Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Fork in the Road

It's a quiet and rainy morning. The house is warm and the sky is gray. A perfect time to read and reflect. This past week Eddie had two scans and on Tuesday we meet with the oncologist to find out if his cancer has grown or if the current chemo treatment continues to contain it. Tests and scans followed by meeting with the oncologist is a road we are familiar with as we have been walking it for almost three years.The anxiety and uncertainty that precedes the appointments are also familiar as the appointments bring us to a fork in the road and we don't get to choose which way we go. If the cancer has grown it leads us on the path of new treatments and wondering if we are closer to a time that Eddie will no longer be with us. Or will we get to continue walking the current path of his cancer being contained? This morning I was reminded of God's wisdom and faithfulness when reading Isaiah 42:16. "I will lead the blind by a way they did not know; I will guide them on paths they have not known. I will turn darkness to light in front of them and rough places into level ground.This is what I will do for them, and I will not forsake them." My anxiety of not knowing which way we will be walking after Tuesday's appointment is eased in knowing that God knows what lies ahead and he will continue to be faithful to light the dark places and level the rough parts just like he has in the past. Deuteronomy 31:6 reminds me to, "Be strong and courageous; don't be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the Lord your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you." I may not get to choose the path ahead but I can choose to trust God's wisdom and faithful love and the promise that he always walks with us. And the choice to trust always brings peace.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Little Timehop: One Year Ago Today

Last year February 1 was a Saturday and the weather was similar to what it was today. Crisp and fall like with rays of sunshine peeking through clouds meandering across the sky. We were hosting a group of high school girls for the weekend and had celebrated my birthday the night before. Saturday morning I was on a service project with the girls when one of my friends who was with us said Bekah called to tell her that she’d been trying to reach me. Friday evening Eddie had a CAT Scan and the doctor called him on Saturday morning to confirm the worst. Eddie had metastatic cancer. I was 15 minutes away from our house but the drive home seemed like it was on the other side of the country. A few of my small group girls made the drive with me and their presence kept me from falling apart. The events of that day still play like a movie in my mind. Life changing news we will never forget.

We had hoped to make today a day of celebration. Redeem the day by celebrating that Eddie is still alive and doing remarkably better than what the doctors had originally thought. Celebrate the amazing people near and far who have loved and supported us. But today has turned out to be an ordinary Sunday. I’m propped up in bed with pillows and my sweet dog Peanut curled in by my side. Bekah is in her room relaxing. And Eddie is doing one of his favorite things...watching football. A blessed and ordinary day that I will take all day every day!

I don’t understand why Eddie has cancer. Some days the life saving treatment he’s receiving causes him discomfort and there’s no glamorizing it. Quite frankly, it just sucks. Planning financially for the worst is smart but depressing. I hate seeing the pain all of this has caused my young daughter. Every day others receive the same phone call that sends their life into a tailspin. There is so much sadness in life that I will never understand.

In Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, Anne Lamott writes, “The opposite of faith is not doubt; but certainty”. There is tension in faith. Part of the struggle that keeps us away from faith that God is good and loving is that he has the power to prevent bad things from happening and yet they still happen. A very understandable struggle that I relate to.
But this is what I’m certain of. When we hurt, God hurts too and when we call out to him, he never leaves us. Psalms 145:18 What I know without doubt is that God is good. He is so loving that he sent his only son Jesus to die a horrific death for us so that even though our sin separates us from him, we are made right with him and because of Jesus’ death we can spend eternity in heaven where there will be no more sickness, suffering or pain. Revelation 21:4 This truth not only gives me hope for the future but reminds me of his amazing love for me every day.
One of my favorite authors, Brene' Brown describes the faith struggle well. “As a lover of all things certain, I wanted faith to work like an epidural; to numb the pain of vulnerability. As it turned out, my faith ended up being more like a midwife – a nurturing partner who leans into the discomfort with me and whispers “push” and “breathe". Faith didn’t make my life less vulnerable or comfortable, it simply offered to travel with me through the uncertainty.”
We don’t know what this next year will bring for our family and the uncertainty can be scary. What helps us through is holding on to who God is and his love for us when the pain seems too great to bear. And holding on to who God is and his love for us on calm and ordinary days. When we walk in the certainty of knowing who God is we remember that each day He will give us the grace, love and strength we need. Today and every day has been redeemed!
John 16:33I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today was not the birthday I had planned. Pain from the herniated disc in my back has been intense and I was forced to stop and rest. And I recognized that I am more aware of blessings when I’m stopped than when I’m hurrying through my own agenda. Although my day started with physical pain it also started with the sweetest birthday hug from my daughter, a yummy breakfast brought to me by my husband, and has been rounded out with flowers, a cake, balloons, gifts, and dinner not prepared by me. Oh, and I’m here to celebrate another year of life!! Today is the day God had planned for me and His plans are always better than mine. Life can be painful and messy and sometimes we have to search hard to see the blessings. Today I am grateful that the blessings far outweighed the pain.  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Slough of Despond

"Fear sets against God's promises when it ought simply direct the soul from the threatenings to the promises to make the promises shine." George Barrell Cheever

I've been rereading The Pilgrim's Progress and found this poignant footnote in chapter two. It reminded me that God's promises always outshine the darkness that pain brings. Agonizing feelings and anxious thoughts sometimes persist like a dog with a bone and that's when I have to choose again and again and again to put my trust in God's promises. Job 23:10 reminds me that perseverance has great rewards. Hebrews 2:14-18 reminds me that Jesus feels our pain and he gets firsthand what we're going through. John 3:16 reminds me of God's great love for us and the promise of eternal life we have through Jesus. Romans 8:15 reminds me of how personal and accessible God is. No elaborate prayers needed. Just a simple cry to "Abba, Father!" 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

I Get Down and I Get Up Again

This morning when reading Colossians 3 I was reminded about how we are called to live as Christians.  Paul lists over a dozen ways. The list includes gentleness, patience, forgiving and accepting others. Yesterday I had moments of just the opposite…impatient, harsh, and feeling justified in holding onto my rights over being wronged. I really desire to please God in every moment but I fail more than not.

I vividly remember when Rebekah was learning how to walk. She wobbled as she stood on her chubby little legs, would take half a step and then fall. I would help her stand back up to try again. A process that was repeated many many times before she was able to take firm steps without falling. I would clap for Rebekah to keep trying and felt great joy, pride and pleasure in watching her learn how to walk. This week my counselor reminded me that that is how God see’s us in our walk with Him. We all have days when we stumble and fall. God isn’t watching us with disappointment or disapproval. When we fall we are met with God’s outstretched hand ready to help us stand back up. He claps and cheers for us as we become stronger and He is pleased with our efforts to walk in ways that honor Him.

When we remember this, we don’t feel guilt or shame when we mess up. We confess and take God’s hand and look into Jesus’ face and see Him clapping and cheering for us as we grow stronger. Today may our steps be lighter as we embrace the freedom we have in God’s help and love for us. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Holding Hands

Young friends holding hands with arms swinging. A newly in love couple who can’t separate their hands. An older couple who still hold each other’s age spotted hands. A parent holding the hand of their child to guide and protect them. Whether fingers laced together or hands firmly cupped in each other’s palms, hand holding is intimate and comforting. Isaiah 41:13 is a beautiful reminder that we have a personal God who in every circumstance hold’s our hand. “For I, Yahweh your God, hold your right hand and say to you; Do not fear, I will help you.” As I read this verse I close my eyes and think about different situations where I feel alone and I picture Jesus’ hand in mine saying, “Cindy, do not fear, I will help you.” When in my brokenness I mess up, again, I picture Jesus taking both of my hands and saying, “Cindy, do not fear, I will help you.” I inhale this promise and find rest. “Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Unfailing Love

It feels like we're in a holding pattern right now as we wait to find out if the chemo and radiation are shrinking Eddie's tumor and killing the cancer in his body. My faith can sometimes be like a yo-yo. The yo-yo is up and I remember that we are being firmly held in God's hand. But then doubt or fear seeps in and I feel like I'm twirling down on a thin piece of string. God doesn't let go. My perspective changes and life does seem to spiral down when I focus on my circumstances instead of God's promises and character. While we are in this holding pattern I push deeper into God's grace. Grace sustains us and when I choose to relax in God's grace I don't look for peace in test results.

Easter brings more of an awareness of the grace God gives to us through Jesus' death on the cross. This isn't just a Bible story. Through Jesus' death we not only gain access to heaven but we are given new life every day! There are days that I am unloving and impatient. I am flawed and I sin every day. We all sin in some way every day. Romans 5:20 tell us, "where sin multiplies, grace multiplies even more." That seems backwards to me and makes grace amazing. No matter what we do God's love for us never changes. Never changes! When someone is unkind to me or cuts me off in traffic, my "like" for them changes much less love. I don't want Jesus' death on the cross and God's grace to ever become so familiar to me that I am not awed by it. When they become familiar, I become self-reliant. And down goes the yo-yo.

We continue to feel your prayers. They are keeping us strong!