Joy Comes In The Mourning

Joy Comes In The Mourning

It was a Friday afternoon in February of 2000 when my life suddenly changed forever. 

I’ll never forget the phone call that came after business hours. I was in my office with coworkers and picked up after the first ring. The voice at the other end of the line was my children’s father, my ex-husband.

His voice was filled with concern as he said, “Sharon, you need to sit down.” Of course I didn’t as I recall…and then he said bluntly as if he had to say it before he couldn’t, “Chris is dead.”

I remember being stunned and confused about the words before they sank in, wondering why he would say such a horrible thing. I even remember asking, “Are you sure?” which I know was my mind begging for one more moment of not knowing. My knees weakened as he finished telling me what he knew about what had happened.

He had been out of town on business and upon returning, found our oldest son alone and gone from this world. Mercifully, gratefully, he had gone home to be with Jesus and that ray of Hope would be the shred of life that would survive while my heart and mind pulled on a shroud of deep black darkness.

The next few days I lived the nightmare of my greatest fear since becoming a mother, losing one of my boys. My heart was filled with infinitely more pain than my fear of it ever had. I isolated myself most of the time as family and friends came to the house offering condolences but I wanted to be alone…in my darkness. Even though I took comfort in knowing Chris was a believer and I would be reunited with him in heaven, my mother’s heart was aching and struggling with accepting he was gone from this earth.

Since Chris was an otherwise healthy 24 year old, his father insisted on an autopsy. The following
Monday was a holiday, so in short the funeral was postponed until almost a week later. I’m not sure how, but it was arranged and attended by more than 800 people I was told.

I can recall only bleak snapshots of that miserable week of waiting…my dad sitting in my living room in the navy tapestry wingback staring blankly overcome by grief, food piled up on every countertop and bulging from the refrigerator, and our house busy with well meaning guests. Then I woke up in the emergency room after blacking out for an extended period of time. I remember hoping to see Chris one more time and for some strange reason thought he was at the hospital. In times of deep sorrow and shock, your mind takes strange pathways.

In the following month, there were many beautiful cards, (I still have every one of them), visits and frequent phone calls of consolation. I returned to work way too soon because I didn’t know what else to do. Sorrow and emptiness became my new painful normal.

Grief is exhausting…not only emotionally but physically as well.

I often tried to pray, but the prayers never seemed to make it above the ceiling. Even though Chris’s dad was very angry at God for the untimely death of our son, for some reason, I never was. But I couldn’t feel His Presence.

Weeks turned into months and months into two years. Cards and visits had long since stopped. Everyone had resumed their own lives. The cruel emotions of hurt and self pity were added to the suffering because I felt so alone in my sorrow.

Sadness. Loneliness. Fear. Dread. Pain. Despair. PURE DARKNESS…EMPTINESS.

And then one Sunday morning we were getting ready for church. I was weary and worn thin from the weight of my grief. I had prayed to die so many times, but this morning, I literally looked toward heaven and cried out loud in total desperation, “God, please replace this horrible darkness and grief with some kind of joy!”

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That morning, as I sat in the comfortable stadium seat of our church with hundreds of others, the message was entitled…
“Where Do You Turn When Life’s Not Working?”

I don’t know if there was a single other person in that congregation who needed to hear those words more than I did. I felt as if they had been eternally penned for me. I knew in the depths of my soul that it was God’s answer to my desperate plea earlier that morning, delivered by His obedient servant, a pastor I hardly even knew.

The message clearly charted the course of the healing power of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As the words washed over me, I experienced a lifting in my soul. That day I actually felt for the first time the warmth of His Loving Arms enveloping me. I saw a beam of His Radiant Light shining from the far end of the heinous darkness in which I had hidden for the past two years. I saw Him…I felt Hope.

It’s not that I had never heard the things that were presented in that timely message. It’s that I had not chosen them as my foundational truths. I had spent a lifetime of self will ignoring the very thing that sustains us through times like this.

God loves us and is constantly pursuing His independent self willed creation.

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He already knows every detail of your struggle and is patiently waiting for you to turn to Him for help.

Even though I had experienced salvation at the age of eight, and had been in church most of my life, I confess I had not invested in my relationship with my Heavenly Father and had grown very little spiritually. My quiet times were never very quiet and those spent in His Word were hurried and rushed. There is no wonder why my faith was so shallow…

I trusted Him with my eternity through my salvation experience but thought I could handle the “living on planet earth” on my own!

Simply put, when faced with the most difficult challenge of my life, I had chosen darkness instead of His Healing Light!

During those two years, many times, I had begged God to let me die, to be free of the pain. But He had chosen not to answer those misplaced prayers.

He did not send His Son to die so that we would be left in darkness!

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The awakening that day was only the beginning of my healing. Over time, the hole in my heart was graciously being filled with His Truth and Promises as I spent time with Him, meditating on His Word. Leaning on Him for my strength and direction was infinitely the better choice…it was filled with hope and the blossoming of joy and new life.

One day as I was in His Word, He gently reminded me that He had also lost His Son and He knew exactly how I felt.IMG_4958 2
And there it was, the very essence of Truth that sponged up the last ounce of my self pity. How could I have ever felt alone? The Creator of the universe, my Heavenly Father, knew how I felt. He had never forsaken me. I had NEVER been alone.

The realization of His intimacy flooded over me! I finally knew in my heart that throughout every moment of the journey since that Friday afternoon phone call, He had been right by my side. I had missed the miracle of it because of my foolish self will.

I realized His desire for me to live was a blessing. He was not finished with my story. He wanted me to share it and His message of hope with the world!

Would I have ever wished my son would die? Of course not, no mother would. But I will tell you that had I not gone through the devastation of losing him, I may never have ever known the glorious riches of walking with my Lord and Savior!

Someone said, “He never wastes a hurt.”

So be encouraged no matter what you may face, THE God of the universe loves you. So much so that He sent His only Son to die for you. There is nothing too big or bad for His sacrificial Love to cover. You only have to trust and receive His beautiful Gift of Salvation.

Life is full of crossroads and choices…choose life! Let Him lead you into His Marvelous Light!

He is a good good Father and His Mercies are new every morning!

In the past fourteen years, I still grieve over Chris but I have also experienced more Joys than I could have ever imagined because I opened my heart up to Him. Please don’t miss it! He will give you joy in your mourning too. Let Him have that chance. Open your heart up to Him…and ask Him.

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Dear our precious Heavenly Father,

We thank you for your love, your faithfulness, and your son Jesus who died for us. We thank you for the person who is reading this post. I pray for the one who is struggling to open her heart up to you in her time of pain and grief. Please soften her heart to want to know you. Give her a hunger for your word. Give her your peace, your rest, and your comfort as she prays and cries out to you. Give her a humble and open heart that is ready to receive your joy and blessings and lean into you every day so that as you carry her, she finds her rest in you. Amen.

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Sharon

Facebook Blessings

Facebook Blessings

I scrolled through my Facebook feed. Laughing kids. Smiling. New house. Engagement. Marriage.

Everyone was #blessed.

I wasn’t out of the #blessed circle. A month earlier I had announced mine and Kevin’s engagement on Facebook. The congratulatory comments, the likes, the “I’m so excited for you”s — they all made me feel special. Noticed. And I was convinced that I was blessed, because God had brought someone into my life to love and I didn’t have to be alone anymore.

And just 72 hours later, God slapped it right back in my face.

As I opened my journal from less than a year earlier, my eyes fell to the entry from April 24, 2015:

“Lord, right now I feel You in the absence. I feel You in the waiting. The waiting, the hoping for a spouse. For someone to love. Because in that absence, I feel Your arms perfectly around me, holding me, and I am joyful. Moments of this struggle through singleness can be excruciating, but You are teaching me to cling to You more tightly, and I wouldn’t trade the closeness with You for anything. Hold me until You bring my husband and keep holding me when he finally gets here.”

Somehow, amidst the excitement of meeting Kevin and making plans for our future, I’d lost sight of the beauty in the moment. I’d lost the perfect peace in submission, in surrender, in waiting, in reverent worship, in trust through painful struggle. I wasn’t blessed because I’d met Kevin, though he was certainly an amazing gift from the Lord.

I was blessed because I was needy.

Grace floods in when we are emptied. The blessing comes as we are stripped away and left with nothing but Him, and we can see He is sufficient. We KNOW He is sufficient.

What if the greatest blessing, the way God blesses us the most, is when we feel most deeply our need for Him? The Greek word translated as “blessed” is makarioi, meaning “fully satisfied.” To be found in His favor, regardless of circumstances.

This is freedom.

If we are blessed beyond Earthly circumstances, beyond relationship status, beyond monetary status, beyond anything other than God Himself, how then can we despair? This is the joy of abundant life, the precious hope we cling to. This is the freedom from attachment to any person or thing on Earth. This is the freedom that allows us our heart’s greatest desire in intimacy with our Creator.

That’s the Gift…

HE is The Gift and The Giver.

 

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Katelin

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Hi! I’m Katelin, a coffee-drinking, theology-loving, book-reading, piano-playing introvert (also known as a nerd). By day I’m a pediatric speech-language pathologist, but after dark I get a little crazy, blogging about life, faith, and recovery. After spending 15 years of my life in a dark cycle of disordered eating, I’m now learning to live in the beauty of God’s grace. I’m so thankful to be a part of the BraveGirl Community, and I pray you find hope and encouragement while you’re here!

You can read more from Katelin at her website: https://hashtagblessings.wordpress.com.

Seven Years Ago Today

Seven Years Ago Today

Flashback Friday thanks to #timehop. I’m in the middle of working on book projects, laundry and wondering how to squeeze in at least five episodes of Gilmore Girls in before car rider line beckons…and then I get sucked into a vortex of reflection, memory lane and all the feels. All. The. Feels.

On this day seven years ago, my Facebook feed was filled with friends eagerly awaiting the gender reveal of our sweet baby.

This day. This infamous day.

Not but a few weeks ago Jaxon had some surgery done on his nose. This surgery felt routine compared to the other handful of times we’d been there for surgery. This is his first surgery in several years. He’s a giant now. He gets it now- we can talk through what is happening and what he can expect. He can bargain his way into a treat from the gift shop…every time we are at Children’s. He didn’t wail for me when I handed him off. And this time, I walked out of the surgery door and met my Dad who hugged me. We gathered our things and headed to the cafeteria to grab some lunch while Jax was in surgery.
On the way my Dad looked at me as I sighed largely as we walked.

“How ya doin, girl?” He asked.

I nodded, sort of taking assesment of myself, “I’m good.”

“You’re dandy? Not a care in the world.” He probed a little, jokingly.

A brief tear threatened to push upward, stinging but I held it in check, “Well, He’s in good hands. I’m ok.”

And I smiled to myself as we walked into the cafeteria. I’m not the same person that I was when we started this journey.

Seven years ago we waited through an extra long ultrasound and waited an extra ordinarily long time to meet with our doctor. We had panic souring in our stomachs, confusion making us feel dizzy and dread pushing any ounce of faith we thought we had out of our feet.

Birth Defect?

Cleft?

Craniofacial?

Cosmetic?

Surgery?

What did these words mean that were coming out of the doctor’s mouth? They weren’t pretty, positive words like breastfeeding, birthing plan, epidural, bassinet, normal, healthy, routine, baby shower, getting your body back. He was saying all the wrong things. We drove home blank. We were supposed to leave HOURS ago. We were supposed to post that he was a he…and we’d break the internet with rejoicing. Baby X was Jax!

But instead…

We wrestled with how to tell our parents, our friends and when to tell them. We struggled with why. We knew he had a big healthy heart, he had all his arms and legs and no extras. He had all the things he should except for a palate and a complete lip. He was alive. He didn’t have cancer. He didn’t have a terminal disease.

But that doesn’t mean that my expectations of pregnancy, birth and parenting didn’t feel wiped away like the jelly that had been wiped off me belly at the end of the ultrasound.

But that’s the thing with my expectations. They are all kinds of wrong. Sometimes they are much too high when it comes to humans. But when it comes to what God has planned, my expectations are so far below low that they aren’t even on the chart. I had dreams, plans, ideas, goals about what I wanted. What I wanted to have, what I wanted to have happen, what I wanted to do or even what I wanted my kids to have. But God’s dreams, plans, ideas and goals have much more to do with what/who he wants me to be. Sometimes it seems like he is saying all the wrong things. Sometimes it feels like he’s doing all the wrong things. Especially if he loves us, right? But just because it feels wrong or we hear it wrong…doesn’t mean its not the exact right thing that we need to become who he wants us to be.

Seven years ago I was not ok. I was shattered in pieces. My heart was broken. I died a little. I felt defective as a person, as a woman and as a mother. I screamed, “Its not fair!” at God, in my heart, like a child. I was clueless, hopeless and most of all an emotional, devastated pregnant woman.

But over the next seven years I have, in stages, begun to learn (I’m not done yet) that20151031-_MG_9689 belief can solidify in the midst of unbearable pain, strength is truly imparted in the midst of desperate weakness, dreams have to be dashed in order to be replaced with brilliance, and the character of God is experienced in the midst of the darkest hours.

I wrote a post on Facebook the day he had surgery about the hand-off and I’ve written about it several times before but its a small example of the change God has begun to enact in me. I am so glad that I’m not that girl anymore. I wish I had been more grateful for my body back then, but other than that- good ridance. I’m so glad God wouldn’t let me stay that way. And I know that I won’t be the same seven years from now. I have no idea what else the future holds. What else the Lord will ask us to walk through. But I don’t know that it matters anymore, because we’re in good hands. And we’re ok.

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Megan Meredith

20151031-_MG_9832Check out more posts from Megan at: meganmeredith.org.

 

What Happens When You’re Shaken?

What Happens When You’re Shaken?

Author’s Note: Last year, my oldest son, Kyle, relapsed with leukemia, making me a two-time Cancer Mom. I’m sharing our journey not to ask for your pity, but for others who trudge this same road feeling isolated and alone. And for friends and family who watch the suffering and want to help, but don’t know where to begin.

I swallowed a sip of burnt coffee and glanced across the blue vinyl booth at my oldest son. His brown hair was messy, like when he’d stepped out of the shower this morning, he’d forgotten to tame it.

Since he’d moved to college, our occasional breakfast date usually made me smile. But I wasn’t smiling this morning. I was trying to shove the words from Building 429’s song, “We Will Not Be Shaken,” out of my head. Because after we finished our bacon and eggs, we had another date—with an ultrasound tech at the clinic across the street.

A few weeks earlier, Kyle had discovered a testicular mass. A mass that might be normal—if he were any other nineteen-year-old who hadn’t shared a sordid history with cancer.

“Whatever this is,” Kyle picked up his fork, “it can’t be as bad as leukemia.”

“You’re right.” I set down my mug, hoping he’d miss the way my fingers trembled.

God had this, didn’t He? He loved Kyle. He wanted good things for him. He knew the devastating battles we had already fought and won. He’d seen the permanent scars, physical and mental, that leukemia had left on Kyle.

Kyle first met cancer when he was ten. Their relationship lasted four long years. But he’d been clean for the last six, a year beyond the cancer survivor’s five-year magic milestone.

“It’s gonna be okay.” He dropped his fork onto the plate without taking a bite. “Not like last time.”

“I know.”

The waitress topped off my coffee and I touched my son’s hand. We will not be shaken. The words to that song wouldn’t quit playing in my head.

He looked up, his expression oddly calm. IMG_8848“Everything we went through? I wouldn’t ask for it again, but I wouldn’t take away what came out of it either. I wouldn’t be in nursing school. My faith would be different. Does that make sense?”

“Yes.” It did make sense. I’d changed too. Become more focused. More empathetic. More real. My marriage was stronger and I was grateful for my relationship with Kyle. We shared a bond most people would never understand.

We will not be shaken. Yet, there were those words again, like foreboding music in a movie that isn’t going to end well.

That morning, we finished breakfast and headed to the clinic. Kyle’s ultrasound showed the mass to be suspicious and led to a comprehensive CT scan to check for other tumors. The CT showed no additional tumors and surgery was scheduled. They would biopsy and remove the testicle.

Hoping we were being paranoid, but wanting to be prepared, we talked through the threat of testicular cancer. It was a very curable cancer, an inconvenience compared to the nightmare of leukemia. After surgery, Kyle might need some radiation, but then he’d be fine to return to college.

We will not be shaken. I had to admit, I’d been a little shaken.

Surgery came and went. The hope that the mass was nothing crept back in. We held our breaths for a week waiting for biopsy results, desperate for a reason to celebrate that Kyle remained cancer free.

I’d like to share the mass turned out to be nothing. I’d like to say our lives went on after a Grand-Canyon sigh of relief. I’d like to say our story ended there.

But I can’t.

The phone call came on Friday evening. Kyle walked into my room, clutching his cell, shaking. “Here. You talk.” He dropped the phone in my lap and sank to the carpet next to my bed.

IMG_8850“I’m sorry.” The doctor let out a deep breath. “It’s leukemia. This almost never happens. It’s a very rare form of relapse. Six boys get it a year. Kyle’s looking at twenty-four months of aggressive treatment.” He paused. “Maybe more.”

I don’t even remember ending that call. All I could hear was the word relapse. All I could see was my big, strong boy crying on the floor.

We will not be shaken. The words played over and over. But I was more than shaken. My faith wasn’t enough. Knowing God had our backs wasn’t enough. Remembering that Kyle had won this battle before wasn’t enough.

I crumbled. That word, relapse, picked me up, ripped me open, and clawed out my heart.

“Why Lord? Why give us hope? Why let us think Kyle could have surgery and go back to school? Why keep us waiting for this news for ten excruciating days? Why pile on rock after rock? Finding the mass. The abnormal ultrasound. Possible malignancy. Surgery. Biopsy.  Leukemia.”

They weren’t rocks. The Lord’s voice brushed across my heart. I gave you one piece of news at a time. You couldn’t handle the word relapse that first day.

The pain of knowing what was ahead gripped me tight. “You weren’t supposed to let this happen again. We fought. We won. We’re done.”

I understood that God had protected me. Set me up for the news of leukemia. I didn’t understand why he allowed cancer to come back into our lives. And I couldn’t cling to the words of that song.

The only thing I had left was what God had done for us in the past. He’d gotten us through. Somehow we’d survived our four-year walk through cancer’s hell and come out better on the other side. Even Kyle had seen that.

So now, in this moment, I had a choice. I could trust Him to get us through again. Or I could turn my back and face cancer alone.

I looked at Kyle, falling apart on the floor. He needed me to be strong, to have faith, to tell him we weren’t alone.

So I slid off the bed and pulled him into my arms.reading-rainbow-1391673 copy We cried together for a long time. He clung to me and I clung to David’s words from Psalm 16:8. “I [will] keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” And I prayed for the faith I was quickly losing.

I had no power over the news we received that day. I couldn’t take the cancer away or change the journey or dull the pain. But I could choose how we walked our journey. I could choose to face Kyle’s cancer with God lighting the way.

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20160401_215938Lori Freeland, wife, mother, inspirational author, and writing coach lives in the Dallas area. She’s published in various e-zines and anthologies and is a former editor for The Christian Pulse. When she’s not writing for Crosswalk.com or hovering over her three kids, you can find her drinking too much coffee and messing with the imaginary people in her head. Visit her website http://lafreeland.com to read more from Lori.

Taking Bullets for Christ

Taking Bullets for Christ

Couldn’t sleep last night. Too tired to get up and be the typical workaholic that I am, but too awake to turn my brain off.

Spent some time thinking about “shootings,” trying to wrap my finite mind around it, trying to imagine the horror, putting myself in the victims’ place. I’ve tried to imagine and recite – with resolve – that if I were asked my “religion,” just what I would say.

If it were my last moment, “Christian” just wouldn’t suffice. No, perhaps “I follow the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God”? Hmmm…trying to be profound and make my last words count. But could I actually do it? Yes. I must. The Bible says we must never deny Jesus. Would I take a bullet? Yes. I resolved yes. By God’s grace…Lord, give me the power never to deny you, no matter the cost…

But that prayer leads me to a certain uneasiness. I think about “taking bullets.” I think about my noble decision to associate with Christ in the face of death. Then I think about my decision to associate with Christ in trivial, average, and less-heroic circumstances…

Around people who think my faith is full of flaws and foolishness. In a situation where I could say/do something socially awkward, but that may have value in the spectrum of eternity. When I want to feel sorry for myself. When I want to stay angry with someone who’s wronged me. When I would just like to grumble and complain and be a victim. When I choose selfish gain and vanity over service and humility. In my daily responsibility of financial stewardship. In a moment of petty frustration with my toddlers?

What about “taking a bullet” then? How resolved am I to associate with Christ and die to myself in those uneventful, unseen moments? The moments that make up most of my life?

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I ask myself. Would I take a “bullet” to my pride for Christ? My spending habits? To my schedule? To my desire to get even?

Would I take a bullet to my “right” to be bitter or angry? To my selfishness? To my vanity? To my plans? For the sake of honoring Jesus and associating with Him honorably and completely?

By God’s grace…Lord, give me – give us, your children – the power never to deny you, no matter the cost…large OR small.

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Emily

 

In The Wait

In The Wait

Waiting on God can be one of the hardest things to do.
When you have prayed for a particular thing or a person believing for God to move in only ways that he can, and yet, you don’t see change.

Maybe you are waiting for a baby that you have longed for…
A new job/financial situation …
A restored relationship with a parent…
A spouse to come to know Jesus…
Healing for you or for someone you love…
The list could go on and on.
You pray and you Wait. Then repeat.

I want you to know I understand.
I am in the wait too and God is reminding me He is RIGHT THERE. He has heard EVERY prayer and He is shaping and molding every step. He has not forgotten you or me …He has a plan… A GOOD PLAN.  His ways are higher than ours and his timing far exceeds all that we can imagine. We are to wait in full expectation upon the Lord to move. That’s our role… To Wait upon Him.

I love Habakkuk 2:3 because it is such an amazing reminder when we are waiting that His timing is everything!
“But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day!”

The following writing piece is a part of my heart and I pray it brings you comfort and renews your expectation of our Amazing God. He will NOT fail – HE is there…In the heartache, in the tears, in the pain and in the wait.

There are days when time seems frozen
and that life is on repeat.
I wonder if you hear my prayers
and every silent plea.
The world around me is still the same,
While time is flying by.
My heart is pounding for desperate change with every tear I cry.

My hunger to run ahead of you
has always been unwise
“Wait upon the Lord”,
help me never to despise.
There is purpose in the waiting
even when the journey seems so long
Soon this season will be over
And My heart will sing a new song.

In the wait
Open my eyes to see you Oh so clear,
In the wait
Break through the walls,
Jesus draw me near.
In the wait
keep reminding me
“Daughter I have a plan”
In the wait
I will rest in you when I feel I cannot stand.

The battle is not mine,
You say it’s yours to fight.
I need only to be still
Resting in the power of your might.
I will wait in expectation
for your goodness to prevail,
Every promise, every prayer
That you will never ever fail.

In the wait
Open our eyes to see you Oh so clear,
In the wait
Break through the walls,
Jesus draw us near.
In the wait
keep reminding me
“Daughter I have a plan”
In the wait
I will rest in you when I feel I cannot stand.

Then light will break forth like the dawn, healing will finally come.
The wait will cease to an end
and we will prepare to run.

Signature_GuestCheryl

cherl'sprofil picCheryl is passionate about Jesus and making Him known. She serves as a leader in women’s ministry and on the worship team of her church. She believes that by His stripes we are healed and we are nothing without Jesus, but EVERYTHING with Him. She believes there is freedom that awaits all our brokenness, all our mess, all our shame, and all our past if we turn our lives over to Him. She is married to her college sweetheart and they are blessed with three beautiful children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worthy Of A Miracle

Worthy Of A Miracle

“You’re a miracle! Linda, you are a miracle!” my friend kept repeating it over and over.

What is she talking about? What happened to me? IMG_0734I frantically scanned the room and looked down to see my limp body with tubes coming out of every orifice of me.

I was diagnosed with cancer 5 months prior but I had no recollection of how I ended up in a hospital bed unable to move any part of my body.

I was terrified. I could not remember anything except that I had cancer.

On September 29, 2009 I became extremely ill while undergoing chemotherapy and was admitted to the hospital. Within days I was put into a medically induced coma to avoid going into cardiac arrest. I was asleep for almost a month. Doctors told my family I had less than 5% chance of survival and “if” there was a miracle and I survived I would never walk or breathe again on my own.

Exactly one year later from that horrific prediction, I ran my very first half marathon with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Team In Training program.

While I was thrilled that I fully recovered from cancer and had 100% of my physical health back, I never really could accept the “miracle” label. Every time someone would call me a “miracle” it felt as though they were shining a bright floodlight in my face. I wanted to put my hands up to shield myself and hide. It was too much to comprehend.

I had struggled with not feeling “good enough” my entire life. I came from a broken home, was not the best student and felt insecure with just being me. Believing that I was worthy of a miracle was just too hard to comprehend. Instead of feeling elated, I felt defeated. For two years after my healing, I lived in limbo waiting to be found out that I did not deserve a second chance at life … worthy to be alive.

All of the doubt and insecurity wrecked havoc on my faith. I began to question God and his existence. One day I finally gave up and turned my back on God all together. I stopped going to church, reading my bible and even put my Christian life coaching business on hold, secretly hoping to never return to it.

I was in a spiritual crisis! I needed an even bigger miracle, to have faith to believe in God’s unimaginable love for me.

Several years later, I can confidently tell you that God did provide an even bigger MIRACLE in my life! This November I have my very first book coming out, Worthy of a Miracle, that takes you through an entire journey of not only one miracle, but multiple miracles. I want to encourage you today, that you too my friend are WORTHY OF A MIRALCE, worthy of all good things, and most importantly Worthy of God’s Love.

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Linda

www.lindakuhar.com
HeadshotLINDA KUHAR is a Board Certified Coach with the Center for Credentialing & Education, Certified Christian Life Coach with Christian Coach Institute and has led women worldwide through online Bible studies. Linda speaks to organizations such as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, churches, and women’s ministries throughout the United States. Click on the video below to see the trailer for Linda’s new book, Worthy Of A Miracle.

 

Remember

Remember

photo: wordswag image

Remind me God of who you are.
The one who speaks to the waters,
Who calms the storm.
A God who is gentle,
a good father and my friend.
A God who is my forever Savior until the end.

Remind me of your faithfulness
because I cannot see.
My mind is covered by my enemy.
Your truth shields my thoughts,
Your word refreshes my soul.
Breathe Holy Spirit into these dry bones.

Remind me of your everlasting love
that runs as far as the east is from the west
A love that does not fail
But guides me through every test.

Remind me of your protection
Your legion of angels standing guard,
to defend me in all my ways
Even when the path seems hard.

Remind me of your grip
that you hold me so tight.
When I am weak and I fail,
You are there to fight.

Remind me of the power of your unbelievable name
Let it be the first word from my mouth
JESUS I will proclaim!
No other name
will silence the fear,
calm the chaos
and draw you near.

Remind me Lord,
Because I am drowning without you.
I need you desperately…
without you, I cannot move.

And you gently respond with a whisper to my soul….

REMEMBER my Truth.
I am the God who SAVES.
My love NEVER runs out
and is NEVER delayed.
My arms stretch out to ALL in need .
I am your GOOD FATHER and will ALWAYS be.
You can TRUST me in the deep
when your heart is overwhelmed.
Reach out for my hand,
I will NOT fail.
You can REST in my faithfulness,
you can TRUST in my love,
Let go sweet child…I will NEVER give up.
You have my PROMISE
that I will Never EVER leave.
I am right here with you,
open your EYES and see.
COME with me and see
what I have in store,
my plan for you EXCEEDS that
and even MORE.
Taste my Goodness
because it NEVER runs dry,
stretch out your WINGS
and prepare to FLY.

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Cheryl

cherl'sprofil picCheryl is passionate about Jesus and making Him known. She serves as a leader in women’s ministry and on the worship team of her church. She believes that by His stripes we are healed and we are nothing without Jesus, but EVERYTHING with Him. She believes there is freedom that awaits all our brokenness, all our mess, all our shame, and all our past if we turn our lives over to Him. She is married to her college sweetheart and they are blessed with three beautiful children.

The Wall

The Wall

Stone And Brick WallID: 101430 Author Pistolpete
© Peter Szucs | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Today I came face to face with the invisible wall that holds me back from true surrender to God.

That wall. I’ve felt it for a while now. No matter how much I learn or grow in my relationship with Christ, I still feel the wall’s presence. It keeps me from ever truly overcoming. It keeps me bound by anxiety. I find even in the midst of serving Him in ways I never have before, I can still feel the weight and pressure of the wall. Victories, though worthy of praise, are only partial, as I’ve never been able to fully scale the wall.

I recently began co-leading a small group in my women’s bible study. That sentence alone speaks volumes as to how God has moved in the heart of and life of this social-anxiety-ridden, people-pleasing, introverted, non-risk-taking, confrontation-fearing, timid Daughter. Victory has been achieved in that I am able to push through the anxiety of leading and speaking, able to push through the fear of what others are secretly thinking about me. I am free enough to push through and serve.

But is partial freedom the only freedom I’ll ever know?

The wall.

The wall that fifteen minutes ago, I prayed about. As I read Jennie Allen’s book, Anything, in preparation for this week’s bible study meeting, I prayed:

God, I know I’m on the cusp of full surrender. I don’t think my heart is fully ready to sincerely say, ‘God, I’ll do anything for you.’ I’m still so held back and bound by something. I feel like I’m teeter-tottering on top of the wall that keeps me running full-speed to You. What is holding me back? What can I not let go of?

Then I continued reading. Jennie (in her book) told me that the thing I most fear is the thing that is most controlling in my life. She asked me: What are you most afraid of losing?

I stopped and I thought because I wanted to answer it right and honestly.

The thing I fear the most is losing everyone I love around me…having no support system…being alone.

Jennie told me to stare it in the face, to picture my life alone. I did, and I cried. It hurt and it scared me.

Snot and tears pouring down my face, and heart beating through my chest, I was finally able to identify THE WALL. The wall keeping me from full surrender:

God isn’t real enough to me for me to have true comfort.

I don’t fully believe that I am never alone. I don’t know how to feel His Presence. My relationship with Him isn’t real enough to me.

I have been His for 27 years, but today I asked him to become REAL to my beating heart. To become real to the heart he’s inhabited for so long. How many of us live with someone for decades and never put the effort in to really getting to know them?

This life isn’t about having a safe routine, BGCliffphotoMarthaGuestPostdoing the same thing every day. It’s not about desiring a baby and asking my genie God to make all my dreams come true.

This life is about knowing God.
Who is He? Is He truly my first & foremost, my all-in-all? Who am I in His eyes?

This life is about experiencing God.
Playing it safe has kept me from needing to see God come through for me. I am learning that it is through risk that God becomes more real.

In order to demolish the wall, I will take more risks. I will intentionally put myself in situations where His Power alone will carry me through. When I recognize fear and anxiety creeping in, feeding me with doubt, I will recognize that as a cue from God, telling me to do it anyway.

He and I are in this together. This relationship. I’ve always been pursued. It’s time for me to scale the wall and run fast and full of freedom, in pursuit of Him.

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Martha

Click Here to visit Martha’s blog “the simple things”.

 

Three To Six Months To Live

Three To Six Months To Live

July 31st, 2014 was a day to celebrate! It was my husband’s birthday. We had gone out to celebrate with our whole family. All the girls in our family were also planning and preparing to go to the Coast the next day to celebrate my Grandma’s 80th birthday! We were making more summer plans to go camping and enjoying the summer life that so many love here in Bend. But that never happened.

That night we had relatives staying with us and I had said good night to them. I fell asleep snuggling next to my husband, Sonny, and my seven year old daughter, Rhynn. At about 1:00am Sonny was awakened by a loud thump. He felt Rhynn next to him but couldn’t feel me. When he got up to try to see what had caused the thump he saw me slumped over, wedged between the bed and the dresser, and I was having a Grand mal seizure. He immediately noticed I wasn’t breathing. He ran to get my Aunt and Uncle and asked them for help. They thought maybe a tree had fallen because of how loud the thump was. They called 911.

The paramedics showed up and rushed me to the hospital (Rhynn never woke up in the midst of all of this. I believe an Angel was in the room protecting her). My sister followed close behind. I don’t really remember much of this. I just remember being scared and confused. I was paralyzed on the left side immediately. I couldn’t move my arm or my leg and half of my face was paralyzed. I do remember, however, having an MRI and then being told I had tumors in my brain. I had Melanoma for the second time in my life.

Over the next four days of my stay in the ICU it was a blur from the drugs I was on. I went home and waited for the swelling to go down so they could do surgery. What I thought was one night was actually four nights before they could perform surgery on me. In those four days, friends and family came in and out of my house, one after another, encouraging me, praying for me, loving me and my family.

My diagnosis was three to six months to live, three months with no treatment and six months with aggressive treatment. The Doctors didn’t think they’d be able to remove all three tumors (I didn’t know this at the time). Two nights before surgery my long time friends, Joe and Katherine, came to my house to pray over me. Immediately afterwards I lifted my left arm up, something I had not been able to do, then I got up and started walking. My brother-in-law later commented he wouldn’t have believed it had he not seen it with his own eyes! That was one of the many miracles that I’ve experienced since then.

TheIMG_7058 night before surgery we had about 100 friends and family come over to pray over me, sing worship songs and they took turns telling me how much they loved me. Afterwards Sonny made a video of me for my kids. I wanted my kids to hear what I thought was most important, in case I didn’t make it through the surgery. I told them I loved them, that Jesus loves them. I told them through many, many tears how much I love them, that when we belong to Jesus He will pursue you and that they always belong to Him. I said the things I never thought I’d have to say to my kids for them to watch when I was gone.

When I went to bed that night my son, Randon, who was 18 at the time, came into my room and told me he didn’t want me to do treatment because he didn’t want me to be sick the last three to six months of my life. That was the first time I had heard that diagnosis. I was shocked and confused. We cried together, talked about how it would be one day at a time, fighting all the way. I told him I needed him to pray for me and believe that God would heal me.

My pastor, Steve, came the next morning before surgery to pray for me. I don’t remember it but I’m so thankful for him and the church family that we love so much. They have been such a big part of my journey with their generosity. I was told the entire waiting room was filled with our church family and family members, standing room only. The Doctors ended up removing all three tumors! I stayed in the hospital for about a month, or maybe longer. I don’t remember exactly how long. I don’t remember a lot of it. It was still being said that I would probably only live for six months with aggressive treatment. There is no treatment for Melanoma cancer. Today it’s been over a year since my surgery. They were wrong. God is good. I have continued to say “You’re talking Science, I’m talking God. My God is bigger than Science”.

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Joy  

click here to visit Joy’s blog

correctionjoy

Joy and her husband, Sonny, live in Bend Oregon with
their four children ranging from six to twenty-one years of age. You can learn more about Joy’s journey through her blog where she inspires many with her transparency, strength, and hope in Christ.

She and her family repeat a daily mantra together:

“I am powerful and what I believe changes the world! So today I declare: God is in a good mood. He loves me all the time. Nothing can separate me from His love. Jesus’ blood paid for everything. I will tell nations of what He has done. I am important. How He made me is amazing. I was designed for worship. My mouth establishes praise to silence the enemy. Everywhere I go becomes a perfect health zone. And with God…Nothing is impossible.”