Tuesday, September 8, 2015

5 Years and Counting!

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean revel in Him. Philippians 4:4
It has been a long time since I have blogged. Not because I haven’t been writing, because I have, I just haven’t posted in a very long time. Once you go so long without blogging you start to wonder when the right time to jump back in is. You even start to wonder if you should just start a whole new blog or give up blogging altogether. I figured this week was as good a time as any. Why you ask? What makes this week so special? My answer is…many reasons. It is a holiday weekend so I have had extra time to write. I recently started grad school and the topic of my class requires a lot of reflection about myself. For instance, writing about a time when I was truly at “my absolute best”. For me that was when I had cancer. I’m also getting ready to speak soon at a ladies tea in which they want me to tell about my journey with cancer. That too has cause me to do a lot of reflecting. But perhaps the strongest reason that the time is right is because this week marks five years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Maybe it is the fact that this week is my cancerversary, but it seems like this week everything takes me back to the year I was diagnosed and in the fight of my life. This week our worship service took me back to that time. One song in particular stood out in this way. Here are a few of the lyrics “I’m trading my sickness, I’m trading my pain, I’m laying them down for the Joy of the Lord”. I have a tendency to end up with watery eyes, and sometimes full blown tears, during most worship services. There is nothing like worshiping with fellow brothers and sisters that just seems to make time freeze in such a way that you notice nothing other than God and His awesomeness. This song made me want to drop to my knees in worship as I was reminded of a time when I was so weak that all I could do was surrender my illness to the feet of Jesus. Once I gave it all to Him to deal with I could fully experience the Joy that cancer brought. Later in the song it quotes one of my all time favorite verses “Though my sorrow my last through the night. His joy comes in the morning”. There is something about weakness and surrender that brings joy. That moment when you give everything to Him you feel so light and full of joy that nothing can crush or take that joy away.

Shawn and I have been teaching in our children’s church for several months. Neither one of us could remember how long it had been since we had heard a sermon or sat all the way through “big church”. This week we were looking forward to someone else taking over teaching the children and hearing a sermon. I had no idea just how rejuvenating it would be. We have a great minister and I always look forward to his preaching but this week he didn’t preach. One of our missionaries was here on furlough and presented the message. In his sermon he shared what a struggle it had been during their first year. He talked about the lowest of the lows while there and what he learned in those times. Oddly enough I had spent a couple of days this last week thinking about my darkest, deepest lows during my fight with cancer. This missionary and friend shared about what he learned about himself and about what it meant to be a child of God and about his struggle to sometimes find joy. He reminded us all that sometimes life doesn’t go as planned and we have to struggle to make sense of things. As he shared his story I was reminded that those times where we suffer and feel lost are the ones in which God talks to us the most. Where He shows us what His purpose is for us. Those times where we feel our weakest are the ones that we end up gaining the most strength. I know that my most difficult days, the ones where I wasn’t sure if I could continue were the ones where I simply fell into the arms of Jesus and let Him carry me through to the next day. Those were my weakest days but they were in many ways also my best. It is easy to live on the mountain tops but it is the Valleys where you get to know God and yourself the best. Those are the moments that you find Joy.

I mentioned that I have recently gone back to school. I’m working on my masters. I’m currently taking a class on positive psychology. I love this class. The focus of positive psychology is not on our weaknesses as humans but rather on our strengths. We have had several assignments already, however, the one that I have enjoyed the most was the one where we had to talk about ourselves when we thought we were at “our best”.  I already mentioned for me that was when I had cancer. I was physically weak but somehow was able to draw on strengths that I didn’t even know I had. Those strengths helped me get through some pretty dark days and brought me to where I am today. Those strengths are why I am back in grad school and also why I’m trying to find ways to help others get through struggles and suffering, be it through my writing, speaking, or just living in general. I may or may not blog on a regular basis. When I do, it might be about my journey with cancer or about being a survivor, it may be about my walk with Christ or it may be about nothing specific. In any case this week marks a big milestone. I plan to spend this week celebrating and one way in which I plan to do this is attempting to get this blog back up and going.

Maybe in the near future I will blog about what I have been doing for the last couple of years.