Sunrise Season

Two months have passed since I saw the familiar number appear on my iPhone.  It was a few days earlier than I expected, which I had been told wasn’t a good sign.  Hearing the news early usually means the radiologist saw something glaringly wrong; the oncologist needs to see you quickly.

I heard my voice quiver as I answered.  Myra, my dear chemo nurse delivered the news:  NO EVIDENCE OF DISEASE!!

Those four words were the words I’d been longing to hear for the last thirteen long months since I got the OTHER call- the call on April 21 informing me of my disease.

Time marches on; we’re now in summer.  The days stretch out like an endless blanket- hot and sticky, smelling of sunscreen and sounding like children’s laughter.  One of the beautiful gifts of going through such a horrific year, is the hyper-gratitude that blows through my heart for normal, everyday life.

The quiet pockets of these summer days contain priceless treasures.  Time to sit with bible and journal before me, and let the Lord meander me through His Word with no agenda, and whisper His love-song to my soul.

 

His love song sings the song of sunrise.

The sunrise of a new season.

A season of redemption.

 

 

“Who am I, Sovereign LORD, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?” 2 Samuel 7:18

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The Winter Year

 

My one year cancer-versary has come and gone.

April 21, 2015 so many things changed.

Here we are, a  year later, and so many things are still so different.

But there is One who is unchanging- and He has taken my faith deeper.

He has answered my prayer:

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,

let me walk upon the waters,

Wherever you would call me.

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander;

And my faith would be made stronger,

in the presence of my Savior.

(Hillsong-Oceans)

God gave me a little “heaven kiss” yesterday in church.   I could hardly believe it when I heard the first few bars of that worship song quoted above, Oceans.   This song has been the continual song of my heart since 2014.

In 2014-2015, God took me on a journey of obedience and faith as He took me to the “deeper place” of a ministry calling I didn’t feel equipped to do.

In 2015- 2016, God took me on a journey of brokenness and surrender as He took me to the “deeper place” of the valley of cancer and suffering.

We pray for God to grow our faith; we just don’t get to choose how He will do it. 

But~ His plans are perfect, and He does all things well.  It’s not always easy, and we don’t always know all the reasons.  That’s where faith comes in…believing and trusting that God’s plans are better than MY plans.

 

This past year has felt like a Winter Year.  A year of dormancy, where God was preparing the soil of my heart for what He wants to grow in the future.

I am thankful that this Winter Year is behind me.

I’m praying ABOUNDING GRACE for the days ahead – in whatever season God has for me next.

This journey is not about me – it’s about the God of abounding grace who is the God of every journey; of every season.

He wants to use every single one of our life-journeys  to point to Himself – we are simply His instruments to play His music into the world.

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I am so grateful for every single prayer lifted for me over the past year!

I’m feeling better and stronger every single day. I’ve started to run again!  My hair is really growing back and I’m getting used to the new short look.

I have a PET scan on Saturday, May 7 to make sure there is no evidence of disease anywhere in my body.  I appreciate your bold prayers for CLEAR SCANS!

Pray for me to have faith and not fear as I think about the scans, and my mind wanders to the “what-ifs”.

Mostly pray “ABOUNDING GRACE” for whatever lies ahead~

Thank you so much for your love and support…you’ve loved my family and me so well!

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Lessons from a Life Well Lived

One month ago today, Stacy Sawyer met her precious Savior and reunited with her beloved son.

A few days later, I sat in a familiar pew, in an overflowing Sanctuary to celebrate the life of a woman whose life taught me so much.

Left behind are so many who miss her; especially her family and closest friends.  I feel somewhat unqualified to write about this dear sister-in-Christ;  but I have felt so led to honor her by sharing a two lessons that I learned through Stacy’s life well lived.

1) Your influence extends beyond what you imagine.

A short four years ago is when my life first intersected with Stacy’s.  Our friendship grew, but our time together was usually in group settings.  I believe we only had two one-on-one conversations that lasted more than five minutes.  But over these last four years, I was watching her and learning from her, mostly from a distance.  She was the type of person that drew others in by her charismatic personality, and ability to make a friend wherever she went.

Sometimes I believe that in order to influence another person’s life, a great deal of one on one time must be invested.  God does call us to those types of relationships, of course, with our children, family, and specific people we are called to pour into.  However, I’m learning that my influence extends far beyond these people that I’m intentionally meeting with regularly or even leading in bible study groups.

I am reminded by Stacy’s life that people are watching and God can use your life and mine to touch others just by living a winsome life in Christ.

 

2)  Through Jesus, pain and suffering can transform a family and a community.

Stacy taught me that the most painful parts of life can be conduits of meaningful transformation.

About 11 years ago, Stacy and her husband, Scott suffered a devastating loss.  Their son Cole, at age 11 passed away after battling cancer.

Through the years of knowing Stacy, it became evident that Cole’s death, although devastating, changed their family for the better, as Stacy and the family drew strength from Jesus, and grew in their faith through the experience.  As I heard Stacy’s niece share at the memorial service, it was evident that Cole’s death had a beautiful ripple effect through their family, even through many tears.

God impressed a new truth on my heart at Stacy’s memorial service. I don’t believe I’m overstating this, but I believe that non only did Stacy Sawyer’s life, and the suffering she and her family endured change their family, but it also transformed the entire community.

Stacy not only beautifully poured out her life to serving her family.  Stacy reflected the character of Jesus as a steadfast pursuer of people.  She invited others into what was meaningful.  Stacy invited, invited, and invited to women’s bible studies and events.  Many women know Christ more because of her life.

Not only did she serve the local church, but sought out ways to bless the community.  She was a soccer mom who touched lives even on the sidelines of soccer games.  She served with great passion at Camp Kemo, an organization dedicated to serving children with cancer.

As I saw hundreds upon hundreds (maybe even close to a thousand) gather to remember Stacy’s life, I considered how many people each of those people intersected with in their daily life.   And it occurred to me that God provides people.. people like Stacy Sawyer… who are vessels of grace to change the landscape of a person’s heart; a family; and even a community.

Stacy’s influence will life on in the lives of those she touched, and I know that God will continue to water the seeds of grace she planted in many lives.

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Please join me in continuing to pray for Stacy’s family as they grieve the loss of this precious woman.

Also, if you feel led, please post here in the comments or in the Facebook post a lesson that Stacy taught you through her life.  I will compile these responses and share with her daughters.

Let’s continue to journey together…

April 21, 2015

It was a Tuesday.  The day before, I had a mammogram (my very first), then an ultrasound, then a biopsy of three areas of “concern” in my right breast.

Tuesday afternoon, I was in my car when I got “the call”.  I remember the call like it was yesterday.  The kind nurse on the other end of the phone said those words…”It’s cancer”.  She then shared that she had prayed for me before picking up the phone to make that call.  She didn’t have to say that.  As a matter of fact, she could probably get in trouble for saying that.  But she took the time to pray for me, at that time an unknown patient, and then had the guts to TELL me she prayed for me.

It was a kiss from heaven to remind me, as my world was shattering all around me, when life felt out of control, that there was someOne still in control.

I don’t remember much else from the phone call.  In the moments after I put the phone down, all I could think of was my three sweet children and husband.

In those moments, cancer went from a terrible disease that happened to other people, to a world-rocking diagnosis that could possibly leave my children motherless and my husband a single dad of three young children.

My emotions were all over the place in those first few days, but I remember so clearly feeling so called to walk this journey publicly.  I felt so called to write and share what God could do through cancer.  I clung to the promise that He could use it for good (Romans 8:28).

Throughout this entire journey, I’ve clung with all my might to the “story beneath the story”.   It’s the unseen story~ the story of FAITH that God is writing in my life and the lives of those I love.  Cancer is merely one of God’s instruments to write this “story beneath the story” in my life.

Cancer? That’s the seen story. It’s the temporal story. It’s real, but it’s not the most important story that God is writing here.  My God is using this terrible disease in so many amazing ways. Beauty from ashes.  I hope I’m clear in sharing those glimpses of His abounding grace.  The faith story is eternal. It’s what I want to focus  on – not just through cancer but through all of life.  I can so easily forget where to fix my eyes – and as soon as I start looking at my circumstances, I SINK!

By God’s grace, and Lord-willing, it appears that the final stretch of this seen story ~ my cancer journey~ is nearing an end.   Seven weeks of radiation, starting Monday, and every three week herceptin treatments till early May.  Then scans every so often, a daily pill for five years.  And this seen story draws to a close.

Copyright Becky Williamson Photography WEBSITE: www.beckywilliamsonphotography.com EMAIL: beckywilliamsonphotography@gmail.com

But as long as I’m drawing breath, the unseen story – the story of faith continues.  And I want to keep writing and sharing this.  Not to draw attention to ME, or MY story – but to the One who is writing ALL of our stories.

I have a passion to inspire and encourage women in the trenches of life~ whether it’s a woman feeling stretched thin in the grind of life; a friend whose heart is tender and vulnerable in a difficult season or waiting, a mother struggling to find her purpose, or a sister in Christ who is walking her own story of suffering.  I’ve been this woman and I long to listen, and say “yes, me too”.

I have a passion to remind my readers that through a relationship with Jesus there is purpose behind the pain, goodness in the grime of life, mission in motherhood, opportunities in the ordinary,  joy in the journey, a Savior in  your suffering.

Many days, I write simply to remind myself.

As the Lord closes the chapter entitled “cancer”, I will continue to write as the Lord continues to teach me, mold me, encourage me and draw me deeper into His loving arms.

My words, I pray, point to THE Word ~ Jesus, the Word made flesh. My words are just an expression of who He is to me….just one imperfect woman seeking to be an extravagant worshipper with my life…one woman, just like you, covered in His abounding grace seeking to Know the Grace-giver, and make Him known.

Will you read along, friends? Let’s continue to journey together.

(From Exodus 15~ portions from my chronological daily reading this morning)..My soul swells in worship to who God is!  He defeats all enemies~ Pharaoh’s army, cancer, and the ultimate enemy- satan!

2The Lord is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power,
    your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.
In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries;
    you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble.

The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake,
    I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.
    I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.’
11 “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
    Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
    awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?

13 “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed;
    you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.

17 You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain,
    the place, O Lord, which you have made for your abode,
    the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established.
18 The Lord will reign forever and ever.”

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yes.

January 2016 Update

Hi friends!

 

Thank you for continuing to pray for me.  Although there is so much on my heart to share about faith and life and hope and JESUS- tonight I feel led to simply share an update.

I have not started radiation yet.

This Tuesday, January 19th at 8am I meet with my radiation oncologist for a consultation.  This will “get the ball rolling” for my radiation treatments.  I hope to get a start date at this appointment on Tuesday, but I know that there are some things to do before I can start (get markings done for where the radiation will be, etc).  Last I heard, I will have 7 weeks of radiation, which is 35 treatments (everyday M-F). From what I hear, the radiation side effects are minimal (“a walk in the park compared to chemo” is what a nurse told me). Fatigue which is cumulative, and possible burning of the skin which can be mostly prevented with some skin cream.   Each treatment will be 15-20 minutes.

I am ready to get started so I can start checking off the treatments!  I am also praying for the people that I will encounter each day at my treatments.  Since I will likely go the same time each day for seven weeks straight, I’ll likely see the same people many times.  I pray God uses me to be an encouragement, maybe even hear some of the other patients stories and share hope, or even just a smile.

Please pray that God schedules “divine appointments” at my radiation appointments.  That is a huge prayer request because in my flesh I feel like so much of my day will be WASTED during these weeks going back and forth from Lexington Medical (in my already full life)- when I lift up my eyes to Jesus, He reminds me that NOTHING is wasted, and my fullest ministry during these weeks may not be from the church or in my home, but rather in the waiting room.  Who knows what God has planned.  I just pray I’m sensitive to His still small voice.

My hair is growing back.  I’m not quite ready for the world to see it yet! It’s SHORT but I’m thankful to have hair again.  Hopefully by summer I’ll feel ready for the world to see my new ‘do!

I continue to have herceptin treatments, and will continue until April.  These are every three weeks, and target the Her2 protein.  There are minimal side effects- usually I’m just very tired on the days surrounding my herceptin infusion.

Most days seem pretty normal these days, for which I’m so thankful.  I’m ready to put this chapter behind me,although I want to squeeze every bit of what God wants to teach me through this season.  Although I’m tempted to rush to the end of this chapter, I realize that God still has me right here for a reason.  I’m thankful for a new year and new mercies!

As I’ve turned the page into a new year, I’ve done quite a bit of reflecting.

Both 2014 and 2015 were major years in my life, in very different ways.  If I could summarize these two years of my life, it would be this:  “His grace abounds in the scary steps of faith, and His grace abounds in the painful pauses of suffering”.

I look ahead to 2016 and wonder – in what ways will I see His grace abound this year?

I look forward to watching His grace abound in 2016 and beyond.

Thank you for your prayers, and thank you for walking this journey with me!

It is Well {Living in Paradox}

This is a “heart check”.  I shared these words this morning with a few trusted friends, desiring for them to have a window into my soul.  I long to be transparent and real on this journey with each of you, not just my trusted friends.

So really, how have I been lately?  Like, how’s my heart?  Honestly, I write this post through tears.

The best way I can describe it, is that I feel the constant tension of living in paradox.  I often feel like a wrestling Jacob.  (Genesis 32:22-32) Only my wrestle is all in my head and my heart.

There’s a tension that all is NOT well in my soul, but at the same time IT IS WELL.

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Jesus – my faith in Him- is the ROCK which I prop my life on.  He doesn’t call us to comfort.  A very wise friend recently told me that a life of leaning on the ROCK is not comfortable.  It’s hard. It’s rough. It’s dirty.

Here are some of the uncomfortable, dirty bits of my life, living in paradox these days.

It ISN’T well: Recently my five-year old, very perceptive and “old soul” of a  daughter asked if I’m going to die.  She went on to share with me if I did die she would “cry in her pillow every night”.   Heartbreaking.

It IS well:  This conversation, and the hot tears that it brought (still brings) has granted me the opportunity to wrestle with whether I really, and I mean REALLY trust the Lord with my children and husband.

Through this wrestle, God is slowly prying open my fingers on my desire to control, manipulate, and micromanage their existence…to make it pain free and all joy. I’m releasing control to the story that GOD want’s to write in their life, with or without me.

I’m coming to grips with the fact that this God, this Heavenly Father, this Creator, this Pursuer of my heart…HE CAN ACTUALLY BE TRUSTED.  He created them too – He loves them more than I do, and He’s writing their story together for good too.   Do you see? God is shaping my heart.  He desires my heart….ALL of my heart.  He doesn’t want me to be closed handed with even that which is closest and dearest and tender.

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Selah’s prayer. My prayer too.

It ISN’T well:  I watch my precious husband pour himself out all day at work, and then pour himself out at home because I lack energy… especially in the late afternoons and evenings.

It IS well:  I get to see my husband step up and be a picture of Jesus.  I get to see firsthand how God is growing him as a man of God in the most painful and unlikely, yet the most beautiful way. I get to experience my love growing deeper than words can express. Our marriage is forever changed for the better, and thankful this happened 10 years into our marriage instead of 20, 30, 40 years in. We get to spend the rest of our lives together  – forever changed in the best possible ways.

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It ISN’T well: I fear that the cancer will come back. I have dread that I will have to go through the horrific chemo again. I plead “I cannot go through that again. Please Lord. No”. Knowing the medical stats that it’s usually the recurrence that is terminal.

It IS well:  Fear takes me to the cross. Fear fixes my eyes on Jesus as I realize I cannot control this. Fear takes me to His Word and His promises – especially the promise that “He will never leave me nor forsake me”.  Fear causes me to reflect back at all the ways He carried me through chemo the first time and my heart can rest knowing if He takes me there again He will carry me again.

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It ISN’T well: Over the summer, I had to temporarily step away from a ministry that I love with all my heart. I wrestle with feeling disconnected and that I’m not needed…. That they did fine without me.

It IS well: The Lord is continually using this to remind me that this ministry is not about me anyway!! It’s so gross to think for a minute it’s about me – so the Lord is revealing pride and then refreshing and reviving me in repentance as I am washed in His cleansing blood.  Seeing the ministry thrive without me reminds me that it’s all about HIM, not me.  I’m back (easing back in), and I’m so increcibly thankful for the amazing women God enabled through my absence.

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It ISN’T well:  I’m in a medically induced menopause (at age 35) to keep my hormones at bay… Hormones that could cause the cancer to grow and spread.  This menopause may or may not be temporary.  A menopause with all of the usual side effects! Yes I now know exactly what a hot flash feels like and if you see me fanning myself you know why!

It IS well:  In menopause, and cancer, being able to relate to women who are suffering – in trials big and small.  God is making me more empathetic, and compassionate, and I pray to minister through my suffering.

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It ISN’T well:  I’m laying down MY dreams for our family and the size of our family, that it is unlikely that I will ever carry or nurse a child again.  This is an especially tender place for me

It IS well:   These unfulfilled longings are causing me to crave Christ, the ONLY One who can completely satisfy me. I’m laying down MY desires and dreams, but getting to replace them for the story HE wants to write in our family. He is good, and His mercy will endure.  His story for me; for our family, is better than any that I could even ask or imagine! (Ephesians 3:20!)

Copyright Becky Williamson Photography WEBSITE: www.beckywilliamsonphotography.com EMAIL: beckywilliamsonphotography@gmail.com

Cancer is helping me to understand the paradox of being sorrowful yet always rejoicing in ways I would have never understood otherwise.

“Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander” has been my prayer for a couple years now.  I’ve been begging the Lord to grow me in ways only HE can do.  He’s answering my prayer – only cancer is how He is doing it.

The “it is well” testimonies above are those deeper places that my feet have now wandered.  Walking through cancer means walking through deep, deep waters.  But with the deeper hard comes the deeper beauty.  I would have never walked there myself.  No one willingly wanders to cancer. But, in this case, that’s just what it’s taking to allow for this deep, deep beauty.

It is well with my soul always wins.  It may be through tears.  It may take a time of wrestle.  Like Jacob, I may wrestle all night, but also like Jacob I will come out of the wrestle with a limp …an indescribable way of walking that is set apart and different.  This limp is a way of walking through life that’s different, and that others notice. And my limp is because of His presence and touch through the wrestle.

The limp points ME and OTHERS back to Jesus.  Limps aren’t ever pretty, but they point back to an experience from the past. That’s what this life is all about anyway isn’t it? This life of mine is just to point to HIM. It’s not to draw attention to my limp but point to the One who gave me the limp.

I’m just the vessel. My heart is His, and although I’m sorrowful, I’m rejoicing.

“It is well” always prevails.  Limp and all.

All Sufficient Grace (part 1)

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  2 Corinthians 12:9

I feel led to share a significant part of this journey with you tonight. This is part 1 of 2  (or maybe 3)  :)

My words flow out of a heart that is full and overflowing with the presence and joy of the Lord.  Psalm 16:11 says “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  His presence and joy ALWAYS co-exist!  If I’m lacking in joy, I can always attribute it to a lack of time with the Lord. When the distractions of life overtake me (whether it’s the usual stuff of life or hard circumstances) and when my eyes start focusing more on those things than Jesus, my joy shrivels! Each and every time!

I feel that’s what happened to me in the weeks surrounding my third treatment.  There were some dark days which took me to a dark valley – physically, spiritually, emotionally.  I was still reading God’s Word and praying, but it just felt dry.  I couldn’t FEEL God’s presence.  Can anyone relate? I sought comfort in the Gospel – with a true heart knowledge that I was 100% carried by our precious Lord in these times and knowing that He simply wanted me to learn what it meant to truly rest in His finished work on the cross and His all carrying arms.

God was still teaching me through these dark days. He  spoke a truth into my heart: “Faith isn’t faith if it is always FELT.”  Those “mountain top” moments are amazing, but not how God intends for us to live life every day.  Because at some point  our faith goes deeper than our feelings.  It’s in these times that the Word of God is more precious than ever because we read of the character of God, and the promises to those of us who believe.

As Pastor George Crow (our precious Pastor at Northeast Presbyterian Church)  always says “Jesus loves me this I know”…(how do I know this?)….”For the BIBLE TELLS ME SO”.  It really all comes back to this, the simplest truth: trusting in what God tells us through His Word even when we don’t FEEL it. My feelings and emotions are so fickle!

 

During this time, however,  I longed for God’s joy-filled communion as I had experienced….even in other dark valleys I had journeyed through in times past.  I wanted God to restore my faith-sight that I had at the beginning of my journey, when I had the deepest conviction in my soul that GOD WAS UP TO SOMETHING.  I cannot even express the deep confidence the Lord blessed me with in those early days surrounding my diagnosis.    That first week was a complete BLUR.  After the “It’s cancer” phone call, in the midst of my part-time ministry job, caring for my children and home, each day I found myself scheduling doctors appointments, meetings with people that we needed to share the news with face to face, etc etc.  Not to mention processing the devastating news we had just learned.  But in those days, I sensed God’s presence like few times before.

Through God’s grace (ONLY HIM!) my eyes were fixed squarely on the “story beneath the story”, which is the story of FAITH that God was writing in my life. This is the often unseen story, and really it’s the BIGGER story.  Cancer? That’s the small story of sight.  It’s not eternal.  It’s transient.  But the FAITH story is eternal!

I KNEW this cancer diagnosis wasn’t an accident.  I was so confident that although God did not cause breast cancer, that He allowed it as His grace in my life, to do a million things in my life and others lives (some we get to see – thank you Lord – some we will never see this side of eternity)!  I had JOY that the Lord had chosen me to carry this cross, and I waited expectantly to see all that God was going to do through this trial.  I knew it was no accident and felt set-apart to suffer with my Lord.   Joy, peace, hope.

These were my truest convictions during those crazy days – and that is ALL the LORD. NOT Brooke Turner :)

But in the days surrounding and after my third chemo cycle, I realized something had shifted in my heart.  I realized I had shifted my sight from my Great God to my circumstances.   I no longer felt the joy and peace of the Lord.  My heart was full of dread for the upcoming cycles and the very real, very terrible side effects!

But last week everything changed.

Last Wednesday I had the sincere joy of entering into the presence of the Lord with 200 of my closest sisters in Christ as Northeast Presbyterian Women’s Ministries presented an event called “Summer Sisterhood: Sisters set FREE!”.  I was SO excited about this event because after our Spring Women’s Retreat the Lord impressed a clear vision on my heart for what He wanted this night to be.   A night of worship, transparency and God Glorifying testimonies!  We arranged for two amazing female leaders to lead our time of worship  (check out Called Worship – Kerri & Carrie are incredible!).  Three women shared powerful testimonies of how God gave them freedom in their lives, and we even enjoyed fellowship around a delicious meal.  The night was all I could have envisioned and more, thanks to my Women’s Ministry Staff- Anne, Tara & Sharon and many volunteers, who executed the event beautifully!  It blessed my heart to see and give hugs to so many of my precious sisters in Christ who have held my arms up during this time.

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What made the difference?  Fixing my eyes BACK on Jesus, my suffering Savior, the One who knows the depth of my pain, and the One who is greater than my pain.   HOW did my eyes shift back to Jesus?  Through

1) TIME in WORSHIP  : allowing His truth and His character to wash over me as I corporately worshipped in song with my sisters in Christ

2) TIME in FELLOWSHIP with other believers:  as Romans 1:12 says:  being “mutually encouraged by each other’s faith”

3) TRUTH: of who God is through His Word (in this case through the testimony of my sisters in Christ.  Each testimony was saturated with the Word of God)

4) TRANSPARENCY: admitting that I don’t “have it all together” all the time.  This may be a scary thought to some considering I have been called to serve as the Women’s Ministry Director of a large church…but as I grow in my journey I realize the importance of being real and vulnerable.   Often one persons transparency can mean freedom for another as we exit the shadows and understand that many struggle in the same way that we do.

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The BIG IDEA – the takeaway- I in myself am SO very weak, but our God is SO very strong.  And often His strength is manifested and channeled to us as we enter into authentic community with other believers.  God could have “pulled me out of the pit” in anyway that He wanted- but He chose to use the Summer Sisterhood event at NEPC and my sweet sisters in Christ who ministered to me there.  I needed to be surrounded by my army!

Find your army, ladies!  The Lord wants us in authentic community with other women – we cannot do this life alone!  And if you don’t have an army of sisters in Christ – we’d love to have you join our sisterhood at Northeast Presbyterian Women’s Ministries! (not a shameless plug, only sharing because they are a treasure of my heart and I want the world to know the love of these women!)

Part 2 to come -where I will share the one day where I felt the very weakest in my own flesh but witnessed God show up in a mighty way!

 

Cancer update

My fourth chemo was last Thursday, 7/16. That day went well although the meds they gave me made me very drowsy and I think I was a little glazed over for most of my conversations that day!

I went in again to the clinic on Friday for fluids, anti nausea meds, etc and had a home health nurse show me how to administer the same over the weekend.  YES I actually (very carefully) gave myself meds through my port this weekend!

Today (Monday) I went back to the clinic (see a pattern here), to get more fluids, meds, etc.  and I’m praising God to report that I feel GOOD!  I even ate lunch and dinner (hallelujah!)

I will be back at the clinic on Wednesday for more of the same, plus my weekly herceptin infusion.  I’m optimistic that maybe all these trips back to get hydrated and to get anti-nausea meds through my port (which work much better than oral meds), that this may be the secret to a more manageable couple of weeks.

THANK YOU for your prayers and for journeying with me, and for allowing me to be transparent!

His grace abounds,

Brooke

 

Take Heart

There is no doubt that there is evil in this world.  We were reminded of that this past week as 9 innocent people were murdered in their church, Emmanuel AME in Charleston, an hour after welcoming a stranger into their time of bible study.

Evil should not surprise us.  Even  Jesus said in John 16:33 “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

This cancer in my body is a form of evil.  God did not orchestrate the horrific tragedy in Charleston, rather He did allow it; and similarly I believe that He did not cause this cancer to exist in my body but He did allow it.

God is both GOOD, and SOVEREIGN in ALL things.  We will never see ALL the good that comes out of our suffering (only God can see the whole picture) but in His grace many times He does allow us to see some of the good!

In my last post I shared about how God has been underlining the truth that my only hope; my only ROCK in this world is Jesus.  He’s the only guarantee and He is the only One who is incapable of disappointing us!

As I’ve been processing the news of the church shooting, and continuing to process my own cancer I’ve really been thinking a lot on these words.  What does it mean for my only hope to be in Jesus?  What does that look like, and how does it flesh out?  I don’t want those just to be words that easily roll off my tongue as they have in the past.

One of the beautiful treasures of walking through cancer has been that I’ve had to wrestle with some truths that I *thought* I understood about God….even truths I have taught large groups of women!  The Lord is allowing me this precious opportunity to put flesh on these truths.

 

So back to John 16:33 “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

My hope can be in Jesus alone because He has overcome the world.  He has overcome every tribulation, trial, suffering, injustice, and evil that has taken place and will ever take place.

As I go through this life – the good and the hard – His promises are there for me to cling to with all my might!

Promises like this:

He will never leave me or forsake me.  He will provide all I need, all the time, according to the riches in Christ Jesus.  He is preparing a place for me in heaven. Nothing can separate me from His love.  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. By grace, through faith I have been saved from my sin and eternal separation from God.   I am His masterpiece created to do works He ordained before the beginning of the world! He numbers my hairs (whether many or few) and has numbered and written my days.  He can give peace, not as the world gives but peace that passes all understanding.  He turns ashes into beauty, and makes ALL things work together for good.   (just a sampling of the promises found in scripture….so many many more!)

NOTHING, no shooting, no disease, NO evil that is in this world can take these promises (and many many more!) away from those of us who trust in Jesus as our Lord!  This is how we can overcome, through Jesus overcoming!

This is how we can “take heart”.  This phrase “take heart” in John 16:33 is translated in the King James Version as “be of good cheer”.  In the original language it comes from the root word meaning COURAGE or CONFIDENCE.

We can have courage and confidence to face all tribulation because Jesus has overcome.  And through Him, and fellowship with Him, we can too.

This is what it means to me that Jesus is my ONLY Hope.  His promises I can cling tightly to, and know without a doubt they will not slip through my fingers.

This is how I can take heart.  And you can too.    Today, whatever you could be going through take heart and remember Jesus has overcome.

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credit: inspiringpretty.com

Prayer requests:

-my next “big chemo” is this Wednesday, 6/24.  pray for peace as I approach this day! (this is Chemo #3 of 6, so after this I’ll be half way through with this part of my journey!)

-pray that taxotere does not cause another allergic reaction as it did with round 2

-Pray for minimal side effects and boldly praying that they are shorter lived this time!  Specifically pray that I can manage my nausea better this time and I am able to eat

-Continue to pray that God would get all the glory from this cancer and what satan meant for evil, God will use for good in whatever ways He pleases! Pray He uses this so that I may know Him more intimately

-Praise for my “village”  (all of you included) who shower me with love, support, cards daily in my mailbox and just the words of encouragement I need straight from the Lord!! No act of love goes unappreciated!!

-Praise for the “good days” I’ve had (like today)! Celebrating spending the day with my children and feeling like a “normal mom” taking them to VBS and meeting friends at the pool.

I’m so grateful for you!

 

From a Sister’s Heart {edition 2}

I miss her already.  Somehow, by the grace of God and a really supportive husband (thanks Jon-boy!), Elizabeth arranged to return again from Houston to be here for me during the side-effects of my second chemo, and to help around the house and with the kids.  I’m so grateful for the time we shared, despite the circumstances.  She is amazing and I will always cherish these days in my heart.  My kids absolutely LOVED their time with “silly Aunt Bea” (long explanation behind the name ;); it warmed my heart to see their relationship grow even deeper.  We did have some fun and laughs too! We even had a facial night.  I am so thankful for my sister! I’m posting (with permission) her next “Prayer from a sister’s heart” because I’m celebrating the sweet bond we share, that spans far beyond miles!  Love you sis!!

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Team Turner loves Aunt Bea!!!!image1-1 copy

Click here to read the first edition of “From a Sister’s Heart”

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written by Liz Fisher

4/27/15

Today is Monday and I have work on the brain.  After a long, tough weekend, the mundane routine of work was almost welcome.  Mundane Monday.  So my specific thoughts and prayers today have been about work.  I struggle daily, hourly with the sacrifices we make to live where and how we live and provide for our family.  I miss getting to know the other moms at preschool dropoff.  I miss playdates.  I miss Women’s Bible Studies.  I miss sweet one-on-one times with each of my children.  The list goes on.  And there’s always a whisper in the back of my mind asking “It is worth it..?”

But my thoughts today weren’t dwelling on our decision and my work.  8 years ago, you worked a similar job as mine.  But through seeking the Lord, you heard the call that you were meant to change paths.   You and Justin sacrificed to do that, too.  But for that sacrifice you had the opportunity to impact hundreds of lives through bible studies, photography, and deep friendships.  Then you were able to spend 4 years at home with your children as a Godly mother.   And finally in this most recent chapter, the Lord has placed you in a job where the daughter that he has so perfectly formed can be a light to countless women through sharing your journey of faith.  I have specifically prayed today that you would have wisdom and peace about managing your job in the coming months.

You give things your all.  But so does God.  He began a good work in you, and He will be faithful to complete it  (Phil 1:6).   So I pray today that as you did 8 years ago, you can feel the guiding hand of the Lord to make decisions on how to manage your job through this time.   I urge you to listen to advice of other who have taken similar journeys, but mostly seek the Lord, from whose mouth comes wisdom and understanding (Prov 2:6).

(From Brooke)  I’m so grateful for these very specific prayers.  It is clear that the Lord was guiding and directing my sister’s prayers, weeks before I started treatment.  This is such a reminder to me that PRAYER MATTERS!!  (And also why I personally love journalling my prayers and encourage others to do the same because it is clear to see where God answers!)  Im happy to share how God answered my sister’s prayers.  

After my first treatment, after much prayer and seeking wise council, we made the difficult but necessary decision for me to take a temporary leave of absence from my position as Director of Women’s Ministries throughout my treatment.  The pastors and staff of NEPC have been incredibly supportive and gracious and I’m so thankful for the love, support, and encouragement our family has been extended by this beautiful Body of Christ.   This summer is a summer of healing and Season of Sabbath and the Lord is using it to grow me in deeper ways than He ever could without cancer.  I’m especially thankful that during my “up” times I can focus on my family and children and make special memories with them.  God answers prayer! I cannot wait to jump “back in the saddle” after this cancer chapter has been closed.  I know this chapter will forever change me, as a woman of God, a wife, a mother, and in ministry.