Sunday, May 13, 2018

Seven Years - Peace in the Valley

Foggy Morning
Today is May 13, 2018.  Seven years ago today my life and my family's life was forever changed by the diagnosis of cancer.  Today just also happens to be Mother's Day.  I can't think of a better way to celebrate seven years cancer free -- than being a Mom. God saw me through a very difficult time as a Mother and blessed me with two sons. So much has happened in the last seven years that God has been planning it amazes me.  For those that don't know my entire cancer story you can read the side bar titled "My Cancer Story."  I know God has been preparing me to write and return to blogging.  I don't know if anyone really reads this but here goes...It is pressing on my heart and mind to write more often about my journey battling cancer and being a cancer survivor.  Many have asked me to write about life on a cattle ranch here in Peace Valley Missouri. Devotionals regarding being a wife, mom and woman in Christ seem to be top on the list. I want to explore the topics of ranch life (like being a "real" pioneer woman). You know I love to cook, play in the garden and take pictures of my crazy messy blessed life. Id' love to hear from you.  If there is something you want let me know.

Late September
Feeding Heifers

Boys and Mom

Missouri Cattlemen

October Leaves

November Leaves

 So why Missouri? That is the biggest question everyone asks me.  We moved from Southern Idaho to Missouri in August of 2017.  Many factors played in to our decision to move.  The best and simplest reason is this: God told us to.  Yes God said go to Missouri! So here we are in Southeast Missouri just North of West Plains in a community called Peace Valley.  There is such a place as Peace Valley and yes it is peaceful here! After running a crazy schedule for so many years God has provided a place of rest for our family.  We are enjoying our daily routine of taking care of our cattle as a full time job as a family.  God began to prepare us for this task many years ago. We are applying the skills we have learned over the years to accomplish this now.

This area of Missouri is known for rich pasture ground able to support beef cattle. It rains in Howell County about 47 inches per year.  That is a drastic change from Southern Idaho at a meager 9.36 inches per year. Needless to say there is no need to irrigate here! God sends the rain to water the earth in due time. We are so glad to not have to irrigate twice a day here. They say we are always 10 days away from drought here so the importance of praying for rain is a real thing.  Currently we need rain, so join me in praying for rain in Peace Valley!

You can read more HERE about the land in Missouri and why we chose to move to the Ozarks to run a cattle ranch. This is an article about native grasses by the Missouri Department of Conservation.  Our cattle ranch has fescue grass and timber ground mixed in each pasture.  The forest ground is diverse! I am learning to identify many varieties of trees.  When we arrived in the late summer early fall and the leaves were still on.  Then winter came and leaves fell to the forest floor.  Now it is late Spring and the forest is full of life and leaves have returned and flowering trees have bloomed.  It is so beautiful! Surprisingly the cattle love to sit under these big oak trees and find shade from the hot sun. It is not so easy to count the cows and find everyone with the trees.  It is easy to forget you are on a cattle ranch and might mistake it for a state or national forest. This girl is so overwhelmed with he new flora and fauna to learn! My botany skills are being sharpened and I am enjoying the challenge of a new ecosystem to learn and appreciate.

Iris just bloomed!
Stay tuned for more updates soon.  I am working on writing some more devotional material in a series format that will build on a concept and specific section of scripture.  God has been teaching me so many things and I have crazy notes all over the place to organize.

For now I will leave you with this thought ---

Psalm 24 1:6
New Living Translation
A psalm of David.
1The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.
The world and all its people belong to him.
2For he laid the earth’s foundation on the seas
and built it on the ocean depths.
3Who may climb the mountain of the LORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
4Only those whose hands and hearts are pure,
who do not worship idols
and never tell lies.
5They will receive the LORD’s blessing
and have a right relationship with God their savior.
6Such people may seek you
and worship in your presence, O God of Jacob.

We are blessed to be here in Peace Valley, Missouri -- so thankful for the many friends we had to leave in Idaho and the new friends we have met and are getting to know here now.  

Psalm 50:10-11
English Standard Version
God Himself Is Judge
A Psalm of Asaph.
10For every beast of the forest is mine,
the cattle on a thousand hills.
11I know all the birds of the hills,
and all that moves in the field is mine.


Friday, December 12, 2014

Ditch the Fig Leaves this Christmas

This is the season of giving and receiving.  Making lists and checking them twice.  So much pressure we put upon ourselves to be perfect.  Perfect cards, perfect desserts, perfect outfits, perfect hair, perfect kids, perfect's all perfect.  Or is it?  I'm tired of the perfection game.  Perfection is something we strive for but never attain.  We miss the Perfect gift of Christmas busying ourselves trying to "be perfect" and before long we are wiped out well before the twenty-fifth of December. Why do we make ourselves crazy this time of year more than any other time?  We want our families to appear happy, our homes beautifully decorated minus any life clutter popping out of closets and drawers and the kids on their best behavior because we have bribed them with lots of candy. Who are we really trying to fool? Why does the fig leaf come out this time of year and try to hide the truth of who we really are?

It's no secret that Adam and Eve made fig leaves because they were afraid (Genesis 3: 10) What were they afraid of?  Afraid that God would no longer love them. Afraid that if God really knew them and saw them for who they really were -- He may not like them. Friends I think it is the same for us...fear of rejection.  Rejection that God wouldn't like me, rejection that those around me wouldn't like me anymore.  The truth is God all ready knows what we are and He loves us just the same. Ever since that day in the garden when Eve took the fruit and ate it and shared it with her husband mankind has been hiding out.  Covering up with fig leaves. The problem isn't in the fig leaves it's in our thinking.

I can't let others see the real me, because they won't like the real me.

Christmas cards with perfect smiling faces and fresh clothes all matching -- picture perfect perfection, but is it real?

Oh thanks to Pinterest I can pin my way to perfection: homemade crafts and goodies to eat but is it really sweet?

Presents wrapped up with ribbons and bows out of guilt to give above and beyond my means in order to please others. Come January will they even remember who the gift was from?

There is a measure of dysfunction in all of us.  We are broken people in desperate need of a Savior.  So why this time of year do we hum the tune of Silent Night when we are screaming on the inside of all the un-holy in us and hide once again behind fig leaves?  Our thinking is all messed up.  We don't need to perform better but receive better.  It's the Gift we keep rejecting.  The Gift of God's love is free - but we reject it before we can unwrap all that is there!

John 3:16 NKJV - "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

Christmas is all about believing the Gift.  The gift of a baby sent from heaven to save the world from it's sin and sure death.  The story of Christmas began way back in the beginning.  Back in the garden with the fig leaves.  God knew that Adam and Eve would fall and be afraid.  He had a plan to bring the best Gift of salvation to mankind. Hiding leads to more hiding and playing this game of perfectionism. It leaves you feeling ashamed, alone, isolated and fearful.

 Genesis 3:7-10 NKJV - Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they [were] naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, "Where [are] you?" So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself."

We don't need to be afraid of being real -- being naked about who we really are.  Hiding behind fig leaves prevents you from being really naked.  Exposing the truth of who you really are immediately makes you vulnerable, open and free.  God sees it all. The truth is we don't like how we feel when we are hiding.  When we confess our hiding we experience freedom and healing.

James 5:16 ESV - "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working."

So friends this Christmas stop hiding and be real!  Find a friend to be real with and stop playing the game of perfectionism.  Be real.  I dare you to be transparent.  Stop doing all the motions of Christmas with a fake heart and fig leaves tied up to cover your imperfections.  Hey we are ALL sinners saved by grace. We need healing this Christmas.  Healing from our addiction to perfectionism.

Luke 2:8-11 NKJV - "Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."

You can find the words "do not be afraid" even in the Christmas story.  Be brave have courage and fear not! The Shepherds are a great example to us.  They were willing to go just as the angel told them.  They did no hiding, no fake photo ops just pure authentic shepherds praising the saviors birth.  What a glorious picture for us.  

I'm still working on writing my Christmas letter and waiting for the family photo card I ordered just this week to arrive.  I need to buy stamps and make my address list.  There are endless shopping lists, presents to buy, parties to attend and the never ending chores of the everyday still have to be done. I choose to be naked and openly say I am not perfect.  I still don't have a Christmas tree yet and the lights we bought to put outside are still in the box.  I have grand plans for using that secret Pinterest board on the best  Christmas cookies and homemade gifts to make for all my friends -- but this year it just may not happen.  Sorry friends!  I choose the best Gift: Jesus over perfection and I'm ditching the fig leaves.

"I don't want a Christmas you can buy.
I don't want a Christmas you can make.
What I want for Christmas is a Christmas I can hold.
A Christmas that holds me, remakes me, revives me.
I want a Christmas that whispers , Jesus!"
---Ann Voskamp The Greatest Gift
Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Let the Children Come

There is a big difference between being tired and burned out.  I am physically tired due to this season of life with a little 16 month old running around.  Zachariah is into everything.  I mean EVERYTHING.  I also have the privilege of homeschooling my oldest boy Dustin.  This also is a task that requires self-sacrifice and huge time commitment.  I don't do it alone, which I am thankful for, but it does mean I have to prioritize my day. The last few days have been crazy to say the least.  We have been trying to get a backyard project completed all summer long and well the timing wasn't perfect but, we finally got a concrete patio poured in our backyard.  The thing about it is that means the dogs, all 4 of them can't be in the yard for 3 days.  In case you don't live in an area that is receiving an arctic blast let me just tell you it's cold, bone chilling cold. Right now it's 11 degrees. Winter blew in and settled in.  So the last few nights I have spent time bundling myself up to take trips outside with dogs who are not leash trained in any fashion to go potty.  This routine of going outside is filled with drama.  It is not an easy feat to take one dog because all four of them want to go at the same time.  Try doing this at 2 am half asleep and trying to keep quiet so you don't wake the rest of the house! I have spent two times now chasing dogs who seem to have a mind of their own and want to taste freedom.  This makes me tired!

I've been working on some ideas for children's ministry at church lately.  I was recently challenged by my husband to figure out why the disciples prevented the little children from coming to Jesus.  Why would they do this?  I mean it's Jesus - the man who heals the lame, sick and blind.  Why would they say we don't want any kids here? It was the disciples telling the parents, we don't want your kids here.

[Matthew 19:13 NKJV] "Then little children were brought to Him that He might put [His] hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them." [Matthew 19:14 NKJV] "But Jesus said, "Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven."" [Matthew 19:15 NKJV] "And He laid [His] hands on them and departed from there."

Looking at verse 13 we have a key word: then. You see Jesus was busy.  He was up over his eye-balls in day to day ministry activities.  Let's face it, He was busy doing miracles, preaching and teaching and traveling.  He had just finished dealing with a question about divorce from the pharisees.  Before that he was in Galilee and traveled to Judea beyond the Jordan.  This was a journey on foot that normally took two and a half days, roughly 70  miles as a straight path.  But this meant going through the region of Samaria.  Jews would take the long route to avoid Samaria.  They traveled the hot desert road from Jerusalem to Jericho, and up the Jordan valley.  This route would be twice as long and much hotter and more uncomfortable. This means Jesus just spent four days give or take out in the desert walking and entered into ministering to the people immediately upon arrival to the Jordan area.

This reminds me of another time the Lord was traveling from Galilee to the Jordan area.  Except this time he traveled through Samaria. Jesus cut right through on a straight path to a well outside of town for an important encounter. There was a woman coming to the well to draw water.

[John 4:3 NKJV] "He left Judea and departed again to Galilee." [John 4:4 NKJV] "But He needed to go through Samaria." [John 4:5 NKJV] "So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph."
[John 4:6 NKJV] "Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from [His] journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour." [John 4:7 NKJV] "A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink."" [John 4:8 NKJV] "For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food."

Jesus was tired.  Physically tired from walking in the hot desert sun and now apparently hungry and thirsty.  The disciples go off into town to buy some food as Jesus sits down by the well. It's noon and the well should be vacant, but it's not.

[John 4:6 NKJV] "Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from [His] journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour." [John 4:7 NKJV] "A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink.""
[John 4:8 NKJV] "For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food."
[John 4:9 NKJV] "Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans." [John 4:10 NKJV] "Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.""

The point is this: even though Jesus was weary from his traveling, his teaching schedule and constant discussions with the pharisees he still did the will of the Father.  He was still doing ministry.

Jesus was weary in the ministry, not of the ministry.

[John 4:7 NKJV] "A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink.""[John 4:8 NKJV] "For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food."
[John 4:9 NKJV] "Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans."[John 4:10 NKJV] "Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.""

Jesus goes on to explain to this woman all the details of her life and really takes her to the Living Well. This is in spite of his physical condition.  He worked past it. At the end of the passage we catch a glimpse of how he was able to accomplish this.  The disciples didn't understand.  They thought someone else brought him food to eat.

[John 4:31 NKJV] "In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, "Rabbi, eat.""
[John 4:32 NKJV] "But He said to them, "I have food to eat of which you do not know.""
[John 4:33 NKJV] "Therefore the disciples said to one another, "Has anyone brought Him [anything] to eat?""[John 4:34 NKJV] "Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work."

The secret to not becoming weary of the ministry is to continually do the will of the Father.

[Matthew 6:33 NKJV]
 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

If God has called you to something He will be faithful to equip you as you serve. The hard part is staying committed to the calling.  Continually doing the will of the Father has some amazing benefits both here on earth and later for heaven.

So back to why the disciples were telling parents to keep the kids away from Jesus.  I think the disciples were tired also and just hadn't figured out how to continually do the will of the Father and not be weary of the ministry. One bonus we have now is the power of the Holy Spirit in us to give us power to accomplish His will. There are lots of things in this world that can cause us to become tired. We just have to keep our focus so we don't loose sight of the prize ahead.  In children's ministry it's no different.  It seems like a revolving door.  No one wants the job of Sunday school teacher. The job of teaching kids isn't the most visible position of leadership.  Yet even Jesus wasn't too busy to lay hands and pray over the children.  We shouldn't be either.

[Galatians 6:9 NKJV]
 "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."

So the question I have is how committed are you? Are you weary of the ministry or weary in the ministry? We must take time to seek first the kingdom of God which requires praying, reading the Word and waiting for Him to respond. Let's not loose heart. The children are important. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The Attitudes to Be

The treasury of scripture never ends.  The deeper you dig the more buried treasure there is to find.  I love this about the Word.  There isn't enough time in my life to spend studying the truths buried between the lines of each verse.  I have set to a habit of cogitating the profoundness of this great and marvelous mystery.  It is an absolute joy and privilege to have the ample resources at my finger tips to make digging into the Word easy.  Tools at the swipe of my finger, located on my iPhone like the Blue Letter Bible, software programs like Logos, pod casts from various pastors and YouTube videos of teachings.

 I always found it hard to understand this particular passage of scripture in Matthew chapter 5.  I have spent some time really studying it and wanted to share my findings.  Of course these aren't all my original thoughts.  Mostly this is due to the fact that my Bible study group is covering the life of Jesus and we just happened to finish up on this.  I have re-read this over and over.  Trying to wrap my human brain around these God-concepts.  The Holy Spirit gives us understanding when we earnestly seek and ask.  I am so thankful for this.
Matthew 5:1-12
[Mat 5:1 NKJV] And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.
[Mat 5:2 NKJV] Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:
[Mat 5:3 NKJV] "Blessed [are] the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[Mat 5:4 NKJV] Blessed [are] those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.
[Mat 5:5 NKJV] Blessed [are] the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.
[Mat 5:6 NKJV] Blessed [are] those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.
[Mat 5:7 NKJV] Blessed [are] the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.
[Mat 5:8 NKJV] Blessed [are] the pure in heart, For they shall see God.
[Mat 5:9 NKJV] Blessed [are] the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.
[Mat 5:10 NKJV] Blessed [are] those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
[Mat 5:11 NKJV] "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.
[Mat 5:12 NKJV] "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great [is] your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Verse 3
When I am poor in spirit I recognize I am nothing.  Jesus is everything and I am nothing without Him. I am a broken vessel unable to fix myself and in need of someone to save me from myself.

Verse 4
  I was always confused about those who morn.  Why would it be a blessing to just cry?  Then I understood why the crying was taking place.  When you honestly take inventory of your heart it will reveal the ugly secrets you want know one to ever know about.

Psalm 51:2-4;10-11
 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin.
For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin [is] always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done [this] evil in Your sight--That You may be found just when You speak, [And] blameless when You judge.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence, And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Cleansing takes place as we mourn or cry over our sin, our brokenness, our need for a savior.  I plead with God to forgive my sin and I am sorry and ask for forgiveness from my sin that separates me from God.

Bleeding Heart
Verse 5
Poor in spirit is meekness.  It is being humble.  It is an emptying of self. We can label this pride or arrogance.  It is surrendering your rights and giving full control to the Lord.

"Meekness toward God is that disposition of spirit in which we accept His dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. In the OT, the meek are those wholly relying on God rather than their own strength to defend against injustice. Thus, meekness toward evil people means knowing God is permitting the injuries they inflict, that He is using them to purify His elect, and that He will deliver His elect in His time (Isa 41:17, Luk 18:1-8). Gentleness or meekness is the opposite to self-assertiveness and self-interest. It stems from trust in God's goodness and control over the situation. The gentle person is not occupied with self at all. This is a work of the Holy Spirit, not of the human will (Gal 5:23). " Copied from Blue Letter Bible

Even Jesus made himself humble (Philippians 2) even to the point of death on a cross.

Strong's G5013 - tapeinoĊ

to make low, bring low
to level, reduce to a plain
metaph. to bring into a humble condition, reduce to meaner circumstances
to assign a lower rank or place to
to abase
to be ranked below others who are honoured or rewarded
to humble or abase myself by humble living
to lower, depress
of one's soul bring down one's pride
to have a modest opinion of one's self
to behave in an unassuming manner 
devoid of all haughtiness

Verse 6
Now that I have admitted I am a sinner, repented of my sin and confessed Jesus as Lord of my life and I am in submission to Him; now I am truly empty ready to be filled.  If the previous statement is true I will be genuinely hungry  for God to fill me.  So it begs the question, am I really hungry for God in my life?  Am I looking for Him to fill me? What am I filling myself with?

Verse 7
When I extend mercy to others it will be given to me.  Because I am poor in spirit I can give to others in a self-less way.  It's not judging when really judgment is necessary.  One just simply over looks the issue at hand. 

 Ephesians 4:32 
"And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you."

Verse 8
My motivation of self promotion has died. I am not pursuing fame and recognition of man.  No I am in the business of giving glory to an audience of One.  My heart has grieved over my own sin and I am free of self seeking glorification.

 Mark 9:35 
 "And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all."

Verse 9
Being a peacemaker is not something you can fake. This is where you find out if you have thick skin or not.  People can me mean.  I have laid down my rights and my ideas of how things should be done.  Yes I still have opinions but self-promotion has ceased. I am a servant and I want to keep the peace around me by leading by example.

Romans 12:9-21
[Let] love [be] without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.
[Be] kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;
not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;
rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;
distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but [rather] give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance [is] Mine, I will repay," says the Lord.
Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head."
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Verses 10-12
This is my conviction. Do others see my beliefs lived out loud and know where I stand? To some I will be a sweet fragrance and to others the smell of death (2 Corinthians 2:15)  This is one we just don't want to talk about.  Persecution.  Here in comfy USA we just don't give it much thought.  Yet I do believe their are several types of persecution. The obvious and most easily recognized would be current day saints in chains because of their faith.  Pastor Saeed Abadeni from Boise Idaho is one of many in chains for his faith.  His story like others reminds us that persecution is real.  We can also experience persecution from friends and family when we take a stand that others don't agree with.  The end result is the same.  Persecution was meant to spark growth and the spread of the Gospel.  I have no doubt that is exactly what Saeed is doing in a very dark place. This earth is not my home.  I am on a mission to know Him and make Him known whatever the cost.  You have to decide what side of th fence you are on before perscution arrives at your door.  The reality of our world today should provoke us to live out our faith.  With news reports of school shootings, be-headings occurring globally, the rise of ISIS and Ebola outbreaks one must be ready.  Be ready now.  Don't wait church.  We were told by Jesus that trouble will come. It is not a matter of IF but WHEN.

John 16:33 
"These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Saturday, October 25, 2014

My Hardest Peace

I am a fighter.  I am stubborn.  I admit I want it my way and my way now.  It's this flesh that keeps me trapped and stuck on my man-centered ideals and a false reality that life is all about me.  Cue the thunder and lightening bolts from heaven.  Wake up and slap my-self silly to recognize it's not about me, it never was about me. I finally came to that realization after I had finished college, married prince charming and had one baby. I had bought into the lie that life was about the pursuit of happiness the Great American Dream had lied to my Little House on the Prairie romantic ideas of farm life. Well if the American Dream was a lie then my fantasy of farm life painted on Little House on the Prairie was even worse.  Farm life is hard work.  Not for the weak or weak minded.  There is a lot of work to keep a farm operating. I married my college sweetheart who was preparing for a career as a veterinarian. I worked four years in the lab as a chemist and scientist. Put him through school. I wore rubber gloves, a white coat and sometimes safety goggles. I loved my job. Too bad those goggles didn't save my eyes for the road ahead.   The short story is we found our way to Idaho after four years in Iowa and two in California. We moved to Idaho I was 8 months pregnant. The farm we were purchasing fell out of escrow.  We moved into my brother and sister-laws basement.  So now we are in a new state, no friends, new baby and stuck in a basement. I traded the basement for a double wide 1970's mobile home about four months later.  It wasn't my idea of a farm house.  It was home and it was in the trailer that I realized life wasn't about me.  It was about Him. God exists to glorify himself, He created me to glorify Him.  My story and everyone's story is to bring Him glory.

"God loves His glory more than He loves us, and this is the foundation of His love for us."
 John Piper

I had allowed myself to become bitter and depressed because things just weren't going the way I wanted or had planned.  I was miserable and made others around me just as or even worse.  Light began to shed on my life as I once again began reading the Word and actually doing what it says. A friend had challenged me to read the Bible through in one year.  Read daily for one year.  Wow. Seems simple.  This simple idea became my safe place, my shelter from the life I had and the life I dreamed of having.  I found my hope, my peace and self in this.  I began to change from a man-centered view to a God-centered view.  In other words living self-free.  It's not about me.  I had made it all about me.  My heart had some healing to do.  I was broken.  Deep in a pit of dark depression. Secretly I saw a counselor who really didn't help but just allowed me to vent my venomous thoughts.

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, 
nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that bring forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf does not wither; 
and whatever he does shall prosper.
Psalm 1:1-3
 Not all counselors are that way I have now discovered.  Honestly you can go and find a person who will tell you want you want to hear.  It won't change anything.  It makes you feel good for a little while.  But nothing changes. Feelings lie.  Now If you talk to the Counselor and read His word then bingo, life can change.   Mine did.  I experienced such healing and growth it is hard to put it in words.  I just know that I know.  What proof is there other that I am just simply not the same person I was?  I entered into a season of discovery in my faith. Who really was this Jesus? I wanted to know Him and make Him known.  My prayers shifted.I had found my peace in the midst of a hard season.

"That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death." Philippians 3:10

I embarked on a journey few take.  It is the narrow gate that leads to the abundant life.  I was praying for change. The change was happening slowly but surely.  I was losing myself and finding Christ in the everyday tasks of living.  God was teaching me the holy disciplines of being His child: reading the Word, memorizing it, pondering it, praying it. I simply couldn't get enough.   I became involved in Celebrate Recovery.  I participated in small groups and shared my heart with other hurting women from all walks of life.  I began to serve.  It is in serving that we truly model to others how amazing the power of Christ can change a person's life. It's all about the story.  My story is His-story. We tend to judge a person's story based on the outcome: how good or bad it is.  We fail to see that it is His-story published for others to see the good and bad, not to judge it.

 Fast forward five years...blink . . .and my baby is now finishing kindergarten.  We also were able to purchase the original farmhouse and acreage that completed our property. Signed the papers as a sweet present from the Lord on Valentine's Day.  It was finally looking like my life was taking a turn. I was humbled to see God answering  my prayers for a better home for my family. Bitterness and resentment were in my past and I was glad to have faced them.  The soil of my heart had been worked over and new fruit was forming.

Everything changed on May 13, 2011.  I was diagnosed with cancer.  Here I was 34 years old with colon cancer.  It wasn't until The first week of June when I found out it was stage 3B and I would need to have chemotherapy. I had a calm resolve. I didn't panic.  Yes I cried. A lot. Buckets to be more specific.  I knew who my God was and is.  I knew where my safe place was.  I went there and stayed for as long as I could in those long days of endless hurry up and wait for another test result. The answers just didn't seem to come quick enough.  They always seemed to lead to more tests and more questions.

My flesh and my heart may fail; But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 
Psalm 73:26

It was as if time kept going around me but I had hit the pause button.  Everything was swirling around me almost in slow motion.  I had a lot of why questions.  Why me? Why now? I also had a lot of what if questions.  What if I don't make it? What if I don't see my baby grow up? What if I don't get to grow old with my husband?  But then  God reminded me to trust Him with everything.  To be thankful in all circumstances.  Suffering with a physical health issue is just not fun. Yes this was a wake up call. God is getting my attention and the attention of those around me.  God is in control of all circumstances. Nothing gets by Him that He doesn't allow - that is for the believer. He uses the schemes of the devil to bring Him glory. I have learned that suffering doesn't create character it reveals it. Through the pain of this trial I grew in Christ in countless ways. It has also prepared me to help others who are walking the same road I walked.  It is a privilege to comfort them. I still have the why questions.  I still travel to the oncologist every three months for tests and yearly for CT scans.  I get poked and scanned.  I hold my breath and exhale.  I breathe in deep because I know God is sovereign and in control.  It's been three and half years since my diagnosis.  So far my tests have all been negative for cancer.  It is Him that is responsible for bringing cancer to my journey here on the earth.  I am forever grateful.  It has been the hardest mountain.  I wouldn't trade it, for it has given me the greatest and hardest peace of all: knowing Him even more.

This post in in response to a challenge by Kara Tippetts who is a breast cancer survivor battling for her life.  She blogs about her journey and sweet family at mundanefaithfulness. Recently Kara wrote a book called the hardest peace: expecting grace in the midst of life's hard.I highly recommend her blog and her book.  Blessing fellow cancer survivors!

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