Saturday, July 19, 2014

Stepping Stones

It is funny how life brings all kinds of "new normals" to us. Leaving your parents home after graduation, getting married, having children, getting a new job--- each of these life events take us to a new place in life where we have to reorganize and prioritize. Our routines change, our finances change, life shifts to a new normal. I realized this week that my life has found a lot of new normals. There is the new normal of a few aches and pains, reminders of surgeries past. There is the new normal of curly hair after years of bone straight. There is the new normal of vacation time being spent traveling for medical care--and I am so grateful for that care! This week we returned to MD Anderson for my check up and received great news that the spots they are watching for cancer are stable. There are no new places and the existing ones remain unchanged. We will go back in 4 months and repeat the process. If, wait-- I should say WHEN, I get to 2 years of being stable, the scans will take place every 6 months. For now I have been given 4 months that feel like freedom. 4 months of no treatment. 4 months of no surgery. 4 months that I can plan my life as much as any other human can plan theirs (although we are all foolish to think we can really plan our futures, but you now what I mean).

As I got in the car after receiving the good news, my mind was suddenly filled with this image of me on stepping stones that were scattered across a raging river. For now I am safely standing on a stone. Behind me are years of boulders I have safely used to cross rough waters-- or at least could climb back up on after I slipped. Ahead of me are who knows how many stones. Below me is a wild river. At this time the water that threatens me most is "The Nuisance", but blended in are the typical waters of life-- parenthood, marriage, finances, job security, safety.... In order to make progress in life I must leap from stone to stone. For the moment I am able to stand safely on this rock, catch my breath, enjoy the view, and take in a little sunshine. In four months (unless life throws another curve ball) it will be time to take the next leap of faith. If I become paralyzed by fear, doubt, anger, discouragement, or hopelessness then I am unable to take the leap of faith required to move forward to the next stepping stone. In fact, the stepping stone looks more like a stumbling block. If I focus on the raging rapids, I become incapacitated. The desire for safety and security can trick me into thinking I can't take that next jump. It is too far away, I might fall. The water is moving too fast, I cannot jump. I get focused on the river of fear and my footing becomes weak. Instead I must focus on the rock ahead. Psalm 18:12 says, "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." In order to jump safely, I must focus on God, my rock. When I leap to him, ignoring the fears around me, I am safe on a fortress. I am delivered. Once again I can take refuge and stand securely until it is time for the next move. God is a rock and on Him I am safe and sound.

We all have rivers of life swiftly moving around us. Maybe you have slipped and feel like you are drowning in it right now. Maybe you are in a safe place and basking in the sun. Maybe you are preparing for a big leap and working up your faith. Wherever you are, I can testify to this: God is a rock and on him you can stand!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I once read a quote that said, "Tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it by the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith." On days like today when I am on my way to MD Anderson for further tests, I become more aware of that choice than ever. As the day draws closer I have to work harder and harder to hold my thoughts captive. How easy it would be to spend today in fear of tomorrow, but what would that accomplish? The Bible he says, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Worrying only robs me of today. A beautiful day.

I continue to learn lessons about fear and worry. One of the greatest is that the fears in my mind always seem to turn out to be much greater than the reality. Not that the reality isn't amazingly frightening sometimes, because I assure you it is. But God dwells in reality. He gives me strength to handle whatever lies in my reality. But fears and what ifs, that is a different story. The fears that can brew in my mind are like a mist. I see them in my mind's eye. I feel them in my heart. But when I reach out to touch them, I discover they are not tangible. I am trying to grasp something that does not, and may never, exist. In the movie After Earth, Will Smith's character says, "Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice. "  How much time do we waste on fear, and how many fears never come true? Such a sad waste of time. While that is often the case, I have also been in those moments when fear becomes reality. When the words I dreaded the most are spoken. I have to tell you that I have found a wonderful truth there as well. Each time God has been faithful and met each of my needs. What I thought I couldn't handle, God could. What I thought I couldn't bear, God did. I have to remind myself of those things on days like today.

Tomorrow has two handles. As I head towards Houston I can choose to grab it with anxiety/fear, or with faith.  My past 18 months God has proven to be faithful. He has consistently answered our prayers. He has consistently brought light to darkness. He has consistently kept his promises to me.
So "I will have no fear of bad news; my heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD." Psalm 112:7. Whatever lies ahead, God has got it!

Thank you as always for being a part of my army. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement. God is good! All the time!! 

Prayer opportunities:
Wednesday 11:45.  Labs and CT scan
Thursday 1:00 Oncologist
Friday 9:00 Surgeon

Friday, July 4, 2014

God Bless America

God bless America, Land that I love. Stand beside her, and guide her through the night with a light from above. 

Last week as I  traveled through a Texas town, I passed a gas station with a sign out front. At some point someone had taken the time to put up the message, "God Bless America". Unfortunately, Texas wind and sun had done some damage to the "B"  and it was faded to the point that the message was left saying, "God less America".  The damage to the letter had been a slow fade. It happened over time and the owner probably didn't even realize it. In his or her mind the sign probably read just like it was intended, but that is how it happens sometimes. Change happens slowly and we don't even notice it. That sign read like a warning for what I fear is happening in reality. I am afraid we, like the sign, are victims of slow fade. As we become more God less, we become less God blessed. The slow fade begins. We wake up one morning and the "B" is gone. We are no longer the land of the free and the home of the brave. All that we have fought for, the freedoms we enjoy, the rights we so strongly argue for are gone.  The irony is that we may one day lose our independence because we have become too independent. We no longer acknowledge that everything we have is a gift from above. We take credit for our strength, our courage, our privilege. We are no longer dependent on God so we are becoming less independent as a nation. God-less America, Land that I loved...

Today we celebrate Independence Day. I am so proud to be an American and I do not take that blessing lightly. As I celebrate July 4th today, I celebrate it with worship of the God who gave us independence and prayer for our country to become dependent once again. I celebrate it with gratitude for all those that have fought for my independence throughout the years. I pray blessings for the future. I pray we will stop the slow fade and return again to place of blessing. "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14.

"While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer. "

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.