Sunday, December 21, 2014

As it it ends...

November 6, 2013 was the day our world changed.  It was the day we heard the words no one ever wants to hear.  Those words started a chain reaction that should never be forged.  

That day started me on a path I never wanted to take, and lead me to a place I never wanted to go.  But much like a mountain trail to be hiked, once you climb the boulders and cross the streams, your pathway ends at a beautiful waterfall, high above the tree line where you can see for miles.  

My pathway has taken me to places I never thought I'd go and I've seen sights I never thought I'd see.  My vision is clearer and my thoughts are free from fog.

Like every journey we begin, there is an end.  This week I had the surgery to remove my mediport. All the doctors agree I won't need it anymore.  Surgery went well, recovery is even better!  Another scar, but that's okay.

I'm starting to see my scars more as battle wounds.  I have fought a hard fight and like any warrior, I will have the wounds to show for it.  Each scar I see, from the one on my back where this whole show started, to the 7 inch scar on my belly and the 3 assisting scars, to the 2 inch scar near my collar bone where my port was, to the emotional scars and mental bruises that come with something like this, each one has served a purpose, each one has played a part in the life I live today.  Each one was part of my rescue.  Each one is a blessing and each one was designed to set me free.

Having my port removed was my last and final chapter.  Oh, I'll still have PET scans once a year.  I'll see my doctors once a year, but overall, this chapter in my life is coming to a close.  Even now, as I pen these words, I feel the overwhelming release of it all.  As if a year's worth of worry, fear, hope, grace and tiny mustard seeds of faith is finally coming uncorked.  For the first time, I'm beginning to exhale.  

What an amazing God to lead to me to this place.  I'm so thankful he allowed me to walk this path.  I'm thankful every day for the hard lessons.  I'm thankful for the fear because I learned to trust Him.  I'm thankful for the uncertainty because I learned to believe His word.  I'm thankful for the unrest because I learned to rest in Him.  I'm thankful for those who used bitter words against me because it taught me that He is always faithful...and to forgive.  I am thankful for friends who stood by my side.  

I am thankful for my sweet family.  No husband, no child should ever see their loved one go through this... no one... but God has been so faithful to show us His mercy and His grace through every step.  He has spoken words of kindness to us, he has provided scripture to carry us when our faith was weak and he has blessed us by revealing truth upon truth.  I am thankful for my husband who never left my side.  I am thankful for my children who loved me and feared for me.  I'm forever thankful for every day I am allowed to spend with them.

Life is hard, but God is good.  This journey took me to a place I never wanted to go, but it has lead me to a place I never want to leave.  

Only By His Grace,


Friday, December 12, 2014

Applying grace...

Romans 5:20, "But where sin increased, grace increased all the more..."
I am grateful for grace.  Not only the grace that is applied to my life daily, in that His mercies are renewed every morning.  But also for the grace to apply grace. 

What does that mean, exactly?  When my husband and I were training to counsel young couples, one of the things we learned was, "when in doubt, apply grace."

Something else I've learned in my short unimportant life is this:  hurting people say hurtful things.  Often, the people who are the rudest, have the shortest tempers, say the most hurtful things are really the ones who are hurting the deepest.

I must admit, my heart is prone to retaliation.  I want to throw hurtful words back at those who say hurtful things to me.  I want to point out faults and I want to have the last word.

But those behaviors don't exhibit grace.  Sometimes we have to choose grace.  We have to choose grace over resentment.  We choose forgiveness over hurt.  We choose peace over pain.

Sometimes exhibiting grace means that we leave a situation alone instead of adding fuel to the fire.  Sometimes being silent, staying quiet, refraining from speaking is applying grace.  Proverbs 29:11 gives us good advice.  "A fool uttereth all his mind; but a wise man keepeth it until afterward."  Beth Moore once said, "Having the last word doesn't make you right. It just makes you last."

In my own life, today has been difficult.  I wanted to retaliate.  I wanted to spout off.  I wanted to be a fool and utter all of my mind. But I will use wisdom and keep it to myself.  Today, sin increased...but today grace will increase all the more.

Only By His Grace,


Thursday, December 11, 2014

And then I trust...

"28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her."  Luke 1:28-38

Every Christmas my heart always finds it's way back to Mary.  The birth of Christ is easily the most remarkable event in human history.  God became man in order to reconcile us to himself.  What great lengths, heights and depths is the Father's love for us.

I often find myself thinking of Mary's response to the angel when he said,  "You will conceive and give birth to a son."  First, imagine what all this meant for her.  She would be ostracized.  She would be labeled.  She would be scorned.  Joseph may not want her.  Her life would no longer be her own.  She would certainly lose friendships.  She would lose her family.  She would probably lose her fiancĂ©.  And yet Mary answered in complete submission to the Lord, "I am the Lord's servant.  May your word to me be fulfilled."

She didn't argue.  She didn't protest because this was going to wreck her life. She didn't assume her life was her own.  She simply submitted herself to the Sovereignty of God and said yes to the work of the Holy Spirit.

How many blessings do we miss because what God may be trying to do in our lives makes us uncomfortable?  How many times do we forfeit God's plan for our own, simply because of our pride and self-approved arrogance?  We think we know what's best for us and can back it up with scripture.  But sometimes what God has planned for us isn't comfortable, it isn't easy, it isn't just and it isn't fair.  But it always brings about His work, in His way, in His time. 

I want my heart to be like Mary's.  When impossible decisions present themselves, when hard choices have to be made, when difficult lines have to be drawn, I want my heart to reflect Mary's heart.  I want my heart to say, "May your word to me be fulfilled.  I am the Lord's servant."

So, what if I make the wrong decision?  What if I make the wrong choice?  Draw the wrong line?  Well, then I rest in the knowledge that God is Sovereign over my mistakes, too, and will make right my wrongs and will cause all things to work together for my good, if I continue to trust him and submit myself to His leading.

Today my heart desires to be like Mary.  I don't want my decisions to be based on my own heart's desires, but rather to be based on what God desires for me.  And then I trust him...

Only By His Grace,


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Feeling or truth?

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?"  Jeremiah 17:9

When I woke up from my surgery in April my left foot was numb. It is still numb today.  If I went solely on my "feelings" I could sometimes be convinced that I may never feel again in that foot.  There are times when that foot feels colder than the other.  If I went solely on my "feelings" I could be convinced that I had bad circulation.  I cannot flex my foot without starting a chain reaction of muscle spasms.  If I went solely on my "feelings" I would probably believe that this is how it was going to be forever.

However, when I look back at how far I've come since April, I realize that I have regained some feeling in my foot, it is not colder than the other, and the muscle spasms are fewer and farther between every week.  The truth is, I am getting better little by little.

Sometimes our hearts overwhelm us.  We go by our "feelings" and refuse to listen to truth because we simply want what we want.  We want to feel loved so we put up with things we shouldn't.  We want to be liked so we go along to get along.  We want to have something we do not have, and so we strive desperately to create it, even if it is fleeting.

But truth is a beautiful thing.  Truth sheds light in dark places.  Truth doesn't make the dark, darker.  Truth heals broken hearts.  It doesn't continue abusive behaviors.  Truth gives hope and new beginnings, it doesn't keep us locked inside of dread.  

Sometimes, we don't want to hear the truth because it isn't what we want to hear.  But one thing is always true.  Truth exposes a lie.  Truth exposes abuse.  Truth exposes those things which strive to keep us tied down.  In short, truth is what sets us free!

Whenever my heart temps to overwhelm me, I listen, instead to truth.  And the truth sets me free every time.

Only By His Grace,


Monday, December 8, 2014

When your to do list takes over...

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:13-14

It seems this time of year life moves at break-neck speed.  There are parties to attend, performances to catch, people to cherish.  Meanwhile there is still laundry to do, jobs to complete, doctor appointments to keep and groceries to buy.

If we lose our perspective, these things can begin to weigh us down until we lose the joy and true meaning of Christmas.  James tells us to guard our hearts against this mentality and to remember a simple truth. 

Our lives are but a mist, a vapor that vanishes like the morning fog.  I learned this first hand last year.  Task lists lost their importance, to do items carried little significance in light of time.

Daily, we find ourselves planning and listing all the items that fill our heads.  But the truth of this verse is truth for everyone.  We do not know what will happen tomorrow.  What does our life consist of, really?  We get up, we breathe in and we breathe out.  We go about our days planning the next but barely recognizing the one we have been given.  This shouldn't be.  We miss so much when we fail to see the blessing in every given moment.

I am looking toward so many things this season.  We have Choir concerts and concert band performances.  There is the Christmas concert to attend at St. Brigid.  But I'm working today, in the middle of the hectic chaos to find moments to remember to breathe and to be thankful for the blessing of today!

My life is but a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  I want my heart to be joyful and glad, not only at this time of year, but every day that I'm given.  Today is a gift.  Don't forget to say "thank you."

Only By His Grace,


Wednesday, December 3, 2014


This time of year there is always so much going on.  School programs, choir performances, band performances, work parties, family gatherings... it used to seem like December was an impossible month.

Today we had orthodontist appointments, and at one time, adding another task to an already hectic December would have stressed me out and sent me over the edge.  But God is so good to have taught me patience.  I actually found it to be a sweet blessing today.

Psalm 119:71 says, "It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees."  That has been true for me.  I have learned to be flexible where I wasn't flexible before.  I have learned to give up control where I once held to it so tightly.  I have learned to be patient, not only in my suffering, but just in life.

When I think of David I wonder what his affliction was when he wrote that verse.  I wonder if it was physical, emotional or both.  I wonder what he learned, exactly, from his affliction.

I see so many people around me who have so much going on in their own lives.  I always wonder, what it is that you're going to learn from this?  When we submit ourselves to a sovereign God and allow him the utmost control over our lives, he is able to teach us things we would have never know otherwise.

I can't say I'm happy I was afflicted.  But like David, I agree that "it was good for me to be afflicted."  I have learned so very much!

Only By His Grace,