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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!