Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I've Already Started to Forget...

This past Sunday our pastor, John Fender, preached a very eye-opening and convicting sermon called, "God and Our Forgetfulness." The sermon was on Deuteronomy 8 where Moses repeatedly tells the people of Israel to remember what God has done (delivering them from Egypt) and said (the Ten Commandments) as they prepared to enter the Promised Land. Moses knew it was easy to be aware of those things during the difficult times in Egypt and the wilderness, but it would be harder to remember those things when they began enjoying the rest and comfort of the Promised Land. In other words, we need to fight against our natural tendency to become complacent in our faith when life gets comfortable. If we don't "feel" our need for Christ it is easy to forget about him and become lazy about depending on him completely.

The sermon helped me realize that I so easily fall into complacency. In many ways, I have already started to forget what God has taught me in the past year. I need to remember that God's word is true all the time and I should be trusting in it all the time. In going through cancer, I have been forced to look to God and I have been trying hard to see how he is using this for my good and his glory. More than anything else, I have seen God's faithfulness to me through people's prayers, encouraging words, and acts of help and support. I have seen God's faithfulness through wise doctors and good medical reports. But I have already started to forget these things! I have found myself once again trying to control my life and my circumstances and not looking to God and his truth on a daily basis.

Of course, God knows my heart and is always working to build my faith whenever it is weakening. Since this sermon was preached on Sunday I have found out about two new things I will need to depend on God for. On Monday, I found out that Hudson will have a surgery next Thursday (9/8) to remove his tonsils and adenoids. It is one thing for me to have surgery and be the one experiencing the pain, discomfort and uncertainty, but when it is my child that is something completely different. I have not experienced one of my children having surgery before, so I will certainly have to depend on God to take care of Hudson and to give me peace. Also, I found out today that I will have my reconstructive surgery six weeks from today on Samuel's first birthday (10/12). I am a bit nervous about having surgery again, both for what it will mean for me and for what it will mean for my family. But God has proved his faithfulness to care for every detail before, and he will do it again.

Please pray me in all this. And pray for my dear, sweet Hudson. Pray that he will have peace that passes all understanding and that this experience, in some way, will bring his heart (and mine) closer to Christ.

God and our Forgetfulness from John Fender on Vimeo.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Medical Update

I am very thankful to be done with my cancer treatments, but in terms of my overall health things have not been going too smoothly since I finished radiation last month. In some ways, I have had to resign myself to the fact that my burden in life, at least for now, is my physical body and its sickness. This is the second time that the “end” of my health problems seemed to be in sight, but in the blink of an eye the road continued. The first time was my surgery in February. When I went in for surgery I was supposed to wake up and be done with everything, but when I woke up I found out they found more cancer and I would need to have more treatments and surgery. Now, within a few weeks of finishing my treatments, I have developed a very large cyst, a tear in my hip, and some other health problems that are causing me to be very weak and fatigued.

While my burden right now is with my body, some people are dealing with just as much if not more in other areas: emotions, finances, relationships, or spiritual life. So I have been thinking a lot about the comfort and hope that God gives us when our road seems lonely and never ending. At our wedding, Matt and I recited the first question and answer from the Heidelberg Catechism as a reminder that our ultimate comfort is not in each other, but in Jesus Christ. The catechism question asks, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?” And the answer says, 

That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by His Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.
What an incredible reminder this is for me! These words help to bring me back to the simple truth that Christ is my faithful Savior and that I can live for him wholeheartedly. If God watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without it being a part of his will, then he definitely is also watching over every pain and weakness in my body. And somehow, though it is hard for me to endure right now, he is using it all for HIS good and HIS glory. Not only is God in control of all things, but he is faithful – he is, “my faithful savior Jesus Christ.” He does not need to prove his faithfulness over and over again (though he does) because he gave us the ultimate proof of his faithfulness in fulfilling his promise to save us even when we did not deserve it, and even when it meant the death of his own son. I pray that God will continually use those truths to make me wholeheartedly willing and ready to live for him!

I met with my surgeon today to plan for the reconstructive surgery that I will have in October. Since I have healed well from radiation (that’s at least one health issue to be thankful for), he gave me the “go ahead” to schedule the surgery for early October (provided my other health issues do not interfere between now and then). Since my surgeon is in Charleston, South Carolina (a two-hour drive from Pooler) we decided to spend the day there as a family. We spent the morning at the children’s museum and the afternoon in the doctor’s office. The kids had just about as much fun at both places! They enjoyed looking out over the city from the doctor’s seventh-floor office. Apparently there was an earthquake while we were up there too. We did not notice it, but the doctor and several other people said they noticed the building moving a bit.

I would greatly appreciate continued prayers for my health as I battle these remaining health issues. Please pray that the doctors would have wisdom in treating me and that I would patiently wait for God to heal me in his perfect timing.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

All Things for Good

Post by Matt Fray

For the past several days I have been reading over Jonathan Edwards’ “Resolutions.” I will be teaching a short series on making God-centered goals in the Jr. High and Sr. High class at our church, and we will be using Edward’s seventy resolutions as a model for making God-centered goals for our own lives.

While many of Edwards’ resolutions are incredibly convicting, one in particular stood out to me because it applies so directly to my life right now. Edwards’ sixty-seventh resolution states, “Resolved, after afflictions, to inquire what I am the better for them, what good I have got by them, and what I might have got by them.” Edwards’ language is a bit awkward compared to how we speak today, but his point is simply this: you should think about how your affliction has made you a better person and worked for your good. While most people would rather forget about their affliction once they are past, Edwards suggests it is important to reflect on how your affliction influenced you. More than that, he suggests that afflictions influence us for good. That something good can come from something bad isn’t just a nice poetic idea, but an incredible biblical truth. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” According to the Bible, the God rules over our lives with such wisdom, power, and love that he designs even our afflictions for our good.

It may take some people days, months, or even years to discern how a particular affliction made them a better person or worked for their good. In most cases, the affliction needs to be resolved and life needs to be “back to normal” for a season before you can look back and see the good the affliction brought you. Of course, sometimes a person’s affliction may be so painful or confusing that they are never able to see any way their affliction was good for them. But just because we sometimes have a hard time seeing the good in our afflictions doesn’t mean the good isn’t there. We need God to give us the wisdom to see how it is He has designed all things – even the hard things – for our good.

By God’s grace, Erin and I have been able to see a lot of good things come from her cancer. This is not to say there haven’t been hard things that have happened or that will happen in the future. It is simply to say that despite everything difficult, we have seen God use her cancer for our good in several ways.

1. The affliction of Erin’s cancer has worked for our good by increasing our dependence on God, especially in realizing the privilege of prayer and the power of God’s Word.
2. The affliction of Erin’s cancer has worked for our good by deepening our understanding of God’s design for suffering and how He calls His people to respond when they suffer.
3. The affliction of Erin’s cancer has worked for our good by giving us a profound appreciation for each day of life, for our children, and for each other.
4. The affliction of Erin’s cancer has worked for our good by reassuring us that God will provide all that we need.
5. The affliction of Erin’s cancer has worked for our good by teaching us to be thankful for the friends and family who have loved us and supported us during this process.
6. The affliction of Erin’s cancer has worked for our good by helping us identify with and minister to others who are dealing with various afflictions.
7. The affliction of Erin’s cancer has worked for our good by giving us a better perspective on how minor our afflictions are compared to the more serious and lasting afflictions many others experience.
8. The affliction of Erin’s cancer has worked for our good by giving us a renewed appreciation for Erin’s dad and the way he used his cancer for the good of so many.
9. The affliction of Erin’s cancer has worked for our good by loosening our affections on the things of this world.
10. The affliction of Erin’s cancer has worked for our good by increasing our hope for Heaven.

I’m sure we will add to this list in the days, months, and years to come. And Lord willing, when we face other afflictions in our lives, we will always walk through those difficult times with an eye for how God is working for our good.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Vacation in Florida

What a blessing it was to be able to have a time away with my family for the past week! We were in Florida with my mom, her husband Ned, my grandparents, my sister Katie, her husband Chris, and her kids Ella, J-Rod, and Lily.

The Cousins: Lily, J-Rod, Hudson, Lydia, Samuel, and Ella
If you know me at all you know I love the beach. As a matter of fact, my whole family loves the beach. So when we go to Florida each August for vacation we spend all day every day at the beach. The kids loved playing in the sand and in the pool! And of course we all enjoyed spending time together with family. We played games (my mom even learned how to play a game on the iPad), read, ran, ate, slept, golfed, swam, and enjoyed lots of great conversation. And Florida is absolutely beautiful, so I also enjoyed the beauty of God's creation: the green-blue water, hundreds of unique seashells, and watching sunsets and thunderstorms.

One of the most memorable times this week was one night that Matt and I went on a "date" out to the beach to take a walk. It was completely dark. The beach was lit by a sky full of stars. It was amazing and beautiful. Matt and I had a chance to talk about our year together and the year ahead. We prayed together while sitting under the stars. It was amazing to me to think about the fact that we were able to talk to the same God that created every one of those stars and who knew the number of sands that were under our feet! Having that realization helped me to remember that He is and will continue to take care of His children and provide all we need!

"When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him,
and the son of man that you care for him?"
Psalm 8:3-4

I am so thankful that I have felt well this week. I was very tired the first few days and my skin was painful.  But it has healed very well! I was not able to stay completely out of the sun, but I think that helped the healing process. :) Please continue to pray for me as I will be starting my Tamoxifen medication tomorrow. Also, I will have various doctors appointments for the next few weeks to follow-up from my radiation and to prepare for my surgery in October.

I am glad to be home now and look forward to continuing with the things that God has for me here...including jury duty starting Monday! :)

My mom, me, and my older sister Katie


My grandparents, John and Lavon Buswell