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.”

My Ongoing Redemption Story

“And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,” 1 Corinthians 1:30

What? I can’t believe I’m typing this. Okay, I can’t believe I’m typing anything at all! This is my special, special, special, uninterrupted and uninterruptable “God time”. I get up early–except when I’m feeling lazy or, you know, sleepy–and worship the Lord while the rest of the house is asleep. At this point, if I don’t start my day with Him, it shows. So now if the kids dare to get up early and try to get my attention, they truly know it’s not worth it. EVERYONE is happier when Mommy has spent her morning time with the Lord.

Anyway, I have been praying for over a year now for help with writing…the book about my healing from cancer has been a disaster…I feel stupid and irrelevant continuing to blog when it’s not about cancer, and I don’t have that anymore! So, not much to say there, but don’t feel peace about closing it down.

The point is, the Lord told me and confirmed a zillion times to write, and I have tried to obey, tried to push through the block, tried to wait it out. I tried to ignore the call, and nothing seemed right. But what do you know? This morning out of nowhere He told me! I MUST write my redemption story. On here. Starting now. I’ve tried to no avail to get it on a separate page on here to keep it separate from the normal content but it’s not working.

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My Workspace

Even if the Lord hadn’t told me to write this, I would have loved to share it. I’m not actually thinking of my initial redemption story where I got saved from hell, although I’ll probably cover it. I’m referring more to the story He has brought me through over the past year. The story of a self-righteous old lady trapped in the body of a thirthysomething mother. This person who had been through the ringer and was only aware of the little things she needed to change to be more holy. The one who no one understood, or could understand, so was exiled and left alone to scramble around for safety.

While I was looking inward for strength, I got knocked down a few more times and finally stopped bothering. I hid in the cleft of a rock and tried to call it home while and didn’t dare to hope I’d be rescued.

But…as I wriggled to get comfortable, the cleft of that rock turned to face me. I saw the face of the Lord God Almighty, who never leaves me. He guided me back into the light and shines His face upon me.

I love that He told me to write this before the story even began. I love that He gave me the opportunity to share it online, where there is someone who will be encouraged by it. And I love that my story didn’t end with what I learned from cancer, that I know now there is no such thing as having “arrived”, and that this story of redemption has not ended for me. Or for you.

To Die or Not to Die: That is NOT the Question

It’s been about five years since we heard the answer to the question Yaacov and I had never thought to ask: “Am I going to die of cancer?”. The response was certain. Death was knocking at the door, loudly. It banged in rhythm with my heart. It was louder than the voices on the other end of the phone as I shared the news with loved ones. It pounded furiously through every word of each prayer, demanding attention as we sought the wisdom of the only One who can rescue us from earthly death or from eternal wrath. The only One who really understood every bit of what we were going through.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”Hebrews 4:15-16

Death colored every conversation that Thanksgiving, and later cast his dark shadow over each Christmas carol and gift. My mind became a kaleidoscope as the reality of my impending exit reflected off each sight, sound, thought, memory, and perception.

I’m so different now that I can’t get a good understanding of the way I used to see and think about things. But I know He moved me from constant sadness and terror into deep faith. By the time the Lord miraculously removed the cancer from inside my bones and my lungs I wasn’t even surprised that He had done it. I remember thinking, “Of course He did, He IS GOD!”.

I wish I could end the post here. It’s almost Thanksgiving, I haven’t posted in forever, and I want to glorify Him with my words. But the truth is, some sinful, idiotic part of me rose up around the time He healed me. And it would serve to boast in myself if I didn’t admit it. My faith grew like never before, but so did my pride. How can that be? My God, my God, how I have sinned against you! Stolen your credit, took your mercy for granted.

It was like I conveniently forgot about my weaknesses and decided I had earned His favor or delight, and that was why He healed me. I started thinking I had been strong, but in reality I was as weak as a person could be. I forgot that He rescued me because I begged Him like crazy to do so. Because I was scared to trust Him with my kids. Because I was scared to die. He healed me because I have more to learn on earth, more to experience, more to grow in. Somewhere along the line I got the impression that it was about my awesomeness. That I would be so good for the kingdom work on earth that y’all needed me down here. Yes, at some point between funerals of other women who died of breast cancer, I found myself standing up straight–because I had been chosen, selected, found worthy to be on earth. I had arrived!

Shame fills me now, as I drink in the humiliation. It’s like I danced and sang my way through a graveyard of godly people, rejoicing that I was on earth. And the joy of getting what I wanted was nothing compared to those who truly get to rejoice in heaven! THIS world is the one fading away. THIS world is where hopelessness reigns, where evil lies around each corner, if it isn’t already stuck to your shoe. Death can’t chase us there, it has been defeated once and for all!

“Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”–I Cor 15:24, 26

I am so embarrassed by my sin, I kind of want to throw up. But I don’t want to carry it anymore. I don’t want to leave it unconfessed on here, leaving the appearance that the pride that might have colored previous posts had gone unnoticed–or unwashed by the blood of the spotless lamb. He has been graciously revealing it to me over the past year, and there have been many times I need to wear a “No Trespassing!” sign, because it’s been exciting, excruciating, exhausting, and exhilarating all at once, and even an extra hug would send me over the edge.

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all our uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 36:25-26

So this is a new, better year for different reasons than the last five. It’s not about life and death anymore. I am still healed by His mercy, still rebirthed in the blood of Christ. But I am even weaker now. Weaker physically because I have a lot of bone and joint pain. Weaker mentally because I’m still working through this “new me” business. And, with much more excitement, I declare: I’m weaker in pride, weaker in my own abilities, weaker in my independence. Because He is teaching me to appreciate His glory, so I can see His majesty and power at work. And I have a front row seat!

“But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God”–Ezekiel 37:23b

If you’re reading this and you haven’t “arrived” yet either, that’s okay. The truth is that none of us have, it’s just that some of us are too prideful to notice. No matter what you’re struggling with today, there is an answer. And there is One who will answer. He is hope, He is love, He is courage, He is power. He is Jesus, and He has arrived. He IS God with Us.

 

Redemptive Love

shawshank2.jpgIf you’re a judgmental cynic like myself, you might notice that I have included a cheesy picture to go along with the point that Love is Redemption. I had to. Because it is my picture. Because I am redeemed.

The picture is from a movie that I may never have seen. The image highlights my present state. What I see is beauty. I see:

1) Rain. I have spent my whole life hiding from the rain, to protect myself from feeling the effects of it throughout my soul. I’ve been so afraid to feel pain that I hide parts of myself to avoid the risk.

2) Dark. This guy is standing in the dark, but facing the light. The light illuminates his mannerisms, the way he releases his agony with all of himself. He passes the pain back to the Mighty One who can handle it. Who already knows all the sorrow.

3) Release. This guy is standing firm in the rain, not cowering to it. Not clinging to, or grasping at it. Just standing there, open-handed.

The Lord has shown me so much in the past week that I’m dizzy, giddy, exhausted, and renewed, all at once. He showed me (some of) my spiritual blindspots. Becoming aware of my own sin broke my spirit, but He quickly restored it, stronger than ever in Him. Not with platitudes or flattery, but with pure love. That left me dizzy, but He steadied me with His strong arms. And…He wasn’t done with me! That was just the beginning. This weekend I went to a training to be a Redemption Group trainer. I’ve mentioned them a bit on here, but basically they are spirit-led God-seeking groups in which we identify our idols, fears, issues, and their roots. These are all things we think we want to know when we’re struggling, but…it’s hard and painful. What kind of weirdo wants to know everything bad about herself?

Me.

I want it.

I found out I’m a judgmental, fake, lost, faithless monster.

And He loves me anyway.

I realized I’ve been hiding my fears behind band-aids–worldly comforts, analysis, and excuses.

Which He stripped off me, all at once.

I learned that every single time I notice a sin in someone, it’s because that’s a common theme in my own life.

And He forgave every one of those.

He’ll forgive them again tomorrow, when I’m likely to run back to my old ways.

He’ll be there, hating my sin, but loving His daughter, gently drawing me back to the truth.

I am free from the chains I stubbornly connect, day after day, to my own wrists. Chains of social anxieties and expectations. Pressures of pleasing people who will never approve of me anyway. I am free of the burdens I wrapped around myself to avoid pains of this world, and the previously unsettling stillness now resonates with the sweetest stillness. I am rejected by man, but beloved by God. I am His child, and will not try to be anyone else’s.

This song is my anthem. If it would fit on a banner, I would wave it all day. Please listen until you get to the best part: “You split the sea so I could walk right through it. You drowned my fears in perfect love…”

Those words express my feelings, but His direct words always get to the point. The most important summary is that MY NAME, is written in HIS book. I didn’t earn it, but I appreciate it, and I will live like the child He made me to be.

Revelation 3:5 “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”

 

Love is…Grace

homeless-man

The other day I drove by another homeless man standing near the highway. I barely paused to see if I had one of those prepared bags I made with the family to disperse things they “need” (like snacks and soap), instead of things they “want” (money for all sorts of trouble they’d get into). When I didn’t have one, I kept on driving.

Sometimes when I’m with friends in public and we’re talking about the Lord, I lower my voice so people around don’t hear me. I tell myself I’m being polite. I’m actually hiding my faith.

When I’m approached by emotionally needy people, I “read” them, and the room, before responding. If I’m inclined to help or tell them about the Lord, I often squelch it if those around me might disapprove or judge me for it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought that a certain family I run into needs to shower more. I wonder if they have money trouble, or if it’s a matter of choice. Once I prayed for them…out of guilt because I heard myself judging them audibly and was ashamed.

I type this with my heart pounding, but not from embarrassment of my confession, as you might expect. I’m past embarrassment, and I am aware that most people do a lot of this stuff, whether or not they admit it. No, my heart is racing from the disappointment of realizing that I am such a hypocrite.

Do you know, that one time my professional role model claimed that I am the “nicest person” he’d ever met? At the time I thought I didn’t tell people about it because I was “so humble”. But in reality, saying it out loud would have blasted my ear drums with an audible lie. I might be nice compared to some of the lost in this world, but I’m truly nothing compared to the One I should be compared to. The righteous One. The holy One. The One who would never have supported my letting a person think that about me. You know who I’m talking about, right? The One who did not come into the world to judge it but to SAVE it?!?! (John 3:17).

Sweet Jesus, let us see it! Let us understand our hypocrisy! Let us know your glory so we recognize our sin!

It’s not just me. I’m not the only one who drove by that homeless man. I’m not the only believer who lives in this world and, let’s face it, lives of this world, while trying to bring Jesus along with us. Instead of setting the example of being drastically different, the way He was, instead of daring to stick out like a sore thumb with our radical love, we redefine His call, our faith, our God, to fit into this world. Our churches are run by business models instead of the Holy Spirit. Decisions are made by pursuing common sense instead of faithful prayer. “Love your neighbor as yourself” turns into “Love yourself as your neighbor”, or “Love yourself, your family, your close friends, and your acquaintances, in that order’.

I can’t stand being like this anymore. I can’t stand myself. I can’t fathom the idea of watching a hidden video of myself from today and one from 15 years ago and seeing that the only thing that has changed is my appearance. I don’t want to fit in, I don’t want to keep up with traffic, or follow a flock of dingy sheep who are meandering around without their shepherd. Do you? Really, is this who you want to be?

No matter how many bad breaks I think I’ve had (out of my own control), I still think my own “successes” are because of my own awesomeness. I forget quickly how much grace upon grace has been lavished upon me, to keep me from being one of those with awful circumstances. If I hadn’t been born into a family with good education and means, I could have been unqualified for a good job and college, then a few more tragedies could have landed me on the streets. Or I could have been born in a country where the gospel isn’t shared, where human trafficking is a way of life. Just a degree or two of separation keeps us all from many different courses of life, and many of us aren’t as fortunate as others. I can’t worship the God who saves at the same time I look down upon those who He hasn’t saved yet. Or looking down on those who are already Christian brothers or sisters but whose circumstances aren’t as blessed as I am. Or–I seriously can’t believe that any human being has done this, including myself–looking down upon others who aren’t as “cool” as we might desire. Basically being a pagan bully who uses more self-control and wears a holy disguise. All these are like serving two gods. Or worse.

The perfect Savior, who IS LOVE, came to earth to make God known to us, and will continue to do that so the love God has for Jesus will be in us (John 17:26). If His perfect love is in us, we must show the same thing, even if it is the undeserved grace that He gives us, to the other people on earth who He loves so deeply. I pray for that love to reign in you today, and in this world until the new heaven and earth are created!