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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.

Hosea 6 3

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, Writer's Spot

I Am a Valiant Warrior

I am a Valiant WarriorJudges 6, 7

Maybe you’re not feeling like one today. That’s possibly the same way Gideon felt on the day the Lord came to him. “Gideon, valiant warrior.” Those are the words God used to describe Gideon while he was down in the winepress threshing wheat and hiding from the Midianites. Threshing floors (where Gideon was supposed to be threshing the wheat) are always exposed in a high, open air setting to take advantage of the soft, steady winds for the wheat to more easily fall and be separated from the chaff.

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Winepresses are for crushing grapes. Threshing floors are for threshing wheat. But Gideon is so afraid of the Midianites that he was threshing the wheat in a secluded, damp, isolating place so his enemy wouldn’t find the wheat and steal it away.

Real warrior like, huh?

Gideon is not supposed to be afraid of the Midianites; he and his people are supposed to drive them out. But his fear has taken hold of him. Maybe you can relate to that. Fearful Israelites…? It was not supposed to be this way, so God came to Gideon… (Judges 6:11-12).

When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he said, the LORD is with you, valiant warrior. Judges 6:12

Gideon and his tribe had been praying to God to send someone else to rescue them. Sound familiar?  God please send help soon! But, is God calling you?Image result for god calling

God called Gideon to be the one to lead the Israelites into battle and drive out their enemy because God saw something in Gideon, something that Gideon didn’t see in himself–

Valiant Warrior!

GOD saw Gideon and named him a Valiant Warrior before Gideon was ever aware that any sort of warrior like quality could possibly exist within him.

Gideon’s I am’s were:

But then, there’s God’s view of who Gideon was and Joshua 6:34 happens,  “The spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon.”= identity change.

And all throughout the story of Gideon we read how God made him a valiant warrior; filling him with His spirit, answering his prayers, giving him wisdom to sift men as wheat, scaling down his army to only 300 and going against the enemy into an intense battle with weapons of trumpets and empty jars!  This could only be–Valiant Warrior Gideon! 

val·iant        /ˈvalyənt/

adjective    1.  possessing or showing courage or determination.

Image result for valiant warrior helmet synonyms:

brave, courageous, heroic, lionhearted, bold, fearless, daring, audacious;  unflinching, unshrinking, unafraid

(I personally like unshrinking! But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and are saved.) Hebrews 10:39

This whole situation could not have made sense to Gideon.  Gideon must have been shaking his head in wonder of the God of Israel, and at the same time, maybe smiling in awe and anticipation because at this point he had a history of God’s faithfulness to draw from… so Gideon did as God told him.

God met Gideon “down in the winepress” and reminded him who he was… a valiant warrior.   Don’t feel sorry for Gideon, he was right in the place God could meet him.

Sometimes our circumstances can position us in the very place where He can meet us and prove to us who He says we are.  God told Gideon he was a Mighty Warrior, and indeed he was!  Gideon learned this new name for himself one way-by BELIEVING GOD and listening to the call of God on his life!  Gideon believed he was who God said he was.Image result for valiant warrior

And… Gideon “went in the strength the Lord gave him and saved Israel out of Midian’s hands.” “… all the Midianites ran, crying out as they fled.” Judges 6:15, 7:21

This makes me laugh… I can just picture it–there were 400 Midianite “warrior wanna-be’s” for everyone 1 Israelite–yet the Midianites are crying and running away from an army of guys with trumpets and broken jars!

Awww… the power of God.

Victory!

Why does God’s word share these types of stories?  Because He is always gracious enough to remind us what He REALLY DID SAY in His word about who He is and who we are.

Here’s another fun I amI am snatched.

Once again…. The Israelites were snatched from the hand of their oppressors. (Judges 6:9)

I am snatched.

I am a warrior.

 What  I am______   are you BELIEVING God for today?

Love,

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

 

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

 

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, Writer's Spot

Secrets to Thriving By Elaine Mahaffey

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Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’ Matthew 1:23

Immanuel…God with us. This four syllable biblical word describing the baby Jesus is a staple for Christmas carols, sermons, and cards. I have probably heard the word Immanuel numerous times every Christmas season of my life, yet until recently I have probably not understood it’s depth of meaning.
​Somehow grasping for hope causes us to search for meaning…the meaning of life, the meaning of death. In the midst of Stage IV metastatic carcinoma, what does “God with me” mean? As a Christ-follower, faith assures me that He is WITH me, in the good times and the bad times, in sickness and in health, in celebration and in defeat. But exactly what does WITH mean? Perhaps the WITH of God explains the peace I have felt in the midst of cancer treatment. Or does the WITH of God answer the unexplainable joy, or the unwavering hope that God is in control of my life? His WITH for me means His very nature permeates my thoughts and reactions when I am scared of hearing scan results, or when the pain of the tumor in my leg reminds me that I am living with cancer. The “with” of God enables me to not only survive this time of my life, but even to thrive during this time.
​God often reminds me that He is Immanuel to me. He is with me and is in control of everything. Ten years ago, I received a Christmas cactus as a gift. I parked it in our master bathroom where I would remember to water it (even cacti need some water!). The cactus sits all year looking rather nondescript. In fact, it’s rather ugly. But every year in late November or early December, beautiful amazing red flowers appear.

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I remember four years ago when I was going through my first breast cancer. I glanced at the beautiful cactus one day and made the comment to Bob, “How does that plant know it is December!” Immediately the Lord reminded me that He is Sovereign over everything. He tells the Christmas cactus that it’s time to bloom! So why would I have to worry about ANYTHING.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
​​​​​​Matthew 6:25-34
I can thrive in the cancer battle because He is Sovereign Immanuel. The “with” of God knows and orchestrates every day of my life.
​I also thrive because of encouragement of family, friends, and even those people I hardly know. Encouragement is powerful and fuels strength to fight. It comes in many forms…through cards, promises of prayers being offered, surprise gifts of blouses that will fit my arm plagued with lymphedema, or even through my grandchildren. Every now and then God surprises me with unexpected encouragement. I smile as I think of a recent gift:
My morning began as usual. On Tuesday mornings Tucker arrives around 8:30 and then we head out to Ladies Bible Study around 9:15. This morning was like any other…nothing out of the ordinary. Until I changed his diaper. As I leaned over him to complete the task, Tucker looked up at me, and in his innocent, charming toddler voice, said, “Grammy, you look like a princess!”
You can imagine how shocked I was to hear those words. In these cancer-laden, chemo-driven days, I often don’t feel like a princess. I limp. I have one arm almost twice the size of the other. I have gained weight due to steroid infusions and increased appetite. My “princess” days seem to be over. One of my fears in my reoccurrence of cancer has been that my grandchildren may not remember their Grammy as vibrant and full of life, but chemo-destroyed, old, sickly. I try as hard as possible to seem as normal as possible in the abnormal.
Tucker made my day that day. I realize that the comment was probably spurred on by the “princess-type” sleeves of my new blouse, but I can always fantasize that he really saw his grandmother with the blind eyes of love and not the clouded eyes of the world.
​​“…but let us encourage one another…” 1 Thessalonians 4:18
That we would all live this way.
​​Encouragement feeds thriving.
To more than survive in life’s most difficult challenges, I believe we must experience the “with of God,” being thankful for any encouragement He sends our way. People encourage me, but the Word of God, His Son Who made His dwelling among us, and the Holy Spirit encourage me even more. I could not live in peace, joy, and hope without this assurance. I love the theme for our upcoming women’s renewal event. I hope I am living testimony to the truth of God’s Word:
God has made known to us the secret to THRIVING… “That secret truth, which is for all people, is that Christ lives in you, the hope of glory.”​​Colossians 1:27
I want to thrive in the midst of cancer…not just survive…that He may be glorified!

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Elaine Mahaffey

A previous and most excellent post by Elaine about her diagnosis of bone cancer: When What’s New is Hard 

Click here to find out more about THRIVE:Gathering 2016 where Elaine has been a featured speaker.

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