Monthly Archives: November 2010

chemo #5 {the There-ness of the Lord}

Thanks to all of you who lifted a prayer for me today. I spent five hours in the chemo chair {yes, five}, but every one of them was well worth the pause. Some old friends were there; some new. I’ve chronicled a bit of our fun and conversation on the video, finishing it with a word of encouragement just for you {there’s an obvious, running theme throughout–nourishment}! I realize these few minutes are a sacrifice of your time; if it’s not your thing, consider yourself excused and still loved by me. I’m doing these videos to chronicle my journey of chemotherapy–a touchstone of sorts for the road ahead. I, along with my family, will need the benefit of their witness in the days ahead as we move forward beyond my cancer. 
Of this one thing I am certain… cancer has changed me; it will always be part of my story, and because I’m a woman prone to forget the faithfulness of my God, I need words and pictures to aid me in my remembrance and gratefulness. Blessings to each one of you for being here and for joining me on the road toward Peace. I love you more than you know. As always…
Peace for the journey,

“And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE.” 
{Ezekiel 48:35b}
PS: The winner of Leah’s Bible study, From the Trash Pile to the Treasure Chest, is Jeneil from Rhema’s Hope. I’ll have this to you very soon, friend. For the rest of you, leave a comment today in keeping with today’s video content, and I’ll draw a winner or two for a surprise gift with my next post. Shalom.

winter’s white

Like the advent of new-fallen snow, so arrives the freshness of God’s Word to my soul.

A picture really, just as clear and crisp and breathtaking as the pristine white that my northern neighbors are experiencing this day. When I hear them speak of winter’s gift, a bit of envy creeps over me. I love seasonal shifts and their accumulations therein. Unfortunately, where I live doesn’t accommodate the four seasons in their fullness, especially winter. We just pretend down here in the south; bump up the thermostat and pull out the sweaters when the temps plummet below sixty degrees, thinking white might come at any moment but never really experiencing its arrival… at least not in the way that we had hoped.

So I was surprised today to receive a first snowfall… to look up and feel the flakes as they gently touched my cheeks and tendered my soul; not literally, but spiritually speaking. No forecaster predicted it; even I was skeptical of its arrival, but it came despite my being ill-prepared. Not from a cloud as some might imagine, but rather from the pen of a friend. Her words stirred my longing for a further look into God’s Word, and the deeper I dug into Scripture and subsequent thought, the greater the accumulation of white around my feet.

Tonight, I’m knee deep into Jesus, and I can’t think of a better way to honor my friend’s work (a.k.a. Leah Adams) than by telling you about the snapshot I’m holding in my heart because of her obedience to write her first Bible study, From the Trash Pile to the Treasure Chest: Creating a Godly Legacy.  

It’s a picture I’ve skimmed over a few times before, but never quite in the detail as I’ve witnessed it in the last twenty-four hours. A portrait from the third chapter of Joshua where the Israelites are crossing the Jordan River in order to take possession of the land promised to them by God. Prior to their marching across on dry land, the priests carried the Ark of the Covenant ahead of them. The ark represented the presence of the living God. It preceded the faith of God’s people, always “going before” them to mark their path and to lead their way. As the ark moved, so did the Israelites. And so it was on this day in biblical history. The ark took the lead; the people followed behind.

But then, the ark stopped… midstream. It stood still as the people passed it by, a fact most of us know and carry as truth. However, there is a lesser known understanding that comes with this truth… one I hadn’t considered before. When the Israelites caught up with the ark and stood parallel to God’s tangible presence, they had a choice to make. To stand still and wait for the ark to lead them forward or to move beyond it without the benefit of its visible leadership. This, my friends, is the fresh-fallen white I hold in my heart tonight. A portrait of faith from a people who walked the Jordan through—not with God at their lead, but with God at their backs. Not a go before God this time around, but rather a come behind God after faith took its first steps toward promised freedom.

Certainly, God pointed them in the right direction. Faith always initiates with God; it ends with him as well, but in the middle of the Jordan—when faith arrives at what Leah calls a “hinge moment”—we have the unbelievable privilege of walking resolutely forward, all the while knowing that behind us are a set of eyes keeping watch to make sure that our backs are covered. To follow in our shadows and to protect us from a rear vantage point.

So often in our faith journeys, we focus on the forward aspect of the road—our “up ahead” and what might be coming. So often our prayers are directed accordingly. But do we ever take the time to consider our “over the shoulders”—the backward actions that accompany our forward steps? I know I certainly haven’t thought about it very much… about all the ways that God is backing me up to ensure my safe landing on the other side. In fact, if I were really honest, it’s those backward shadows that sometimes trip me up the most. I’ve always seen God in the lead, but rarely do I consider his faithfulness from behind.

In the wake of my cancer diagnosis and treatment therein, I’m tempted to keep God at the lead in all things, even though some days I strain to see his discerning movements on my behalf. But as I progress, as I move forward through the Jordan (a river that seems to be perpetually at “flood stage” status), I feel the weightiness of my movement… of what it has cost me, and I sometimes feel left to my own devices to recover from its effects. Almost as if God is out in front, but as it pertains to my behind, I’m all alone. And I know it’s not truth; still and yet, knowing isn’t always enough fuel for my believing.

So God graciously sends me a picture—a fresh-fallen white as pristine and clear as I’ve ever experienced. A seasonal shift for my understanding. A portrait of a faithful Presence who stands mid-stream, not to abandon my forward progression but to buoy my backward angle. To make sure that everything left in the wake of my tentative steps of forward faith are covered by his grace and mercy and watchful care.  

And this helps me understand God a little more. Helps me see his covenantal love from another angle. Helps me formulate a better perspective regarding the behind that inevitably follows my forward. Helps me know that he’s got me covered from every angle and that no matter the consequential results of my stepping through the Jordan, the waters will remain stacked on my behalf until I’ve made it through to the other side. Only then will God release those waters to cover up and cleanse every last remnant of my left behind that isn’t in keeping with his perfect conclusion.

It’s a portrait worth holding onto in this season, friends, and as I made my way outside this afternoon for a walk, there came a moment when I looked back over my shoulder, literally. I could almost see God there… faithfully gazing in my direction, waving me on and nodding his approval. And even though the temperature read fifty degrees and the skies were cloudless, I could have sworn I felt a snowflake on my face… wet and pristine, with a heart accumulation beyond measure.

A winter’s gift of white. I’ll make sure and carry this picture with me in the coming week, believing that my up ahead will arrive with a guarantee of God’s come behind.

Thank you, Leah, for leading me to deep waters and for obeying God’s prompt to pen this study. He is using it mightily in my heart, and I feel so privileged to be walking my winter season with your thoughts at the lead and with God’s Word at my side. Keep to it, mighty woman of faith. May the Lord bless you, keep you, and watch over you as you walk forward to the Promised Land. I join you, alongside all of my readers, on the road. Until next time…  

Peace for the journey,

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with thankful hearts…

with thankful hearts…

A little earlier today, a knock arrived at our front door. The postman came bearing a gift…
Last week, our former congregation at Pine Forest UMC (headed up by the Friendship SS class and my fiery “ancients”) came together for a chicken dinner… a fundraiser for my family. Today, we are all stunned with the provision from God’s hands because of that fund raiser. Truly, we never imagined such bounty belonging to us, but that’s the way grace works–immeasurably more than we can ask for or even imagine.
Well, we’ve been asking God now for three months, even imagining a little bit, and today we hold something “unexpected.” Today we hold love in tangible measure, and we are humbled with the holding. We are exceedingly grateful for the body of Christ that loved us for six years and that continues to love us beyond reason in order to bring hope to our household this Thanksgiving. You’ve done that for us, good friends, and you’ve done it well.
We miss you; we love you, and we’ll always be mindful of the wonderful ministry years we shared together. You add to heaven’s glory, and one day soon, we will sit at the banqueting table together with the Lord. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a chicken leg or two to fill our plates!
Happy Thanksgiving, friends. As always…
Peace for the journey,

Chemo #4 {my Confidence}

Thanks to everyone who left a comment for Chris Tomlin’s new CD. The three winners (as drawn by my kids) are lioneagle, Heather, and Jacquelyn. Please e-mail me your snail mail, and I will get these to you as soon as I’m able. Congrats! Now regarding my day…

“Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.” {Proverbs 3:25-26}
Peace for the journey,

PS: Some have asked regarding the rocker… it belonged first to my great, great grandpa. It comforts me to have a piece of family legacy left to my care and guardianship. In addition, the necklace I’m wearing is from Jerusalem, a gift from my friend Leah who has recently returned from there. She’s just published her first Bible study on “From the Trashpile to the Treasure Chest: Leaving a Godly legacy.” I’ve recently ordered two copies and will be doing a give-away soon! In the meantime, please visit her blog to find out more details. Shalom.

"And If Our God is For Us": a review {Chris Tomlin}

“I lift my hands to believe again…”
So writes, so sings Chris Tomlin in the song “I Lift My Hands” from his latest musical compilation, And If Our God Is For Us, due for release on November 16th. A seven word statement of faith that sums up my feelings about the eleven songs included on this recording.
Lifting my hands to believe again.
I love the depth of what that means, of how my heart resonates with that single chord. In doing so, I’m given permission to re-issue a personal statement of faith out loud to the world and back to my Father. It doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten to believe, that somehow in the mess called “cancer” that has invaded my life, I’ve lost touch with my belief system. No, what it means is that sometimes I need a catalyst to aid me in my remembering of God and his faithfulness and to serve as a vehicle toward my doing what should come naturally for me to do as a believer in Jesus Christ.
To experience pure and untainted worship before the throne of God.
Chris’s music never fails to take me there. He’s one of the few artists I trust. You know what I mean by that statement… that there are those artists whose work you so admire that no matter the “press” up front you’d almost assuredly stand in line to get a front row seat for the unveiling. Why? Because the artist behind the work can be trusted with the gifting—with the obedience to yield a product in keeping with the talent given to him/her by God.
Whether it be a writer like Alicia Chole or a photographer like Shirley; a jewelry designer like Lisa Leonard, or a potter like Robert Alewine. Regardless of the artistic bent, when these artists create, I’m “all in” regarding their work because their creations remind me of something that we often forget. That each one of us carries an eternal pulse within us, and with that pulse comes a channel of creativity linking us all back to the Master Creator. When we recognize that—when we use our giftings to further magnify the truth of our sacred bloodlines—then we honor our King. We give back to him, in part, what he has initially seeded within us. And that, my friends, is an unveiling of sacred proportion.
To acknowledge the heartbeat of creation within another human being is to validate the breadth and depth of God’s handiwork (see Psalm 139). I recognize that pulse within the heart of Chris Tomlin and his work therein.
  • Not because of his number one radio singles. He’s had nine.
  • Not because of his Grammy nominations. He’s had three.
  • Not because of his Dove awards. He’s had sixteen.
  • Not because of his sold-out concerts.
  • Not because of his connection to well-known artists and speakers.
  • And not even because of his Texas roots; who doesn’t love a cowboy?
No, none of these prestigious accomplishments amount to much of anything in my mind. What matters most to me is the way that Chris allows our Father to push his heart and pen along to create some of the most worshipful music I’ve ever encountered. He is a modern-day psalmist, never failing to bridge the gap between the human condition and the heart of Father God. And if ever there has been a season in my journey when I needed that bridge to be steady and secure, it’s this one.
There have been many days in my recent history when the nights have exceeded their parameters. When hope has teetered on the edge of destruction. When flesh has failed and faith has wavered between two varying opinions. When tears have wept their portion, and when temporal thoughts have crowded out eternal truth. It is in those times, when I need a song or two to speak to the witness and faithfulness of God.
Chris has given that to me with his new release. And as these eleven songs cycle through my iPod while walking outdoors, it’s very easy for me to look up at the sky and to remember my God. To find his eyes and to feel his pulse. To lift my hands to believe again and to say back to him some words of faith that need saying.
Not because God has forgotten who he IS, but rather because I am prone to my forgetting therein.
Accordingly, I am thankful to hold Chris’s offering as my own in this season and to sing alongside him a praise or two to the heavenlies believing that my Father bends low for a listen. Pure and untainted worship before the throne… it serves us both, God and me, and I am grateful for the single obedience from a single heart that has yielded such beauty for such a time as this.
Indeed, if our God is for us then who can stand against us? God is for you, friends, and so am I, and I’d like nothing more than to gift a couple of you with Chris’s newest work. If interested, please leave a comment along those lines, and I’ll draw the winners with my next post. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Chris’s music, give it a listen, and hear from his heart, visit his website by following this link. Also, be watching over the next couple of weeks for another giveaway of his Christmas CD, Glory in the Highest.
Thank you, Chris, for penning these songs and for helping me to lift my hands to believe again. You have given me a very good gift, and you have strengthened the faith that anchors deep within my heart. As always…
Peace for the journey,
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