Moment By Moment

Standard

It has been a long time since I have written anything. The original purpose of this blog was to keep friends and family updated on the status of my health (cancer in 2014). It evolved into a journal of sorts; full of sweet, personal lessons the Lord taught me during that difficult season. Now that cancer is in the rear view mirror, there hasn’t been much to say. I’ve often considered closing the blog down, but somewhere inside I knew there would be more the Lord would have me share. Today is the day…

I signed divorce papers 2 days ago. 2 weeks before I turn 40 and 2 months before my 20th wedding anniversary. Not exactly the milestone year I had expected.

I met my husband when I was 18. He was a bit older, but we were kids. We grew into adults together and built a life that I’m incredibly proud of. Countless moments and memories that I will treasure always. Truth be told, it had not always been great. We fought a lot in the early years and have gone through marriage counseling 3xs in our almost 20 years. I wasn’t always the greatest wife and didn’t always love him well. Despite our ups and downs, we had a good life. We had great jobs, a beautiful home, great church, adorable son, but things changed when cancer knocked on my door at 35. That season changed us all. I came to know the Lord on a level that I had not known in my 30 years as a believer. Jesus was my faithful, loving companion through it all. I had survived the unknown with him by my side.

Cancer had been my biggest life “trial” up to that point and I was proud of the way that I had walked it out. Not angry or questioning God’s plan, but trusting Him with everything. My heart truly wanted to glorify Him in the ugliness of cancer and I hope that I did. I had no way of knowing back then that I wasn’t just fighting a disease. It was also a time of preparation for what was to come.

In early 2017, my husband told me he wanted a divorce. He was unhappy and was going to find someone else to make him happy. He did not want to try counseling…to talk…he just wanted out.

I remember sitting in the neurosurgeon’s office in 2014. I had just had surgery to remove a large tumor that had grown around my spinal cord. The moment he said the biopsy showed “malignant cancer”, all the air in the room disappeared. Suffocating fear, confusion and hopelessness took over. The same feelings returned when I knew that my husband was not going to change his mind and was preparing to leave.

BUT GOD (two of my favorite words in scripture), in His faithfulness and goodness, beckoned my scared and overwhelmed heart back to Himself. He reminded me that He had been there at every step during my illness and that He would be nothing but faithful in this. That he had allowed cancer into my life knowing that I would need the lessons I learned in the test I’m in now. And so I started down the pathway of divorce holding tightly to the Father’s hand.

Cancer is scary and the uncertainty of whether surgery or treatment will work is always unknown. You are battling the invasion of the disease in your body and there are days when you don’t know if you can survive it. It’s your enemy, but it’s not personal. Divorce is personal. Many of the emotions are similar, but divorce hurts more and lingers longer. The Lord showed me how cancer had cultivated a heart habit of surrendering my all to him and inviting him into my deepest places. I knew from experience that He would meet me there, so I ran back to that place day after day after day. In the last year and a half, I have yelled and cried and begged and whined all at the feet of Jesus and He has met me there every…single…time.

There aren’t words to describe the hurt and grief in this season and I would gladly choose another dose of cancer over this, but I have seen the Lord’s hand in everything. He has provided for me and my son in incredible ways. He has given me the grace to walk this path with courage and pursue peace with my husband instead of allowing bitterness and anger to rule me. I can honestly say that the relationship we have is amicable and respectful which is not the norm. He’s still one of the smartest, funniest, most generous people I know. Don’t get me wrong, I have had (and continue to have) every emotion under the sun, but God has helped me submit them to him. He’s doing a healing and redemptive work in me, but I’m not there yet. Signing papers this week was rough and I cried in my car after the appointment. I told the Lord how heartbroken and lost I felt now that it was officially over. That I didn’t know what the future held and I didn’t know which way to go. As always, he met me right there in the valley. He reminded me of his promises in Psalm 23. As I read the words of David, my soul was flooded with peace and hope.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.” Psalm 23 NLT

Thank you Lord for the reminder that you are the great shepherd and you will care for and lead me in this season. You are a good, good Father and you understand the thoughts and emotions I’m wrestling with right now. You know that I feel lost; walking down a path that I don’t know where it goes. Your word tells me that you will provide, renew, lead, comfort, and sustain if I follow you. So maybe it’s ok that I don’t know what’s next. It feels like you are asking me to simply trust you with today. Leaving tomorrow and the day after and the week after and the month after to you. Can I…will I just hold your hand and let you lead me one moment at a time? Yes Lord, lead on.

Advertisements

Wrapping Up

Standard

I’m amazed at how fast time speeds by. Christmas is a week away and 2016 is wrapping up. The holiday season has felt different the last few years. I love Christmas and all the festivities, but something bigger and deeper comes with it now…gratitude and appreciation for another year of life.

I met with my oncologist a few weeks ago and the latest MRIs look good. The three tumors remain the same and nothing new has shown up. I will move from scans every 6 months to annually. Every year cancer gets a little further behind me.

As I think about 2017, I want to live this year in such a way that my life reflects a heart of thankfulness for what I have been given. Not just the good report and fewer MRIs, but for the beautiful life I have been blessed with. I have two incredible boys; one I have been best friends with for almost 20 years and the other I have the privilege of being his mommy. I have a family that I’m so proud to be a part of and the most amazing, supportive friends. I have a job that I’m passionate about and a wonderful church I belong to. Most importantly, I have a Savior who loves me. He loves me so much that he died for me. He gave His life so that I could be with Him forever. I don’t deserve it and I can’t earn it.  That truth overwhelmes my heart. What can I do in response? How does I repay such a gift? The best I can come up with is to love Him back. With all that I am (good, bad and in between), I will love Him back. The more I love Him and spend time with Him, the more I will look a little less like me and little more like Him. I will love others better and hopefully live a life that proclaims His goodness and faithfulness.

Lord, thank you for 2016 and the beautiful moments and memories you gave me. Thank you for the unconditional love that you extend to me every day. Thank you for your mercy and grace. Thank you for your peace and strength. Let 2017 be a year that I seek you first and know you more. I love you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love you,
Linsay

 

Why?

Standard

My latest trip to the oncologist a couple of weeks ago provided good news. The tumor in question had not changed or grown since the last scan. The next step is to have another round of MRIs in 4 months, and if the remaining tumors are unchanged (better yet shrunk or gone), then I will move to annual MRIs. This was cause for celebration at my house. My husband and son took me out to dinner and we talked about the goodness and faithfulness of the Lord. I felt a breath of hope fill my heart and I began to imagine what a cancer-free future might look like.

Right around the same time a very dear friend of mine received MRI results that cancer had returned and she would have to begin the overwhelming fight again. Another friend who had been bravely battling a brain tumor the last year passed away. The day before her memorial service, I found myself swimming in tears and heartache. My emotions were raw and I cried at the slightest thought of these two women. I told the Lord that neither of them deserved what they had received….why did I get good results and they didn’t? At her service, I sat in the back with a friend who also has cancer. She, like me, has cancer that’s being “managed”; more waiting than fighting. As we sat through the memorial, I wondered if we were thinking the same thing…”this could have been me…why not Lord?” At the end, surrounded by grieving friends and family, we whispered to each other about feeling “survivor’s guilt” and wondering how we got so lucky.

As I left the memorial, I had a hard time choking back the tears as I questioned in my heart how God could take a mom and wife from her family at 48. I couldn’t see how “good” could come from that. I thought about my dear friend who would be forced back into the fatigue and pain that comes along with fighting aggressive cancer. She had already walked through so many dark days and she didn’t deserve this. What about me? Compared to so many others, my journey with cancer has been tolerable. Yes, I have pain and damage, but it seems minor compared to others. What divine lottery gave me the better outcome? I felt guilty about celebrating my good news.

The truth is I ask God “why?” a lot. I often question his plan and his methods; I think there has to be a better way. He seldom gives me an answer. Instead He gently reminds me that my perspective is both limited and earthly. I see the world from my vantage point which is a very tiny circumference compared to the infinite landscape God sees. He is both omnipresent (everywhere at once) and omniscient (all-knowing) which means He has His eyes on everything and everyone and there is nothing He does not know. His plan is eternal which means His timeline is vastly different than mine. I want Him to fix things here and now, but He is committed to the grander story of redemption and heaven. I want pain and suffering to end, but haven’t I found a deeper, more authentic relationship with Jesus as I have walked through sickness? Absolutely. I’m so grateful that God in His great wisdom and love allowed cancer into my life. It has been painful, but it has healed my heart which is of greater value than my comfort. I know that despite what I can see or understand, God is working in every situation…in every circumstance…in every life…in every heart. He works on a grander and deeper level than I will ever comprehend this side of heaven. I find great comfort in that truth these days. I know that He is ALWAYS good and ALWAYS faithful and I can trust Him. I know that He will take great care of the hearts of my friends and their families as I’m sure they ask “why?” My questioning heart can rest in that.

Blessings,

Linsay

 

 

 

Stand Firm

Standard

A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of speaking at my church’s women’s event. A few days later I was the guest speaker on Mother’s Day. I shared the theme of learning to “Stand Firm” during the battles of life. I had no intention of talking about cancer, but that is where God led me to share. The Sunday morning message was recorded and the link is below. I don’t share it because I want you to see or hear me, but because I want to glorify the Lord and be obedient. I pray you are encouraged by the reminder of God’s goodness, faithfulness and incredible love.

Mother’s Day Message 5.8.16

Standing Firm,
Linsay

FAITH

Standard

Today I met with my oncologist to discuss the results from the MRIs I had done last week. I was hopeful that there would be noticeable reduction in the 3 remaining tumors. Instead, the scans showed two of the tumors unchanged, but the third tumor (although not any bigger) was “pronounced”. The radiologists who reviewed the images were concerned and recommending I have another scan in 3 months.

As I sat in my car after the appointment, I looked at the black and white spinal images I was holding. Arrows marked where the 3 tumors remained. They looked so small; little white blurry blips along my vertebrea. I could hardly even see them, yet their impact was great. I knew I needed to call my husband and my mom with an update. I took a moment to pray and remind myself that despite what the MRIs showed, the Lord was still in control and this was no suprise to him.

As the day progressed, I could feel doubt dancing around me; trying to draw my attention. I went back and read a couple of my old blog entries and let the reminder of God’s faithfulness these last two years wash over me. I resolved to not give up hope, instead, choosing to trust and believe. One of my favorite verses is Hebrews 11:1 which says “faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” I have FAITH that whatever the future holds, the Lord will never leave my side. I have FAITH that God is healing me and that the work he’s doing will produce beautiful fruit. I have FAITH that His timing is best and that His plans and purposes are perfect.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

Lord, I surrender my future once again into your loving and capable hands. I trust the plans you have for me. Help me to seek you first with all my heart and glorify you through this journey. Show me how to live in such a way that others see you and not me. I love you Jesus.

Linsay

 

Home

Standard

Two weeks ago we moved. Nothing dramatic; just across town. It places us closer to work, school and church which will make life a lot easier. Selling a home and moving is such a long and exhausting process. It will definitely be what I remember most about 2015.

Ten years ago, God uprooted us from our life in Missouri and just like Abraham, He called us to a place we did not know – Eugene, Oregon. We left family, friends, jobs, a beautiful home full of furniture, our amazing church and headed west. We drove across the country to a place we knew nothing about with what we could fit in the back of two vehicles. The story is full of moments of God’s incredible favor and faithfulness as we stepped out in HUGE faith.

A year and a half after we moved to Oregon, the Lord blessed us with a beautiful home just down the street from the church we attended and the company I worked for. We had so many dreams and plans for the life we would live within those walls. It was going to be our “forever” house. As the years went by, our family grew and changed. Our beloved home had a fair share of repairs and improvements it needed and we were looking to refinance. One conversation led to another and we found ourselves contemplating putting our house on the market. Life had changed drastically over the last few years. We no longer attended that church and I no longer worked for that company. Instead most of our life had transitioned to the opposite side of town. We spent at least an hour in the car every day driving back and forth from work and church. The possibility of a shorter commute was very appealing. Plus, the older our home got, the more money we were putting into it for repairs and upkeep. Soon a new roof, furnace and air conditioning unit would be needed. Still I was very attached to our home. I had lived there longer than any other home in my life. My son came home from the hospital to that house. It was my safe haven while I walked through cancer treatment. One of my best friends lived right down the street. So much life had been lived there and I was a little afraid to leave it.

After much prayer and discussion, we decided it might be worth seeing if we could sell it. We set aggressive timelines to get the house ready and spent long hours after work and on the weekends scrambling to make the deadline. Everything that you do to make your home your own is suddenly not “buyer friendly” so you remove personal pictures…paint everything beige…declutter…. the list was long. We did our best and when the big day came to put the sign in the yard, we were sure it would sell that week. We weren’t that lucky. Instead the house was shown dozens and dozens of times. Every day I would frantically clean before we headed out of the house. We were on alert at all times that we could get a call from someone wanting to look in 10 minutes. It was a frustrating and grueling schedule. We started to question if we had made the right decision.

About 4 months in, we got an offer. Instead of excitement, I felt scared and upset that we would have to leave our precious home. I was convinced that we wouldn’t be able to find anything that would compare. The Lord was so kind to remind me that He knew the plans He had for me and my family and those plans were to “bless and prosper us – to give us hope and a future.” (Jer 29:11). To my relief, we found an amazing house in the exact area we were interested in. It was brand new and seemed like the perfect place for us. We prayed about it, decided to make a low ball offer and it was accepted. We were ecstatic to say the least and couldn’t wait to start this new chapter. We started to pack and dream of life on the other side.

A couple weeks later we were informed that the couple buying our house were withdrawing their offer. No explanation was given. As a result, we had to withdraw the offer we had made on the home we had found. We were devastated. It felt personal; like something was taken from us and it hurt. We were angry, disappointed, confused…why Lord? Suddenly we were back to square one – back on the market. The rest of the summer and into the fall we continued to live in this in-between state. We had packed quite a bit for the move, but decided not to unpack when the deal fell through. The house felt sterile with no personal touches or pictures and sparse furniture. Every day we continued to try and keep the house “show ready” which was incredibly difficult over the summer months when all you want to do is relax. We were discouraged and frustrated and ready to call it quits.

The last day of our 6-month contract with our realtor, we got an offer. We learned that the interested party was moving from out of state and didn’t want to move in for 3 1/2 months. That allowed us to take our time as we looked for our next home. It also allowed us to spend one more Christmas in the house we loved. Once again my emotions were mixed. Part of me was relieved that an offer had finally come along. The other part was afraid we wouldn’t find a house as “perfect” as the one we lost. A few weeks went by and we found a home in a beautiful area right down the street from our church, school and jobs. The house was even more lovely than the house we had tried to buy over the summer. It was a better fit for our family in every way. Not to mention the fact that we would have never seen this house if our home had sold right away. The sellers dropped their price a couple weeks before we viewed the property. It would have never been on our radar at their initial asking price. The Lord knew all along what the timeline needed to be.

To be honest, this process has brought a lot of “stuff” to the surface. There were days when I didn’t want to move from my beloved home and was angry and resentful that it was happening. Like a little kid holding onto their favorite toy. Other times I struggled with disappointment and frustration that no one else loved my house as much as I did. It felt like somehow I was being rejected too. Woven through it all was fear that it wouldn’t ever sell and a lack of faith that God would provide something if it did. I have joked with friends that if I was graded on this season, I would be lucky to get a C. Even in my whirlwind of emotions, God was so faithful. He extended grace and mercy to me even while I questioned His ways and timing. That blows me away. I don’t deserve such care and compassion, yet His love is unconditional and unending. This blog is full of the Lord’s incredible mercies and kindness towards me.

As I sit here in my new home surrounded by boxes, I have no idea what the Lord has in store for our family, but I know that it will be good. It may not always “feel” good, but it’s what’s best for us. There is a deeper work that is happening and that refining and maturing is what is of greatest value to God. Sometimes the path is longer and more grueling than I want, but I know that He has a bigger plan that what I can see. The same holds true for my ongoing journey with cancer. I wish the waiting was over and I could get the “cancer-free” stamp. The in-between is not what I would choose, yet I know that this season has been one of the best of my life. Not because it’s been easy, but because it has changed me and drawn me closer to Jesus.

Lord, remind me that during these times I can rest in the fact that you are in control and your timing is perfect. When I want to speed things up and get to the finish line, remind me of our beautiful home and that the wait was worth it. When I feel the frustration and discouragement that so often comes in the in-between, help me put my hope in you and trust that you are at work even when I cannot see it. Teach me to surrender my timelines and plans into your capable hands. You are always faithful and waiting for you is always worth it. Amen.

The Invitation

Standard

A couple weeks ago my husband and I visited the oncologist to go over my 6 month MRI results. As always, our prayer was that the scans would show no growth in the 3 remaining tumors on my spine and no new tumors. My doctor was pleased to see that everything looked the same as the scans from February. No growth and nothing new. She would schedule me for another round of MRIs in 6 months. If those looked good, another round 6 months after that. Then I would continue MRIs annually for a few years. As we left the clinic my husband gave me a hug and said “that’s great news!” before heading back to work. I smiled and got into my car. Sitting there I could feel a heaviness settle in. I felt sad and disappointed not happy and relieved. What was wrong with me? The scans looked good and everyone was pleased. I tried to shake it off and focus on the great report, but I couldn’t seem to get there. I was tired of cancer and sad that it would still be in my life for years to come.

In the coming weeks I struggled to answer questions from friends and family members about how my appointment went. I tried to share the “good news”, but couldn’t seem to get beyond the fact that the finish line was no longer in sight. I was frustrated not being able to pull myself out of the sadness and disappointment gripping my heart. What kind of witness was that? I tried to remain faith-filled and ignore the swirling inside. The bible says “hope deferred makes the heart sick…” Yes, my hope had taken a hit and my heart was ailing.

This week I attended a women’s function at my church. I was exhausted from a long day and debated whether or not to go. Somewhere deep down I knew I needed to be there. After a lovely time of fellowship and worship, the evening’s guest speaker shared her incredible story. The circumstances of her journey were different than mine, but the emotions were the same. A wrestling with faith and hope…a season with no end in sight… a tired, sick heart. She talked about inviting God into our moments of pain, sadness, fear, anger, confusion, exhaustion…that he wants us to cry out to him from our pits of despair…the desperate, hopeless places and invite him to meet us THERE. It’s much easier to pray for God to remove us then to invite Him to join us.

On the way home, I told God all the ugly, scared stuff that was swirling inside me and how tired I was. All the fear and sadness and disappointment I was trying to hide. The guilt of not being grateful for what I had been given. I invited him into the rest of my journey with cancer; the month after month; year after year walking this out. I felt His peace wash over my exhausted heart as He met me in that moment. He reminded me that if He has allowed this to continue in my life, there is a purpose and He will continue to guide me through it. He knows how difficult this is and isn’t asking me to navigate this alone or with perfect faith. Quite the opposite; He knows my weakness and doubt and loves me there. He is simply asking me to take His hand. To keep inviting Him in…to keep running to Him…to keep my eyes focused on Him…Yes Lord, I accept your invitation.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
He leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name.
Even when I walk the darkest valley, I will not be afraid,
for you are with me.” Psalm 231:1-4

Blessings,

Linsay

Solid Ground

Standard

It has been a while since I have written anything. To be honest, I have wondered if there’s anything new to say. Aren’t people tired of hearing about cancer? For weeks, I asked the Lord to make it obvious if I should continue writing. Out of the blue, an unexpected gift arrived in the mail. A sweet friend sent me a necklace that said “courage” and in her note she mentioned my blog and thanked me for my transparency during this journey. I smiled knowing this was the Lord’s gentle nudge to keep writing. So here I go again….back to the blogging world.

My family and I recently returned from vacation in Kauai. My husband won the trip in a raffle and we spent 11 days soaking up the beautiful sand and sea. Our first day, we decided to checkout an island “must see” called Queen’s Bath. The pictures showed a tide pool of stunning turquoise water surrounded by black lava rocks. When we arrived, we followed the signs and other tourists down the path. What started as a mild hike down, quickly evolved into a steep, muddy, treacherous undertaking. No guard rail or safety net; one misstep and down you tumbled. Once we made it down the small, slippery trail, the path ended. To get to the tide pool, we had to traverse over sharp, jagged lava rocks. I could only imagine how many scrapes, bruises and twisted ankles had been experienced there. My husband and son walked out to the edge to take pictures. Once again there was no safety harness or railing; just a 40 foot drop off a cliff into the ocean.
I have made great strides in my recovery this last year. My body continues to heal and I am so grateful for the strength and mobility I have. That being said, I still have a lot of issues from cancer. The 5 tumors on my spine caused nerve damage which resulted in a loss of feeling and sensation in most of my lower half. One of the side effects of this is that my balance isn’t great. It’s an on-going joke at my house about my “sea legs” and tendency to fall over. I’m very cautious when I walk up and down stairs and I can’t wear shoes that don’t strap on as I have very limited feeling in my feet. I have adapted well and don’t think about it most days, but Queen’s Bath jolted my memory back to it. As I started the hike, my anxiety began to ramp up. My legs began to shake and my feet slipped on the muddy rocks. I started sweating and my breath sped up. My heart was pounding and I was ignited with fear. I was terrified I would fall. Once I got to the bottom, I was so relieved. Then I noticed the lava rocks that I would have to crawl over to get to the tide pool. Every step felt unsure and dangerous. I started to tear up from the frustration and panic. I felt so weak and defeated. In that moment, the Lord brought to mind the scripture I had been memorizing.
“I waited patiently and expectantly for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.
He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.
He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the LORD.” Psalm 40:1-3
How kind and loving of God to have given me this scripture weeks earlier to memorize. He knew I would need the reminder that when I call out to him, He hears me and responds. He knew I would need the reminder that no matter how difficult the terrain, He sets my feet on solid ground. He knew I would need the reminder that no matter the condition of my body, He would steady me as I walked along. This verse, which I repeated over and over as we made our trek back, was God reminding me that He has given me a new song to sing; one that praises Him. He reminded me that He has brought beauty from cancer and that others have seen and been amazed and put their trust in Him.
Lord, you are good….you are kind….you are constant…you love me so. Thank you for your faithfulness to me. Bless this blog you have called me to. Speak through me and be glorified in my life. Amen.
XOXO,
Linsay

365 Days

Standard

Last week was my anniversary. A year ago I walked into the ER with severe back pain and numbness. A short exam and MRI would discover something that required immediate hospitalization and spinal surgery the next day. That evening changed the trajectory of my story. In some ways it feels like the last 365 days have sped by. In other ways, it has been the longest year of my life.

I have been incredibly lucky in that I have experienced minimal discouragement on this journey. That’s not to say that I haven’t had my fair share of bad days, but God has so graciously protected me from the crippling, hopeless discouragement that can come from prolonged sickness and pain. People have told me that my attitude has been “so positive” through it all. I can assure you that it was not my positive attitude, but the incredible grace of God that has kept my spirits lifted and my faith anchored. A friend recently said that is a beautiful picture of what it means to “abide” in Christ….apart from Him we can do nothing of eternal value on our own.

That being said, I could feel discouragement trying to sneak in as I thought about the last year. Truth be told, I was hoping that my body would have seen some improvement by now. My MRIs show that the radiation did its job yet I continue to have many lingering side effects. Some are from radiation and some are from the spinal cord damage from cancer. Either way, my body still gives me trouble. I have lots of pain and still have decreased sensitivity and numbness in most of my body. It is the daily reminder of healing that has yet to come.

In those moments, I wonder if things will every change. I must admit it’s easier to listen to the voice that tells me that things will always be like this and that I should be angry and discouraged; that I should feel sorry for myself and give up hope. Instead I choose to take a deep breath and rise above the noise. I sense the Lord asking me to trust Him; to believe His truth over the swirling in my mind. When I reach out my hand in faith and choose Him, the questions and fears quiet. My heart begins to pump fresh hope and peace and I’m reminded that His beautiful grace is more than enough for whatever this life brings.

I have found myself reflecting a lot this week; remembering moments from the last year. My memory has taken a strong hit from 5 weeks of radiation, so these snapshots are precious to me. Some of them are so sweet…moments with my boys. Some are miraculous…the impact my story has had on others. Some are heartbreaking…crying on my dad’s shoulder as I told him my diagnosis. Every memory I have, good or bad, has one common element. Each has a thread woven through it that connects it to the next. JESUS. He has been by my side in every situation, in every moment, in every breath of this last year. He has never left my side.

When I sift through all the joy and all the pain of this last season, I am left with a single, screaming response: GRATITUDE. I am alive. I am breathing. I am walking. I am healing. I am loved. I am blessed. I am redeemed. I am saved. My sweet Jesus has yet again kept His promises to me. The last 365 days have proven it over and over. He has never left me or forgotten me. He has not casually allowed cancer into my life or those I love. He is holy and beautiful and mighty and good. My words do not do Him justice. He is my Prince of Peace and has held my hand as I walked every step of this journey. I love Him. Whatever the next year holds, whether good or bad, I will worship. I will give thanks. I will be grateful. I will trust. I will surrender.

“The Lord has done great and mighty things for me, and I am filled with joy.” Psalm 126:3

Big Hugs,

Linsay

Scars

Standard

Two weeks ago my husband told me he had cancer. I didn’t see it coming. I was not prepared for the words he said.

 Cancer?

My son and I were driving home after a long day at school and my cell phone rang. My husband’s doctor had called him that afternoon to share the pathology results from a recent mole removal. It was melanoma and he needed to see a surgeon immediately.

What?

I knew melanoma was aggressive skin cancer and that he had family members who died from it, but not much more. The doctor said we needed to find out if it had spread to surrounding lymph nodes.

I don’t understand… 

I hung up the phone and proceeded home. My husband had a client dinner and would be home late. We could talk more then.

Both of us have cancer????

I’m always amazed at God’s timing. This news came in the middle of a week long media fast our church was doing. A week of being un-plugged…no technological distractions…an opportunity to spend time with God and others. That night as I drove home, my mind reeled. Everything screamed inside me to speed home, stick my son in front of the TV and Google “melanoma mortality rates”. Surely God would understand if I broke my fast to scourer the internet to see what we were up against. Instead I spent the evening playing Legos and board games; enjoying the chatter of a 5 year old. As we read a book before bed, my emotions were high. Lord, thank you for this amazing gift you have given me; my funny, sweet, precious son who I love beyond description. He adores his daddy…how will he navigate this?

It seemed to me that one parent with cancer was enough for a little boy to handle. For the last year, my family had endured my battle with the big “C”. It was an incredibly tough season, but God had been faithful and I had made great strides in my recovery. My son had his mom back and life seemed to be getting back to a semblance of normal. The call this afternoon had rocked that. Lord, this seems like too much. Both of us have cancer??? I don’t understand….

As I sat in my quiet living room later that night, I once again had to silence the urge to “plug” back in….to jump on FB…watch tv…search for melanoma info online; all in an effort to distract myself. Deep down I heard the Lord whisper “Be with me…let me quiet your mind and your heart…let me bring peace…Be with me.” In His goodness and love, He was inviting me to take His hand and walk with Him down this path of uncertainty. No distractions…no interruptions; just me and Him. I poured out my heart…all the questions….all the doubts…all the fears. His perfect, comforting peace washed over me. Had He ever failed me? Why would He start now?

My husband finally arrived home late that night. We sat on the couch and talked about the scary “what ifs”. We reminded ourselves of how faithful God was in the last year of my journey and how we knew He would be faithful again. Even though we couldn’t understand why cancer had invaded both our lives, we were choosing to trust Him and His plan. We prayed and asked Jesus to prepare our hearts for whatever was to come.

We saw the surgeon the next day. He was kind and informative and said that we needed to look at this as “glass half full”. He felt confident that we had caught it in time and that removing lymph nodes would likely not be needed at this time. Surgery to remove a large section around the melanoma site was necessary and additional pathology would be run. He said if we had waited a few more months, the prognosis would have been vastly different.

Last week my husband had surgery. The incision on his back is over 5” long. We have said more than once that perspective is amazing. In a moment, everything changes.  I believe God has allowed cancer into both of our lives this year to change our perspective. It has changed the way we look at our time, our money, our family, our God. Life is precious and short. This world is not our home; our hope is in the next life. We have so much to be thankful for and we know God’s at work in all of this. Thank you Lord for that reminder….how easily we turn our eyes from you to the distractions of this world.

My husband sent me a text today that his doctor called him and the results of the surgery are good. They believe they got it all and no further surgery is needed at this time. He will continue to heal up and soon nothing will be left but the scar. We both have large scars on our backs from cancer. So strange…it makes me think of a verse in a song I just heard recently.

Thank you for the scars I bear
They declare that you are my Healer
How could I have seen your strength
If you’d never showed me my weakness

Part of the media fast was to choose a scripture for our household for the year. The verse my husband selected is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in ALL circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Such a powerful lesson to learn how to give thanks in everything…the good and the bad. Thanksgiving changes our perspective; it reminds us of our desperate need for Jesus and His great love for us. The above song continues on to say “It was worth it all just to know you more.” Yes Lord, I may not understand and my questions aren’t always answered, but knowing you more is worth it all.

Hugs,

Linsay