Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Jesus

Words seem so inadequate when trying to describe what Easter means to both the believer & the unbeliever. Some may say that the unbeliever is unaffected by Easter. To that, I say, "If only the unbeliever knew..."

Knew what? There's so much to know about my Jesus. Just His name effects my physical being. I cannot hear or say His name without my body eliciting a physical response. It's a feeling in my heart that I can't quite describe. My heart beats just a little stronger, maybe a bit more rapidly too. Sometimes I think it misses a beat. It's a knowing. Knowing that there is only one Jesus. Knowing that without His sacrifice our world would not be the same.

It's not just that He was without sin (unlike any human being). It's not just that He beat death. That's right, after being crucified on the cross, He rose from His grave. To think that He was beaten (probably beyond recognition) before His crucifixion for my foolish sins. I am humbled. He should not have had to die for me.

There are so many details about Jesus that blow my mind. He was born in a stable because the inn keeper said no. During His earthly life, He fulfilled over 300 prophesies. The odds of 1 person fulfilling just 8 of these prophesies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power  (Peter Stoner in Science Speaks). He sacrificed His life for me. He had the personality of a sheep. Perhaps that's why He was called The Lamb of God. He allowed Himself to be tortured for me who wasn't even born yet.

My Jesus met people where they were. His very presence cut to the quick of their hearts. If they hadn't taken time to evaluate the condition of their heart, being in His presence seemed to help them reach their defining moment & decide on which side of the coin they would place their faith. His compassion was beyond measure. Even in his dying moment, He took time to tell a thief on the cross that he would be with Him in paradise that very day.

Sometimes we Christians forget what our Jesus was about, & as Tony Nolan writes, "We fail to show the God we know." Our world is confusing. Dear friends & loved ones suffer heartaches daily. Our world is broken. Our God loved us too much to make us robots. He knew we needed a choice or it wouldn't be love at all.

With choice comes brokenness. Through brokenness, we find our defining moments. Sometimes that's how we find our faith. Our brokenness builds our character. If we let it, it softens our hearts & helps us reach out to others. Our pain fuels us to depend on God's presence, to find Jesus & let Him reign in our broken hearts.

Take a moment & imagine our world & where we would be (believer or not) if Christ had not died on the cross for our ridiculous sins so that we could be forgiven. We would likely still be sacrificing unblemished animals. I believe our world would be more broken than it is. Jesus was no ordinary king. He didn't have wealth (just the sandals on His feet). He was a servant. He loved the sinner; that's all of us. He taught us to evaluate our own sin & forgive the sins of others. He taught us extraordinary love.

After 33 years on this earth, He ascended into Heaven, leaving us with the Holy Spirit. Some say my Jesus is a liar. Some say He was just a good teacher. Some think He was a lunatic. Some people just don't know what to think. Then there are those who say He was a prophet. Still others say He was a nice man. Whatever your take, you have to admit, without Him, without Easter, our world would be even darker than it is. Who do you say that He is?

Friday, March 22, 2013

One life to live...

I believe we have one life to live. It begins in our mother's womb & continues as we pass into eternity the day we die. Where we spend eternity depends on whether or not we trusted in Christ while we were alive on earth. For some, it will be too late. This reality is sad, but it's also motivation to live a life which reflects Christ. I want the world to see Him in me so they might wonder & find Him too.

I believe God gave us our life "for such a time as this." If we spend our life comparing it to others, we will always come up short, & we will always come out ahead. If we are truly grateful, I believe we embrace the life we have & live it to the full. I am thankful for my life even though it has hardships I would never choose. After all, who would choose hardships?

My hardships range from my own health issues to the health issues of others. Some of my troubles revolve around relationships. Then there's my daily companion, Anxiety. Oh what I wouldn't give for a respite from her presence. There's also the emotional baggage that causes people to suffer. It often takes its toll in a way that surpasses any medical issues. Whatever our stresses, they are real...

Since we only have one earthly life to live, I think it's important we get a few things right. I believe embracing the life we have been given (for such a time as this) is key to living life to the full. Of course, we ALL have "things" in our lives we could do without. These "things" may be annoying or they may be of a magnitude which colors our whole life, how we see ourselves, & how we treat others as a result.

Here's my view on embracing my life: I believe I first must accept the journey I've been given (whether I would choose it or not). Next, I believe I need to pour my life into others (whatever that means). I want to give generously of myself, my time, my resources, insights, & whatever I have. I want God to use me to bless others. I want others to draw closer to Him because they get a glimpse of Him in me.

Monday, March 18, 2013

a little deeper...

Today was a day I'm not sure I thought I would see a year ago. I visited my Oncologist & was released for 6 months. I got some of my questions answered regarding medication & side effects. I am just trying to understand my realities so I know what I can & cannot help. Of course, I still have a Radiologist Oncologist, a Plastic Surgeon, a Breast Surgeon, a GI, & a GP to see. That's a lot of doctors for one little person. There will never be an escape from this reality, but truth is, it's always reassuring to be checked, and if something appears, hopefully, it will be caught early & treated.

I am feeling rather vulnerable tonight. We (my husband & I) went out for dinner to celebrate this magnificent day. Even though our meal grossed us both out, & the service was poor, we had a great time. Just being with him, aligns my stars. Just looking into his eyes, & knowing that together, we will get through whatever we face... is enough for me. Some things in my life will never be the same. That's oaky, because I believe as one door closes, another opens.

I think it is through the things we cannot control that we grow as human beings. These things challenge us to depend on God, step out of our box, & discover new things. With every loss, I believe our depth becomes a little deeper. Cancer is a thief, but at the same time, it allows you to gain some of your richest blessings. This paradox continues to blow my mind. It's life changing but not necessarily for the worse. Cancer levels the playing field. It has no regard for anything or anyone. No one is immune.

Cancer causes you to evaluate every angle of your life. It makes you examine your life, your purpose, your future, your past. Every time I see an article, I read it with trepidation. I research it. I try to make sense of it. When it conflicts with what my doctor tells me, I'm troubled. I get confused & feel vulnerable. I spend too much time trying to reconcile these discrepancies. Things seem to keep slapping me in the face, reminding me of my odds. I'd like to be free of this daily sting.

After dinner, my husband bought me a little present. I don't know why he's so good to me. As we came home, it gave me something to look forward to, something fun to research. His kindness is healing to me. It temporarily erases my troubles & gives me a break from my thoughts. I love his laugh & his deep voice. I love his compassion & his listening ear. I love that he spoils me. I love him.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

I can face tomorrow.

Tonight I am staying up late to avoid lying in bed trying to sleep. Tomorrow I see my Oncologist for a 3 month check up. I didn't think I was bothered by this, but I am beginning to wonder. I've not felt quite myself today. Perhaps it's taking more of a toll on me than I know? Funny how I can live each day almost forgetting about some of my details, but then as the day of reckoning approaches, old fears come creeping back.

I start to relive some of last year's nightmares, & before you know it, my head is not in its best place. I have plans. Now I'm hoping nothing goes wrong because I am looking forward to my plans. Time to put my head in a better place. A little while ago, a dear friend posted this scripture on Facebook... I sought the Lord, & He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears (Psalms 34:4).

I  posted on Facebook that I am feeling great, but prayers are always appreciated as I face tomorrow. Already, I have over 70 people praying for me. A friend even said she'd say a Rosary for me. I feel so honored, I hardly know how to express how such an outpouring of prayers makes a person feel. I know those prayers will carry me through tomorrow whatever my outcome. I feel a bit guilty because I know there are so many people more in need of prayer than me.

Lastly, my daughter shared something with me that means the world to me. She texted me a quote from her church service today about the bad things that happen in your life... We don't forget because we can't forget, but let it become a trophy of God's grace in your life. She said it reminded her of me. Suddenly, I felt like having cancer was worth every emotionally painful step. I couldn't think of anything more meaningful than that.

So as I tuck myself into bed in a few minutes, I am going to pray through the alphabet for all of my loved ones. I did this daily during radiation. I am going to meditate on the scripture my friend posted. I'm going to strive to fulfill the words of the quote my daughter shared with me. Lastly, I will pet my sweet Otis & Bella, & peacefully drift off to sleep. I can face tomorrow because I know who holds the future (He Lives, an old hymn).

Thursday, March 7, 2013


FreshStart I thank God that He is a God of recycling, renewing, refurbishing... I love when  people are willing to share their story. I love to see how God has worked in their  life. Truth is... He is alive & working in every person's life. The question is whether or not we recognize the work of His mighty hand. I believe we are all on a spiritual journey; however we sometimes miss this aspect when we take time to process our past.

Sometimes, people will claim that they are not spiritual. They would rather place their faith in science. Perhaps it's the Big Bang theory that satisfies their need to know how our world began. Some choose Satan. Others place their hope in what they call a higher being. Some even choose to put their faith in another human being. Others simply admit they just don't know.

Whatever the case, whatever we believe... we all are on a spiritual journey. Just because we decide we are not, does not make it so. Just because a person would rather not believe there is an afterlife, does not mean there is none. It actually takes more faith not to believe than it does to believe in God. It's like paddling upstream. It's like frowning instead of smiling.

Why do I say this? I believe if we open our hearts, our mind, & our eyes, all of creation points to a Heavenly Father. He causes the wind to blow, the waves to wash up on the shore, the sun to set, & the sun to rise. I believe He fearfully & wonderfully knits a baby together in his mama's womb. A baby has personality before he/she is born. Even his temperament belongs uniquely to him.

So what does it take to deny Christ? It takes turning your back on the Holy Bible. It takes looking at nature & refusing to believe our Heavenly Father created it & gave us dominion over it. It takes hearing the cry of a new born baby & believing nature or nothing is responsible for this little miracle. It takes living our eartlhy life without the hope of heaven. It means great uncertainty about our eternal life. It leaves us without prayer (a life line to God).

If you are reading this blog, & you fall into the category of trying to live a nonspiritual life, I beg you to reconsider. With Christ in your heart, you can have unexplained peace you have never known (in spite of your circumstances). You can have the assurance of Eternal Life in Heaven (no more tears, no more suffering). You can live your life with a purpose unmatched by any other cause. What really do you have to lose?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A smile can save a life.

Yesterday was a special day. I spent time with a cherished friend. That is simply enough for me. I believe friendship is one of our greatest gifts. Friends help our wounds heal. They listen to us, share their own troubles, & somehow magically make us feel better. A good friend is a tailor made gift from our Heavenly Father. I believe human beings are God's most tangible way of hugging us.

Today was a beautiful day. I spent time with a treasured friend. Yes, we sat for hours sharing our joys, our sorrows, & our hopes. We cried, & we laughed. We ate, & got a few drink refills. The snow came down, & time passed, but we were unaware. A good friend is good medicine. We called it "our snow day."

I believe God created us to need each other. Yes... some people have a stronger need for other human beings, but everybody needs somebody. We are meant to carry each others' burdens, to help one another, comfort each other, & sometimes even guide one another. Being a shoulder is one of the greatest gifts we can offer our loved ones. Accepting a shoulder is sometimes one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves.

Lately, I've been thinking much about kindness. Many Christians believe that an act of kindness without an explanation is inadequate. They seem to be saying that if you don't explain the reason for your kindness (that is Jesus),  you miss an opportunity. I'm not sure I agree.

The Bible teaches us to be kind to one another. It says that "we will be known by our love." I think it's important to share Christ when the Holy Spirit leads us. Sometimes, I believe a simple kindness is all that's required, perhaps even what is best in some situations in terms of reaching another soul for Christ. When we try to push salvation on another person, we are guilty of shoving our Christianity down another person's throat. The end result is usually the opposite of what we hoped would happen.

So... whether it's a smile, a kind word, a shoulder, or an act of service.... However we express kindness, I believe it is valuable in reaching others for Christ. A smile can save a life. It doesn't even involve words. Sometimes we need to be bold enough to share Christ. Other times, we need to just build a relationship so that one day, when the person's heart is ripened, someone can share the right words at the right time. Just my opinion.

Friday, March 1, 2013

God doesn't make them go away either.

Blog. Blog. Blog. I have so much in my head, I can't possibly process it all. Today I went to see my beloved counselor at The Cancer Center. It's so good to have someone who helps me work through my troubles. I am blessed. Life is hard. It's short. I think it's best we not make it more difficult than it already is. I love that my counselor has a strong faith in Christ. I love that she can read me, & that I am comforted by her words.

So much in life is out of our control. It's these things that weigh heavily on my heart. She pointed out to me today that I have no control over how others respond to my words. I have no control over the return of my cancer or the health of my loved ones. No control over who has cancer, who's has returned, & who's has spread. I have no control over anyone's walk with the Lord but my own. Yep... that's right, no control.

So... what do I do with these out-of-control things that burden me? I pray & pray some more. I do all I can, & I entrust my troubles to God. And then... my human side allows these things to trouble me. It isn't that I don't trust God; it's just that these things make me sad. It isn't that I can't put some of them on the back burner, but eventually they make their way right back to a front row position in my head. Perhaps this is just anxiety.

Yes, I can take medicine for my anxiety. I'm fine with that & thankful for it. Truth is... it doesn't erase my troubles. It does help me not to dwell on them, but it certainly does not make them go away. God doesn't make them go away either. As my counselor explained, these troubles aren't just my troubles. They belong to others too & are a part of their story, their spiritual journey with God. Perhaps God is refining them as well as me.

The best medicine? Counting the things in my life that make me smile. Spending time with treasured friends. Spending time in prayer. Digging into scripture & letting it penetrate my heart. Listening to cheerful music. Cleaning. A little shopping. Eating healthy. Loving my animals. Putting others first. Doing the best I can. Laying my burdens at the feet of Jesus. Time with my family. Talking to my beloved husband. Crying on his shoulder. Counseling. Adjusting expectations. Forgiving. Loving. Laughing. Crying. Seeking truth. Exercise. Accepting help. Helping others...