Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Flood and Fire

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2. 

I love this verse and have often shared it to encourage others going through difficult times. I'll remind them that it says "when" these things happen and not "if." God is not surprised by any trials that come our way. In fact, in John 16:33 He goes so far as to say "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." 

So the first time this verse popped up in something I was reading a few months ago, I smiled and nodded in affirmation. "Amen." 

The second time it appeared I thought "Well, that's confirmation of a comforting promise. Love that verse."

But by the third, fourth, even fifth time I either read or heard it in a short span of time, my thoughts were more like "Where you going with this God? Are you preparing me for something?"

He was.

I've been through a lot of "somethings" over the past decade, but this one has me passing through waters I couldn't anticipate and walking through fire I never saw coming.

About a year and a half ago I noticed a small "something" on my shoulder. Every doctor had the same reaction: "Hmmm...that's weird...I've never seen anything like that. I have no idea what that is." 

But during a routine physical last November, one doctor's comment was tinged with foreboding. "Hmmm...that looks different. Have it checked."

Three months ago, a dermatologist biopsied it and a few weeks later, after I'd all but forgotten about it, he called with the results. I was busy in the church food pantry wrapping donated bread and not really paying attention until I heard two words.

"Lymphoma." "Oncologist."

It still really didn't sink in. I went back to the job at hand and purposed to call him back in the morning when I could listen without distraction. Surely I had misheard. 

I couldn't get hold of him the next day and had to wait the weekend. But by Monday, those ugly words were back. 

"You need to call a hospital hematology/oncology department for further testing and tell them you have 'biopsy proven' marginal zone lymphoma." 

It sounded as if someone had slapped a little gold sunburst on my chest like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval. Hi, you've got cancer and it's "Biopsy Proven!"

My head was reeling in those first few days. Finding an insurance covered hospital and oncologist. Going for a CT scan. Having an ultrasound. Then waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

But as time has gone on, in the midst of scary words, unfamiliar faces, tests and new terminology, I have a peace. God is still in control and He uses people and things like music to remind me of His presence. 

On my first visit to discuss radiation treatments, Mercy Me's "Even If" came on the radio as I pulled into the parking lot.

I know You're able and I know You can
Save through the fire with Your mighty hand
But even if You don't
My hope is You alone
They say it only takes a little faith
To move a mountain
Well good thing
A little faith is all I have, right now
But God, when You choose
To leave mountains unmovable
Oh give me the strength to be able to sing
It is well with my soul
On my first treatment visit, I asked the tech if they "took music requests." He asked what I'd like to listen to and I told him Contemporary Christian. 

"My daughter is a Contemporary Christian artist. Would you like to listen to her CD?"


A few minutes later, as he left the room saying "the treatment is about to begin," I heard these lyrics "Set my eyes on you. Your love is all I need to live."

A few days later, the tech gave me the CD. Those well-timed lyrics were from a song called Psalm 16.

"Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. I say to the LORD, 'You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.' I say of the holy people who are in the land, “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.” Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more. I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods or take up their names on my lips. LORD, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the LORD. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand." Ps. 16

One of my favorite bands is Tenth Avenue North. Their lyrics always touch my soul and their newest song could not have come out at a better time.

Take a minute to listen to I Have This Hope and I know it will minister to you wherever you are. (I'm smiling right now because as I clicked through the link to make sure it worked and listened to the song, Even If came on right after - so listen to that too. God is so good and in every detail!) 

I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You're with me and You won't let go
Yesterday marked the half way point in my treatments. A sweet friend gave me this necklace.

For those of you with "older" eyes like mine, it says "What Cancer Cannot Do. It cannot...invade the soul, suppress memories, kill friendship, destroy peace, conquer the spirit, shatter hope, cripple love, corrode faith, steal eternal life, silence courage."

All that is true but even more important is what God CAN do in and through me. He can...give rest to my soul (Ps.62:1), remember the righteous (Ps. 112:6), be a friend (John 15:15), keep me in perfect peace (Is. 26:3), make me more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37), give me a future and a hope (Jer. 29:11), save me because of His unfailing love (Ps. 6:4), do the impossible with the smallest bit of faith (Matt 17:20), give eternal life (1 John 5:11), and commands me to be strong and courageous (Joshua 1:9).

Yes, there is both flood and fire going on in my life right now. But my hope is in Him alone and if I set my eyes on Him, I'll see He is with me and He won't let go.