Wednesday, April 13, 2022

The Week Following

Eleven years ago we were at this same beach. In a house on this same street. And we took this picture.

This past week, I (somehow) cajoled my family into replicating that old photo. “For fun!” I told them, encouragingly!  A few of them gave me the look--like what is our mom now asking us to do--but lately, they have all been pretty agreeable with most of my requests. I guess this is the silver lining kind of stuff. =)

Eleven years ago Bella was just home from China. We were a brand new family of 7. It was a glorious time introducing our tiny girl to the big ocean and all of its wonders. Truly one of those A+ kind of vacations.

But the week following that trip, we returned home and, shockingly, I was handed my first diagnosis of breast cancer. 

That year, as I went through surgery and treatments, I often looked back at our beach pictures from that trip just prior to diagnosis. I saw our healthy, happy, tanned faces. I saw our joy and carefree family and sometimes, the cancer thing well it didn’t even feel real. 

It didn’t seem possible.

How? How could we be one day jumping waves in the ocean and the next week jumping through medical hoops at the hospital?

It didn't make sense then. 

It doesn't make sense now.

Here we are again. Same family of 7, eleven years later. Only now we know. Now we deal with this next go around—this 2nd more difficult diagnosis. And there are more medical hoops. A harder prognosis. Higher stakes.

We are back home this week. Still a little tanned. Still finding sand in the bottom of bags and in the back seat of my car, but this week I have ahead of me a brain MRI on Thursday and another infusion on Friday. Not really what I wanted to come home to, but part of my new reality.

Grand as it was, the beach trip is officially over.   

And again, in a weird way, I’m battling the same disbelief as 11 years ago. We just had another glorious week playing at the beach, walking along the ocean, enjoying each other and God’s creation completely. Feeling good, healthy, happy. And there’s this part of me that wants to deny there’s disease in my body. I don’t look sick. Honestly, I don’t even feel sick--a few things going on, but not much.  Anyone watching our family from afar this past week would never guess what it is we’ve been processing in these past couple of months.

It doesn’t make sense.  Again, it doesn’t add up or fit our family photo.  

I’m not sure we’ll ever understand how beach trips and brutal cancer can happen side by side in this world. But they do. The beautiful and the ugly. The wonderful and the tragic. All of it mingled mysteriously together in what we call life.

It’s absolutely true. For all of us … in some way. 

Maybe it’s not cancer for you, but something else which just doesn’t quite fit the picture you had planned. 

Something you didn’t see coming.

Something which turned out differently than imagined.

Something untoward. 

Something unwanted.  

Some thing. 

I don't know what it is you are dealing with, but I do want you to know you aren’t alone. I sit in that sadness/disappointment/grief with you. I don’t want terminal cancer to be a part of my family’s picture either. Everything inside of me wants to shake my fist and shout out--it really wasn’t supposed to be like this!

This week is not just the week after spring break, but it is Easter week. Holy week. Just like it was eleven years ago when we returned from the beach. For me, that was and that is everything. It is in this week more than ever that I find my hope, my assurance, my life. 

Even with my resistance to cancer and my occasional feelings of disbelief, Easter is everything. Easter saves me. Because of Easter--because Jesus died on a cross and rose from an empty tomb--each day I know, no matter what, I will be okay. No matter what turn this diagnosis takes. No matter what the brain MRI shows tomorrow.  No matter how hard this next year or next decade or next whatever. No matter what, Jesus died and rose again for me, for my life and, most importantly, for my death. "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" 1 Corinthians 15:55

And because of that truth I can wake every single day with a choice. I can—

Succumb to the grief of this life? 

[OR]

Surrender to the Giver of True Life?

Yes, dear ones, some days are hard. Heartbreaking, in fact. 

But every day is Holy. Precious. Counted. Coveted. 

A Gift. 

A Chance.

A Choice.

"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, 

though he die, yet shall he live." ~ John 11:25


Note:  I started to write this piece on my last full day at the beach just a couple hours after taking our funny “recreated” family photo. It was later that day we received word that a friend from back home had been in a terrible skiing accident. Mary Lynn and Stewart, had been skiing in Colorado with their 3 daughters for spring break. The impact from Stewart's accident was too devastating and a day later he went to be with Jesus. We are heartbroken for these friends. This tragedy has rocked our community deeply. It surely doesn’t seem possible. Yes, there’s immense, unbelievable grief and we don’t fully understand the how or why. Probably never will. Stewart's wife, Mary Lynn, wrote these words:  "The girls and I said goodbye this evening to his earthly body but we know he is home and that we will be with him again. We have great hope. Great hope.” 

These are not easy words. These were written by a woman who, in a most unimaginable way,  had just said goodbye to her husband. She didn't write them casually or because it was the right thing to say. She wrote them because she believes them. In life and in death. In the very beautiful and in the very terrible. She wrote them, because she believes confidently in the Hope we have in Christ. 

Life IS precious. 

Our days are to be counted. Whatever amount we are given. Whatever the story, whatever the path, whatever the diagnosis, whatever the disappointment, even whatever the devastation. We have a choice to put our trust in the flimsy here and now or in the solid HOPE of Jesus and our eternity with Him. 

Oh dear ones, choose carefully. Our earthly snapshots are brief.  So brief. 

But heaven is the bigger picture.



some favorites from our trip eleven years ago ...








and this year ...









Thursday, March 3, 2022

Month One of Stage Four. Five Lessons Learned

As you can imagine, I was a little glad to flip the calendar from February to March this week. February was a doozy for us.  Not that there is ever a good time to receive a stage 4 diagnosis, but this specific timing felt especially unkind. 

Traditionally, that first week in February has been one of my favorite weeks of the year. It holds the birthday (Feb. 5th) of both our oldest and youngest daughters and typically it is also the week we are busy throwing our big, annual Chinese New Year party. But, this year, that week went pretty south pretty fast for us. In an amazing, almost herculean effort, my dear friends helped me get through an already planned birthday party for Bella the day after my diagnosis. As my mind was trying to take in the enormity of my news, I was watching my little girl celebrate 14 and my heart ached wondering ... Well, I won't even type it. But you know what I wondered. I know that’s awful, but it was an unavoidable thought.

And that brings me to my first lesson learned this month —

Lesson One: Protect the Mind

Gosh,  just uttering the phrase “stage four” makes my stomach hurt, my breath catch and my mind swirl. I knew what those words meant without anyone having to explain. And in those first couple of weeks, especially, I wrestled constantly with my thoughts. That phrase was more than permeating me, it seemed to cut me into pieces. I was hearing it over and over again in my mind. I was under a full out attack like never before. Fiery darts were hitting from every angle. Of course the middle of the night was the absolute worst bringing an almost constant bombardment of pure, unbridled fear. But even the busy days were hard. Recently, I explained it to a group of friends how I can be going along pretty well and then, suddenly, a thought presses in and I feel a heavy, weighted blanket drop itself over me. It’s a tangible, physical feeling of dread and is almost crushing. So much so, I have literally hit the floor from the weight of it. 

So how does a woman with a stage 4 diagnosis crawl out from under that kind of heavy?

I have learned quickly this month, the only thing which helps is keeping my eyes on Jesus and reminding myself of God’s truths. I mean it — NOT LOOKING AWAY from Him. It is what I asked of my friends, first and foremost —keep helping me turn my eyes to Jesus and keep reminding me of His truth. Because, man, does the evil one want to set up shop in our moments of fear. He is like a kid in a candy store when someone is dealing with fear and anxiety and awful diagnoses. It is his favorite playground. 

But Jesus has a different message for us. Jesus speaks of what a heavy yoke life is. That’s a fact. Not just for me, but for you too.  In Matthew He says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart , and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Jesus wants to remove our blanket of dread which is heavy and crushing and exchange it for His yoke which is easy and light. He never promises life will be easy and light, but He tells us His yoke is. When we cover ourselves with Him, He will give us rest. 

“For the mind set on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6 

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

 

2. Lesson Two: Let Go 

Not let go and give up, but let go and let God. I needed to learn at a whole new level how to let my Savior and Sustainer direct me. Y’all know I like to be in charge. From my time as a teacher, theater director and coach to my time now as a mom and a wife, I like to be bossy. But this diagnosis is showing me there’s a good deal I simply cannot control. It is out of my hands. Period. I must surrender all of it. All of me.

Surrender has been a regular word in my spiritual life. As a try-hard kind of girl, I’ve struggled with it forever. Even though I know I am not in charge, that hasn’t stopped me from trying. I have lived a good deal of my life under the practice of “If I just work a little harder, stay up a little later, dig in a little deeper, go a little further …” That’s been me to a T! Try Hard. In fact, TRY HARDER! I had a friend tell me once that I should write a book called “Grace for the Try Hard Girl.” That was the title we decided upon. And then—I kid you not—like a month later another writer came out with a book called “Grace for the Good Girl.” LOL. Really? There you go. I guess I’ll have to think of another title for my book. 

But here I am each day, arms stretched out before the Lord giving Him the reigns of my life. Each day. Every day. All of it. Over and over and over again. Begging Him to lead me, show me, show up for me. Asking Him to take charge, to take over, to take me through these deep waters. It’s a level of surrender I can’t quite explain. But He’s working it out in me. He’s showing me that He is very much with me and He very much wants to lead me. Last year a verse kept showing up in my life and I was doing a good bit of pondering. “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.” Proverbs 16:9. Oh yes He surely does. Enough said. 

3. Lesson Three: Go On, Life Must

This has been a month like no other. Unparalleled for sure. It has been a month of getting information.  A month of going to appointment after appointment. A month of gleaning wisdom. It has been a month of grieving deeply. But it has also been a month which has shown me life must go on. Like that birthday party for Bella. I had to put one foot in front of the next. And somedays are like that. Somedays I have to tell myself, “do the next right thing, Jody.” One thing at a time. One step at a time. But, move forward. That’s all I can do. I ask Jesus each morning for His daily bread. Enough strength for that day. I can’t go too far down the road. I can’t look too far in the future. I just can’t. I am to live in the day and go on. One foot in front of the next.

And, dear ones, that’s exactly how we are supposed to be living whether we’ve got a nasty diagnosis or not. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Ain't that the truth!) Matthew 6:34

In classic Jody fashion, I suppose, in the middle of this diagnosis we also dove into a massive kitchen remodel. It literally began the week I found out about the cancer and we decided to go forward with the project as much of it was already in motion. Trust me, we have had our moments of doubt, but we think that was the right decision. It’s been a nice distraction. I haven’t had a stove or a sink or countertops for almost 3 weeks, but, since I’m getting extra meals provided, the timing isn’t too bad. LOL. I’ve had a few friends tell me only I would take on a cancer diagnosis and a full kitchen remodel in the same month. Sigh. But it is a reminder that life does go on. Plans must be made. Projects must continue. It has also made me pretty patient with certain more minor irritations. I mean, who really cares if we have to wash our dishes in the bathroom sink or cut up our carrots in the living room? There are bigger things in life, right?

Honestly, I know some of you think that sounds crazy. And maybe it is. But there’s been something health-giving in running around town trying to decide on the perfect subway tile. I’m weird. I know. 

But the lesson learned is that we must go on with life. Go on, make plans, live life. The very last thing my body or mind needs right now is to crawl into a hole of despair filled with isolation and stagnation.

4. Lesson 4 - Allow Others

The hands and feet of Jesus are exactly that — His body working together to come alongside those in need. We have been felt out overwhelmed with the loving way friends are meeting our needs. It’s been everything from meals to prayer to rides to help with my crazy kitchen renovation. I am also so grateful for the outpouring of words. There’s almost not a day I don’t wake to someone’s encouragement. Almost every single day I am receiving powerful, life-giving scripture from someone. Prayers come pouring in. Y’all are reaching out to my kids and husband and loving them well too. It’s amazing! We have friends across the United States praying and even some across the world. We FEEL those prayers. They are so real. I have always liked to be the one taking care of others, but right now I’m learning to allow others to care for me and it’s beautiful. I’ve had to adjust to this new role, but, more and more, I am beginning to see it as one of the greatest gifts of this new normal.

5. Lesson 5 - Be Grateful 

Okay,  so this is a weird one. No one is grateful for cancer. But there are other things. So many things. And what I learned 11 years ago with my first diagnosis and what I’m learning again now is that cancer is actually an opportunity to become more grateful. When things are going along swimmingly (like we all prefer them) we can quickly become a bit numb. We forget to look. We fail to see. We are busy and distracted and we don’t always stop to pause and ponder. Cancer has a way of crystallizing much of what fills our life. Certainly knowing a stage 4 diagnosis could limit my life here on earth has had a profound impact in making me more intentional in my thinking and, hopefully, in my living!

The truth is, we are all terminal. (Some of us just know it). But none of us escape this life in any other way than through death. The number of my days has already been written by my Creator in His Book of Life. He did that before I was even born. This diagnosis gives me not one less day or one day longer, than what He has written. So, the decision becomes what will I do with my days? Will I continue to grope around in the dark or will I find reason to be grateful? I think it is a question that bears asking for all of us, no matter what amount of time we think we have left on earth. None of us truly know. But gratitude is life-giving. It is joy-bringing. It is more than just “positivity” or “thinking happy thoughts.” Gratitude knows we are entitled to nothing, but all is grace. All is gift. It is not just being passively aware, but it is being present and active in giving abundant thanks. 


A few other things …

I know some of you heard stage four and you immediately thought I had months to live. I don’t know how many months or years or even decades I have. I do know the doctors feel very hopeful that I’ll respond well to treatment and so far I am doing great. But you will just need to plan to see me in the produce aisle of the grocery store and in the carpool line at school and maybe even back out on the tennis court some day. You will see me. You will!

I am not on chemo right now. I take three drugs and one of them is a heavy hitter — chemo type drug — but metastatic stage four is approached differently. Yes it’s serious, but it’s a long haul. It’s a marathon as opposed to a sprint. We aren’t trying to cure the cancer with treatment, we are trying to slow its growth and stop its spread. I’ll happily leave the cure thing to Jesus for the time being. 

I’ve had several friends ask “when will your treatment end?” That's not a bad question. I wouldn’t have known the answer prior to this, but the simple answer is … never. That has been one of the hard things to wrap my brain around. I will forever be a cancer patient managing this. As it is not curable (at the moment), I will always have to treat it. That means daily meds and monthly infusions and lots of scans and bloodwork and tests and monitoring. This is hard for me. I am not all that intrigued with hospitals and healthcare. Trust me, I struggle with locating a bandaid and a couple of Tylenol in my house. I would much rather be gardening or playing tennis or well … anything! But my new full time job is to manage my health. Period. I am watching everything I eat and drink and beginning a more intense lifestyle plan that will promote health and healing in any and every way I know to do. More veggies and fruits, more exercise, more sleep, less stress. You get the idea. More, because I desire More.

So, we step into a new month. We protect our minds, we let go, we go on, we accept help and we live in gratitude. This is it. This is the very best I have for you at this time. I think it is stuff that's not just for this lady typing furiously on her laptop right now. I think it's for all of us. Maybe you don't like everything I wrote, but maybe there's a little something here which might help you wherever you are. I hope so.

Again, I can't say thank you enough for all of your encouragement and kindness to us in this past month. Keep those prayers coming!

I love you all!  jody 

Friday, February 18, 2022

Courage, Dear Heart

It’s time for battle, friends. Tomorrow we meet with my new oncologist and I get started with treatment. Lots of decisions ahead. Lots of unknown. Lots of fear. Lots of faith. I am changing my profile picture tonight to remind me of a time when I stepped into something which required a bit of courage. 

In 2015, while in Africa, I had the most amazing experience getting to "walk with lions." In retrospect, it might not have been the wisest decision of my life, but it certainly was one of the most thrilling. It’s hard to explain exactly how that happened. My equally adventure-seeking friend, April, and I just kind of went with it. You know, like we weren’t middle-aged moms with husbands and a bunch of kids and carpool duties, but like we were young college kids thinking “Well, while in Africa!” We both are a little wired that way. I guess we were missing that third, more discerning, friend who might have stopped to ask a few more prudent questions.

We weren’t thinking about the fact that we had responsibilities—not to mention families—back home. We weren’t thinking about the fact that this wasn’t some well-vetted adventure ride at Disney World. I guess it’s safe to say, we weren’t thinking at all.

Victoria Falls  
another wondrous moment
from that same trip
We almost backed out. We got to the game preserve and realized our guides would only be carrying sticks on our little walk. They provided us with sticks as well. Well, okay then. No one seemed super concerned about anything and nothing seemed all that buttoned up about the whole affair. But there we were: Lions and sticks and the two of us in the middle of Africa. And, that day,  we walked with the lions. And it truly was one of the most wondrous moments of my life. 

Yes, I guess that experience took equal parts courage and stupidity. I still question my judgment, but I will always be grateful for what it gave me -- an incredible moment and a new wonder and respect for these mighty beasts. And, of course, that great photo! 

I've always had a thing for lions. Ever since reading The Chronicles of Narnia as a young girl, I’ve deeply loved the lion character, Aslan. He always showed up just in time. He brought encouragement. He brought calm. He brought wisdom. He brought victory. If you’ve spent any time reading C.S. Lewis, you probably also know Aslan represents Jesus. The King, Mighty to save!

In the 5th chronicle, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, as they are headed toward total darkness and feeling utterly abandoned, Lucy, in great fear, cries out to Aslan for help. “Aslan, Aslan, if ever you loved us at all, send us help now.” It’s fantasy literature and so of course there’s a beam of light and a lot of other dramatic stuff, but in that awful darkness Lucy heard the voice of Aslan whisper calmly to her, “Courage, dear heart.” 

It’s quite a scene. And I’ve always loved those words-- “Courage, dear heart.” These days, I'm feeling like I somehow landed in quite a scene. It’s definitely the darkest valley in which I’ve ever walked. And, like Lucy, I have many times in these past weeks cried out to God in my wild storm, “If you love me, Lord, save me. Save me!”

I know He hears every cry of my heart. And though I have no idea how the next chapters of my own story will go, I know, like Lucy, I have clearly heard Him whisper through the darkness and in my personal battle, “Courage, dear heart.” 

And that quiet voice is everything in this kind of darkness. 

One last thought---that stick! Oh, that stupid, simple, useless stick in my hand in the presence of this mighty beast. Look at how ridiculous I look perched there with my smile and my stick. Okay, truth is, I couldn't help the smile on my face, but that stick reminds me so much of what we bring to the table in our own battles. We have not victory because of our own sticks. We have victory because we stick with Him. Our courage isn't found in any implement--no matter how sophisticated or crude--our courage is in the calm, mighty One on whom we must lean. Our Mighty Lion.


“I believe that I shall look upon 

the goodness of the Lord

 in the land of the living!

Wait for the Lord; 

Be strong, and

 LET YOUR HEART TAKE COURAGE;

Wait for the Lord.”  

Psalm 27:13-14

Thank you for standing with us in the gap, for battling with us in the storm, and helping point us to Jesus each day.  

We are grateful for each and every prayer.  Love, Jody



don't judge. =) 



Monday, February 14, 2022

What To Do with a Broken Heart on Valentine's Day

As I mentioned in a homemade--because no one had time shop this week--card to my husband this morning, this certainly wasn’t the Valentine’s Day of our dreams. There's certainly been nothing romantic about these past couple of weeks. Nothing. Not one little bit. 


A heavy diagnosis. A hard surgery. A lot of fears and unknowns and what ifs. A whole lot of tears. It doesn’t feel like flowers and chocolates will make much of a difference on this February 14th, 2022. Not this year. 


This year, my heart feels, well, broken.


Broken into a million little pieces … kind of like our world when just days ago we were handed the most unloving message we could have imagined. Stage 4 cancer. 


I want love to grow. Not cancer. 

Please, dear Lord, not cancer. 


But this is where we have found ourselves halfway thorough February. All broken up. In pieces. Not sure how we will ever put ourselves back together again. Not sure what it will all look like going forward. Not even sure there’s a perfect mending of this earthly heart to be found. 



But, even in this heartsick state, God somehow, in some way, continues to show me His extravagant love. And at the end of this day--this heart-themed holiday--I have a couple of things which mean so much more than anything Hallmark could ever print on a pretty greeting card:


  1. Never have I felt more loved. By my husband, my children, my family, my friends and my extended community. Never have I felt such an authentic, overwhelming outpouring. We are only a week or so into this journey, and already, I’ve experienced the hands and feet and Words of Jesus by His people in an incredible way. Ya’ll just keep showing up. You keep sending and saying and bringing and organizing and helping in ways which look only like LOVE. Real love. Not some sugary fake version of love. Not some nice sentiments here today and gone tomorrow, but real, honest to goodness, gritty love. Love which has skin. Love which isn’t afraid of the pain or sadness or darkness or illness. Love which can come and quietly sit with me. Love which can leave healthy groceries on our doorstep or ship fuzzy socks and pajamas in the mail. Love which drives me to places I need to go. Love which reminds me to take my medicine. Love which cleans my shower and toilet.  Love which looks at my sliced up belly and is quick to remind me of my beauty. Love which will speak truth and gently turn my head toward the One who loves  best. Love, which this week, might even look like taking my 165 pound stinky dog to the groomers. (Anyone?) =) Yes, I feel loved. 


  1. Never have I felt more grateful for God’s love. “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8. Think about that, friends. God sent His Son from perfect Heaven to this messy, messed up world and offered Him as a sacrifice for messy, messed up us - for our sin. He didn’t have to and we certainly didn’t deserve it. And yet this is how much God loves us. “God loved the world SO MUCH that He gave His only Son for us, that we might be saved.” John 3:16. Is there anything more loving than sacrificing something so loved? It makes my head spin. It makes my heart pound. It makes my tears fall. I am loved. You are loved. No matter what! No matter what our circumstances look like. No matter how hard our season. No matter how painful our suffering. No matter how awful our sin. We are loved by the God of the universe. Loved in a way which is not even fathomable to us as humans who must use holidays to express our hearts.  The love of Jesus is beyond any beauty this earth can bring us. Jeremiah 31:3 reminds us of how God loves, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” 


Friends, I know today some of you feel heartbroken too. For many reasons. Maybe it’s not a cancer diagnosis, but it is some type of disease. Some type of specific suffering gnawing away at you. At your heart. At your spirit. At your very soul. Something which is telling you you aren’t very lovely or, even, loved. Please let me gently remind you, that is not Jesus speaking to you. Not at all. No, He wants you to know He loves you so much He took on all the suffering of this world for you. For You! His love ran red for us on a cross on a hill on a dark, dark, darkest of days. For us. For every single hurting and heartsick thing in us. He loves us. 


I know cancer doesn’t feel one bit like love. And I won’t be the person who tells you that it is. I hate it. I hate everything about it. Hear me again: I want LOVE to grow, not cancer! But, dear ones, I do know that God is love and even though I may not understand everything that happens this side of heaven, I know when I listen closely to His voice, He is whispering words of love over me. Even now. Even in this. Especially in this. 


He is singing over me with rejoicing. He is quieting me with His calm. He is touching me with tenderness. He is leading me beside still waters. He is covering me with His feathers. He is drawing me closer to Him and to His heart. 

And He is, most certainly, fighting for me every step of the way. 


"He heals the brokenhearted 

and binds up their wounds." ~ Psalm 147:3


"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted 

and saves those who are crushed in spirit." 

~ Psalm 34:18




Wednesday, February 9, 2022

He Knows

Woke this morning to a message from a friend who has also been battling serious illness lately. She encouraged me with the fact that our Savior knows. HE KNOWS us in the circumstances of our material world, and HE KNOWS us at our most molecular level. Can we say that about anyone or anything else? Nope.


And isn’t that what our desperate world wants most—to be known! to be seen! All of us. Each one of us. It’s the great, gaping hole in every single human being. Know me! See me! Because when we are known and seen, we feel loved. LOVED.

These words of response (below) rolled out of my brain early this morning and I want to share them with you. With any of you who are hurting or need healing. Any of you who are bruised or battling. Any of you who are anxious or under attack. Any of you who are so tired or so done with trying.
So … Basically, ALL of us.

Our God knows!

YES, my friend …
He DOES know.

He knit us together.
He holds us.
He will heal us.
He’s got us.
He’s good to us.
He’s tender to us.
He’s with us.
He’s around us.
He’s over us.
He’s battling for us.
He’s breathing into us.
He’s working in us.
He’s working things out for us.
He’s G L O R I O U S!
And He will be V I C T O R I O U S!


“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.” ~ Psalm 139

*****************
a little later in the day my devotional, "new morning mercies," directed me to read psalm 73. and y'all do you want to know what i found there? 
the very question --- "how can God know?"
is that not crazy? that very question.

and in that psalm, He answers us so beautifully ...

"When I tried to understand all this, 
it was oppressive to me till I entered the
sanctuary of God; then I understood ...
When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, 
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.

YET I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I I heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire but you.
my flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

But as for me, it is good to be near God."

Psalm 73

God is so faithful.

Monday, February 7, 2022

Tomorrow

Tomorrow brings a PET scan at 1pm. Our prayer is that it shows no spread of cancer. For two reasons: 1. The obvious. 2. The fact that if cancer remains only in the bones, I can go ahead and have the hysterectomy surgery this Thursday. Yes, the irony of my phrasing here "ONLY in the bones" and "I CAN have the hysterectomy" is not one bit lost on me.

BUT, irony or not, these are next steps. And, let me be clear, the PET scan and I are absolutely not best friends right now. Remember my post in October when it came back "All Clear!" Ugh. A bitter pill in light of this recent biopsy news. So, I know we are all wondering what the heck? Did it lie to us in October? I don't know. I've done some research, I have a few ideas. But, regardless, it did give me a "false negative" and, I suppose, a false confidence that these lesions were something other than cancer. 

Who can really know? Who can look back and second guess? It's not my place. To be sure, I have done it a few times in these past days. My husband gently reminds me each time to stop doing that. He is gentle, but firm, "This doesn't help you, Jody." There is no finger to point. No person or test to blame. There is no way any doctor or anyone could have guessed my stage 1 cancer might have metastasized. As I've already shared, it was a less than point-three-percent risk.  

I have this dear friend, Cathy, who tells the story of how many years ago she once said to her husband and friends, "Well, you know hindsight is 50/50!" If you knew Cathy you'd be tickled by that. She's the absolute best! We were all just together in the mountains last month for a book club weekend and she retold that story and we all just laughed and laughed. Hindsight is 50/50 for sure!

The PET scan is important, but it is not ruling over me. In fact, the last time I had this scan in the fall, I did some of the prep things completely  wrong. Somehow I missed the instructions to limit or avoid all carbs and sugars the day prior to the scan. Can I just tell you the night before the scan I happily divulged in the biggest pasta dinner and largest glass of red wine of my life. When, the next morning, a friend casually mentioned avoiding carbs and sugars I literally felt the floor drop out from under me. I was horrified. Why had I failed to read that or know that? I felt so stupid. I felt afraid. I was sure I would "light up like Christmas tree" when they stuffed my pasta-ladden body into the scan machine. I had done it all wrong. There was going to be sugar-activity dancing all over me. I was certain. And yet it came back with no signs of anything. Nothing ticked. Regardless of my pasta, I got nada.

So, tomorrow we will face the good old PET scanner again. Rest assured, today I have had the blandest, purest food day of my entire life. I was tempted to chew only on ice all day. At one point, I looked at myself standing in front of the refrigerator and said, "Jody, stop! Just stop it!" Chomping on ice wasn't going to change anything. I can (and should) follow the doctor's instructions, but I can't control the outcome of this scan tomorrow. I cannot. I simply cannot. 

Control. Man, it has been an issue in my life for all of these 53 years. I act kind of cool and pretty go-with-the-flow at first glance, but I think underneath that peaceful persona, I really do like control. I like to coordinate, designate, and orchestrate pretty much anything and everything that comes my way. I'm a 3 on the enneagram and with that comes the (icky) need to perform well and make everything look good, or at least orderly and highly efficient -- from my kitchen countertops to my kids. Even if the drawers are stuffed with stuff and the kids are acting like a bunch of rebels and rascals, I like things to be put away and all buttoned up ... at the very least, calm on the surface. Like that duck floating serenely across the pond, but paddling like a maniac underneath. Wow! Is  God doing a work here or not? He is!

But the truth is, we fool ourselves with illusions of control. I can take responsibility for doing the things I know to do, but ultimately, it is about surrender. Surrender in the small things and surrender in the big things. Surrender in the daily stuff and surrender in the life and death stuff.  My sweet nephew and I texted back and forth on this topic last night. How does a 53 year old middle aged woman explain to her 19 year old college aged nephew the freedom and rest which can come when we learn to open our hands and let go? When we learn to loosen our own grip and rest in His. 

It's been a life lesson. A hard lesson. A holy learning. And I'm still not there. I'm still standing in my kitchen chewing on ice and believing for a hot minute it matters immensely.

Still standing there begging my God for my brand of His Mercy. Begging him for the list I have written for what I want in my future. Begging Him for the things I think I need. Begging Him for the hope and plans I have for my family. Begging Him for how I want to write the rest of this story. 

And I will continue to bow before His throne and beg Him. He tells me I can. He calls me to His feet like the bleeding woman groveling in the dusty street who wanted only to grab hold of His garment and be healed. He calls me to Himself. But ... He also calls me beloved. He calls me His daughter. 

He tells me He will ...

"bestow on me a crown of BEAUTY instead of ashes,

the oil of JOY instead of mourning,

and a garment of PRAISE instead of a spirit of despair."

~ Isaiah 61:3

And He reminds me that though the PET scan results are important, they don't determine my future. My hope is not held by a scan, my hope is securely found in the Son of Man.  

The One who has already healed me. 

Hope and future. Right now those two words are hard for me to think about too much. I was struggling with them earlier today, but in the middle of that struggle today, I got a text from my college son, Connor, with this verse:  

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope." ~ Jeremiah 29:11 

God really is so, so good. 

                                                                                                    

 

The Lowest Place, The Highest Name

 “From the lowest place, we can call on the Highest Name.”

Many of you have read my not so great health update yesterday and I want to thank you for your amazing words of love and encouragement…for your prayers and for your pointing me toward Truth and Hope. The outpouring has been truly incredible. The entire McNatt family feels so loved. Honestly, we are overwhelmed.
Yesterday morning we stayed home and watched church online. Of course God ministered to us greatly in the message we heard. (Louie Giglio - Passion City Church). please listen  (click on link). I invite you to listen to the whole thing if you have time, but I really want you to take just 3 minutes today and hear his final few words. (Start the clip at 38:20). His series has been about Putting God First. In all things. In the good things and in the very hard things.
I love what he says at the end: “From the lowest place, we can call on the Highest Name.”
It reminds me of my favorite quote from Corrie ten Boom (Holocaust survivor): 

“there is no pit so deep, 
that God’s love is not deeper still.” 

Whatever I am facing. Whatever YOU are facing. Whatever low, low, low place — We can, with confidence, call on The Name of Jesus, The Most High.
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.”
Proverbs 18:10
Amen.

The name of Jesus is a Strong Tower and, be assured, there is POWER in His name.
A dear friend sent me this song over the weekend ... it's on the playlist today. 
I speak the name of Jesus over you
In your hurting, in your sorrow
I will ask my God to move
I speak the name cause it's all that I can do
In desperation, I'll seek heaven
And pray this for you
I pray for your healing
That circumstances would change
I pray that the fear inside would flee
In Jesus name
I pray that a breakthrough would happen today
I pray miracles over your life in
Jesus name
In Jesus name
I speak the name of all authority
Declaring blessings
And every promise
He is faithful to keep
I speak the name no grave could ever hold
He is greater, He is stronger
He's the God of possible
I pray for your healing
That circumstances would change
I pray that the fear inside would flee
In Jesus name
I pray that a breakthrough would happen today
I pray miracles over your life in
Jesus name
In Jesus name
Come believe it
Come receive it
Oh the power of His Spirit is now forever yours
Come believe it
Come receive it
In the mighty name of Jesus, all things are possible
I pray for your healing
That circumstances will change
I pray that the fear inside will flee in Jesus name
I pray that a breakthrough
Would happen today
I pray miracles over your life
In Jesus name
I pray for revival
For restoration of faith
I pray that the dead will come to life
In Jesus name
In Jesus name