I finished my book! I’m attaching it as a .pdf,, hopefully you can read it as an Ebook and enjoy it! Share it with anyone you might know who is suffering, struggling, or just might enjoy it!
I know there are a lot of good points about Breast Cancer Awareness month, but a few friends who have dealt with that diagnosis have mentioned it’s painful. Many mourn with a special passion for those destroyed by cancer, and others struggle daily with the effects of their own diagnoses.
Maybe instead of considering a donation when we see a pink ribbon, we can use it to trigger more pressing needs for those with breast cancer. Maybe they can be a trigger to pray for someone with the diagnosis, or to find a way to encourage them. This is an excerpt from my story that might give you an idea what goes through some of our minds with this diagnosis. So many people are getting examined this month, you might be surprised to find out how common thoughts like this are.
How is this happening? Ten days ago I knew everything. I mean…everything! I actually thought my intuition was a special spiritual gift the Lord had bestowed on me. Back then it didn’t sound as arrogant as it does now. Back then it seemed like a fact. I knew things. I understood people without them having to explain everything. It was like the Holy Spirit gave me special insight into what He was doing. He helped me to know myself inside and out. Certainly, if I not only had a disease, but was actually dying from it, I would know. There’d be an inkling, at least. Because the world was orderly—I knew the One who perfectly controls it.
But then…then came cancer. Seems like I’m being punched in the face with it, and there’s no clue about how many more blows are coming. Is this the beginning or the end? It’s stage 4. Incurable. Everything has changed. And it seems like it’s God who did the changing.
I’m pretty melancholy looking back on that time, and kind of depressed about how prevalent all cancers are. How much power it seems to have over our lives, families, and society. But, God. He is bigger, He has a plan, He will use it for the good of those who love Him. Let’s share His love with those who need it most today.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
I woke up this morning with a pit in my stomach so big, it was hard to get out of bed. Emotionally, I feel like I’m going through the pain of cancer again. Physically, I am nauseated and lethargic.
I dragged my fatigued body down the stairs more than an hour later than I prefer to rise, and only got up at all because I prayed for help doing so. I looked through the various coffee flavors we collect and pushed one away, telling myself, “I don’t deserve that one today”.
Because all my current suffering is self-induced. Sin-induced. I deserve the bland, flavorless coffee today. The “Sinner’s” coffee. That’ll teach me.
This isn’t a post about being depressed. This isn’t a moment to share that I am in the midst of some major sin. This is just me admitting that I have a problem.
This problem is the supervillain in my story, lurking in the shadows to blast truth out of every good thing. She uses the cloak of invisibility to appear in unexpected ways when I least expect it. She has always been a part of my story, but she’s grown better at disguising herself. She is so crafty, I follow her down paths of destruction time and again. I usually don’t recognize her until true damage has been done. Worst of all, this problem is bigger than me. Stronger than me. I cannot beat her on my own.
Her name is Pride.
My attempts to overcome her result in my own backsliding into her comforting embrace. “But, He gives more grace.” He does not show up to provide back-up, the way I wish. Instead, the Holy Spirit swoops in like the true Hero He is. When I trust in Him, submit to Him, He reflects light on pride so I can see her hideous face. He helps me recognize her voice, and to follow His instead. He provides the instruction, power, and cleansing I need for a pure heart (see James 4:6-10 below). Most of all, He draws near to me so my enemy’s lure is less enticing.
I wish I could throw away the “bad girl” coffee, knowing I’ll never need it again. If His help is real and my redemption is complete, it shouldn’t be an issue, right?
Unfortunately, as long as we are in this phase of life on earth, Pride will thrive. The days are full of her, and opportunities to stray abound. But the help, guidance, and forgiveness from Abba Father will continue to be steadfast and free for those of us who trust in Him. Hallelujah for the One who gives living water and good coffee!
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:6-10
My big brother is getting married! Bennie is getting married! Eeeeeek, I’m going to have a new sister! I always wanted a sister!
Okay. Deep breath. There’s only a week left before the wedding and I’m completely thrilled in a thousand different ways, but want to take some time to focus on the important ones–that is, the Important One.
His name is Jesus. AKA, The Bridegroom.
John says the one who has the bride IS the bridegroom, and His friend, who stands and hears Him, rejoices greatly at His voice (3:29). How often do we hear Jesus’ voice, and instead of rejoicing, we sugarcoat, or make excuses not to obey it? How many times has my earthly groom said or done something I consider “wrong”, only to have me respond with judgment instead of prayer?
Okay, okay, so Amy is marrying Ben, not Jesus. But God created marriage, and used tons of references to help us understand the relationship we can have with Him through it. The apostle Paul cautioned followers to remain unwed if possible. But I’ve learned so much more about the Lord because of living life with this guy He gave me. We are supposed to honor and serve our spouses, to unite with them as one flesh, and to put their interests over our own. If we treated Jesus that way we might not even need to tap into all that grace He left us with.
Traditional wedding vows involve a man and a woman, in the presence of God, being united with verbal promises to love, keep, honor, comfort, and obey each other. We solemnly declare that no circumstances, other than death, will separate us from the love of one another.
Then the honeymoon ends.
Maybe we hit some rough patches. Life isn’t what we expected. I remember for the first year we were married, I used to attack Yaacov with insults like, “If I knew this about you before we were married…”. Charming, I know. But he put up with me. Not because he promised he would. Not because he “had” to. And honestly, not because I’m so lovable. But because of Jesus.
Marriage can be easy when both spouses are head over heels in love–with Jesus, the anchor. You really can’t be in love with Him without starting to act like Him, meaning that we imitate the true humility He exuded on earth, which in turn glorifies Him. Over the 12 years of our own marriage, it’s not the circumstances like terminal cancer that have made the vows so difficult to follow. It’s the times that we tried to walk around our true bridegroom that have been the hardest.
Whether we are married or not, wedding vows can remind us of the promises we make to the true Bridegroom. It’s not about making huge sacrifices or winning converts. It’s about rejoicing in the promises He already made us, and in freely receiving the eternal wedding gifts He lavishes us with.
In other words, whether you are getting married this summer, have been wed for several decades, or will live all future days as a single person, it’s time to renew our vows–I pray that all who read this are blessed with the deep understanding of the love of Jesus. May He show Himself to you as the perfect bridegroom, as He knows, leads, comforts, and helps you through each day. In turn, let us decrease as the awesome depth of His love is highlighted in us as we promise to honor, serve, and follow Him all of our days.
I was reading through my blog and my heart just about stopped when I got to one of the most precious moments in there–“Dayenu”! My heart has this achy, drowsy, lovey-dovey feeling when I read the words He gave me back then.
I wrote it back on January 4, 2012, I was going through chemo, with no real idea if the Lord would have mercy on my family and me to heal me. Even with the chemo, would I live to see another Christmas? We didn’t know, but we still saw the Lord in every moment. I won’t sugar-coat it, every moment was hard, and I don’t know if a day passed without my crying. Yet, one thing remained–the one thing that mattered, and His peace transcended all understanding, just like He promised it would.
So basically, there is a tradition where the jews recall the great victories the Lord had throughout the Exodus from Egypt, and shout, “Dayenu!”, which means, “We would have been satisfied”. I made a personalized version of this to celebrate what He had done until that point in my life. It was really special, and I remember there was a lot of feedback from readers about it. There is something so touching about recalling what He does and who He is.
Now that more than 5 years have passed since the original post, the list would be just too long to include all the major things He has done. He really is THAT good. Our blessings truly are innumerable. I don’t think I could list everything He’s done this week before my fingers would exhaust themselves from the typing. But, I have added to it to cover a few of the major things.
To quote John (21:25), “there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”
“If He had merely saved my soul but left me without a partner, DAYENU”
“If He had introduced me to Yaacov but left me without children, DAYENU”
“If He had blessed me with Abigail for even a day, but hadn’t given me
4 9 years with her, DAYENU”
“If He had given me Naomi but gave me less than
9 months 6 years with her, DAYENU”
“If He had put friends and family in my life but not allowed us to grow together from an advanced cancer diagnosis, DAYENU”
“If He had moved my Dr. Perry to order an ultrasound for my lump, but it was left with a false negative and thus shorter life, DAYENU”
“If He had Dr. Perry refer me for a surgical consultation, but didn’t have Neenad tell me it should be with Dr. Crooms, DAYENU”
“If He had introduced me to Dr. Crooms but didn’t get him to secure a proper diagnosis so quickly, DAYENU”
“If He had merely allowed satan to threaten my life but chose not to give me the warnings, DAYENU”
“If He had given me the warnings via proper diagnoses, but didn’t get me to Dr. Rassam, DAYENU”
“If He had convinced us to go to the hospital in Texas but did not secure insurance approval, DAYENU”
“If He had secured insurance approval but not a fundraiser to help with other expenses, DAYENU”
“If He had moved people to raise funds for us but it was no incredibly successful, DAYENU” “If He had helped me cover my head but not to overcome the shame from losing my hair, DAYENU”
“If He had allowed me to go through chemo but hadn’t made my tumor shrink 2 cm, DAYENU”
“If He had just comforted me through
three four rounds of the worst type of chemo but didn’t make me feel better than ever, WE WOULD HAVE BEEN SATISFIED! Dayenu!”
“If He had just carried me through the visit to MD Anderson in Texas but not allowed it to break and humiliate me, Dayenu!” “If He had rescued me from the pit of despair but not led me to believe He would answer my prayers for healing, Dayenu!” “If He had led me to believe I’d be healed but didn’t heal me on earth, Dayenu!” “If He had MIRACULOUSLY healed me on earth of “incurable”, stage 4 cancer, but left me with horrendous side effects from treatments, Dayenu!” “If He had healed me from everything, but not let me share the story, WE WOULD HAVE BEEN SATISFIED!”
He has let me share the story and continue to grow in faith, love, hope, and overall health. I can not imagine looking back now and not having every moment of this life exactly as it has been. His way is perfect, His path is right. It is hard, but not too hard for the daughter of the king.
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.
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!