This time last year…

It was November 18 last year, but I will always remember it on the day Abigail has her Thanksgiving Feast at school. It is November 16 this year. Today. Last year we were so excited–it was her first presentation/show ever. It was a Friday. Two days before I had gotten the call that my mass was NOT cancer. Finally, we could breathe easy! Time to enjoy the holidays!

About this time, 10:30 am, I got a call from my friend Nicole. We were chatting about how I didn’t have cancer when Dr. Crooms clicked in on call waiting. I didn’t recognize the number but I knew it was him. He had mentioned that the results of the permanent-section biopsy would be in on Friday. I hadn’t been worried, less than 5% of the initial biopsies are false negatives. He had no need to call and I didn’t expect him to. Unless there was bad news after all.

I knew as soon as I saw the number flash on the phone. My heart raced. I listened. I cried. I died a little inside. A lot, actually. I called Yaacov at work. Didn’t want to tell him over the phone but had to get him home in time to meet with Dr. Crooms to make a plan.

I had an hour to process it, then had to get my act together and go to the presentation. The Thanksgiving Feast. When things like this happen people usually report everything was a blur. It wasn’t. I was aware of every second that passed. I watched my little girl walk shyly in line with her class. Watched her hiding behind her friends, forgetting all the hand motions she’d practiced since September. Wondered how things would change. I didn’t know how bad it was yet, but knew I would go through life-altering treatments. Imagined how her fragile confidence would be shaken if her mommy wasn’t around to encourage her.

One year ago was the beginning. I didn’t always have strong enough faith to be certain of how it would end. It was hard. So hard. It’s still so hard, and my storm is over. But God helped me every second of every day. He sheltered me and yet I still remember the pain. If I didn’t have Him there is no way I could have made it through.

Philippians 3:4-11

[Paul said] though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more:  circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee;  as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.  But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.  I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

I can finally say I am truly grateful for the experience. I have moments I still hate it. Hate the fact that there is always a twinge of fear for the cancer’s return. Hate my repulsive new body and that my hair looks like Corey from Boy Meets World. But my faith has grown enormously, and I value it more than ever. I don’t mean faith like just believing in God and His goodness. I mean faith like the actual act of believing in what cannot be seen. Believing that JESUS GAVE ME THE AUTHORITY TO MOVE MOUNTAINS (Mth 21:21). Believing not than “God Can” but that “God WILL”. Back then I thought I had to wait for God to assure me He would do something, and then He would. Now I know that TRUE FAITH is believing that the nature of Him is described in the Bible, and that believing He will do things that fit His nature is what we are called to do. It is a whole new element to my world, and it is more important than anything else I know. It took me 32 years of experience leading up to my miraculous healing, plus that whole journey to get it, and there is no other way I would have preferred to learn it.

Here’s to the Lord God Almighty. The maker of heaven and earth. Creator of you and me. He loves your soul, whether you love Him back or not. If you don’t, please consider it. Consider Him. It can be hard to believe, but even harder not to.

Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

After our death on earth we are all going to carry on for eternity. You can spend it in heaven with Him, or in eternal separation from Him. Hell. If you’re reading this it’s not too late. But tomorrow it could be. Only He knows the number of our days, and this could be your last chance. Once it’s too late it’s over. There will be no take-backs or do-overs. Love yourself enough to look out for your future. Love your family enough to do what it takes to spend forever with them and God. Love your friends enough to drag them off the path to hell and onto the narrow path of righteousness.

Romans 10:9-10

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

Revelation 22:17

The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

Prayers for the Week and Foundation

This is a big week for prayers, so please fill the heavens with echos of these requests. In addition, if you have any prayers I can join you with, please comment or email them. It helps if you send the person’s name (first only is fine), and updates as they occur.

Alison: The woman we prayed for a few months ago is having a scan tomorrow (Tuesday), then going to Shands to see an expert on Wednesday. She is the one who had the really rare intestinal sarcoma issue. Several years ago she was diagnosed with it and when they opened her up to do the surgery, it looked like someone had thrown handfuls of cancer (like salt) all over her insides. It was really bad but disappeared for years, thanks to much prayer. More of it showed up in May though and she had a surgery, followed by a clear scan. This is the type of cancer that they say can just keep coming back like that and surgery is the only helpful treatment. Please pray this scan is clear and that EVERY scan continues to be clear. Forever. Not one more diseased cell is permitted in her body. It is the temple of the living God and there is no room in there for cancer or other illnesses!

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body,” (1 Cor. 6:19-20).

Jessica: On the 19th she is having her next scan. She is the one a little younger than me who was suddenly diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. She is on an alternative type of treatment and with every scan there has been much less cancer. But let’s pray that this one shows NO cancer. Since her diagnosis maybe 6 months ago, her father had brain cancer recur and he passed away a few weeks ago. It is a lot for her and her family, much more than anyone can deal with. She is casting the burden back to God and He will help carry her. But I know it’s time for some good news. Pray for her to be entirely cancer-free. We are not accepting improvements, because God does His work fully. There is no mention of a partial miracle in the Bible, and we are not looking for anything like that. We are looking for those amazing signs and wonders Jesus promised were coming. This is that time!

John 14:12,” I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”

Psalm 77:14, You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.”

Me: In one week I have my regular appointment with Dr. Rassam. I have no complaints to report to him but he will likely do the blood marker tests. I am praising God already that they are lower than ever before!

Psalm 106:8, “Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known.”

Debora: She is the one diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, and in about 6 weeks she’ll have another scan. I know she has been healed already, and that liver scan (the one of concern) will show evidence of that. Also pray for her fundraiser, which will either be at the start of December or mid-January. We are working out the details but it will be awesome.

“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,”Colossians 1:9 NIV

Cancer Foundations: During my trials with cancer, Yaacov was editing a textbook with a few friends. One of them is an awesome man named Don Compton (from Vanderbilt), who has decided to donate his royalties to a cancer foundation of our choice. First of all, isn’t that one of the nicest things you’ve ever heard? I don’t think I’ve ever even met him. Second of all, we will be praying about which foundation to recommend. I think it should be a national group because he lives in Nashville and we are in Florida. I am so sick of cancer I want to support research in preventing or curing it. Susan G. Komen is obvious but there are pros and cons. FORCE is a group that deals with genetic breast cancer, so that is another. Anyway, if anyone else has thoughts please let me know.

2 Thessalonians 3:5, “May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”

Fun

It’s official. I’m an obnoxious bum. I was leaving the store today and my eye caught a woman holding hands with her two sons in the parking lot. I saw them approach a lightpost and one of the boys went out of his way to let go of her hand and walk around it. As I watched from my private view of my car, I automatically rolled my eyes, the way I would have if one of my own kids did that. I was shocked and humbled to see the mother respond to this event with a huge smile on her face. She was filled with joy about how cute it was that her son did that.

This might not sound super profound to others, but I can’t get the image out of my head. If Abi and I approached a lightpost like that, I would have pulled her closer to me so she wouldn’t be tempted to slow us down and walk around it. Or if Naomi did it I would sigh loudly and crouch down to catch her, certain that she would run into the street if given a second of freedom. What I would not have done is laugh. Smile broadly, ecstatic that my goofy child was having a little fun.

This all hit me like a ton of bricks. I am more devoted to getting my errands run than enjoying this blessed life. I would rather get out of the store with time to clean the living room than to stop at the park and run around with the girls in the sunshine. I think the mark of a good day is to have several items checked off my to-do list and dinner on the table by the time Yaacov comes home. Those aren’t the memory-makers we need! Those are NOT the experiences I had in mind when I declared I could not leave my children motherless! We have so much to be thankful for, and I for one am not living that way. Maybe my kids need a few more dance parties and a few less life lessons. Maybe we all do.

Psalm 13:5-6, “But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.”

Romans 12:12

Day 2 of claiming my hip healing: Hip feels great. I didn’t work out today though, so that’s not otherwise unexpected. I’m going to keep praising Him for the healing no matter what. Otherwise I might take it for granted and it will come back.

I had a bad day emotionally today. I have an issue unrelated to my physical health that upsets me. It’s one of those things that takes me a long time to get over, and then once I think it’s done it comes back up. It involves a loved one and I know that God can change me rather than answer my prayers to change others. So I was praying a lot for it then opened my Bible app to look something up. The daily verse was SO helpful. Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” It applies to every situation. This line has the answer to every question. 

No matter what, we will embrace hope. We will persevere during tribulations. Let us all continue praying, no matter what the cost or fear. Live Romans 12:12 with me, even for a day. 

My hip

My hip hurts. It has hurt for months and months. It isn’t cancer. It bothers me immensely, and this is the story of why:

In 2004 I developed this same hip pain. It was diagnosed as bursitis, but I don’t know if that’s what it really was. I was a new Christian and prayed about it, fully expecting an instant removal of the pain. That didn’t happen. The pain worsened and after a few months I was worried. I was thinking I might become crippled and whatever else healthy people like myself worry about. I went to visit my mom in Michigan and went to church, not expecting anything special. Suddenly, the preacher announced that God was going to heal someone’s right hip and asked who that was. I was about to raise my hand, but the person directly in front of me did instead. Not only was it weird, but what are the chances that out of hundreds of people, the person in front of me was the only other one with pain in his right hip? Anyway, that guy got the prayer and joy of the moment, but I still got the healing. From the second I stood up, my hip never hurt again.
Until now. After eight years, the pain is back. It started hurting out of nowhere, right after I was healed. I mentioned it then and Dr. Rassam had a hip x-ray done, which was clear. But the pain has remained. I think it’s been at least 9 months.
This is physically manageable pain, but is mentally taxing. What does it all mean? Why did it come back right when God kicked cancer out of my body? Why can’t I get rid of it now? It makes me doubt–people who are healed usually deal with fears of it returning, and this seems like the devil reminding me that cancer could come back like my hip pain. On bad days every step I take I feel this pain and push those thoughts down.
I have prayed a lot about praying about this pain, because it confuses me so much. On one hand, I feel that this could be like the thorn of Paul’s. He prayed three times for God to remove it, and God didn’t (2 Cor 12:7-9). God told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”. Maybe the pain in my hip is like that. Just a reminder the God is the boss and I’m nothing on my own.
Or…maybe I don’t have enough faith to convince God to heal my hip. I’m so sure that it was faith that got me healed in the first place. It is my faith that has grown the most during this journey. I understand it so much better now, and value it above all else. So, it would make sense if it was my faith under attack here.
I’ve tried praying boldly and still have the pain. I really don’t know what God wants, but I don’t want to live with it. I don’t want to change history from having been healed of it to having been “healed for 8 years” from it. And I don’t want to look at my sick friends and tell them to believe God will heal them if I don’t have the nerve to believe He will heal just this piddly little issue I have.
So, I have decided to take a leap of faith and believe this is indeed a faith issue. I am going to take this as an opportunity to increase my faith and believe He will heal me, even though I have no evidence or promises from Him. It’s the same thing I had to do when He miraculously healed my cancer, but this is a much smaller ordeal. I’m skipping all the months of heartache and sorrow in between. 
This time I’m going straight to believing in my healing, the way I interpret the Bible as requiring. 1) I will pray and believe He will answer. Mark 11:24, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” 2) I will speak as though it has occurred even before it has, just like Abraham (Romans 4) 3) I will tell the world what He has done (Luke 8:39).
I realize this is a little weird, because God already healed my cancer, which was the reason for this blog. But so many of us struggle with believing He will answer our prayers, no matter how huge or minor they are. And believing is a huge part. Maybe the most important. Much of me wants to just live with the pain. I’ve been doing it for almost a year now anyway. But I’m feeling like it would be hypocritical of me to encourage others to pray for healing while I’m not having any faith that a minor joint issue will be resolved. I don’t want to be a hypocrite, and I don’t want to settle. It would be like I’m doing a deal with the devil–trading cancer for hip pain. So, I will expect full healing. Even after He answered my much more important prayers about healing my cancer, this makes me nervous. I keep cringing as I’m typing, thinking about not posting this at all. But I will do it and document this experience.
I don’t know how long it will take, or honestly if He wants to remove the pain. The status on Day 1: My hip hurts. I have prayed for healing and praised Him with thanks healing me. 
Deuteronomy 32:3, “I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!