Wednesday, February 17, 2016

trajectory shifts.

This week my family and friends celebrate 5 years of my body being healed from cancer. It has been a huge month of reflection on that season and where we have come and where we are going. I have been using the word joy as I share our story and give a glimpse into that season of our lives.

I was laying in bed last night thinking about how odd that must sound when so much of the language around cancer and suffering fails to mention joy. I get that. Chemotherapy was awful. Losing my long brown hair was incredibly devastating to me. I was 25 years old with a new little baby girl and a young marriage. But you know what? In the midst of the pain, heartache, fear, and what ifs...I really did find myself.

 I can only assume based on my experiences that is it in the trials and the risks and the unknowns that we find out how deep we can go. that the Lord will in fact carry us through anything. even if we don't "feel" Him or "see" Him...we are never alone in our desperation. especially if our desperate pleas aren't about what we want or what we think is best or where we want go. but we are actually capable of far more than we ever dreamt or imagined when you have nothing to lose...or even if you have everything to lose.

That the Lord of the Universe...if we confess Him as our Savior and trust Him with everything...than of course we have the opportunity to experience joy in the depth of our souls. He promised us that. He never said...“if” we suffer but instead “when” we suffer. Therefore He knows that in our pain and the unknowns we would be given a chance to fully trust Him with our life and our story. Now I mean really trust. Not just saying it like nice little Christians might say but life or in death I belong to Jesus Christ. Therefore His purpose for me is the BEST despite my plans or vision for the future. And maybe...just maybe it suddenly becomes far greater than we could have ever even dreamt. That isn’t easy. Not much about handing your life to God is easy. But it is good. It is so good. In cancer I was able to experience the Lord in a new way. the cliches were gone and the whole...this isn’t my plan was thrown out the window. Thus, cancer was the means to leading me to a place of wholehearted, no questions asked, I am ALL in for the rest of life. In laying down of my plans and purpose and life I found the deep comfort and peace that can only come the creator who made ME. 

I shared my life story (4 minutes worth) with my bible study and I realized my adult/college life has been broken up into two major areas that had they not happened very little about the life i am living now would even exist. One was the summer I spent at a Young Life camp and where I met my husband and the other was cancer. Two giant life trajectory shifts. Do you see any shifts in your life?Where do you see it? Are you in it now? 

The intimacy with the Lord and how He showed His love to my family so tangibly I decided that I would never turn back. Never turning back doesn’t mean easy. I actually think for me it has been harder. Several moves to new cities and states and new friendships and crippled by my own fear and insecurities. It’s a daily choice to trust Him in the midst of confusion and the honest desire that things would some days look different. Live closer to family, closer to my dearest friends, a real clear vision for life with all the steps laid out neatly for me. But that isn’t how it works. That isn’t trust. So in my doubt and fear I will continuously come back to my illness and how the Lord used the most scary time in my life to bring me to Himself. In that place He provided hope and joy and peace in my heart, my marriage, the relationships around me, and loving my daughter in a far deeper way. It really is all a gift. We are not guaranteed anything. Health, money, career, marriage, love, etc. But and this is a huge but...God loves you and is for you and wants you. All of you. Will you choose Jesus? No matter where you find yourself today. Is He all you want? I would never trade coming to the end of myself for anything because it brought me to a place of realizing my own inability to do ANYTHING outside of His grace and love...including laundry.

Fight for joy. I am not that good at it. I am often lazy and seclude myself despite desiring friendships. I want all of this. I believe everything i just wrote. I want it for you. I would tell you all this if we were on my couch talking. I swear. But i am telling myself these same truths everyday. Often several times throughout the day because I often hear the louder voice that are fat (that one is so funny because I am pregnant but the lies are real), not worthy, not good enough, can't do it, purposeless, without value because I don't have a "cool" career. And the sickening part is this is two days after reading letters from some of the people I hold dearest in how I have not wasted cancer or my life. (it deserves its own post on the epic book my husband and friend annika created for me to celebrate 5 years of healing).

No one is doing this perfectly. No one has it all together. Even the really wise authors who write books and speak and share Jesus. We are all in the same boat. Each hour of each day choosing real, deep, life altering joy because we were made for so much more than this. Ask for it. Tell the Lord what you want. The secret desires, dreams, passions. He knows your heart anyways. Life the life you have always been meant to live.

I am about to fold laundry. it isn't glamorous or cool but it's essential to our families presentation to the world. much of our life may feel way more consumed by that type of if that is true for you because you aren't a kardashian who i am assuming have a team of "people" do it all for them. i want to encourage you that you aren't alone. each season of life brings different tasks and responsibilities that seem mundane. but what if...what if these are THE days. like you are actually living your of course parts of it are annoying and we don't want to do it. i get that. but i think we have more to be grateful for and praise the Lord for than we take the time to recognize. and if you don't believe me. that's alright. maybe find a friend or someone you love and trust to speak into your life the truths about yourself, your purpose, and your heart. because today it is too hard to do it on your own. i get that. none of this is for the faint of heart. this is for truth seekers and life livers. we want more. more of what the Lord graciously desires to cover us with each hour of each day forever.

and to conclude...i do watch the kardashians. you can judge me. i can handle it. i am also not naive to the fact that even the most seemingly glamorous lives aren't weighted down by self-doubt, fear, and insecurities...amongst many more. don't believe our cultures lies. we are just people trying to find a way. thankfully i know that in Jesus i already found THE way and it is stepping into that daily.

let's walk in it together. forever.

***parts of this post are being shared on the website mybigjesus. please check it out and read more from other encouraging writers.

Monday, February 8, 2016

this day 5 years ago.

when we are walking through something it is impossible to see beyond that day or that hour. so we endure and we live and we pray and we trust. we trust without knowing exactly what is ahead or what will come of our lives or our is in those times that we may choose moments of despair, fear, right alongside a desire to find a purpose and life and Jesus's goodness. despite the outcome my desire is to cling to His truth...

as i reflect on where we found ourselves 5 years ago today i can not help but weep as i watched the video justin made on the eve of my last and final chemo treatment. ava learning to walk, my wisps of hair hidden under a hat, and a husband who not for one second didn't walk alongside me in the depths of cancer. we look like little babies back then. i am thankful for healing. but more than that i am indebted to a Savior that allowed cancer to bring me to my knees. it's real easy to say we trust God when things are rolling just fine...but what about they aren't? i will always be grateful beyond words for how the Lord used our suffering in cancer to demonstrated the depth of his love for me. cancer will remain as one of the major life altering events that had it not happened...i would love to think my passion and trust and love for the Lord would be the same as it is today...but i will never know and i don't really care. I am madly in love with a Father who will use any means possible to bring me to Himself. our purpose isn't about our job or our marriage or money or stuff. although those things are nice. but that is all but a moment compared to eternity with a God that would do ANYTHING to spend eternity with you and with me. that is crazy. that is an invitation. take it. nothing else will fulfill you or give you life. i promise. not even a million dollars. even though a million dollars would be nice.

i have thought of this verse all morning as i prepare to share our story with my bible study tomorrow morning. i love the timing of it all. sharing on the exact day of last chemotherapy and sharing what the Lord is continuing to do in me five years later.

2 corinthians 16-18. i would encourage you as you read this verse which you have maybe read or heard a hundred times to ask the Lord to allow His words to deeply imbed themselves in your heart today.

"So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal."

wherever you find yourself today hold His truth close to your thoughts & your heart. He is with you.

from justin. 2.8.11

Dear Libby,

I cannot remember all the chemos individually. I can just remember seeing you suffer and sleep and I hated them more and more each time. I remember taking pictures to send to family and friends and you smiled in the beginning every time! The smile gradually faded, but your faith did not. I am so thankful that you BELIEVE, really believe, that the Lord's good hand has been apparent in this from the beginning. Because of that I am so thankful for you as my wife, our friends and family who prayed through this -- I will not think back to those times and hate them. I will never forget what this has taught us.

I am so proud of you babe! Whether today or tomorrow, you have endured. Having been carried along by the prayers of many, you have made it through. Seriously, all Glory to God for this day! I am so excited to spend it with you. Today, and thank you Lord, the rest of our lives.

It is a true gift, and I will not waste one second of it. I love you.


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Monday, February 1, 2016

not alone. not even a little bit.

thank you. last week i was welcomed back with such love and affirmation and encouragement from you. my friends. most i've never met but i consider you my friends because i know what its like to share in someones story and words and feel like i know them. i would hope based on what i write and share that you would get the best and most real version of myself. thank you for making that safe. thank you for the feedback and comments. but they were so much more. many of you shared your heart and your struggle to find purpose and life in the midst of the various places and seasons we find ourselves. grateful for each and everyone of you.

i read this on instagram this morning.

"one of the most important things you can do on this earth is let people know they are not alone" shannon l. adler.

i love that. i love that for timing. in just the past 7 days experienced friend after friend are not alone. what a joy to experience community even while being states and cities away. what a relief i feel in my heavy heart when i hear woman i love and respect so deeply say...

me too.
i feel that way sometimes.
i wish i had courage.
i am scared to take a risk.
i have this dream but it will never happen.
i want to do or say or write or create xyz but i don't even know where to begin.
i don't feel good enough.
i think i was created for more but what does that even mean or look like.

i think when we open ourselves up to other people and share exactly what keeps us up at night and what we toil with throughout the day...we begin the process of unpacking what our dreams, passions, fears, and obstacles even are and how often we allow our fear to paralyze us. because when we share it and say it out loud and give it some validity it creates a space for people around us to say...

you can do it. you are believing lies. don't let fear keep you there. i think you are you want to get unstuck. i love you. you are valued. your dreams matter. let's do this together. how can i pray you. lets pray against those lies. lets look to see what Jesus says is true about you.

today i went to the doctor for 3 hours because i failed my glucose test. it is a test you take when you are pregnant that detects gestational diabetes. i will find out this week if i passed this second round. while i was there i reading and came across this in isaiah (i am studying isaiah in a weekly bible study i am apart of so i find myself there often).

isaiah 43:1-3

"But now thus says the Lord, "he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you: I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall now overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."

the creator of the universe is providing us with his truth, his words...that we are his. whatever we walk matter how wavering, deep, and scary...nothing can overwhelm us or consume us because the Lord has us. all of us. each dream. each fear. each lie. each joy. each trial. each broken heart. he holds us and deeply cares about each of our hearts. what a gift and treasure. one i so quickly forget. my desire is to stand firm on his truth has i lay down the lies and the fears. my hope is that you will also lay in bed at night and hold those lies captives (thank you laura wright) and hand them right back to the God that gave us the ability to think and dream and have a heart with such depth. but he didn't give us the lies. we sit there on our own as sinful and broken people. thankful for the endless grace and forgiveness our God that wants us to start new each and every day. praise the Lord for that.

before i get the girls to bed i have to share this.

since last week. unrelated to the blog because i don't think the people that called me here in NJ to hang out even know this blog exists. but either way i saw the Lord move in a very tangible way since i shared last week. people asked me to hang out and we hung out and it was fun. i am thankful for them and how the Lord answered a very real prayer for me last week. i had to share because i don't want us to miss the many times...big and small that the Lord answers our prayers. let's not miss that and move on to the next thing. ok? want to try that together.

my heart has felt more alive and purposeful than it has in a while. mainly because of this space. because of you. for texting, calling, emailing, commenting and engaging with me about your own fears, your heart, your own trials, the lies you find yourself paralyzed by...i am so grateful that grateful doesn't even do it justice. my heart is a little more full and a little more alive. this place has always provided that for me and i guess i forgot what a joy and passion it is to connect with people. we are not alone...never it with you forever. let's just keep reminding one another of that truth.

would love to hear from you. your heart. email me