Thursday, April 19, 2012

A Puzzle Piece

God has been challenging me in a lot of ways, especially health-wise. But even more He is showing me how small I am and how big He is. A friend recently sent me an excerpt from a sermon from a pastor in Florida.  As I read it I coudn't help but subsitute my own name throughout the writing.

I like to think of my life like a puzzle-piece.  It's one part of a really big picture that I cannot see.  In fact, all that I can see is my one little piece!  I can see its colors and hues and shapes and I can speculate about what it all is and about what it all means, but that's the best that I can do because I can't see the big picture that it fits into.  I can't see the overarching theme into which my little puzzle-piece life fits, and in which alone, its final meaning and purposes are found.  God alone sees the big picture.  God alone has the box top of the puzzle.  In fact, he created that picture.  It's his puzzle.  And here's the deal: he also created my little life, with all of its colors and hues and often odd, nonsensical shapes.  And, he created it to fit into the whole of his really big picture and, in finding its place in his picture (and only then and only there), to make perfect sense. 

As a result, I think that it's unreasonable to expect that my life will always make perfect sense to me in the here and now.  My vision is too limited.  The scope of my wisdom is too small.  And God (and life, for that matter) has not led me to believe otherwise.  I go to God's word and he tells me directly that his thoughts are not my thoughts and that his ways are not my ways.  He tells me plainly that, as the heavens are higher than the earth, so also are his thoughts than my thoughts (Isa 55:8).  So then, what is he telling me?  Well, at the very least, he's saying:

"Erin, you're finite; I'm infinite!  You're limited; I'm unlimited.  By your very nature you are incapable of comprehending all of my thoughts and ways and you cannot reasonably expect to be able to do so!  Such an expectation is illogical.  Erin, there will be things in your life for which you have no explanation.  Expect it!  Things that make no sense.  Anticipate it!  Pain that seems meaningless and pointless, from your itty bitty, microscopic, puny, infinitesimally small, sin-stained, corrupted, perspective.  So, if I can just say this somewhat gently, get over yourself and stop arrogantly assuming that I am as limited as you are and that, just because you can't make sense of it all, that I won't be able to make sense of it either.  Stop with your faithlessness and do what I've called you to do: to trust me even when nothing makes sense, for what is faith?  Erin I've told you what faith is.  I've given you its definition.  I'm not hiding these things from you!  I've put it in my word.  Go to my word!  Faith is the assurance of things hoped for (not things actualized, not things already in your hands), faith is the conviction of things NOT seen (as opposed to what you can, in this life, see - Heb. 11:1).  And, there are plenty of things, my daughter that you have not yet seen (like the whole rest of my really big and amazing picture!).  Have your read the story of Job, Erin?  Have you read what I ordained in life for him?  Have you compared your sufferings to that most famous of all sufferers?  Did you notice that there were TONS of things happening in that story which fully justified and made sense of his sufferings, but that Job was completely unaware of (thus, his, and your, questionings).  Have you read what I said to him? (Job 38-42)  Perhaps you should read it again.  And, have you considered my Son, Jesus.  Who left all of heaven with all of its glories to suffer trials and temptations like no other man (even you).  A man of sorrows who can fully sympathize with your weaknesses, yet without sin.  And a man who, on the cross, asked 'why?'  Now there's something you can relate to!  And what was the answer.  Well, in that moment, there was no answer.  But you know that answer, Erin, don't you?  The answer is 'for you.'  You're not supposed to know the answers to every question life leads you to pose (and there will be many).  I am supposed to know the answer and here's the thing: I do.  You are supposed to trust in me and when you doubt my love or goodness, you're supposed to go to the cross, over and over and over again, where my love for you is forever and indelibly written in the most precious ointment ever fashioned: the blood of my precious Son.  It is a healing balm for the troubled heart and mind.  So, Erin, stop with your fussing.  Enough with your anger (put it away).  Quit demanding answers that you are not even equipped to understand and run instead to my cross, which was a tree of death to my Son, but which is a tree of life to you.  Eat the fruit of his body and blood and come home, my son, to the Father who loves you, who collects all of your tears in his bottle (Ps. 56:8) and who promises one day to wipe them all away (Rev. 21:4) as I reveal to you the great beauty of your life as it finally finds its place in my picture.  There, the colors and hues and odd, nonsensical shapes will suddenly make sense.  And there you will stand in awe of how I can take even the darkest, most evil, awful things (like the unjust murder of my own Son, for example) and, out of them, bring light and beauty and goodness and life.  Come home, my daughter.  Do not delay."

I pray that I will continuously be reminded of these truths.  I had a CT scan of my kidneys and an MRI of my brain a few days ago.  I read this during the days that I was awaiting the results of those tests.  My life could have, once again, taken a dramatic turn.  But what seems dramatic to me would have just been one small blip in the scheme of things.  One more small way that Christ wanted to show his glory. 

Thankfully those tests came back with no metastatic disease.  Praise the Lord!  I will have a couple more tests next week.  I would appreciate continued prayers as I get those tests done and prepare for my reconstructive surgery on May 1st.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I Don't Know Why

I don't know why...
I had a doctor's appointment yesterday because I have had some bleeding problems for the past 6 months.  They finally decided that I need to have a CT scan on my kidneys and a cystoscopy procedure to rule out kidney disease or bladder cancer that my chemo could have caused.  
I don't know why I got cancer...
I don't know why I had to do treatments...
I don't know why I was allergic to the treatment...
i don't know why they found more...
I don't know why my surgery went wrong...
I don't know why my body developed heart issues...
I don't know why my body is so weak...
I don't know why my kidneys are having problems....
All I KNOW is that God is in control and he WILL NOT give me anything that I cannot handle with His help.  

All I KNOW is that God is giving me these trials in my body to draw me to have a deeper dependance on Him.

All I KNOW is that it is not my job to worry about my health, but trust that the great physician will heal me completely, whether that be here on earth or in heaven.

All I KNOW is that I have the joy of giving Christ the glory in all circumstances because he is my King!
I was reading in the book, "Calm My Anxious Heart," by Linda Dillow and she spoke to my heart through a chapter focusing on Habakkuk and the "why" question:
Habakkuk was to live by faith. This same statement is repeated three times in the New Testament: "The just shall live by faith" (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Hebrews 10:38). In other words, God didn't explain why; instead He told Habakkuk to trust Him with all his whys. Habakkuk was to trust God for what he didn't understand, what he couldn't see. He was to walk in the dark with God.
From a human perspective, this answer is frustrating. We want to know why. Surely God should explain Himself to us. Sometimes He does, but often He does not. God is God and He doesn't need to explain Himself. If we could fully comprehend God, He wouldn't be God -- He would be like us. In those instances when God doesn't tell us why, we will have to wait until we're in heaven for our answers.
Habakkuk realized this. Although he didn't get the response he wanted, he affirmed that God is God, in spite of Habakkuk's human lack of comprehension. Habakkuk praised God in his spirit, yet in his body he was quaking in his boots! "I heard and my inward parts trembled, at the sound my lips quivered. Decay enters my bones, and in my place I tremble, because I must wait quietly for the day of distress, for the people to arise who will invade us (Habakkuk 3:16)."
I love this description of this dear saint -- trembling, in agony of spirit, in so much pain that he said his bones were decaying! This encourages me, as my body often rebels when I'm trying to trust in my spirit. And even though his body and soul were quaking, Habakkuk declared what I believe is the most beautiful proclamation of faith in the Bible.

"Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls, yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, and makes me walk on my high places (Habakkuk 3:17-19).
What an incredible statement of trust in God!
My hope is that I will not keep asking myself why, but that I will trust God with all the whys. Please pray that I can get these tests done and have nothing to worry about before I go in for my final surgery. Thank you for your prayers!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Christ the Lord is Risen!

We had a wonderful day of celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and King on Sunday. It is always such a joy to be in corporate worship singing and praising the one true God. The God who has come to live on this earth, suffered, died on the cross for us, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and is alive and working to bring us closer to him every day. I had the privilage of playing piano for worship yesterday and we sang the song "In Christ Alone" (you can hear a recording of our church singing it here). The third verse brought tears to my eyes,

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave He rose again

And as He stands in victory
Sin?s curse has lost its grip on me
For I am His and He is mine
Bought with the precious blood of Christ"

I am reminded that I need to be just as excited about what Christ has done for us every day of the year. It can be a challenge to remember these truths when suffering is knocking on the door. But, remembering these truths and rejoicing in them is what will comfort me in my suffering. Praise the Lord, He is risen...risen indeed!

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).

After worship our family spent the day enjoying God's creation at the beach. I am so thankful for the wonderful and supportive family that God has blessed me with!

I would greatly appreciate your prayers as I continue to deal with various side effects from my treatments and as I prepare for my surgery on May 1st.


Since I was diagnosed with breast cancer God has been gracious to provide for our needs in many ways. But our ongoing medical expenses related to my cancer have continued to be a financial challenge for our family, as it is for so many families dealing with a major illness.

A friend of mine recently mentioned the possibility of being an Avon representative. The business model is ideal for me as a stay-at-home mom, and the Avon Foundation is a huge supporter of breast cancer research and has programs in fifty countries that work to provide women access to care. And the products Avon sells go way beyond make-up; they also sell jewelery, clothes, home goods, children's products, and much more.

So as of today, I am working as an Avon representative! I am not intending to use this blog as a marketing tool - I want to keep it focused on being a "live diary" of my journey through cancer. But since this is a part of my journey, I thought I would include just one brief post about it.

If you would be interested in making an Avon purchase, you can shop at my personalized Avon website here. If you'd rather look through a printed catalog, just let me know - I can either give one to you in person or send you one in the mail. However, shopping on my Avon website will probably be best since there are new catalogs published every two weeks. 

Thanks so much for your prayers and continued support!