Monday, February 21, 2011

Word of God Speak - Part 2

(sorry this is a long much to share on the morning of my last radiation treatment....)

Friday was ushered in with a quiet anticipation. It would be day 27 of my 28 days of treatment. But even more exciting....a close friend was having a c-section that morning welcoming their 10th child into this world. My heart awoke that morning with her before me, as throughout the morning, I brought her before God's throne. This was her first c-section. A lot of uncertainty for her. A new experience. But a solid faith and trust in God Almighty.

For me, a sign of new life from the hand of God. New breath. New joy. New sounds. A springing forth.

Child number 10 for them....month number 10 for me. The end and a beginning.

I waited anxiously by the phone to hear the news, checking my computer a few times to see if their children had emailed. By 10:30 I couldn't wait any longer and called to hear that a sweet, healthy baby boy was born. All were doing well.

Thank you, Lord for the life that you give us. The life in the physical....but even more, life eternal through your Son, Jesus Christ. A dying for the purpose of living.  His life for ours. Bought at a price.

Worth the pain.

Worth the agony.

Worth the wait.

The day continued on, as each day does. Barclay had work commitments that prohibited him from coming to treatment that day. In the afternoon, off I went stopping along the way to drop Faith off at Preschool and then onto radiation.

And the pendulum continued swinging as my mind went to the getting on with life, while laying down the fears that the "getting on with" encompassed. Wanting in some strange way to just stay in this place a little longer because the "getting on with" it means waiting. The "getting on with it" means questions remain unanswered. "The getting on with it" means trusting God at the deepest level I have ever experienced. Will I live to see my children get older? Will I suffer at the hand of this disease? Will my husband grow old without me by his side?

Will I trust God with it all?

My head knows all the Bible verses. This isn't my first testing. It is one of many. And what I have found is that God uses each one to carve out fear deeper and deeper so that the word of God may be implanted in its place. A heart surgery of sorts....not laproscopy, not catheterization, but true open heart surgery.

But head knowledge isn't enough. Hence the surgery. Hence the walking it out. The testing.

You know faith isn't stagnant. You are either walking forward, standing still, or falling backward.

I want to move forward. And so my heart needs to align with my head. The Truths that I know, as I live them out.

There is a quote in the movie Shawshank Redemption that says, "You either get busy living, or you get busy dying."

I want to be busy living.

Later that afternoon, I called my friend to see if I could stop by for a visit. So desiring to see her. To encourage her in her recovery, after having 6 c-sections myself.

My husband took the kids off to their basketball practices, and I made my way up to the hospital, alone.

As I was driving, the Christian radio station I was listening to lost reception. As the garbled voices and music filtered through the speakers, I felt around for the stash of worship CD's that I knew my husband had somewhere in his car. One lone CD was felt behind the driver's seat, as I quickly grabbed for it, while trying to keep the car in the right lane.

I slipped it into the CD player. Praises poured through the speakers, clearly now. But my mind was in a different place. The words fell on closed ears as my mind bounced around with thoughts of the future.

I arrived at the hospital as darkness had descended. It was a hospital I hadn't frequented and the layout unknown. I eventually found the parking garage and then navigated through a myriad of walkways and doorways, more hallways until the elevator stood in front of me and I crossed into the maternity ward and then into her room.

We had a sweet time of fellowship. And her baby, simply divine. There was peace. The beauty of God's creation. All things made new.

As I left the hospital, reflecting on God's goodness. Once again on life. I made my way back through the maze of vacant hallways and doorways. The hospital closing down for the night, I turned into the parking garage foyer and there coming down a stairwell was my friend's oldest daughter. Distraught as she had just spent the last 30 minutes trying to find her way through the maze. Frustrated and tired after a long day.

Knowing the trouble I had finding the way, I asked her if I could lead her back to her mom. Together we  quietly walked the steps leading to the elevator and up to the second floor. As we walked I pointed out the landmarks so that on her way back, she would know she was going in the right direction. The signs pointing the way were hard to notice. You really had to walk with your eyes open, looking for signs marking the way. But they were there.

We said good-bye and once again the steps retraced. Only this time, my mind went to the beautiful picture it was of our walk with God. Of trusting that He will lead us to the end location. His ending. He gives us the landmarks. He gives us His Word to direct us. He gives us access to the throne of God to talk to the Father. He sets up the signposts and is the lamp. If only we would walk with eyes open to Him.  The road is often uncertain. The path winding. But He will lead, if we will follow.

I got in my car to travel home with a peace in my heart.

The air outside was still tinged with the warmth of the day. The thermometer had inched into the 70's, temperatures uncharacteristic for February in the northeast.

I glided the window down as I pulled out onto the road. I turned the volume dial on the radio and the CD from earlier flooded my ears, penetrating my heart.

I was ready to receive.

And this song came forth.....Mercy Me's "Word of God Speak"

Finding Myself
at a loss for words
and the funny thing is, it's ok

The last thing I need
is to be heard
but to hear
what YOU would say

Word of God speak
Would you pour down like rain
washing my eyes to see, your Majesty
to be still and KNOW
You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest in your Holiness
Word of God speak

Finding Myself
in the midst of YOU
beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need
is to be with YOU
and in the quiet
hear YOUR voice
Word of God Speak.....

Finding myself
at a loss for words
and the funny thing is, it's ok

I hit repeat and turned it up louder as I sang those words from the very core of my heart. Hearing this song long before. Knowing the words, well. But tonight a whole new meaning. They were words that I said in Truth. Not just lyrics. But my lyrics. The song of my heart sung to the heart of my God.

And the tears fell unabandoned, surrendered to Him alone.

Please, Lord, speak.

Give me a Word.

Show me You are in this place with me.

I have no words.

I am desperate to hear from you.

I am listening.

I got home and sat down at my computer, ready to write down all that God was speaking to me. I didn't want to lose this moment. Didn't want to forget for a minute.

But the kids walked through the door, moments later. A movie in hand asking me to join them for family movie night.

A tug of war....the kids wanted me....I shut the computer and snuggled next to them on the couch as God brought the day to a close.

Saturday morning, I awoke early and came down to the office to be with my Jesus and journal from the day before.

I opened my computer, as my email quickly filled my inbox. As I scanned the contents, there was an email from my sister in law. She had posted something on my FB wall.

She and I don't communicate often that way. I love her deeply, as I know she does me, but we don't talk very often. I was curious.

I opened the email. And here was the content:

Stephanie wrote:
"Hey Stacy, while I was praying on Thursday night with our praise team, I silently lifted your name up and God immediately instructed me to share a message with you.  

As clear as day these words rang in my head: "tell her to continue to trust in me". 

Sorry for the delay, I hope you are doing well and hanging in there. Know that we love you and are here if you need anything.  Hope we can get the family together again soon-"

I started bawling. 

I asked God for a Word. I asked God to show me He was in this place with me. And He did. 

He knew the moment that I would need those words of encouragement. He knew the preparation that was needed that I would receive. My sister in law, the messenger with a message from God to Me. 

God knows. He cares about the big picture, but He cares about the intimate details of our lives.

He is real. He is present. He is bigger than our little minds can comprehend.

"Tell her to continue to trust in Me."

Life giving words.

And today, as I walk through those radiation doors for the last time His Words will ring through my ears and into my heart as He blankets me with His love and Holy presence.

"Washing my eyes to see, your Majesty
to be still and know
You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest in your Holiness....."

Word of God Speak.

"I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 
The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill and to destroy. 
I have come that you may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.  
I am the good shepherd. 
The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep." John 10:9-11

Much love today,

If you are interested in hearing the song, pause the player at the bottom of the page, and sink deeply into the our Father's love....

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Word of God Speak - Part 1

Tuesday came with much anticipation....and a bit (ok a lot) of house cleaning in preparation. About a month ago, my Aunt Kay called and asked if she could come and spend a few days with us, as my radiation was beginning. We looked at our calendars trying to work out the days and both of our schedules and a forecasted snow storm prohibited our time together. A later date was put on the calendar, one that worked for us all and one that would mark the final days of radiation. She would be able to be the hands and feet for my tired body, and she would be able to walk the steps with me that my feet have traveled daily for 20 some days. I was thrilled to be able to share this leg of the journey with her.

She walked through the door around lunchtime on Tuesday, cleaning cloth still in my hands and quickly jumped into our daily routine and life, making lunch for the kids as I hurried off to shower and get ready for that day's radiation treatment.

One day closer to the door closing, the chapter ending and cancer treatment being behind me. A door that I am having trouble closing. A threshold that you would think I would be running full steam across, but instead feel tethered to a harness, holding me back. Like I am swimming upstream, wanting to reach the end, but unable...tired, sore and restless....characterize my going forward, and yet somehow, I make few strides in that direction.

And it is there that I have been this last week somewhere in the midst of faith and fear. Kay has been a much needed distraction, a helping hand, a dose of laughter, a special gift.... offering words of encouragement, loving arms, an open heart and reminders to surrender: A favorite word for she and I. A word that God has been speaking to my heart for many, many years. A word that she christened me with  almost 3 years ago, following our attendance at the Rochester Women of Faith. As we attended together with some other special women in my life, my sisters included. The platform for many deep conversations. Little did I know at the time, how God was using that time not only with her, but also my sisters and grandmother, to deepen relationships, chisel away things from the past and push forward in healing some deep hurts, while at the same time, preparing me for what 2010 would hold...breast cancer.

A few weeks after the conference ended, a special package arrived in the mail, its contents as meaningful as the one who gave Aunt Kay. Nestled inside a creamy white ceramic pitcher were tokens of remembrance from our time together that weekend, and the deeper messages that God had for our lives and our hearts.

"It is with a full heart, filled with love, that I give you this pitcher, capturing the memory of our incredible experience we shared, offering tools to keep us all remembering what we need to do, to survive and blossom."

....a pair of glasses to keep a clear vision of what you need to do, 
....lens cleaner for when they get foggy and need cleaning
...notepaper to write down those important ideas, fears, hopes, issues
....a mirror for you to see those traits, strengths and weaknesses
....Kleenex to dry the inevitable tears
....mints for when your breath needs calming 
....The "church lady" with raised arms, to remind us to raise our arms to God in prayer and praise
...a telephone to call each other for support, to share, to listen, cry or celebrate
...a worded stone...

My word.....surrender. 

Little did she know that it is a word that God had been speaking to my heart since I could remember.  A word that held more significance than she knew. A word on a rock, a polished stone....that in Christ alone, I can surrender all. Outside of Him....nothing. And that as I surrender, He makes me that polished stone for Him. What was significant then, in the Spring of 2008, has become that much more significant today, 2011. And here I am once again, at those crossroads, will I walk over this next threshold with fear or will I walk in faith, surrendering my future days, my future breaths, all the uncertainty that lies within treatment ending and the waiting to see if cancer will return...the unknowns, the fear that can easily sweep into my mind holding me back from fully crossing the threshold....whole. 

Today, will I surrender my fears, my future, my what ifs, my life to the God of the heavens? The sovereign one with whom there are no accidents. With whom truth gives way, shining its light on the very core of my fears. With whom His very Word, that which we can hold in our fingertips, and take into the inner places of our beings.....

brings hope, love, truth, comfort, encouragement, courage, forgiveness, healing, strength and endurance...and the ability to surrender to Him. 

These precious reminders were all tucked neatly inside a hand chosen ceramic pitcher. 

"Take these deeds, both this purchase deed which is sealed and this deed which is open, and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may last many days." Jeremiah 32:14

The reminder through Jeremiah that restoration of the land was certain. It would be possessed again by the Jews. They would return to their land. 

Kay said...."And all is contained in the memory of the visual of the white pitcher....of our fractured, imperfect lives made whole and beautiful by God's love, blessing and forgiveness shining through."

As I pulled my pitcher out of the package, two pieces fell back into the box. 

My pitcher had arrived broken. The handle cracked in two places. I smiled at the imagery. God wasn't finished with me. I didn't know then, what I know one can but God. 

Kay was beside herself, apologizing profusely. 

I just smiled and reassured her, all was would be a constant reminder of the unfinished work of God in my life.....I was still in His hands being made whole. 

I placed the pitcher up on the shelf sitting over my desk in the office.

A constant reminder of the work of the cross. The work of master life His masterpiece. 

(Kay had asked Barclay on Thursday to glue the handle back on)

Kay joined me and Barclay on Wednesday, as I had my first follow up appointment with my Medical Oncologist. My "chemo" doc. It was the first time seeing her since chemo ended back in December. I wanted Kay there. She, too, having had breast cancer 16 years ago. She would think of questions we had missed, be another set of ears. 

My oncologist greeted us with smiles and proceeded to get the results of my blood work. Within a few minutes, I learned that my white count is still low, under the normal range. Immediate fear swept over my body as the questions poured into my head. My oncologist seemed unconcerned and verbalized just that. Still, I couldn't move past the new information. The appointment continued as we discussed Tamoxifen...a pill that will be added to my daily intake beginning next week. A pill that will encapsulate my breast cells prohibiting estrogen to enter in. A pill that I will be on for 5 years that will catapult my body even further into menopause with all the lovely side effects. 

And yet, my mind couldn't get off of the low white count. 

Stacy....will you surrender to ME? Will you continue to trust ME? Will you? 

Kay left on Thursday afternoon, after my radiation treatment. As we hugged and kissed farewell, she got in her car and said, "Remember your word.....SURRENDER"

I arrived home shortly thereafter. The house was quiet as the children were all at a friends. As I walked into the office, there on my desk sat a new, creamy white, unbroken....ceramic pitcher....with a note on top.

"I always felt bad that your vessel arrived broken ~ you deserve to have a perfect vessel to hold your tools."

And the tears welled up as they freely fell upon my cheeks. This side of heaven, I will never have a "perfect vessel." After cancer treatment comes to an end, there will be other tryings, other pressings, more refining, more lessons to learn, more brokenness.  But the King of kings and the Lord of Lords will heal the brokenness. He will bring faith where there was fear. He will speak words of Truth, shining His magnificent light into all areas and then out through the cracks that He has mended, I pray He shines...if I would only surrender to His mighty Hand, trusting Him fully.

It is a choice. A daily choice. And the irony that that is right where God had me this past versus fear. Choosing Him and His Truth....or choosing me and my circumstances.

"Arise and go down to the potter's house, and there I will cause you to hear My words." Then I went down to the potter's house, and there he was, making something at the wheel. And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter, so he made it again into another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make." Jeremiah 18:2-4

"But now, O LORD, you are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand." Isaiah 64:8

God gave me a glimpse of what He desires me to be.....a vessel for his honor. A vessel fit for the Master's use. A vessel marked by the healing brought only by my Father's hand.

The events of Tuesday through Thursday were divinely orchestrated. Each moment, as He knew. He knew what I would struggle with. He knew what I needed to be reminded. He He knows the beginning from the end.

And as I taught on Thursday, at our ladies Bible Study.....that there are no accidents with God. There is no darkness in Him. In Him is light. He is the revealer of all things secret.....just as with Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar....God had an eternal kingdom to show Neb, Daniel, and all those in Babylon....and He had intimate truths to share at the same time to each one of them. The big picture and the little picture. He cares about it all, is over it all and through it all.  And just as the Neb's dream and its interpretation were certain and sure (Daniel 2:45), so too is God....certain and sure.

And He kept asking....Stacy, will you just my faith and my fears kept colliding, as a pendulum swings back and forth. Monday marks the end of radiation and the crossing over into life after treatment. The treatment door swings closed. Two more reconstruction surgeries to go....but no more treatment. A waiting, as 5 years is the magic number for recurrences. A getting on with it, with life, with living and my emotions need to get in line with my faith.  Where uncertainty in the physical needs to rest in the certainty in the who God is. Not just a passing through, but a true resting. He is certain and sure. Nothing else is. But in Him is where I need to be planted, firmly and securely. In Him there is no fear.

He had more for me.....more that He unveiled on my heart sought Him deeply.....

Aunt Kay and I at my Grandmother's 90th birthday celebration, June 2009.

Part 2 later....until then....

Much love,

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Faith or Fear Vlog

So, I'm trying this thing again....this vlog thing. Bear with me as this is a bit outside my comfort zone and  for some reason during the uploading process the voice doesn't match the words. Have I told you I am technically challenged! It might be that I am using my computer webcam to record instead of a video camera.

I can't believe it has been over a week since I have shared with you all. There is so much going on in my heart right now. I hope to share more in the days to come as I near the end of the radiation leg of this journey. Who hoo, this door is almost closed!

Thanks so much for stopping by!  Praying God encourages your heart on the road that has been set before you. Please let me know how I can be praying for you.

Much love,

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Endurance - Half way through radiation

We've hit the next milestone. Day 14 of 28 radiation treatments.  Half way through this next phase of treatment and nearing the end of the medical fight against this beast. The arsenal of conventional medicine almost exhausted: surgery, chemo, radiation and then 2 final reconstruction surgeries waiting.

10 months in...... and the fatigue is taking its toll.

To say I am tired, would be inadequate.

Radiation has brought forth a fatigue that permeates my everyday. I wake with it. I walk around with it. I carry it to treatment and then it carries me home.

Within the last couple of days, the remaining energy seems to have evaporated leaving behind an overall loss of strength. It isn't a sleepy tired. It is a "just want to lay down and do nothing" kind of feeling.

And if you know me, that is so not me.

This past Sunday, while I was at church, a sweet friend came up to me to say hi and see how I was doing. She was quite intuitive, as she hugged me and saw something in me signaling my fragility. She grabbed my hand and asked if I was all right. In that moment, I wasn't. My body was worn. The free radicals from the radiation cursing through my body causing my body to wave the white flag of surrender. And the tears gently fell across my cheeks as she hugged me tighter whispering a prayer in my ear.

The strength from the hand of the Almighty ushered in through a faithful saint. Just when I needed it. He was there, and she became the vessel of His power.

Here I lay in bed tonight. After retreating here throughout the day.  And I opened my Bible searching for His Words to comfort me and once again, today, give me the strength I need to press on in Him.

To endure. To withstand. To continue on.

Not just putting my head down and plowing through, but truly resting in Him.

I'm struggling with that right now, the resting solely in Him part. As I wake up late, my time spent with Him is shorter, not always first in the morning, as the children seem to quickly rise up with needs and questions. The daily duties and responsibilities pressing in, as I watch the clock knowing that I must leave the house within a few short hours to make the trek to my daily radiation treatments. A few hours gone from each day. Just the daily coming and going has become exhausting.

And then when I get home, my body cries out for rest. All I want to do is crawl into bed.

But the activity around me often calls louder than my body's cries for rest and so those are pushed down, as the needs around me are met.

14 more days to go. It seems like forever.

And so tonight, as I looked to His Word for nourishment and strength.  He brought me to Hebrews 12.

There I read of running this race of faith with endurance.  A race that has been "set before me," by Christ. Even that resonates within my soul. He has set this journey before me and He is there guiding me, sustaining me and strengthening me.

"....Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,
 and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us," Hebrews 12:1

 - characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith 
and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings

-a patient, steadfast waiting for, enduring, perseverance

These aren't new words to me. My eyes have beheld them many times before.

And we see the key to endurance in verse 2:

"looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith, who for the JOY set before Him endured the cross..."

What hit me in a new way tonight was the start of verse 3:

"For consider Him who endured...."

Herein lies the solution.

Considering Him, when often what I want to do is "consider ME."

But what I often fail to think, is that Christ did in fact consider Me and that is why He endured.

Christ endured.

He endured the cross knowing that there was purpose and there would be fruit. For without the cross there would be no salvation. Without the cross there would be no forgiveness. Without the cross there would be no eternal life.

Christ knew. And so with joy He endured the pain. The scourging. The shame. The torture.  The physical exhaustion. He knew that journey from Bethlehem to Calvary had been set before Him by the loving hand of His Father. With purpose.

Our journeys are no different.

And so refreshed from the life giving words of Christ, I endure because in enduring there is purpose and there will be fruit.

My eyes will be directed to Him. Seeking daily His purpose. Seeking daily His strength. Seeking daily His peace. Seeking Him.

Knowing that this breast cancer journey has been set before me by His loving hand.

The physical fatigue is real. And God sees it and understands it. And by His grace He will bring me through it.

I celebrate today that another leg of the journey is almost complete. One step closer the finish line.

Thanks again, for coming along with me on this journey.

Much love,