I laughed when I realized how many years it took to discover who I am.... by first zealously exploring who I am not

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Dear 2017......

I haven't sent out Christmas cards since 2011. I lost both of my parents that year and just couldn't' find it in me to do. The next year found me still grieving and I didn't even put up a tree. Years continued to pass and like all things that change, I've found my joy again in the Christmas season, but I still haven't sent out the cards and carefully crafted letter updating everyone on the happenings of our lives. At this point, I think I relish the realization that the world didn't cease turning without my annual diatribe mailed out to all the people I've ever met so why start it up again.  However, this morning, as I looked back over this year in the life of our family I had some thoughts I wanted to share. So I will just post them here and save myself a stamp.

Dear 2017,

I feel like someone sliding into home just ahead of that ball, going we made it. We have some mud on our knees that may never come out, a couple of holes and rips that we will fix, but will always be there- but we made it. Whew.

2017 you started in strong and hard as I was diagnosed with cancer in January. The first part of the year was full of doctor visits, fears, worry, questions and lots and lots of tears. I had a hysterectomy in March and God provided such care in the aftermath through my church family, my work family and so many friends who came and stayed with me, cooked for me and some who just sat on the sofa with me. He is so faithful.

In May a very dear friend of mine went in for a routine surgery and through very unheard of complications we almost lost her. I remember the night I came home, after another discouraging update, and just sat in my car and wept and cried, "Lord, please don't take her from us. Please, spare her life." It's been a long road, one that she is still walking, but she is here and she is healing- even though the scars remain. He is so faithful.

My husband made the decision to leave the company he has worked for most of his adult life, and a boss that truly loved him, and take a new job- even though it was a tremendous pay cut. A job that would allow him to be home every night and not work 12-14 hr days, 6 and even 7 days a week. A job where he is so valued by the people that I can't even count the ones that stop by my office to tell me how much they love and respect him. Despite the pay cut, our bills our paid and truly, we have lacked for nothing. God is so faithful.

My mothers house finally sold and that huge, open, gaping would that I've needed closure with is finally beginning to heal. While some things haven't finished, just having the house gone has done tremendous things for my heart and walking out of just the burden of undone and unfinished. With some of the money we received we have paid off almost all of our debt including cancer medical bills we were still paying on from when Jeremy had cancer in 2010, as well as all of my cancer stuff, which BTW, is what allowed my husband to take a lower paying job. All in God's timing. He is so faithful.

I've seen dear friends uprooting their entire lives and moving their family to GA. I've seen them walk through adoption struggles and the heartache and trauma involved with babies and mommas who need to see Jesus. I've seen the questions and the wondering and the aches and pains that come with all of life in the midst of the hard. He is so faithful.

One of the hardest battles has been watching someone who is like a mother to me, in every sense of the word, battle her own cancer. I've seen her wiped out by the chemo and struggle to just move from bed to chair. I've seen her at the top of the mountain and bottom of the valley. Gracefully broken. Poured out. I've seen her live her faith in ways that I hope one day I walk in. I've seen her stand strong- even in the middle of all that is coming against her and I watch in amazement with tears at her faith in a God who holds her next breath. Every Sunday I watch her worship- arms raised, voice strong singing praise to the God she loves and has served her whole life. He is faithful, every day, every time.

As this year closes in just a few short days I see His faithfulness in every step we have taken. I see His faithfulness as dreams come to fruitions, promises come to pass, as friends announce new babies coming and others let go of bitterness and hurt. He is Faithful. He is so faithful. Thank you for teaching me this 2017.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Come, and make yourself uncomfortable for awhile

It's 6:30 on Friday night and I sat down in a chair waiting on my son to get dressed so we could go eat with some friends from work. Only, I sat down in my chair an hour ago and now it is to late for us to go so once again, like numerous times over the last few months, I am cancelling on something because I am just to tired to go.

I have cancer. I heard those words over the phone, sitting in my garage 3 weeks ago. I will never forget my doctor calling me and then asking me if I was ok. I mean, are people normally ok when they hear those words? I would love to say that the last three weeks have been filled with me standing firm in the faith that I profess to have. That I have taken hold of God and stood fast, claiming and believing that I am healed. That I have banished Satan from my house and my body and that I sing worship songs nonstop as I praise God for my healing. I would love to say all those things because I am a good pentecostal girl and I'm on staff at a church so of course that's what is happening. But that is not what the last three weeks have been for me. They have been filled with tears, and lots of pep talks to myself to suck it up. They have been filled with planning and getting ready for a hysterectomy and being out of commission for 4 weeks to recover. They have been filled with me convincing myself that I will be ok and yet knowing that I'm not really feeling ok. They have been filled with feeling thankful for the people praying for me and then struggling to not throat punch everyone who comes up and wants to pray for me because I don't feel like praying. It's been please don't touch me or be nice to me because I will absolutely die if you do. I feel like crying. They have been filled with FEAR. Which is a new emotion for me. You see, I've never struggled with fear and I don't know what to do with it especially when the fear comes in crashing waves drowning me over and over again in the worry of the unknown. Has it spread? Will they open me up and find out that it is everywhere? What am I really dealing with? How did I get cancer? I'm overwhelmed with feelings that I am struggling to express and process. If you have heard me speak anywhere in the last year- you know that I am all about the struggle. I lean into the struggle. I believe with my whole entire heart that God is found in the middle of the struggle and that in brokenness we find ourselves and more importantly, we find HIM. We know that He is good because of the brokenness in our lives. We know that He is good and faithful because we can trust Him to move in those places. But I can't find Him in my fear. And that scares me more than anything that I have ever experienced in my life. You see I know how to seek God. Me and Him meet in the secret place often. I sit at my piano in my quiet house and I play and worship and He meets with me. But I have missed Him the last few weeks. My heart isn't in my worship, because the fear has clouded my ability to see Him. I go to church and just want to come home. I see people who love me dearly and mean so well and I just want to hide. I just want to be unseen, yet desperately need to know that I'm not alone. I've never ever in my life been in a place like this. I've walked in the depths of depression and grief and overcome. But this fear- is crippling and it is overwhelming. I have a sweet- well, feisty and sweet friend who has really pushed me to get in touch with my feelings and to really FEEL them. It's been really hard for me to admit I am not ok. But life altering news does just that- it alters your life- no matter how strong of a faith you have some things are just big. Yes, God is bigger. I know this. I know that He is good and He is holding me and my family and the end will be ok. In my heart I know that I believe this. But right now the lies and the fear is louder than my faith. It is just the place that I am in. My friend challenged to just find space to cry and process through. About the same time I heard a song by Ellie Holcomb called "Find You Here". Every day I drive to work with that song on repeat and I cry- all the way there and all the way home. It's my space to fall apart and say I'm struggling and I'm not ok. But I'm gonna believe that you are here somewhere in the midst of all of this even if I can't feel you or see you and touch you or even believe right now.

So what is the point of this blog if not to share with the world how I am overcoming in this season. The purpose is to invite you into my brokenness.  To share with you the uncomfortableness of not being ok. Of being able to say that I don't see God, but I believe Him to be good and faithful and I know that I will eventually find Him again. This is a hard thing to do because it's uncomfortable to most people to not be able to fix it, or pray for it or to heal it. It's uncomfortable to sit with a fellow believer as they struggle and just let them struggle. It feels contrary to what we normally do but its the season I'm in and if you haven't walked my path then you can't understand my season. Its hard to sit in the uncomfortable. It's even harder to invite you in praying that you will be gentle in this space and understanding of the enormity that this is to me. But I do it open handed. Come sit with me. Just be with me. But don't touch me, because I'm not sure I can handle it.

Find You Here
It's not the news that any of us hoped that we would hear
It's not the road we would have chosen, no
The only thing that we can see is darkness up ahead
But You're asking us to lay our worry down and sing a song instead

And I didn't know I'd find You here
In the middle of my deepest fear, but
You are drawing near
You are overwhelming me, with peace
So I'll lift my voice and sing
You're gonna carry us through everything
You are drawing near
You're overwhelming all my fears, with peace

You say that I should come to You with everything I need
You're asking me to thank you even when the pain is deep
You promise that You'll come and meet us on the road ahead
And no matter what the fear says, You give me a reason to be glad

Here in the middle of the lonely night
Here in the middle of the losing fight, You're
Here in the middle of the deep regret
Here when the healing hasn't happened yet
Here in the middle of the desert place
Here in the middle when I cannot see Your face
Here in the middle with Your outstretched arms
You can see my pain and it breaks Your heart

And I didn't know I'd find You here
In the middle of my deepest fear, but
You are drawing near
You are overwhelming me with, peace
So I'll lift my voice and sing
You're gonna carry me through everything
You are drawing near
You're overwhelming all my fear with peace

Rejoice, rejoice
Don't have to worry 'bout a single thing, 'cause
You are overwhelming me with, peace!
Don't have to worry 'bout a single thing
You're gonna carry us through everything
Overwhelming peace ...