Tiptoe


Even when you’re going through it,

You’re not going through it;

You’re tiptoeing around,

Careful not to step on

Your own thoughts, your own feelings. 

You don’t really want to talk about it;

You don’t really want to write about it.

You only want to think about, write about 

Nothing at all.

The nothingness that stares you in the face,

The nothingness that will never be nothing again,

The life that will never be the same.

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Crying At His Feet

I know that You can cure me but I don’t know if you will, and that scares me to death. Lord, help me.

I’ve suffered the last three months with what every doctor and radiologist thought was pneumonia. I thought the constant pain in my back and hips were from coughing so much. I thought my difficulty breathing, talking, and singing were from the pneumonia. Sadly, we have learned that is not the case. I have lung cancer.

I won’t lie. It’s hard be positive, to be faithful when your mom died of the same disease just three and a half years ago. Just as in her case, mine has metastized to other areas so that makes it stage 4. I used to work with cancer patients at The American Cancer Society. I know the statistics. I also know we have a God that plays by His own rules. 

I have people around the world praying for a complete healing. For me, that is a hard prayer. Not because I don’t believe it can be done but because so often I have seen Him decide on a different plan. I hope He wants to keep me here so I can be a light onto His people. Only He can make that decision but I have loudly made it known to Him that I want to be healed. 

My life changed instantly the moment I found out, and so did the lives of my family. I’ll likely be discharged from the hospital tomorrow with oxygen and a walker to embark on an unknown and scary path. I will no longer be able to work, and will be filing for disability. I know that God is with me, and I know that He won’t leave me alone to deal as my family and I sort out what this means for our lives now. It’s just going to take some time. 

Your prayers give me strength and hope after I get up from my meltdowns. I need my Christian brothers and sisters to keep lifting us up. Please understand that I’m not able to respond to everyone’s messages but I will read them when I can, when I have the strength, and when I need it the most. 

I love the ministry we have created. I don’t know the end game, what God’s plan is but I will continue to share how God is working in my life, the lessons He is teaching me, and so forth as I am able to. I appreciate every one of you for joining me on this path. I may or may not ever sing again, but remember that salvation is not found in a song. It’s found in Jesus. Don’t waste time on the world when you can run to Him and bow at His feet, relinquishing everything you’ve got. That’s what I’m doing. Crying at His feet. 

Fearless In The Midst of The Storm

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It seems like this year has been storm after another for me, and the one thing that always remains is pain. And sickness. And more pain. And more sickness. It’s enough to tire a person out.

I have talked about my struggles with chronic pain this year but then I fell silent. I’ve been quiet for quite some time for a very good reason. I was diagnosed with pneumonia in June, and still getting over it.

Coughing for three straight months will challenge anyone. Coughing to the point of vomiting and breathlessness is another thing entirely. I really thought I had whooping cough. I just couldn’t see how I could still have pneumonia after antibiotics and 2 rounds of prednisone.

I should say that I was quite surprised to learn I was so sick in the first place. I was weaning off all of my medications, something I knew God would call me to do at some point but six months into my chronic headache seemed to soon. Still, I went with it and put all of my trust in Him to get me through the pain. As my headache got worse and I started coughing non-stop, I knew something was terribly wrong. This couldn’t possibly be from weaning off of Lyrica and everything else that never helped anyway.

A month later when I was still very sick, I was told that I had bronchitis as well. Two weeks later as I struggled to take a painful deep breath, I was told I also had pleurisy. My painful ribs that had me struggling to walk were nothing more than the result of that and coughing so much. And as my breathing went from bad to worse, I had another chest x-ray done stat, only to find out the pneumonia was persistent after two months. Time for another round of antibiotics and a nebulizer for breathing treatments at home.

I finally have my appointment with a pulmonologist tomorrow, and I cannot wait. I doubt he will have special powers to make me better, but I do hope to find a regimen that will finally help me breathe easier because I’m not convinced the breathing treatments have helped me. Sometimes I think they actually make things worse.

I do the best I can dealing with all of this. I have a family to take care of, a job to hold down, and I have no more sick time left. All of my vacation time has been used up because of all of these things going on. Still, in the midst of everything that I have been through in the last 3 months, I have never felt closer to God. Never felt like He was there for me more than He is right now. It’s hard to explain but I’ve had to learn how to come to Him differently. I haven’t been able to sing in three months. I haven’t been able to work on music. There are days when I am so sick that all I can manage to do is cry out His name. He answers me every time.

Lately, in addition to helping me through this sickness, He is also giving me strength as I learn new ways to do simple things like breathing, talking, dressing myself, getting the dogs in and out of their cages, and doing a load of laundry. Did I mention that I can’t bend over? Yeah, haven’t been able to for at least a month and a half… basically after the pleurisy stopped being so bad, everything else started hurting. Coughing for so long is really bad for your back and hips so these days I use a crutch for walking and for bracing myself when trying to stand up. It has not been a fun ride but at the same time, my faith has grown stronger. I’ve surprised myself with a resilience that could only come from God as I continue to endure more and more pain. I was ready to call 911 the other night because I couldn’t get out of my bed after several hours, but instead I wound up talking to a friend of mine about God’s goodness. I went from crisis mode to a great level of peace so fast I didn’t even see it coming. Just talking about Jesus and sharing my experiences about how He has gotten me through tough times literally got me through the most excruciating pain I have endured in a very long time. Only Jesus can bring that kind of peace in the midst of pain that wasn’t going away any time soon.

Thankfully, I made it through the night and got a shot of toradol that helped some the next day. It’s amazing how thankful you are for level 8 pain after being at a 10 for so long. I’m  sure I will be just as thankful when I’m able to breathe normally again too. But regardless of how long that takes to improve, I know that God’s got His hand on my life, on my struggles, and on my perseverance to withstand these challenges. He is the difference between enduring pain and having peace in the midst of pain.

On another note, my family and I stayed home for Hurricane Irma, unlike Matthew when we evacuated to Alabama. Though we had damage like many families, what astounded me the most was my attitude change between the two storms. With Hurricane Matthew, I brought the storm with me in the form of anxiety, frustration, and emotional outbursts that wreaked havoc on my family. With Irma, I had a peace going into the storm that I’ve never had before. It didn’t make any sense, even while huddled in the bathroom with my family at 4 in the morning for a tornado in the area all the while knowing that a tornado warning is what sparked me to start having panic attacks years ago just from sheer fear. Instead of being swept up in the chaos of the storm this time, I remained rooted in the knowledge that it didn’t matter what happened; we were going to be okay. I have never felt such freedom and peace in my life, and I know it has to do with how much He has challenged me this year… to be fearless in the midst of the storm.

He’s challenging me and my family with new circumstances now. Nothing that I can discuss right now but an opportunity for the devil to try and stretch our faith even further. I hope he’s starting to figure out that we don’t give up that easily, that God is on our side, and that He WILL continue to fight for us. How sweet it is!

Lord Jesus, you are my rock and my salvation. You are the very breath that runs through my body and a beacon of hope on a cloudy day. I love you with all of my heart, and thank you for all that you continue to do for me, for all the ways you have shown up in my life, and for all that is yet to come. I pray that my story and my struggles can be used to show your love for your people, and to bring hope to the hopeless. May you be glorified every step of the way. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

There Will Come A Day 


I’ve always had a heart for those that are suffering, those that are willing to be vulnerable and share their pain. I’ve been with you on this path, sharing what I can. We cannot carry it ourselves, our shoulders are not strong enough. We need Jesus. We need fellowship with others that are carrying their own cross.

We are all on a journey with Him, bearing our wounds to the best of our ability without complaining too much. Forgiving those that persecute us, and carrying on like we aren’t broken. But it takes its toll. Even Jesus screamed out about being forsaken.

There will come a day when we are no longer in pain, and it will be a joyous day. Until then, I just want to get as close as possible to His robes and hold on tightly with all the faith and love in my heart, waiting for my healing to come.

“Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.” Matthew 9:20-22

I Never Could Have Known

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I came across one of your songs today, and a flood of emotions came to the surface. The love for a young girl that died way too young. I wanted to save you, I wanted to love you and give you a home but God had other plans.

I know the song* was how you got through your last days. And as it made its way to my playlist, I wrote this for you… I miss you sweet Faith.

 

I never could have known

What you went through,

The constant doubt, the many questions

Would now be filling my days.

I did the best I could,

Trying to be there for you

 

But I never could have known

Just what you really went through.

I feel like a failure

I get it now, I really do;

I was nowhere near

What you needed me to be;

 

You needed a miracle,

And I was never going to

Be able to give that to you

And now that I’m in the fire,

I feel the doubt, I have the questions

But you’re already gone.

 


*Fight Song by Rachel Platten

A Refuge For The Oppressed

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I wrote a song on my last album called, “Don’t Let Me Get Comfortable.” It’s one of those songs with a strong message that had to have come from up above because I was just a baby Christian at the time. Especially considering it’s something I’m still grappling with. It sounds like cake when the sun is out, but let a storm roll in and it’s hard not to run for shelter.

When I think of shelter, I normally think of the comfy couch in my living room. Even the seats in my mini-van aren’t that bad. But what if you had to endure the storm way past your limit in order to have the things you really wanted? Would you weather the storm or settle on whatever is closest just to get out of the rain? If you’re just looking to get out of the rain, you might settle for something like this…

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Does it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside? Does it bring you a sense of peace? I feel like I would be in even more danger in that shack than I would be outside of it. And isn’t that how it feels sometimes when we are in a hurry to find peace?

When we get tired and fed up with our current situation we will look for anything to make us feel better.

We decide to seek shelter in the world from things that don’t provide the comfort we are seeking. It may be food, drugs, sex, money, gambling… even relationships with people we know aren’t good for us. For me it’s food, sweets specifically and with everything I’m going through, it’s the last thing on earth I need. On that note, I’m just going to put these jellybeans aside.

The good news is that it is okay to seek comfort in stressful times, but it should come from God.

It is okay to come in out of the rain, but we have to be mindful of what’s really going on. We need to know in every given situation if we are choosing comfort provided by the Lord, or comfort provided by the world. Are we looking for a quick bandaid or true healing? We also have to make sure that our seeking comfort is not a way for us to escape the path He has set us on (which is what my song was about).

There are many verses in the bible that talk about comfort during trying times, especially in the Book of Psalms. Psalm 9:9 tells us that “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Elsewhere in the Psalms, we learn that “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (46:1). And then of course, there is Psalms 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

When we are in a rainy season, or even a season of waiting, it is easy to give in to temptation and mistake it for comfort. On the other hand, when we seek the arms of the Lord, there is never a guilt residue. There is never the thought of “I should have done this, or I shouldn’t have done that.” When we seek comfort from God, we truly receive peace, hope, comfort, and love. I pray these things find a way to your heart, whatever your season.

It’s OK To Be Down, It’s OK To Be Unsure

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Today is a down day for me. Maybe it’s because of all the crying I did yesterday. First at the physical therapy office… let’s just say he was a complete jerk in regards to my diagnosis and I will not be going back. The second time was when I broke down at my doctor’s office telling her everything that I’ve been through in the last two months. Okay, mostly every thing. I didn’t tell her about the cognitive issues. I didn’t tell her about the stress this has caused me. She was patient and understanding while she listened. After dealing with the physical therapist, it was encouraging to have someone be compassionate about what I’m going through.

The last time I cried was while listening to my husband’s sermon last night . He had written it out the night before when I went to bed early from exhaustion, and then recorded it last night in another room where I couldn’t hear him. I just couldn’t hold back the tears as he talked about how he has prayed for me while I sleep, how he has asked God why me? I have wondered how all of this has been affecting him, but he’s not one to talk about how he’s feeling. He said in his message that he was trying to be strong for me. That he has, and yet I know that he won’t always be able to be strong. My hope is that we can grieve and grow together as we overcome each hurdle that comes our way.

I listened to his message again this morning, and I keep thinking about the verse “my grace is sufficient for you…” 2 Corinthians 12:9. I’m desperately trying to understand the weight of it. Honestly, it’s a verse I wrestled with even before my headache started. Grace. It’s such a heavy word, and my feeble mind has a hard time comprehending.

Jesus died for me. For ME. I am a sinner, and He thought I was good enough, worthy enough, lovable enough to be pardoned. When it comes to salvation, I can much easier feel the weight of the cross. But when it comes to suffering, I fumble. Maybe because I haven’t suffered long enough. Maybe because I am coming to terms with what all this means for my life. Grace. It’s such a heavy, heavy word when you’re in the middle of suffering because it doesn’t always mean healing. It’s not a “get out of jail free card” in every situation.

I do much better with the second half of that verse… “for my power is made perfect in weakness.” This I see evidence of every day that I am in pain. He gives me the strength to do the things He has asked me to do, the things that are worthy in His eyes. When I call on Him, He is there. He shows up in the middle of struggle, and in the middle of my tears.

Whatever you are going through, know that He is always available and willing to be there for you in your darkest hour. You don’t have to be an expert on the bible or know how to pray. You can talk to God like you would talk to a friend, crying out for help and tell Him all that you have been through. You can tell Him your deepest darkest emotions that you think no one wants to hear or would understand. He wants to be the shoulder you cry on. He loves you that much.

“The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.” Psalms 34:17

Today may be a down day for me, and that’s okay because God is with me. He knows and feels my pain. Because of Him, I can withstand the lows, go through the emotions I need to feel, all the while maintaining my faith and knowing the love He has for me. I don’t know what my future looks like; I don’t know how all of this is going to turn out and that is scary. But I do know that He is using me during this time. He is teaching me, and allowing my faith to grow from a tiny mustard seed into a mature tree. And my faith combined with His promises tell me that He will deliver me in the end.

A milk weed seed pod open and waiting for the wind to spread seeds.

 

When They Want To Hurt You

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I hesitated. I really didn’t want to tell this person what was going on with my health. I knew that I had to for various reasons and that it was time that I did. I shared my diagnosis, what it means, and how it can and will cause limitations for me.

They were quiet. And then the questions came and I answered each one calmly. We also got to a point in the conversation where I admitted I was nervous telling them at all. When they inquired as to why, I had tears in my eyes. “Because you’re not always nice.” His response back to me was very curt and cutting.

“I want to attack you but there’s nothing you can do about it.”

This is a person I have to deal with often, and we usually go about our business, bypassing each other as much as possible. I know they don’t like me. I know they would rather not have to deal with me at all. The words still hurt though. No one wants to be attacked, and while I appreciate them choosing not to attack me on the basis of having health issues, the statement still shows a desire to hurt me intentionally.

I know that I have to forgive this person, and I will. Maybe I already have, I don’t know. I know I have to love my enemies. I’ve gotten really good at doing that too, but it’s not easy. I falter, I get angry and sometimes even lose my temper. Sometimes I just sit there and cry.

Being in pain all the time does not help me when it comes to controlling my emotions, but it does cause me to lean on God a little more to get through the tough times. I don’t have all the answers, and I can’t always shield myself from the negativity and ill intent from others, but I can hug Jesus a little tighter.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

It Is Well

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It is well. It is well with my soul.

All that I have been through, all that I will endure. It’s okay with me. I didn’t understand before the true meaning of the words “it is well,” even after hearing the story behind the song. It was such a foreign concept that seemed beyond me. For some reason last night, out of the blue, it all made sense as I delve deep into worship with You. My life and the depth of faith made sense. It is well indeed.

I am no longer running. I am no longer running from the trials You put in front of me. Firm, I will stand with Your resolve, and endure with Your strength. No matter the trials I have to bear, You are here with me. You never leave, and You never will. Everything that I am, every hurdle I overcome, I overcome them because of You.

It is well, Lord. All of it… the sickness, the struggles, the uncertainty.

It is well with my soul.