the night my sister told me that my mom has cancer, my mind raced in a thousand directions. by that next morning in early november, i wondered what 2010 would have in store and where it would take our family. weeks before, i had began seeking an opportunity to serve in canada during the summer that we’re now in. suddenly, though, i was reevaluating if i should commit to go until we knew what our action plan against the disease would be. there was no way in heck i was going to be in another country while my mama was undergoing chemo or radiaton.
i prayed and i sought, and i asked her what she thought i should do. unwaveringly, my mom encouraged me not to put the plans that God and i had for serving in quebec on hold. her reassurance made me brave, and i applied to work with this faithful congregation for five weeks in the summertime. earlier this month, i realized something pretty incredible: my mom will complete her last radiation treatment – and subsequently her last treatment period – the day before my plane takes off for canada. no more surgeries, no more chemo, no more nothin’. the very day before my bags will be checked and my passport will be stamped.
could God have sent any clearer of a message? i love it.
when has He smacked you in the forehead and let you know that something was His design?
so tonight i had a weeping spell. you know, the kind that starts in the shower and eventually ends up under the covers in your bed? i sniffled and pouted for a few minutes over the things i wish i had control over, the things i tell myself that are nowhere close to what He says about me, and the things i fear most. i’m a girl, y’all. it’s what we do. sometimes the salty tears before bed make us even more thankful for the joy that comes with morning, i think.
and though i rarely do this, i decided to just flop open my bible to whatever passage it may reveal, and pray that i would find calm in however many verses of reading it took. no set plan, no devotion chapter tonight. just whatever. i sometimes scoff at such a strategy, ’cause the psalms are invariably what opens up. i love those songs o’ david, don’t get me wrong – i just want a little variety when throwing open the Word (can i say that?).
even so, i didn’t have to read too far to appreciate the psalms my bible took me to this evening, as i climbed into the bed of my sister’s guest room and hoped for somethin’ hearty to meet my eyes. at the top of page 676, two verses were as far as i advanced.
“those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy. they weep as they go to plant their seed, but they sing as they return with the harvest.” // psalm 126:5-6
i think i can now stash away the kleenex box for another time.
oh hey, blog. my spontaneous absence from this little corner has made me antsy, and with so much going on this semester, i have more to say now than perhaps ever before. but one week ago today, things changed.
i learned my mom has breast cancer.
i swear, it was as if someone had hit me in the chest and taken the breath right out of me.
and then, i came to my senses.
this is no reason to begin doubting His sovereignty. this is no situation over which He is not already in control. and this is certainly no time to forget that He is a God of victory.
the odds are completely in our favor, both literally and figuratively. the cancer is limited to one area, and the fact that my sister is a top-notch mammographer has given us a distinct advantage in understanding which way to go next. :)
this is the beginning of the story: some days, i still get sad. i still want to cry alone in the shower some nights, and i have my moments where i feel alone and helpless. i would love nothing more than to be at all of my mom’s appointments and feel as if i’m making myself useful in her fight. i want to go home. i’m angry that her life is being disrupted and that she faces treatment options that are less than enjoyable.
this is the end of the story: next year, our family will run at race for the cure as we do every fall. this time, we’ll get to watch our mom walk the survivor’s lap.
to keep up with more specific ways you can pray for my sweet mama, click here.
it’s been a full week since i’ve returned from serving as a team leader at super summer, and it’s taken that long to fully process everything He fed me while there. wanna know some of the highlights?
during our team leader weekend training, we were asked to wear ankle weights until the students arrived monday in order to better grasp what paul intended in galations, to bear one another’s burdens. two and a half pounds on each leg didn’t initially strike us as particularly challenging, but a few hours of walking around obu’s campus and some blisters later got us to thinkin’. i genuinely wish i had discovered something incredibly spiritual from the process, but the extent was this: carrying those ‘burdens’ is completely unnatural for us to do. had zane not requested we wear them, we would never have voluntarily picked up a pair of weights and strapped them to ourselves for pure fun. in much the same way, we were never intended to strap unnecessary burdens to ourselves. there are just some things we were never meant to carry. let’s travel light alongside Him, shall we? :)
at one point also during the tl weekend, every single one of us 150 or so adults scattered around the auditorium of raley chapel, selected a favorite psalm, and spoke it over the entire body of seats. it was breathtaking. i chose psalm 34, almost immediately and without any actual contemplation. it turned out to be my heart’s exact cry that day, though. i love how He works!
my “children” and “husband” for the week were nothing short of spectacular. i’m too too blessed to have been entrusted with thirteen phenomenal high school sophomores who desire nothing less than His absolute glory. i learned so much from their gentle wisdom.
i also think i surrendered to perhaps one of the most difficult dreams He’s given me so far. i’ve always had a heart for the persecuted church, yet i’ve resisted the vision of working for them and putting my own body into danger in the process. it scares me. it makes me ache. but i must share their story. praise Him for reaffirming that and rearranging my dreams during one of the evening services, in which afshin spoke of two women currently imprisoned in iran for pledging their hearts to Christ. i sobbed while viewing their photograph. i sobbed while He knocked on my heart and said, ‘hand yourself over to working for them.’ i sobbed while we sang ‘the stand’ as soon as their story was completed. before the service, i prayed for God to shake me. boy, did He deliver. :)
so i’ll stand, with arms high and heart abandoned/in awe of the One who gave it all/i’ll stand, my soul, Lord, to You surrendered/all i am is Yours
this will probably be the most difficult entry i’ve written thus far.
i cried, and sobbed, and sniffled my way through this ten minute segment of oprah last night. it was late, i had just gotten out of the shower, and was checking channel 5 one last time for school closing updates – and certainly wasn’t expecting to watch an intervention. i wish i could find the actual video for you to watch. i wish you could see the raw emotion in these teenagers’ words and cries. because i see so much of myself in their stories. from first grade through this morning, pieces of my struggle are echoed in theirs.
as a part of the obesity intervention being conducted with a group of teenagers and their parents, the kids were asked to come to the middle of the circle and complete this statement: “i’m angry that…” you cannot imagine what poured out of them from there. i wept for their sorrow, i wept for how liberated they must have felt as they let these things escape their lips for the first time. i wept for their parents who were stunned and heartbroken. “i’m angry that i had to ask someone to prom.” “i’m angry that my mom is my best friend, my only best friend.” “i’m angry that my dad left on my birthday.” “i’m angry that when i see pictures of myself i just want to rip them up.” “i’m angry that i’d rather be dead than overweight.”
i crawled in bed after having seen enough, and couldn’t doze off until i rolled through my own mini mental list. please don’t misunderstand me: i know as one who is free in Christ that anger should not rule my heart, and i assure you it no longer does. but i’m still scarred by instances in the past, and i absolutely feel that a stage of anger is necessary to heal and move forward. in order to know me authentically, you must understand where i have been. if you’re ready for that, then the following list may give you a glimpse. and who knows, it may even free you up to vocalize your own. :] ’cause believe me, it feels good.
i’m angry that there are no pictures of me smiling during my middle school years. i’m angry that there are barely any pictures of me from then at all. i’m angry that my mom had to cut out the tags of my t-shirts to stop the girls at school from reaching in to proclaim my size to everyone. i’m angry that i had to ask someone to prom too. i’m angry that when my co-workers begin talking about looks and what it means to be attractive, that i shrink in my chair and shut my mouth for fear they’re all thinking the same thing: taylor wouldn’t know anything about that. i’m angry that i fear my husband will take one look at me on our wedding night and change his mind. i’m angry that i constantly fear i’ll never even get married at all. i’m angry that i gave in because i thought that was the best it would ever be for me. i’m angry that i loathe shopping for clothes because nothing ever looks good in the dressing room mirror. i’m angry that i lost thirty-five pounds my senior year of high school but still haven’t met my goal weight. i’m angry that i have the tools and knowledge to change that, and yet i don’t. i’m angry that i allowed comments and torments from kids at school to influence my opinion of myself. i’m angry that i never feel full. i’m angry that i gave up basketball because of the things people said to me during practice. i’m angry that my gorgeous senior photos were taken before my weight loss – making them not so gorgeous to me sometimes. i’m angry that i assumed being thin meant being happy. i’m angry that i feel out of place in most of my classes. i’m angry that i rarely left my house on friday nights. i’m angry that the people who were so mean to me in school would pretend to be my friends when they wanted something. i’m angry that i let them. i’m angry that i make jokes about my weight for fear i might not beat someone else to it. i’m angry that i rely on others for affirmation. i’m angry that i wasn’t a star athlete like the rest of my family. i’m angry that the only think i’m good at is making great grades. i’m angry that even today, kids i serve at church tell me i’m fat. i’m angry that i’ve wasted so much time thinking about my weight.
i have so much to say and so little ability with which to articulate it all. amidst a busy weekend of studying for what just might be the death of me, a welcomed break came in the form of such a familiar routine today: church. [i know, routine is such an awful word to describe the assembly of His body, but don’t you agree that at times we allow it to get that way? i’ll add that to an ever-growing list of things to erradicate for 2009.] i love my church and have invested alot of time and effort into the goings-on there that i am passionate about. this particular morning evoked such a tidal wave of emotions that i certainly was not expecting, and i fear that if i do not take the time to record it all, it will soon become just another sunday that i pack away into a box. so, here goes.
the worship set was gorgeous-as always-with an unplugged version of some of my favorite christmas songs. i had almost forgotten this was the weekend for child dedications, though, and as the first noel began its first few chords, couples began assembling on the stage with their precious babies and toddlers in tow. the entire concept of dedicating one’s life to raising his or her child in the ways of God and making that commitment publically is so radically wonderful. i couldn’t stop smiling at the sweet baby girl who looked in kelly and i’s direction as her mom bounced her softly, and i almost thought happy tears were going to flow if i didn’t swallow that lump in my throat. but then i felt a twinge of sadness, envy even. i stared at all of the beautiful couples and their perfect gifts and wondered if i would ever get to stand in their shoes. this is a fear which plagues me almost daily, in which i picture myself perpetually unwed and, as surely will follow, alone. my joy for my siblings’ and friends’ families sometimes turns to an embarassing, private jealousy and sorrow for what i fear i may never get to experience.
the message, i then thought, would surely take my mind off of this little fear. we started our second week of a phenomenal series on prayer, and as i began circling the verses we referenced, God peeled back my blinders to new truths i needed to understand. craig told us that our relationships with others have a huge impact on our prayer life. simple, right? but i, presumed to be semi-mature in the realm of spiritual things, never before considered how my grudges effect my communication with God. mark 11:25 says, “but when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” oh brother. so this means i have to let go of the things he did and said that continue to cause my heart so much hurt? will You empower me to release my bitterness for this heartache and forgive him? my mind raced and was, at the same time, filled with peace. the next part of the message led us to proverbs, where He confronted me with a verse that wasn’t even part of our study! proverbs 16:1 spoke directly to the fear i let steal my joy earlier during worship: “we can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer.” my plans of marriage and motherhood may or may not be in His framework for my life, and ultimately it is His answer to that prayer that is right. oh brother againnnnn.
next came fuse, the fifth and sixth grade ministry i and my college friends serve with after our own church experience. what was the message in there about? fear. that’s right. triple whammy. at the conclusion of the video teaching, brian asked if we would allow our fear to keep us from experiencing the adventures of life that are right before us. no, i thought, no they won’t. i still strongly desire to fall in love again and have it last forever, to bring children into a home of faith and love. but i also have to accept that whether or not that falls in line with God’s plan for my life, i will be okay.
so, while i may have a few tears in the shower tonight, i will eventually wipe them away and remember that God did not give me a spirit of fear or timidity. i will try my darndest to play with and love on my nieces without pausing to remind myself that i may never have a daughter of my own. i will go to my friends’ beautiful weddings and not feel heavy-hearted at the possibility i may never wear that dress. i will remember that i have an amazing circle of family and dear friends who give me constant laughter, and a future that will likely bring me more adventure than i can fathom now. and i will realize that the greatest Love of all has been mine all along.
Filed under authentic faith, church, college life, family, fear, fuse, love, pals, patience, prayer, scripture