I know it has been awhile...a long while. A lot has gone on in the last few years. You can now find me at www.delightinginthelord.com
Hope to cross paths with you again there.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
it happened unintentionally. There has been a lot of living happening since radiation ended back in February and somehow the calendar now displays April 20th. Not quite sure where all the time went, but here is a sampling of my last month.
Certain subjects are beginning to wind down. End of year projects underway.
A little over a month left in the school year. It truly has been by God's grace that we have made it through the year with success and progress!
Our Thursday Women in Christ Bible study has been going through the book of Daniel for the Spring semester.....We meet every Thursday morning at church for worship, teaching and small group discussion time. I share the teaching with one other woman as we trade off each week. Oh my, the study has been so rich with God's truth and application as we've looked at Daniel's life and Godly example, and also looked through the lens of Biblical prophecy.
I have had to study more than ever before in preparation to teach every other week. I've never taken Bible College classes, but this semester feels like I might have a glimpse as to what those classes entail. All good....but very time consuming! I teach on Daniel 10 next week. Our study concludes for the year on May 12th.
As the Women's Ministry Coordinator at our church, I have the privilege of planning and organizing our annual Women's Retreat each year, with the help of many hands along the way.
This year, we held our retreat at our church as a 1 and a half day Seminar. The theme was taken from Romans 6:22 "But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your FRUIT to HOLINESS, and the end, everlasting life." The seminar was held April 8 & 9th. It was glorious. God moved mightily and once again I am in awe of His faithfulness.
As "Fruit to Holiness" was the theme, we took the ladies through 5 sessions on living lives that bear fruit to Christ's holiness. We began Friday night with "Plowing and breaking up the fallow ground," and then Saturday took us through "Planting God's Word in our hearts," "Cultivating and weeding out sin," "Pruning," and then "The Harvest." I taught the session on Pruning, and shared with the ladies much of what God did in my heart this past year as He pruned me and walked me through breast cancer. It was very poignant & personal for me, as it was at our previous year's women's retreat that I found my lump. What a year of pruning, but what a year of growth! God is truly amazing. His ways so much higher than our own.
We had the privilege of having Debbi Bryson come and be our main speaker. She shared for three of the sessions. If you've never heard her teach, she is a gem and a treasure and shares powerfully from God's Word. She is from Calvary Chapel Vista in California and her husband is the director of Calvary Chapel Church Plant Missions in Russia. It was such a treat having her with us for the weekend. Her precious assistant, Barbara traveled with her, and they both stayed at my house.
Again, another treat for me to spend that time with them. They were here last year, as well. The work He began in our hearts last year, He added to it this year in powerful ways.
On Monday, April 11th, we all traveled to North East, MD, to attend the East Coast Pastor's Wives conference at the Sandy Cove Retreat Center. It was three days of sitting under wonderful Bible teachers and allowing God to wash over me and rejuvenate me. The theme was from Psalm 103, "Blessed," and blessed I was to be there. God had much He needed to tell me during those three days.
And then onto racing.....the boy's Harescramble racing season has begun! Their 2nd race was this past weekend. After days of rain, the weather cleared for raceday, but as you can see, the track was pretty muddy. At the end of their races, they were all covered in mud, a boy's dream, right!?!
And finally, the Betties, have been the topic of much discussion and doctor's appointments this past month. Following radiation, I had to start seeing my plastic surgeon again as preparation was needed for my breast revision/reconstruction surgery. Yesterday, I went in for one of my final surgeries of this breast cancer journey. I had the temporary tissue expanders removed and replaced with my permanent silicone implants. It was a 2 hour surgery done under general anesthesia, but I was able to come home afterwards without having to spend the night in the hospital.
I am bound tightly around my chest and will remain that way until Thursday, when my two drains are removed along with the dressings. The pain is significant, but manageable. Yesterday afternoon was pretty rough, as I had a lot of nausea from the anesthesia and my stomach didn't agree with all that went in. Praising God, though, that the surgery went well according to my plastic surgeon. I am anxious to see the final result! Please keep me in prayer the next few days as I move through this recovery phase.
So, there you have it. A little bit of what my last month has looked like. I had no intentions of being away from blogging for so long and apologize that I haven't kept you all updated as to how I have been doing. Thank you to those of you who have checked in on me. It really has meant a lot! I hope to get around in the next few days and say hi, now that I have some down time in bed as my body heals and God continues the restoration and rebuilding process within.
"I will do better for you than at your beginnings. Then you shall know that I am the LORD.....I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places, and planted what was desolate. I, the Lord, have spoken it and I will do it." Ezekiel 36:11, 36
The rebuilding process is underway. As my friend, Elisa, said to me this weekend, "Stacy, you have moved from deconstruction to reconstruction!" God is good, always and the restorer of all things.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Early into my cancer treatment, my sweet friend, Beth, gave me these workout clothes and this Nike hat for a gift. They were significant and meaningful for many reasons.
About a year and a half ago, we decided to meet early each Saturday morning at our church, the midway point for both of us, and walk together a course that her husband had mapped for us. We would do some walking, some jogging and a lot of heart to heart chatting, as we together felt the pain of getting back in physical shape. Each week, we could do a little more. Jog a little longer and faster. Recover a bit more quickly. Cover more ground both in conversation and miles.
Fall came and the morning temps started getting a little tough to bear. And our Saturday morning meetings were put on hold until Spring.
But when Spring came, so did cancer. Last year, the walking never resumed.
The steps we covered together weren't over pavement. They were in hospital waiting rooms, over phone lines, in the Chemo lounge and car rides going back and forth from radiation.
Steps that took on a whole new meaning and importance as we together uncovered deeper heart issues and encouraged each other in the Lord, each of us walking a journey of faith and trust in God the Almighty. Instead of just walking beside me, many days, she held my hand. Other days she helped me raise them to the Giver of all good things...Jesus Christ... when I really couldn't raise them myself.
She loved me through my treatment and journey in many ways. A debt I will never be able to repay.
So when I opened this package on chemo treatment number one....it signaled a looking forward to what laid beyond...living strong....walking strong......a getting on with life....more pavement to cover together once these cancer steps were complete....spring was coming, at that point it seemed a long way off, but spring never fails to show up and with spring.....more Saturday morning walks.
Last Saturday, our feet met the pavement together once again and our hearts rejoiced at the ground God brought me through the past 11 months.
We were living strong.....not in our strength....but the strength of the Lord. He was gracious and had brought me to the other side of treatment. Here we were once again. The same two people, but yet forever changed by the hand of God.
The air was brisk as the wind gently caressed our faces. Our legs felt the absence and reminded us of the months of neglect. Our hearts reminded us though, that the mileage we logged was more meaningful. As a faith journey had been trekked. Our hearts were strengthened and God carried our legs.
We finished that morning, tired, but invigorated.
Kind of the way I have felt these last couple of weeks since radiation ended.
My energy is returning bit by bit. My skin peeling and being restored. My hair.....growing so much so that I can actually gel the top trying to achieve some "style," and my spirit refreshed, restored and yes, invigorated.
God is truly good, always.
Sunday, I awoke feeling the after affects of my walking. My thighs burned. My calves ached. And yet, I rejoiced that my aches and pains weren't from cancer, but from the getting on with it from a place of healing. That the physical walking, the moving forward makes the body tired....but when my faith is being walked out just the opposite happens.....I am strengthened. I am renewed. I am invigorated.
An exercised body is physically hurt and tired. A good sore and a good tired. But sore and tired, nonetheless.
But an exercised faith strengthens and rejuvenates. And when faith is exercised, God gives you His strength. He produces steadfastness....we lack nothing. I am beginning to more fully understand what James said,
"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:2-4
Faith must be exercised.
We must first learn faith. We must learn about God's character....."as faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." You can have a head full of faith understanding.
But without walking out that faith.....that faith isn't tried and proven.
Truly the rubber must hit the road. God calls us to act out our faith. And trials and difficult circumstances will cause us to do just that....they are the testing ground for our faith.
Do you truly believe what you say you believe? Do you truly believe that God can handle your problem and bring about the solution? Do you believe that He can and will handle it better than you can with your own knowledge, and understanding? Do you believe He is able?
And that is how our trials become joy.
Because as our faith in God is stretched, challenged, shaken and stirred.....it becomes proven. It praises. It honors. It glories in the one and only God because He alone is faithful. He is sure and certain. And our faith grows deep roots in Him.
God had taken my feet and my faith to the mountaintop and the view is glorious!
Back to my story....
While at church Sunday morning, a lady came up to me to see how I was doing. We began talking and she asked me a pointed question. A question that was unexpected. A fully loaded question, at that. One that gave me a moments pause as a smile crept across my face.
"Stacy," she asked, "I am always intrigued when someone goes through a trial such as yours. Tell me, what did God teach you?"
I laughed inside thinking this lady probably didn't want to pull up a chair and hear the long version. So I thought for a moment on my big take home message of this faith journey. There was so much He taught me and continues to. What was God hammering into this vessel of His? How was I being shaped and transformed? What was being rooted out only to be replaced with more of Him? What beauty was He bringing from the pieces?
I gently responded from where my faith had been exercised....."Live in the today. Trust God today. Gaze into His eyes today. Respond to Him today. Worrying about tomorrow wastes what God has to offer us today. Savor today, as you savor Him. He will take care of each of your tomorrows. Believe Him today and walk from that believing."
A simple message. But a truth He needed to plant more deeply in the soil of my heart, thus this season of testing.....this breast cancer journey. It had purpose and continues to.
Again on Monday, He laid these same truths before me.....as my feet hit the pavement once again......this time, alone in my neighborhood.......just Him and me and a long, uphill, winding road......
.....and you'll see that the view from the hilltop was glorious....and still is... because He is glorious!
I'm sorry for my absence. There has been a lot of getting on with life....and a few doctor's appointments in between. All is well. I know I still haven't posted my pictures from my last radiation appointment. I will. Thanks for sticking around......I love you all so......and am glad that God has let me stick around, as well. We have much more ground to cover together...
....and Beth, you are a sweet token of God's grace and beauty. Thank you for being you and allowing God to use you. I love you and look forward to many more miles walked together.