe. I think I don’t need God. And I live my life based on that belief.  I don’t think it consciously, but I operate as if that were the case. 

Another translation of this verse says, “Since they didn’t bother to acknowledge God…”

How often have I failed to even acknowledge God? Just started the day out on my own, gone to school or work without thinking about God? Tried to resolve issues on the job, or struggles in my relationships without even acknowledging Him? How many times have I parented my kids on my own, without turning to God first? When I do that, I am basing my life on the lie that I don’t need God, and that’s a scary place to live.

The Bible very clearly tells me what the result of that belief is – if I refuse to acknowledge God in my life, my life will be characterized by these things : evil, wickedness, greed, indecency, gossip, cruelty, pride, etc.

And it’s not complicated. God isn’t asking me for something difficult. He just says acknowledge Me, think about Me. How do I acknowledge someone's presence? It can be as simple as a nod of the head, or a look in the eyes; but it changes how I operate, doesn’t it?  I see you, I know you are here, I am living and moving and working with the knowledge of your presence. If my boss is in the room, I do things differently. I make sure I am carrying out the company policies and procedures, I am operating based on the ideals of the company.

That’s what God is saying. Think about me, acknowledge me in your life on a daily, moment by moment basis and as you do, you will naturally begin to live your life based on God’s ideals and principles.

When I don’t acknowledge my need for God on a regular basis, and I don’t slow down long enough just to connect with God, to spend time with him, to read and meditate on the Scripture, I am saying that I don’t need God. I’ve got this God. No worries. I’m strong enough and smart enough, I have enough experience, and good will to handle it. You go ahead and take care of other things. 

And don’t you know God's heart just breaks! Not again, Laura, I’ve told you what’s going to happen – wickedness, arguing, cheating, gossip, pride, stupidity...

I’ve spent time with people who talk a lot about church, religion, and Christianity – I’m sure you have too. They talk a good game. But I’ve also spent time with people who actually live what they are talking about. There is a big difference between the two.

James 1:26 says, “Anyone who sets himself up as ‘religious’ by talking a good game is self-deceived.”

Christianity is not a religious belief system. It is intended to be a supernatural, personal relationship with the living dynamic God of the universe. That’s what the Bible is talking about here, not just a nice respectful belief system to help give you a peaceful, happy life. God intends for your relationship with him to be life-changing, to be transformational, and to produce authenticity in you.

God, today I choose to acknowledge your presence. Thank you that you never leave me on my own. Thank you that I don't have to handle things by myself. Thank you that you are patient with me, constantly teaching me and waiting for me to get it. I love you for that!



Monday, October 3, 2011

Imagination

A year and a half post chemotherapy, I think I am doing good. Physically I feel great. Emotionally I seem to have conquered cancer. Spiritually I have learned so much more about my God. But then, out of the blue, it starts again.

Week before last, for two days, I feel tired. My immediate thought: "It's back."  Anxiety takes over.  I feel sick.  I talk myself down.  "You didn't sleep well for two nights. That is why you feel tired.  Relax."

Last week, my stomach hurts. My immediate thought: "It's back." I remind myself,  "You JUST had a colonoscopy; your colon is healthy. Relax."

Today, I wake up with a headache behind my eye.  My immediate thought: "It's back.  It has metastasized to my brain." I laugh at myself!  "Really?? Colon cancer doesn't normally go to the brain. It's just a headache. Relax."

It's tiring having a brain, and an imagination! I obviously need to find something better to do with mine! 

 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Perfect Dress

A few weeks ago Sarah, Ashley, and I set out on a search for the perfect wedding dress...

 (Yes, it was a windy day!)

We visited several wedding boutiques where Sarah was treated like the princess she has always been (hence the name "Sarah"!)...


As Sarah tried on many gorgeous dresses...


Ashley and I took a look around the store...




 After a two day search, Sarah found the perfect dress and placed her order...

(Sorry, no photo available! You didn't really think I was going to show it to you, did you?)


We were all super excited and started the drive home. It's hard to believe that I really bought a wedding dress for my sweet Sarah! Every girl dreams about her wedding day, and it is so exciting to see those dreams come true for Sarah!

On the way home, Sarah said, "Mom, I'm so glad you got to do this with me!"
I replied, "Of course I went with you! I wouldn't want to be anywhere else!"
Sarah paused and explained, "When you were sick, I didn't know if you would be here to do this with me."  Her eyes filled up with tears and they spilled onto her rosy cheeks.
I started to cry too, so sorry for the fear my girl had to face; and so eternally grateful that I am here to be a part of her wedding.  

Thank you, God, once again, for the gift of THIS day with my girls!


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"Scanxiety"

"Scanxiety" is a documented phenomenon experienced by cancer patients and survivors. The Community Dictionary defines it as:

"the tension which builds particulary amongst those who have or have had cancer as they move towards their regular check up scan, hyperscanxiety being the period as they await results!"

Luckily, I don't suffer from this phenomenon. Tuesday morning, we are driving to the surgery center for my colonoscopy and Mark casually asks me, "So, how are you feeling?" "I feel fine," I reply. "I don't feel nervous at all." 

And then it hits me... I, in fact, don't feel anything at all. My emotions are completely shut down. What I DO feel is tension in my jaw and knots in the muscles of my shoulders. I haven't slept well for a week. And it occurs to me that perhaps I am experiencing "scanxiety," it's just manifesting itself in a different way than it normally does.

I ask Mark, "And how are you feeling?"
His answer, "I don't feel anything either. I'm numb."  Scanxiety victim number two.

The staff at the surgery center are amazing. I don't even feel the IV as it is inserted into my rolling vein! I climb onto the table, they gently cover me with a warm blanket (that I know will be stripped from my body as soon as I am asleep!), I watch as two medications are injected into my IV, and that's the last thing I remember. I wake up in the recovery room to the sound of a sweet nurse, telling me that my colon is normal, handing me pictures of my insides, and telling me that the doctor will come see me soon. 

My colon is normal.  Did she just say that?  I drift back to sleep. 

A little later Mark and I arrive home.  He wraps me in a giant hug and we hold onto each other, so thankful for good news one more time! 

I feel like I can live again. At least for a couple more months until my next PET scan!


Monday, September 19, 2011

May I please be excused?

Sunday evening, standing beside the kitchen sink, I slowly pour the Miralax powder into the glass, add water, and begin stirring. This is day five of twice-a-day laxatives shots, leading up to the full colon prep on Monday afternoon. Tuesday I have the pleasure of Colonoscopy #4. 

Miralax is colorless, odorless, tasteless, grit-less, but still I gag as it goes down. It's a conditioned response I'm sure.  I make two batches of jello, put apple juice and sprite in the refrigerator. I am ready for Monday's clear liquid diet. I walk by the Half-Lytely box - I can't even look at it - I dread the Monday evening adventure it implies.

I climb in bed Sunday night, thinking to myself, "God, may I please be excused?"  

I remember as a child, coming in from playing outside, rushing through dinner, and then asking my mother, "May I please be excused?" I was finished with dinner and so ready to get back outside to play some more. 

And I find myself with the same feelings. God, may I please be excused? I have done everything - all the treatments, and appointments, and surgeries, and lab work, and tests, and scans, and exams - I am SO done with this! I want to go on! May I be excused?? Please?

I'm sure He smiles at me. "Take my hand, Laura, let me walk with you."

Monday morning. I am starving. My stomach keeps telling me to go fix something to eat. My brain intervenes (thankfully) and reminds me that jello is the only thing on the menu today! I decide to make this as pleasant as possible and serve my jello in Spode Christmas Tree China!

At noon I swallow a small pink tablet - Bisacodyl - it's stated purpose by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is to cause diarrhea! Let the run, I mean fun, begin!

Are you sure I can't be excused, yet, God?

Reading materials and baby wipes in the bathroom, check!
Path cleared to the nearest bathroom (because I WILL be running!), check!

This evening's drinking of Half-lytely still blocked from my mind...

 

 




Saturday, September 3, 2011

Feeling Life

Have you ever really FELT alive? Felt the strength and power living inside your physical body? Most of the time I just live my life, so used to living in this earth suit that I am not aware of the life that is present inside it. I go through the routines of my day without giving a second thought to the fact that there is life inside of me. Then I got sick with cancer. Suddenly, the fact that I had life, and that life was threatened, brought it all clearly into focus. Each new morning was a celebration, every meal kept down a victory. The ability to take a walk, or open a jar produced a wellspring of gratitude.  Quiet moments, whispered prayers, unspoken looks became treasured proofs of life to hang on to.

Fast forward two years... 

I grab a walking stick and step into the river. The water is high, the current is strong. If I'm not careful, if I misstep, I will be quickly carried, tumbling, downstream. I plant each foot deliberately. I feel the strength of my thighs as I stand strong against the rapids. My heart is beating. Adrenaline is firing into my system.  My lungs are drawing in clean, crisp mountain air. I follow my guide and begin to climb up over the falls to get to the quiet pools above. The river fights against my path; I struggle on, up over the giant rocks. Finally reaching the other side, I step on the rocks of the bank. I feel so alive. I feel so strong. And I begin to cry. I am so grateful for this moment. I am thankful that my body is healthy. I am thankful that I have life living in me. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. And so begins a private worship service, just me and my God. Feeling Life. You have been good to me!

"You gave me life and showed me your unfailing love. 
My life was preserved by your care."
Job 10:12



 


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Continually


1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
What does God want? He wants me to pray continually. He wants me to be full of joy, to give thanks all the time.
I’ve heard that verse all my life, and my first thought is always, I can’t do that. I can’t do anything continually. How can I pray non-stop? That’s ridiculous. And I just kind of glide over that verse…
Then I decided to study that word “continually” more closely. The definition of continually is:  seemingly without interruption, habitually, without end or stopping, steady. 
It is the picture of something that recurs frequently. When I read that for the first time, it finally made sense. God isn’t saying that I have to be laughing and praying, and giving thanks every second of my life – but he is saying that I should be doing these things so often that it appears that I never stop. It seems to be without interruption. Suddenly, what God is asking me to do becomes possible. 
Have you ever sat down at a piano keyboard and started playing a single note. You play it over and over and over until the sound seems to blend together, the sound of one note continues in the air until the next note is played? A hum begins to hang in the air until it sounds like there is no space in between the notes you are playing. It seems to be without interruption.
That’s the picture the Bible is painting in this verse. My life should be characterized by joy, by prayer, by gratitude so much so that it appears I never stop. One prayer should still be hanging in the air when I voice the next one. The result of my gratitude should still be felt when next I give thanks. My joyful smile should still be felt by one person when I share it with someone else. 
That’s what God wants me to do. Live my life like that. It brings Him pleasure and it brings me pleasure too.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sweeter Than Honey

I had an appointment with the surgeon last week.  As I sat in the waiting room I started thinking of all the things that had happened in the three months since I'd seen him last:

I traveled to Africa, Costa Rica, Colorado, and Galveston; I enjoyed time with all my kids; I visited with all my extended family; Sarah got engaged; we bought a wedding dress; we baptized 95 people, we buried two friends. 

I was so thankful to be alive! And so thankful to be the healthy person in the waiting room! 

As these thoughts swirled around in my mind, the voices of an elderly couple in the room broke through my thinking.  They were there to see the doctor.  She was obviously sick. And they were discussing the fact that this was the final road. They weren't upset. They weren't sad. In fact, they were happy, reminiscing about all the good things they had experienced together in their life. It was such a beautiful, peaceful, intimate conversation, I almost felt guilty for overhearing them.  Such love. Such bravery. Such beauty. 

I wondered to myself, "When my time finally comes, will I face it with such grace and faith?" 

Once again I heard the words "All Clear!" from the surgeon. He congratulated me on the two year anniversary of my initial surgery. He reminded me that we are going to continue to be aggressive in monitoring me for any recurrence. I thanked him for that. 

I  walked to the car, fighting back tears - tears of joy and gratitude for more time to live.  Honestly, I wanted to shout it to the whole world:  "I DON'T HAVE CANCER ANYMORE!!!"

Instead, I hopped in the car, sent an "All Clear" text message to Mark, and hit I-10 for the drive home. I turned on the radio and the words of "Even Now" by Will Reagan of United Pursuit began to play. They perfectly expressed the fullness of my heart:

"Your love is sweeter than honey, Your love is stronger than death, Your love lifts me of my burdens, and shows me how to dance." 





Sunday, August 14, 2011

July 13, 2011

Tyler proposed...  Sarah said "YES!!"


Thanks to Christie Lacy Photography for the beautiful pictures!


On a warm summer night, on a beautiful beach on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, Tyler dropped to one knee and asked Sarah to be his wife. He put a gorgeous diamond solitaire on her hand making her the happiest girl in the world! 

Tyler, we have prayed for you for 23 years! We are so happy to have you as part of our family!  We are excited to see all that God is going to do in and through the two of you together!

CONGRATULATIONS to my sweet Sarah! 
We love you both so much!!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

God's Love Call

Living in the wake of cancer, at times I find myself still struggling with residual thoughts and feelings. Thankfully, at this point, it is not constantly on my mind, but most days it still enters my thinking at some point. Not long ago, I spent the whole weekend, several days in fact, despairing if I would ever find "me" again, if anything would ever be the same again. Every thought, every conversation, every waking moment was consumed by these ideas.


And all weekend long there was a bird in our yard yelling at me. He would swoop across the backyard squawking. He even sat on the patio chair looking in through the back window - literally for hours, without provocation - hollering at me, scolding me, warning me.


I was aggravated. What is he doing? He is dirtying the chair! Disturbing my peace! Upset over nothing! We aren't going to bother him, or his nest. He has the whole backyard to himself!


Hours pass. The bird is still there - angry, determined, frustrated, squawking. This bird is crazy! Everything is fine, the yard is safe. We even like birds, for goodness sake!


The next morning I wake up, remember to spend time with God, pray, journal, ask His forgiveness for trying to make it on my own (again!) the last few days. I open up "Jesus Calling" for that day and here is what it said (I kid you not!):


"As you listen to birds calling to one another, hear also My love call to you... You can find me not only in beauty and birdcalls, but also in tragedy and faces filled with grief. I can take the deepest sorrow and weave it into a pattern for good."


God, it was you all along! Trying to get my attention, to pull my focus back to you, to get my eyes on your truth. You also gently tell me that I have been sounding a little like that squawking bird... fussing, complaining and whining instead of resting and trusting in your goodness. You're pretty funny! You can use anything and everything. You make me smile again. Thank you, Lord, for my crazy bird. And for never ceasing to call me, for never ceasing to meet me, for never ceasing to pull me up! Your love is never-ending. Please help me to recognize your presence today in whatever form it takes! I love you!



But ask the animals, and they will teach you, 
or ask the birds of the air, and they will tell you. 
Speak to the earth, and it will teach you, 
or let the fish of the sea tell you. 
Every one of these knows that the hand of the Lord has done this. 
The life of every creature and the breath of all people are in God's hand." 
Job 12:7-10



Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sorrow and Joy

Summer 2011 has been one of sorrow and of joy.

Sorrow came in June as two sweet friends finished the race, left this planet, and entered into the presence of the Lord. Joy came in calling them "friend."

I met John Dettore in April 2010 and was immediately intrigued by his story and inspired by his attitude and faith. John's life was characterized by three things: his commitment to Jesus; his love for his wife, Ellen; and the joy he found in being a father to Alexandra. I only knew John for fourteen months, but during that short time, in spite of the difficult circumstances of his health, he consistently brought encouragement, hope, and laughter to my life. He served the Lord well, he loved his family well, and he left an example to all of us of a true warrior for Christ. Thank you, God, for allowing me to know John. Please take good care of him until we meet again.



Dan Chase was a quiet man of strength and grace. We met the Chase family many years ago when we attended the same church. In 2003, as we started Community of Faith, Dan and his family decided to join us. True to his nature, Dan immediately stepped in and started serving. He took the most difficult position - one that required early morning hours, long days, physical labor, and working in the Houston heat and rain. - he was the leader of our Roadie Team. For years he made sure everything was set up and ready to go on Sunday mornings, providing a safe, comfortable place for guests at COF to relax and learn how much God loved them. He never once complained, never once let COF down. What a gift he was to our church! The great love of Dan's life was his family - Melissa, his wife of 27 years, and their four children. When he wasn't working, Dan was camping, playing games, joking, and hanging out and loving on those five people who had the privilege of experiencing God's love through him. What a great example he was to all who knew him, and what a great emptiness has been left by his death. Thank you, God, for the honor of knowing Dan Chase. May I learn to be as humble and caring as he was.

Photo courtesy of www.randyolive.com


Thank you, to so many of you who have prayed for these two men in their health struggles. Please continue to pray for their families as they grieve and remember their sorrow and joy.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Be Still

“Be still, and know that I am God; 
I will be exalted among the nations, 
I will be exalted in the earth.”
Psalm 46:10































Friday, June 10, 2011

Full-Time Joy


June 6, 2011

The last two weeks have felt like some of the longest in my life!  There are days I question God’s wisdom in choosing me to work in full-time ministry. “Full-time” in this context does not mean a five day forty hour work week.  It doesn’t mean a couple of busy weeks and then the pressure lets up.  It is constant. The responsibility is an impossible burden.  The reality is a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual weight that will crush you if you try to carry it alone.

At Community of Faith we always talk about “doing life together.”  But this life is messy!  It involves hurt and grief and growth and tears. 

Doing life together means you listen and cry as a friend pours out their broken heart to you.
It means you counsel friends who are struggling in their marriage, encouraging them to continue walking through the “tunnel of chaos” to be all that God intends for them to be.

Doing life together means you take your friends to chemotherapy, you cry with them and rejoice with them at each twist of the cancer roller coaster.

It means you experience anger when faced with the devastating consequences of sin in a young life…again.

Doing life together means you laugh and cry with a young widow as she begins the process of grief at the loss of her husband and best friend, the father of her children.

Doing life together means you are overwhelmed by the depravity of humanity, the gravity of sin, the hopelessness of our world. Do we really hurt each other so easily? Do we really abuse children like that? Do we really enslave each other for our own gratification?

Doing life together means you run to the Savior again, and again, and again. You recognize that HE is our only hope. He IS our salvation. 

As difficult as all that may be, the pain is erased by the joy of doing life together!  What an honor to welcome new life into this world! What a gift to see the transforming hand of God at work in the life of a young couple!  What a pleasure to be the one who is called on in good times and bad! 

I am privileged to see God’s miracles take place on a regular basis!  I am reminded over and over of God’s goodness, His faithfulness, His forgiveness, His mercy, His constancy, His power, and His love. I have a front row seat!

So, thank you God, for choosing me. Thank you for giving me the gift of a life of full-time ministry. Thank you for allowing me a glimpse of your hand at work. Thank you for letting me have some small part of what you are doing. Thank you for opening the windows of heaven to me!

“How great is the Lord! His power is absolute! 
His understanding is beyond comprehension!  
Psalm 147:5

Monday, May 23, 2011

Give me Faith

When I was in high school we lived in southern California. One of the tourist attractions of the area was Disneyland. I made several trips to "the happiest place on earth" over the course of those years, enjoying all the rides, shows, and shops. The ride I remember best was called Space Mountain. It was a brand new roller coaster and the line to ride was hours long. After you finally boarded the ride and strapped yourself in, the roller coaster took off and you were plunged into pitch blackness! The whole ride took place in the dark. There were invisible twists, turns, and drops. The blackness was pierced by screams and laughter. And when you came to the end, most people jumped off and ran to get in line to ride again. I was one of those people who loved roller coasters.


I guess maybe in some way those experiences helped prepare me for the whole cancer experience. Even after finishing treatment, having consistently good PET scan results, and going on to live my life, it still feels like I am on a roller coaster.


Roller coaster going up...
Click, click, click, click... big smiles... appointment with the surgeon... "Everything looks normal!"


Roller coaster drops...
AAAAaaahhhhh!!!!! ... shock... a family member is diagnosed with stage four breast cancer...


Roller coaster going up...
Click, click, click, click... laughter, smiles, hands in the air... a close friend is declared "cancer free!" Thank you Lord!


Roller coaster drops...
AAAAaaahhhhh!!!!! ... anger... my friend, Darla, is facing surgery #3 as a result of side effects from radiation... Why, God, when everything was going so well?!!!! 


Roller coaster going up...
Click, click, click, click... big smiles... another friend's wife gives me a big hug and says that her husband is doing well! Thank you Lord!


Roller coaster twists upside down...
AAAaaahhh!!! ... grief... my friend, John, continues to struggle in his fight against colon cancer. God please give him more time...


And on and on it goes.


Anger rears its ugly head again. I hate cancer. I hate that my family and friends have to deal with the grief, fear, pain, and complications of this disease.  But even as I struggle with these emotions, God meets me there. I am sitting in worship at Community of Faith and we begin to sing:


Give Me Faith
by Mack Brock

I need you to soften my heart
To break me apart
I need you to open my eyes
To see that You’re shaping my life
All I am, I surrender

Give me faith to trust what you say
That you’re good and your love is great
I’m broken inside, I give you my life

I need you to soften my heart
To break me apart
I need you pierce through the dark
And cleanse every part of me

I may be weak
But your Spirit’s strong in me
My flesh may fail
My God you never will



Tears come. God whispers to my heart:  "Why are you so angry?  You trusted me in your own battle with cancer.  Can you not  trust that I am working in the life of your friends the same way?"


Will I trust you still? 


"Give me faith to trust what you say, that you're good and your love is great."