Praying and praying and praying and praying and praying

I remember that before I was healed a friend posted a comment on here about what a roller coaster all the cancer stuff was. I was still cautious about being so vulnerable on here so I was a little offended. I felt like she was saying I should stop getting my hopes up about about things, to just sort of live in neutral. Since then I have had seasons of wishing for this neutral myself. It is hard to be so passionate about whatever’s going on in life that when it turns out badly it’s like part of you dies a little. 

Luke 9:41-43, Jesus answered, “O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here”…

Starting a few months ago I got sort of leveled off, the way I guess I wished. It felt like God didn’t hear or care about me or what I did. After countless heartbreaks and unanswered prayers I suppose some of my faith died off. Looking back I know I sinned, but don’t know if I turned away from Him a bit and He responded with increased distance, or if it was a period of testing that I failed. But either way, because of His mercy and grace, His boundless love, we have reunited and it feels so good! Colors are more vibrant, His presence is clear and weighty, my heart…feels again. Day after day He reminds me that His mercies are new each morning, and that He knows it all. He knows what we think, what we do, what we want, what we feel…and He knows why we feel it. God is not this impersonal, strict parent who judges what we do as sub-par. He is involved in every aspect of our lives, and encourages us to be better for our own well-being and for the good of the whole body of Christ. 
…While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father…
It would not be right to serve this amazing Savior in a neutral way. We can’t be fully devoted to living for Him while protecting our hearts from disappointment. So, we must immerse ourselves in Him. Look for the good and lessons in the daily struggles. Keep getting up after we fall. Keep pursuing the kingdom and His righteousness. Love those who hate us. Pray without ceasing.
 And all were astonished at <span class="crossreference" data-cr="#cen-ESV-25336BQ" data-link="(BQ)” style=”box-sizing: border-box; line-height: 22px; position: relative; top: 0px; vertical-align: top;”>the majesty of God.

A lot of people ask me to pray for their loved ones. I’m not good at it. I don’t like presenting a prayer list to the Lord, even though He is the only one who can do anything about the list. I never know exactly how to pray that is not some version of my selfish desires to manipulate or manhandle God. I think that’s some of what I did over this period of not hearing much from Him. The word says He leaves us with authority to do great things on earth, but He still has the right to make the final decisions and the Spirit blows wherever He wills. I just don’t know how to approach all of that with the faith needed for the really big stuff.
And all were astonished at the MAJESTY OF GOD.
Anyway, sometimes the Lord really opens my heart and I guess the lines of communication for praying for specific people. It’s never when or how I expect it. He has me praying now for Barbara, who many of you have prayed for over the past few years now. Her health has declined but she has always been a prayer warrior and has always believed He will heal her. I remember how fearful I was when I first started blogging, that I would believe He would heal me and then He wouldn’t. I was certain that would be the most heartbreaking way to go. And I was so sad to see how at first people prayed for everyone to be healed, then as they got sicker eventually people started praying that they’d be put out of their misery. All of these things stir my soul. We know that the Lord alone numbers our days and Barbara would not be put to shame if He chooses to wait until she’s in heaven to heal her. But I pray so deeply that she would experience the fruit of this faith while she’s on earth. That the doctors and nurses around her, who are surely counting her out, would see the cancer literally vanish. That all the health problems that have resulted from this cancer would dissipate in front of their very eyes. That her labored breathing would become smooth, the fluid in her lungs and the cancer itself would be loosed and flow right out of her as the Holy Spirit replaces the void with healthy fluids and cells. Technically, this is not possible. But, all things that are impossible with men are possible with God. He’s proved it time and again, please pray boldly that He will add this woman’s life to that score sheet.

AND ALL WILL BE ASTONISHED AT THE MAJESTY OF GOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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An End to Suffering

Yesterday at tee ball I chatted with friends and moaned about the heat while Abigail gingerly batted and skipped around the bases. I barely paid attention and mostly waited for the game to end so we could get on with the day. On the way home Abi mentioned that a little girl on her team doesn’t have a mommy. Because her mom died of stage 4 cancer. One of my first thoughts was, “Why didn’t I know?” because I’m That selfish. I actually think I know every woman in town who is sick. Or that I have a supernatural sense for when a motherless child is on the tee ball field. Or that it would have actually made a difference if I had known.

My next realization was that it could have been me. With one different choice from our Savior, Abigail would have been the motherless one on the team. Naomi would spend her time in daycare and the workers there would feel so sad when she was confused and tried to call them “Mom”. It could have been me. God doesn’t make mistakes, so it shouldn’t have been me in that sense, but if you look at how worthless I am as a person, a mother, Christian, wife, sister, daughter and friend, it should have been me. Someone who doesn’t even enjoy the blessings of this life doesn’t deserve to be the recipient of a miraculous gift. But as quickly as that sorrow sinks in, it is replaced by the Lord’s still, calming, all-encompassing peace. He saved me because of His grace, His mercy, His plan–not mine. I could actually be a fruitful person, I could be close to perfect in all I do, gracious, devoted, and compassionate. But I still would never earn His love.

Ephesians 2:4-9
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
I’ve been surrounded by suffering lately. So many people are sick and dying, and God pointed out to me that as a society we sort of celebrate suffering. It is obviously helpful for us, because the more we suffer the more we seek God and recognize our need for Him. But I wonder if we celebrate suffering more than we celebrate Him. When you think of the Bible, I think an outline would reveal that the whole thing points to Jesus, our Savior. We all suffer, it is biblical, but that’s not the theme of the Bible. The Good News isn’t about us at all. It’s about Jesus and what we do with Him and His truth. 
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news” Romans 10:15
I think it’s time to put an end to the suffering. I’m ready to remember the lessons He brought us through it instead of focusing on the circumstances. Seems to me that we find a lot of reasons to wait on celebrating Him. We have a hard time rejoicing in Him when we’re suffering. Some of us even think about how we’ll be doing all that rejoicing in heaven, like that nullifies the fact that we already have our Savior! We live in a fallen and sinful world, but that doesn’t make God any less…God. He doesn’t change so He won’t be any “better” in heaven, we just won’t have as many crummy circumstances that color our view of Him. 
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds” James 1:2
I think the original point of singing songs in church was to praise Him for His sacrifice and presence. That the appreciation for who He is would overflow so abundantly from our hearts that we would be incapable of withholding beautiful musical offerings toward the heavens. I had a little vision today at church, of what it would be like if we all actually entered the sanctuary in that state of mind. That we would all simultaneously arrive at the conclusion that God Almighty is perfect, loving, amazing, sovereign, all-knowing, pure love and MUST be praised! That it doesn’t need to wait until the perfect song is played, or fit into the 17 minute pre-scheduled worship time. That our love for God would spill from us so readily that we wouldn’t care that we don’t sing well or don’t know the words, we would just rejoice at His awesomeness without delay.
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” Psalm 150:6

Writing

God renewed my passion for writing about three years ago. I had it when I was little then it died off, as the creative bits of me were replaced with interests of a more scientific and concrete nature. I am sure it was He who rekindled it within me, in preparation for expressing this encounter with evil cancer and death. However, I don’t know if it was His original intention for me to pursue writing all along or not. Regardless, I know the novel I wrote a few years back was practice for blogging and whatever writing I will do in the future. Since the cancer journey began I have wanted to write about it, in more detail than this blog, but knew it wasn’t the time. But I’m quite sure now is finally the time. Passages and stories from my book (or articles, too early to tell) come to me whenever I’m not focusing on the kids. I’ll be driving, exercising, or trying to sleep and really good stuff comes to mind. I rarely am able to write it down before I forget, but I’m trying.

‘m going through this blog from the beginning as sort of a starting point for the book. I get anxious before opening each post, afraid I will be embarrassed by what I said back then, or that my heart will hurt so much when I re-live those moments that this time I won’t survive. But each time, God carries me through. I am amazed by the way He clearly carried me through the worst days. I am encouraged by the grace He gave me and the love He showed me through all you readers and friends.

So far, these memories have come back from reading through the blog: 

–I actually didn’t think it could get worse than finding out I had cancer (before we knew it had spread; Acts 1:7, “He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.”)
–Suddenly had to wean Naomi and she was so distraught…but she finally took a bottle on Thanksgiving! (Matt 7:7-8 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”)–The first very sick person I ever saw, who made it all so real. I am still so sad thinking about her. She was young and her mom had to be a strong advocate for her. It was so pathetic and heart-wrenching to hear her mom begging for a bucket for her daughter to throw up in, as the daughter couldn’t hold a bag. The pessimistic side of me thinks that young woman has probably passed away by now. I pray for that whole family and wish I had the presence of mind to reach out to them back then. (Matt 17:20 “Jesus told them.”I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.)
–The love, love, love God showed me through all His children. (Proverbs 11:25 from the Message Bible “The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.”)
–It has always been about my not wanting my babies to grow up without me. With His grace, they won’t have to. (Mth 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”)

When I first started blogging I was fearful of going public with my innermost thoughts and fears. I hate to be judged and knew I was exposing myself for just that. But being able to be honest on here is what makes it cathartic for me, and is how I bond with you all. I am still amazed by the outpouring of love I have received from it, and am certain that it is the attraction we each have to vulnerability that makes it a success. So, in addition to thanking each of you for reading, praying, and loving on me, I suggest that everyone considers writing down the details of their trials. It might help someone someday, whether it’s the writer or the reader.


2 Corinthians 1:3-5 “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.”

Texas

We got in last night, right before a storm. It started this morning, just in time for my appointments at MD Anderson. There was a tornado watch and flooding everywhere. The signage here is awful so I trudged through the rain (without an umbrella) for half an hour before finding the place. Soaked and frozen, I texted with friends that it could only get better.

I was wrong.
Now that I’ve lost my hair, at my best I feel like a hideously disfigured clown, so it wasn’t hard for the cruel doctors to crush what was left of my spirit. Still, they did everything in their power to make sure I was utterly devastated. It worked. First, the nurse practitioner met with me and told me there was no point in my ever having surgery to remove my tumor, because I’m going to die of cancer anyway. Then the esteemed Dr. Litton came in with two witnesses to drive it home. “Don’t look at this like chemo will be done in 6 months and the you’ll move on. Think of it like you’re chronically ill and maybe you’ll be on chemo until you die.” When I became teary eyed she pursed her lips, tilted her head in an exaggeration motion and said without emotion, “I know.” Just like she learned from reading the back of an empathy book. I didn’t bother taking notes on all the helpful tidbits she shared, but she repeated them all for me so I wouldn’t forget or get confused. “I would hate to give you false hope…our goal is not remission, it is just to control it… Metastatic means it spread. If it hadn’t spread, it would be different…cancer is smarter than us…” Then she sent me on my way.
I wish I had been strong enough to say something awesome about how God is smarter than her and cancer. Instead I thanked her profusely. Then I ran to our rented minivan and sobbed until I was dry heaving. The agony and profound sadness I felt was incomprehensible. I knew there was a chance there wouldn’t be good news here, but I didn’t need to drag my family over here to be pounded with negativity. And why on earth did I feel such peace and joy about coming here?
I’m barely even breathing so haven’t worked much out yet, but the general thoughts I have are that God gave me the excitement about coming so 1) I would come and 2) I would feel hope when I needed it. Maybe for some reason when the trip came together, God knew I really needed that good news. And of course there is a time for every season, “A time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” (Ecc 3:4).
A pessimist might think I’m here to learn that I’m going to die. But I don’t see a point in that. I’ve heard it before, and don’t see why I would need to go through all this hassle to get it engrained in me. It is well-documented that people with the most positive outlooks stay healthier and respond better to treatment, so I’m going to reject the hypothesis that God would send me here to learn to shut up and die. Instead, I’m going to consider it more documentation that humans aren’t responsible for my imminent, total, (unexpected to the medical community) healing. Selah! 
Before my appointment, God showed me a verse I now think pertains to these doctors trying to get me down. I’m going to cling to when I get upset about this experience: Col 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.”
Please note that Yaacov and I are trying hard, but this one is still a pretty deep wound. If people are looking for something to pray about, I would really appreciate a focus on lifting our spirits. I very much appreciate all the prayers so far, and we’ll continue to pray for supernatural healing as evidenced in my next PET scan (didn’t have one here yet but probably will in Tallahassee in the next month or so). 
We were scheduled to be here through Friday, but I’m done here so we’re going back in the morning. 
Jeremiah 14: 19
“Have you rejected Judah (Erin) completely? Do you despise Zion (the Petschers)? Why have you afflicted us so that we cannot be healed? We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there is only terror. We acknowledge our wickedness, Lord, and the guilt of our ancestors; we have indeed sinned against you. For the sake of your name do not despise us; do not dishonor your glorious throne. Remember your covenant with us and do not break it. Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, Lord, our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this.”

Maps and Such

Thanks to Joy who showed me the interactive map! I put the states we need prayer for in a comment on the 50 states blog, but couldn’t upload this map. I just wanted you to be able to look and see what God is doing. There are also people in tons of countries praying (full list in comment on 50 states). This prayer for his people is spreading like wildfire, and everyone who’s praying is being obedient and awesome for His Kingdom. 1Thessalonians 5:11 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” That’s what you’re all doing for me, and most of you don’t even know me. I don’t even know people in most of the states where people are praying. I am so humbled by your kindness, I would love to beg you to stop and focus on other things. But I really desire healing for the sake of my babies, and I really want to see whatever awesome plans God has for this big experience. It’s so fun to be a part of it. I’ve never personally seen God work in this way, with the spreading of prayer and concern for someone like me to go so far and wide.

Am I the only one pumped about this? Throughout the drama, I haven’t done much wondering of “why me?”, but I have wondered just “why for anyone?”. I know it’s for growth and glorifying Him. I have a few thoughts of how God is going to use this for my own growth (which I’m too blind still to see the specific areas He might be focusing on), and for some family members who just don’t know Him. I’ve gone so far to consider pounding on them until they accept Christ because maybe that would mean the mission is accomplished and God could heal me. I’m relatively certain that isn’t the way to go though. Regardless, I see without any doubt now that this movement from God to get so many people concerned and praying is way beyond me. I have complete strangers emailing me, stopping me in stores, etc. He’s moving on these people’s hearts. It’s about Him and His people, who He’s mobilizing and unifying for His purposes. It’s similar to the time in Genesis when the people got together and decided to build a tower to heaven. They were not doing the right things so in that case God confused their language to keep them from working together. But now that we live by grace and are focused on God, we can work toward the common good of His people and His name instead.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m so glad for all who are on this fast-moving God train with me. God can do whatever He wants, with whomever He wants. He doesn’t NEED us to do His work (remember, He hardened Pharaoh’s heart multiple times, got a donkey to speak truth to a prophet, etc.He’s not waiting around for a few good men to enlist). But we’re invited to join Him and it’s an honor to do so. Big things are going to happen, and big blessings and valuable experiences come from such things. Thank-you for coming aboard!

Day 5

Worst day yet. Got word it spread to lungs and 2 spots on my spine. This makes it Stage 4, which is considered incurable. Typically I would have 1-3 years, although being so young might help. I didn’t expect the spine part, so I’m sort of blown away. And honestly, I didn’t realize that it’s not curable. I thought there was a cure, it just didn’t necessarily work for everyone.

I didn’t think it could get worse than Friday’s call about having cancer in the first place. But this is a lot worse than I imagined. I guess I thought everything was curable until you get treated and it doesn’t work. So I didn’t think I’d get this info so soon. Blown away.

Psalm 147

 1 Praise the LORD.<sup class="footnote" value="[a]”>[a]    How good it is to sing praises to our God,
   how pleasant and fitting to praise him!
 2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
   he gathers the exiles of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
   and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars
   and calls them each by name.
5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power;
   his understanding has no limit.
6 The LORD sustains the humble
   but casts the wicked to the ground.
 7 Sing to the LORD with grateful praise;
   make music to our God on the harp.
 8 He covers the sky with clouds;
   he supplies the earth with rain
   and makes grass grow on the hills.
9 He provides food for the cattle
   and for the young ravens when they call.
 10 His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse,
   nor his delight in the legs of the warrior;
11 the LORD delights in those who fear him,
   who put their hope in his unfailing love.
 12 Extol the LORD, Jerusalem;
   praise your God, Zion.
 13 He strengthens the bars of your gates
   and blesses your people within you.
14 He grants peace to your borders
   and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.
 15 He sends his command to the earth;
   his word runs swiftly.
16 He spreads the snow like wool
   and scatters the frost like ashes.
17 He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
   Who can withstand his icy blast?
18 He sends his word and melts them;
   he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.
 19 He has revealed his word to Jacob,
   his laws and decrees to Israel.
20 He has done this for no other nation;
   they do not know his laws.<sup class="footnote" value="[b]”>[b]
   Praise the LORD.