2.26.2016

The waiting is over!

Though the nurse told me I would know the results of my breast biopsy next week, the Lord decided to end the waiting and reveal the answer today.
I do not have breast cancer!

I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness,
and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High. Psalm 7:17

My favorite word of this verse is HIS.
"I will give thanks to the Lord according to HIS righteousness."
We do not give thanks according to our emotions or what we feel "should be."
We give thanks, in all things, BECAUSE He is God and He deserves our praise - regardless of the circumstances.
When I wrestled with the Lord on the radiology table, I knew that surrendering to Him included praising Him even if I was told, "You have breast cancer."
I had to settle that.
If the news is good, I will give thanks to You with a grateful heart, Lord!
If the news is bad, I will give You thanks with a grateful heart, Lord!
I have to.
There simply is no other way.
Though He slay me, I will hope in Him. Job 13:15
May those who fear You rejoice when they see me,
for I have put my hope in Your word.
I know, Lord, that Your laws are righteous,
and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me. Psalm 119:74,75


Today was a good day for our family.
When I told Dennis, he sucked in his breath, grabbed my hands, and buried his face in them for a long time. When he looked up he had tears in his eyes and proclaimed, "Thank You, Lord for sparing my wife!"
Micah smiled a big smile and gave me a high-five.
Luke did an enthusiastic fist pump and shouted with joy.
Caleb nearly collapsed in my arms with relief.
Today we experienced the very real truth of the verse, "Rejoice with those who rejoice!" as our family and friends shared in our joy.

But ...
Today was not a good day of rejoicing for others.
A husband started chemo, a child is recovering from surgery, a woman miscarried her much longed-for baby, a father lost his job, a daughter buried her mother.
People are hurting.
People are scared.
People are broken.
"Weep with those who weep."

There is beauty in this verse:
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

Isn't that wonderful?
Everyone is in a different place in life - seasons of joy and seasons of sorrow.
Yet God commands us to rejoice and weep - TOGETHER.
We can cry with one friend while celebrating with another.
We can cover our pillow with tears while encouraging someone else.
We can praise God for His goodness while comforting a hurting heart.
It is the way of life. And it is good.

I promised the Lord I would have pink tulips in my house every week if I had cancer - to remind me that I surrendered to Him fully and completely after our wrestling match on the table.
But, I don't have cancer.
So today I made a yearly date on my calendar, every February, "Buy pink tulips to remember the goodness of the Lord!"

And now, because I do not have to spend my days focusing on doctor visits and treatments and physical trials for my own health, I can focus on serving those who do.

Thank You, Lord, for letting the waiting end.
Thank You for the lessons IN the waiting.
And I pray You will continue to strengthen, grow, and mature me so no matter what lies ahead I am always willing to say, "BLESSED be Your name, O Lord!"

2.24.2016

He is God. So I will wait, and I will trust.

On January 26th, I found myself lying on a radiology table while a technician investigated a mass found on my left breast after a routine mammogram.
Though surprised by the timing, the news was not unexpected.
My mother had breast cancer when I was in college.
My grandmother had ovarian cancer.
I have always known my body fits the high-risk category for female cancers.

As I listened to the technician explain what she was looking for, what it meant, and what needed to happen if the mass was solid rather than a cyst, I knew I had two choices:
Trust the Lord with the unknown.
Or turn to fear.

Until that moment, my eyes had been fixed on the computer screen.
Now, they were staring at a beautifully lit image of wild pink tulips on the ceiling.
As I stared at those flowers, I took a deep breath and said,
"Lord, I have to choose if I am going to trust You!
Right now.
I cannot wait until I have a diagnosis and then choose to trust.
It starts now.
You are not a purposeless God.
Whether this is nothing, or if it is cancer, there is a reason.
I have to trust You.
I have to trust You.
And I will not get off of this table until this is settled!
I want to walk away fully surrendered to You - good or bad - able to praise You regardless of the outcome.
And Lord? If I DO have cancer, I will have pink tulips in my house every week to remind me that I surrendered all to You!"

I did get off of that table - with a mind and heart so peaceful it was ridiculous.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4
I thought about those wild tulips for days.
And then I thought, "Hey! Why would I only set up a floral Ebenezer if I have cancer? Why can't I have a tangible reminder of my surrender now? In the waiting?"

I had just resolved this in my mind when scarcely two hours later a friend stopped by with a gift.
Pink tulips, with a card that read, "Praying for you, friend!"
(I think the Lord spends a lot of time smiling when He sees His children enjoying His gifts!)

I wasn't sure where to put them until I walked into our bedroom and saw the frame I keep on my dresser.


Every day I see these flowers and read this verse.
And every night I lay my head on my pillow praising God for BEING God, because He is able to give a peace that makes no sense and cannot be explained, but can be thoroughly embraced - and enjoyed.

Today I had my biopsy.
In a week, I will have the results.
Nothing? Something? Good? Bad? It doesn't matter!
He is God.
I am not.
So I will wait.
And I will trust.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isaiah 26:3,4

2.22.2016

There is a time for everything.


These irises make a glorious appearance every February in our front yard. 
I love everything about them. The vibrant purple color. The unique design. The contrast between the rich purple petals and the green leaves. The long stems. All of it!
I gaze upon them and smile every time I walk outside. I know they will not last long, so I want to drink in their beauty before they disappear. (Wow, that sounded like something Anne (of Green Gables) would say! <grin>)
As I enjoy the irises this year, I am reminded of Ecclesiastes.

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3

Life is full of contrasts. We cannot avoid them. Negatives and positives. Good and bad. Ups and downs. Highs and lows. Joy and sorrow. All of them make up life this side of heaven.

Last weekend Dennis and I spent Friday evening witnessing one of our sweet couples commit their lives to one another in a beautiful wedding ceremony.
We spent Sunday evening sitting next to a hospital bed praying with another young couple whom we adore.
One night filled with joy.
The other night filled with unknowns, questions, and fears.

From a human perspective, the contrast seems harsh. Inconsistent. Illogical.
But Scripture says it is natural. Realistic. Expected.

So we must rest in such truth. There IS a time for everything.
We do not have to understand it, we do not even have to like it, but we must trust the One who created all things. Including time.
His thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways.
And thank goodness they aren't!

I love that Solomon follows the "time and season" verses with these words:
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear Him.
Everything God does will endure forever.
What a precious thought!
What a wonderful TRUTH!

Thank You, Lord, for the gift of Your Word that reminds us that there IS a time for everything. Times of joy or times of sorrow - both are from Your hand, and both are for a purpose. 
You are the good Shepherd who leads us to lie beside still waters and - leads us through the valley of the shadow of death. We do not have to fear anything - because You are always with us. May we learn to love and fear You more so we can rest contentedly ... in Your sovereignty.

2.14.2016

He gives us perfect peace - even in the waiting.

Sometimes waiting is harder than knowing.
Knowing allows us to make plans and find solutions. We have control.
Waiting brings ambiguity, doubt, and sometimes fear. We are helpless.
But God is not.

He has no fear. He does not panic. He is not anxious.
He is a God of PEACE. And a God who gives peace.
We are commanded not to fear. "Be anxious for nothing ..." Philippians 4:6
We are commanded to pray. "In everything, through prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God ..." Philippians 4:6
If we are obedient - He will give us "a peace that surpasses all understanding." Philippians 4:7
A peace that makes no sense. A peace that cannot be explained.
And once we possess that peace, it will guard our hearts and minds from fear and worry and the 'what ifs' that seek to bombard our thoughts in times of waiting.
This is such a beautiful truth! And a beautiful PROMISE!

But it requires action on our part first.
We have to choose not to be anxious.
We have to choose to pray.
We choose to be still, knowing He is God and He is in control.
We choose to trust.
After we act, God acts.
And what He gives is something we cannot acquire on our own.

PEACE.

Not a peace that comes from quiet or stillness or physical rest, but a peace that comes from surrendering to and trusting in a wonderful, powerful, holy, gracious God who knows our needs before we do and promises to keep us in perfect peace when our minds are fixed on Him.

Even - in the waiting.


I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:13-14

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. Lamentations 3:25

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore He exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for Him. Isaiah 30:18

Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. For our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His holy name. Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in You. 
Psalm 33:20-22

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in His word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning. Psalm 130:5-6

Wait for the Lord and keep His way, and He will exalt you to inherit the land; you will look on when the wicked are cut off. Psalm 37:34

For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. Psalm 62:5

But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Micah 7:7

2.12.2016

Quote.

When we deal seriously with our sins,
God will deal gently with us.
                                                   ~ Charles Spurgeon

2.10.2016

Know who God is - and be still.

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

I have always loved this verse because the first two words evoke an image of peace.
But lately, I have wondered at the order of the verse.
It would be just as logical if it read, "Know that I am God - and be still."

Being still, calm, content, and at peace is not always easy to achieve when you cannot see the big picture.
If I am still, I am not moving.
I am unable to see what else is happening.
Who is making decisions? Who is giving orders?
What is everyone else doing?
Stillness requires self-control. Being unaware of all that is going on, and being willing to sit quietly - and wait.

"Be still" - is a call to TRUST.

In what?
In who?
For how long?
With what result?

The verse answers those questions. "Know that I am God."
If I know who God is - His character - His promises - His history - His dealings with His people ... all of the mystery, and fear, is erased!
God GIVES US the big picture!
And the picture - is HIM!

I do not need to wonder or question or fret or fear. They are purposeless pursuits.
If I invest my time, my energy, and my thoughts into seeking God, knowing God, and understanding who He is ... 'being still' will be effortless - and natural.
And that - is exactly what I want.

There is only one place that describes who God is - Scripture!
His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts, but He certainly gives us a thorough description of Himself, and I am so glad He did!

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

This is the message we have heard from Him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. I John 1:5

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. Isaiah 40:28

This God—His way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him. Psalm 18:30

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 
II Timothy 1:7

God is not man, that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind. Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not fulfill it? Numbers 23:19

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him. Psalm 28:7

2.06.2016

Vulnerability produces vulnerability ... and it is GOOD!

Yesterday I spotted a sweet church sister in the market and we stopped to chat for a few minutes. She spoke a word of encouragement to me about my writing, sharing that she identifies with my words because they remind her that she is not "alone." It took some time to figure out why her comment meant so much to me until I realized that her comment defines why I write.
Every time the keys click under my fingertips, I am writing from my heart. 
Sometimes the words are happy, content, and joyful. Sometimes they are words of sadness and pain. Either way, they are honest.

I have been intentionally transparent for over two decades.
It started in college when I witnessed girls who would talk a hundred miles an hour about everything and nothing and then go completely mute when it came time to share personal struggles, confess sin, and admit they needed help.
I was one of them.
And I was baffled.
I witnessed the same thing when I was a young wife. When I was a mother. And I see it now, as a middle-aged woman. 
I am no longer baffled, however, because the "why" has been answered.

Exposing the unattractive, ugly, sinful parts of who we are is uncomfortable. Risky. Vulnerable.
We don't know how people will respond, so rather than risking rejection, we admit nothing, adjust our masks, and declare "I'm fine" hoping no one will peek behind the mask to see what is really there: Fear.
If I share the truth, will they still want me? If I confess sin, will I be judged and shunned? If they see me as I really am, will anyone stay?

It takes courage to confess:
"It feels like every friend I know has more than I do, and I am jealous. I want what they have."
"I have not read my Bible in three weeks. And honestly, I don't care."
"I am bitter."
"My husband doesn't meet my needs. He only cares about his own needs, and I resent him."
"Motherhood is much harder than I thought it would be. I want time for ME."
"I feel rejected. I see what everyone is doing on social media, and I am not included. I'm insecure."


But - if someone else says it first, we immediately identify with their struggle and feel a sense of relief. I AM NOT ALONE! Someone gets it! Someone else has the same fear I do! Someone else struggles with the same sin I have to fight! I am not the only one.
And all of a sudden - a ray of light appears and HOPE breaks through the walls of our hurting hearts.

We may sit quietly in our chair, identifying with her words, feeling encouraged, and thanking God for a sister who is willing to expose her heart.
We may share our own thoughts.
And sometimes, the Lord drops the barriers we have been fighting so hard to hold in place, and the pain, hurt, and weight of our burdens comes flooding through - and we let everything out, right there in front of everyone.
And the healing begins.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. James 5:16

All because one woman was willing to say, "This is who I am. This is what I am. Flawed, hopeful, hurting, joyful, despairing, weak, strong ... ME."

I want to be that woman. 
Genuine. Fearless. Truthful. REAL.
Whether I am in the biggest spiritual battle of my life, or standing on the mountaintop shouting praises to God ... I want to be transparent. Vulnerable. Sincere. 

I used to be the girl who went mute when it was time to share. I was afraid, insecure, and worried about what people would think of me. I learned how to share something to give the allusion I was sharing everything. I learned how to hide. Deflect. Avoid.
And then, the Lord stepped in. Actually, He STOMPED in wearing thick, hard military boots, kicking down and smashing every piece of the wall I had painstakingly built to protect myself until there was not one brick left whole.
It was an incredibly difficult moment.
And it was a defining moment.

I have tried to rebuild that wall many times, and every single time I tried, the Lord showed up in His boots to destroy whatever part of the new wall I had managed to slap together.
After awhile, I got tired of rebuilding, so I dumped the bucket of pre-mixed mortar and tossed the stack of bricks.
But, there is always a supply store available where I can purchase materials if I want them.
So - I write.
If I expose my heart willingly, knowing rejection is possible, knowing everyone will not understand or agree, there is no reason to buy supplies - because there is no need for a wall!
Walls are built for protection, privacy, or hiding. And the truth is, I don't need self-made walls because I already have access to a strong tower that provides all of my security, safety, and strength.
My strong tower is the LORD.

And maybe - just maybe - if I keep sharing my own struggles, challenges, weaknesses, and sin, someone else will see my heart exposed on the bright, white page, be willing to peek inside of the strong tower to see how safe and sure God is, and then, because she was encouraged by my story, she will feel safe enough ...
to share her own.


I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." 
Proverb 18:10