FIVE Year Anniversary

I can’t believe it’s been five years since I was healed! Despite tons of tests and false alarms to get the anxiety rushing, there has never been even one result that came back as cancer. The result of every biopsy, x-ray, PET scan, ultrasound, bone scan, and blood tumor marker work-up has testified that the Lord miraculously removed every cell of cancer from my body, blood stream, organs, and bones. Remember when a well-known and respected oncologist told me I will never be cancer-free for even a day ? I will never forget that. And I will never forget that, from the world’s standards she was right. But from the Creator’s point of view, laws of nature are not an issue.

It’s been 5 years now: 1,826 days of health. 1,826 days of evidence that God always has the final word. 1,826 times that my bones, blood, and organs declared the healing of the Lord. According to the blog view tracker, some part of the story of His healing was declared 288,649 times, plus all those times it was verbally reported. His story resounded through all the states and at least 18 different countries. Once again, He fulfilled His promise from Ezekiel 38:23, “So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” He does this all the time with weak sinners like me, please don’t think I’m taking any sort of credit, I’m just boasting in my Lord.

I have frequently written about all the things He has taught me through this journey, but it was only recent that He showed me what is so big in my own life–pride. It’s in my heart, fighting for self-sufficiency. For control. I’m stubborn. Worthless on my own. I see my inabilities now, and how quickly I had tried to claim credit for my “successes” in the past. I am constantly posed to wander, but slow to listen. These are all things I thought I had conquered long ago. I was so blinded by my self-righteousness that I had no clue they were even lurking, let alone were at work within me.

It hasn’t been fun to recognize these things about me. Sometimes it’s felt like I lost my foundation. The despair and frustration felt deeper than His love for me. Finally the other day I asked Him for hope, and He immediately obliged, and pointed out, “Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” (2 Corinthians 3:4-6).

This hope doesn’t mean anything when we are living as mighty warriors ourselves. When we think we can conquer all things with enough focus and aptitude. When we blame circumstances instead of ourselves for our failings. But when we get to the bottom of our strength, we see that we truly aren’t worthy. I don’t mean, “not as worthy as Him”. I mean, truly, we are not worthy. When we can finally and fully accept that truth, like Jonathan’s son did when he asked David, “What is your servant, that you should show regard for a dead dog such as I?” (2 Samuel 9:8), we can at last appreciate the full satisfaction of the Lord.

I’m so grateful that He started showing me this truth with the shocking diagnosis of incurable cancer, and that He didn’t give up me as I stubbornly refused to submit to the reality of my weakness in more than five years since then. Most of all, I’m so glad that He chose a dead dog such as I to display His glorious works of healing so I could really know, love, appreciate, and share about Him for many more days.

Love is…Law

I tend to think that the letter of the Law is easy to follow, but that the spirit of it is the real issue. Somehow, today, I’m convicted by the very words in it.

Well-respected and educated jews were so thrown off by how to deal with Jesus that they missed His words. They wanted to throw Him off, to get any excuse to accuse Him of blasphemy. So they asked for the greatest commandment, and He said:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” Matthew 22:38

It’s pretty horrendous that they were speaking face-to-face with the God incarnate and wanted to destroy Him out of jealousy. And it’s bad enough that the very reputations they were trying to protect were built upon the law that Jesus referenced here. But beyond even that, they completely missed the words He spoke.

These people were Pharisees, they knew this commandment well. They were considered so devout and learned that they lived out many detailed rules that were created to help them obey the laws in the first place. But they stood next to Jesus, on the same ground, breathing the same air, discussing the same Father, and missed His words because they were preoccupied.

Love the Lord your God with all your mind.

We have a choice today–do this stuff, or do that stuff. I even spend a lot of time trying to honor Him by figuring out which of the stuff I’m supposed to do. But that’s all related to the stuff. Whether or not the stuff is loving to do, it all needs to go back to loving Him with all of me. Not just in the morning, or when He helps me out of a jam.

If you shelf the “stuff” and love Him more fully, I’d love to hear what He shows you!

 

 

 

Love is…Frozen Lasagna

“Wanna come over for Christmas dinner? We’re having frozen lasagna. Bring a fork.”

That’s the text I’ll send out next year. This year was…harder than that.

My heart is still racing from the stress of the day. Feet ache like I ran a marathon in high heels. But I’m ending the day with peace and joy in my heart. I just wish I’d fought for those fruits throughout the day. There’s good news, though. His mercies are new every day, and tomorrow He will provide new opportunities. Especially in our house, because we aren’t even having our traditional Christmas celebration until then!

There’s so much to learn from days like today, and I don’t think I’m the only one who keeps missing the point. Over this season I’ve had very low standards, and somehow they’re still too high. I didn’t bother sending Christmas cards (yet again) because we didn’t get around to getting cute pictures of the girls. And let’s face it, the pictures wouldn’t have looked good anyway because I don’t iron their clothes.

Every year my dad brings me a box of stuff he doesn’t need, and that includes those greeting cards random companies send out. Every year I tell him I don’t need them, but they end up shoved in a corner of the garage. And every year, they inevitably get rescued from the recycling bin at the last minute, creases unbent as I include them with a haphazardly arranged gift or two. This year I couldn’t even find matching envelopes so just sort of folded some cards smaller and shoved them at someone. I’m pretty sure it would have been better to recycle them. Anyway, even with standards as low as this, it’s nearly impossible to excel. And I mean, could I possibly do even less and still be a good representative for Christ? (Well, yes, but only because of grace)

As the hostess for holidays like today, there were lots of different roles for me. How can I ever do them all well?

The expectation of loving everyone well would mean I would excel in:

  1. Wifing
  2. Mothering
  3. Daughtering
  4. Sistering
  5. Friending
  6. Cleaning
  7. Cooking
  8. Organizing
  9. Entertaining
  10. Being present
  11. Putting deodorant on (hahahaha, it’s late, and I’m more hilarious as the night goes on). But really, did I brush my teeth today?
  12. Celebrating: Immanuel, God with us, who lowered Himself from total deity to become a human, beginning as a baby, to rescue all of us evildoers from our own sin and the punishments we deserve. He’s the reason we are here, and the reason we call this a holy day at all.

To be honest, seeing this list all written out makes it look much easier than it felt today. At a few points I knew it was too much. Too much to please everyone, too much to choose whose feelings or desires to forsake for the sake of my own sanity. I told myself, as I do each year, that we would figure out simpler ways to celebrate Christmas for future years. And I tried to block out the memory that I tried that one last year and hurt so many feelings someone brought it up again yesterday-363 days later!

A few solutions that sound appealing:

  1. Next year we rent a cabin without electricity, phones, or any noise. Just light a candle, eat some tree bark (that someone else harvests), and read the Bible.
  2. Have a party in the car. Whoever fits is welcome. It’ll be too crowded for anyone to notice it’s dirty, and my feet won’t hurt since I’ll be forced to sit.
  3. Serve non-perishable food items that can be eaten at any time of day and set them up as a buffet for the entire day’s food. We’d have canned fruit cocktail, Spam, muffins that we’d call “cupcakes” after noon… and…are those gas station breakfast sandwiches considered “perishable”?

Still this list is incomplete, there must be more. He brought me out of the insanity to His peace, and I need to stay there. To dwell in His love. It’s more than the logistics of swapping a homemade roast beef for a frozen lasagna. It’s swapping the Martha outlook to be more of a Mary.

Yaacov reminded me of this earlier, when I was in the midst of the pathetic breakdown we all knew was coming. I get so annoyed by the reference to those sisters. Martha was the one who was doing a good job taking care of the house so Jesus could be comfortable, and Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus and ignore the hospitality stuff. But I argue that it’s less applicable this day and age, because Jesus isn’t sitting in my living room, it’s people who are there to be served. Jesus came to serve, so I don’t see it as the same thing.

“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:39-42

Yes, I get that my frustration with it is my pride arguing that I want to do things my way.

So, tomorrow, I’m celebrating that Jesus came to this world with my family. Just call me “Mary”, because I’ll be the one at His feet. I don’t know what that looks like, but I’m pretty sure it’ll include the kids eating candy for breakfast, someone picking up Chick Fil A for lunch (a definite perk of postponing Christmas should mean that it’ll be open!), and perhaps we’ll start that tradition of consuming the extra large Stouffer’s frozen lasagnas for dinner. If I’m too preoccupied with the Word to put on deodorant, no one will blame me because I’ll still send a sweet incense offering up to Him…plus I’ll smell great because of the time I’ll have to spend with Naomi playing in her new Snowman bubble bath. It might not be much like the first Christmas, but we’ll enjoy our freedom from the law and punishments we deserve because of that very day.

Love is Christ

‘Tis the season to be jolly. We have so much to celebrate this year! And every year, of course. Thanks to all who read my last post and prayed–the Lord answered! WHAT?! I know, right? Sometimes we don’t even expect Him to show up. I’m SO glad He is able and willing to do more than we could ever ask or imagine!

Anyway, when I last posted, my friend’s liver was extremely enlarged and caused her a lot of pain, nausea, and trouble breathing. She could feel her liver in her back. You might know that this is a big, big deal. Her doctor called for an immediate PET scan and advised her to increase her pain medication. Which obviously wouldn’t solve anything. We kept praying, and that night she slept in peace, pain abated! Then the next day the results showed more cancer on her liver, but when she went to her oncologist to discuss it, he could not feel her liver anymore! It shrunk back to normal size without a reason. He called it “remarkable”. We call it “Answered Prayer”, a miracle! And we call He who answered, the Prince of Peace, Our Healer, Mighty God, and King of Kings.

More good news, too! Another friend, Leigh, has been suffering with an immune disorder for several years. I don’t know the whole order and layout of issues, but it is really debilitating and requires a lot of treatment just to be sort of stable. But He has really healed her recently, including an ongoing really bad eye issue plus new bloodwork showed she didn’t have the immune disorder!

I really wanted to share this stuff to raise more awareness for the power of prayer, the One who answers, and to credit the One who knows what we each go through. But I also wanted to share the hope that goes with it–these women were not diagnosed one way then stumbled across a great treatment. These women were suffering, big time, for years and years, with no good news or relief in sight. But they remained steadfast in prayer and hope, whether for healing, or for wisdom, or just help. And long after most of us stopped expecting big changes, He broke through and healed them! He doesn’t stop working, even when we stop caring. And He doesn’t stop caring even when we don’t think He is working. He is much too big for that manger they laid Him in. Let’s seek all of Him this Christmas!

“My speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.” 1 Cor 2:2-5

 

 

 

 

 

The Big Chance

I have only a moment to explain, and can’t give details due to privacy. But this is our big chance to see the Lord at work. This is our moment to see faith in action! I’m praying for someone who doesn’t want circumstances to be known, but the truth is that she is already known…by the Lord God Almighty! She doesn’t want to be defined by her cancer, but that fear is unfounded. Because the only one who matters would never define her by the disease that ravishes her body. She will always be seen by her perfect Father as a beloved, precious, passionate, generous, and faithful child.

Things look grim, but this IS THE TIME for the Lord’s perfect intervention. His timing is perfect, He has never done anything wrong. Please don’t think that I believe no one should suffer, or that everyone should be healed. Because I don’t. He has plans I don’t understand. BUT, I do not believe this is one of those times. I believe this is a time to put our faith into action and do what we were told to do! There are debatable things but there are also clear promises:

  1. Jesus answered, “Because your faith is to small. I tell you the truth, if your faith is as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. All things will be possible for you. –Matthew 17:20
  2. “Have faith in God. I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, fall into the sea.’ And if you have no doubts in your mind and believe that what you say will happen, God will do it for you. So I tell you to believe that you have received the things you ask for in prayer, and God will give them to you.” –Mark 11:22-24
  3. Jesus said to the father, “You said, ‘If you can!’ All things are possible for the one who believes.” Immediately the father cried out, “I do believe! Help me to believe more!” –Mark 9:23-24
  4. Then a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years came behind Jesus and touched the edge of His coat. She was thinking, “If I can just touch His clothes, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw the woman and said, “Be encouraged, dear woman. You are made well because you believed.” And the woman was healed from that moment on.–Matthew 9:20-22
  5. Anyone who is sick should call the church’s elders. They should pray for and pour oil on the person in the name of the Lord. And the prayer that is said with faith will make the sick person well’ the Lord will heal that person. And if the person has sinned, the sins will be forgiven. –James 5:14-5:15

It is hard to pray and believe your prayers will be answered, especially when so many are not answered the way we want. So, do we wimp out and stop hoping? Stop believing? Stop bothering? Sometimes. But not today. Today, we remember the many, many prayers He has answered, and call on that covenant-keeping God to hear us again. To show us His glory in this woman, to complete the good work He did in her, so that countless will turn and be saved because of His mighty name!

Matthew 7:22 says, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”. The thing I notice in there is that those people did what they believed was expected of them–prophesy (which can be sharing the Word), driving out demons and performing miracles–and Jesus didn’t argue that this wasn’t right. He was upset because they didn’t Know Him. Well, we KNOW Him and seek Him now. Sometimes as we know Him, He shows us to pray certain ways. Other times it’s our own fear or doubts that convince us to pray certain ways. Today, I choose to pray how I believe He desires, which is for supernatural healing and comfort of a rapidly perishing body. Please prayerfully consider joining in.

 

Mothering

So, ever since I started begging the Lord to heal me for the sake of the kids, I’ve struggled to mother them as well as I thought I would. There are a lot of factors, but basically I distanced myself a tiny bit, probably out of fear. And then I started getting angry and stressed that they were in the way of whatever I was “supposed” to be doing. I know, I’m awful. What a hypocrite! I treated Yaacov the same way for awhile. The grand ideas he had were never as extraordinary as my plans, my wisdom, my ways.

Do you presume on the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

Romans 2:4

Slowly–much slower than I wish–the Lord highlighted my inconsistencies enough for me to take note. He pointed out that my actions and the things I spend time thinking about are not the treasures I think I care about. Something had to change. It was a heart issue that took, and continues to take, focus and self-control to overcome. I’ve gotten better, but the “good” things I was doing still take precedence when I’m not paying attention. And I rarely have a good day of homeschooling Abigail where she learns, we love each other and the Lord, and we laugh. Most days have one of those at best.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.

Romans 8:6

Here’s where I tell you about the massive change that happened today that affected everything. Because I’ve been praying about this and working on it forever, and haven’t improved much. And today I felt “right”, physically, mentally, and spiritually, all at once. It was glorious! Such freedom and joy! Every day should be like today! I want you to know about my Lord, who taught me to fix my eyes on Him. Who deserves every bit of my focus.  And that it really was the best day ever.

All that is true. But still, I haven’t been fixed. It doesn’t mean tomorrow will be just as good as today was. His mercies are new each day, but if I awake on this earth, I’ll still be a sinner. I might yell at the kids before I even crawl out of bed. I might have selfish thoughts before I’ve told one person “Good morning”. That’s awful. My husband doesn’t need a wife like that, whether she’s physically healthy or not. Abi and Naomi don’t need a mother like that. The Lord God Almighty does not need a servant like that. But…they’ve got me! And the God of hope chose me to be His adopted daughter, more precious than jewels.

 

He sent me His beloved Son, about this time a few thousand years ago, as a sacrifice for the sins I will commit tomorrow. And I will remember His blood as it washes me clean. Then maybe, just maybe, He will give me another chance the next day to try again.

One day I’ll finally be like Him. Until then, He’ll help me be a slightly better me. A slightly better mother, a slightly better wife.

 

 

Why I Share

After I was healed from terminal breast cancer, I had something like post traumatic stress disorder. I felt like I had been through a war, and because I was on the winning side, I was supposed to just rejoice and get over it. I’ll never know if this was real or perceived, but it affected my speech, heart, and focus.

Now I think most things like that are actually my usurping the Holy Spirit. He provides us with experiences that can and should be shared. It’s the enemy who wants to shut us up, to hide the glory the Lord deserves. And to create fear in speaking aloud, which ultimately causes us (or me, at least) to analyze many things within ourselves, without the input of wise counsel. Now that I’ve started speaking more of these issues aloud, I hear how stupid they sound. Maybe that’s one reason I was led to write all this out.

Ephesians 4:15, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…”

So, at the start of this journey through redemption, we have a book by that name. The Lord had already been doing a work in me to get me excited about caring for really broken people. I’ve met a lot of them who are dealing with cancer, but there are other problems out there, too. I met a young woman who was on a great trajectory after years of drug use and living on the streets. She went into a great treatment facility, got clean and saved, and was living for the Lord. When I spoke to her, this stuff was clearly real. It wasn’t just self-control that was helping her keep it together. She was free!

Somehow this girl didn’t end up with the external support that might have been helpful for the transition between the safe and awesome treatment facility to the dangerous and tempting real world. Within months Yaacov and I watched as she fell back to her old ways. It was disheartening for her, for her family, and for the kingdom of God, and as a behavior analyst, and recovering “fixer”, I obviously wanted to save the world with a transition plan for the treatment facility to use!

Isaiah 58:11“And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”

But that wasn’t the Lord’s plan or the right thing to do. His perfect plan was so much BETTER! Around that time led me to a ministry called Redemption Groups, which our church was about to start training leaders for. I thought the ministry was intended for people like that girl I described, who need more help than the church is currently set up to provide. But it turns out these groups are much more than that. They are one way He leads us all into a deeper communion with Him. And we can’t get closer to Him without recognizing the sin and lies that we are steeped in, building a bigger divide between us.

I talk about this ministry and about the book a lot because the Lord used both to speak to me and to change the entire trajectory of my life. He redeemed me from my own sin with His Word (for the billionth time), through this journey. But there’s no magic in the book or the techniques used in the group. They are led by the Holy Spirit, and that is where the true power is. For example, He brought that girl who I mentioned back to Him, and she didn’t even go through a Redemption Group. But I am so grateful for the way He has helped me see Him, and to see me, through it all.

Proverbs 12:26 “The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.”

So, in this “Redemption” trail on unceasinglove.com,  I’m going to journal the growth, changes, and struggles I’m learning through being a leader and being a participant with this ministry. It doesn’t have much to directly do with cancer, which might be why people are reading in the first place, but it has to do with real issues that are applied to all aspects of our lives. He’s using it to make me a better person, better mother, better servant, primarily because it’s making me get real with the truth about who I am, in all my filthy hypocrisy. So, I’ll share the details because we’re all going to either heaven or hell, and either way it all relates to the truth about God. To Him be the glory forever! I don’t want to fight for privacy or hope to blend into a wall when it comes to my problems. I want to grow and to share the cool ways the Holy Spirit and Word of God are making that happen.

Jeremiah 17:7-8  But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”