christianity

Near to the Broken-hearted

Why is it easier to pray for healing for other people rather than for yourself? Recently I had to come face to face with this when I received the cancer diagnosis. We put out a call for prayer and I knew I had several prayer warriors praying for me.

As the days wore on and emotions were raging, I felt like I should pray for myself. Sounds simple enough. I’ve often prayed for things in my life. But, this time was different. I struggled. I couldn’t find the words. I had fears and doubts. Thoughts crept in, “What if I pray and God doesn’t heal me?” Is it because of sin in my life? Is it lack of faith? Or the hard truth that maybe my time on this earth is finished?

I didn’t know where to even begin. So, I cried out. The tears flowed. How many times have I prayed for people with cancer without a second thought that God could heal them? So many times…but this time I lacked the strength. The desire was there but I was fumbling.

As I cried verses began to come to mind, “Jehovah is near to the broken-hearted; and saves those who are of a contrite spirit. “ Psalm 34:18…

And immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” Matthew 9:24

Then the reality hit me. God was just waiting for my true heart to shine through. It wasn’t about a grandiose prayer full of scripture and flowery words. He wanted the tears. He wanted my anger. He wanted my thoughts-the good and the bad. He wanted to exchange my fear and anxiety for life.

The words began to pour out of me. Yes, I prayed for healing. But, just like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, I ended it with “Not my will Father, but Your will be done,” Matthew 26:39

A few weeks ago I went in for another test to see where we were at with the cancer. I had my surgery back in October and this was the first glimpse of my left breast since then. Did I have scanxiety? (Its a real thing.) Yes, but somehow I knew the results were going to be good.

Sure enough, there is no more cancer! I am cancer free! Some would say it’s because of the surgery, or changing my eating habits. I believe God healed me as a result from everyone praying. And I give all glory to Him!!!

Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalm 34:8

christianity

I Will Never Leave You or Forsake You!

My dad was going through some of my mom’s things and found something she wrote awhile ago. (She loved to write.) She had these made into cards and he handed me one and said, “Interesting timing. I think you might need one of these.” I cried when I read it. Once again, God’s timing is perfect. I discovered the lump on my breast in early August, my mom passed away at the end of August. I hadn’t seen a doctor yet when she died, so she never knew I had cancer. And yet, its as if she reached down from heaven and said, “God’s got this!”

It’s been a roller coaster ride of emotions these passed few months. However, good things have come from it all. Once again, appreciation and gratitude flood in when the reality that life is not forever fills your mind.

I think everyone I know just wants this year of 2020 to be over. But when I stop and look at all the good that has come from it, I wonder if it’s exactly what we’ve needed. I’ve seen families actually spending time together, mom’s who were teetering on homeschooling their kids take the step of faith and dive in with both feet! I’ve seen a slower pace of life that I think our country needed. People are excited when they get toilet paper! Again, thankfulness for the things we take for granted daily.

Even in the midst of my cancer diagnosis we have had visitors come to our little cabin the woods. It’s been so fun and we have enjoyed continuing to build on our daughter’s vertical (stockade style) log cabin.

Windows are in!

Enjoying every moment of being with friends and family. I had a partial mastectomy on October 27th, so I was all rested and mostly healed by the time Thanksgiving came. We had bought nutcrackers to paint, thinking it would be fun to work on them after our Thanksgiving Neal. We were right! Our friends and family had a great time painting them and it was fun to see how different each one turned out.

In this holiday season, as strange as it may be, keep focused on what’s truly important…loving the one in front of you.

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:5,6

christianity

Will I Praise Him in the Storm?

What a couple of months it has been! My mom passed away and just before that I found a lump on my breast, but I put that on hold while dealing with the grief of my mother.

Once we were settled and I could think clearly I pursued getting care in our little town. I had to get medical records transferred and approvals etc. Which was not fun.

Finally I went in for a mammogram and ultrasound. The doctor definitely could tell something was on my breast so he ordered a biopsy. Two days later I had the results. I had an invasive form of breast cancer.

My mind went reeling. How can this be? I breastfed all my kids. Wasn’t that supposed to ward off breast cancer? My thoughts immediately began to spin out of control. Breast cancer runs in the family and I have had two aunts die from it. I couldn’t breathe. My heart was pounding and I was trying to fight back tears. (That didn’t last long.) I clung to my husband.

As we were waiting to tell our kids more thoughts came to mind. Will I have to do chemo? Will they recommend a mastectomy? Is it even curable? So many questions and very little answers at the time.

When we told our kids they were super supportive and offered encouragement in a way I never expected. They rocked it!

After a few days of processing it, I found that I needed to lay it at Jesus’ feet. I had to take it one moment at a time. It felt like a grieving process where the final stage is acceptance.

When we were meeting with the oncologist to hear what the next few steps would be, a flood of emotions swept through me. I didn’t want to be in this exam room – the room for cancer patients. I had no desire to answer all the questions they were throwing at me. I wish I could have lived in denial and not acknowledged that this was part of my life.

But, here we are. Tomb moments. Where there seems like there is no hope. The grave has been closed and there is nothing I can do…BUT GOD!!!

This is where the real testing of my faith comes in. I can speak about faith and saying “All things work together for good for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:28) But do I truly believe that?

Again, tomb moments. Do I believe and trust that God will take this foul thing inside me away? Will I praise Him regardless of the outcome? My prayer is that I will praise Him through the hard times. That regardless of what happens He is still in control. He is on the throne and He will never leave me nor forsake me.

The Bible has been my anchor through this. I love to read but I just couldn’t read any other book except the Bible. I wasn’t able to focus on any printed page except God’s Word. Which is just amazing to me. His Word is life.

We have received some good news of my diagnosis. As of today, I don’t have to do chemo. I just had a lumpectomy and they took some of my lymph nodes to make sure the cancer hasn’t spread. I will get those test results soon. I am sore from the surgery and my throat hurts from the breathing tube. But, I am relieved because the doctor thinks he was able to get the tumor out completely. In about four weeks I will start radiation therapy.

I have so much to be thankful for. In the words of my dad – I get to experience God in a whole new way. Which has been so true. He is close to the broken hearted. He is the God who sees. The God who heals. The God who comforts and gives peace.

Do I wish there was a different path? Sure, but then I wouldn’t be refined into a beautiful vessel. If I can help one person through their fight against cancer then I believe it is all worth it. And yes, I will praise Him in the storm!

Thank you for the prayers and support. It’s been quite the journey.

“Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” 1 Peter 4:19

christianity

When Perception Meets Reality

I had a hard truth come to light this week. Realizing I am not where I thought I was in my spiritual walk. I am currently reading the book Absolute Surrender by Andrew Murray and what an inspirational convicting book!

We all struggle with surrender. I haven’t met one person who isn’t stubborn in one way or another. But it’s those times when you realize you aren’t where you thought you were or you weren’t as strong as you believed you were that are difficult.

Looking at Peter’s life in the Bible he is faced with this very thing. Peter tells Jesus that he would go to prison and die for him. Jesus’s response to Peter is that before the rooster crows Peter would deny Him three times.(Luke 32:31-34)

We know what happens next and that is that Peter does, in fact, deny Jesus three times.

But what was Peter’s reaction?

“And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.And he went out and wept bitterly. “ Luke 22:61-62

Peter wept bitterly. Can you imagine looking Jesus in the eye after you denied him and doing exactly what Jesus said you would do? I believe this is the reality moment…the moment Peter saw how weak, how feeble, how unable he was to love the Lord with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength. The reality caught up with his perception. He wasn’t as strong as he thought he was.

However, what’s the good news? Peter found out where he was so that he could move forward. Peter did go to prison and even ended up one day dying for Jesus – crucified on a cross, upside down!

The surrender finally came! The absolute willing surrender…to give up self. To give up the self-life, the self-comfort, self-pleasing, and self-will.

How did Peter do it? “The work that Christ began in Peter when He looked upon him, was perfected when Peter was later filled with the Holy Spirit. The cause of the weakness of your Christian life is that you want to work it out partly, and to let God help you. And that cannot be. You must come to be utterly helpless, to let God work, and God will work gloriously.”(taken from the book Absolute Surrender)

We have to come to the end of ourselves and cry out. We need to realize we don’t have what it takes to be perfect, but when we surrender, the One who is perfect does the awesome work through us.

I spent a few days in utter disbelief and tears understanding that when I surrender I am free from the bondage of self. I am free from putting my own wants before others. I am free from being afraid of what others think. I am free from wanting the things of this world to desiring God’s will above all else, and that my friend, is a fabulous place to be!

“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Thank you Lord for your grace enabling us to be perfected by your wonderful power. May we not look at yesterday but look forward to the work that you are doing and continue to do when we absolutely surrender. Amen.

christianity, Uncategorized

Looking Ahead

Our house is full of boxes once again, things are in disarray, not in their normal places. But one thing is consistent…I have peace.

As I stare out the window facing the ocean, I am reflecting about our time in Mexico. I have shed many tears here. Some happy, some sad, and some full of anger. Anger at the suffering we see, anger that it’s an unjust and unfair world.

I know when Eve offered the fruit to Adam and he ate (Genesis 3:6) that was not the road God had wanted them to travel down. But thanks be to God he is bigger than our mistakes. He had a plan. A plan that would cost His son’s life. But, an awesome plan that would wipe away every spot and blemish, every sinful thought, every tear from our eyes. Yes, it would be thousands of years later, but it would happen just as he promised.

Moving back to Washington was not on the radar three months ago. In fact, we were talking about making Mexico our long-term plan. We have been asked many times over the past two years what our plan was. “How long will you be here?” is a common question. Our response has always been, “As long as God calls us here.” We held Mexico with an open hand.

Our ministry is called Cherith Brook based out of 1 King’s 17, where Elijah went to hide and the crows fed him because there was a famine. As I was staring out our window, I felt like I should revisit this story in scripture, but continue to read further down the chapter.

Eventually the Brook dries up. Cherith Brook, where he would get his thirst quenched no longer produced the nourishment his body needed. So what next? What was he to do?

1 Kings 17:8 says, “Then the LORD said to Elijah, Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.”

I love this because God continues to direct Elijah. He doesn’t leave him hanging. He gives instructions and tells him exactly where to go. Elijah listens and obeys. He doesn’t know all the details. He just goes.

As the story continues we see some miracles, which is awesome! But, for me, I felt like God saying, “I got this Christine. I am calling you back to Washington. I have a plan. Do you trust me?”

This past month we have seen God open so many doors for us, making it clear that He is definitely calling us to Washington. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know the entire plan. We are taking it one step at a time as He directs us.

Two years ago, as we were pulling away from our cabin (the original Cherith Brook) to move down to Mexico, I had a choice. Do I look back longingly like Lot’s wife did? Or, do I look ahead at the adventure before us. I had a huge choice to make.

Quite a bit happened at that cabin. It was where God met me and I had to face some hard truths about myself that I didn’t want to see. I became FREE there. When we were in the truck pulling away from our beloved place on earth, I decided not to look back. I knew God wanted us in Mexico and I didn’t want to be disobedient in my heart. I had to push forward with the thought that I may never live on the mountain again. I gave it up.

Here we are, returning to a home, that I love. It’s not pretty. It needs a lot of work. But, I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store. I’m sure there will be trials-there always are in life. However, I am excited to experience the next chapter, so I can learn and continue to grow.

Sometimes the future just doesn’t make sense. Many good things are happening in Mexico. Why would God have us move now? I don’t have the answer to this. But, a verse comes to mind and it is this:

“I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow.” 1 Corinthians 3:6

Thank you, Lord for always directing our footsteps. We may not like the direction you are leading us, but it always works out to our benefit. I pray that wherever we are, your light will always shine through us and that you will continue to enable us to love the one in front of us. Amen.