So . . . Who or What’s Your Guide?

Well, welcome back! I missed you! Walk with me . . . I believe this will be an unusual part of our journey together.

The sun is quickly setting on our trail as we walk into this forest. It’ll be dark soon.

As we walk into these darkening woods, it reminds me of a remarkable and most-telling trust experience I had about four years ago. It was an exhibit in Atlanta called “Dialogue in The Dark”. We paid to join a small group of about eight strangers for an hour’s experience in the dark together. Quite enlightening.

We began in an entrance room on some dimly-lit stools that became dimmer and dimmer to adjust our eyes to the darkness we were about to experience. We were to be led through the large building only by our guide and his voice.

Our guide was blind.

He assured us that he had memorized the entire path through this building that would include several hands-on, real-life experiences.

That exhibit caused me to think about the difference between experiences either guided by mere humans or God Himself. The guide in that exhibit was both human and blind, thereby possessing limited abilities . . . as we all share that limitation of our mere skin as well.

However, God as The Creator, knows everything, sees everything seen and unseen by us, and therefore, has the illumination we need for our path. He reassures us in several places in the Bible of this fact and more specifically addressing this subject in the book of Jeremiah 29 in verses 11-13, “’For I know the plans I have for you’, declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.’”

Who better to lean on and take his arm? The consolation is that even though we feel like we are in the dark so much of the time in our lives, it makes the most sense to trust The One who created the sun, the moon, the stars . . . and us . . . fully capable of shedding any necessary light on our path . . . just when we need it.

I so remember trying to grope my way around in the darkness of that exhibit and not daring to head in any one direction without our guide talking me through it successfully. He was the only one who knew what was ahead and how to best navigate my way through it safely until I reached the light on the other side.

It was the perfect experience of just how to listen and obey as we have our dialogue in the dark with our guide.

So, what or who is your guide? Could they know every day you are going to live before you ever live one of them? God does. Do they have all you need to successfully navigate your journey into the unknown of this life?

Who or what is your walking stick . . . or is it a crutch? A spear? Who or what are you depending on to guide you and support you? A hired hand? Look at them. Look at it. Is it a mere human or a created thing instead of your creator? How dependable are they or it? What in you are they propping up? For how long? Have they or it ever failed you? Could they? Could it? How secure is this person or thing?

Proverbs 18:10 of The Bible declares, “The Name of The LORD is a strong tower . . . the righteous runs into it and are safe.” Proverbs also offers in 3:5-6, “Trust in The LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

Let’s go a bit deeper . . . I have a fascination with the difference between a walking stick and a staff. A walking stick can be something temporary and purely functional to keep your footing. It can even be replaced from time to time should it break or we exchange it for one more interesting to our eyes. A staff, on the other hand, like the one used by Gandolf in ‘Lord of The Rings’, serves him well both as a walking stick and a staff with supernatural power. It gives light when needed, protects him from evil and drives the enemy both out of a king and away from his army . . . representing well how Jesus, our Good Shepherd uses His staff for our ultimate good.

Our Good Shepherd . . . in John chapter 10:11-16 of The Bible, we are told, “I am the good shepherd . . . the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd and I known my own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father and I lay down My life for the sheep. I have other sheep which are not of this fold; I must bring them also and they will hear My voice and they will become one flock with one shepherd.”

One incredibly interesting and important bit of information I learned about a good shepherd and his staff is how he uses it to keep the sheep safely together with him and away from danger and enemies. When a shepherd has a sheep that is rebellious and persistently runs away endangering both itself and the flock (which must be left alone to go after it), the shepherd must break the rebellious streak in that sheep not only for its good but the good of the flock. In order to do so, he finally takes his staff and carefully breaks one of its legs! Yep. That’s right! Shocking eh? (This staff can be more easily seen for this purpose as a ‘rod of correction’.) He then splints the leg and carries that lamb around his neck during that leg’s healing. During this healing process, the shepherd meets all of its needs and the sheep learns its master’s voice as never before. As a result, once he returns that sheep to the rest of the flock, it will loyally follow him as his shepherd in the future understanding he really does care for its needs.

This also leads me into another comforting passage about the purposes of a rod and the comfort of a staff in the hands of our Good Shepherd. In Psalm 23 of The Bible, it says, “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” I believe it has everything to do with who is on the other end of that staff or rod. Can their intentions and actions be trusted to always be for our ultimate good?

What do you say we stop here and make a campfire? As we make it, this seems like a great time to re-evaluate what you have in your hand. Perhaps it’s time to throw that stick or crutch you’ve been leaning on into the fire. Seems like a great time for us to lean into The Good Shepherd as our staff . . . our walking stick. After all, how’s that person or thing you’ve been leaning on all this time been working out for you? What do you really have to lose? Misguided?

As you ponder these questions, perhaps you’d like to know the Good Shepherd’s voice more clearly as you walk this life’s journey. So, here’s a song by our friend, Byron Rice, called “Here Inside My Heart” to help you with these questions and struggles as you seek your answers in the dark. Just look up at that that beautiful moon with me . . . http://www.reverbnation.com/byronrice/song/17047880-here-inside-my-heart?fb_og_action=reverbnation_fb:unknown&fb_og_object=reverbnation_fb:song&utm_campaign=a_public_songs&utm_content=reverbnation_fb:song&utm_medium=facebook_og&utm_source=reverbnation_fb:unknown

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Peace, Provision and Perspective

Got your walking stick? Time to take you onto this extended path I found myself on since I began this journey. The twists and turns have been most unexpected and yet have led me to God’s peace, provision and His perspective. I’ve got a lot to fill you in on since my last post so, here we go . . .  

Since the title of this post was given to me several months ago, I’ve been gathering precious manna from heaven in order to hopefully feed your soul with. As I’ve thought and prayed about what the meaning of this title should include, I realized these are three very important elements that must be addressed with each of life’s most difficult challenges. Let me walk you down the paths of each one of these as they have unfolded for me.

Peace . . . wherein does one find peace when you feel like the floor beneath you just disappeared? When all the air in the room just evaporated? When you hadn’t planned for this news? For me, the foundation for my peace came by way of advance preparation through the loving-kindness of The LORD in His

Provision and Perspective. For several months preceding my diagnosis, I had been in a season where I was confronting the issue of God’s sovereignty in my life asking Him to take over every area and wanting nothing to be withheld from His perfect plan for my life. I wanted to trust Him in some previously-guarded areas of my life in which I wanted more joy and freedom in myself. A couple of months before my diagnosis, I heard The LORD speak to my heart in asking the question, “Do I have your permission to change your mind? (my perspective)”. Well, I couldn’t really be serious when I said that I wanted Him to be sovereign over every area of my life and stay His Hand in response to this question now could I? Nope. Even though it was an open-ended question with no limitations of subjects or time, I had to say ‘yes’ if I were truly serious about my all-out pursuit of Him. So, I did say ‘yes’, although I would have to admit I had a large sense that my answer would open doors I had not had to face before; and, because it was such an all-inclusive, open-ended request, I expected my closely-held theological beliefs in my life to that point in time to be challenged to their very core . . . else, why that question? In another couple of weeks, The LORD came to me again and asked, “Are you willing, for a season, to suffer in your flesh for the sake of others either coming into The Kingdom or securing their place in The Kingdom even more so? (another challenge/change of perspective)” Again, in my pursuit of The LORD owning all of me, (as the apostle Paul often referred to himself as a ‘bondslave of The LORD’), I could only have one response . . . ‘yes’. Following that question, came one of the most empowering and sobering questions ever posed to me by The LORD and one that encompassed the battle to come . . . “Do you realize that I have given you power and authority over your flesh to be able to tell it to ‘stand down . . . you don’t get a vote today and to rule over it through The Holy Spirit to tell it that it doesn’t get to be in charge’?” Of course, the Holy Spirit reminded me in that moment of the scriptures that teach us that The Spirit and the flesh are at war constantly and presenting the choice as to which one we want to be in charge of in each moment, each day and for the whole of our lives. So now the challenge to me was, did I want to follow His example of His fleshly sacrifice for the good of others? I responded and asked, “So this is going to be a battle of the flesh, is it?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “OK then. I also trust your Word that says, ‘you will not give me any more than I can bear ‘(with you).”

So, as we fast-forward to my diagnosis and God’s loving provision through my dear friend Kay’s specific words from The LORD for me, (detailed in my first blog entitled, “The Battle”), it all began to make sense from God’s perspective and soon to be mine. This journey was not about me but through me. The Scriptures are replete with story after story of God taking the initiative to speak to one of His children and tell them He wants to use them for the benefit of others . . . He led by example by sending His one and only Son to earth to suffer in His flesh to bring us The Kingdom of God through His surrendered life, death and resurrection according to The Father’s perfect will. Jesus tells us, “If you’ve seen me, you have seen The Father and I only do what The Father tells me to do and say what The Father tells me to say.” He also said, “I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to The Father except through me.” As ‘the way’, He led the way . . . His way.

One of the first challenges and changes to my mind and belief system that occurred was after my diagnosis, as I mentioned before, that resulted from watching the Netflix documentary called ‘Forks Over Knives’, was that I became a fish-eating vegan, (A/K/A Pescetarian, I suppose). Yep. From someone who had said for years, “I would never be a vegan!” As a side note, I do believe God loves to challenge our ‘nevers’ when we also say ‘our life belongs to you, LORD’. I mean really! Isn’t that flagrantly hypocritical? Methinks so. God obviously thinks so and I believe He loves to work His perfect will to demolish our limited and shallow earthly perspective of our purpose, calling and lives.

The first obvious experience on this journey with my new perspective came through my surgeon’s young nurse. When I first went into his office (and I thank The LORD he is a strong, praying believer), The LORD kept me focusing on this nurse. When I silently asked The LORD why He was drawing my attention to her, He replied, “She is not a believer and she knows that you are so be very careful what you say to her and how you treat her.” So noted. After my double mastectomy surgery, I had drains put in which I was to keep for about three weeks. This nurse was going to be the one to pull them out on a Tuesday when my surgeon was usually in surgery at the hospital. That nurse called me the week before to confirm my appointment with her and told me I didn’t have to keep measuring the drainage if I didn’t want to. When I went into the office three weeks after my surgery, I told this nurse that I could tell the right side where I had the tumor and five lymph nodes removed was still putting out too much drainage according to the paperwork the hospital had given me. When she asked me how much, I said I couldn’t tell her exactly but since we had been measuring for over two weeks, I could tell by looking at it that it was way too much. She said, “Well, it’s been three weeks and they have to come out.” I sat there for a minute talking to The LORD in my heart and asking, “So am I letting her pull this when I could refuse it knowing complications will likely be the result?” He said, “Yes”. I said back to The LORD, “So we’re going down this road are we?” Again, He said, “Yes”. So, I swallowed hard and told her “OK”. I must say that I felt a distinctive turn in my road at that moment but still surrendered my heart and healing to His will. It took about three days for those holes to close up and my husband and I were on a plane the next morning heading to New Orleans for a speaking engagement he had that Sunday. We wanted to fly back on Monday but because there was a convention in town, no seats were available to fly back until Tuesday. By late Saturday afternoon, the right mastectomy pocket began to fill with fluid, turn red over a large area and I wound up in bed with chills and fever.   We began texting pictures to my surgeon’s cell phone and in contact with him through our time there. Each afternoon and evening, although I was staying on Ibuprofen, I was in the bed with chills and fever watching this right side continue to fill with fluid. He told me that as soon as I got off the plane on Tuesday, I was to drive to his office and one of his two P.A.’s that were in the surgery with me would see me because, of course, he was in surgery on Tuesdays. The P.A. drew more than 60 cc’s of fluid out of that pocket and checked it for infection . . . it was staph. She started me on antibiotics and instructed me to return the next day as she knew the surgeon would want to see me ASAP. On that visit, he admitted that the drain on the right side should have stayed in at least another week and as he apologized, he offered his hand to slap to which I said, “It’s OK.”, it’s not about that”. He went on to say, “Of course, it would be you and with a daughter in med school not just someone off the street.” He went on to explain what would now have to take place. His nurse (the same one) would come in and pack the now re-opened, large wound and I would have to have a home health nurse come in the next day and attach a wound vac. Then, three days a week for the next two to three months, a home health nurse would need to come repack the wound and change out the necessary parts of the wound vac until the wound was closed up again and healed. Having never even seen a wound vac before, I had no real idea what I was in for. He left the room and his nurse came in to pack my wound and release me. I said to her, “Well, I guess it’s a live-and-learn situation for both of us, huh?” She deeply apologized . . . I could tell she felt very awkward and sorry. I went on to say, “It’s OK . . . we’ll get through this together.” I thought in that moment, ‘well when do we dispense grace and forgiveness unless it’s needed?’ I also thought, ‘We’ve got two kids in med school and although they had previous medical experience and EMT certifications, they are still going to be green when they get finished and how would I want people treating them when they make mistakes due to inexperience?’ I believe that all comes back on you and your loved ones . . . your choices . . . my choices. The LORD had already brought my attention to the fact that this girl is not a believer and what did I want her to experience from a known Christian? How do I help her experience the reality of the love and forgiveness of Jesus himself? Only when it’s the right time . . . when one desperately needs to be marked by this experience on behalf of The Kingdom of God – that’s when.  However, when I called my two biological daughters first to tell them the results of my doctor’s appointment and the wound vac, they were very angry.  I told them both to “Stand down . . . this story is not over and besides, what if I need to get into the space of a home health nurse to minister to her?  How do I do that unless I need one?”

The next day, as anticipated, I got a call to schedule my home health nurse to come by, do an extensive history and intake before they could start this process. There were actually two nurses that showed up and got the process started. Well, I said, “You know what, if I have to have this thing hanging around me for an indefinite period of time, I might as well name it. Think I will name her Wanda, The Wound Vac!” So, we made friends and began to hang out . . . well, perhaps she was obviously doing more of the hanging out than I was, but still . . . we were now inseparable. I introduced her to all my friends and family.  I did find out, however, that she didn’t think so much of showers so I left her whining on the sink while I showered. As it turned out, I had the same amazing nurse for most of my treatment as she had found a really successful way to make the most of that apparatus. She was also an authentic and fun believer so we had a wonderful time when she visited. On Monday of the third week, as she had been measuring the closure on my wound for healing, she said, “You are healing miraculously! I’ve never seen anything like it and I think you will be done with Wanda by the end of this week! It was to be three weeks and not three months!” Wow!! Then she told me that she was sorry I hadn’t met a nurse that worked most often in my county as this week would be her last week and she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer herself. She went on to say that it had hit her so hard that she was like a deer in the headlights now . . . stunned and shaken. She was apparently moving near family and also to take another job. I told her “I’m so sorry about that.” On Wednesday morning, my phone rang . . . it was that nurse I was told about calling me. She introduced herself and said, “Your regular nurse had a flu shot on Monday and now has the flu . . . so I’m coming today.” I said, “Great!” When she arrived and got settled, she began asking questions about my chemo experience and said, “I hope you don’t mind me asking about your chemo as I’ve just gotten diagnosed with breast cancer and I’m so shocked.” I said, (not letting on I already knew about it), “I’m so sorry! I will be glad to tell you my story and pray for you before you go if that’s OK with you.” She said, “I would love that!” I had absolutely no sense that she was a believer but knew I was to help her any way that I could. So, when she was finished, I led her into the main part of the house, took her hands and began to fervently pray. We had such an amazing visitation and touch of Jesus through The Holy Spirit that we were both weeping by the time the prayer was finished. I hugged her and sent her on her way telling her, “I will be praying for you as God brings you to mind.” Friday arrived along with my regular nurse who rushed into the room giving me the biggest hug and smile saying, “I just love you!!” When I asked “Why?”, she said, “You should just see that nurse that was here Wednesday . . . she is not the same person that walked in your door. She is hopeful, secure and in a completely different state of mind than when she first came in here! She has a completely different outlook now. What did you do?” I explained how I let her ask me questions, offered to tell her my story and prayed for her. I went on to tell her how much Jesus showed up and loved on her and touched her heart and mind so much. Told her I just loved having the front-row seat to it. She hugged me again. As she finished removing Wanda, I declared a ‘moment of silence’ for Wanda’s departure and thanked her so much for all that she had meant to me during her visits.

So, as you can see, from the time The LORD dropped into my heart that there may be a home health nurse that needs to be ministered to and how do I get in her space unless I need one, that that was one of His intentions in my situation the whole time. The question remains to be answered by all of us who try to follow Christ is that ‘Are we willing to suffer and trust Him, looking for His ways, for the good of others who need to experience the reality of Jesus living in and through us to touch them and mark their lives that He cares enough about them to set up these divine appointments just for them?’ What’s it worth to someone with that kind of diagnosis or life-controlling issue to find out how much God knows what’s going on in their life and wants to enter into it to go through it with them? I can tell you from personal experience that it means EVERYTHING! It means more than we can ever fully realize unless we have had a similar experience. But, we must be willing to enter their pain with them to bring them the hope and strength of The LORD because after all, it’s not up to us. We can’t do that – only God can manifest and touch their hearts to give them what they need on their journey. Too often, we let the enemy lie to us and convince us that it’s all up to us and we just don’t have it in us to do it. You’re right on one count . . . we don’t have it in our flesh to do it, but God never expected us to assume that responsibility. He knows we, too, are simply made of flesh and have that limitation. He just wants us to be willing to be the messenger and invite Him into their lives to do what only He can do. Jesus tells us in His Word in Matthew 10:39, “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” I love Jim Elliot’s take on this concept . . . he said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” Francis Frangipane broke this out uniquely from his book, “The Three Battlegrounds”, as “We will never know Christ’s victory completely until we stop reacting to our circumstances humanly.” So if you are either a Christ follower or are considering making that decision to become one, just know that your life is not your own . . . your gifts, your calling, it all goes back into your creator’s hands. But I can promise you one thing, that if you trust the One who has made you, your gifts, your calling and crafted His perfect and amazing plan for your life, there is no greater, more fulfilling adventure than to trust Him with the whole of your life. He’s known you since before the earth was created, every day you will live, all that you will face and what He has in His Hands to help you. So, the pressure’s off of you. The results are not up to you. All that’s up to you is to be willing to let God use you and give you that incredible front-row seat to watch Him do what only Jesus can do. Finally, I believe I have been given a verse from God’s Word to mark out this season of my life from I Peter 5:10, which says, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” What more could we ask?

Stop and rest on that walking stick and let God talk to you about your life. I’ll leave you here with Him . . . you couldn’t be in better hands. Will see you around the next bend.

Click on this link and let it wash over you . . . https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy9nwe9_xzw&list=RDdy9nwe9_xzw

Blessings to you . . .

 

The Battle

As I round this mountain trail with my trusty walking stick, I discover that you are here!!  “Where were you?” you asked.  In the grossly-understated words of Gandolf from LORD OF THE RINGS when first asked where he was after battling with and escaping a powerful enemy, he said, “Oh . . . I was delayed.”  The irony here is that pretty soon after getting diagnosed with cancer, I asked God to show me a picture of what I was facing.  I closed my eyes and waited, knowing He would do as I asked.  What I saw next was quite sobering.  I saw myself from behind holding up a fire extinguisher in my right hand looking down the mouth of a large, fire-breathing dragon. The similarities of both Gandolf’s journey and mine are amazingly close in both the battle of this enemy and the resulting increased empowerment and spiritual promotion.  Let me explain . . . when last we parted, I was looking down the throat of this fire-breathing diagnosis.  Since my diagnosis, I want to first share with you through this blog how God has both spoken and led us clearly and powerfully by fitting me too with the Sword of The Spirit which is His Word.[1] 

 When I got the phone call from my surgeon with this diagnosis and told my husband, we called our two oldest daughters first, Naomi (34) and Heather (28), (the ones I birthed) and got them on a conference call. They were both shocked and devastated.  My youngest daughter, Heather, said she guessed it was now time to share something that had not as yet left her lips.  Apparently, two Christmases ago, after sharing the holidays here, she and her husband, Chris, were praying about whether or not they should move near us as they really didn’t want their now four-year-old son to go to Memphis schools and also wanted to live near family.  She said that as she was praying, The LORD said to her, “Your mom is going to have a season where she is going to be really sick and need you.”  She said that now, for the first time, that made sense and she could not have handled this journey while still living in Memphis.  With my oldest daughter and husband currently living in Atlanta, it has brought me incredible comfort to know my youngest daughter, husband and grandson moved here a year ago July.  Soon after this conversation, I took this diagnosis to serious prayer and came up out of that experience with unexplainable peace.

 The week after my diagnosis, I called a dear friend, Kay, who is incredibly close to and gifted in the ways of The LORD to share my diagnosis.  I asked her to pray and let me know anything she heard from The LORD on my or our behalf.  The following is what she shared that she received for us from The LORD: 

Today, He had me interceding for you for favor as Nehemiah prayed in Nehemiah 5:19 (Remember me, O my God, for good, according to all that I have done for this people.). He reminded me today that both of you have helped so many people and have been such a light for Him to so many in such a dark place in the world of Hollywood. He knows it all and nothing has been wasted. His word will not return void. You both have great favor and that favor is increasing. And, Sharon is mine and she is engraved into the palm of my hand. Encourage her that I hath not forsaken her, but I am with her moment by moment. Hebrews 13:6 (so that we confidently say, The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?). That which I am taking her through at this time is hard to understand, but encourage her not to lean on her understanding but trust in me. Proverbs 3:5 (Trust in The LORD with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.). Receive my peace that passeth all understanding. I will restore her health and heal her of all thy wounds. Jeremiah 30:17a (For I will [restore you to health and I will heal you of your wounds, declares the Lord,). My grace is sufficient for her and my power is made perfect in weakness. II Corinthians 9:10a (Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness,). When I read this word from The LORD through Kay, it landed in me like concrete and I knew in that moment why I had been given such peace.  I knew I was not alone and there was a sense that there would be great Kingdom fruit born from this experience.  More on that later . . .

 As I told family and friends of my diagnosis, it was a very surreal experience because I was able to say with surety that The LORD had promised He would heal me and confirmed it so deeply in me, there was no doubt of His faithfulness to me through that word.  I also knew, as His Word promises, that those of us who fully trust in Him as LORD will never be given anything more than we can handle through Him . . . His Word says in Isaiah 42:3 “A bruised reed He will not break And a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.”   The reality of His faithfulness came to me as the word ‘overcomer’.  I had heard about that time that there are no verbs in The Bible that mean ‘to cope’, only ones that included translations meaning ‘overcoming’ and ‘victorious’.  Those words were intended for all of us who call on the faithful Name of The LORD as our LORD.  His Word also says about this act of faith in Mark 16:16 “He who has believed and has been baptized will be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”  There is even the merciful provision for those reaching out to The LORD for the first time in Acts 2:21 “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the Name of The LORD will be saved.”  His loving kindness extends to all who call on Him and it is easy to imagine others going through this journey would call on Him often.

 The next significant event came as a result of prayer again.  As we all prayed for direction and confirmation of decisions, I prayed specifically and said, “OK LORD, I am looking to you to do what only you can do, the medical people to do what they are to do and need to know if there is anything I am/we are to do as well.”  The next day, Heather was at our house talking with a good friend of hers from England who lives in Memphis and has worked with food for a number of years.  She said, “I think you all should sit down and watch the Netflix documentary called, ‘Forks Over Knives’.  While talking with her, Heather’s husband Chris beeped in and said he had just been told that we should watch the Netflix documentary called ‘Forks Over Knives’.  My husband Mark came home from work the same day and said, “Someone came up to me today knowing what we are going through and said we should watch the Netflix documentary called ‘Forks Over Knives’”.  So . . . my experience with The LORD in asking for such clear direction is that if He has to tell me something three times in one day, it is what I have come to call ‘the 2 X 4 method’.  In other words, you better pay attention because I couldn’t be more clear about what I want you to do!!  I was incredibly thankful our kids Naomi and Schain were in from Atlanta and Chris was able to join us as well after work that evening.  We all sat around and watched it in utter amazement.  Heather and I looked at each other with the understanding ‘we got this’!  I said regarding this cancerous tumor, “I’m gonna starve this sucker out!”  The medical evidence was so compelling, it left little to no room for doubt.  Naomi, Schain, Chris, Heather and I all changed our diets soon thereafter and I have never felt better!!  After changing my diet, my doctors had even commented after I had started my first chemotherapy treatment, that I looked incredible . . . better than when they first saw me.  I asked how often that happens, especially once someone has begun chemotherapy?!

 The answer was unanimously, ‘never’. As soon as I began my second treatment, however, I developed a severe allergic reaction to Taxotere and they had to stop the treatment and give me a Benadryl and steroid injection in the IV to my port and wait about 30 minutes for the symptoms to subside. They had to do the same thing with my third treatment to force my body to accept it. After the third treatment, my husband put in a call to my oncology surgeon asking if we could stop the chemo and take an x-ray since it was obvious that it showing in my skin and body for several days following my treatments. We then met with him about it and he said, “It’s like one of those blow-up clowns you hit and it pops right back up — you have to keep hitting it six times to then keep it down enough to operate.” We felt powerless facing three more treatments. One of the most powerful results of prayer happened at this juncture. The Sunday before I was due to have my fourth chemo treatment, we were at church with one of our daughters and her fiance listening to a message calling all of us to ‘pray boldly’ and that those were the kind of prayers that scripture assured us moved the heart of God — “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” (James 5:16). We were called to stand and pray for what we really needed boldly to The LORD and expect Him to answer us accordingly. All four of us said afterwards that we prayed I would have no more chemo treatments. Two days later as I showed up for my fourth treatment, my oncologist told me that she had consulted with her other partners and they all agreed that if I had any more treatments, it would put my life in danger. We praised The LORD for His miraculous intervention! So, August 20th was my last chemo of the three drugs and they had to move up my double mastectomy to September 24th.  I went through the surgery really well, spent one night in the hospital and was mightily blessed to be surrounded by my husband and four daughters.  Two days later came the pathology results.  Seems they couldn’t find any trace of the tumor or one cancer cell in anything they removed!!!  PRAISE JESUS FOR HIS FAITHFULNESS!!  I remember telling the nurse who conveyed the results that “I wished everyone got these results after surgery.”  Also reminded my amazing oncology surgeon that I had told him The LORD would heal me . . . just didn’t know how or when but what better proof than on the pathology report eh? 

 This has truly been an amazing journey with lots of opportunities to encourage people with God’s story being told through me . . . a story that is still being walked out and told . . .