Thursday, March 10, 2011

Exercised faith...Part 1

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.  

Important steps. 

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 signaled a looking forward to what laid 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 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 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. 

Much love,


Jill Samter Photography said...

Singing His praises with you!

Loving that you are walking on the mountain top able to see all that God has done in your life this past year - knowing it was ALL GOOD!

What a glorious journey it has been to stand with you in prayer and watch God move mountains in so many ways! I am thankful that God has blessed you with Beth and all the wonderful women in your life to hold you up and love on you! What a gift and treasure it is to have true friends!

Enjoy the view from here and cherish every step you take - knowing He will continue to go before you and will love you more and more in ways you never imagined!

In His amazing grace!

Sara G said...

Love you sweet sister!

Debbie said...

I am glad for this update Stacy. I've had you on my mind recently. Soo happy to hear that you are getting on with life. Getting back your strength...that beautiful hair is growing...back walking and exercising your body. How privileged I have felt to be able to share in even such a small way this journey with you. You were truly such an inspiration to me, and an encouragement to the testimony of what God can do while in the midst of such a big battle. I pray your body continues to heal and grow strong and you soon find yourself jogging more and more and putting HUGE distances between your now and the season of your cancer. How I praise God for all He has done for you...I am also soo glad that you had your friend, and your family, and all those close to you who were your hands and feet when you needed it. Looking forward to hearing what God has in mind for you now. Love & hugs, Debbie

Cora from Hidden Riches said...

I have tears running down my cheeks! In fact, I'm sobbing! Your post took me off-guard, back to the weeks following my treatments and then the fast-forward til today. The journey was hard, sometimes dark, but He was always there. And now, as I look back through the rear view mirror, I, too, see the glorious view of that race to the top of the hill! I've been asked many times about what the Lord taught me through it all. If I had to bundle it up with one statement I would have to say, "He is enough --- always enough and more!" Run, girl! Keep on running!

Anonymous said...

Stacy, God has used your illness and you to teach me being faithful to Him. Yesterday the FDA actually approved the first drug for lupus in 56 years!!!! This means hope for me once again. A reminder that Jesus is in control. I cherish you, your guidance and your love. I will continue to learn from your journey and love you from afar. May Jesus continue to bless you, Barclay and your beautiful family with His love, faithfulness, health, and loving spirit. you are my angel and I send my smiles and hugs. Love you sister in Christ, Debbie xoxoxoxoxx

Child of God said...

Hi Stacey,
What a beautiful lesson you learned, one we all need to learn. Love Him now, in the present because there may not be a tomorrow. Thanks for sharing this lesson and your journey. I am so pleased to see that you are out and exercising!

It is spring time, a time of new beginnings!

Prayin for you often,

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Walking those miles with you sister, in body, soul, and spirit. Yes, our faith has been stretched in this last year. The stretch continues as we are called, perhaps, to believe God even more fully in these days of healing and recovery.

Glad to hear from you; I've been missing your updates.


babyrndeb said...

wow, what a year this has been for you...such an incredible journey with such great life lessons for not only you, but also for those of us who follow your blog.

I am glad you are getting back out there exercising and reclaiming some of your strength!

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Stacy...there isn't anything I can add to this other except Amen!! I am rejoicing over this end of your journey and the beginning of a new healed walk with all the testimony you have.
Hugs and enjoy the spring!

A multi-dimensional life said...

I am rejoicing with you Stacy!
He has brought you through this saga with such grace. I'm thankful that your body aches for a different reason now...a good hurt from exercize! He walked with you through it all and walks with you still. As you say so beautifully,
"live in the today;believe in Him today and walk from that believing". You are such a great example of just that. Thank you!
Bless your precious heart and soul.

{darlene} said...

What a beautiful post and testimony. You are like on of His Daffodils after a long winter.

I love what you said about what God has taught you. Somehow.. we all KNOW it to be true in our Heads. For God to have made it a reality in your HEART, well... that IS a gift.

love and constant daily prayers to you,

Jan said...

Hi Stacy. I just wanted to stop by and thank you for visiting my Blog and for your encouraging words. I'm so sorry for all that you have gone thru; but you my dear are a true inspiration to all of us who are going thru the same thing. God will bless you for that, I just know He will. You are a beautiful women with a beautiful family and my prayers will be w/you. God Bless :)

Bethany said...

Thank you so much for your post, and the faith you have in our God. You are an inspiration to me. Thank you for shining Jesus.

Crown of Beauty said...

This is beautiful Stacy. Among many other things, faith means to live in the now, and in the today. It is too beautiful to waste, to wallow in self pity, or to lose in the fears of tomorrow.

Rejoicing with you in this new, spring season of your life.

Keeping you close,

Cherie Hill said...

What a beautiful post . . . you are such an encouragement to others in so many ways. Your faith is a testimony to God's power and presence in the lives of His children. Continually praying for you in every way.

LisaShaw said...

You can't see the tears, the smiles or hear the Amen's and Praise the Lord's that I'm speaking as I read every word.

What a faith in action message. A message of friendship, love and especially GOD's goodness and faithfulness.

I am sorry I missed some time here with you over the few months this year but you were never out of my prayers and I'd mention you and another friend; Elaine, to the LORD whenever I felt the urge to be discouraged about my own situation....I'd remind myself that the two of you (and others whom I know and love) were dealing with far more and then I'd pray for you all.

I bust into tears when I read this: "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."

GOD has gifted me with a special in person, upclose sister friend named Johnine who has walked with me since Dec through my trial and it's a gift to have a friend who loves and cares and makes themselves available at some of your more difficult times.

Celebrating the end of radiation treatment for you and this NEW BEGINNING of life lived with your family and friends!

Love you much and thank you for your prayers and the comments of love you've left. You touch my heart!

Angela Nazworth said...

What an inspiration you are! Praising God for the beauty that is shining through your trial. Praying for you and rejoicing in His blessings.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Hey girl... just checking in with you. Would love to chat sometime soon.

Love you.


David C Brown said...

"But he gives more grace", James 4: 6.

A multi-dimensional life said...

Just stopping by to say hello and let you know I was thinking about you. Hope all is well...and praying still! xo

Beth E. said...

I'm stopping by after reading Elaine's blog post today.

What an inspiration you are! Thank you for sharing your journey. Though you and I are not walking the same path, I've been climbing uphill in my own journey the past several months. Thank you so much for your insight and wisdom. Your message here has been a great blessing to me.

I'm adding you to my prayer list, Stacy!

Emily said...

Hey Friend! Just checking to see how things are going . . continuing to lift you up! Hope to hear from you soon! :)

Emily said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Child of God said...

Hi Stacey,
Just stopping by to let you know I am praying and praying for you. I hope you are adjusting to these new meds and life is smoothing out for you.

Praying girl,

{darlene} said...

thinking of you! praying!

lisasmith said...

Checking in on you sweet friend. I love your words because they are true. Spring is coming!!!!!

I am celebrating extra this spring and i know you are too. xoxo

Trisha said...

Thinking of you and praying for you. Love and hugs!

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

Stacy you have been on my heart and I have been lifting you before the throne. I pray you and your family are rejoicing and enjoying this wonderful Easter season.

Genevieve Thul said...

What a beautiful message - I am still recovering from the aftereffects of cancer - although officially I went into remission 2/2/2012, there are still side effects and med changes to deal with and sapped energy to overcome. But you are so right - exercised faith equals renewed psychological and spiritual energy that leaves me feeling ready to conquer the world! Thank you for the reminder!!