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Faithfulness

Faithfulness

November 6, 2018kalynv732015Edit”Faithfulness”

This was a morning I should have been catching some extra zzzz’s, but instead my mind was rolling with thoughts of thriving women, girls, and teens.  My mind was envisioning worship at THRiVE and the drawing of women into His presence. That’s when it happened…again.  He reminded me of His Faithfulness in the midst of my how to’s and my what if’s.

Great is your faithfulness, oh God, my Father, morning by morning new mercies I see.  All I have needed your thy hand hath provided.  Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.… little, old, undeserving me.  Thomas Chisholm 1923

Very early that morning, not yet out of bed, I had my first thoughts and conversation with the Lord. While praying about THRiVE, my mind wandered through my trip last month to Haiti. It was on that trip where I witnessed the most spiritually powerful displays of God’s faithfulness.

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And with that thought, my eyes popped wide open, my head still on my pillow – Lord, that moment in Haiti – that was yet another mighty display of your FAITHFULNESS.

The experience in Haiti of being an eyewitness to His overwhelming, saving power has NOT faded one bit – I’ll never be the same.  I’ve written to the Lord about it often in my prayers, proclaiming His sovereignty. Yet, it wasn’t until that morning that the connection to my summer prayer and this experience had finally been realized. He whispered it to me in the early morning hours: Kalyn, this was a continuation of the prayer, the seeing of the miracles of my faithfulness you requested of me in early summer.

He did it, and He has been giving me gifts and glimpses of His Faithfulness since that prayer. The gifts of His faithfulness are not new, rather, it’s my awareness that is new and refreshed. It’s not that God has increased His faithfulness to me, but He’s renewed the gift of awareness to His faithfulness.  That is a good, good gift.

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…for His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22-23

These gifts and glimpses are always here for us, morning by morning!

So, today, while praying for THRiVE, listening to the Lord’s leadings,andthinking of Haiti (a woman’s mind is so wonderfully complex!), that moment on my patio on June 1stcame to me.  I remembered the beginning of the summer when I sat on my patio, revisiting a conversation the Lord and I have had on more than one occasion. The topic was Faithfulness.  On that relaxing summer evening, I wrote in my journal:

“As I sit in summer in the cool of the evening on my patio.  I read your words to me through the scriptures.  FAITHFULNESS- Great is your faithfulness.  This quote from the book Daring to Hope that I have been reading jumps off the page in light of the theme for THRiVE 2019.

‘Though we tremble and feel uncertain, courage means we press into a God who is certain, sure, steady= FAITHFUL! He lifts our heads.

 And His unfailing love and comfort become our courage and our hope.’

Faithfulness–God show me your faithful ways in my life, big and small.  God open my eyes to your miracles and goodness.  Open my heart to all of your faithfulness.  Yours to me and mine to you.  Oh, how I want to truly know, see and believe in ALL of your faithful ways.  Drive the dark of doubt away.  I confess to see slivers (and maybe more) of non-belief in your faithfulness at times.  (This was hard to confess.)  This year, all the way to THRiVE 2019, please bestow upon me a solid rock belief in “Great is your Faithfulness.” Here tonight on my patio, birds chirping, crickets singing, sun going down, I sense you and I hear you say – Ask me, ask me now, courageously ask me. Ask me to show you the ways I’m faithful and courageously ask me to show you the gaps in your faithfulness towards Me (ouch).” 

So, from that moment on all summer collections of God’s faithfulness filled my journal.  But this morning it strikes me as so very, very odd that one of the most amazing ways He displayed His faithfulness to me during this time, “all the way to THRiVE,” had not yet been recognized as an answer to this prayer on June 1st. “God showing me His faithful ways and… God opening my eyes to his miracles and goodness, seeing and truly believing His faithfulness.” I admit that my enthusiasm for seeing and recording His faithfulness to me had waned.  Yet, His enthusiasm towards me had not!  Thank you, my Faithful Father!

Stop.  Grasp that kind of love and grace.  I let that knowledge wash over me.  I shake my head. God, you are indeed loyal, constant, unswerving and devoted = FAITHFUL.

The patience of God overcomes me today.  He is always faithful, and still we miss it. Yet, in His patience and grace, when we ask, according to His word, He answers.

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Even as I type these thoughts “acknowledging the Lord, pressing on to acknowledge him” (Hosea 6:3), Realizing the truth of His word that as we press on to know Him, “He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of the dawn,”this glorious autumn sunrise came bursting through my windows and I had to capture it!  His faithfulness is as certain as the morning sunrise!

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THRiVE: For Great is Thy Faithfulness

Morning by morning new mercies I see…this morning the beauty of your unfailing love covers me.

He is faithful to speak to me when I speak to Him!  And I recognize that some of my wondering and some of my thoughts and actions do not always display a solid rock belief in the FAITHFULNESS of God, but isn’t He worthy of me displaying my belief in His faithfulness?  HE is worth it- He is worthy of my Believing! There are so many things I do not know, and so many things I cannot explain; for God is not explainable. But, oh, He is FAITHFUL, so very FAITHFUL!

THRiVE,

Kalyn

 

Devotionals, Home, Writer's Spot

Did God Really Say?

Copy of WMDid God Really Say?

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”   Genesis 3:1

The very first question in the Bible was asked to a women, and Eve was the first women to be tricked by the enemy.

Read Genesis 3:1-7

If the serpent’s words were written in today’s vernacular, it would read–

“Seriously, did God really say?”

From the very beginning women have been challenged to doubt what God really says.  The serpent cast doubt on Eve to diminish what God said.  He caused her to question what God says and the truth in it.  The serpent was – and is – outright deceitful.

What God said really was true and scripture proves it over and over.  Satan tries continually to get us to doubt God’s word. He lies and tells us God is withholding something that’s good for us. Our enemy is constantly working to get us to doubt God and what truth is.

The truth is… we are who God says we are!

Scripture is full of words God uses to describe the qualities within each of His children.  This year in our local women’s ministry we are focusing on some of these beautiful truths about us and setting our minds on believing them- BELIEVING GOD!

It says… I am chosen, redeemed, forgiven, loved, highly favored, worthy, heard…

A key verse for my own life this past year is:

“But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who BELIEVE and are saved.”  Hebrews 10:39

I am unshrinking!

I’ve been focusing on Believing God’s word and not shrinking back.  I wear my BELIEVE bracelet and at just a glance, I am reminded to believe who I am in Christ.

I am forgiven.  1 John 1:9

I am blessed. Ephesians 1:3

I am loved. Jeremiah 31:3

God invites us to remind our souls who we are in Christ.

Take a journey with us and go on a hunt through His word.  What does God’s word say about you?

God called me to take this reminder to Haiti while serving there last month for a women’s conference.  As we met with the Haitian ladies who are serving as church leaders for the women’s conference, we celebrated with them what GOD REALLY DID SAY about us!

And then we reminded them…

And they reminded each other! 

Oh, the beauty of this scene across the rooftop that morning.

Spend some time reading His word, reminding your soul who you are. Then take a few moments and remind another.  We are victorious, friends, God really did say!!

…and let me leave you with one more little one I just found yesterday–

I am snatched.  Judges 6:9

Oh, the never ending love found in God’s word!

THRiVE,

Kalyn

 

Events, Home, THRiVE 2019/Register

THRiVE 2019 For Great is His Faithfulness

AFTER 12 p.m. January 17th YOU CAN REGISTER AT THE DOOR
final-THRiVE 2019 Faithfulness copyWhen I close my eyes and I think of the faithfulness of King Jesus – the life, humanity, divinity, love, graciousness, death, resurrection, and ascension – I can hardly take it in.  
Tara Beth Leach

REGISTER by clicking this link

What is the THRiVE Gathering?

THRiVE creates an atmosphere for ladies of all ages to gather in worship, prayer and hearing from His word.

Why attend THRiVE?

1. Because it’s hard to hear God’s voice above the noise of everyday life.

2.  Because meeting together spurs us on to “love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).

3.  Standing side by side with our sisters in Christ, and worshipping, praying, and learning about our precious Savior makes us stronger.

When we attend THRiVE, we physically remove ourselves from life’s distractions, the call of chores, and the demands of people in order to make space for God.  Even Jesus recognized the value and need to get away.

And it’s just plain fun to have a girl’s weekend!

We can’t wait to gather with you for THRiVE 2019 For Great is His Faithfulness! Lamentations 3:23

Registration begins Nov. 1st
call 513-254-0318
email kalynv73@gmail.com

$15 per guest

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NEW this year!  THRiVE TEEN Girls and THRiVE Girls (grades 3-6).

We will have breakout sessions on Friday night for these lovely young ladies to learn, grow and fellowship!  The first session all of us girls will be together in the sanctuary for worship and the word.  Then at the end of that session, we will invite all the teen girls, and little girls to go to a dessert time and their own Jesus filled gathering during session two in either the Children’s Club House (grades 3-6) or the Youth Room (grades 6-12).

THRiVE Girls will be limited to the first 30 girls.  Girls in 6th grade have the option to attend either Girls or the Teen Girls’ gathering.

Saturday morning there will be a time for girls grades 3-6 ONLY for some lightly structured Bible sessions and time of craft, games and snack. 9-12 am

Teen Girls will share in our Saturday session with a breakout small group time just for them.

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This year’s THRiViNG speakers include:

Tara Beth Leach   

Tara Beth

I live in an adorable little mountain town in the suburbs of Los Angeles in a  town called Sierra Madre, Ca. along with my amazing and handsome husband (since 2006), Jeff, and my rambunctious toddler boys, Caleb and Noah.

Through the Spirit, we are made more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.

And this, my friends, is why I do what I do. This is why I write, this is why I teach, this is why I blog. I am in love with the church. If I can just be one encourager that uses my voice – through the Spirit – to edify the body of Christ, I will do it until the day I die.

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Paige Graves  and special panel guests will be sharing their journeys of THRiViNG through the power of His great faithfulness.

Kalyn Vogelmann, director of THRiVE women’ s ministry, will lead THRiViNG through the Faithfulness of His word!

Beautiful Worship Music:  Amy Mahaffey and the THRiVE band

Follow this MUSIC PLAYLIST before you even arrive by clicking here and get your heart ready.

THRiVE 2019 Welcomes the International Fair Trade Boutique  Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 1.37.11 PM

We are so excited to announce that the International Fair Trade ministry will be featured at this year’s THRiVE.  This non-profit ministry brings together vendors from Asia, Africa, South America, and Central America to showcase items such as jewelry, purses, blankets, tableware, soaps, home decor, wooden utensils, ceramics, and more. Proceeds from the sale benefit the artisans directly while providing meaningful life-supporting work, as well as, allowing them to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Come prepared to do some shopping in HAWKS HALL before or after each session at the conference.  The shop opens at 5:30 p.m. on Friday night.

Check out some of their beautiful items on the website at:

International Fair Trade Sale

Continue reading “THRiVE 2019 For Great is His Faithfulness”

Devotionals, Home, Writer's Spot

No Swerving from the God Who Sees Us and Is With Us

I love to meditate on the names of God. Each of the many names of God mentioned in scripture is given to us to help us more intimately hold onto who God is. They reveal something about His character. Who is this God we hold onto?

Throughout Advent, two such names kept coming to mind. One is El Roi, which means The God Who Sees Me. Genesis 16:13  The other is Immanuel, meaning God With Us. Isaiah 7:14

As I ponder these precious names I can’t help but notice how beautifully they work together. God has placed the two on my mind to say something specific, and it’s for all of us!


El Roi was the name attributed to God by Hagar Genesis 16. She was a lowly servant living a nightmare. When she was at her lowest, alone in the scorching desert, God reached out to her. Imagine her awe! The God of Creation, the God who had promised her master Abraham he would have an heir, the God who knew her circumstances without her sharing a mere detail… the Living God cared about what she was going through and He showed up to talk to her!

Her response was to name him El Roi: The God Who Sees Me.

While thinking about that moment, and reflecting on the many times I have called upon his name and been awed to sense that God sees me, it struck me that when God saw Hagar, he also chose to show up and spend time with her.  He didn’t send her a message through a natural phenomena or through a prophet.  He came Himself.  Her sorrow did not repel him.  He spoke to her.  He listened to her.  He heard her and she knew he was the one true God.

He was El Roi, The God Who Saw Her, but He was also Immanuel Matthew 1:23, God with her!

Dear one, God is the same yesterday, today, and always. His character is steadfast.

When you are at your lowest, He is the God who sees you: El Roi! And, He is the God who is with you, Immanuel!

When you are at your highest, He is El Roi and He is Immanuel.

When nothing makes sense in your world, He is El Roi and He is Immanuel.

When your heart overflows with joy, He is El Rio and He is Immanuel.

When you lose sight of who you are, He is El Roi and He is Immanuel.

When you answer His call upon your life, He is El Rio and He is Immanuel.

When you are lonely, He is El Roi and He is Immanuel.

When you walk into uncharted territory, He is El Rio and He is Immanuel.

When you cannot get a moment alone, He is El Roi and He is Immanuel.

Whatever your circumstances, He sees you and He is with you.

Christmas was just a few days ago and now we sit anticipating all the new the new year may bring us.  There are new joys to be found, new adventures, along with the possibility of-because we live this side of eternity-new heartbreak.  Still, let’s “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:23

I don’t want to swerve an inch and miss one single faithful promise of God.

NO SWERVING in 2018!

He is the HOPE that we have. He is the HOPE that makes not swerving possible and worth it!

Don’t allow others to determine what swerving looks like.  Always go to His word to find divine directions to follow the straight and narrow path. There is supreme joy and peace that come from living a life without swerving from the HOPE that is “trustworthy and an anchor for our souls.”  Hebrews 6:19

It seems Hagar started swerving and was unable to find hope.  But instead of staying on that downward path she called out to the Lord-the God who sees her- and HOPE found Hagar.

We celebrate that God sees us.

God chose to be with us.  Immanuel has come.

This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Hebrews 6:19

I pray that you are able to find moments of peace and calm in the new year. Soak in all of the abundant blessings around you. Praise the God who sees you just as you are day in and day out and chooses to be with you! And NO SWERVING!!!

You are so loved and cherished.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Join us for THRiVE 2018 and discover afresh another marvelous name of God-

The Light of the World. John 8:12

Kalyn

 

Events, Home, Uncategorized

THRIVE: Gathering 2016 ~ Thank you!

imageThe Thrive Gathering at West Chester didn’t have to try hard to live up to its title. As Kalyn Vogelmann shared: “to thrive is to grow or develop vigorously; to flourish” from Colossians 1:27 “the secret (to thriving) is this, Christ in you, the hope of glory” – and these ladies weren’t going to let a simple oncoming January blizzard stop them.

 

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Each person who filled the room that weekend achieved growth in their thriving relationship with Christ and with each other. The simple acts of listening to the speakers, praying for each other, and fellowshipping together over wonderful food always goes further than expected.

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While Katie Beehn shared her testimony there was no doubt that the Holy Spirit dwells in her heart.  You never know what God will do when you totally surrender to his Lordship. Her sold-out love for the Lord was so evident for all to see and hear.  Katie’s story was inspiring and a few gals are already planning their own trips to Haiti to experience for themselves what happens when we “Rise up and let Christ shine on you!” Ephesians 5:14

The panel of guests words hit many of us right at home- Dovie Hudson’s words of wisdom- Don’t try to “sit on the back row and look dumb”. God could be leading you into the reciprocal blessing of mentoring dozens of young women looking for Him at critical times in their faith journey.

Lisa Van Nest and the Food2GO ministry – “God has shown me that He is always faithful. I was afraid…afraid of failure…afraid of inadequacy…afraid of disappointment. Despite those fears, God reminded me that He will provide what I need and all I need to do is trust Him for it. Those fears still creep in from time to time, but when I see the blessings that come from this ministry and hear of the impact it is having in the community, those fears are replaced with joy, satisfaction and excitement.”

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“Anybody here who’s found him faithful? Anybody here who knows he’s able? Say Amen” Finding Favour

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Straight away the tables’ gorgeous centerpieces, which absolutely embodied the theme of thrive, also tied in with Saturday’s first speaker, Tami Conrad, and her lesson on the Parable of the Soils. She exuberantly shared the same story we’ve heard since children’s church but revived it such in a relatable way. Tami shared stories of the tendencies we all share of being a seed thrown onto beaten, rocky, and thorny soil when all we desire is to be the good plant in good soil. Whether we are guarding, or being led by emotion, or letting our to-do list strangle us, we must instead strive not just to hear the word of God, but to understand it.

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Beautiful Things- Sand Art by one of our Thrive participants

Dara Laforest also spoke that morning, filling in for an out-of-state speaker who was unfortunately snowed in. She was originally going to speak for a few minutes and sing a song, but Dara not only filled in – she thrived. She went above and beyond, sharing her story, her sorrows, her struggles, and her continuing joys. She shared her proven knowledge of how the world may abandon you, but God won’t. God can be the love of your life, if you let him.

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The amazing words of these speakers weren’t the only beautiful voices heard, as a talented band of three led worship – though they weren’t the only ones unafraid to sing. The entire gathering didn’t let a word go unsung, even overpowering the microphone at times with their music. These acts which spill joyfully over the line of expectancy is what made this gathering memorable, life-changing, and gives the best examples of thriving.

Remember…. Who’s your King? That’s my King!

Co- Written by Janae Kammer and Kalyn Vogelmann

Thank you, Janae!

Thank you for joining us for THRIVE 2016.  You were a beautiful sight!

If you would like to stay connected with THRIVE, sign up for our email notifications.  Stay tuned for THRIVE: Gathering 2017 …in Jesus’ Name

Home, Uncategorized, Women in Ministry Highlights

Food2Go ~a ministry of Living Hope Church to Centerville School Children

 

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Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8

Imagine you’ve come home after a long day: your feet are tired from being constricted in shoes and your posture is already collapsing before you even see the beloved couch. But don’t worry, it’s the weekend. You have no outside responsibilities for the next few days, so you might as well just lock yourself inside and relax until Monday cometh. Your stomach now grumbles to remind you of the timely distance between now and your last lunch break (if your workplace’s generous donut splurge counts as lunch). Still dreaming of the legendary Krispy Kreme, you stumble into the kitchen to find –
Nothing.
You check the fridge.
Freezer?
Long forgotten corners of the pantry?
Empty.
I’m not even talking about the “Uuugh, Moooooom, there’s nothing to eeeeeeat” type of empty. You feel hungry enough to where you’d gladly eat any can of straight spaghetti sauce if only you could find it. But you can’t just go to the store to buy some food – you locked yourself in for the weekend, remember? Not that you’d really have the money to buy food anyway. I guess you’ll have to buckle down and wait for those donuts at work on Monday.
In a sense, this is what is happening to kids all over Centerville during the weekend. Many kids who go to Centerville City Schools end up going home for the weekend without any food. They often live in tough situations that result in little-to-no money for food – sometimes the only real meal they get is the free lunch at school. This is where the Food2Go program comes in.
Lisa Van Nest, the current coordinator for Food2Go, shares the concept of this program and how she became a part of it:

What is Food2Go?

Food2Go is a backpack program for the Centerville City Schools that began through a couple of individuals from Living Hope Church who saw a need to feed children who are at risk of not having enough food to eat on the weekends. Since its beginning in 2007-2008, the program has gone from feeding 40+ children each week to over 160 children this school year. There were nearly 200 children served by the end of last school year. There are 28-30 volunteers involved in the program who purchase the specified food items, inventory, pack and deliver the food to the schools each week. We also partner with Elk Enterprize which is the work/study program for special needs students at the High School who inventory and pack the individual food bags, thereby receiving valuable career and life training in the process.

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How did I become involved?
Just before the holidays last year (2014), I had heard that the Food2Go ministry was struggling financially and there was some concern that Living Hope would no longer be able to support the program. That struck a chord with me–I thought that this was too important a ministry for it to not be able to continue. At the time, I had no involvement with the program and didn’t really know much about how it operated, so I didn’t really give it any more consideration, especially with the onset of the holidays and all the busyness that comes with the season.

UNTIL, the first of the year came around and I received a call from my pastor, Jon Gibson, who wanted to talk to me about Food2Go. I was reluctant–no, afraid of what that meant, so I did not return his call. The following weekend was the District Women’s Gathering, which I attended by myself. As I sat through the sessions listening to each woman on the discussion panel share their testimony of how God called them to start their ministry, I felt God poking at my heart. imageThen, I heard one of the women say, “God is speaking to one of you out there and if he’s asking you to do something, then you better do it!” It was as if God had said it directly to me and it could not have been more clear. It was confirmation for me, that God was calling me to get involved with Food2Go. So, I returned Jon’s call and as it turned out, the director of Food2Go was stepping down, and a new coordinator was needed. After meeting with Jon and the director to learn more about the role, I knew this was what God was calling me to and I couldn’t say no.

I am now in my first year of directing Food2Go and it has been a learning process. The ministry is still having a few struggles financially, but it is improving and people have stepped up to either volunteer or support it financially. We have another church, Normandy UMC, who partners with us by providing some of the food which is about 1/3 of the total cost. We have also received grants from a couple of local organizations.

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What has God shown you?

God has shown me that He is always faithful. I was afraid…afraid of failure…afraid of inadequacy…afraid of disappointment. Despite those fears, God reminded me that He will provide what I need and all I need to do is trust Him for it. Those fears still creep in from time to time, but when I see the blessings that come from this ministry and hear of the impact it is having in the community, those fears are replaced with joy, satisfaction and excitement. The relationships I have formed with not only the volunteers, but school counselors and teachers, have been a blessing I didn’t even foresee. It is a pleasure to work with such a wonderful team, who all share the passion for helping children in need.

I am grateful that God spoke to me the way that He did. Through the obedience of those women He called to ministry and through the opportunity of hearing those women share their stories, I now have the opportunity to share my story. That is my heart’s desire: to be a part of God’s story!

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If God is poking your own heart about helping with Food2Go, you can go to their Facebook page for more information and contacts: Food-2-Go

article by Lisa Van Nest and Janae Kammer

Devotionals, Home, Uncategorized, Writer's Spot

What’s New? Part 3 -When “What’s New” is hard.

 Look! I am about to do a new thing! Now it sprouts! Do you not perceive it?

Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19 (LEB) image

What do you do when the new in life is the hard. It’s not an exciting new adventure or giddy butterflies in your stomach moment. It’s gut wrenching, head spinning and faith clinging, clinging, clinging. How do you respond to this “new thing”  in your life situation that feels like it is stealing from your life?

Where is the new creation?  Where are the new compassions?  Why this new thing?

imageMeet my friend, Elaine Mahaffey, and hear her story. Allow her perspective to open your eyes to new ways God loves, heals and creates the new in the midst of the hard.  Many of you have heard Elaine speak at our Out of our Mind women’s events the past 2 January’s. What none of us knew this past January was that a little over 24 hours before Elaine spoke to us about being devoted to the apostles’ teaching, she heard from the doctors that her cancer had returned; this time in her bones. 

 

 

 

When What’s New Is Hard

“The “new” is flooded with His presence, infused with His instruction, and enveloped by His grace.”image

But I’ve been here before! I know what it’s like to hear the “C” word from my doctor. MRIs, CT scans, surgery, radiation…been there, done that. I remember the infusion center, the shock of post-surgery realization, the pain of severe burns from radiation, the celebration of treatment completed. Yes, I know what cancer is like. And now I know what it’s like to have cancer return.

​As I have cried and prayed my way through this recent diagnosis of metastasis, I have asked God what I am to learn from this. With my first cancer experience, I blogged on a Caring Bridge site, but I have struggled to begin a second blog attempt. God’s Word has not changed. Everything I wrote in my first blog is still true today, so what “new” thing am I to learn? What is God teaching me now? I must confess, this new is definitely hard.

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Patience. Perhaps God wants me to slow down, yet I am happiest when I am busy. My “type A” personality has always driven me to thrive on tasks accomplished. Even in the midst of this diagnosis, my mind runs with goals to achieve, closets to clean, books to write. Yet now I wait hours in doctor’s offices and infusion centers for appointments. My time is now subject to the schedules of others…no more “master” of my days. Perhaps I do need to slow down, but God please give me patience!

Humility. Countless friends and acquaintances have sent cards, visited, provided meals, prayed over me and with me, and have been very supportive. I am not used to this. It is perhaps one of the hardest parts of this whole process. Everyone means well and for the most part these interactions are good, but sometimes things are said that I must process with filters. Recently, a good friend asked me, “Elaine, how are you doing? I can’t imagine. What does it feel like to know you are dying?” I know she meant well…I would just rather focus right now on the living. God is God. He knew my date of birth and my date of death before I was even conceived. My life is in His hands, and I rest in that. Peace is knowing that I don’t have to concern myself with my coming and going. He does all things well.

​Trusting God does not mean you cannot cry. Believe me, I have cried with this recent news. I am very human and my emotions are very real. My husband has always been the one who cries more than me, yet together we have “cried a river” (probably an Amazon!) these past few months. I have cried as I shared this news with my associates at work, with dear friends, with people at our church, and even at times with total strangers! I will go along my day thinking I am handling everything well, and then for some odd reason, something will open the floodgates again. I love life, my husband, our children and their spouses, our nine grandchildren, blue sky days, mountains and beaches, and so much more. Yesterday I was reminding myself, “Better to have loved much than to have never loved at all.” I love these people God has placed in my path! And I cry when I am reminded that I am diseased. But – I trust God with everything…my life, my husband, our children and their spouses, our nine grandchildren, the blue sky days, and even the mountains and beaches. He is Sovereign. He is our Provider, our Sustainer, our Rock in times of trial. He is everything to me and I trust Him even in the tears.image

 

Deny yourself…take up your cross…follow me. Our church has focused this Lenten season on this verse Matthew penned years ago through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit:

​Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves, and take up their cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

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​As we have worked through this Scripture corporately, I have worked through this privately. What does it mean to deny myself? I must understand that as a Christ follower, every part of me belongs to Christ. My time…my pride…the good days and the difficult ones…the cancer-free days and the cancer-laden days…my life.

​And what does “take up your cross” mean for me? Is my cross cancer? I don’t believe it is. In his book, Experiencing the Cross, Henry Blackaby writes that “Taking up your cross means giving up your rights.” Interesting. I think I understand Blackaby’s perspective a little better in the midst of a cancer diagnosis. Taking up my cross means that I surrender my “right” to orchestrate my life as I desire, but God has every right to take me on the mountaintop or lead me through the valleys. I must surrender to His plan for me, and I choose to do so with the tenacity of embracing the truth of His Word with honesty, transparent with questions, successes and failures. The “new” is flooded with His presence, infused with His instruction, and enveloped by His grace.

​The result: I will follow Him. Even when the new is hard.

Blessings,

Elaine Mahaffey