When God doesn’t give the answers…

I (Kendra) know that Jesus wants me to trust Him.  He wants me to come to Him with my wants and desires, and He wants me to be confident that He is redeeming the world.

I struggle.  I know that God is at work, but the redemption process can be uncomfortable and even painful.  Often, I prefer just getting what I want rather than what is the best.  Monday night was one of those moments.  I wanted to be completely healed, because I was concerned that the tumor was growing again.  On Saturday, I had an incident where I couldn’t speak.  I knew what I wanted to say, but the words didn’t come.  I was terrified the MRI would reveal tumor growth.  I didn’t want to attack the tumor more aggressively.   

I knew that I should trust God.  God is more concerned with changing me than giving me what I want. Therefore, I was concerned about the lesson He wanted me to learn.

I trust Jesus.

I believe God is good.

The Holy Spirit is working.

He would be with me and equipping me to follow Him.

Yet, I couldn’t sleep.

Shame said, “If you truly trusted God, you would be able to sleep.”

Guilt said, “You know you are not supposed to worry.”

Truth says, “Keep fighting.  Jesus is making you into what He wants you to be.”  

Even though shame and guilt were discouraging me, I knew I was on God’s side.  I will join Lauren Daigle and declare:

When You don’t move the mountains

I’m needing You to move,

When You don’t part the waters

I wish I could walk through,

When You don’t give the answers

As I cry out to You,

I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You

Yes, God hasn’t yet moved my mountains or parted my waters, but He has given me strength to face them.  I am praising God that my brain is stable (no noticeable tumor growth), and my blood counts are strong.  As I learn to trust in Him, He gives me strength to rest in Him.

No matter the mountains that are in your way, Jesus wants to work through them.  Keep trusting Him.  Take your concerns to Him.  Confess your sins.  Replace shame’s lies with truth.  Be thankful.  And watch Jesus work.  His work is amazing.

Not Alone

Last year, she hated the Fourth of July.  When the fireworks started, we went inside.  This year, she enjoyed the lights and tolerated the noises while we were outside.  But when we came inside, she didn’t like it.  I (Kendra) convinced her to lay down in her bed, but she wasn’t ready for me to leave yet.

Although I was tired and thirsty, I continued to sit and wait for sleep to come.  I know some would say that I didn’t need to stay by my daughter’s side.  I wanted to teach her that she isn’t alone in this world.  When things are different and scary, God is always here.  Sometimes, He sends someone our way.

As we waited for our neighbors to finished their celebration, I sang a song that my mom used to sing to me.

God made (insert name). Yes, He did.

God made (insert name). Yes, He did.

When God made (insert name). He made something good.

God made (insert name). Yes, He did.

And as I sing this melody over and over again, with inserting a different name each time, I realized that even at age 3, she is in a great community.

The difference between a hard life and a terrible life is your connection to the community.  In my life, cancer is hard, but not terrible.  My community has made it bearable.  I feel the love when I see frozen food in my freezer made with love, when I look at my flower garden (which I didn’t plant), and remember the people who have watched our daughter without being paid.

My heart breaks when others struggle alone.  I know God didn’t make us to struggle alone.  Sin lies.  It tells us that we are “too good,”  “too inadequate,” or any other lie to convince us that we are alone.  It wants you to believe that you have to save the world, but the world has already been saved.

My prayer for you is that you find those God sent to encourage you and that you encourage others.  The only thing that doesn’t change about life is that life will change.  Those changes can be difficult, scary, and fearful.  Don’t think you have to conquer life alone.

Are you free?

In America, we are celebrating the fourth of July.  Although there are some American who just celebrate this holiday, because they like to blow up things.  Most American celebrate the freedom from England.  We like to declare, “We are free.”

But we are not.  We are either slave to sin, or a slave to God.

John 8:34 “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.’”

Romans 6: “Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.”

If you study Romans 6, or Galatians 4, you will see that we are NOT free.  Sin or Righteousness controls us.

As a Christian, I (Kendra) am supposed to be controlled by righteousness.  I have been set free from sin, shame, guilt, and fear, but I still struggle.  Sometimes, I forget and I fall into the old ways.

This week, I had an opportunity to encourage a new follower of Christ.  She was dealing with shame, because she doesn’t know what God wants her to do with her life.  I hope I encouraged her my being vulnerable with my weaknesses.  After the conversation though, I kept thinking of things I wish I would have said. Things like the following:

  1. Even if you don’t feel it, Jesus has forgiven you of your sins.  When you feel shame or guilt, learn from your mistakes, and stand back up.
  2. Find truths in the Bible to combat Satan personal lies. Satan knows my weakness.  He knows I feel inadequate.  I have verses that I turn to when he starts lying again.
  3. You are a slave to Christ.  Focus on obedience today, not your failure from your past.  You can’t change that, or your fears of tomorrow.  Pray about them and allow Jesus to make your future good.

We can trust our Master.  We should come to Him with our desires, and our Master will listen and respond in a good and loving way.  He treats us with love, because of His character, not because we earn it.  

Grace

“It’s growing again.”  Three words I (Kendra) never want to hear again.  That last time I heard it was June of 2016.  Since then, I have been overwhelmed with a wide range of emotions: anger, fear, thankfulness, jealousy, love, and so much more.

This year has changed me.

I question what I can do.  This seems to me that I do stupid things more often, like I keep interchanging numbers.  I am not as comfortable in the kitchen, because I use the wrong burner often.  I struggle following directions like new recipes or driving directions.  I lose focus quickly. During VBS, I wanted to quit teaching.  Every time I couldn’t find the words or used the wrong word, Satan would whisper, “You CANNOT teach anymore.”

But I am learning how to replace Satan’s lies with the truth.  My brain may make things seem impossible, but I serve a God who does the impossible everyday.  My brain may disappoint me, but my God does NOT.  The more I deal with this tumor, the more I realize the truth in 2 Corinthians 12:9-11.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships,in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Sometimes, I get overwhelmed by my weakness.  Sometimes, I want to quit.  Sometimes, I don’t know how to keep going.  In those moments, God often sends me a reminder of His grace.

His grace reminds me that my God can do anything He wants.  His grace reminds me that I am loved, even at odd times.  Recently I was at a funeral.  The speaker said the deceased was overwhelmed by God’s love.

And the small voice in my head said, “I don’t want you to be overwhelmed by anything other than My love and grace for you. You don’t have to wait until you die, either”

Christians, we will experience God’s grace at our judgement day, but He wants more for you.  He wants to strengthen you every time you feel weak.   

“Remembering”

It was supposed to be a special day. It’s one of those landmark days that you look forward to your whole life growing up.  Incalculable hours of time and energy are spent planning for this day by multiple people: not just those directly involved, but caring friends and family, too. Of all the special days that one has in this lifetime, this event was among those most treasured.

Then something happens. And now, the special day will come; but the event that was supposed to make it special will not be taking place.

It feels like the gash left from the robbery of my special day will never find the right fit to fill it. Yes, it feels like I (Amy) got robbed, cheated, disappointed by someone I trusted wholeheartedly. And as many times since then that I think I have healed and my emotional wound has finally become a scar of survival, I still get surprised by new pain. Now, the closer I get to my would-be special day, the more often these surprising pangs occur.

Everything inside of me right now is crying out to numb myself.  This pain, the memory, the anticipation, the disappointment, the bitterness that keeps cropping up… it’s all too much. I don’t want to deal with it. It feels like I can’t deal with it. Feeling nothing would be so much better than treading through all this overwhelming hurt.

Somewhere through it all, a voice of reason says not to numb myself.  It doesn’t give any reason why, or at least I can’t hear it, but I know it’s better not to numb myself.  Knowing that doesn’t change the desire to do so.  

I know it’s not the end. I know that numbing myself is just a means to hide, and hiding only makes the journey through all of this even longer. I know that I will get through this.  I know that this is temporary. I know that there are bigger, more serious problems in the world. I know all these things.  But knowing these truths doesn’t lessen the truth of all that I’m feeling.

There are some days that I know how strong God has made me, and I know I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.  That doesn’t mean there won’t be days where I feel weak, tired, worn out, and ready to quit. At the end of those days, instead of quitting, I cling to this simple Truth: God loves me, God sees me, God is with me, God is not giving up on me.

In this time of remembering my stolen special day and all the pain and loss associated with it, that Truth is what I grasp onto with all my might. It won’t feel real, and it may not feel true sometimes.  But it is true, no matter what our easily manipulated emotions may tell us.

This May Make You Cry

In summer, I (Kendra) enjoy Vacation Bible School (VBS) and other events that show children the love of Jesus.  Now that my daughter can enjoy VBS too, it is even more fun. She is three. Thursday, we taught about the love of Jesus.  In our closing, my husband dressed up like Jesus.  After the closing, my husband (in costume) was still on stage.  My daughter was on the floor staring at him.

I asked my daughter, “Did you have fun today?”

She didn’t answer.  So I knelt down, to continue to talk, she gave me a big hug.  She turned around in my arms and stared at her daddy (still in costume).  I wondered if she recognized him, so I asked, “Who is that?”

She responded, “God.”

She didn’t ask questions.  She wasn’t scared.  Her face showed amazement.  As I knelt with my daughter, I thought, “I think this is the first time that she has ever ‘seen’ God.  Thank you, God, for this moment where I get to be amazed by You with my daughter.  Help us to always be amazed by You.  Help me to teach this girl to love you and serve you.”

This experience reminds me of Matthew 18:1-6.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

5 “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, 6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

This experience reminds that children naturally believe and are humble.  It is our job to foster that belief by showing them how great our God is.  We don’t do this by trying to be great, but rather by following the “GREATEST ONE” that is Jesus.

Starting Over

 

“You’re an overcomer

Stay in the fight ’til the final round

You’re not going under

‘Cause God is holding you right now

You might be down for a moment

Feeling like it’s hopeless

That’s when he reminds you

That you’re an overcomer

You’re an overcomer”

If you come to my (Kendra’s) house, there are days that is song (Overcomer by Mandisa) is playing on repeat.  Chemo is hard, and I have it easier than others.  I don’t get nauseous.  I can control my intestinal pain.  (Water, fiber, and exercise does wonders).  But I hate it.    I feel so tired.  I don’t know how to to push myself.  I know I need rest, but if I give up, I get so discouraged.  

Recently, my sister-in-law called.  She asked me if I would be willing to speak at a fall retreat.  The theme would be endurance.  Although I didn’t tell her no, I find it to be ironic, as I looked around my messy house, with little desire to do anything about it.  Satan whispered, “You don’t know anything about endurance.  If you did, you would have a clean house.”

But the last five years I have learned to recognize his lies quicker.  I smiled, because I have great endurance, and I am still here fighting.  Somedays, I move slowly.  Somedays, I move too quickly.  Other days, it takes me all day to get motivated.  And somedays, I just need to learn from my mistakes and start all over again.  But I keep fighting.

Although, there are days that Satan tells me that I haven’t grown or that I am not making a difference, but I know those are lies.  I know that a wonderful, good Creator is working on me.  I know that Bible is speaking to me.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.- Ephesians 6:10

1 I love the Lord, because He has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.

2 Because He inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live.

3 The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.

4 Then I called on the name of the Lord:  “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”- Psalms 116:1-4

I can declare that I serve a good God who is making me into His masterpiece.  He wants to be working in your life too.  You are not alone.  Find someone who will support you.  Support others as well.  Because we are stronger together.  Depend on each others.  Just like Mandisa. In this video, Mandisa reveals how difficult life as been since she released “Overcomer” and how God brought her through it.

So I will keep fighting, and I ask you to help me.  Please pray for opportunities for me (and maybe you), to uncover our pain, and use it for the glory of Him.

If the link, didn’t work.  Trying copying and pasting:

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/mandisa-opens-overcoming-depression-47020463

Rescue Mission – Memorial Day

Picture taken from https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/7314960778

It’s a day to remember those who have served and gave everything in the American Armed Forces over the course of our history to protect and preserve the freedoms we enjoy even today. I (Amy) know I have friends who are not happy with the way this country is going. I know I also have friends who are not supporters of the military. I know I have friends who are in the military, and I am personally so thankful for their service. This blog isn’t about your personal convictions about the temporary mechanics of this country and how it defends itself. This blog is about war.

You are in a war right now. If you, like me, designate yourself as Christian, then the enemy has you in his sights. He knows your weak points, he knows your fortifications, and he’s patient. He knows the right time to strike. He also knows who your leader is, but he wants you to be distracted and think that you’re in this fight all on your own.

If you are reading this and you say, “I’m not a Christian,” I would daresay you’re still in this war.  You do not have to fight in a war to find yourself in the middle of one. I think we’re all well aware that not only soldiers are the ones affected by war.

So what happens when you find yourself in the middle of the battle? This past week, I had a moment where the battle had overtaken me, and I couldn’t even recognize it.  I reached out to a friend, telling her all the details of what I felt, but it could be summarized, “I don’t know what’s changed, but something isn’t right.” She knew in an instant what was going on.  She told me that I was under attack, gave me step by step instructions on how to fight back. Then, all my mental fog that had been hovering around me dissipated, and I was all right again.

It dawned on me later how monumental that interaction was. In the heat of the moment when you can’t even tell what’s going on, you need someone with a bird’s-eye view of what mess you’re in to give you directions on how to get out. It wasn’t a matter of: “Work through this until you find your way out.” This was a cry for help and a fellow soldier on a rescue mission. Someday, I will be able to return the favor.  This isn’t about who is the stronger Christian; this is helping each other fight through the battle together.

I’ve said it before, and I do believe I will say it again: The Christian life was not meant to be lived alone. For this blog, I’d like to expand that phrase.  The spiritual war is not meant to be fought alone. Your Lord is your leader and your strength, never faltering and never abandoning His soldiers, for we are His own family. Your brothers and sisters in Christ are here to help you, just as you are to help them.  It’s a constant flow of encouragement and strength, like a fountain.  Water comes in and water flows out, and the cycle never ends.

Our hope and encouragement is also in this: we know that our God wins the war. Someday, when that war is over, our faithfulness will be rewarded with a resounding, “Well done!” Until then, my brothers and sisters in arms, “Let us strip off every weight that slows us down…Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

You are not fighting this alone.  

 

Things don’t always as go you expect

A few months ago, I (Kendra) thought I had a doctor’s appointment.  When I arrived, the doctor wasn’t in.  Apparently, they tried to call me to reschedule, but somehow I missed it.

I also needed a TB test.  I scheduled a doctor’s appointment.  She refused to do it, because I didn’t talk to my neuro-oncologist about the TB test interacting with the chemo.  So after I got cleared from neuro-oncologist’s nurse, I scheduled another appointment.  When I went to have it done, the ladies at the front desk rescheduled me, because the first lady didn’t do it correctly.  After two appointments, still no TB test.

During the first three rounds of chemo in 2017, my daughter has been sick for each one.  The first round, my husband was sick as well.

Things don’t always go as you expect.

But I have hope, because these things didn’t surprise my God.  In fact, although I would not say He caused them or that they are good, my God is using them for good. (Romans 8:28) But we shouldn’t continually quote Romans 8:28 without its context.

  1. The whole of creation is “groaning together” (verse 22).  Romans 8:28 isn’t about avoiding pain in this world.
  2. In verse 23-25, Paul writes about waiting and hoping for “the redemption of our bodies.”  And in verse 26, Paul talks about “the Spirit helps us in our weakness.”  I feel weak when I have to wait for the promises of God.  Paul encourages to keep hoping.
  3. In verse 27, Paul wrote “intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”  This isn’t about my will or yours;  it is about the will of God.
  4. Verse 29 says that our purpose is to be “to be conformed to the image of his Son.”  Sometimes we want to define good without considering, “Is this helping me or others to be ‘conformed to the image of his Son’?”  Maybe you need this struggle to become like Jesus.

So when life isn’t as you expect (or even more painful than you expect)– Praise God!!  You have an opportunity to become more like Christ and honor Him.  (But trust me, I wasn’t thinking this way on the way home from the doctor).

I am a work in progress.  God is forming me to be like Jesus.  Therefore, I know it is good.

Happy Mother’s Day

I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating motherly women today, but I know that some did not enjoy this Mother’s day. Today could contain a wide range of emotions.  

For me,  I feel sad, because this is the first Mother’s day without my Mom’s mother.  I still deal with disappointment because of my three God-raised babies.  I am jealous of other families, because right now I not sure how we can extend our family.  I grieve with my friend who just lost her mother.  I hurt for my acquaintance who won’t have her baby this Mother’s Day, because the adoption isn’t finalized.  I wait with my friends who desperately desire to become mothers.

Sometimes, I am tempted to numb myself to these emotion, but I know that isn’t how Christ created me to be.  If you try to numb yourself from negative emotions, you end up numbing yourself from all emotions.  If I numb myself from sadness and disappointment, I wouldn’t have full joy.

If you want to fully experience the good emotions, you can’t numb yourself to negative emotions.

Ever since my brain tumor diagnosis (five years ago), I have been told that I was strong.  Initially, I was confused.  I was just trying to survive.  I didn’t feel strong.  What was I doing that demonstrated strength?  I have learned that when I embrace my emotions and ask Jesus how to deal with them, I am strong.  When I break down and cry in front of people, they don’t see that as weakness, rather as strength.  

Our culture is confused about “being strong.”  Some believe that emotions are bad, because they can lead to pain.  We are strongly motivated to cover them.  If we truly want to deal with our emotions in a healthy way, we have few positive examples.  We see people numbing themselves through alcohol, drugs, overeating, smoking, hiding, and more.  

So if you want to experience all the good emotions, what do you do with the negative emotions?

Be honest with your emotions.  They reflect what is happening in your heart.  If you don’t like emotions reveal, pray that God will heal your heart.  He knows. He is the Creator.  He is making us into His workmanship (Eph. 2:10).  He will heal the emotions that aren’t good for us (like my jealousy).  He hurts with us.  And He will give peace that others don’t understand.  He is faithful.  He will heal the negative emotions.  Trust God to make us more like Him.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (ESV)

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (ESV)
Phil. 4:6-7 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5Let your reasonablenessd be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.