Words can’t begin to describe how I’m feeling right now. My flight leaves for Africa in several hours. I am so excited and so nervous at the same time. Our team, which consists of several people from the MD area (woot! woot!) are going to be teaching business skills to lots of teens so please pray for all of us. Please also pray that God would fill each one of us with His Holy Spirit and enable us to do “even greater things than these”.
I can’t wait to visit with the children that my husband and I sponsor. The picture is one of my little girls that I got to meet on my last trip. What an amazing feeling to be able to look into their eyes and see the huge smiles on their faces and know in your heart that you are giving a child a chance to live and grow up and to one day become an adult who will change their country. It’s amazing to impact lives from the US in these third world countries through the help of organizations like Children’s Cup. With so much controversy over whether or not our money is going to the children, I can attest to the truth that with this organization it is. Their mission statement is, “to change the world for hurting and forgotten children by giving them hope in the love of Jesus Christ”. They have their own sponsorship program and if you are interested in sponsoring one of these children, click here for more information. I will also be hosting a sponsorship party in late September and will let you know when the date will be.
Once again, please keep our entire team in prayer. Pray also that we would be able to share the love of Christ with each and every person we meet, that we would encourage the missionaries, who work so tirelessly and unselfishly there and that we would bring honor and glory to Jesus Christ and represent Him well.
A year ago this week, I was getting my second chemo infusion and it amazes me that I am almost finished with my treatment. Next Monday I will have my last Herceptin infusion. I’ve had 18 rounds of it along with 6 rounds of 2 chemo cocktails and 6 rounds of Perjeta infusions. I am scheduled for another reconstructive surgery on August 28 and I will also get my port taken out then. I am so excited to be so close to finishing my treatments. I am grateful that I am cancer free and grateful that the Lord revealed Himself to me in such powerful ways during this past year. I am grateful that I chose to trust and believe Him instead of being angry or mad at Him. That thought never even crossed my mind. How could I abandon the one who will never abandon me? How could I love God in the easy seasons of life and not trust Him in the hard seasons? He is a good God and has only loving thoughts towards me.
I am also getting ready to go back to my beloved Swaziland, Africa with Children’s Cup next week and I can hardly contain myself. I was supposed to go last year at this time but was unable to since I had to start treatment immediately for my breast cancer. It broke my heart that I couldn’t go but I had no choice. I can’t wait to see the kids that I sponsor and all the people there who sent me cards and video prayers during my treatment. I was so incredibly blessed by it.
This summer has been a busy one and I can’t believe how healthy I am feeling. I joined a gym and take water aerobics several times a week and I absolutely love it. I am feeling stronger by the day and have more energy than I’ve ever had. I am eating about a 70% raw diet with lots of fruits and vegetables and whole grains and trying to stay away from chemicals and added preservatives. No sugar, processed white flour or sweets or any junk food. I have the occasional Starbucks and I’m working on eliminating that too, I’m just not ready yet! I feel healthier than I did before I went through cancer treatment and my fibromyalgia rarely flares up. I’ve had only 1 migraine in months and that is huge for me since I used to get several a month as well as many headaches.
This post is a little choppy but I just wanted to write a quick update and also ask for prayers. I leave for Africa on Aug 12 and will be back Aug 22. Please pray for me because it’s a 17 1/2 hour flight there and last time I went, I came home with a blood clot in my leg. I’m wearing compression stockings during the flight and started taking baby aspirin a few days ago so hopefully I won’t come back with another one. Pray for physical and emotional strength as well and for my entire team. We want to represent Christ and spread His love and be His hands and feet. Also, pray for my upcoming surgery on August 28. I am praying it will be my last one because I just want to be done already.
I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love I have received during this past year and I am incredibly blessed to be part of an awesome church and have such an amazing family and friends. Words could never adequately describe how grateful I am for each and every one of you.
Exactly one year ago today, I heard the words, you have invasive ductal breast cancer. I can’t believe how fast time went by yet also stood still. I vividly remember the side effects of chemotherapy and those days when I felt so sick I could barely call out God’s name. I remember the way my husband loved and served me and laid down his life for me. I remember all the texts and emails and meals and teddy bears and blankets I received. I still have my cancer box that’s filled to the brim with cards and letters and other things. I have yet to be able to go through it because every time I try, I am overwhelmed at the love and support that was poured out on me and I can’t stop crying. One day soon, hopefully I will be able to go through it without falling apart.
As scary as it was to not know what the future held, I am grateful that I got cancer. I know I sound like a broken record, but I truly mean it. Cancer changed me in ways I would never have thought it would. It led me to a much deeper relationship with the Lord and it broke me of a pride so strong that it was downright ugly. Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with pride and probably will until I depart from this life but it’s better than it was.
Cancer made me realize what’s important in life and what’s not. I let go of foolish things and replaced them with important things like better relationships with family and friends. I realized just how selfish I was and became a better wife. God opened up my eyes and gave me a more compassionate heart. He gave me a new ministry, that I get to share with my husband, to care for people who have cancer or are survivors or caregivers.
One year ago today was one of the best days of my life and I will never stop thanking God for it.
I’m getting ready for my third to the last Herceptin infusion and I can’t believe how fast this ride has been. Almost a year ago, I heard the words, “you have invasive ductal breast cancer”. I knew God would get me through it but I had no idea how much he would use my cancer to minister to others.
My husband and I starting serving in my church’s cancer ministry, Hope Alive, and it’s been exciting to meet other cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. What a joy it is to be able to share each other’s experiences and help carry each other’s burdens. To have God at the center of the ministry is the best part. My prayer is that God would use this ministry to offer peace and hope and that many people would come to know Jesus Christ.
Every day I wake up and thank God for being alive and healthy and cancer free. I’m astounded that the God of the universe loved me so much that almost 14 years ago, He drew me to Him and I made a commitment to live and serve Him for the rest of my life. To think He could take a horrendous life filled with drugs, alcohol and heinous sins and make me a new creation blows my mind.
The best part is that He’s not finished with me yet. My cancer journey is just another season in my life and I’m looking forward to what’s next.
So… I still suffer from chemo brain so my last post was supposed to be an update but ended up not being one. I actually kind of enjoy having the excuse of can’t remembering things but I do hope my brain kicks back into full gear soon.
About one year ago, I began my breast cancer journey and I can’t believe how fast this past year has gone by. There were days which I thought would never end, but for the most part, it flew by. July 3, I was diagnosed with invasive ductal breast cancer stage 2 and it was almost 5 cm. July 16 was my first chemotherapy treatment and here it is almost one year later and I am cancer free. I probably said it in my last post and I will continue to say that besides Christ dying for my sins, getting breast cancer has been the best thing that has happened to me. Don’t get me wrong. It was hard at times, painful and lonely. There are no words that could possibly describe the feeling of chemo running through your veins, killing both the good and bad in your body. I am grateful for it but at the same time, hope and pray that I never have to go through that again.
I had my last chemo 7 months ago and I am starting to feel pretty fantastic. I still have 3 more Herceptin treatments, which is not chemo but a targeted therapy for my type of breast cancer (HER2+). My hair was straight when it fell out and I prayed for it to grow back curly and it most certainly is curly now. I have been getting my health back on track and taking lots of supplements and drinking green smoothies, which I assure you are delicious! I haven’t been able to juice much because it still hurts my stomach but I’ve been taking Juice Plus capsules and will probably end up selling them. They make me feel so good. I was working out at home and overdid it (me overdo it?!) so I had to take a month off to help my lower back pain subside. I joined the gym today and will start taking water aerobic classes for a few months since I just had my last surgery about 3 and 1/2 weeks ago and I don’t want to hurt anything. I will most likely have another surgery at of end of August or beginning of September to do more fat grafting.
All in all, I am in an awesome place and starting to get my life back. Cancer is not fun but what got me through it was to keep my eyes constantly on the Lord. I cannot even begin to think about going through this without Jesus. My husband, family and friends were by my side as well, but there is no one who can take the place that only Jesus can. He was my refuge and strong tower. He strengthened and sustained me. He walked with me through the valley. His mercies were new to me every morning. He did more for me than I could’ve ever imagined. My relationship with Him grew to a deeper level and although I have been a Christian for almost 14 years, it took cancer for me to truly have an intimacy with God that I never thought possible. I could never thank Him enough for having mercy on me and for dying for me and my heinous sins so that I could live life and live it abundantly.
I am also super excited because I am going back to my beloved Africa in August. I couldn’t go last year because of treatment but my doctors cleared me and I am so happy! I will be part of a business skills training team and I hope my mad skills (nunchuck, bow-hunting, computer hacking) will help the team. If not, I’ll just be comic relief!
So exactly one year ago today, I found the lump on my breast. I had no idea what the future held or the journey that God was about to take me on. I had no idea that other than my salvation, getting breast cancer would be the best thing that would ever happen to me. It showed me just how complacent my faith had become. I still loved God, still prayed, still read the Bible, still went to church but didn’t serve anywhere. I felt empty, worn out, tired and I longed for the days when I was on fire for the Lord.
Several months before my diagnosis, I prayed that God would do whatever it took to draw me back to Him. I felt like I was at a crucial juncture and was afraid of what could happen to me. Not only was I complacent in my faith, I was complacent in my marriage. I had no idea what a healthy, biblical marriage looked like. Before I became a Christian, my longest relationship was 2 years. When the going got tough, I got going. I thought love was the feelings of euphoria and physical chemistry that two people shared. When I got married 6 years ago, I had no idea how God would not only transform my thoughts about marriage, but that those thoughts would also transform my life. In 1 John 3:16, it says,
this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
My husband laid down his life for me daily, not only as I was going through breast cancer and chemotherapy, but since day 1 of our marriage. By doing this, I learned what true love is. I started praying 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 over my marriage and it has transformed my view of biblical marriage.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
It may sound crazy but I am truly grateful for breast cancer. It has given me a platform to now lay down my life for my brothers and sisters and help people who have cancer. One of the most exciting things I’m looking forward to is serving with my husband at church in our cancer ministry, Hope Alive. Not only is it for people with cancer, it’s for caregivers as well. My husband lost his first wife to cancer and was able to lay down his life for her as well as me. This astounds me in so many ways I can’t even comprehend. He could’ve gotten angry at God and ask why me, again. He could’ve chosen to become bitter but he didn’t. He became stronger. He joined the men’s Bible study at church and now is living out authentic manhood. I could not possibly put into words how amazing a husband he is but I know the reason. It’s not anything he has done, it’s because as a young boy, he gave his heart to God. He is not a perfect man but he is a perfect man for me.
I still have a little ways to go in my cancer journey with 3 more treatments and another surgery. Lord willing, I will be finished by September. I am so grateful for every minute of my journey and I am looking forward to what God has in store for me next.
I can’t believe how long it’s been since I posted an update! It’s been about 6 months since my last chemo and I am feeling great. I still have about 6 more treatments for Herceptin every 3 weeks so hopefully by the end of August I will be FINISHED with my breast cancer treatment!
This journey has been amazing and I fell more in love with the Lord and realized how very much God loves me. It wasn’t the most fun thing to have to go through but it did grow my faith and trust in ways I would’ve never imagined. God has given me a ministry to be able to share my experiences and faith in Christ and I am grateful each and every day for that. I’m joining the cancer support group at my church and I am excited about what the Lord is going to do in and through me. Click here in you are interested in it.
I am having my tissue expander/implant exchange surgery next Wednesday, May 20, and I would love all the prayers I can get. They have to do significant fat grafting (they liposuction fat from your belly and use that around the implant) and I told my plastic surgeon to take all the fat he wants! I am hopeful that other than having my chemo port removed, this will be my last surgery for breast cancer.
I am also going back to my beloved Africa in August with Children’s Cup. I was supposed to go last year but had to cancel it because I had to start treatment. I absolutely love sharing the Gospel and especially have a heart for Swaziland, Africa. I get to see my sponsored children as well and that always makes me happy. Please pray for spiritual preparation, financial support, safety, unity of the team, good health, and that hearts and doors would be open for us to share the love of Christ. If you would like to support me financially, please click here.
I’ve been in bed sick with a cold for the last 2 days and I had horrible flashbacks of the days after chemo. I forced myself to get up today and as I was getting into the shower, I looked at myself in the mirror. It’s strange, because it’s not like this was the first time I looked at my mastectomy scars. It just hit me that with these ugly scars, I went from being a fighter to a survivor. I cried my eyes out and realized for the first time just how much I have been through in the last 7 months since being diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. When you are in the fight of your life, you just go through the motions and try not to think about what’s going on. It took all my strength to wake up every day and be positive and choose to trust the Lord to get me though this. I think if I would’ve stopped and thought about what was happening to me, I’m not sure I would’ve been able to go on and that’s where you come in.
I have a “cancer box” and I have saved all the cards and balloons and even flower petals in it. As I added another card to it today, the tears just came over me again. There are no words that could ever express my gratitude to everyone who prayed for me, brought me meals, sent me flowers, texted and emailed me, called me and even sent me video prayers all the way from my beloved Swaziland, Africa. My husband took such incredible care of me that my only concern during treatment was to focus on myself because he took care of everything else. My mom was there for me emotionally in ways that I never could have imagined. My relationship with God and all of you are why I am able to be here and write about this today. I’ve had to actually walk out my faith, not with words but with actions. I’ve always felt like I had a strong faith in God but until you walk through something that requires you act on that faith, you never know just how strong it is. From the depths of my soul I can say that God is real and He is good. All the time.
As my journey continues from fighter to survivor, I now face the reconstruction process and the rebuilding of my life back. Please continue to pray for me as it will be several more months and another surgery until the reconstruction is done. It’s painful and uncomfortable and I will spare you the details and at least the hardest part (chemo) is finished. I had a follow up with my specialist a few days ago and she told me all the pathology came back and I am CANCER FREE! Those words just hit me today and I realized that I am now a survivor.
New Year’s is always an exciting time for me as I think of goals and areas of my life I want to focus on. I don’t really make resolutions but I try to make good lifestyle changes. This year, I’m going to make a vision board so I can see it every day and pray over it every day.
Last year was a great year for me even if I did get diagnosed with breast cancer. I got to spend a lot of time with family and my gbabies, I volunteered for several organizations and my faith in Christ grew deeper. I learned a lot about how much God loves me, how important I am to Him and that everything in my life, no matter how big or small matter to Him. I spent time praying in such a different way than I used to. I used to do most of the talking (big surprise, huh) but I have now learned to sit still and be quiet and just wait for His soft whispers of love. Sometimes, He would have to get a little loud with me when I wasn’t being obedient but other than that, I was in awe of the time we spent together.
My verse for my season of cancer was from Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer.” That verse got me through some of the toughest times, especially after chemotherapy. As I was reading and praying this morning for a new verse for the new year, I recalled Isaiah 43:18-19, “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” I am so excited to see what the Lord would have me do and I can’t wait to see how my season of cancer is going to allow me to minister to people who are still fighting for their lives. I know that even though I’m cancer free now, that may not be the case forever. I do know that whatever happens in the future, I’ll never be alone because God will always be with me.
It’s been 3 weeks since my bilateral mastectomy and they’ve started the reconstruction process so I am hopeful that it will be complete in about 4 months. The pain is getting much more manageable and I can’t wait to start going to church again. I miss seeing my friends and all the people who have prayed and supported me through this tough season. I have a large box with cards and letters and I am going to use them to make a book about my cancer journey. It’s been an amazing journey and there are times that I am so awestruck at the grace given to me from the Lord. There has not been one day that I wasn’t grateful and I know it’s because God was working out His perfect plan for me.
On a funnier note, Ken has kept a record of things and when I saw it, I couldn’t believe it. Here are a few things he recorded I’ve had or been through:
- 65 doctor appointments
- 6 rounds of chemo
- 11 IV’s
- 2 blood transfusions
- 5 ultrasounds
- 3 MRI’s
- 3 mammogram’s
- 1 biopsy
- 2 echocardiograms
- 1 endoscopy
- 3 scalp infections
- 1 thrush infection
- 23 blood draws
- 37 prescriptions
- 43, 896 hairs on my head lost
- 42 eyelashes lost
- 37 eyebrows lost
The most amazing thing about this crazy list is my husband drove me to every appointment, chemo and test. I am constantly reminded of how much he loves me and serves me, it’s almost mind boggling. I knew he had a servant’s heart but to take care of me day in and day out without grumbling or complaining is amazing. God could not have chosen a better husband for me and I am so grateful to be married to him.
I’m looking forward to this new year and praying that we continue to follow Christ and His plan for our lives. The picture we are holding up is from our gbabies who made it for us. It says, We love you to the moon and back.
Since being diagnosed with stage 2 invasive breast cancer 6 months ago, my life has been a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments, chemotherapy infusions, MRI’s, mammograms, blood transfusions and more. Looking back I can’t help but be grateful that my faith in Christ has carried me through this most challenging season of my life. I’m not sure how I would’ve gotten through this without it and I’ll be forever thankful for that day on July 14, 2001 that I finally surrendered my life to Christ. Faith isn’t something you pull out when you face a challenge or trial, it’s the driving force of all your decisions, thoughts and prayers. My absolute trust in God and in His will has given me much comfort and knowing how much He loves me and cherishes me, has enabled me to be overflowing with joy.
This morning I was reading about Jesus sending out the disciples in the boat ahead of Him after He had spent the entire day ministering to people. In Matthew 14:22 we read, “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the people.” Jesus then goes up to the mountainside to pray alone. While He was praying, a terrible storm hit and the disciples were scared. Jesus then walked on the water towards them and the part I have always focused on was when Peter walked on the water, saw the wind, got scared and started to sink. This morning, however, I thought about Jesus sending them out by themselves knowing that a terrible storm was coming. He did not go with them but allowed them to go through the storm alone. He waited to show them who He was until their fear was at an all time high. He then walked out on the water towards them and after the “Peter incident”, climbed into the boat and the wind stopped. Finally, the disciples got it and said, “Truly you are the Son of God.” I can’t even begin to compare myself to the disciples but I can say from the depths of my heart that Jesus is who He says He is. He has revealed Himself to me over and over again; sometimes in the middle of a storm and sometimes after I’ve gone through it but always in His perfect timing. Knowing this has enabled me to be content in whatever the future holds for me in my journey. As crazy as it may sound, I am grateful for my cancer. It has allowed my faith to grow in ways that I could never imagine. It has also revealed to me that life is precious and to make each moment count and stop fretting over things that have absolutely no eternal significance.
I am having a bilateral mastectomy and will begin the reconstruction process next week on Wednesday, December 10th. It’s hard to imagine but I’m hopeful that afterwards, I will be cancer free. I can’t wait to start the next year working on gaining my health back and detoxing from all the chemicals that have been pumped through me. I am excited because next year is going to be awesome and God will prepare me for whatever He’s calling me to next.
Please keep me in prayer for the surgery and I will try to post updates as soon as I am able. I am really hoping they will let me go into surgery with my lion hat on, bahahaha.
I went to my specialist yesterday and we went over my mammogram results. My tumor has responded well to the chemotherapy and has shrunk considerably. I’ll be having a double mastectomy on December 10 and will probably only be in the hospital for one night since my surgery will be at 7:30 am. I’m looking forward to this next step because it’s one more step closer to being cancer free. I can’t wait until I’m no longer a fighter but will be able to say I’m a survivor. Having cancer is exhausting not just physically but emotionally as well.
I have had tons of doctor appointments since I was diagnosed in June and it feels like I’ve been in a whirlwind ever since. It’s strange that in some ways it feels like time has stood still and other times it has flown by. I can’t wait until spring because I should be done with all the surgeries and everything and I can get back to either working or volunteering and of course going on a cruise! I miss church so much too and can’t wait to go back. I’m a little nervous about going now because I’m working on strengthening my immune system and I don’t want to get the flu or anything. I just got over a sinus infection that knocked me out for almost 2 weeks. I’m feeling much better after the blood transfusion last week and although I’m still fatigued from the chemo, I’m a lot better than I was. Several of my fingernails are lifting off and I think my toenails are doing weird things too. I feel like I look like Gollum sometimes with my bald head and gross nails, lol. I can’t wait until my hair grows back but it’s been nice to not have to deal with it. I think between me not driving the Pink Ninja and not using hair products, I’ve saved a ton of money!
One again, I’ll end with my thanks and gratitude to everyone who has sent me cards, emails, texts and care packages. Thank you also for your prayers. What an amazing feeling to know I have so many people praying for me and I know that this has sustained me during this season. My husband is the most amazing person I know and has cared for me and laid down his life for me and served me in ways that blow my mind. And of course, I’m most thankful for my relationship with the Lord and I am astonished at how much He loves me. My faith has never been stronger and I’ve never been more aware of His presence than I am right now. I’ll end with the lyrics to the song, Only Your Love from Kari Jobe.
Your love is strong and mighty, Its jealousy unyielding
It burns for me like a fire untamed, Your love is all consuming
You never stop pursuing, Nothing I could face could take it away
Your love is like no other, Nothing else satisfies
It flows through the deepest parts, It rests on the mountain high
Your love is overwhelming, Brought me to life again
Your love, it lasts forever, In You there’ll be no end
Oh, oh, only Your love, Oh, oh, only Your love
Nothing can separate us, Many trials can’t hide Your love
No sorrow can wash it away
Your love is like no other, Nothing else satisfies
It flows through the deepest parts, It rests on the mountains high
Your love is overwhelming, Brought me to life again
Your love, it lasts forever, In You there’ll be no end
Oh, oh, only Your love, Oh, oh, only Your love
How deep, How wide, How long, How high
I was reading this morning and found myself pondering Isaiah 40:31:
But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
I love this verse and have read it so many times and have always focused on the mounting up like eagles part and not being weary but today I found myself focusing on the waiting part. I know that so many times in the past, I’ve not waited on the Lord and have just forged ahead with my own ideas or plans. Since being diagnosed with breast cancer, I realize that I have no option but to wait on the Lord and there is no place I’d rather be. I almost can’t believe how peaceful, joyful and grateful I’ve been while going through the horrendous treatment. I truly believe that it is solely because I have not gone full steam ahead with my own plans but have sat still (if you know me, you know how hard that is!) and found that sweet, quiet spot where I can go and meet with my Lord so that He can fill me with His spirit. My body may be weak and tired but I have never been closer to the Lord or had such utter contentment in my life.
13 Years ago, when I got sober (woot! woot!) and became a born again Christian (bigger woot! woot!), I had no idea what waiting on the Lord meant. I thought I had to do certain things to be close to God. I read my Bible for hours every day, I served in so many ministries, I went on mission trips all over the world, I worked for my church, I evangelized like crazy and so many other things. While these are all good things, they don’t necessarily mean you are close to God. Over the years, I’ve realized that God wants me and my heart, not me doing a thousand things for Him while thinking He will somehow love me more or I could earn His love. I’ve also learned that if I am always running around and on the move, He will just sit back and wait for me to stop spinning my wheels. Cancer will definitely make you stop spinning your wheels. It will make you realize what’s important and what is not. What’s important for me right now is to stay in that quiet place of waiting and if I do my part, the Lord will do His. He always does what He says He’s gonna do and has never let me down. He will renew my strength so that I can mount up with wings like an eagle, I will be able to run and not be weary and walk and not faint (which will be awesome since I can barely walk with feeling like I’m gonna faint!).
I can’t believe I had my last chemo today! At times it seemed like it would never end and other times it felt like it flew by. As tough as it was to go through it, I am grateful for these powerful chemo cocktails that will hopefully have killed all the cancer cells. I will still have to go the cancer center every 3 weeks for another 9 months to receive one medication called Herceptin. The type of breast cancer I have is Invasive Ductal Carcinoma and it’s HER 2+ which means I produce abnormally high amounts of a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2. Only one in four women have this type of breast cancer. The Herceptin targets this protein and stops it from growing. The tumor itself has shrunk a lot and I will have an MRI and ultrasound in 2 weeks to determine the size of it. I will then meet with my specialist to discuss the results and type of surgery I will have. I don’t have the surgery date yet but it will be in December sometime.
My red blood cell counts have dropped really low again and I can tell because I have started to feel the fatigue again the last few days and my legs burn if I stand too long or walk up a flight of stairs. That’s been one of the worst of the side effects because I do not like feeling like I can’t be Wonder Woman! I see the oncologist next week and will have more blood tests but will most likely need another blood transfusion. I was scared to have it a few weeks ago but after a few days of getting it, I felt amazing. I had so much energy that I actually went through and cleaned out all my kitchen cabinets and was able to go shopping with my mom for several hours.
I am grateful once again for all the meals (yummy!) and the cards, texts, emails and most of all, for your prayers during this season. (I know I repeat myself a lot and my excuse is chemo brain, it’s real, Google it, lol). I honestly don’t think that I would have been able to do this without each and every one you. I know I still have several surgeries coming up but I feel like the worst is behind me. I am so glad that I know the One who holds the future and He has promised to never leave me or forsake me. This knowledge is what brings me great comfort and is the reason I have no fear. God has revealed Himself to me in so many ways and through so many people. I can’t help but brag about my husband who continually lays down his life for me to serve me, to pray with me and for me, who runs all over town when I have weird food cravings, and who shows me unconditional love. When I got diagnosed with breast cancer, he could have shook his fist at God or become angry since he lost his first wife to a rare form of cancer but he did not. He remained steadfast and faithful and turned to the Lord, his “mighty men” and his men’s group at church for support. I was looking at our wedding pictures the other day and I had no idea what was to come just 5 years later. I wouldn’t want to share my life with anyone else and I am grateful that God knew exactly what I needed and in His perfect timing, he sent me Ken.
I’ll end my ramblings with my cancer verses that kept me going. Romans 12:12:
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
I’ve been reading through the book of Joshua again and meditating on the Israelites and the fear that paralyzed them and kept them in the desert wandering for 40 years. God had showed them miraculous signs in Egypt; the 10 plagues, the Passover, parting the Red Sea and leading them with a fire by night and a cloud by day and many others. He tells them to go take possession of the Promised land but they were scared so they sent in 12 spies, one from each tribe. They go into the land to scope it out and when they returned only Joshua and Caleb gave good reports. The other 10 spies saw how big and strong the people were and how large the cities were and their hearts melted with fear.
In Deuteronomy 1:29-31, God told them, “Do not be terrified, do not be afraid of them. The Lord God who is going before you, will fight for you as He did for you in Egypt, with your very eyes and in the wilderness.”
All they had to do was go take possession of the land but they were unwilling to do so. Their fears stopped them from entering and living an abundant life and enjoying all the things that God had planned for them. Remember, these were God’s chosen people! But, because of their disobedience, God tells them that no one from that generation would see the Promised Land, only Joshua and Caleb and all the youngins.
The thing that caught my attention was the Israelites’ fear that kept them from fulfilling God’s plan for their lives. How many times have we let our fears stop us from doing things and very likely something extraordinary for God? God tells us over and over in Scripture to not be afraid. In Isaiah 41:10 He says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Notice how God says I am with you, I will strengthen you, I will uphold you? We aren’t relying on God’s power, we are trying to overcome our fears by ourselves. We read books on fear, we listen to sermons on fear and while those are good, I really believe we need to understand that God is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do. We need to stop relying on our own power and read the Word and memorize verses so that when the time comes and we have a “fear fit” we can recall the scripture hidden in our hearts and walk in faith instead of fear.
I made a choice a long time ago that I would not waste any more of my life living in fear of anything. Even in this season of fighting for my life against breast cancer. I will not lose precious time living in fear of tests or doctors or anything. I will walk in God’s magnificent grace that He has poured out on me. Faith is so much more fun than fear anyways. I love to see what God is going to do through me everyday. Some days I get the opportunity to share Christ with someone who has stage 4 cancer and feels hopeless, some days all I can do is smile. I am excited with each step of my treatment and know without a doubt that God wants to use it to further His kingdom. We aren’t promised an easy life but when I compare my life to the Apostle Paul’s, I can’t help but think God did give me an easy one.
I know it sounds crazy but I am grateful for getting breast cancer. It has given me a new outlook on life and now that my head is clear after my last chemo, I am starting to make new plans for the future. It’s exciting to think that we can actually set new goals at the very young age of 49. Yes, 49 years old, I can’t believe I am that young!
Before I got the cancer, I was feeling a little lost about what I should be doing. I am blessed that I don’t have to work and I love doing volunteer work. I feel like that’s where God has called me to serve but I am praying for clarity so that I can do one or two things with excellence instead of being all over the place. It’s hard for me to pick only a few things to devote my time to because I am passionate about so many things. I know God will show me where He wants me and I am excited for the next leg of my race.
Last week’s chemo has been much easier since I got the blood transfusion. I feel almost normal except for a few side effects but I’ll take it. The round before the last one almost took me out, not literally, of course, but it was the worst. I have only 1 round of chemo left (can I get a hallelujah!) then it’s off to meet with the plastic surgeon and specialist and talk about surgery. Due to the aggressiveness of my type of breast cancer, I’m leaning toward double mastectomy, which will require more than 1 surgery, which I’m definitely not looking forward to. Hopefully in a couple of months, I will be cancer free (woohoo) and will no longer be a fighter but a survivor! My hair will start growing back, with a little help from Rogaine, and I can start planning on what the next leg of my race will be.
Once again, I am humbled at God’s grace on me as I have been running this race. He has used so many people to care for me, encourage me, pray for me and love me. All the cards, texts, emails, calls, meals, drop by’s and care packages have meant more to me than you could possibly ever know. God has used everyone of you to bless me and I am forever grateful. My husband, Ken, definitely gets the best husband award as he lays down his life for me daily and serves me relentlessly. His love me astounds me and makes me realize that I finally got my fairy tale and Prince Charming.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9
Chemo is the most horrendous thing I’ve ever been through in my life and I’ve been through a lot. There aren’t adequate words to describe the way it makes you feel. I’ve never seen anyone go through it and the only thing I ever knew about it was what I saw on TV. I thought it was just going bald and throwing up a lot and I wished that’s all it was. You may not want to read this post because I have decided to be brutally honest. Don’t get me wrong, I still know that God is on the throne and that He is working out everything for my good but that doesn’t mean I have to feel good about it.
I had my 4th infusion last Wednesday and I still feel very weak and fatigued. It’s a different kind of fatigue then just being tired. It’s a deep down in your bone tired where it takes all your energy just to walk up a flight of stairs. Since I’m bald now, my showers take about 5 minutes and by the time I’m done, I have to lay down and rest. I can barely walk through a grocery store without having to stop to rest. I thought having Fibromyalgia was bad but that’s a cakewalk compared to chemo. I constantly feel like I’ve run a 100 mile marathon and my legs are very shaky and weak. I’ve been anemic so I’m sure that’s not helping and unfortunately chemo anemia can’t be cured by taking iron. The only way to get my red blood cells up is to have a transfusion, which I will have to have soon.
For some reason, yesterday and today have been the hardest days for me emotionally. I get out of the shower and look in the mirror and I see myself with no hair and my pale pallor and I can’t help crying. I only starting my breast cancer journey 3 months ago and to see the changes in such a short time saddens me. I’m not talking about vanity here but the reality of cancer and the devastating effects of chemo. I keep telling myself that chemo is not the enemy, it’s the solution but my body feels differently. I’m just praying that it will not be for nothing and it will kill all the cancer cells.
I’m grateful that I only have 2 more treatments then I’ll be done with the hardest part. I will still have to have an infusion of one of the medicines every 3 weeks for a year but those side effects are manageable. I have to meet with the specialist and the plastic surgeon next month to determine the type of surgery I will need. I’m almost certain that I will be having a bilateral mastectomy and the thought of having several more surgeries for that is more than I can handle right now. I’ve had 9 surgeries in the last 12 years and I’m just not looking forward to more.
I can say that I know how David felt when he penned Psalm 13,
How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.
I know this is a season that will pass. I know that my great God will carry me through. I know that in the end, I’ve already won because I know how the story will end so I will sing the Lord’s praise. He has been and will continue to be good to me because He loves me with an everlasting love. He knows when I am weak and He knows my every need and thought and He delights in me. This is the reason that I can be so discouraged in my body but so strong in my spirit. I can have a meltdown like this morning but as I open my Bible and focus on God’s plan for my life, I can’t help but be encouraged. God knew that when He created me I would face this battle. He knew that I would need an amazing husband by my side. He knew that my husband, who lost his first wife to cancer, would know exactly how to love and support me and his kids through this. He knew that I would be reconciled to my family because I would need them. He knew that my mom would eventually become my best friend. He knew that I would need my faithful puppy, Kiku, to never leave my side, to lay with me for hours on end and to just love me unconditionally. He knew that ultimately I would need a personal relationship with Him and I am most grateful that He never gave up on me, even during times when I grievously sinned against Him. I made the decision to trust and follow Christ 13 years ago and my life has never been the same. I know without a doubt that I would not have been able to go through this without Him.
I need your prayers like never before because I am feeling overwhelmed and weary. I am reminded of Moses when Joshua and the Israelites were fighting against the Amalekites. When Moses had his arms raised, the Israelites were winning but when he became tired and lowered them, the Amalekites were winning. Aaron and Hur stood at his side and propped up his arms so that Joshua was able to defeat the Amalekites. This is exactly what I need right now. I need my friends and family to prop up my arms because I am getting tired. I have a long way to go to defeat this cancer and I know without a doubt, that all things are possible for him who believes and I do believe.
I am sitting here at my cancer center getting my 4th round of chemo and I am so excited that after today, I will only have 2 more left! I will still have to go in to get 1 infusion for a year but it’s not like chemo and without most of the side effects. The most difficult side effect I have now is that not only is my vision blurred, my depth perception is way off. I’ve only been able to drive for very short distances because I feel like everyone is gonna crash into me! I feel like I’m looking through a tunnel and I think this is why I’ve been having a lot more headaches and migraines.
Yesterday I had an endoscopy (all results are good!) and I keep thinking about a conversation I had yesterday with one of the nurses. We were talking about my breast cancer and I told her that I wouldn’t be able to handle it without my relationship with the Lord. She told me she was a woman of faith as well and prayed often especially on tough days. I was trying to explain to her the sovereignty of God, even in tough situations. I told her that my only job while I’m here on earth is to draw people to Christ and glorify Him and anything above that is icing on the cake. God did not put us here to live nice, comfy, trouble free lives and tells us clearly in the Bible in John 16:33 (and other places) that we will have many trials and sorrows but we don’t have to worry because He has overcome the world. He doesn’t want to see His children suffering but because we are fallen and this world is fallen, we will have them. He also uses our suffering to draw us to Him and I can say with all honesty that when I’m in a tough season, I am way more dependent on God.
I’ve been reading Unstoppable by Christine Caine and the tag line is, running the race you were born to win. It’s really helping me immensely and challenging me as well. Just because I have cancer doesn’t mean I don’t have a race to run and I know without a doubt that God’s plan will prevail.
I was listening to Kari Jobi this morning and this song really spoke to my heart. Take a listen and I guarantee your heart will be moved as well. The words are below and are awesome even without the song, but listen to it anyway!
I Am Not Alone
When I walk through deep waters
I know that You will be with me
When I’m standing in the fire
I will not be overcome
Through the valley of the shadow
I will not fear
I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me
In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear
You amaze me
You call me as Your own
You’re my strength
You’re my defender
You’re my refuge in the storm
Through these trials
You’ve always been faithful
You bring healing to my soul
I can’t believe how many doctors I’ve seen in the last few months since my breast cancer diagnosis. I am grateful that they are all working together and that they are some of the best. I’m on a breast cancer forum online and there are so many women going through treatment that are not receiving the care I am. I feel truly blessed.
In my last update, I wrote about the ultrasound showing the tumor hasn’t shrunk and that was disappointing. I had an MRI Monday and I’m waiting for the results. I am hoping and praying that it shows some shrinkage. I also went to my primary doctor last week because the infection on my scalp came back. She gave me more antibiotics and thinks it MRSA, which is a staph infection. So not only am I bald, I have bumps all over my head, talk about adding insult to injury! I actually kind of like having no hair because it used to take me an hour getting ready in the morning and now it takes me 20 minutes. I’m clinging on to my eyebrows and eyelashes for dear life and actually prayed that they wouldn’t fall out. I figure, it can’t hurt🙂
I also met with the gastroenterologist this morning, who was incredibly kind, thorough and knowledgeable about cancer. He said that chemo patients can sometimes develop viruses or infections in the esophagus and that could be why it’s burning so much. I am scheduled for an endoscopy next Tuesday so he can look at the stomach lining and esophagus then we’ll know what’s going on. I’m also meeting with my oncologist this afternoon to check my blood counts (which praise the Lord have all been great) and she may have the MRI results back.
So after all those doctor appointments, how am I doing? Whew, cancer and chemo are no joke. This third round really knocked me down and I had more bad days than good. It’s amazing that simple things like shopping or taking walks can feel like I’ve run a 10k marathon. The good news is that my heavenly Father who loves me so much was not surprised that I would get cancer. In fact, He told me repeatedly in His Word that I would have all sorts of trouble so I wasn’t too shocked. It still stinks but I know in my heart that all things work for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose, not mine. There are times when I’m laying in bed and all I can do is just cry out to God and knowing He is ever present brings a comfort to me found nowhere else.
I am also incredibly grateful for my wonderful husband and I couldn’t imaging going through this without him. I am thankful for my family and friends and all your prayers. They are sustaining me. I also have to mention my baby, Kiku, This crazy dog follows me everywhere and never leaves my side. There are times when she stares at me with her little love eyes and I swear she sees my suffering. She is my therapy.
I’ll end with this video of one of the songs that is really ministering to my heart. It’s called The More I Seek You by Kari Jobe and it’s one of my favorite songs. It is definitely worth it to watch it and I believe that the Lord will speak to your heart through it as He does me.
I had planned on writing all through my breast cancer journey but haven’t been able too while going through chemotherapy. For the first week and half after treatment, I am unable to read because one of the side effects is blurred vision. It’s a little freaky and I dislike it because I can’t even drive the Pink Ninja!
It has been a roller coaster ride since I got diagnosed in June. I completed my third round of chemo last week and am halfway there! (Hopefully!) I had an ultrasound to measure the tumor last week and was disappointed that it hadn’t shrunk at all. The bizarre thing is upon palpation, you can feel that it has shrunk quite a bit. My specialist was concerned as well but also confused so she wants me to get another MRI. I am going on Monday to have that done then she’ll go over the results with my oncologist and may change my chemo cocktail. The plan was to do 6 rounds of chemo, then one year of a specific drug then discuss the type of surgery I will need then radiation, depending on the surgery. I hope and pray that they don’t extend chemo because I’ll pull my hair out. Oh, wait a minute, I don’t have any! Side note, the good side effect of chemo, is I don’t have to shave my legs or worry about my mustache anymore, the bad news, obviously, I’m bald!
One of the other side effects I have been having a difficult time with is acid reflux. I’ve only had it a few times in my life and had no idea how miserable it is. I have been on 5 different medicines which have not worked at all. A few days ago, I went to my primary doctor who gave me 2 new ones to try and I have to see a gastroenterologist next week. The acid is burning my throat so badly that eating and drinking fluids has been hard so I’ve gotten dehydrated a couple times and had to go to my cancer center to get an iv bags of fluids. It’s amazing how much better I feel with a bag of juice. Hopefully, the specialist can help me and my throat won’t be on fire all the time anymore!
One again, I have to give a shout out first and foremost to my amazing husband. I like the fact that God knew exactly what I would be going through and brought this godly man in my life to help me, encourage me, love me, and just be amazing to me. I honestly don’t think I would’ve made it through this far without him. His love for me and the way he continually lays down his life for me truly astounds me. His love and faith in Christ is his foundation and I find incredible security in that.
My faith is sustaining me as well and I know I’m repeating myself, but I can’t imagine going through this without knowing God. There are times when I feel so sick that all I can do is cry out to God to help me. Even at my worst, I feel Him in such an intimate way and there’s a closeness I feel that I have never felt before. Yesterday, I was thinking of the second part of Zephaniah 3;17 where it says, “He will take great delight in you and rejoice over you with singing.” As I lay in my bed, I imagine the Lord God, Creator of the Universe, rubbing my back and singing softly over me and there are no words to describe the feelings in my heart. To know that this great big God comes to my rescue when I call and is near me at all times is so reassuring. It also reminds me that all things work for the good for those who love him and that He is my Rock and my Redeemer.
I have to once again thank my dear friends for all the prayers, texts, emails, cards and meals. I know I haven’t responded back to each of you and I apologize. Please continue to pray as I have a lot of upcoming doctor appointments next week. Also, please continue to pray for Ken. Once again, thank you so much for being on this journey with me.
Yesterday was an awesome day because I was able to go to the house of the Lord and worship God in song and praise. I’ve missed the last several weeks due to the chemo and vacation and I’m grateful that I went because the message was on encouragement. I saw many friends who told me they have been praying for me and I was definitely encouraged! There were so may good points in the message and you can read about them here, http://bible.us/e/1Yxw
In Samuel 30:6, it reads, “But David found strength in the Lord his God”. I love this verse in the Bible because it reminds us that although we need other people to encourage us, we have the ability to encourage ourselves in the Lord. I am so grateful to have the living, breathing Word of God to read and study while I’m on this journey. There are days when I can feel the fullness of the Holy Spirit filling me up to the depths of my soul and I am overwhelmed by my constant need for it.
Today is day 4 after my second treatment and although my spirit is well my body is starting to feel the effects of the chemotherapy. Next week will be tough and I will need lots of prayers so if you are reading this, please pray for me. I know I’ve said this before and I have to say it again, I have no idea how anyone could endure going through cancer or any other illness without knowing the Lord. If I couldn’t cry out to God and know without a doubt that He cares for me, that His love for me is everlasting and that His plans for me are to give me hope and a future, I would surely not be able to deal with this. My prayer is that God would open my eyes so that I can see the hurting and the hopeless and be able to share the love of Christ with them. I want to be remembered as the lady who wore the crazy wigs to chemo and shined the light of Christ in darkness and who was filled with a peace that surpasses all understanding.
For now, I’ll end with one of my verses for this season, 2 Corinthians 4:18,
“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
I’m sitting here pretty in pink waiting to get my meds hooked into my port.
I’ve already met one nice Christian lady, she saw me write Romans 12:12 on the whiteboard and we started talking. I love to talk to people who know The Lord and ooze Jesus out. We both agreed that we couldn’t live without him. Her daughter was cracking up looking at my wig and listening to me talk (she thought I was cool for a grandmother!) 😎
I also got funny looks because I had to see my oncologist first. When you walk into the oncology office, you can see people who are scared, nervous and many of them have no hope. Unlike me, whose hope is in The Lord. I have no idea how anyone could go through this battle without knowing God. I wake up every day so grateful that I’m a child of God and that he has given me such a great life to live. I have the most amazing, supportive husband and family and I can’t imagine what it would’ve been like to go through this without them.
Last week was amazing. We had our family vacation in Myrtle Beach and had the most wonderful weather. We had Team Bowers, Team Lechner, Team Maresco and Team Rocky, yes he gets his own team! We played in the waves, had great conversations on the sand, played putt putt, ate good food, got lots of gbaby kisses and had such an awesome time. I’m so grateful that not only are we family, but each one of us is in God’s family.
I’m glad this is my second infusion because I know exactly what to expect. I’m really hoping that I can make it to church Saturday night because I’ve missed the last few weeks. I miss the worship and I miss my awesome Pastor Dale. I’m grateful the church is high tech and I can watch the service live online but I’d rather be there worshipping with my peeps and seeing my friends. I debated wearing this pink wig to church but I would feel horrible if Pastor Dale saw it, burst out in laughter, fell off the stage and injured himself. That would be a good story to tell but I don’t want him calling me into his back office, the most holy of holies 😝
It’s so interesting that the things that used to seem so important to me before the cancer aren’t really that important at all. I’m learning that certain things are not going to matter one bit so I’m trying to be more eternally focused. I don’t want to waste my cancer, as John Piper says, and I really want to be able to share the hope and peace that I have. I’m still in awe of Gods grace and I can’t believe that I have no fear or anxiety, but instead I’m filled with the Holy Spirit.
I’ve babbled enough so I’ll close with me once again asking for your prayers. Please pray that I can handle the side effects, which start about day 4 and last about a week. It’s tough taking so many medications to counteract them and I feel like a walking drug store. At least now I know to expect to feel like a Mack truck hit me first, then a Smart car, then a tricycle, then a skateboard.
Thank you so much for your cards, texts, emails, and prayers. I may not be able respond to them all but believe me, I read and I appreciate each one.
My verse for this season is in Romans 12:12, Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful to prayer.
Well it’s been 8 days since my first chemo treatment and I keep waking up each morning and praying and hoping to feel better. This is by far the worst thing I have ever had to endure and I have had to endure a lot in my life. I know God is good all the time but I sure wish this cup would pass from me. I’m trying to not think of having to go through 5 more treatments with each one getting cumulatively worse. There aren’t adequate words to describe how awful I feel. I’ll feel good and have energy for 5 minutes then have to lay down and rest for a half hour. I know the best days are coming soon, I just need to get through this one.
I have an appointment this afternoon with the oncologist to check my white blood cells and I am almost too tired to go. I am so grateful for my husband who is willing to just be with me when I feel this bad. Grateful he can work from home and take me to all my appointments. He represents Christ in our marriage and lays down his life for me every day.
Please pray for me as I have a long season to endure. I want to run the race well. I want to represent Christ well. I want to share my hope that I have in Christ. I am clinging to this verse today, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
I’ll admit I was a little nervous about my first treatment. I had an idea of what to expect because the cancer center gives you so much information so you are prepared. I brought snacks (splurged and bought nilla wafers!) a book, magazines, Ipad, and warm fuzzy socks. They gave me a blanket and a pillow as well. They hooked up the medicine (4 different cocktails) to my port so I had to sit there for about 5 hours and if you know me you know that it was very hard to do! I could roll my IV poll to the bathroom but basically sat there. The good news is they had free wifi so I watched Netflix the whole time and it really went by fast.
I met a lady who was ending her treatment and it was nice of her to come sit next to me because she heard me tell the nurse that this was my first time. She shared her experience with me and told me the side effects for her were minimal, some were weird though like she lost all of her toenails. (She was checking out my polka dotted toes). The main side effect she had was from the Neulasta, which is used to treat neutropenia, a lack of certain white blood cells caused by the chemo. I have to get this the day after each chemo treatment. About 2 days after receiving it, there is severe pain in your bones and lower back because the medicine goes into the bone marrow to work it’s magic. Despite the side effects, it’s amazing that someone invented it because it will boost my immune system and help me be able to go out and not worry too much about catching infections, etc. They do blood tests every week and will let me know if my counts are way down or if I need a blood transfusion.
I am so blessed to be under the care of an excellent specialist at Johns Hopkins and an oncologist who is at the new Aquilino Cancer Center next to Shady Grove Hospital. I am also doubly blessed because they chose me to do a case study on so my specialist, oncologist and radiologist meet on a regular basis to discuss my case and make sure I am receiving the best care. My specialist called me yesterday after they met and let me know that they have been studying my films and besides Kobu (the 4.6 cm lump), I also have several calcification’s that will most likely not shrink with chemo. What that means for me is I’ll probably have to have a mastectomy instead of a lumpectomy. The good news about having the mastectomy is no radiation, the bad news is, it’s usually involves several surgeries.
Whatever the outcome, I am confident that the Lord will go before me, stand behind me or carry me when needed. I am so grateful that I have a personal relationship with Christ because I’m not sure I could go through this without Him. I am joyful, peaceful and hopeful because I am “pressing on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” James 1:2-4 says,
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
I want to be a mature Christian and I want everything the Lord has for me. Hopefully I will pass this test and bring honor and glory to Christ and my biggest prayer is that I will meet many women throughout my treatment that I can share my hope and faith in Christ with. Thank you again for all your emails, texts and phone calls. Please continue to pray for me, especially for the next several days when the side effects kick in. They told me that days 1-2 are good, 3-7 are the hardest then the rest of the days until the next treatment should be good. With each treatment though, the fatigue and side effects may get worse.
Quick shout out to my hubby, Ken. I am absolutely amazed at his faith and trust in God going through this with me. His relationship with the Lord has never been stronger and knowing that he can lead us through this without fear but with strength allows me to just relax. I am so proud of him for his attitude and trust in God. He could shake his fist or be angry at the Lord for having to go through this again but instead is choosing to trust God completely. If you are reading this and don’t know him, his first wife lost her battle with cancer but praise God, she is in heaven now rejoicing. I am so proud of him and and also his kids for sticking by my side and praying us both through this. We have so much to be grateful for and are especially grateful for all the care we are receiving from you.
I can’t believe it’s been 13 years since I made the best decision of my life. July 14, 2001 was a day my life changed, not only in the physical world but the eternal as well. I got sober and made the decision to follow Jesus Christ. It’s been an amazing journey and one thing I’ve learned is that God will never let me down. His love for me is everlasting and so blatantly outrageous it boggles my mind. He loves me when I’m unlovable and He’s always near to me when I call.
I’m usually on a mission trip this time of year and have spent many birthdays on foreign soil. Today, however, I will be spending it the hospital getting a mediport put into my chest so it will be easier to receive my chemo medications. Although I’m saddened that I won’t be able to go back to my beloved Africa, I’m grateful that someone invented the port so I don’t have to worry about my tiny veins collapsing. I’m also grateful that I haven’t had a drink in 13 years and if there was ever a time I would’ve thought I needed one it would be now. Thankfully for me, I learned very early on in my walk with Christ that He is truly all I will ever need.
One of my favorite portions of scriptures Psalm 73:25-26,
Whom have in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
This is going to be a very busy week for me so I could use some extra prayers. I get my port today then Tuesday I’m attending a chemo education class and having an EKG then Wednesday is chemo day and Thursday I go back for an injection that will boost my white blood cells. The chemo will take about 5-6 hours and I’m grateful I only have to do it 6 times, every 3 weeks. Sitting still for me is going to be difficult and I’m glad they put a lot of Benedryl in the chemo cocktail so that will be make me sleepy.
I wanted to end by saying thanks to all of you who are praying, texting, calling and emailing me. My heart has been so encouraged and I’m truly blessed.
I just back from meeting with the oncologist and I’m feeling very overwhelmed. I really wanted to wait until I got back from my family vacation In August to start chemo but the oncologist wants me to start asap. The tumor grew 1 cm in 2 weeks so she is afraid that if I wait, it could spread into my lymph nodes. Although my lymph nodes came back clear, one of them is “chunky.”
I will be having a port put in to my chest on Monday, then a chemo education class on Tuesday, chemo on Wednesday and then on Thursday I go in for an injection that will boost my white blood cells. I will have 6 rounds of chemo, once every 3 weeks. Halfway though treatments, I’ll have an MRI or ultrasound to see if it shrunk then discuss surgery options and radiation.
I have HER2+ breast cancer, which means I test positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), which promotes the growth of cancer cells. HER2-positive breast cancers tend to be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer. The chemo combination is called TCHP or Taxotere, Carboplatin, Herceptin and Perjeta.
Please continue to pray for me and Ken as the reality is really setting in. It’s hard to think that I have this horrible disease growing inside of me because I don’t look or feel sick. I’m trying to keep a positive attitude and know without a doubt that the Lord will get us through this. I’m sure it will hit me the most when my hair starts to fall out and I think that’s when it will be the hardest for me.
Again, I am so grateful that we have such a strong support group and godly people in our lives and it’s your prayers that are carrying us through this season.
I just got home from meeting with the specialist and feel like I have a better understanding now of what’s going to happen although my brain is about to explode from all the information and I’m still processing it all.
I had an MRI and ultrasound Monday to check my lymph nodes and I am so grateful that they look clear. The tumor (which I gave the name, Kobi, which means lump in Japanese) is about 4.4 cm x 2.4 cm. Due to the size, I will be doing neoadjuvent therapy (chemo prior to surgery) instead of chemo after. They want to shrink it as much as possible then at that time, hopefully a few months, we will discuss surgery options. It’s too soon to know if I will have a mastectomy or a lumpectomy at this point. There are pros and cons to both. If I opt for a lumpectomy, then I will have to also have radiation but if I have a mastectomy, I won’t need radiation. There are still a few factors that will determine which one I will have and the good news is that I don’t have to decide right now.
The next step is to meet with the oncologist to talk about when to start treatment. I will have chemo and also another infusion of a drug that specifically targets my type of breast cancer (HER2+). I will need to do this drug for a year (bleh) and I’m not sure yet how long the chemo will last.
With all the “business” part out of the way, now for what’s going on inside me. It is amazing how peaceful I am feeling about this right now and I know that it is absolutely God’s grace and your prayers that are carrying me through this. I can’t even begin to imagine how anyone could go through something like this without faith in Christ. Don’t get me wrong, I have shed a few tears and my emotions have been up and down but for the most part, I am at peace. To know that a loving God is with me every step I take brings me so much comfort.
I also want to say that I am so proud of my husband, Ken, and how he has stepped up to care for me. God has done the most amazing things in his life the past few years and I believe He has been preparing him for this new season we are going through. It makes me feel confident that he is my covering and that he has the strength to carry us both through this. His faith in Christ is being made even stronger and it warms my heart to see him fully trusting God in all this.
Please continue to pray for us. I love reading all the texts, emails and cards and I have so much gratitude in my heart for each one of you. You truly are a blessing to us!
The doctor finally called me yesterday with the news, “you have invasive ductal cancer”. Those 5 words will change my life from this day forward. I’m trying to process it all with the little bit of information I have. I have to admit that my knowledge of breast cancer is very limited. I started doing a little research yesterday and I’ve learned that my treatment will be largely based on whether or not it’s in any of my lymph nodes. I’m having an MRI and ultrasound on Monday to determine if it has spread to any of them. On Wednesday I go back to the breast specialist to discuss the results then to an oncologist. My doctor also told me that I will need to do chemo to shrink the lump before they remove it.
I’m still a little numb and am trying to process everything. I’m so grateful for the Lord and my husband walking through this with me. I don’t know how anyone can go through something like this without faith. Just knowing that so many people are praying for me brings me great comfort. I have received so many texts, phone calls and emails with verses and I am so grateful that I have God’s word to comfort me.
One of the verses that I have been clinging to is Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast because he trusts in you.” I have had an incredible peace since I started this journey 3 weeks ago. I’m sure their will be times when I’m not so peaceful and scared, but for now, God’s grace is sufficient for me.
I know the Lord is opening up a great opportunity for me to share my faith and my prayer is that I will bring God glory and give other women, who are going through this, the hope that I have in Christ.
God is using worship music to minister to my heart and soul and I absolutely love the words to Hillsong’s Oceans, Where feet may fail
So I haven’t written in so long but wanted to start again to write about this new season I’m in. About two weeks ago I found a pretty large lump on my breast and totally freaked out. It was so scary and I immediately thought, “I have cancer.” I scheduled an appointment with my doctor who sent me to get a mammogram. I was grateful to get an appointment the next day and after having the mammogram, I was told I needed to get an ultrasound. I was sent down to get that done, all the way praying and thinking the worst. After that, they gave me my films and told me my doctor would call with the results. I was scared and for the next few days, I researched lumps and found out that 80% are benign and not cancer. I prayed and am continuing to pray that that will be the case with me. My doctor called the next day and said the lump was suspicious and sent me to a specialist at Johns Hopkins. My husband and I went and again I am grateful that I could get an appointment the next day. The specialist did an exam and took another ultrasound and then told me that the lump is highly suspicious and that she was very concerned that it was cancer. It’s hard to hear those words but I’m hoping I will be in that 80%.
I have to have a biopsy on Thursday and then more waiting until my doctor gets the test results. Waiting to find out if I have cancer is the hardest thing I have ever gone through. I want to journal my thoughts and feelings and also ask that if you are reading this, you will keep me in your prayers.
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I am so grateful for my faith, which is sustaining me. I am holding in my heart so many verses but this one in particular from Isaiah 41:10,
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
I am utterly amazed when God gives me opportunities to share everything that He has done with me to the hurting world around me. To think that God can use my horrendous past and what the enemy meant for evil and turn that into His call for my life astounds me. I was reminded today that only 12 short years ago, I woke up a depressed, hopeless alcoholic who didn’t care whether or not I lived or died. I was reminded of my brokenness and my intense longing and desire to be loved and accepted. I was reminded of how guilty I felt all the time and my constant battle with shame.
Today I was also reminded that I am a new creation in Christ. I am so grateful that I have been sober for 12 years. I am so grateful that His love for me is as high as the heavens and He remembers my sins no more. I am so grateful that He rejoices over me with His singing and He quiets me with His love. I am so grateful that even before the creation of the world, He chose me. I am so grateful that I am fearfully and wonderfully made and that all my days were written in His book. I am so grateful for my fibromyalgia that draws me closer to God and reminds me that He loves me and counts me worthy enough to carry this cross. I am so grateful that God loves me so much that He would sacrifice His very own son for me. Me, a former Leper, former Mary Magdalene, former Samaritan woman at the well, former Pharisee and so many other things. Now, a new creation in Christ, clothed in His righteousness and proof that God makes beauty out of ashes.
I was looking for some old pictures from my last mission trip to Africa and started reading my older blogs. This excerpt is from 2006 and still rings true in my heart today:
I am not sure just when my heart started beating for Africa and more specifically, Sub- Saharan Africa. It may have started when I read a book that chronicled a little orphan’s life in Africa after the Rwandan genocide, where about a million lives were lost. This orphan walked hundreds of thousands of miles. He moved from one refugee camp to another searching for food and safety, several times being kidnapped and brutally beaten. I finished reading this book and had nightmares for months. I did a lot of research on Africa after this and the images of these orphans are seared into my mind. These images haunt me and challenge me to do something. Anything. One life at a time. It’s an incredible feat but I am not alone. The Lord Jesus Christ died not only for you and me but for every person in the world.
When I think about the day I will go to Africa, I always remember the apostle Paul’s vision of the man in Macedonia crying for him to come help him. This is what I hear when I think of all the orphans. They cry for me, sometimes so softly that I can barely hear it, but I do always hear it.
And I do still hear it now in 2013, perhaps louder than ever. This is the sole reason I decided to go back to school and become a medical assistant. I want to go back for as many times as it takes to help these beautiful dark faces, not only medically but to offer them hope. Hope that hung on a cross so long ago for each one of them. Hope that watches over them each and every minute of their lives. Hope that has not nor ever could forget them. Hope = Jesus
I was reading ahead in the devotional book, Streams in the desert and wanted to post one of the devotionals. It really stuck with me and I loved what it had to say on the subject of praying through something. It starts with the verse from Matthew 9:29, “According to your faith will it be done to you.”
“Praying through” something might be defined as follows: “Praying your way into full faith; coming to the point of assurance, while still praying, that your prayer has been accepted and heard; and in advance of the event, with confident anticipation, actually becoming aware of having received what you ask.”
Let us remember that no earthly circumstance can hinder the fulfillment of God’s Word. We must look steadfastly at His immutable Word and not at the uncertainty of this ever-changing world. God desires for us to believe his Word without other evidence, and then He is ready to do for us “according to our faith.” Robert Anderson
I wish I could take credit for such a wonderful devotional about praying through something, but I can’t! This is one of the best descriptions I have read about it and I just wanted to share it!
I’m sitting here writing thank you notes to people who have made generous donations towards my mission trip to Africa. I’m absolutely amazed to see God at work through this entire process. Raising funds for a mission trip can seem like a daunting task but every trip I’ve gone on, God has not only met my financial needs through donations, He has surpassed it. I can honestly say that I used to freak out at the thought of having to raise funds but The Lord has so graciously increased my faith in this area. It truly amazes me that people give of their hard earned money for me to be able to go into the world and share the Gospel.
I’m so glad that God not only calls people to go, He also calls us to send. I talk to so many people who think it’s a higher call to go overseas and I just want to make it clear that without financial and prayer support, I could never do what the Lord has called me to do! Whether you are called to be a missionary or called to financially support one or be a prayer warrior, YOU are fulfilling the great commission! Together, we are reaching people for Christ.
I think Chris Tomlin puts into words what is in my heart right now in his song, Indescribable.
From the highest of heights to the depths of the sea
Creation’s revealing Your majesty
From the colors of fall to the fragrance of spring
Every creature unique in the song that it sings
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
Who has told every lightning bolt where it should go
Or seen heavenly storehouses laden with snow
Who imagined the sun and gives source to it’s light
Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night
None can fathom
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
You are amazing God
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
All powerful, untameable,
Awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim
You are amazing God
You placed the stars in the sky and You know them by name.
You are amazing God
You see the depths of my heart and You love me the same
You are amazing God
You are amazing God
This past Sunday at church, it seemed like all the songs we sang were about heaven and the throne and it made me long for it in my heart. We read from Revelation 5 and it made me think about what an incredible vision this will be…
Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
It’s almost too much to comprehend. I look forward to the day when I can cast my crown at the feet of Him who sits on the throne, who loved me when no one else did, who gave His life for me and who has my very name engraved on His hand.
I love the way Kari Jobe sings the Revelation song and the words are amazing…
Worthy is the, Lamb who was slain, Holy, Holy, is He
Sing a new song, to Him who sits on Heaven’s Mercy Seat
Holy, Holy, Holy Is the Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come. With all creation I sing: Praise to the King of Kings!
You are my everything, And I will adore You
Clothed in rainbows, of living color, Flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor, strength and Glory and power be To You the Only Wise King
Holy, Holy, Holy Is the Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come. With all creation I sing: Praise to the King of Kings!
You are my everything, And I will adore You
Filled with wonder, Awestruck wonder at the mention of Your Name
Jesus, Your Name is Power, Breath, and Living Water, Such a marvelous mystery
Holy, Holy, Holy Is the Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come. With all creation I sing: Praise to the King of Kings! You are my everything, And I will adore You
A part of today’s devotional from the book Streams in the Desert…
We are able to have as much of God as we want. Christ puts the key to His treasure chest in our hands and invites us to take all we desire. If someone is allowed into a bank vault, told to help himself with the money, and leaves without one cent, whose fault is it if he remains poor? And whose fault is it that Christians have such meager portions of the free riches of God.
I recently finished up my medial assistant program and started my internship at a small primary care practice a few weeks ago. I have learned a lot and really enjoy talking with the patients. I woke up a few days ago and was praying that God would use me and I also prayed for the doctor I work for because I don’t think she is believer. A few times, she has lost her patience not only with our small staff but also with patients.
My prayers generally tend to focus on me or my needs and I prayed that God would give her patience and kindness towards everyone and I immediately felt convicted. The Lord had to remind me that I am the child of God so I’m the one who is supposed to be patient and kind. As soon as I repented, I started praying differently and have continued to pray for God to help me to love her. It’s amazing how the Lord answers prayers that align with His will. I know I have been able to be patient, loving and kind to her because He has been all those and more to me.
It’s so easy for us to pray for God to change the other person or the circumstances in which He puts us but we need to remind ourselves that we are here to fulfill His purposes for our lives, not our own. I wrote down the verses below on an index card and I keep it in my pocket at work and pray it for myself every day. I’m so grateful that God has given us every thing that we need for godliness!
Colossians 3: 12-14 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
I woke up this morning with Psalm 73:25 in my heart, “Whom have I heaven but You? and earth has nothing I desire besides You.” I started thinking about what that would look like and it was difficult to imagine. How different would my life be if the only thing I desired was God? If all my motives, dreams and longings were filled with simply desiring God. Even now, as I type, I’m almost speechless thinking about it.
Whenever I read this verse, it makes me think of Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.” I can’t imagine what I would want if I had to ask the Lord for just one thing and He would grant it to me. Would it be wealth? or health? or peace? or to end world hunger? I honestly don’t know because I’ve never thought about it.
I’m trying to picture being in the house of the Lord, gazing upon His beauty and the only thing that pops in my head is Isaiah 6. Isaiah saw the Lord sitting on His throne, high and exalted and seraphs were flying around calling to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is filled with His glory!” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. Isaiah cried out, “woe to me, I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” I think that’s exactly how I would feel. My first instinct would be to fall to the ground with my head bowed low ashamed to be in the presence of God because I am the worst of sinners. Unworthy to stand in the presence of God, blemished and filthy. I can’t imagine what Isaiah thought when he saw one of the seraphs bring a burning coal to touch his lips to take away the guilt and atone for his sins. Did he feel the same way I felt when I found out that Christ died for me so that my guilt would be taken away and my sins atoned for? Did he feel clean and all bright and shiny like I did when I learned that I was now a new creation in Christ, that the old Rachel was dead and gone and the new one was here? Did he feel loved and adored like me when he finally found what he was desperately searching for his whole life? I think he did because when we get near the end of his book in chapter 61:10, he writes, “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”
I am so grateful that I can feel clean and forgiven of all my sins; past, present and future sins. No longer can the heinous sins of my past haunt me because Jesus came to set the captives free. He came to lift me out of the slimy pit, the mud and mire and set my feet upon a rock; no ordinary rock but The Rock. He redeemed my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion. He loves me with an everlasting love. God’s love and kindness towards me is mind boggling.
I was reading Matthew 15:32-38 this morning and thinking about what this portion of Scripture means to me and I wanted to share a few thoughts. This is the second story of Jesus feeding the masses of people as He was teaching them. In the first account, He fed 5,000 men (plus women and children) with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and everyone ate and was satisfied and they had 12 basket of leftovers. Sounds crazy but we are talking about the Lord here! In this second account, “Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way.’ His disciples answered, ‘Where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?’ ‘How many loaves do you have?’ Jesus asked. ‘Seven,’ they replied, ‘and a few small fish.’ He told the crowd to sit down on the ground. Then He took the seven loaves and the fish, and when He had given thanks, He broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was four thousand men, besides women and children.” First of all, I love how Jesus’ motivation here is compassion. He knows the people must be hungry because they had been with Him for 3 days and have had nothing to eat. It makes me realize that Jesus cares about the needs in our lives no matter how big or small. He knows we have needs and He tells us in Matthew 6:31 to not worry about what we will eat or drink or wear because God knows we need them. As I was meditating on these verses, I thought about how we can sometimes pray for something that we may already have. If you are anything like me, you may be tempted to pray for more-more money, more time, more talent, more, more, more! I’m sure the disciples were probably thinking, ‘we have 7 loaves of bread and a few fish and Jesus wants us to feed at least 4,000 people with it?!” It doesn’t make sense and this is what I love so much about the Lord. He takes what little we have (or should I say what little we think we have) and He multiplies it. Not only did everyone eat that day until they were full, they also had 7 basketfuls leftover! I would’ve loved to be sitting there watching all this as it unfolded. I can imagine the disciples picking up the leftover baskets of food thinking to themselves, “didn’t we just do this with 5,000 other people?” At least this time, they didn’t just tell Jesus to send them away to go find food, they asked Him where they could find it. I think many times the Lord wants to use what little we have to do mighty things to show His glory. He chose to use a few loaves of bread and a few fish to feed all these people. He didn’t look up to the heavens and pray for more food. He didn’t call Domino’s pizza and tell them to send enough food for 4,000 people. He used what was available and I think sometimes that’s what He wants to do in our lives as well. Whenever I read these verses, it reminds me of the times in my life when I didn’t know how I would make it financially. The first several years for me a Christian were spent on repaying a lot of credit card debt that I accrued living a worldy life. I had 10 credit cards and a few months before giving my life to Christ, I almost filed for bankruptcy. I ended up not doing it and after living on a very meager salary, I ended up paying it all back. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do, especially as I had nothing to show for it. During this repayment phase, I was also able to tithe and that blew me away because every single month, it looked like I wouldn’t make it. If you looked at my finances on paper, it would not make sense and many times, I would balance my checkbook and think to myself, “how could I have made it through another month?” I love how the Lord met all my needs, always. Like the verses above, He can take something from nothing and make it everything. I will close with Matthew 19:26, “…All things are possible with God.”
I can’t believe that today, July 14, I have been sober for 10 years! What an amazing journey this has been and I am so grateful that I didn’t have to do it alone. Not only is it my sobriety birthday, it’s also my Christian birthday which makes it extra special. I gave my heart and life to Christ on July 14, 2001 and my life has not been the same since. If you want to read my whole testimony, click here.
Looking back on the last 10 years brings tears of happiness to my eyes because I can’t believe how very much God loves me. Sometimes I feel like I can grasp the depth and breadth of it, then other times I know I don’t even close to comprehending it. I only have to look back over my entire life to see how He had a plan and purpose for me all along. Through all my addictions and heinous sins, He loved me anyways. Not once I got cleaned up, but during it all. Amazing.
Who knew 10 years ago my life would turn out the way it did. Not only am I loved by God, but I’m married to the most wonderful husband in the world. I thought I was going to stay single and be a missionary in Africa, God had other plans. It’s funny how He works everything out according to His plans, not mine. Who knew that my mother would become one of my best friends after years of animosity and that our relationship would be restored beyond what I could ever imagine. Who knew that I would go to Bible college and earn my bachelor of theology degree (the first one in my family to graduate from college). Who knew that 10 years ago, I would wake up hungover and hating myself and my life and go to bed a new creation in Christ, loved and forgiven, redeemed and set free from a life of addictions. Jesus Christ, lover of my soul, that’s who. The One who gave up His life for me as a ransom. My debt is paid in full. Pardoned, redeemed, exonerated, absolved. It’s almost incomprehensible to think that a life was given freely for mine. Especially someone who was perfect and did absolutely nothing wrong. But because of His incredulous love for me, He laid down His life for me so that I could be forgiven and live an life in abundance.
Thank you Jesus for loving me enough when no one else did. Thank you for taking my horrendous sins and paying the price that should have been mine to pay. Thank you Jesus that it’s only by your grace that I am saved, that nothing I could have done would have been enough. Thank you Jesus that I have the honor and privilege to serve you for the rest of my life. Thank you Lord that you love me anyways. This song sums up how I feel.
I have been reading the book The Greener Grass Conspiracy and the title of the first chapter is Why am I so unhappy? The author talks about playing the “what if” game and the way to play it is to think about what would make you happy. Really, freakishly happy. We play it by inserting “what if” in front of things like, “if only I could get married then I would be happy” or “if only I could get that job promotion, then I would be satisfied” or “if only my budget wasn’t so tight, then I’d have peace, joy, contentment, and some sleep at night.” He goes on to say once you’ve identified your “if only” dream, invest all your hopes in that dream and spend hours thinking and praying about it. Put all your hopes for life and happiness into that dream. Imagine how happy you’ll finally be when that dream is fulfilled. Most people are good at playing the “what if” game. The only problem is, you never win.
If you struggle with discontentment, ask yourself this question, “am I always waiting for that next event/person/place/thing to happen so that it will fulfill the deepest desires of my heart?” If so, you will never, ever be content. Why? The Bible explains it best in Mark 7:21-23, “For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” It’s so easy to blame everything else for our circumstances but ultimately, it’s our fault. The raging, covetous, discontented desires come from within and they won’t be satisfied when circumstances change.
The author then goes on to talk about our constant desire to make an image for God. Our hearts are idol factories and we are constantly creating new idols to worship. Not golden calves, mind you, but idols nonetheless. Ultimately, the problem is stated best in James 4:1-3, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” When we don’t get what we want, we throw a temper tantrum and if we’re not careful, we can become angry with God and discontent with life. We grumble and complain and happiness appears to be out of reach. So what’s the hope if we are discontent? What do we do? Paul writes in Philippians 4:11-12, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” I think if the Apostle Paul can be content in whatever circumstances (beatings, stonings, shipwrecks, starvation, assassination attempts, snakebites, riots, etc) then we can also learn to be content.
This post is not meant to bring condemnation but conviction. As I am reading this book, my eyes are being opened to my own sin. Is is painful? Yes. Is it necessary? Yes. Does it bring me closer to the Lord? Absolutely. And ultimately, that’s what I want. I want to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and I am grateful for the Bible and for godly people who write godly books to help me along the way.
I have been reading a book titled The Greener Grass Conspiracy by Stephen Altrogge. He is a pastor at one of our sister Sovereign Grace churches in Pa. The book is a very easy read and it’s packed with personal stories, which I enjoy. I wanted to share some of what he wrote in chapter 2 because it really hit home with me. He begins by quoting Isaiah 43:6-7 and here is portion of it, “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” He goes on to say:
We were created for God’s glory. In other words, God put you and me on this planet to bring Him glory. I exist to display His worth to the world and to show how great God really is. God is at the center of all things and we exist for Him. Not the other way around. Life is not about my ultimate happiness and self-fulfillment. Does God love me? Yes, absolutely, but He doesn’t exist for me. Everything exists by God and for God. The universe orbits around God.
Discontentment begins when I start trying to be God. Discontentment happens when I attempt to displace God from His rightful place at the center of the universe. When I think that everything should run according to my plans instead of God’s plans. When I forget that God is God and that He allowed to do with me whatever He wants, whatever will bring Him glory. Discontentment results from a big view of myself and a very little view of God. Contentment is created in the shadow of the majesty of God. I become content when I see and treasure embrace the glory of God. I find contentment when I grasp the fact that life is not primarily about me and my comfort and my happiness. My soul is satisfied when I stop trying to elbow my way to the center of the universe and instead rejoice in and worship the God who really is the center of all things.
I couldn’t have said it better. Discontentment is an awful thing. I looked up the meaning in a dictionary and it’s defined as a restless desire or craving for something one does not have. What do you crave? What are the deepest desires of your heart that only the Lord knows about? Do you have the greener grass syndrome? Are you always thinking that other people have everything they want and you are the only person in life who doesn’t? Are you more focused on pleasing yourself rather then rejoicing in and worshiping God? When we realize that God created us with a plan and a purpose and ultimately He is in charge, we will live in a state of contentment. Whenever I start feeling a spirit of discontentment come over me, I quote Philippians 4:8, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
I will actually ask myself questions based on this verse like, is what I’m thinking or feeling right now true? Is it noble? Is it right? Is it pure? Is it lovely? Is it admirable? Is it excellent or praiseworthy? If it’s not, then I am most likely struggling with the sin of discontentment. As soon as I confess my sin to the Lord and take my thoughts captive, I am once again filled with His peace. His wonderful peace that surpasses all understanding. I am so grateful that the Lord did not leave me here alone but that I have the Holy Spirit to help me.
I am going through the Book of Psalms again and I was reading Psalm 19 this morning.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.“
I love sitting in my sun room and having my devotions in the early hours of the morning. I open up all the windows and I love to hear the birds chirping because it makes me think they are singing their little birdie hearts out to God. This is one of my favorite Psalms because it talks about how God speaks through His creation. I like to think that unreached people will hear God’s message and come to know Him through the works of his hands.
When I was in Peru on a mission trip several years ago, we took a ride in an open cattle truck up the mountain side to a very remote village. It was the scariest ride of my life because there were potholes everywhere and no lights and you could barely see the road. At times, we drove straight up the mountain and I remember one of the pastors singing a song about going home to the be with the Lord! Although it was scary, it was also the most beautiful ride of my life. The stars were shining so bright and I couldn’t help but think about this Psalm while looking up at them. I tried to describe it to people when I came home but there were no words that would do it justice. The closest I came was to tell people to imagine a black sheet with a million holes in it with light behind it shining through the holes. It was magnificent. I also thought about what Isaiah wrote in verse 40:26,
“Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.“
It’s incredible to think that God named each and every star and that not one of them is missing. They are silent but night after night, they reveal their knowledge. Next time you are outside at night, stop and look up and just take it all in. God speaks through His creation and He wants to tell you something.
I am grateful for our country and like most people, I love picnics and fireworks. It seems like this is what July 4th is all about. We have many freedoms simply because we are American and many people paid dearly with their lives to give us this freedom. We celebrate them and their heroic valor towards us and our country. We are grateful to them. I don’t find anything wrong about celebrating but today I would like to talk about a different freedom. A freedom that only Christ can bring. Galatians 5:1 states, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Christ has ultimately set us free. Freedom from the law, sin, death and eternal separation from God. That’s the freedom I want to celebrate. I love what Martin Luther writes in his commentary about this verse,
“Our conscience is free and quiet because it no longer has to fear the wrath of God. This is real liberty, compared with which every other kind of liberty is not worth mentioning. Who can adequately express the boon that comes to a person when he has the heart-assurance that God will nevermore be angry with him, but will forever be merciful to him for Christ’s sake? This is indeed a marvelous liberty, to have the sovereign God for our Friend and Father who will defend, maintain, and save us in this life and in the life to come.”
On July 14, 2001, I was set free. Set free from a life filled with self hatred, guilt, shame, drugs, alcohol and all the debauchery you can imagine. I woke up with one of the worst hangovers I have ever had and I was in my bed covered in my own vomit. I wanted to die. I had tried to take my own life 6 times and twice ended up on life support. Doctors didn’t think I would live. I was anorexic and my body started to feed off of my own organs to survive. I had a horrible heart murmur yet smoked 2 packs of cigarettes a day. I didn’t care. I hated my life. I had no purpose. Until that fateful day almost 10 years ago. I woke up and thought to myself, “I just can’t do this anymore. I remember asking God if He was real and if He was, He had to help me.” It was the strangest thing because within a few minutes, I felt a calm and peace I have never felt before. That began my new life in Christ and my new freedom in Christ. Click here if you want to read my entire testimony. My 10 year Christian anniversary will be in just 10 days. I can’t believe that I have also been sober for 10 years.
My life is so different than it was 10 years ago. It hasn’t been without trials or temptations but the Lord got me through them. I am amazed how much the Lord has changed me and continues to change me to be more like Him. I fail everyday and everyday I get right back up and choose to walk in His grace and mercy. The kindness of God boggles my mind and many times I wonder, why me? Then I think of the portion of scripture in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” This is why I share my testimony with everyone who will listen. I have received much comfort and want other people to receive it as well. I want people who are struggling with addictions and shame and all that goes with it to see that God is real and is who He says He is and will do what His Word says He will do. If God can take a grievous sinner like me and use it to bring glory to Him, then I will continue to boast in Him.
Happy 4th of July and don’t forget to thank the giver of real freedom, Jesus Christ.
So many Israelites, so many complaints! I guess I can’t blame them though, I think I’d be whining too if all I did was move around following a cloud in the desert eating manna all day! It’s in our sin nature, we love to complain. In many ways, we are no different than the Israelites. I like to think that if I saw all the miracles and wonders God did for them, (saving their first born sons, parting the Red Sea, feeding them manna, etc) I would have had more faith than they did and not have been so disobedient. But then I think, wait a minute, I’ve seen tons of miracles! I am a miracle! I should have been dead several times over yet God brought my broken body back to life. Does that make me more obedient? Why is it that instead of rejoicing in who God is and what He is going to do in our lives during trials, we whine about our circumstances and look for a way out? James 1:2 states very clearly what we are supposed to do, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds…” Pure joy? Yep, pure joy or else what happened to the Israelites could happen to you!
Numbers 21:4-9 tells us that while the Israelites were wandering around, they grew impatient (roll eyes, here they go again). They spoke against God and Moses and once again they ask why they were brought out of Egypt to die in the desert. They whine about not having bread or water and they actually say they detest the miserable manna (the heavenly food sent by God). What did the Lord do? He sent venomous snakes among them and they bit the people and many of them died. So the people come to Moses and confess their sin of speaking against him and God and they ask Moses to pray that the Lord will take the snakes away. Moses prays for the people and the Lord tells him to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole. Interesting…anyways, it worked! When the people who were bit looked at the bronze snake, they didn’t die, they lived.
I love the fact that as soon as they repented and confessed their sin, God healed them. He consistently does this throughout Scripture. Over and over again we see the patterns of the Israelites; they sin, they confess, God rescues them. He does this today with us as well. We sin, sometimes the same ones over and over again, yet if “we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). I love that verse. It was the second verse I memorized as a new Christian because I couldn’t believe that God loved me that much. The first verse I memorized was Romans 5:8, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Wow, WHILE we were sinners, not all cleaned up and sitting in a church pew waiting for Him but while we were committing horrible sins against Him.
Makes me wonder how I could ever complain or grumble against Him or any situation I might be in. I have to ask myself the question, did I end up here because of my disobedience or is the Lord trying to make me more like Him? For me, it’s usually one or the other. I am grateful for His mercy and kindness on me by not sending me snakes!
I’ve been reading through the Book of Numbers lately and it never ceases to amazes me just how much the Israelites grumble. Numbers 20:1-12 tells us the story of them complaining about not having water to drink. I can’t really blame them, I’d probably be whining too! So of course, what do they do? They turn on their leaders and it says they “gathered in opposition against Moses and Aaron.” Isn’t it so much easier to blame other people when we don’t get what we want? Anyways, they start whining about life being better in Egypt where they had figs, pomegranates, cucumbers and leeks (they must have forgotten the whole slavery and oppression issue).
So Moses goes to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and falls face down to inquire of the Lord. The Lord tells him to take the staff, gather the people together and speak to the rock and water will flow from it so the people and their livestock can drink from it. Moses and Aaron gather the people in front of the rock and instead of speaking to the rock, he says, “listen, you rebels, must we bring water out of this rock?” He then raised his arm and struck the rock twice with the staff. Water gushed out and everyone was happy. Well, almost everyone…God was not. He tells Moses and Aaron, “because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” Wow, that was harsh. Just because Moses didn’t follow exactly what God said, God was not going to let him into the Promised Land. 40 years of wandering in the desert, listening to all the complaining and whining, and he doesn’t get to enter. It’s a strong punishment for an offense that doesn’t seem so bad, right? Wrong!
God wants our absolute obedience, He doesn’t want partial obedience. Disobedience always has consequences. I know for me it’s easy to feel like my trials are the result of someone else or the fall of mankind or whatever else I can blame, when in reality, many times they come from my lack of obedience. I think an important thing to note from this portion of Scripture is that God does not like complaining! 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 states, “rejoice always, pray continually, gives thanks in ALL circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” We should be focused on the things of the Lord (rejoicing, praying and giving thanks) instead of expending energy complaining about our circumstances. I know it’s easier at times to whine because it’s almost second nature but when we do what it says in 2 Corinthians 10:5 and take our thoughts captive, then and only then can we make them obedient to Christ. Romans 12:2 gives us another anecdote, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
There are so many portions of Scripture that deal with Israel’s complaining and the serious consequences that follow and I’ll write about those in my next post. Til then…
I was reading Philippians chapter 1 and something made me stop and meditate on the first part of verse 27. “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.” I started to think about all the times that I failed to do this and wondered how many other people thought about this. As I was thinking about it, I remembered a funny story from a friend of mine about this exact thing. She was waiting in line on the day before Thanksgiving at a honey baked ham store and needless to say, the line went out the door and the place was crazy. She was getting frustrated by the minute and was about to say something she was going to regret when she looked down and realized she was wearing a jacket that had the name of our church on it. If that wasn’t enough, she was actually on staff at our church and was picking up the ham for a church event!
On a more serious note, it’s funny how different we act when we know people are watching us. Why is this? We are representatives of Christ and 2 Corinthians 5:20 calls us ambassadors. Everywhere we go, everything we do and “whatever happens,” we should be conducting ourselves in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ. I think this goes well beyond the way we act but it’s also living everyday life with an attitude of looking for the lost and people who are hurting. I met a police officer years ago who told me a story that represents this perfectly.
He told me that he carries his gun 24/7, even when he’s not working. He said no matter what he does or where he goes, he is always aware of what’s going on around him. He was running errands on his day off last week and actually witnessed a robbery! He was able to catch the robber and everything worked out and no one was hurt.
This man is an officer of the law. It’s bred into him that he is to serve and protect. He is cop 100 % of the time. Not from 9-5, Monday thru Friday. That’s because it is who he is. He doesn’t flip a switch after work then he doesn’t care about protecting people anymore. I thought of how this compares to us Christians and I was honestly convicted of my attitude. Can you imagine if all Christians all the time went about life looking for the hurting, the lost, the sad, the broken and we were always aware of the pain around us? Can you imagine what we could accomplish?! If we were like the police officer always looking to see how we could be available and actually looking to bless someone? It blows my mind to think of the impact we could have.
I pray that today, I would be aware. Aware of anyone who needs the life-saving message of Christ. Aware of anyone who may just need a smile or a hug. I pray that I may represent Christ well and whatever happens today, I will conduct myself in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.
Have you ever made plans when all of sudden your plans get interrupted? It doesn’t matter that you’ve spent an enormous amount of time or money planning this activity. It doesn’t matter that you had your heart set on doing whatever it was you planned. All you know is everything has changed. It doesn’t seem fair! At the time, it seemed like this was what God wanted you to do. It doesn’t make sense. When God changes everything on me, I know I can sometimes get frustrated or wonder why He is changing it. I don’t instantly think, “wow, God must really have something good for me to change things around like this. I can’t wait to see what He’s got up His sleeves. He is going to use me to change someone’s life or encourage them.” No, I think wahhhhhhh! What a spiritual baby I can be at times like these! Why do we (ok, me) have a hard time being open when God changes things?
Of course you can’t think about circumstances changing without thinking about the apostle Paul. Poor guy, all he wanted to do was preach the Gospel in Asia but was “kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching there” (Acts 16:6) and as he tried to enter Bithynia, “the Spirit wouldn’t allow them to enter there either” (vs 7). He was probably thinking, hmmm, I’m trying to fulfill the great commission here, what’s going on?! So they ended up in Philippi, where Paul and his buddy Silas were promptly stripped, severely flogged and thrown into prison (Acts 16:22-23). I think if it was me, I may have actually threw a tantrum; a full blown, throw myself on the floor, kicking my feet, hissy fit. I may have wondered what God was doing and asked Him why He thought being in jail was better than preaching the Gospel to the masses. Maybe Paul did have some of these feelings, I’ll never know. What I do know is that about midnight, Paul was singing hymns with Silas and the other prisoners were listening to them (Acts 16:25). Singing hymns! I’m pretty sure that I would not be singing Amazing Grace but something more along the lines of “nobody loves me, everyone hates me, I’ll just go eat worms”.
On a serious note, Paul could have felt frustration, disappointment or even anger but he took advantage of his circumstances to do what he was called to do, preach the Gospel. He thought it would be to the masses, God had better plans. He caused an earthquake and all the doors of the prison flew open. How cool is that?! The jailer woke up and was freaking out worried that everyone was going to get away so he was going to kill himself. Paul shouts to him, “don’t harm yourself, we are all here” (Acts 16:27-28). Next thing you know, the jailer is asking Paul, “what must I do to be saved?” (v 30). Can you imagine the scene? How many times has someone asked you that question? Me? Never! So Paul shares the Gospel with him and he and his entire household was saved. Incredible. Moments earlier, this guard was ready to kill himself. Now, he is a child of God and a brother in Christ.
God changed Paul’s plan and I’ll say that plan was way better. This portion of Scripture is such a good reminder that we need to be open to where God may be leading us and not so caught up with our own agenda. My prayer today is to be open to God’s leading and not be so consumed by what I want to do but be focused on what He wants me to do.
Is it possible to be in the midst of a trial and be joyful at the same time? If you look at the apostle Paul’s life, you have to agree that it is. I’ve been doing a Bible study by Warren Wiersbe on the book of Philippians, one of my favorite books of the Bible. I always get so convicted when I study this small book of only 4 chapters. It astounds me when I think of Paul writing this incredible letter of joy from prison. I love Paul’s testimony because in many ways, it reminds me of mine. When Paul describes himself as the chief of sinners, I know exactly how he feels.
Warren Wiersbe writes,
“in spite of his circumstances as a prisoner in Rome, Paul was rejoicing. The secret of his joy was the single mind; he lived for Christ and the Gospel. (Christ is named 18 times in the first chapter of Philippians and the Gospel mentioned 6 times). “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” What really is the “single mind”? It is the attitude that says, “it makes no difference what happens to me just as long as Christ is glorified and the Gospel shared with others.” Paul rejoiced in spite of his circumstances because his circumstances strengthened the fellowship of the Gospel (1:1-11), promoted the furtherance of the Gospel (1:12-26) and guarded the faith of the Gospel (1:27-30).”
What do you think? How do you feel about rejoicing in spite of circumstances? Trials tend to turn people inward, we think about ourselves and our circumstances instead of being focused on Christ. Take Paul’s imprisonment while he is writing this letter. He had every right to be angry, frustrated, discouraged and I’m not saying he didn’t have these emotions but this letter is a letter of joy. Paul had the “single mind” because he knew that God had a purpose for him to be in jail at that exact moment in time. In verses 12-14, he writes, “now I want you to know brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the Gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the Lord more courageously and fearlessly.”
Paul had the incredible opportunity to share the Gospel with the prisoners and the guards. He wasn’t focused on his circumstances, he was focused on eternal things, not temporal things. Paul’s ultimate goal was to preach the Gospel. Period. I don’t know about you but I wish I had his mindset. I think my life would look very different. I wouldn’t get frustrated or angry about circumstances or trials. I would welcome these as opportunities to share the Gospel. I pray that I would be able to have the “single mind.” How much easier my life would be if my only expectation would be to further God’s kingdom. I am so grateful that God loves me so much and I’m going to close with verse 6, “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ.” This gives me hope!
It never fails. Every year around Father’s Day there is a deep sadness I feel in my heart. Words can’t really describe it and although I am grateful that I have a new Father now, it still hurts. Growing up with 3 different dads you would think that at least one of them would have seen me as a little princess but for reasons only known to God, it didn’t happen. Looking back on my life, I can definitely see the areas of my life that were deeply affected by a lack of a father’s love and my life before Christ certainly proved what psychologists have been saying since the beginning of time, little girls need their daddies. If they are not loved by their fathers they will seek that love as they grow up. They will have a daddy shaped hole in their heart and they will look to other men to fill it and the results are disastrous. What is even more amazing is that God created us with a hole in our hearts as well that only He could fill. I realize that now, years after trying to fill it with everything else from drugs to alcohol to relationships. Even though at times, I feel the sadness of not having a father love me or speak tenderly to me, I know that I now have the best, most lovable Father anyone could ever want or imagine. He loves me in spite of myself and so perfectly in a way no other human being on earth can. His love and motives are pure. His love, totally unconditional. How amazing is that?! Romans 5:8 says “while I was a sinner, Christ gave His life for me!” Not after I got my act together! (He knew that would never happen!) So instead, of feeling sadness, I will choose to bask in my heavenly presence and love for me. I wrote a few of my Scriptures below that I have stored up in my heart and when I start doubting my worth or feel that longing in my heart, I say these over and over. In the book of Psalms, it says “God sent forth His Word and healed them” and I can honestly say, that His Word has healed my heart. I sometimes will stand in front of a mirror and repeat these verses over and over to myself.
I am created in His image
I am fearfully and wonderfully made
I am the apple of His eye
He sings songs over me and delights in me
His love for me is as high as the heavens
His compassion and mercies are new for me everyday
He knows how many hairs are on my head
He knows what I need before I even ask
My name is written on His heart
No one can snatch me from His hand
He upholds me with His righteous right hand
He rescues me because He delights in me
He redeems my life from the pit
He restores to me what the locusts have eaten
He gave me a new heart
He put a new song in my mouth
He loves me with an everlasting love
He is close to me when I am broken hearted
He always watches over me and does not sleep
He is always with me
He is the lover of my soul
I am His beloved
I am His Bride!
I can’t believe that one month from today, I will have been sober for 10 years! 10 years! That is such a miracle because I shouldn’t even be alive. July 14, 2001 is a day I will never, ever forget because I not only got sober that day, I gave my life to the Lord and became a Christian. I woke up sick, hungover, lying in vomit and I went to bed a new creation in Christ. I was alone, no one guided in a prayer or anything. God spoke to me, not audibly but to my heart. I can’t describe it, it was like I just knew He was there in my room with me. I could feel His presence and I didn’t understand it. I didn’t need to. I just said, “ok God, if you are really who you say You are, then you are going to have to show me”. I was so sick of being hungover all the time and struggling with depression and shame about how I was living my life.
I had no idea that I would come to love Christ and understand the depth of His love, His kindness and His absolute forgiveness for me. I don’t live in condemnation or shame or guilt anymore. I walk with my head held high, clothed in His righteousness. I remember the first 2 verses I memorized, 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” and Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. To know that all my sins, my past, my everything was forgiven was mind boggling to me but to know that God died for me while I was doing all these horrible things? That was powerful. He didn’t die for me while I was sitting in a church pew singing hymns. He died for me while I was committing horrible sins against Him, while I was trying to kill the very life He gave me. And why? Because He loves me. That’s it. He simply loves and adores me. He has shown me His loving kindness and there is not a day that goes by that I am not grateful for that day that He made Himself known to me. Thank you Lord Jesus!
I posted this a few years ago and was scanning through some of my writings and felt like I should re-post this. In church this morning, we had a guest speaker who was preaching on Romans 5:12-21 and a few things struck me which brought me to this post. Verse 19 sums up this portion of Scripture, “for just as through the disobedience of the one man, the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man, the many will be made righteous.” There is absolutely nothing we can do do earn God’s amazing mercy or grace. Not one thing! Because of Jesus’ obedience, we are made righteous. Because of Jesus, although we should stand condemned, we can enter boldly into the throne room. Because of Jesus, we have eternal life. No condemnation. No matter how lousy we think we are, no matter how many times we feel like we are failing to work out our faith, no matter what, God can and will use us to fulfill His purposes. With that..here is the repost:
If you are like me, you can sometimes feel like God can use everyone else but us because of what we’ve done or not done. We think things like, “how could I possibly minister to anyone or help them out when I am struggling with so many issues?” How can the Lord use someone like me when I keep falling into the same sins again and again? How can I share the Gospel with anyone since they know what my issues are?” These questions and many others have plagued Christians long enough. There are so many messed up people in the Bible, it’s like reading a soap opera. So many of our “heroes” of the Bible committed horrible sins and failed many times yet these are the very people that God used.
So much has been written about the failings of David, Moses, Sampson, so many of them I won’t take the time to list, but what about the people God does use? He chose a young virgin to carry the Messiah. How incredible is that? A young girl who was never heard of, had no real significance that we know of, yet she gets to carry the Christ-child? What about the announcement of Jesus coming into the world? A host of angels appeared to some shepherds out in a field to make the most important announcement in the world and the Lord chose to do this to some lowly shepherds. I myself love Rahab. She is definitely a bad girl gone good. (very much like me) She was a prostitute yet God spared her family. When Joshua sent spies to check out the Promised Land, they went to her and she hid them. She told them that she had heard what God did for the Israelites (led them out Egypt) and she asked them to spare her family when the Israelites would come in and kill all the ickyites (that’s my nickname for the Hittites, Canaanites, Jebusites, etc). They told her to put a scarlet robe out of her window and by doing that, they would not go into her house and annihilate her family. Sound familiar? A acarlet robe, why not green or purple or blue? Don’t miss the significance of the color red. The very same color was painted on the doorposts to spare the Israelites from the death angel. Imagine that! The same blood that saved the Israelites, God’s chosen people, would also be the same blood that would save a prostitute and her family. Rahab ended up living with the Israelites. How amazing that God would use her when the world would think she was unusable.
I talk to so many people who are walking around in condemnation and it is so easy for us to get down on ourselves and think that God can’t use us. The truth is God wants to use us. He needs to use us. We have so much to offer but the enemy tries to pursuade us in thinking that we don’t. I am a recovering addict and alcoholic amongst many other things. I am proof of the grace of God. God is using my horrible past and sins and failures to bring glory to Himself. Who better to help an addict or alcoholic than me? Yet, if I felt shame about my past or didn’t understand grace, I could very well keep it all a secret and in doing that, end up not sharing the hope we have in Christ. If God can use a prostitute like Rahab or a drunk like me, than there is no doubt in my mind that He can use anyone. We have to remember that God has a plan for our lives and if our focus is on Him and His grace and mercy and not on our failures or shortcomings, then and only then can He use us. I pray that we would walk around in God’s grace, knowing and being 100% convinced of His absolutely crazy love for us because that’s when we will realize that no matter how we feel or what we are going through, we are here to further His kingdom and bring Him glory. Today, I pray that we walk in the grace of God knowing that He can and will use us
In Acts 3:1-5, Peter and John were going up to the temple to pray. There was a man who was crippled from birth who was put at the temple gate every morning to beg from those entering the temple. Could you imagine doing the same thing over and over each and every day? And begging at that. Anyways, He saw Peter and John about to enter the temple and he begged them for money. It’s interesting that Peter looked straight at him and and said, “look at us!” That tells me that the crippled man was probably not even looking at them but out of habit, just begged from everyone. It’s almost like he wasn’t expecting anything from Peter and John and was very non-nonchalant about it. In verse 5 it says that the man then gave them his attention expecting to get something from them. When we expect something, we are waiting for it to happen. Think about when we order something online, for me it’s always Amazon.com. If you’re like me, I know about when it’s coming so I check my front porch every day looking for the box. When I finally see the package, my heart flutters a little because I am so excited it’s finally here.
That really challenged me and got me thinking about how we can go through our own lives praying nonchalantly and not really expecting God to answer us. We come to the Lord every day or every week and we don’t give Him our undivided attention. We ask for things like more faith, less fear and anxiety, a godly spouse, yet we are not really focused on God. Like the beggar sitting at the temple gate, day in and day out, asking for money yet not really believing he was going to get any. I think God is telling us, “Look at me! Stop checking your emails, looking at Facebook, answering texts and look at me!” He wants and deserves our total focus and undivided attention. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to come to the Lord halfheartedly. I want to come to Him with great expectation. I want to have that feeling when I’m waiting on Him, like waiting for the package to come. I truly believe that when our focus is on Him, it changes what’s going on in our hearts.
I love the song, “While I’m Waiting” and I think it describes how I feel. Here is the video and lyrics:
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait
I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I’m waiting
I will serve You
While I’m waiting
I will worship
While I’m waiting
I will not faint
I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait
I’m waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it’s not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve you while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You, Lord
I’ve been doing a Bible study by Beth Moore on the Psalms of Accent and today read Psalm 124. The first few verses start out, “If the Lord had not been on our side when men attacked us, they would have swallowed us alive.” She then went on to talk about times when she felt like she was being swallowed alive but thanks to God, she wasn’t. She also makes this statement which is thought provoking, “Our battle is not with flesh and blood but with the powers of darkness (Ephesians 6:10-12), but Satan successfully enlists human help in his scheme against us. I know that before I started to follow Christ, Satan definitely used me for his schemes. I am so thankful that God can take my entire past and use it now for His glory.
One question which really struck me in her study is this…What about you? What might have happened with your life ‘if the Lord had not been on your side?’ Wow, great question. I know I would have either ended finally succeeding in killing myself or I would have drank myself to death. I would have continued to live a life filled with pain, sorrow, regrets, shame, guilt, depression and so many other things had not the Lord intervened in my life. I am so grateful every single day of my life that He lifted me out of my pit and set my feet on the Rock. I can’t believe that on July 14, I will be sober for 10 years! Not only sober but it’s also the day of my new life in Christ and my salvation. I am convinced that if the Lord had not been on my side, I would not be here today. I pray that I would never, ever forget the depths from which God rescued me. Thank you Lord!!
I know this is not very spiritual but I couldn’t resist! My baby gets her first pink mohawk. She looks awesome!
I can’t believe that I reached my 45th birthday. I can’t imagine how before the creation of the world, God knew this day would come. He knew I would be sober, married to a great man and living my life to the absolute full. He knew that on July 14, 2001, He would make me into a new creation. Forgiven, loved, adored and clothed in righteousness. Made in the image of Christ. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, hopelessness and alcoholism and set my feet on the Rock and put a new song in my mouth. He is my deliverer and lover of my soul. Thank you Jesus for loving me when I was at my absolute worst. When I felt most alone and scared, hating myself for what I had become, you called me to yourself because of your great love for me. You forgave and continue to forgive me as far as the east is from the west. You make beauty from ashes. You make all things new. You have a plan and purpose for my life. Thank You Lord for giving me 45 years on this earth thus far.
On a less than spiritual note, here is my birthday present from my wonderful hubby!
It never ceases to amaze me how much God loves me. Perfectly. Unconditionally. Without judgment. Without constraint. With all my flaws and all the sins of my past, present and future. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: WHILE we were STILL sinners, Christ died for us.” While I was a sinner? While I was His enemy and at war with Him? While I was an alcoholic? While I was doing so many horrible things? Yes, because it’s not about me and what I did. It’s about Him and what He and He alone can do. He sacrificed His most beloved possession for me. He let His very own Son get mocked, ridiculed, flogged and spit upon for me so that I wouldn’t have to bear these things. He put my shame, my pain, my hurt and all the things I have ever done and would ever do and nailed them to His hands and feet. He paid the ultimate price so that I wouldn’t have to. Not once I got clean or sober or got my act together. Not because I went to church every week or because I was obedient or good or kind to people. It was simply because He chose me before the creation of the earth to be His. It’s because all my days were ordained for me before one of them came to be. It’s because He fearfully and wonderfully made me. It’s because when I was made in the secret place, His eyes saw my unformed body. It’s because He takes great delight in me and rejoices over me with singing. True love, God’s redeeming love.
I was reading in Acts 16 and for some reason, I can’t get it off my mind. Paul and Silas has just been severely flogged and thrown into a prison in Philippi and there they were, praying and singing hymns to God. Every time I read that, I am dumbfounded. If I had just been beaten and severely at that, I think I would be whining and complaining because they really did nothing wrong. Yet, here were these 2 godly men, with their feet in stocks in the inner cell singing their hearts out to God. It’s interesting that we are told the other prisoners were listening to them because, whether we want to believe it or not, people are always watching us. They want to see if we walk our talk, especially in tough times.
The story goes on to say that suddenly there was a violent earthquake and all the prison doors flew open. When the prison guard saw this, he drew his sword to kill himself because he thought all the prisoners had escaped but Paul yells, “don’t harm yourself, we are all here.” The next statement the guard is asking them, “what must he do to be saved?” Unbelievable! As I was thinking about this yesterday and today, it struck me that this guard asked them about salvation, not the other way around. Could you imagine if our lives reflected Jesus and our love for God so much that people would stop us and ask us, “what must I do to be saved?” I imagine the guard probably thought Paul and Silas were crazy. They has just been severely beaten and they were singing to God!! I can hear them singing, Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me... Wow. I continued to read the rest of the chapter and not only did the prison guards entire family come to know the Lord, but Paul and Silas actually went to their friend Lydia’s house once they got out. It says they met with the brothers and encouraged them. The last thing I think I would want to do after I had been beaten and up all night was go to someone’s house to encourage them! I was really challenged by this but also encouraged. When I am at my weakest point, it’s good to know that God will give me the same spiritual strength that He gave these 2 men. He always gives us what we need to do what He has called us to do, not what we want to do but what He has called us to do.
Yesterday was a tough day. Today is a new day. I am a new creation. God is the Creator and makes everything beautiful. I love it. It’s pouring rain outside and I have the windows open so I can listen to it. It’s like God is playing a melodious tune with the raindrops and putting on a show just for me. The leaves are starting to turn a little and the birds and squirrels are eating the seeds in the bird feeder’s as they prepare for the winter. Beautiful yellow, black and silver finches, Robin’s and cardinals and blue jays oh my…
It still amazes me that God created everything and gives life and breath to everything. Every day I wake up and thank God for my new life. I am so grateful that I have been sober for 9 years. I am so grateful that He gave me eyes to see and legs to walk. I am so thankful for my husband, step-kids, grandbabies and puppy. I am so grateful for my fibromyalgia that draws me closer to God and reminds me that He loves me and counts me worthy enough to carry this cross. I am so grateful that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. I am thankful that as far as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for me. I am so thankful that when I confess my sins, He forgives me and cleanses me with His righteousness. I am so grateful that God loves me so much that He would sacrifice His very own son for me. Me, a former Leper, former Mary Magdalene, former Samaritan woman at the well, former Pharisee and so many other things. Now, a new creation in Christ, clothed in His righteousness and proof that God makes beauty out of ashes.
I am exhausted, again, still. Yesterday I woke up at 3:30 am, today at 2 am. My doctor told me my adrenal glands are little out of whack and it’s messing with my circadian rhythm (biological clock). My crp (inflammation in my body) is 68.19, it should be between .00-3.0. Every tendon, joint and muscle in my body hurts. I am frustrated. I am tired of being in pain. I’m tired of feeling good one day and the next, I walk hunched over like a little old lady. I am tired of hearing, “but you are getting better.” You don’t get better, you just learn to manage it better. It doesn’t go away. I can barely type this because the tendons in my hands feel like they are about an inch shorter than they should be. I am exhausted because 34 out of the last 37 days, I have had a migraine. My back and neck muscles are in constant spasm and I feel like someone has beat me with a baseball bat. And that’s just an average day with Fibromyalgia.
No one understands what it’s like to have this invisible illness. Unless you have it, you can’t comprehend it. I know that I have just begun my journey to wellness and it is going to take some time to undo a life of bad habits, abuse and whole lot of other things. I have changed my diet. I started Tai Chi. I am trying to rest everyday. I am trying to decrease my stress levels. I know this season will pass but I gotta tell you that when you are in the middle of it, it stinks.
Am I losing my faith? No. Am I mad at the Lord that I have FM? No. Have I cursed God? Absolutely not. I love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and am grateful that He counts me worthy to suffer. I am not having a faith crisis. I am just tired. Bone tired and weary. Tired of living in chronic pain. Tired of hearing that I don’t look sick, I look so good. If I let the outside of me match the inside of me, no one would ever say that again. Why is it that if we look good then we must feel good? I wake up everyday with something hurting and with the help of the Lord, I do what I have to do. It takes every ounce of strength to smile sometimes and walk in the joy of the Lord and just because I look happy doesn’t mean I’m not sick.
I know people mean well but the best thing you can do is listen with empathy, not give us advice about how your so and so got cured by this or that or try this latest thing or go see this guy or that or ask us why we are stressed out. Believe me, if curing FM was easy, I wouldn’t be writing about it right now. If there was a one product that cured it, there wouldn’t be 10 million people suffering from it. If it wasn’t real, there wouldn’t be 3 FDA approved drugs for it.
The best thing that you can do for someone with Fibromyalgia is pray for them. Pray and just listen. Thanks for letting me share🙂
I have been going back and reading my earlier blogs and wanted to re-post this one because it still applies today:
One of my favorite portions of Scripture is Ezekiel 36:25-36. The Lord is talking to the Israelites but it is such a great word for all of us. The first few verses say, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”
This is exactly what the Lord did for me. On the day I trusted Christ with my heart, I became a new creation in Christ, the old Rachel was gone in the blink of an eye and a new Rachel was here in her stead. Although He gave me a new heart and His Spirit was in me, it took a few years for me to really comprehend the fact that He made me clean. No longer was I a leper; untouchable, unlovable with my face turned away from God. I have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus. The very Spirit of God now lives in me and is guiding me into truth. The second part of this Scripture hit me one day as I read verses 33-36 and I realized that this is exactly what God is doing in my life now.
It says, “On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say, ‘This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.’ Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the LORD have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.”
I feel like my past was like this land, lying desolate and in ruins. He has breathed His very own breath into me and and is replanting what was barren and desolate. It’s so incredible to think that the God of the universe and Savior of the world not only ransoms and redeems us, He also restores us. I never would have imagined 7 years ago where I would be today. Alive and living for Christ. Pure and righteous because of what Jesus did on the cross for me. Not because of anything I have done or could possibly ever do but because He loves me so very much. At times I wonder why He chose me and am so grateful He did.