True Freedom

Insecurities

The definition for insecurity I want to use from Google is, “uncertainty or anxiety about oneself; lack of confidence.” Insecurities have become a friend of mine in my twenty-six years of life. By friend, I mean I know my own insecurities all too well. A month ago, as Chris and I sat down in Qdoba (don’t judge our healthy lifestyle) he asked me, “Lauren, what are your ministry goals for 2018?” Every year Chris and I discuss our goals for the current year that is about to expire, and set a vision for what we want the upcoming year to look like individually, and as a couple. I asked myself, “What do I want my ministry goals to be?” Chris’s question caught me off guard because he had never asked this specific question before. My first thought was to offer to help in the youth ministry at church…but I wanted to take it even further. Self-rejection quickly followed my big hopes and dreams to further God’s kingdom. Lies. I heard in my mind, “You’re not good enough” and “They’ll never accept you after knowing what you’ve done in the past.” What Chris hoped to be an inspiring conversation soon had me teary-eyed as I managed to choke down some of my chicken quesadilla. My own insecurities compiled with lies from the enemy flooded my mind. In that moment, I made the bigger picture all about me. Yes, these are my goals, but ultimately goals that serve the Lord’s kingdom. My credibility is what I thought mattered.

People won’t accept me if they knew I did ___________________.

Women won’t want me mentoring their daughter if they knew _______________ about me.

My followers will stop reading my blog if I revealed _______________.

People won’t think you truly love the Lord if they knew you __________________.

Do ya’ll see how dark and misleading these thoughts are? Fill in the blank with your own sentence stems that apply to your heart’s desires. Thankfully, Chris reeled me in to kindly remind me that it isn’t my credibility that matters, but Jesus Christ’s. I will falter with my words and mess up many times, but it’s Him who receives the glory for who He is and what He has done. Remember that friend. You and I both have it in us to be secure in who we are in Christ, regardless of our past and current struggles. I quickly realized that I needed to let my past sins be my past sins, and focus on God rather than myself.

Walking in the Light

Yes, I confess, my past sins have come back to haunt me and affect my current relationships because I never truly let them go. Believe it or not, I often went back to past sins, and contemplated committing those same exact actions once again. Even as a believer, I would re-engage in a snarling trap to fulfill the emptiness that my insecurities would bring. Hate for my sins is what I learned needed to happen in order for me to no longer look back and long to return to old habits that were unpleasing to the Lord. I read Beth Moore’s, “So Long, Insecurity” when I was in college and have recently been rereading through. Her first chapter title is Mad Enough to Change. Don’t worry, I will not write out the entire book right here, but I do highly recommend this book to all my girls, young or old. Mad enough to Change…before I read a word I paused to think, “Do the enemy’s lies and my own insecurities make me mad enough to do something about it?” Absolutely. My insecurities are what have lead me down a path of darkness numerous times, which the Bible states over and over that we are called to walk in the light.

 1 John 1:5-10 “Walking in the Light”

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. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

My three takeaways from this passage of scripture are:

1.      When we walk in darkness there is no truth, or true freedom in Christ.

2.      We can’t have true fellowship with God while walking in darkness, because when we walk in the dark we do not live by the truth.

3.      It is impossible to walk with God while we walk in darkness. While living in the light, we can have fellowship with one another and Jesus Christ

Kelly Minter phrases it perfectly in her book What Love Is, “John’s reasoning is a little more straightforward: If God is light and there is no darkness in light, you can’t say you have fellowship with God while living in darkness. It’s a pretty simple formula.” Anyone else wish it was as simple to follow as it is to read? Darkness at times has been something I’ve tried to make work for me. Think of a time when your insecurities or a situation occurred that lead you to live in the darkness. For me, it was a past relationship that I tried to hide from friends walking in the light and my mentor at the time. The relationship wasn’t one that was glorifying to the Lord. After calling it quits, my insecurities kept calling out for affirmation from this guy, but I didn’t want anyone to really know about it. I would make up a different name in my phone for this person to hide the fact that I had been talking to him on and off for months. Crazy, right? Maybe you’re laughing to yourself because you’ve done something similar. It sounds silly. Looking back now, I laugh at how ridiculous it was for me to live in darkness for months—there was nothing beneficial that came from not living in the light. Only hurt, confusion, and messiness. Secret sins that I committed out of my own insecurities had kept me chained from experiencing true freedom in Christ for too long. Praise God for conviction—experiencing deep remorse and sadness over my behavior has kept me from continually walking, living in, and even enjoying, the darkness.

Does this mean that my insecurities will never cause me to walk in the darkness again? Lord help me, walking in darkness is officially a time of the past. Temptations and struggles will continue to arise and manifest in new ways. No longer will there be shame or disgrace that haunts me—for through conviction and deep sadness over my sin, the light has won. Thankfully, when we walk in the light, we have fellowship with other believers, and the blood of Jesus Christ.  Whatever it may be—lies from the enemies, your deepest insecurities, or past hurt that has caused you to turn away from the light…share it with those who are walking in the light. On the opposite end, if you know someone who claims Christ but has been living in opposition to God’s Word, consider praying about gently and lovingly talking to him/her (Galations 6:1). You are deeply loved and cared for by Someone who is eager for you to know and experience true freedom in Him.

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Hello 2018

Reflecting Back on 2017

Happy New Year! I intended for this blog post to be published the first week of January, but as you can see that did not happen. Sometimes life has a funny way of occupying time in a way I hadn’t planned. 2017 flew by and I’m not particularly sad about it. Although there were many moments that Chris and I rejoiced over, there were times that brought us to our knees in grief and sadness. Chris and I moved to Castle Rock, Colorado back in the beginning of the year. The transition was more challenging than I would have anticipated. Chris and I quickly learned that long distance wasn’t for us and I chose to say goodbye to my sweet third graders in March, rather than June. After we moved, I was out of a job and looking for a new teaching position in Colorado. I began to substitute teach at various schools and quickly became discouraged because none of the schools felt like a right fit. While I was a substitute teacher in Colorado, I began working front desk at a workout studio called Fierce45. A studio manager position had opened, and my mind began to wonder what it would look like to obtain a different job.

New Beginnings, Unexpected Gifts

Considering another job opportunity was frightening but exciting at the same time. My identity was a third-grade teacher. I earned my college degree in Elementary Education and my first interview was my only because I accepted the position of third grade teacher at Friendship Elementary a month after graduating college. Weeks of back and forth led me to decide between a third-grade teaching position or to accept the Studio Manager position at Fierce45. Full heartedly, I accepted the Studio Manager position and never looked back. I was at an ultimate high, and Chris loved the fact that I came home energized (even after cooking dinner for him). Chris and I were about to go on a week-long trip to Gulf Shores with my family when I received a call from my dad that my grandmother had passed. We mourned, laid her to rest, then the following week we were on the beach with our toes in the sand. Isn’t it funny how life can take some pretty unexpected turns?

You are all familiar with the next unexpected turn that came in September. My mom had to make the call that no mother ever hopes to make to inform me of her Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis. I must be honest…I was not positive. Time, in my mind, was limited. The next holidays, birthdays, big events would be the last. I pleaded with the Lord to help me with my unbelief in Him to completely heal and restore my mom’s health. The Lord drew me near to him, and I shared sweet moments with my mother talking about who Jesus is, that I’ll never forget. Reality sunk in when I made my second trip to Texas after receiving the news of my mom’s diagnosis, when she was announced as the recipient for the “Heart of a Marauder Award”. Now the entire community was aware. Tears streaming down her former volleyball player’s faces, endless embracing hugs given, and our family coming together to support my mom as she entered her new season of life. Little did I know that the night Chris picked me up from the airport when I returned from Texas, we would discover that we would be entering a new phase of life as well…one that we hadn’t planned either. WE WERE PREGNANT.

Can we just take a moment to laugh at how incapable we are to plan out how our life will go exactly? Sure, we can set goals and make New Year’s resolutions—those aren’t bad or wrong things, but if you were to ask me what my goals were for the year of 2017, half of what life brought was not on my radar. Our lives are inconsistent, and every season brings change. There were moments when the unknown completely sabotaged by best plans, and others when the unknown rescued me from what I considered the “best” plans. One fact I want to take and build my life upon for the new year is quite simple. God does not change. That’s it.

James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

I believe that God gives us perfect gifts because He’s a good Father who never changes. Every single day of 2018 will bring blessings that are provided by Him. All His gifts and blessings will be perfect, even if I don’t consider them to be so during the time. I can look back at 2017 and count every day a gift, even when I was at my worst. As I listened to Matt Chandler’s last sermon of 2017 he said, “Sometimes the best gift, the most perfect gift God could give us is allowing difficulty, loss, and suffering to invade our human experience.” I know, how could difficulty, loss, and suffering be the most perfect gift? During the hardest trials of 2017, God drew me near to Him in a way that made me only love Him more.

James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

My suffering and pain is ultimately for the Glory of God and my joy. Our difficulty, loss, and suffering all serves the purposes of God. I remember when I found out about my mom’s diagnosis wondering what God would do during this season. Questions such as, “What is God up to? What is He revealing to me? What is He removing from me?” crossed my mind as I anxiously waited for His plan to unfold. Prayers have been answered, but there are other items or “plans” on my agenda that I would love to see God show up in and complete (how I envision). Once again, my best plans are vulnerable to the unknown. Thankfully His plan never changes. He is constant. Every circumstance in 2017 has moved me closer to Him, and that is good. I hope for your 2018, that despite your best plans, you build your year upon the fact that He is never-changing. In the trials, let God meet you in a way that is rich, kind, and near. Allow Him to reveal things that you may be blind to.

Prayer Requests and Praises for my mom, Marcia:

·       Prayers that her final five treatments may be completed WEEKLY (this past week she was unable to receive treatment due to her blood platelet count being too low). This news brought tears of frustration, anxiety, and doubt.

·       PRAISE: If you read my blog post “You’re a Good Father” you saw that my mom’s CA 125 levels (number that detects the amount of cancer protein in the body) was 9,000 U/mL. Post-surgery, at her last appointment, the doctor told her that number was now 35 U/mL. Tears of joy and rejoicing over this news. To put this number in perspective, a normal average individual’s number is around 30 U/mL.

·       Prayers for continued positivity and that the cancer be eliminated completely in her last five treatments.

·       Prayers that this lady/my future baby’s grandma will get many years to love on our girl, and travel to Colorado!

Time Well Spent

Nearly three months ago, I received my mother’s phone call with the news that she had been diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer. September, October, and November flew by, filled with nine rounds of chemo and a hysterectomy surgery. In the past three months, not only did I receive such heartbreaking news, but Chris and I found out exactly two weeks after my mom’s phone call that we were going to be parents! Remember how I talked about the Lord being our light in the darkness?

Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.”

Truly, I tell you, His kindness to us in what seemed like one of the hardest trials has brought us a tremendous amount of joy. Great light has shone through in what appeared to be one of the darkest times.

For those of you that have been keeping up with my blog posts and updates on my mom, I want to bring you up to date on my mom’s latest surgery—I wouldn’t have such great reports if it weren’t for my sister’s note taking skills. Brooke has been such a Rockstar messenger, because my mom has what they call “chemo brain” and is often very forgetful! As I had mentioned in a previous post, my mother had two tumors. The tumor in her abdomen began at 10 cm and had shrunk to 6 ½ cm after chemo. Her ovary tumor began at over 5 cm and had shrunk to 2.8 cm. Already such great news! Before surgery, my mom’s doctor informed us that he would only operate on the “big stuff” and leave everything else that measured in millimeter size alone, in hopes that the next round of chemo would zap it. My mom grazed through surgery smoothly and our family received a good report afterward. The doctor was able to remove BOTH tumors from her abdomen area, as well as the tumor in her ovary. Remaining cancer cells were left in my mom’s chest area and bowel area. Today, my mom went in for her follow up appointment with her doctor. She decided to begin her next nine rounds of chemo NEXT WEEK (keep the prayers coming). Remission—yes remission, is what the doctor said my mom would be in once this next nine rounds of chemotherapy is finished. Thank you for continued prayers as my mom will begin her next nine rounds of chemo in the upcoming weeks. Join me in praying boldly for my mom to be able to receive treatment weekly, for her body to respond just as well as the first round, and for remission to be permanent without any recurrence. Let’s go TEAM MARCIA MARCIA MARCIA!

Let me switch gears here. Can I just make an honest confession really quick? Over the last three months I have been “blessed” to experience exhaustion during my first trimester of pregnancy. Ya’ll, it’s a real thing that I can’t even explain. All I could do was sit on my couch and watch TV, or sleep! Fast-forward to my second trimester now that I have more energy, this nasty habit of sitting on the couch watching TV has remained my close friend. I found myself coming home from work, plopping my happy self down, and turning on the television. Now, I could justify my TV time because there were moments where I was multi-tasking with work, Christmas shopping, registering for baby. All important things that must get done, right? After listening to Enter the Story of Jesus sermon by Matt Chandler I was smacked right in the face with the fact given by Matt that the average American watches five hours and four minutes (don’t forget that four minutes) of TV EACH day. “Holy Cow!” I thought, as I realized that I was the “average” person. Don’t get me wrong, I had been binge watching Grey’s Anatomy for the past two weeks every day for probably five hours and four minutes each day, so I am not casting any judgement on anyone. However, I realized that I didn’t want to be average, and that the Lord most likely didn’t put me here on Earth to binge watch television shows on Netflix for that insane amount of time. Pregnant or not, I have no excuse to not be up doing something to further His kingdom or grow deeper in love with my Savior.

 

Our current season has been filled with an incredible amount of anticipation. On one hand, wondering what my mom’s journey will bring, then on the other, wondering what our little bundle of joy will be: boy or girl? Regarding the current season of Advent, I am challenging myself and my husband to be in the word daily together. Along with my worldly anticipation of what is to come with my mom or our baby, there’s the anticipation of Christ’s return. I desire to slow down a bit this season to enjoy the birth of Jesus Christ, and reorient my heart to long for the coming of Jesus Christ. Distractions such as work, curiosity about the gender of our baby (TBD Dec. 22nd), buying presents, attending events, wondering what the next few weeks will look like for my mom, etc. consume my mind daily. Ahh, deep breath. For this Christmas season, I want to set my heart’s affections on Him and await in anticipation the return of our King.

 

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look. Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 PETER 1:8-13

 

“The King is coming. Jesus Christ has come and will come again. This is the hope of the Church whom He purchased with His blood. Jesus’ coming is the eager expectation and desire of His people. It is our joy because He is our treasure and greatest good. This is the theme of “Advent,” formed from a Latin word meaning “coming” or “arrival.” It’s the traditional celebration of the first advent of Jesus in humility and the anxious awaiting of His second advent in glory. The season is a time for remembering and rejoicing, watching and waiting.” –The Village Church Advent Guide

 

My previous post talked about our Sovereign God and His goodness. I wanted to plug in this post from The Village Church. Take some time to read it this week—rather than minutes in front of the TV, fill your soul with His Truth.

You’re a Good Father

Yesterday my mom had her last of nine rounds of chemo! Can you believe it? It seems like yesterday I was just letting you all know that my mom had been diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. These past two months our family has begun adjusting to our new “normal”. No, nothing about cancer is normal, but I am incredibly proud of how positive our family has been—especially my mom. We all knew she would be a fighter, and to no surprise, she has glided through these past nine weeks gracefully. Today she went in for her CT scan, and will meet with the doctor next Tuesday to discuss plans for surgery. Please join me in prayer for the CT scans to show minimal cancer, for surgery to be non-invasive, and for the doctor’s hands in removing all cancer from my mom’s body. Yes…all. My mother’s CA 125 levels, which for those of you that don’t know what that number represents (because I had no clue), it detects the amount of cancer protein substance in the body. Anyway, the normal levels, according to the internet are 35 units per milliliter. Beginning chemo treatment, my mother’s CA 125 level was 9,000 U/mL. The doctor wanted her CA 125 number to be at 2,000 U/mL before performing surgery. Originally, we thought that my mom would have to have an additional five rounds of chemo after the first nine, wait for two weeks, have a scan, wait another week, then meet with the doctor to discuss surgery. HUGE praise, at my mom’s third to last appointment the doctor informed her that her CA 125 level was 1,000 U/mL which has allowed her treatment to be kept at just the nine rounds of chemo and the scan to be even sooner than planned.

 

Thankful. Maybe this word is cliché to use considering it is the month of Thanksgiving, but there isn’t another word that I can think of right now to sum up how I feel about the past nine weeks. I have an immense amount of gratitude that is overflowing from my heart. Despite how much I wish my mom didn’t have cancer, I am grateful for the Lord’s kindness to her in the last nine weeks. Being able to receive treatment each week, the ability to travel to Stillwater to see her beloved Oklahoma State Cowboys play and see family, Bruno Mars being an experience where she was able to be there (despite wearing a mask) are all good things. My mom has so elegantly walked through life these past nine weeks as though nothing was wrong with her. If her head wasn’t shaved, I don’t think anyone would ever be able to guess the struggles internally and externally she has faced. All the while, my mom has never once turned away from the Lord, nor grown complacent with her faith. She continues to seek Him daily and be filled with His love for her. Today, I am thankful because my mom is a child of God, and He loves her so dearly.

 

As I listened to Matt Chandler’s sermon, The Divine Sovereignty of God, Matt began talking about his love for his children. Matt mentioned that regardless of the season his children are in, whether he is angry or disappointed in the choices his children are making, his love for them does not waiver. I can only imagine that this love, a love a parent has for their children, is just a small glimpse of the Father’s love for us. Although my mom currently has a disease infecting her body, my Savior loves her just as much now as He did before. Even before my mother was born, the Lord called her His own. How sweet is that? Ovarian Cancer did not come as a surprise to God, despite our shock. He has so graciously carried her through numerous trials in the past and is evidently holding her tightly in her current season of life. He is good. He is kind.

 

Back when I was a member of a D-Group we memorized the Romans chapter 8. Yes, the entire chapter. There was even a catchy tune and that we would sing to help memorize scripture after scripture. I think Chris even started to memorize it with me as he heard the song repeatedly. Romans 8 is a special chapter to my heart, and one that brought me closer to the Lord. Matt quotes Romans 8:14-17 in his sermon The Divine Sovereignty of God:

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

As you’ve noticed, I have put the last phrase in bold. How could I ever be selfish to think that after the suffering Christ endured for me, that I or my family are immune to suffering? Trust me, there are plenty of times when the thought, “She doesn’t deserve this”, regarding my mom having cancer, runs through my mind.  However, through His suffering, and our belief in Him, He will lavish His riches upon us throughout eternity. God is good.

 

Usually in times of suffering, a go to verse is Romans 8:28:

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

 

Then another goodie is vs. 31

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

 

What does good mean?  Since my mom loves the Lord, He will heal her? In my opinion, that is good. Not to be a downer or “Negative Nancy”, but I don’t think that what God intends as good always aligns with what I think is good.  According to Google, good is an adjective meaning “to be desired or approved of.” Cancer is not something that I ever desired for my mom to have…or approved of, but my approval has no authority here. There is a bigger picture than what I can see of what the Lord intends as good. I want to fill in the gaps here with verses 29 and 30 to establish what the Lord means as good:

“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

Before we were born, as the Lord was creating the Earth, He loved us. Whatever He is doing, as Christians, we can rest assured that His works are for our good. Even though my mother is sick, there is good that has and will continue to come from this, because she belongs to Him. Good may not be interpreted as something positive in the moment, but because my mom has been created in the image of Christ, and is a fellow heir of Christ, what bad could come? Eternity? No, because His riches and mercy are for all eternity.  Regardless of the outcome, He will be glorified.  This is where vs. 31 comes in, because if we have the mindset and heart posture to give God the glory, there can be no one against us. The enemy will have no foothold here—we know the good news that Truth brings.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but the word good is used numerous times in the Bible. Even in the beginning in Genesis 1:31, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” From the beginning God’s plan has been good. He will not forsake us from the goodness of His mighty hand. In the book of Philippians, it is said that the apostle Paul writes to the people of Philippi from prison. Chapter 1:3-11 is about Paul being thankful and praying for the people of Philippi.  In Philippians 1:6, Paul writes to the people of Philippi, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” I am confident in this, God will carry out His good work in us, as believers, from beginning until end. Praise Him.

I love the song “Sovereign Over Us”. I encourage you to take no more than six minutes of your time and listen to this song. Click here to listen, below are the lyrics.

 

“There is strength within the sorrow There is beauty in our tears And You meet us in our mourning With a love that casts out fear You are working in our waiting You’re sanctifying us When beyond our understanding You’re teaching us to trust

Your plans are still to prosper You have not forgotten us You’re with us in the fire and the flood You’re faithful forever Perfect in love You are sovereign over us

You are wisdom unimagined Who could understand Your ways Reigning high above the Heavens Reaching down in endless grace You’re the lifter of the lowly Compassionate and kind You surround and You uphold me And Your promises are my delight

Your plans are still to prosper You have not forgotten us You’re with us in the fire and the flood You’re faithful forever Perfect in love You are sovereign over us

Even what the enemy means for evil You turn it for our good You turn it for our good and for Your glory Even in the valley, You are faithful You’re working for our good You’re working for our good and for Your glory

Your plans are still to prosper You have not forgotten us You’re with us in the fire and the flood You’re faithful forever Perfect in love You are sovereign over us

You’re faithful forever Perfect in love You are sovereign over us”

 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of whatever trial or suffering you’re enduring, He loves you. As believers in Christ, we can rest assured that He will work everything for our good and His glory. Let’s be thankful for that this season. Even in our worst sufferings God’s word will not fail. Love you all.

Healing

I just want to start off with this quote from Lysa TerKeurst that I read the other day. I needed it today.

“Our God is not fickle, forgetful, or fragile in any way. He does not make mistakes. He purposes the gaps. He allows sacred spaces and blank places.”

Break My Heart for What Breaks Yours

In seasons when I want to cry out, “Why God?” I must remember that my question of why, may never be answered. The only answer I can think of that points back to Him, is that it’s for His glory. The past few days my heart has been deeply saddened over the news of multiple friends and family members that have had miscarriages. My heart breaks for the despair that my friends have felt. These women whom I love and cherish have played significant roles throughout my life. God has uniquely placed each woman in my life during a specific season to encourage me to be more like Him. Recently, one of these women told me, “Let me know if there is anything that I can do,” in regard to my mom’s diagnosis. Let me tell you, that this sweet woman, who I adore (basically wanted to be just like her in high school) has a gift of calligraphy writing. She had sent me a scripture that she prayed over my mom and family—instantly I knew what a positive reminder John 14:27 would be to my mom. Immediately, I asked my friend to create a page with John 14:27 beautifully written on a piece of paper to be framed in my mom’s room (as shown below). After viewing Facebook posts the past two evenings, I want to pray this scripture not only over my friend and her family, but for all my sweet friends who have endured hardships. May this verse be an encouragement to read, and may He give us a peace that surpasses understanding.

Mom's Scripture from Chelsea

 

Whether it be a miscarriage, sexual abuse, divorce, cancer diagnosis, etc. my heart aches for your hardships and loss. John 14:27 assures me that Jesus wants us to have a supernatural peace within, and to give our troubles to Him regardless of whatever trial we are in. I know this is so much easier said than done, however we can do our part and pray.  Jesus is here to be intentional and speak into our hearts where we’re at. Sometimes I wish that His way of speaking and answering my cries would be to give me exactly what I want to happen right then. I would love for Him to perform the miracle of healing my mom entirely from the disease within her body today. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, Jesus waited two days to return to Bethany to perform this miracle. Upon Jesus’s arrival, Martha, Lazarus’s sister, went to meet Him and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” How often, when tragedy enters our lives, do we accuse God of being absent? I know there are times when I have questioned His presence in the midst of a storm. Waiting for Him to show up and perform a mighty work immediately, only to be disappointed that His plan didn’t align with my own. I am sure that Martha and Mary felt similar when Jesus was absent for Lazarus’s death, then took two whole days to return. Jesus had a purpose. Doesn’t He always? Jesus knew that He would heal Lazarus, but Mary and Martha felt in the dark during the waiting. Maybe there are questions and empty spaces in the waiting that you are anxiously anticipating the Lord to fill. Two days may not be the timeline for the Lord to fill your blank spaces, but remember, even when it appears God may not be there, He is moving. Even in the waiting, God is doing more than we can see.

One thing I love about Martha, is that her faith was real. Even though Martha was experiencing immense sadness over the death of her brother, Lazarus, Martha believed that Jesus could heal people because of who’s son He was. As Jesus and Martha’s conversation goes on in the chapter of John, Jesus lets Martha know that her brother will rise again—but Martha assumes her brother won’t rise until the resurrection at the final day. Let us not assume that Jesus will delay to take action in the plan He has for us.  In response to Martha’s presumption, “Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

I had to ask myself this question, DO YOU BELIEVE THIS?

Above all, do I believe that Jesus provides eternal life? Will I believe that Jesus knows the best way and trust Him at His word? Will I trust in Him completely? Even if there is a two day, maybe two-decade delay in His response, will I believe in Him? Will I believe, even if _________________ (fill in your own blank). Whatever it is that causes you to hesitate on saying “yes” to this question, I encourage you to confess this to the Lord. One thing that I constantly bring to Him, is for my Savior to help me with my unbelief. When I doubt His goodness, His plan, and presence I lay it before Him. There are times when I doubt God will provide His best for me or question His capacity of performing in His mighty way. Scripture then calls me back to Truth. I believe that He is fully capable of healing, bringing restoration, and truly able to do all things. He is the Resurrection and Life. Apart from Him, we don’t have eternal life. How kind is He to be our Life Eternally—which we know in Heaven, death has no victory. Praise God.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” –Philippians 4:6-7

 

Ya’ll, I must say, that even in this season of waiting, in taking one day at a time to discover the Lord’s plan for my mom, I have been blown away with the pictures showing your support for “Team Marcia”! Your pictures of you and family members wearing your t-shirts and the outpouring of messages assures us that you haven’t forgotten about the current trial we are facing. Text messages, Facebook comments, pictures, and gifts mean more than you know. My mom is going in tomorrow for her sixth round of chemo. I am amazed at how fast these nine weeks are going. My mom partied hard this weekend in Stillwater for OSU’s homecoming, and she looked fantastic while doing so! Continuously praying for her to be able to receive treatment each week. Thank you for walking alongside us, and for praying daily for my sweet mom.

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The Lost Sheep

Fall, Fall, Fall

Last week when I returned to Colorado from my trip to Texas, I couldn’t help but be in awe of the colors of the leaves on the trees. Fall has always been my favorite season, and Colorado Fall has not failed to disappoint. I must tell you, ninety-degree humidity in the middle of September in Texas is NOT something that I missed. Returning to Texas and sweating as soon as you step out in the morning is miserable! Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the cool, crisp mornings in Colorado…I can’t say I mind the change of weather one bit.

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Back to the leaves—the colors are stunning! I went out on a walk today to grab some leaves to show you just how remarkable the intricate design God has put into the colors of the leaves is. They’re just leaves, but the shades of reds, oranges, yellows, and greens, are impeccable. The way colors fade into and out from one another is breath-taking. As I examined each leaf I thought about how they represented change. Leaves begin in their typical green nature, then change colors, and eventually fall off their tree. As much as I love fall, there are already snow-capped mountains in the distance, reminding me that winter is coming. The beautiful leaves will no longer be able to sustain the harsh, freezing temperatures, leaving the trees bare. Seasons come in an ongoing cycle, consistent and ever-changing. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have a consistent cycle in our lives—something we could rely on as a constant reassurance for what is to come?

New Seasons Bring Life Lessons

Of course, that’s not how it works. Even though the seasons remain true in order, each season brings its own unique trials and celebrations. I was reminded of this today when I chatted with my sweet mother in law. Can I just say, not to brag, but how much of a blessing it has been to have a mother in law who fervently prays for me, pours into me, and loves me endlessly? I remember the first time I met Chris’s parents and how they laid hands to pray over me before I left their home. In that moment, I think I knew that this family was mine. They stole my heart even before their son could. Chris’s family has been there through many seasons of our relationship, and have never stopped checking in to see how they could pray specifically for both of us. Not only have they prayed for us, but there has been an incredible amount of wisdom they have provided (Godly and useful daily tips).

One of these useful tips I received from my mother in law today. I learned the importance of a spare key! A spare key isn’t just for when relatives come in from out of town, or to let the dog sitter in, etc. Sometimes we, as the owners, lock ourselves out of our home. Please tell me I’m not the only one who has ever done this. Today as I was on my walk, I noticed it was beginning to sprinkle, so I picked up my pace to get back home. I couldn’t wait to get inside. Remembering I had locked the front door from the inside, I put in the code for the garage, only to find that the garage door to the inside of our house was locked! Great. I called Chris in need of a rescuer to let me inside. Thankfully, he was in town—but this is what prompted my mother in law to make me ponder what I would have done if he had been out of town. First, I probably would have cried, panicked, call Chris and ask what to do, then react. Sometimes, I don’t know what I would do without Chris to help guide and lead me out of difficult situations. However, there are moments when I realize that I put too much trust in him to be my shepherd.

New Seasons Bring Uncertainty

About one year ago, during the Fall season in Texas (if you really call it Fall), Chris and I made the decision to move to Colorado. We knew it would be a journey that would bring discomfort, joy, and new opportunities for both of us. In October, our house went on the market, and we said goodbye to our first home November 20th. From that point, we moved in with my parents (yea roomies!) and the challenges of our life ahead began. Reality sank in, and tough decisions had to be made. Chris was still working in Ft. Worth at the time, driving over an hour and a half to work, while I was driving forty-five minutes to an hour to work. I was still coaching volleyball, and at times had to travel back to my parents’ house after school to let our dogs out, then drive to volleyball. In the moment, I didn’t realize how much time Chris and I were losing to spend with one another, but such valuable time was lost during those days with how thin we had spread ourselves. Distance began to form not only between Chris and I, but between myself and the Lord. When the time came to make the decision to stay in Texas for the remainder of my year or move to Colorado, I chose to stay. I couldn’t bear the thought to leave my students or co-workers any earlier than I had to.  On the other hand, my husband and I would be living miles apart—for six entire months. I know, I know, looking back it should have been the easiest decision to make. Chris and I were getting mixed reviews on what to do—I relied on Chris to make my decision for me. Once again, I was trusting him to be my shepherd rather than the one true Good Shepherd to speak truth into my heart.

Days of loneliness followed once Chris left in mid-January for Denver. Anger, bitterness, and doubt filled my mind. How could my leader, my husband, let me make this decision that would lead us to be apart? I became isolated, believing lies about the truth of God. I didn’t even want to have anything to do with the Lord. I relied on Chris to come rescue me from being locked out, instead I needed my Savior. Even though I was surrounded by twenty-three students, co-workers, friends, and family, I have never felt more alone or confused. The enemy has a way of creeping in through any door that might be cracked open to manipulate us to believe that the safer, more fulfilling paths, are the ones apart from God. I can’t help but think what a lost sheep I was. Searching in all the wrong places for comfort rather than running to our friends who serve God with my tangled, confused thoughts. Instead of running to my Great Shepherd pleading for guidance and just to hear His voice, I waited for someone else to fix my problems for me. After a month went by without seeing Chris once, I realized that this was not how God intended for this season to go. Chris and I weren’t meant to begin our journey in Colorado separately, our Good Shepherd intended for us to start our new life in Colorado together. I thought to myself, “How in the world did I end up here?” “Why are Chris and I not in the same place beginning this new chapter of our lives together?” I had strayed from the Lord, desiring my own selfish ambitions rather than His plan.

God is Here to Save the Lost Sheep

Thankfully, our Good, Sovereign Shepherd never lets us lost sheep stay lost. Somewhere along the line, He finds us, picks us up off our feet, and draws us near to Him. My, what a Savior. Even when I don’t trust in Him to lead me, He is there to reassure me that His plan is good. Trust in Him. God was there to lead me out of my current wilderness, and lead me to Colorado over Spring Break, rather than in June. I was terrified to leave my normal. Teaching was my identity, my family was in Texas, and I had friends—co-workers that I cherished spending time with. Comfortable is how I would describe my situation. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line of comfort, I found security in my job, friends, and family rather than the Lord.  Lysa TerKeurst says it so beautifully, “I’m thankful that the Good Shepherd comes and finds us no matter how we get lost or how far we wander—whether it’s through willful disobedience or through just taking one bad step at a time until we are way off course.” I packed up my bags in March and went to be with Chris in Colorado—since that day the Lord has continuously lavished His blessings upon me, His once lost, but now found sheep.

Matthew 18:10-14 talks about the Parable of the Wandering Sheep. There are times when we can all get a little lost, or off track. How might we become lost? Does it happen overnight, do we turn away intentionally, or can it happen over time without us realizing it until we are convinced we are too far gone? We believe little lies that seem harmless, then eventually believe the biggest lies of all, which is why we are so desperately in need of a Savior. Remember last blog post when I said that it’s okay to not always be ok? I realize that is very true. Breakdowns will happen, sin will occur because we are imperfect. We will get lost. There will be times where we are simply not ok. However, I don’t think that it’s healthy to be in a constant phase of not being “ok”. Maybe you’re in a place like I was, feeling lost and wondering where in the world God is. Don’t lose heart. He’s there and will continue to search for you to bring you back to the rest of His flock. The Good Shepherd will not leave you alone. Cry out for His voice, His guidance, and He will rescue you. This is Truth.

James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”

I will continue to listen to His voice to guide me through the seasons of life. In my current season of one which would be so easy to get lost, He has been near to me. He has been near to my mom, when she could have veered off His path. Looking for His goodness in this season has been rewarding. God is here to save the lost, to know us and be known, and provide eternal life to all His sheep. Today I rest in the presence of the one true, Good Shepherd.

Update on my sweet mom:

Praises for white blood cell counts to be high enough for her to receive treatment this past Tuesday! Ya’ll, God does answer our prayers, and I want to thank all of you who have been prayer warriors. We can continue to pray those white blood cells stay high enough for my mom to continue to receive treatment each week. The month of October is a kind of big month for my mom with some major events coming up. Next weekend, October 14th is Homecoming weekend at Oklahoma State. The last weekend of the month is…drum roll please…BRUNO MARS CONCERT! My mom had bought tickets for herself, my sister and, and me last Christmas, and our dreams are finally coming true to see this man LIVE. For both events, I pray, and ask you to pray with me, that my mom is able to attend and enjoy both events in full. I’m not sure if you’re aware of how strong my mom is, but she is such a fighter. She has completely embraced her new normal, which was a Jamie Lee Curtis look, but now she has completely let all her hair go.

After the next five rounds of chemo, my mom will have a two-week break, then the doctors will do a scan before they perform surgery. We pray that the chemo has shrunk and gotten rid of ALL cancer cells (praying boldly here) and if not all, most, for surgery to not be so invasive. My mom found out at her last appointment that post surgery will be another nine rounds of chemo. There’s a plan in place, so let’s pray that God flexes here within this time to restore my mother’s health. We are so grateful for all of you who walk alongside us during this time. Your support means the world.

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Trust

One song that I am currently obsessed with is “Let You Go” by United Pursuit. I have added inserts of the song lyrics among my writing because it seemed to fit. It’s amazing how God uses songs to speak to us in every season of life.

Why?

We have sought the truth when we’ve felt the pain

Even wandered beyond our faith in the name

We cannot pretend we are always ok

We cannot depend on fast food grace

Can we all just say that it’s okay to not always be ok? When I first found out my mom was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer during that dreaded phone call, my first question was, “Why?” I couldn’t help but wonder why it had to be my mom. What did she do to deserve this? I just wanted immediate answers to all of my “whys” but knew I wouldn’t get any—immediately at least. Immense pain, hurt, and confusion are a few of the emotions that I felt. Negative thoughts flooded my mind, and after I got over my selfishness, all I could think about is that my mom getting cancer must be for His glory. Nothing my mom necessarily did or didn’t do, but that the Lord would use her diagnosis for a greater purpose. His purpose.

 

Giving up Control, and Trusting God

Help me let You go Help me give up control

Of the god I’ve made you When my fear has contained you

Help me let You go Help me give up control

Of the god I’ve made you When my fear has contained you­

How will the Lord use my mom’s cancer diagnosis for His glory? There are specific ways that I am boldly praying for the Lord to use my mom’s situation to bring glory to His name. I have prayed for marriages to be restored, loved ones to come to know Christ intimately, for my mom to know my children, and a deep-rooted community for Chris and I. Doubt creeps into my mind, wondering when the Lord will answer my cries. Even at times, I have found myself trying to take matters into my own hands, only to be called “self-righteous” and told that I just don’t understand. I end up leaving conversations feeling defeated, and eventually stop checking in all together. Trying to be in control of situations and people’s decisions is something I’ve learned ends up in a total disaster. Imagine your worst nightmare—times ten. Control is not a friend of mine. Desiring to control situations leads me to trust in my own understanding, and discredit the Lord for who He is and what He can do. Now, more than ever, I have no control. My hope is in Him to answer my prayers, and to help me with my unbelief. No longer will my fear and doubt contain what my God is capable of. Even when the Lord seems to be unmoving, I know that He is doing greater things that I can’t see.

 

In the Storm, He is Still There

When the way is unclear and the answers illusive

He is different by far than our broken conclusions

You are not the god my pain has conceived

You are deeper and stronger than my eyes can see

In John 9, there is a sweet story about how Jesus healed a man who was born blind. His disciples believed the man was born blind because of something he or his parents did. I thought about how I questioned my mom’s cancer, and how I wondered what she did to deserve this. Was there some sin that she was being punished for? Verse three goes on to give Jesus’s reply to His disciples:

“It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in Him.”

Do I think that it was some sin my mom committed to bring this cancer on as a punishment? No. I cannot tell you all the works that God will do through my mom, but I do believe that His works will be displayed for all of you, witnesses, to see. It’s not always easy to think about the positive possibilities that might happen. How often do we find ourselves facing trials where we wonder, “Why?”

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

“Why is my loved one sick?”

“Why has it been so challenging to find real, vulnerable community?”

“Why can’t we sell our house?”

“Why didn’t my relationship work out?”

The list could go on. Ask yourself, what is your why? Even though we may not understand or know the answer, sometimes it takes more than waiting. We are called to be obedient to Him, so maybe our answer requires taking a step of obedience to hear what He is trying to tell us. He has the best for us, but sometimes His perfect plan may not align with what we would like the outcome to be. However, I love knowing who our Creator is as a healer and provider. God has already shown how faithful He is during this season to my family, and I can’t help but well up with tears when  I think about what He’s done, because He has provided. HE IS FAITTHFUL—even in the storms. Now, rather than asking “why”, I am asking “what”. WHAT can God reveal and teach me through this? WHAT step can I take to bring glory to His  name? WHAT is He going to do in this season?

You are with us now You have always been

When we’re found without You’re found within

You are with us now You have always been

When we’re found without You are found within

John 9:15  says,

“So the Pharisees again asked him (the blind man) how he had received his sight. And he said to them, “He put mud on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.”

Wouldn’t that be amazing if my mom could just put mud on her body, then be cured? I’d like to think even though it may not be literal “mud”, that Jesus is giving my mom an opportunity to throw on “mud” and step into a role that allows His name to be exalted. He provided the directions to the blind man, and the blind man had faith in Him to take a step of obedience, and wash his eyes of the mud. The blind man came to see and follow Christ from this miraculous healing. Unfortunately, the Pharisees, even with physical evidence of the Savior standing right in front of them, were still blinded. Let us not be blinded or distracted from the thunder and lightning of our storms, when there are acts of kindness and mercy that God rains down upon us.  I’m believing in this Healer to rescue and restore my mom’s health not only for her to continue following Him, but for our cloud of witnesses and loved ones to come to know Christ. We’re praying and fighting daily for the Lord to get the glory.

Specific ways that you can pray for my mom right now are for her white blood cell counts to rise. She was able to receive treatment today, but her white blood cell count had dropped lower than we would like. My mom’s hair has started to come out—which calls for a “shaving party” as she likes to say. Pray for her to feel God’s love for her and to know her beauty radiates regardless if she has hair or not. “Let her be clothed with strength and dignity,”  Psalm 31 says. She has now completed three out of nine chemo treatments. The goal is for the doctor to perform surgery to remove all of the cancer once the nine rounds are done. We can pray that my mother is able to receive treatment each week so that surgery can happen sooner than later. My mom told my sister and I today, “She’s fighting like a boy, because she grew up with the boys!” She’s a tough, positive Cookie (get it?)! Thank you all for your continuous, healing prayers.

One final note I want to leave you with because I keep pulling out numerous little nuggets from Lysa TerKeurst’s Finding I Am, and I am taking this quote and using it as a prayer:

God, we need Your light. Light defeats darkness every time. I might not have all the answers to my struggles right now but I am seeing more hope than ever. Jesus is my light. And because of Him even my darkest of nights aren’t so daunting and confusing. Oh Jesus, bring Your light and with You I am comforted.

Amen.

Chemo Day 2

B-E Aggressive

Writing in the airport seems to be the common trend these days. Who needs to people watch, anyways? Thankfully, no men were snoring while I waited for my flight to start boarding. Boarding a plane never fails to be a fun experience. Everyone jumps out of their seat ten minutes before the first zone is called, then you get to “merge” together into one single file line. Some are more gracious than others, but it surprises me that people are oblivious to merging etiquette. I’m over here like, “Hello? I just let the person in front of you go, now you let me go.” Usually, I have a roller suitcase with me to make my presence known, but this time I chose to bring one single duffel bag. A small one at that. Let’s just say that three people went in front of me before I got my break through moment. I guess I need to be more aggressive. B-E aggressive.

In my mind, I seem to always have a chant or song for every event. No surprise that cheerleaders cheering me on to be aggressive comes to mind as I’m standing in line to get my boarding pass checked. Anyone else relate? I always thought I’d be a cheerleader or dancer, but my mom, Coach Cooke, always made it very clear that I would play sports—be an athlete, you know?

 

Momma Coach Cooke

From day one, my mom has always been “Coach Cooke” and “mom”. She was always there to push me to be my absolute best on the court/field. On the other hand, my mom would be there to cook, clean, and take me to get ice cream after practice. She wore both hats of “mom” and “Coach Cooke” so well, even though the when the two collided, the result wasn’t always pretty. I remember plenty of times being embarrassed to have my mom be in the same building, as “Coach Cooke”. I also remember being thankful for the comfort that having her close by provided. As much as I look back and cringe at some of the awkward, me being disrespectful, and embarrassing moments, I can’t help but be more thankful for all that she did for me I cannot tell her enough how much I have taken away from who she was for me as a mom AND coach during my teenage years.

I’ll give you a brief story from my middle school years. I was zoned for Lamar Middle School, but went to Briarhill instead because my mom was a coach there. I didn’t know anyone except maybe a handful of people. After I made the A team for volleyball, I was told by girls that I made the top team just because my mom was the coach, I was made fun of for my appearance, and you get the gist–girls can be downright mean. I can’t say I didn’t fall into that, because I wasn’t always the nicest person. I had become friends with the “cool crowd” and was invited over to one of their houses one evening for a party. My mom drove me over to the house that wasn’t lit, only to find out that the girl’s parents weren’t home. There weren’t any parents there, only a bunch of twelve and thirteen-year old’s with some alcohol in the basement. My mom didn’t leave like the other parents. Instead, she stayed to wait for the girl’s parents to get there…only to find out that they weren’t coming home any time soon. My face flushed with embarrassment, and I still recall what the pit in my stomach felt like. Although I was angry with my mom in that moment—no, I was mortified, I can’t help but look back and be grateful for how much she cared for me. Not only did she want me to be the best athlete that I could, but she wanted me to be the best person that I could. You see, she was my protector, provider, my coach, and my mom. She’s the mom that I aspire to be.

 

Running the Race

For all my former and current athletes, I don’t know about you, but Hebrews 12:1 was a scripture that would often be quoted as we were preparing for a challenging game:

“And let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

Yes, just this small short half of a sentence that we would take to provide some sort of Biblical encouragement that we were going to play our best for the Lord. However, this one tiny sliver of a verse was taken out of context. Hebrews 12:1-2 says,

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I highlighted the quote from above to point out that a “race” is simply more than a volleyball game. Moments of joy, trials we face, the regular day in and day out make up our own individual race. My mom is running a race, I’d like to think a marathon. We have invited all of you to walk alongside us as we enter a new trial she’s encountered on her race. During this time, we ask not only that you, our witnesses, pray for healing, but that you pray for my mom to lay aside this heavy weight, only to look to Him, “the founder and perfecter of our faith”. I cannot tell you how much I admire my mom for clinging to the Lord during this time. Her heart’s affections have only been stirred for Him, and she longs to be in the Word each morning. I’m sure this new role she’s in, leaving her unable to provide like she has in the past, as a mom and grandma (Nema), has left her feeling a bit weak in the knees. Thankfully, when we can’t seem to hold our own, Jesus steps in to be our rock. He is our comfort, stability, and is always steadfast in love.

Isaiah 33:5-6

“The LORD is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness, and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.”

Psalm 107:6-9

“Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in. Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”

Whatever weight you’re carrying, or whatever sin may be holding you back, I encourage you to run your race with endurance. He is your stability, and he will bring you satisfaction–even when you don’t feel worthy of His grace & mercy. He went and died on the cross, endured the greatest pain imaginable, so we don’t have to. When doubt creeps into your mind, remember, He did that for you. Let that sink in today.

Here are some pictures of my mom’s former players from last Friday night when my mom earned the “Heart of a Marauder” award. Their love for her was overwhelming to see. My mom has touched so many lives. How can you not love Coach Cooke? *You’re also never too old to sit in your mom’s lap.*

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Bread and Water

Have you ever been so hungry that you indulge in food only to find yourself starving thirty minutes later? My husband, Chris, usually gets this way when we eat sushi. He scarfs down roll after roll of sushi only to be scrounging in the kitchen half an hour later. Chris is satisfied immediately after he eats, but that fulfillment doesn’t last.

I immediately thought of this situation when I was reading in John 6, how Jesus is the Bread of life. Let’s keep in mind that He feeds the 5,000 bread, and feeds the Israelites manna (bread) in the wilderness.  Bread has been a way that Jesus provides for His people’s physical hunger. In the book of John we see how Jesus walks on water to get the disciple’s boat back to the land of Capernaum. People began to follow Jesus because of the they saw signs that He was Christ. Jesus was there for His people in the midst of a storm to provide for them spiritually and physically. Storms come into our lives when we least expect it. As I read Lysa TerKeurst’s, Finding I Am, she posed a question that brought conviction to my soul,

“Do you think people would try to fill their spiritual hunger if all their physical needs were continually met?”

I had to stop right here and ask myself, pertaining to the specific storm I am currently in:

Why am I following Jesus?

Am I like the crowds who simply want their bellies filled, or am I coming to Him because He is Bread to me?

If my mom is healed, will I continue to seek Jesus (Bread), or will I grow distant because he filled my immediate “physical” need?

In the past when trials would enter, I would run to Him immediately, but would find myself only weeks later to be distant once again. Jesus was my bread for immediate hunger, but not the Bread of everlasting fulfillment.  Jesus would be the one who I turned to for my “physical” needs (I like to think of physical as not just hunger, but immediate needs), and once those were met, I didn’t need Him anymore. I kept going back to earthly things that would never fully satisfy my heart, and turn to Jesus only when I really needed Him to fix something. He became my last resort when trials entered into my life.

This never-ending cycle reminds me of the Samaritan woman and Jesus’s interaction at the well in John 4. My heart is deeply touched by this story because I see myself as the Samaritan woman, unworthy of the water that never causes you to thirst no more. Jesus says to the Samaritan woman in regard to the water of the well she draws from daily, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4: 13-14

Thankfully, Jesus is our Bread and Water, and He sees us worthy to offer that to us daily.

John 6:35 says,

“Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

It’s easiest for me to run to Jesus in the middle of a storm. What about the days when the storm has past? Previously, I would return to drawing from other wells, the ones that wouldn’t provide lasting fulfillment. My mom and I chatted this morning over our quiet time. She shared with me that she read about how, not only does God never give us anything we can’t handle, but He never gives us anything that we can’t handle–together. He’s being our bread and water to get us through any obstacle. He sustains us whether we think we have everything under control, or when we feel we need Him most.

“Jesus is the source of satisfaction that will not leave us wanting.” -Lysa Terkeurst

I encourage you to think about what well you are drawing from. Are you eating bread and drinking water, or are you finding fulfillment in the Bread and Water that Jesus provides? I am thankful that it is His well that satisfies my soul.

Chemo Day 1

Living in the Fullness of God

To prevent double posting in the same day I saved this post for ya’ll today, my mom’s very first day of Chemo! Is that even a thing, to do a double blog post in one day??  Just so you all know, it was very tempting to share my airport experience immediately with you in real time. I sat down to prepare for my flight home that was scheduled to take off at 8:40 P.M. from Dallas to Denver. I checked my phone for any possible flight changes to discover that my flight had been delayed, and wouldn’t take off until 10:00 P.M. So unfortunate….and what else do you do in an airport other than people watch or read? I wanted to unplug from my phone for a bit so I picked up the current book I’m reading, Uninvited by Lysa Terkeurst. Yes, I am reading a book while simultaneously doing a study that she has written, and both are extraordinary! Anyways, I am reading along and suddenly cannot help but look around to see where this awful snoring is coming from. Sure enough, right across diagonal from me there is a man–mouth wide open, sawing logs just like my dad. I decided to plug my headphones in, but I haven’t acquired the “multi-tasking” skill of reading while listening to music. Therefore, I was inclined to write another post.

When I turned on my iTunes the song “You Make Me Brave” by Bethel Music and Amanda Cook came on first. Before you read on, I encourage you to stop and listen to this song (maybe you, unlike me, can listen and read at the same time).

Even though Uninvited isn’t a book targeted specifically towards individuals who have a loved one going through cancer, I have found little nuggets that can be applied to a magnitude of circumstances, including the current season I am in. I hope that whatever season you’re in, whether it be the waiting, or in the middle of the storm, that you find encouragement here. I quote from the back cover of Uninvited, “Uninvited reminds us we are destined for a love that can never be diminished, tarnished, shaken, or taken—a love that does not reject or uninvite.”

In the fourth chapter, Terkeurst talks about how when we feel rejected, our flesh will want to grasp at straws, paranoia sneaks in, and our mind assumes the worst—leaving us in fact, feeling more rejected. I found myself relating these “symptoms” to when I don’t feel like I have control of a situation.  I’m learning what lack of control truly feels like, and to know that it’s okay to not have my brave face on the entire time. How easy is it to reach for anything or anyone before we turn to the Lord? We grasp at what is within arm’s reach to find comfort, but there is only One who can bring us fullness. I know, this is much easier said than done. Trust me, I am one who is all too familiar with clinging to anything/anyone other than Him when rejection, fear, lack of control creep in. The pattern never fails, when I believe lies from the enemy that I end up reopening past wounds. “Onward Christian Soldier,” are the words that come to mind when I think about seeking the Lord during this time rather than reverting to old habits. I am aware that there will be temptations to revisit those “old friends”, but when I am deceived to grasp at straws I will remember that fullness is found in Him. I know you may be thinking that I always sound positive, but my struggles are very real. There are negative thoughts, doubt, and idols that entire my mind daily, and even at times seem more appealing to turn to in the moment. Distance from the Lord is a feeling that I have gotten to know in my past. Thankfully, God is ALWAYS there to meet me where I am. God provides fullness within us, and Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians describes that fullness:

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)

There are many things that I am not that God is able to step in and be for me. It must be His riches and mercy that I find strength in. I sat in the airport thinking about how my mom would begin chemo and began wondering how the treatment would affect her. You hear that people react differently to treatment and that it’s never known what is to be expected. This was one of my biggest points of sadness when I found out my mom had cancer. I hated imagining my mom having to endure chemo treatment and questions flooded my mind, “Will she lose her hair? Will she feel nauseous? Will she be exhausted? Will she be able to sustain treatment each week?” The element of fear is present in my mind as I have no control over how my mom will respond to chemo through the nine-week series. God is working on my heart and teaching me every day to believe, have faith, and trust in Him. In 1 Peter 5:7 scripture says, “Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for You.” He is sweet and merciful to draw us in to Him, and I’m realizing He never fails to fill my every need.

When I am weak. He is strong.

When I have doubt. He is reassurance.

When I am confused. He is confidence.

When I am angry. He is love.

When I am unable. He is capable.

When I am unsteady. He is unchangeable.

When I am lost. He is faithful.

“If we live rooted and established in His love we don’t just have knowledge of His love in our minds, but it becomes a reality that anchors us. Though winds of hurt and rejection blow, they cannot uproot us and rip us apart. His love holds us. His love grounds us. His love is a glorious weight preventing the harsh words and hurtful situations from being a destructive force.” – Terkeurst Uninvited

Whatever hurt or rejection you are facing today, join me in trusting in the Lord to bring you fullness in Him. Let Him be your anchor in the midst of whatever season you’re in. Let go of everything you are, and grasp onto everything that He is. Today, I am letting go of fear, control, and doubt. Today, I choose to trust in His capability to do ALL things and rest in confidence in Him because His plan is to bring glory to His name. He brings everlasting fulfillment.

My mom is grasping onto Him (literally) today as she enters her first round of chemo. She’s such a warrior!

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