Monday, November 2, 2015

Transferring Blog!

You can find this blog on our new website, . Please take a second to hop over there, bookmark, and join it because the current one will close soon.
I am working on writing the story of my healing in book form, but it's taking longer than I hoped. So in the meantime I needed a new website and didn't want it to have "cancer" in the name. I prayed about how it could reflect what should be the focus of all our lives, and God reminded me about the crux of my message--Love. I used to think He gave me the message of hope, but then He reminded me that "faith, hope, and love remain, but the greatest of these is love" (1 Cor 13:13). He is love, and although people through time tend to alter the definition of the term, the true Word reflects its meaning in some way through every page of the Bible. Everyone knows love is patient and kind, doesn't envy or boast, etc. (1 Cor 13:4-8). But love also speaks truth and does not leave a thief to steal, but lets him labor and do honest work (Ephesians 4:25, 28). Walking in love means forgiving people who don't deserve it, the way Jesus forgives us Every.Single.Day...
So, on this journey to walk in His unceasing love, I have summarized the basics of what I know:
I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend.
I am messy, moody, short-sighted, forgetful, quick to anger, slow to listen.
But, I am the beloved daughter of royalty. My Father is the King of all Kings, the beginning and the end. He created me in His image, and finds me delightful.
And, I am just like you.
He knows every bad thing we have ever done, every dark thought to pass through our minds. There have been many.
He doesn't punish us for those things, although He could. Instead, His perfect Son willingly took every one of our sins and carried them to the cross, where He died so that we can live.
When I fell in love with Jesus and thanked Him for taking my punishment, He blessed me to spend eternal life in heaven, with Him. I look forward to worshipping Him forever. He does that for every person who accepts Him. We don't earn or deserve it, we just receive it upon request. No strings attached, no fine print.
I didn't deserve to be miraculously healed of terminal cancer, but He freely spoke the word and cast all the cancer out of my body. "But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift" Ephesians 4:7.
I transferred my old blog with lots of details from my family's journey with incurable cancer to this site. Please join it and spread the word of  

Friday, September 11, 2015

Rest in Peace

I've been trying to encourage a friend who the Lord is unveiling as an intercessor, while living out the hard consequences of interceding for people. The truth about intercession is that it's really depressing. And lonely. Disappointment abounds as we look for God's hand at work and can't see it, day after day.

I have this general policy that I can only take on a few prayer "projects" at a time. So many people need prayer, and I can't stand rattling off an impersonal list of needs to God. So I limit it to the people He really puts on my heart. Because, I want to really love Him enough to wholeheartedly seek healing for His people. I want to love His people enough to lose sleep over their condition. To lose my breath when their own breathing is restricted. To lose my appetite when theirs fails. The Lord inspired so many strangers to loved me like that when I was sick. Isn't that the least I can do for others?

I guess praying passionately for other people is my version of loving outrageously, even though they may never feel the effects of it. Because no matter how passionate our pleas are, we don't always see answers. Lately it feels like I rarely receive responses.

I posted about Lyn a time or two on here. She was diagnosed with breast cancer a little less than a year ago. She had a nice life and a loving family, and a strong desire for the Lord to heal her. But she went to heaven today. I recently heard a pastor mention with disdain that some well-meaning people pray others "out of heaven", by praying that they'd have more time on earth. I don't want to do that, although considering how many of our prayers go unanswered, I'm not convinced God keeps people around who don't belong here just because faithful people ask Him to.

I'm really sad that Lyn passed away. I only met her a few times, but prayed for her (along with many others) with passion and zeal, and can feel the disappointment she had to carry as her hopes were dashed, along with juggling the feelings of loved ones. I absolutely trust the Lord though, and believe today was the day she met Him and began that part of eternity. She told me how special it was to her that the Lord had me praying, and I know that part of my role with her was to share some of His love.

So, how can we not see big, juicy fruit from all of our prayers, yet keep praying? How can we juggle the knowledge that God is sovereign and always right, with the disappointment from some of His choices? How can we encourage others to intercede with passion when we suspect He won't answer?

I don't know.

I guess we persevere because God tells us to. Because with Him we are able, and if He enables us He has a reason. Because "we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed" (2 Cor 4:8-9). And because once in awhile His glory does fall on us, and we need to be ready for it. Make us ready, Lord!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Outrageous Love

The idea of "outrageous love" has followed me around for months now. It started when I heard a guy in a documentary mention that Christians are not known for their outrageous love. I was offended for a moment, before realizing he was right...

Given the timing of this post aligning with the recent Supreme Court ruling, I just have to clarify that I am not in any way talking about the world's definition of love. I wish that type had a different name so I could draw a better distinction. There are several types of love in the New Testament, but I'm reflecting on deep, heartfelt passion for God and for the people God created. That is not the same as giving people what they want to make them happy. If those things lead them to sin or there is a reason God wants to withhold those things from them, it's not at all loving to lead them astray in that way.

I think it's human nature to desire to be outrageously loved. Pretty much all the mainstream movies I can think of involve someone selflessly--courageously-- putting oneself at risk for the well-being of another. Yet I also remember the disillusionment I faced when I was younger, when I concluded that we all wish for others to take big risks for us, yet it's rare that we are willing to do it for others. In real life, we're afraid to fight for others, or sometimes don't love them enough to leave our comfort zones to do so.

We have a perfect example of one human who did love us outrageously. The work of the One we follow could be summed up with the term, "outrageous love". I daresay John 3:16 is one of the most famous truths from the Bible: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life". It's outrageous, but true. Maybe that's why it's so hard for some people to believe.

"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:6-8.

So, if we were saved--delivered from the certainty of eternal damnation, and released from our chains of slavery--by an act of outrageous love, how could we consider not sharing that love in an outrageous way?

God plays the beautiful Veggie Tales version of "His Banner over Me is Love" through my mind frequently. The words are true, His banner over me IS love, and I have the precious memory of watching Abigail dance in her first recital to that song, right after I was healed. Everything about it casts the cares of this world away and reminds me of the truth of His outrageous love for me.

Some people go through life not experiencing or receiving the outrageous love of God or from His people, but it seems like time and time again God has called others to share His love for me in powerful ways. They aren't always huge gestures. Sometimes it's the little things, timed perfectly. And sometimes the experiences seem so minor that if we aren't paying attention we miss the magnitude. I usually am very general on here so I don't accidentally miss anyone and leave them feeling unappreciated. But, I will make an exception in this case. I have a friend who loved me really well through our journey with cancer, and I'm sad because she just moved away. So, I thought I'd give her the attention I should have given her while she lived in town.

As I type I recognize that these acts don't seem that significant, but they are and were very important to me. Something about this outrageous love is the personalized experience, knowing that God knows what we need and when we need it. It can also assure us that we don't need to sail around the world to love others well. Just stay close to the Lord and He will reveal the opportunities.

Shannon was the first non-relative to ever watch baby Naomi. She took her when I had surgical appointments two days in a row, and Naomi cried the whole time. Naomi was inconsolable (still hadn't taken a bottle or anything), but Shannon didn't act like it was any burden at all. She made it seem easy and I can't tell you the relief I felt with being able to leave her and not feel guilty about it. Better yet, while I was still in my "I won't let cancer break me!" phase, Shannon was the first person I saw shed a tear over it. I had known her less than a year and received her vulnerability as a precious gift that inspired me to embrace the broken heartedness I felt. It is okay to be sad, it's okay to care for others. In fact, Jesus wept for His friends, and that was the example Shannon followed. Lastly, when I started this blog I was literally terrified to be put to shame. Sharing my feelings in a public forum--literally inviting others to reject my innermost, hidden self--was indescribably frightening. Not only did she follow it immediately, but before I had even memorized the web address, she had shared it with everyone she saw. She followed the Holy Spirit to fight through outreach and prayer for my family and for me, and she does things like that for others every single day. Houston is so fortunate that she and her whole family are on their way to share God's love with them!

Friday, June 19, 2015

Trials of Terror

You might have seen that I dared to post good news about the Good News of Jesus on Wednesday. I spent a few minutes extolling the Lord and some of the great things He has done in supernaturally healing me of incurable cancer. So, of course, the following day it looked like everything had changed...

I went to my routine bi-annual appointment with Dr. Crooms, my awesome surgeon. I would remind you how completely amazing he is, but the best nurse in the world, Nurse Karen, asked that I stop advertising for them--the list of patients waiting to get in with him is just too long! Anyway, I had a lump of scar tissue that Dr. Rassam hasn't been concerned about, but Dr. Crooms was interested in it and wanted a closer look. He gave me an ultrasound then had me come back today for a biopsy. 

I don't know if this event arose from some sort of interchange between the devil and the Lord,  like what happened in Job. Maybe God wanted me to see what I would do in a situation like this. Either way, I've entitled it, "Trial of Terror: Will They or Won't They?" Because it was so clear that it was an opportunity to put our money where our mouths were--would we allow terror to set in, and embrace the panic of having the cancer return (or another cancer discovered)? Or would we stand firm in the faith of who God is? Yaacov told me a few times that it was our chance for a do-over from how we handled cancer the first time around. To which I (obviously) thought, "But I rocked the first diagnosis, no need for a do-over..."

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Cor 11:13

I think most cancer survivors have a bit of PTSD related to their diagnosis, and in my case, sometimes my world sort of revolves around the fact that God healed me of it when there was nothing else men could do to help me. Not only do I remember every detail of my original diagnosis, but so much of it was the same yesterday. He used the same ultrasound machine and gave me the same news, "I can do a biopsy today and get the permanent section results back in a few days, or you can come back in the morning and we could get the preliminary results in an hour". This is because it was after business hours both times he decided to give me a biopsy. The first time around we got a false negative result with the preliminary, frozen section, yet I went for that option again this time.

God gives me so much freedom that I could have reacted the same way I did three years ago and it would have been okay. Back then I clung to Jesus but was simultaneously completely panicked. My inner voice spoke as loudly and quickly as the real people I spoke to, resulting in an influx of turmoil and stress. My mind jumped rapidly between "what ifs", self-pity, and planning for the future. This time, though, my faith is stronger. Peace is more thorough, my foundation sturdier. This time, my heart didn't even skip a beat. God helped me control my thinking, and I slept soundly. He assured me that what He does is complete, nothing can be added or taken from it (Ecc 3:14). More importantly, He reminded me that I honestly prefer His plan to my own, and He will carry me wherever I need to go. There's no room for self-pity or doubts in the kingdom of heaven.

Matthew 12:20 Or how can someone enter a strong man's house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.

We have total peace in God's plan and I am certain that I am cancer-free. But mostly, I am encouraged to be able to see some of the tangible growth that both Yaacov and I have made in our walks with Christ over the past few years. The biopsy experiences were so similar they were like pre- and post- tests. Hopefully our scores improved! I had a pretty strong faith and a perfectly healthy, easy life at the time of the pre-test. But I am so grateful that in His sovereignty He had bigger plans for me--an intervention! He pre-planned the journey to make me a better person by teaching me about fear, healing, faith, prayer, compassion, perseverance, and love. He used suffering to enlighten me and I wouldn't reject that blessing if given the choice.

The frozen section biopsy came back negative, like we expected. We should get the permanent section results early next week. 

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:36

UPDATE: The permanent section biopsy came back negative, too! We are so thankful to this God we serve, through whom all things are possible!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

More answers to prayer

I've been healed for so long now that cancer is no longer a conscious part of each day. I remember before I was healed, recognizing how many people can't get "past" it. I saw how it really is impossible to not fear future recurrences, an underlying condition that might cause an ache or pain, or to blame all your problems on the trauma they went through with it. And that was just for people without a terminal diagnosis. For those of us with incurable cancer, just the physical healing is an intangible pipe dream, so we are more willing to leverage the standard of perfect future health with just not dying from the cancer. But there is one who has a long history of delivering His people. He breaks the ties we have to fear, physical and emotional diseases, and to all sin.

I have been cancer free for more than three years now. No one had any expectation of that except God and some of His faithful followers. There was no reason to hope for such a thing, other than for the hope we have in our Savior, who died for my own sins, and is able to do more than we could ever imagine (Eph 3:20). He did it. To Him be the glory! No matter how great doctors, medicine, and people are, their value could never compare to the One who "gives more grace" (James 4:6).

I saw Dr. Rassam on Monday, and he gave me the great news that he wants to take me off Xgeva, a bone density shot that I have received for the past 36 months. The drug doesn't have longterm studies for people like me because...people like me aren't supposed to be cancer-free. So, every month I've spent 1-2 hours, kids in tow, getting bloodwork taken, waiting on results, then getting the shot. He always told me I'd be on it forever, and it didn't occur to me until this week to pray to get off it. Within minutes of that prayer I found myself in his office, and he told me he wants to confirm with a bone scan (not until September), and then I'll go off that drug!

When we were praying for the first clear PET scans, I prayed specifically to be told one day that I have "no evidence of disease". I got the clear scan, which was better, but those weren't words I heard. For three years there have been no setbacks, no substantial hints of a problem. I forgot that prayer, because of the truth that there was no evidence. But on Monday as I was leaving, Dr. Rassam had a talk with the chemo nurse about stopping the Xgeva. That's when I heard those words I longed for--"She has no evidence of disease...there has been no evidence for several years...". Nothing could compare to the first time he told me I was healed, but it was an unexpected treasure to hear those words, and to remember the urgency with which I prayed it three years ago. His timing is perfect, His memory awesome. I was extraordinarily blessed by not having to wait the three years to be healed--I've been healthy for longer than I ever could deserve. But it's still a great reminder that He hears our prayers and He does answer. His timing is always better than ours. His word is true, the promises real, His love is thorough.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Say Something

I'm having trouble with Blogger and am ready to upgrade this blog, so please send me any suggestions (or sites/things to NOT do!)

I'm suddenly unable to respond to comments on here and there are a few I can't bear to ignore--the negative ones. People who send stuff like that probably don't expect an answer, or might think I'll argue. But I believe there are real inquiries hidden behind the sarcasm, and pain is also wrapped in there. So, I read through a comment left on a post called, "More" from before I was healed. Instead of feeling led to respond to the comment I have decided to add more detail...

It was when we were leaving Texas, completely broken and devastated. I had been told time after time that I was dying but there were always more experts to ask, more leads to follow. Until Texas. My throat is drying up now as I think back to that day. I feel dizzy and weak, and somehow filled with shame, just remembering. This is cheesy, but since then I've noticed this lovely song reminds me of that time. 

I have shared these details in public but not necessarily all on here: I was all alone at MD Anderson when the doctors dashed my hopes. It wasn't what they said, I'd heard that before. It was how they said it, like I was stupid for caring that I was about to die. That I was too dense to understand that my days were numbered, and that I was unworthy of the effort it would take them to try help me. Yaacov and the girls were waiting for me at an apartment we had rented, because it was just supposed to be the introductory meeting, the time set aside for paperwork and scheduling. Dr. Litton was literally my last earthly hope, and we were so sure that the Lord had sent us to her. So, not only were all my hopes dashed, but I also had to go tell Yaacov and my daughters that all our hopes were dashed. This time there was no silver lining to add a positive spin. I had yet to shed a tear in front of any of my doctors, but with the finality of this news I couldn't hold them back. I ran through the hospital, followed by a trail of tears...hunted for our rented minivan for what felt like hours, in the dark parking structure of the hospital. There was a huge thunderstorm blasting outside, and it echoed through my whole body. By the time I locked myself into the van I was convulsing with emotional agony. I screamed and sobbed to the Lord with desperation and loss until I was choking on my own vomit. I begged this God for help, for a lifeline...I listened for His voice but heard nothing but the deafening storm. I felt abandoned and alone, foolish and beaten. For me this was the most tragic of  days, the most hopeless of hours. 

The Lord did not answer me in a way that I could hear. 

Not only was my petition almost identical to the lyrics I have since heard of Say Something, but whenever I hear that song it brings me back to that moment. When I was searching for a link to it I stumbled across a solo saxophone version of it--where the video is staged in a dark parking structure like the one I cried to the Lord in. Finding that feels like an extra boost of affection from the Lord for me. He knows how I felt then, and how I feel now. He had mercy on me by healing me, which changes the outcome, but doesn't affect the memory. I thought I needed to hear from Him, but He had already equipped me with everything I needed.

Isaiah 49:23, "Those who wait for me shall not be put to shame."

Hebrews 13:20;21 May the God of peace...equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen!"

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Responding to The Resurrection

We went to a Third Day concert the other day and there was this awesome singer named Harvest Parker there who stole the show. She told a story about the Moravian missionaries (who were so awesome that this doesn't do them justice, btw) who sold themselves into slavery to reach a group in the West Indies who would not allow preachers or missionaries in. As they were heading out, with no hope to ever return, someone passionately yelled, "May the lamb receive the reward of His suffering", which seems to be a summation of Revelation 5 and is also the summation of our celebration of the resurrection, and of Jesus in general. We are unworthy to receive His sacrifice, but He gave it to us anyway. He did it because He loves us and it's the only way to cleanse us in preparation of eternal life with Him. But our job is not just to receive from Him. It's to glorify Him in all that we do! Here's a link to her song, which is very moving (the one in Tallahassee was even better but I didn't get the whole thing on my phone).

The Lord was already working on my boldness when I heard that, and it was reinforced there. This verse below was also so important to me that I couldn't let it go:

"My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or death." Phil 1:20

Lord, do not let us be put to shame. Our faith is weak, our evil desires are strong, and the pull of the world is powerful. But You are mighty. When we are yoked with you we can do all things through you, and we ask that you will show this to your enemies. Do not let our humanness put us to shame, but guide us and go before us so all men see your power through our testimonies.

Our pastor at Four Oaks, Paul Gilbert, said, "if your conscience isn't clear you don't make a good witness". Lord, thank-you for forgiving our sins, for dying on the cross, and for returning from the grave three days later--thereby fulfilling the prophesies and completing the transactions of submitting your righteousness and bearing our sin. By your stripes we are healed, we are fully forgiven, clear our consciences and guide our steps away from the sin we so readily return to. Help us to be bold for you, to be strong and courageous, and to share your love with meaning and truth!

Lord, help us to trust you with our lives, and with our deaths. Help us to recognize that we are not our own, and to earnestly desire to be used for your glory, whether your plan takes us to the cross or to the mall. Help us to be real, living sacrifices for you, and to go wherever you send us, with perfect peace and profound love. Your way is the only way we desire.

Because, "my eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that now as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or death."