Select Page
From now on

From now on

The first four months of 2018 have felt like progress and defeat all at the same time to me. I started out the year with some big goals and some even bigger dreams. And along the way, I’ve gotten scared, wondered if we can make it all happen, and doubted my ability to really follow through.

But that’s the thing about big dreams isn’t it?

They tend to hover overhead, just out of reach, taunting you into wondering if you have what it takes.

I think the enemy likes big dreams. I think he likes to send his little soldiers appropriately named fear and doubt directly towards our hearts. I’ve noticed that when I’m binge watching Netflix or mindlessly scrolling social media, the devil doesn’t give me too much trouble. He heckles me sometimes about those couple cupcakes I ate last week but if I’m not walking towards big goals and dreams, he pretty much lets me be.

But those dreams….the plans and the goals and the making myself better part…all that seems to really rile him up. And I bet the same thing happens to you.

You know when you want to change something and you really step into it, and you make a plan and set a goal, what always happens? Opposition. Those little devil soldiers come marching right in trying to tell us we’re not good enough to change or that we’re not disciplined enough or talented enough or pretty enough or blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

They’re lies my friends. All lies. 

This year, as I’ve stepped into the big God sized dreams we have for our life, I’ve felt the opposition more than I ever have. And it’s staring to really tick me off. I’m over it. I’ve learned that we can choose to be over it and start to ignore the lies that get pushed into our head from the enemy. We can choose to live in the victory that Christ gave us on the cross. To me, opposition has become one more reason to fight hard and then harder still. 

I refuse to let mediocrity lead my life. I truly believe we were all made for more than average.

I believe you were made for greatness, friend. 

But are you walking in greatness? Or are you choosing to shrink to mediocrity? I’m not asking to point blame or tell you how much you suck. Mostly I’m asking myself. 

I said I was going to start writing a book this year.

Have I started? Nope.

Have a made a million excuses as to why I don’t have time to write? Yes.

Regardless of how things have gone so far this year for you or for me, there is always now. From now on things can be different. We can choose to rise to the greatness we’re called to live in. 

Will it be messy? Of course. Will we mis-step? Obviously. And we’ll make a mess of things and make mistakes and doubt ourselves over and over again.

The devil’s little soldiers will charge forward on full attack. You living up to your potential, using your gifts and talents to further the kingdom of God….that’s the kind of living the devil will try to take out. But guess what? The devil’s fighters don’t have power over you! You’re the only one who gets to choose how far their advances go.

So today, after having not written on this blog for 9 months, I’m saying ENOUGH. I have victory to claim through Jesus Christ and so do you.

For me, that means I have to start writing again. I’ve let the devil tell me I have nothing of value to say for far too long. So from now, I’m a writer again. And I get to stand up and decide that because I’m the daughter of the King of the world. And you can make the same kind of decisions.

Will I be great at it? Who knows. I’ll probably suck for a while.

Will I have to fight for the time and mental space to write? Oh yeah…..like a soldier.

But from now on, I’m a fighter. And I think you should be a fighter too. 

Your fight is probably different than mine. But it’s a fight worth fighting.

 

Ask yourself….

What is your heart yearning for?

What did you used to love to do as a child that you stopped doing?

What do you dream about doing or becoming?

Where do you want to go?

Who do you want to serve?

Where do you want to give more?

 

Maybe it’s time for all of us to dream again.

And now, what you waiting for? Netflix and social media will always be there to distract you from living the life you’re called to. I believe you’re called to big, beautiful things. I don’t think those dreams in your heart are random or selfish or unimportant. I think they’re worth fighting for. 

So what is it for you?

What is it time to fight for?

Let’s go to war, friends. 

You know where you can find me. I’ll be here, or at home, or on the road, but from now on, I’ll be writing about all of it. 

 

Scars

Scars

I used to think scars were something you could see…external…visible. I used to not have many scars. Then, four months ago, I had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, and suddenly all I could see were the scars.

Throughout the recovery and reconstruction that takes place after a mastectomy, not only did I stare at my visible scars everyday, but I started to see and feel scars that weren’t visible to the eye. The scars that were deep, but that I couldn’t see, began to come to the surface. My past, my pain, my mistakes, my shortcomings…they all seemed to be reflected back at me. It was as if I looked in the mirror at my new visible scars, and the old scars from the inside came seeping out.

I couldn’t run away from the pain anymore. I couldn’t pretend that I was enough, because I just wasn’t. Looking in the mirror was hard for a while. My body was physically different and my soul was healing, maybe for the 1st time ever.

I always said that I believed that God was who He said He was, and that I was worthy of His love, but now, it didn’t seem like it. It seemed like everything hurt. Everything was different.

Having surgery was the right decision for me and my family, but it didn’t make the pain and the healing any easier. It was a process. It was a process that I honestly wasn’t ready for. I thought I knew what to expect. I thought I knew how hard it would be.

But I never expected the Lord to use the months during my recovery to show me all my scars. I never expected this process to be so hard.

As I sit and write this post tonight, I am three weeks post exchange surgery, meaning the reconstruction process is finished and now we move on from this process onto the next adventure the Lord will place before us.

But the process of healing is ongoing. It’s a conversation I’m having with the Lord. I whisper my doubts to Him about what I see in the mirror, the pieces that are beautiful, but that aren’t me. And He whispers back to me a sweet reminder of who He says I am. Beautiful. Adored. The child of a King.

Scars or no scars. Visible or invisible. He loves me the same. He loves me the same today as he did before I ever had a visible scar. He loved me before I could see the pain and the process and the recovery journey.

There’s nothing I can do or say or think that will ever make Him love me less, so why would I look in the mirror and let the devil lie to me about my mistakes or my shortcomings or my pain? The devil wants me to look in the mirror and believe my sin is unforgivable.

But the Lord says, YOU ARE FORGIVEN.

The devil wants me to look in the mirror and think that I’m not enough.

But the Lord says, YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH.

The devil wants me to look in the mirror and believe that I’m not beautiful.

But the Lord says, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. YOU ARE ADORED. YOU ARE MINE.

And maybe you’ve looked in the mirror and believed the same lies. Actually, I don’t even have to assume, I’m sure that you have believed the lies. You’ve heard it haven’t you? “You’re not enough. Your sin is too great. You’ll never be as beautiful as those other women. You’ll never be as good as them”

They’re lies. Lies from an enemy that would want you to believe that your scars can and will define you. Whether internal or external, we all have scars, but our God promises to use them. He promises to use our scars to bring glory to His kingdom. He promises to use our scars for good. The question is, are we willing? Are we willing to look in the mirror and deny the devil the right to continue to lie to us about what we see? Are we willing to look right back into our own reflections and tell ourselves WHOSE we are?

I started asking God how He sees me. I started asking Him who I am, and he started to whisper back. I kept asking because honestly I didn’t believe Him. “Surely you’re talking about someone else. You can’t be saying those things about me because I don’t feel those things.”

I was believing my scars would make me weak. I was believing the lies of the deceiver.

How little credit we give ourselves, friends! How little we value our worth when we stand in the mirror and see our scars reflected back at us.

Ask Him who are. Ask Him again and again. See what He says and then start to walk in it. Tell yourself every single day. Start to believe that you are who He says you are.

In Christ, you are:

without rival

made in the image of God

adored

fought for

won

beautiful

chosen

YOU. Yes, you, were chosen by God to do good work that only you can do. Do not for a second let the devil trick you into thinking your scars or your past or your sin or what you see in the mirror can stop you. YOU are a child of God.

You are fearless.

You are a light.

You are mine.

Those are the words he kept whispering to me, over and over again. Even when I told Him I wasn’t those things. I was scared and sad and lonely. He whispered them anyways. Over and over.

I am a fearless light…a daughter to the creator of the universe, and I will not believe the lies of the enemy. I will use my scars as fuel to fight the good fight and bring glory to my Heavenly Father.

This my friends, is how we FIGHT. Join me. Believe Him. Deny the devil the satisfaction of your doubt or fear, and let’s do the good work we were put here to do.

Our scars will not define us. They might actually begin to show us who we really are.

{I hardly ever write a post without at least one picture, but because of the subject, I just couldn’t find a picture that I felt did the subject justice, so there just aren’t any. Look in the mirror after you read this, and ask God how He sees you. That’s the picture I want you to see.}

the Surrender and the Fight

the Surrender and the Fight

I watch her clasp her chubby hands tightly around every baby doll she can grab. She hugs them close and kisses their little heads. She loads them into her baby stroller and toddles around the house pushing that stroller like it’s a race car.

But if you were to try to take one of her babies from her, her grasp would close tightly around it, and she’d squeeze it tightly into her chest.

She’s just a baby grasping onto what she can in the world, knowing that there are things that she loves that she wants to keep close.

My babies keep teaching me things. I try to pull them close and keep them from the harsh and painful world because it seems like that’s what a mama should do. I pull them tightly into my chest because I want to keep them close.

I keep trying to hold on tight to everything else too…my words, my work, my man, all of it. I want to grasp it all inside my fist, tight and secure so I couldn’t possibly lose any of it even if I tried just like my baby girl holds onto her baby dolls.

I’ve struggled with what my word would be for the year. I originally thought that it should be fight. Fight was the word that I chose as my mantra when I decided to have preventative surgery last month. And it was a fight, a really good fight. But now, I can feel my grip tightening on everything around me. I want to control it all. I want to fix it all. I want to do it all. And the Lord keeps reminding me I don’t have to hold it all.  I’m trying so desperately to keep my fist wrapped around things that are not even mine to begin with.

I think my word has to be two-fold this year. Fight and surrender. Fight the evil one. Fight for the good and hard things. But don’t forget to surrender the rest. Surrender all those things that I keep trying to control so desperately back to the Lord.  It’s my way of agreeing with God that I’ll fight for the good and surrender the best. I’ll fight for my time and my health and my relationships, but in the same moment in which I pull all those important things close to my chest to claim them as mine, I will release my grasp and open my palms to the Lord in surrender.

This year, it’s both….a fight and a surrender.

What about you? What are you fighting for this year? And what are you surrendering?

The decision to fight

The decision to fight

This post is kind of out of order. I have so much more story to tell about our BRCA journey, but it’s time to tell this part simply due to time.

I am a BRCA 1 and 2 genetic mutation carrier. It’s a mutation that flows down through generations. It’s a mutation that drastically increases my risk for breast and ovarian cancer over my lifetime.

According to cancer.gov “About 12 percent of women in the general population will develop breast cancer sometime during their lives. By contrast, according to the most recent estimates, 55 to 65 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA1 mutation and around 45 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA2 mutation will develop breast cancer by age 70 years.”

There isn’t much research about the statistics of someone who is both BRCA 1 and 2 positive, simply because it’s incredibly rare to carry both mutations.

When we discovered my BRCA mutations, I was immediately placed on a high risk screening program for both breast and ovarian cancer. An MRI, mammogram, and/or ultrasound were ordered every 6 months. I’ve been on that program for the past 3 years and am so grateful for all the amazing people who aided in my screening and were overly thorough.

But there came a time once Lucy was weaned when I started to feel unsettled about all of it. I don’t know that I have the words to describe the way I felt. It was something close to restless. There was a stirring in my soul. It was time to make decisions about what the future would look like.

I was already beginning to get weary over the constant screenings. I was appreciative and grateful that they were looking, but it was getting old quick. It felt like we were always looking to find something. It seemed like it was just a “matter of time.”

I started praying about what that looked like or meant for me. Do I want to just keep looking? Or do I want to do something more aggressive? What if I decide to do something aggressive? Would that be acting out of fear or out of action?

For some reason, I felt like it was time to draw a line in the sand and stand on one side or the other. Do I keep doing high risk screening? Or do I have surgery to reduce my risk as much as possible? I was reading book after book about women who were faced with the same decision I was, and I was finding no solace at all. The way they felt, wasn’t the way I felt. It seemed like such an easy decision to them. It wasn’t an easy decision for me. I was wrestling with what was right for me and my family and my future.

I started seeking God on all these questions and more. I didn’t want to make a decision out of fear. I knew that no matter how this BRCA story ended, God would get the glory. Cancer, no cancer, live, die, ultimately, He would get the glory.

I also starting pressing Brian about it. What did he think? What were his opinions long term? How would he want us to fight these statistics.

We also sought Biblical council. I sat across the table from several Godly women who had battled breast cancer. I had coffee with women who had had mastectomies to reduce their risk. Brian and I sat in our pastor’s office and sought his wisdom and understanding.

Mostly, I was afraid I would make the wrong decision. I didn’t really care (and don’t care) what other people thought about my decision. At first I had the thought that maybe people would think I lacked faith if I decided to have surgery to reduce my risk. I quickly remembered that I am not concerned with what other people think. I’m only concerned with what Jesus thinks.

One of the women I sat across the table from asked me how much I had really sought the Lord on this decision. Initially I was really praying and seeking God about it a lot, but over time, I started reading book after book and asking everyone close to me what they thought. But I hadn’t really asked God what He thought.

So on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, Brian took the big kids out for a while so I could clean and the littles could nap. I swept the hardwood floors in our living room in silence. My heart was heavy and my soul felt tired. The weight felt like more than I could carry.

And much like the cry I let out to the Lord in the MRI machine when I decided it was time to surrender this to Him, I audibly spoke the words “Lord” in my empty living room with a mop in my hand and tears streaming down my face.

I didn’t know what else to say. I knew that He would follow me, love me, be with, no matter what I decided, but I needed His spirit to lead me. I needed for Him to whisper “stay” or “go.”

I wept that day while mopping those hardwood floors. I wasn’t sad, I was just overcome. Grateful. Heavy.

Grateful for the knowledge of my DNA….things my mom didn’t know about her body when she was my age. I was overcome with His love and heavy with the weight of what a BRCA mutation meant not only for me but for my babies.

I needed guidance.

And in the middle of me weeping over soapy hardwood floors, I heard the tender whisper of the a single word….

 

Fight.

 

Instantly a weight was lifted. It wasn’t because that was the answer I wanted. It was because the line was drawn. It was time to fight.

In Exodus 14:14-15, the Lord speaks to Moses while leading the Israelites out of Egypt. They were being pursued by the Egyptian and chariots. God told Moses,  “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

People often hang on this verse alone thinking it means that they should just be still and wait for God to move. But that’s not all God said to Moses. Immediately after He told Moses to be still, He said, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”

Immediately following these words from the Lord, Moses raised his staff and the Red Sea parted allowing the Israelites to escape the Egyptians.

The word fight whispered to me while mopping those floors sounded just like “move” to my soul.

So we’re moving. We’ve been in the process of meeting with and choosing surgeons over the past couple months, and a week from today, I will undergo a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction. I’ll be in surgery roughly 5 1/2 hours and will recover for 3-4 weeks after that.

Sometimes staying still is exactly what God asks us to do. But more often than not, he tells us to move. To fight. To not be afraid.

This is the beginning of the fight.

img_6637

 

Get Out of the Race

Get Out of the Race

 

Sometimes my eyes are so fixed on the person in front of me or the person next to me or even the person behind me, that I forget where I’m going and who I am.

Life can feel like a race that everyone else is winning if we’re not careful. There will always be someone ahead of us, someone better than us, someone creeping up from behind. It’s one of the few guarantees in life…you can’t always be the best…..you can’t always win.

But our culture kind of wants us to believe that the hustle is good. If you’re hustling, you must be winning right? Something in my heart says that can’t be entirely true, because the hustle doesn’t feel fruitful to me.

So I’m taking myself out of the race. Drop the mic. I’m done with that. I’m not trying to be the best leader or the prettiest wife or have the cutest dressed kids or the cleanest house or the best homemade snacks. I’m taking myself out of the race….out of every single race.

I only have myself to blame. Somehow I found myself in those races, and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep my eyes on the finish line because I kept getting distracted by everyone else running around me. They’re always faster or stronger or have better hair, and I kept wondering why I wasn’t up there with them.

No matter how many times I thought I was getting ahead, I would round a corner and there would be someone else, beating me by just a little bit. Time to kick it into gear and try to catch up.

At least that’s what I thought. Being successful means winning right? Beating out everyone else; getting there first; doing it better.

Maybe winning isn’t what we think it is. Maybe winning isn’t crossing the line first. Maybe it’s as simple as staying in our lane with our eyes on Christ.

If I am constantly looking at the woman next to me or the one ahead of me, I can’t possibly know where my lane is. I can’t  focus on who God calls me to be, if I’m too worried with who God calls her to be.

When I take myself out of the race that is this crazy life, I get to run towards Christ. He already did the work. He already finished it for me. I don’t have to strive. I don’t have to hustle. He says that I am enough just as I am.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t do good work or strive for excellence. We should do that. I’m just saying that maybe we should stop turning our heads and comparing ourselves to everyone around us. Christ sees us. And he calls us His.

The Bible says I am called

  • a child of God {John 1:12}
  • no longer a slave {John 15:15}
  • a friend of Jesus {John 15:15}
  • chosen, holy, and blameless {Ephesians 1:4}
  • God’s workmanship, created to produce good works {Ephesians 2:10}

Because I know this is true, I can get out of the race. I can walk with confidence in my lane solely focused on who Christ calls me to be. When my eyes are on Him and Him alone, the path is clear and quiet and good. When I forget whose I am, the path becomes messy and loud and uncertain.

So today, I’ve decided that I’m out of the race. I’m not striving to be anything or anyone because I am called a child of God, and when my eyes are on Him, the race ins’t a race; it’s a stroll through the autumn leaves with the one who saved me from myself.

img_7023

Maybe it’s time to take yourself out too. No more trying to be the prettiest or the best dressed or the fastest or the best. It’s time to put our eyes back on Christ and remember that we are enough right where we are. And we are our absolute best when we are each in our own lane.

I can’t even begin to take credit for this idea. It was not my idea, but it has changed everything for me. All thanks to Jess Connolly for sharing this life shaking idea on Jamie Ivey’s podcast a while back. I have no idea what else you gals talked about. I just remember you said you were out of the race. I’m out too. I think we should start a club.

Surrender

Surrender

I took off my jewelry and slipped it into my purse. I checked my phone one last time before heading into the MRI room. The technician came in to ask me another round of questions.

Is there a history of cancer in your family?
Breast or ovarian?
Anyone tested positive for BRCA 1 or 2 in your family?

Yes, yes, and double yes.

She notes that I’m positive for BRCA 1 and 2 with no comment. What do you say to that?

After I sign my name at the bottom of several consent forms, she prepares to start my IV. She makes small talk. How old are my kids? What do I do for a living? I appreciate the distraction.

The high risk specialist comes in to take my blood for a research donation. Michelle and I become rather acquainted over the past couple years. My mom and I are the only two patients in her program with a positive mutation for both BRCA 1 and 2.

As she’s drawing my blood, she asks, “Is this your 1st MRI?”

“Yes.” I reply.

“Unfortunately it won’t be your last,” she reminds me.

Day to day, it’s easy to forget the burden of knowledge that being BRCA 1 and 2 positive carries, but every time I’m at the breast center, the reality is big and undeniable. I can’t forget. They keep reminding me.

Michele smiles and says she’ll call me with the MRI results and that she’ll see me again soon. Unfortunately it’s true. As a high risk patient, I have to have some form of imaging every 6 months.

The MRI tech returns to take me for my scan.

She introduces me to Kim who smiles sweetly at me. They help me get face down on the table and gear me up with ear plugs, headphones and a blanket. They remind me to stay still.

Over the hum of the MRI machine, the only thing I can hear are the voices in my head.

I walked into the breast center that morning thinking about how no matter how many people are in my life supporting me through this, I ultimately have to take every single step forward on my own. No one can go in the MRI machine with me. No one can go through surgery or recovery with me. No one else can battle the demons in my mind.

And for a moment, facedown on that table, I wanted to weep. The feeling of being alone was nearly overwhelming. I closed my eyes and lifted a one word prayer toward Heaven…”Lord…”

That was it. I didn’t know what else to say.

This was a race I didn’t sign up for, but found myself running anyways. I showed up at the starting line unwilling and felt as though I was the only one running it.

My mind tumbled back to Michele’s earlier comment, “It won’t be your last MRI.”

“We’re just trying to catch it,” I thought for the 1st time since my genetic results came back. “We’re just trying to catch it.”

No one really even knows my risk. The risk of a BRCA 1 or 2 carrier to develop breast or ovarian cancer is anywhere from  50-80% over their lifetime. There aren’t any real statistics for a BRCA 1 and 2 carriers. They believe it to be closer to an 85% chance overall.

So we’re just looking. Over and over again until we find something, basically.

The burden of knowledge. This race I didn’t want to run.

My mind is overwhelmed with the loneliness of this tube and this sound and the thoughts in my head running in their own directions.

And then, a realization.

Here I am, facedown on this table. Arms raised above my head. Unable to move or speak. Unable to even pray signinifcantly.

This is surrender.

This is my surrender.

No, I didn’t want to run this race. I wouldn’t have signed up for it willingly.

Am I grateful for the knowledge? Of course. Everyday. But it’s heavy and burdensome and unsteady.

And all I can muster up to pray is “Lord.”

But it’s all I needed to say. The mention of His name was enough to cover me. The feeling of loneliness fled, and the beautiful reminder that I am never truly alone covered me. I was under the cover of Christ.

It’s true that no person on this earth can walk every step with me, but Christ will never leave. In the MRI tube, through any surgery that may come, in the midst of recovery….He will be there. He fits in the tube, on the bed, in my head.

He is the beginning and the end, and I ultimately believe that this race is just one more that will draw me closer and closer to Him.

I know that none of this will be done alone. I know that in my soul and my heart. My mother is breast cancer survivor who lost her mom (my Grammy) to ovarian cancer. My mom carries the same gene mutations that I do. My sister will also walk this road (is already walking it, really), but later on, she’ll have to make the same decision I will soon about surgery and prevention. And my husband will make every decision, pray every prayer, and go every step that he physically can with me. I won’t be alone. Of course, that’s what the devil would have me believe.

But feeling alone in that MRI machine turned out to be a blessing. It allowed Christ to remind me that I’m not alone. That He is ever near, and that He will cover me when the people I love most on this Earth can’t go with me.

The aloneness forced the surrender that produced the overwhelming rush of love from Christ.

Surrender.

Being arms up and face to the floor gave me more courage than I ever could have mustered standing on my own.

And I doubt I’m the only one out there resisting surrender to the Lord. Maybe He’s really just waiting for all of us to put our hands in the air and truly give our lives to Him.

I think it’s time. It’s time for the freedom that comes from surrender. I know it is for me, and maybe it is for you too.

IMG_3215.PNG