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."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

Mother's Day Couplet, 2011
By David Shook

I've dreamed to see you dance among the Twa,
your body free, your heart agape with awe.

My new friends!

Celebration of Healing Dance!

"Precious in His sight..."

Batwa Leadership Committee

We had an amazing trip to Bujumbura, Burundi. It was so exciting to see all that God has done in the two short years of our partnership with this beautiful group of people! They have learned so much and accomplished so much! Their land is producing enough crops to feed all the families in Matara, to give food to their neighbors in need, and to sell. Their children are in the top of their classes at school. They have started several successful businesses that have grown, employing others!  They have healthy goats and cows. They drink milk daily!  Not one baby has been lost in two years!  They are full of joy and openly sing God's praises for how He has blessed them. And... they are looking forward to going out and helping other Batwa communities!  That's how it's supposed to be. God's blessing received, poured out, and shared. Thank you, God, for letting us be a part of what you are doing in Burundi!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mom's Return to Travel

Last December I was sitting around talking to the kids. We were talking about the new year and the things we had planned, looking at our calendars and trying to coordinate plans. David started telling me of all the places we could go in 2011, from Kenya, to Burundi, to Turkey. The plans were elaborate and exciting!

Then he said exuberantly, "It's mom's return to travel!" It made me laugh, and more than that, it gave me hope. With that one statement he confirmed that I was healthy again. He validated the fact that my life was returning to normal, and that I would once again enjoy the things that bring me so much joy in my life!

True to David's proclamation, I have already spent several weeks traveling this year, to Oman, Syria, Egypt, and Jordan; and now I find myself at the airport again, headed off on a big adventure! 

I was first diagnosed with cancer about a week before I was to travel to Burundi, Africa, to meet the Twa people with whom Community of Faith had established a partnership. I spent much of 2008 and 2009 preparing for that trip. If you've read my blog from the beginning, you may remember that one of my first questions to the doctor was, "But I'm supposed to go to Africa in a week, what do you think about that?"

Of course, the doctor told me that I would have to cancel those plans and concentrate on getting my health back. With a sad heart, I followed his instructions, and with grief I sent my friends and family on to Burundi without me that year. 

But 2011 has brought with it "Mom's Return to Travel"! Today, I am at the international airport in Doha, Qatar, awaiting my next flight that will take me on to Africa for ten days spent with old and new friends! Mark and I will be meeting with young entrepreneurs from across the continent of Africa, listening, learning, dreaming, discussing, and praying together. Anticipating all that God is going to do for the people of Africa. 

Then I will take my first trip to Bujumbura, Burundi. I can hardly believe that this trip is finally becoming a reality! I am going to meet the sweet  Twa friends who have prayed for me all through my cancer journey! I will get to sing and dance with them. I will spend time at the village of Matara witness to all that God has done in two short years in and through this amazing group of people! I will meet Iribuka, the first little girl born on their new land, as well as many other beautiful children.  And I will worship God with them. The one true God who never forgot them, who loves them with an everlasting love, and who knit our hearts together from around the globe. I can't believe it's really happening!

Thank you, God, for giving me this opportunity. Thank you for letting me live to see this day! Thank you for my return to travel! And thank you that you never forget!

"But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children." Psalm 103:17

Damascus, Syria with mom

Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt

St. Catherine's Monastery, Sinai Peninsula, Egypt

Petra, Jordan