Longevity

 

I have to say, 2017 was one of the hardest, yet best years of my life. My relationship with God and my friends and family deepened so much. So much joy and love came out of such a hard time. And I got to check one of my bucket list items off my list- Italy.

Around this time last year, I embarked on an unwanted adventure- stage 4 thyroid cancer. I remember the devastation I felt getting that initial diagnosis. Later I was told that this adventure was going to be brief; below is the conclusion to that unwanted adventure. To all of you who saddled up and joined me on this adventure: thank you. You mean the world to me.

Enjoy.

On January 8th,  I received an email with the results of my CT scan. Three of my tumors had grown. The cancer treatment I received in July did not work. I was devastated. This was not the answer I was expecting. I was supposed to be healed.

I immediately called the my doctor’s office for an appointment to set up a plan of attack. I left messages with no response on their end. I was frustrated, frightened and saddened by the aspect of losing my hair, chemo and my PTO being wasted on medical treatments instead of fun adventures.

I shared my email results with my closest friends and coworkers who immediately prayed for me. One of my coworkers who was outraged that I found out via email told her mother, who was equally outraged, and a nurse at CCare, a cancer treatment center here in town.  My coworker connected me with her mother who got me an appointment with one of the best oncologists at their center. On January 23rd, I took my squad, Lauren, Donna, Tammy Jo and my Uncle Johnny (who drove up from LA for the day just to be at my appointment) and we met Dr. Rao.

Dr. Rao went over my scans and medical information and gave me some of the best news of my life: there was no need for further treatment at this time. I was overjoyed: no chemo, no hair loss, no sickness…I would get to keep my PTO. I was thrilled.

After the good news, came what my boss calls “good bad news”: my tumors were not going to go away and there was no treatment that would rid me of them completely. There was no need to treat me now, as I wasn’t symptomatic. There would come at time where I would be and when that time came, there were treatment options that would help shrink the tumors and slow their growth, but again not rid me of them completely.  They would prolong my life, but decrease my quality of life. His goal was for me to have the best quality of life possible for as long as possible.

I took all this new information in and asked: ” So, will this cancer eventually take me out?”

Dr. Rao sighed and said: Yes, eventually you will die of Thyroid cancer.

“How long do I have?”

“15 to 20 years”

I was stunned. I did the math; I’d be 50-55 years old when I died. I want to get married, have a family of my own…15 to 20 years would definitely affect that. I wouldn’t be able to grown old with my friends. I may spend my last days sick and suffering. I sat in stunned silence, my mind racing with the thought of only 20 years left.

Dr. Rao continued on.

“The goal is to keep your TSH levels as low as possible. This will slow the tumor growth. They are very small now, not even a centimeter, so I am not too concerned. In 3 to 4 years they might be an inch. Right now the plan is to watch the tumors. When they start to become a problem, we’ll talk treatment options. I’m going to set you up with an new endocrinologist to monitor your thyroid levels…”

I don’t remember much else from that appointment. My friends embraced me once the doctor left. They prayed for me. I cried. I counted my years. 20 years. It was long but not long. I couldn’t believe this was it and there were no other treatment options. I’d have to live with it until it took my life. I was numb.

But…I also had no peace. The words of the doctor didn’t sit right with me. I respected him and trusted him but the dying of thyroid cancer part- it didn’t fit.  Having only 20 years left didn’t sit right with me. Some would say it’s denial- but I felt like his word was wrong and that this would not be my ending.

God then whispered: You are going to have a long and happy life.

Me: “I know God; 20 years is a long time. It could have been 6 months left”

God: No Alexis, not only 20 years. You are going to die an old woman. You are going to be married and have children. You’re going to have grandchildren.  You are going to live a long and happy life.”

At the time, I was too stunned to hear or believe God’s words. I delivered the news to my family, friends and coworkers. They were shocked, but encouraging and supportive. Many of them were in disbelief of the news too, and almost all have stated: God is in control and has the ultimate say in all things.

God whispered to me daily to trust Him and His plan. To trust His word. The week after I got the news, I had to fight hard not to give into despair and give up. The enemy was so loud;  reminding me daily of my shortened life and broken dreams. It is so easy to listen to that voice and believe it when you look at reality: cancer, stage four, no cure.  But when you look at things through faith and trusting God- reality means nothing.

Unknown

He spoke to me again at church through my pastor- “The word of man is meaningless; you are going to live a long and happy life.”

And finally, I had peace.

Side note: I am learning to trust what God tells me and not having to rely on the words and prayers of others.  Not that those things aren’t good, but I need to realize I can hear Him clearly and I have to start trusting that I hear Him correctly. Thankfully, God is patient and will give me multiple confirmations of things He’s told me through His word or through others.  It bothers me that it took me hearing it from my pastor to really believe what God was telling me. I am working on that.

Since that meeting with my oncologist, I’ve met my new endocrinologist who confirmed that word from God: the cancer will be controlled by my medication. If I take the right dose of thyroid hormone and my TSH levels are at zero, then the hormone will act like chemo and keep my tumors from growing. She let me know that she has patients who are in their 70’s and 80’s with these tumors and still doing well. They have some symptoms but they are well managed. She didn’t want me to worry about dying from this; she was certain that I would have a long life.

Again, God sweetly confirmed his word.

So now, I am clinging to that word. Once the enemy realized that I fully believed God about my cancer and wasn’t afraid of the what the doctors told me- he was silenced. He may try to bug me in other ways, but my cancer- he doesn’t bring it up. He knows he can’t hurt or discourage me with it. And that my friends, is sweet victory!

So that’s the end of my cancer story for now. I get to live with it, but not be overcome by it.  I look forward to a year filled with new babies, new marriages, new travel adventures and plenty of PTO.

 

I choose love

God prompted me to write. I’m studying 1:Cor 13 and this past week, I focused on verses 4-8. These are my thoughts on it. Hope it makes sense 🙂

We are no match for the gates of Hell, for the sin that resides within us and the evil that seeks to destroy us and everything we hold dear. Alone we can not overcome this darkness. We are hopelessly lost.

The only answer that gives us a fighting chance is LOVE. Jesus is love. Through Him and only Him do we ever have a chance for victory.

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Now love is not easy. It is work, y’all. It takes putting ourselves aside, admitting that we are weak and need a savior. God has revealed that love is one of his biggest weapons. Jesus saved us all with one simple act. Love. He conquered sin and death for us all.  And when we use it, we can conquer anything. We just have to learn how.

So I took a look at 1 Cor 13, because I needed to figure out this “how to really love” thing. Like I mentioned before, it’s hard. Why is it hard?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself. For one, I’m human. And with that comes selfishness, pride, impatience, foot-in-mouth syndrome, and anger. And when I’m  wronged, here come vengeance, walls a ninja can’t even climb and unforgiveness. It’s a mess, but its what you default to when you are human and try to go it alone.

So lets look at 1 Cor 13: 4-8

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends

There’s a lot to love, many things this one word seems to hold. Yet, it was Jesus’ one command to us:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34

I look at that command and think:

“God, I am so human. I want what I want, when I want it and how I want it. How can I possibly follow this? There are days that I remember who I am and that I serve you, but there are days where I forget (or times, like driving on the 41 on my way to work and there’s that one super slow driver….).

Whoops, rabbit trail. Ahem, back on track.

Yet, He calls us to love. It’s a scary thing because we’re human. And better yet, you want us, with all our mess, all our stuff, all our love of self, to join together with another human…with all their stuff and mess and love of self- and call it love.

Wow. Thats an even bigger command. To let worlds collide, very different worlds, and learn to love within them.

So what do we do with all of this? What is our plan?

We have to follow love. It’s the only way to win. It’s the only way to defeat the enemy. It’s like a throat punch to the devil every single time we choose to love. Every time we choose unity over separation, another throat punch.  Pretty soon the devil can’t speak anymore hate and fear into our lives because his throat is swollen shut. That’s an awesome thing.

Every time we lay ourselves down, and choose these things and choose Christ, the enemy reels back in horror. Our love for one another, our willingness to lay ourselves down  and follow Christ terrifies him. And it causes him pain. Doesn’t that just make you happy to know that every time we do this one simple act, to love, it destroys him. The devil, who steals our joy, wants us dead, destroys our families…it is wonderful to know that every time I choose love, it ruins him.

So I choose love. No matter how difficult, how scary or how painful…I choose love.

 

 

To Be Someone

(I finally unpacked all my books, and decided to spend the afternoon reading. I picked up a book, and then this happens. God said “write” So I did. Enjoy.)

It’s just a book.

A book.

A book my sisters dog chewed up on the edges that I couldn’t throw away because I loved it so much.

Thanks, Sammi
Sammi always went after things we loved. For my sister, it was her shoes. For me, my books. Thanks Sammi!

A book that has me unglued and sends a flood of memories. I picked up,

To Be Someone

and got really into the first few chapters, when I realized the last time I read this book:

My mom was alive, I was a week from moving from Sacramento to Fresno for grad school and I was excited FREAKING OUT.

I was so scared and uncertain of my future. Why Fresno? Why did I just leave my job that I was crazy good at to move to a city I’d never dreamed of living in? Also, counseling? REALLY? And finally, college students? I’m supposed to manage a bunch of college students? I’m able to plan groups for 100 psych patients but watch over 600 COLLEGE STUDENTS?! Am I INSANE?! I hate confrontation and to manage people…what on earth was I thinking?!

On top of all this, my mom was still dealing with the after effects of cancer treatment, and here I was, leaving.

Was this really the best time to leave? REALLY?

I remember bawling in my room, my dog Roxci standing by the door watching me cautiously as I sat on my bed. I wanted to get up and tell my mom she was right: Fresno was scary, that I was just going to stay, complete my degree at Sacramento State and turn down the Resident Director job in Fresno.

Yet God had opened every single door imaginable to get me to leave…and I knew I had to go. I’d never had doors open that easily before. EVER. I sat on my bed holding,

To Be Someone

knowing that if I shut this door my life would change drastically. If I gave into my fears now, I’d make a serious mistake. If I let the idea of comfort and the “known” keep me back, I’d have a lot of regrets.

I took a deep breath, wiped my tears and returned to my book. Roxci hopped on my bed after a while, convinced that I no longer had my running shoes on.

It’s amazing what things you are able to recall from something as simple as picking up an old chewed up book. And for the record, despite all that has happened, I am so glad I left.

I remember buying the book,

To Be Someone

on a whim while browsing the discount section at Borders one afternoon. It was 7 bucks, had a girl on the cover with headphones on her ears (practically me everyday) and after a skim of the back cover, I had to buy it. I remember the anticipation and joy of getting home just so I could dive into my new adventure. I loved and still love books. Especially the feel and smell of a brand new book, someone should bottle this and sell it.

Without giving too much away (it’s a great read and wouldn’t want to spoil it in case you decide to pick it up) the story circles around a friendship (Helena and Sam) that was ended by cancer and how the main character, Helena, tries to move on. She makes plans, she goes a little crazy, and she almost gives up.

When I bought this, I had no idea cancer would be the subject of the book. I remember reading

To Be Someone

and facing my own fears about losing my mother.  What would it be like to possibly live on without her? Would I go nuts too? Would I give up?

A month after I moved to Fresno, my mom got the all clear from her doctors that the cancer was gone. I was excited and so relieved. I wouldn’t have to experience the pain of losing someone you loved. I wouldn’t be Helena. My mom, my best friend, my Sam, would be fine. She’d watch me walk at my graduation, she’d walk me down the aisle… she’d be here.

That was my plan.

Clearly plans change, and the unexpected happens. Life takes you down roads you wish you’d never have to go.

As I look down at this book

To Be Someone

I think of the road my life has taken these past seven years. As my road changed unexpectedly, sometimes I would run in fear and often in the wrong direction. It’s amazing how fast you can run when you are scared and when the unknown is way too scary in your mind to face. You remember the cracks and ditches that loss has left in your road and you do everything in your power to avoid getting any more.

After a while, you get tired of running away. You realize that you can’t control everything; roads warp and change with time. You can only avoid so much and you have to start trusting that one who created your road will always be there, no matter how many cracks and ditches form. He’ll fill them.

You learn to walk down your road despite fear and pain, and that I’ve learned, is called courage.

cour·age
ˈkərij/
noun
the ability to do something that frightens one.
“she called on all her courage to face the ordeal”

strength in the face of pain or grief.
“she fought her illness with great courage”

synonyms: bravery, courageousness, pluck, pluckiness, valor, fearlessness, intrepidity, nerve, daring, audacity, boldness, grit, true grit, hardihood, heroism, gallantry; informal: guts, spunk, moxie*, cojones, balls.

*I’ve always loved the word moxie. I want to be a woman with moxie. Tons of it.” 

This past year or so I’ve worked to be someone that holds these traits. To be someone that sees the Jordan ahead of me and can step out into the river knowing that the water will stop. To be someone that feels this:

fear1

but remember this:

joshua

so that I do this:

leapoffaith

To leap and enjoy the unknown. To do it afraid. To be someone, with moxie.

I’m getting there.

Light

I got another blogging assignment from She Reads Truth! Yay. Here goes something 🙂

image

5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

and in his word I hope;

6  my soul waits for the Lord

more than watchmen for the morning,

more than watchmen for the morning.

Psalms 130:5-6

I find myself laying in bed in complete despair. Life is not what it should be. I do not want to get out of bed and face the day. I want to hide in my room, never leaving the comfort of my covers. There has been too much change.  My hope has been shattered. My promises seem broken. Everything in my mind is shouting loudly that all has failed. As I lay in my bed, listening to the roaring negative thoughts in my head, a calm small Voice sneaks in.

“Alexis, things are not what they seem.”

I’m amazed that I can hear this Voice above the negativity roaring in my head. The negative thoughts seem as surprised as I am and they stop at once. This new Voice has my attention.

“Alexis, this year I am going to restore your hope. Take a walk with me, daughter. All of this has a purpose. These changes, these trials are meant for good. Remember last April…’I have heard your prayers and know your promises. I am quickly working over them.  I will bring you so much joy, you will not know what to do with it.’  Continue waiting and trusting, daughter and these promises will be granted to you.”

I allow these words of comfort to sink in. I wipe the tears from my eyes, peel off the warm cocoon of my blankets, and get out of bed.

That was January 1st of this year.

5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

and in his word I hope;

6  my soul waits for the Lord

more than watchmen for the morning,

more than watchmen for the morning.

Waiting on the Lord is not easy. There are so many times I want to throw in the towel, give up and just hide. For a long time, that was my response. I was content in the darkness. I longed for the night. I would flee from the sunrise. The brightness of sun hurt my eyes. It’s brilliant rays hurt my skin. I felt exposed in it’s light. Vulnerable. Hopeless.

5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

and in his word I hope;

6  my soul waits for the Lord

more than watchmen for the morning,

more than watchmen for the morning.

My soul however, longed for more. It craved the light. In the light, I found peace in the loving embrace of a Father. I found hope. Love. Joy. Safety. Forgiveness. All the things I longed for and God wanted to freely give. I just had to learn to trust Him. I had to learn how to wait and find joy in the waiting.

5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

and in his word I hope;

6  my soul waits for the Lord

more than watchmen for the morning,

more than watchmen for the morning.

In the waiting, hoping, trusting,  I’ve built this relationship that I can’t live without. I must spend time with the Lord. Before it seemed like a burden, sadly. Something that I had to do. Now, it’s something that I look forward to. The more of myself that I give, the more He freely gives me. It’s such a gift to have this relationship. To have the love and forgiveness is a beautiful thing. It feels good to let go, put myself aside and just follow the Lord.

5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,

and in his word I hope;

6 my soul waits for the Lord

more than watchmen for the morning,

more than watchmen for the morning.

I’ve come a long way from that dark morning on January 1st. Life ain’t always a bowl of peaches, but as long as I wait on the Lord and remember the love He has for me, it’s easier to hang in for the long haul.

FEAR

I saw After Earth a few weeks ago and actually loved it.

Surprisingly Good.
Surprisingly Good.

I’m usually hesitant when it comes to M Night Shyamalan’s movies (I still haven’t forgiven you for “The Happening”. Plants?! REALLY?!), but it was a free movie ticket from work. I really, really enjoyed it. There were several amazing moments from that movie, but the quote below is one that stuck with me:

“Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.”  Will Smith in After Earth 2013

I love that quote. It applies to so much that is going on in my life at the moment. Fear of the unknown. Fear of the known. Fear of having control. Fear of losing control. Fear of practically everything I can’t see coming. I tell people that I am spontaneous and love to do things without much thought…LIES! I am those things, but I usually have a planned safety net, ripcord for my parachute in case I jump into something really stupid. I always have a plan A, B, C…you get the point.

Like I'd really jump into something without one of these. I may be crazy, but not THAT crazy.
Like I’d really jump into something without one of these. I may be crazy, but not THAT crazy.

But now, things are coming and I honestly can’t see the outcome. I can’t make a plan A, B or C to evade what’s coming without messing up other things. I’m following God’s plan.  It’s a good thing, but it’s caused a lot of anxiety because I am giving up control. My fear issues have become so strong that it had me on my knees at my home church. I was up at the alter, trying to stand, but found myself on the ground literally shaking from it. I felt so paralyzed.  So badly I wanted to cast my fears on Him. So badly I wanted to release my control and hand over everything. Instead, all I managed to squeak out in prayer: “I’m scared.”

God answered right away:

God:  I know you are scared. I need you to breathe. That’s it, deep breath in; deep breath out.

Me: I’m freaking out. I can’t breathe.

God: I know you are. Keep breathing.  Remember, you can be scared, but you have to keep moving despite the fear.

Me: I can’t do this.

God: Yes you can. You can do this. Trust me and let go.

Me: God, I can’t…

God: Do you trust me?

Me: Yes.

God: Let go.

After that conversation, all I could do was be still. You guys, you have no idea how hard it is for me to just be still. My mind races constantly. In that moment, I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think.  I could barely sing. I was just still.

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I was pretty wiped about from that encounter, as well as the epic dance fest at my friends wedding the previous night. I spent the rest of the day relaxing and sleeping. I felt like I was hit by a semi truck.

I talked to God later on that day, informing Him that I do not want to be scared anymore. I refuse to be ruled by  fear. From that conversation, God instructed me to read Hinds Feet on High Places again. It’s an allegory that follows the character Much Afraid, as she makes her way from the Valley of Humiliation to the High Places. Great story. Right now, I really feel like Much Afraid, and God has informed me that I can no longer remain that way.

You can check out this book here.
You can check out this book here.

On Saturday,  I listed out my fears in my journal and laid them before the Lord. There are so many, and almost all of them are things that are coming in the future.  These fears pop in my head on a daily basis and when they do, God reminds me:

“Hey! What did I tell you about worrying about things that have yet to come? Let me handle it. Focus on today.”

Oh boy, I am trying. All I can do is really try.

My best friend and I hung out on Sunday to make God boxes. It was a great chance to just hang out, talk about our lives and be creative.  We will be using these for our prayers, fears, troubles, wishes, hopes, and dreams. Once they go into that box, they are God’s. This is what I ended up with:

You can find out more about God Boxes here.
You can find out more about God Boxes here.

I am ending this with a prayer request. I have a job interview coming up  with the VA home in July that ultimately sends me home. I’ve been praying for this interview since September and well, it’s finally here. It will be right before my vacation, which adds a whole bunch of complications (in my mind anyway), but it is what God has planned. It’s funny that God put it there, because He knew the dates would make me nervous. And He was right! This is the biggest step in my faith/ trust walk with Him and I am going to keep moving.

Thank you all for reading, praying and commenting whenever I post.  Your words are always encouraging to me. I love you all…seriously.

Wait

For the moment (or the past two years, however you want to view it) I have been in a waiting period. I know…(at least I think I know) that it is nearing its end. It is frustrating. I know good things are to come from waiting and it’s supposed to build my faith, but WOW, it is not easy. Not at all.

So, to find encouragement and comfort during this waiting period, I’ve researched verses that discuss waiting on God, and how awesome it is supposed to be.

Here’s what I found, and my responses to those verses:

Isaiah 40:31 ESV

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

This one is pretty encouraging. However, I am having a tough time feeling any of these things right now. I’m pretty worn out. And when I do have strength, it’s more Hulk- like because I feel all kinds of frustrated right now. And (checks back)… I don’t see any eagles wings.  I know this is  just me wanting what I want when I want it. I’m trying to view the outcome of my waiting period in a positive light, with all the things listed in this verse, but right now…just not there yet.

This is how I kinda feel right now...
This is how I kinda feel right now…

Moving on…

2 Peter 3:9 ESV

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

When reading this one, my first response was:

“God is not slow to fulfill his promises, REALLY!?”

but then I remembered God’s idea of slow and my idea of slow are completely different. I know that God is taking his time for a reason, and things are not ready just yet. If I got what I wanted right now, it might get all screwed up. This one also reminded me to work on patience, which is not my strong suit AT ALL.  God is so patient with me, he’s heard my doubts and the same begging prayer OVER AND OVER again, yet he still puts up with me. Feeling a little better now…moving on to the next one.

James 5:11 ESV

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

I really like James, it’s a great book. For the longest time, I referred to James 1:2-4  when I felt discouraged:

2Count it all joy, my brothers  when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

I need to start referring to it again. I know in the end that I will come out better than I started. This is the biggest test of my faith that I have ever experienced (well, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but it sure feels like it!). I know that in the end all the waiting will make sense.

So back to James 5:11…

If you have read the book of Job, you know he went through some horrid stuff. He basically lost everything. Job’s trial is something I hope to never go through. EVER.

The cool thing about Job though is that he stayed true to God through all of it. He lost his family, possessions and his friends were bringing him down and he remained true to God. It’s amazing. I’m not sure I’d have that strength, I want to have it, but I am not sure that I would have behaved as Job in his situation. God blessed him big time in the end because he held on to his faith.

The Lord is compassionate and merciful. He’s not going to give me more than I can handle. When I feel like I am running out of strength, when I feel weary, by coming to him, he’ll give me renewed strength and hope. I just have to trust him and know that he will fulfill his promises. The reward will be awesome in the end. AWESOME.

Side note: You know, this blog started out as a way to vent my frustrations, and now I am actually feeling better looking up all these verses and writing on them. I think I tricked myself, HA!  I should have done this sooner. Duh!  Let’s see what else there is about waiting…

Romans 5:3-4 ESV

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

This is a cool one. It’s hard to be thankful for a trial. Really hard. I don’t know about you, but when I am upset, being thankful for it is really hard to do. Usually I focus on how to stop those feelings, so I can feel better and not get all stabby, stabby.

When I look back at this verse, suffering and trials produce a lot of good things.

I decided to look up the formal definition of endurance to truly understand what it means. Endurance (also called SufferanceStaminaResilience) is the ability of an organism to exert itself and remain active for a long period of time, as well as its ability to resist, withstand, recover from, and have immunity to trauma, wounds, or fatigue.

I want to be able to withstand uncomfortable situations for a long period of time, (heck, I am kinda doing that now). When you are able to endure, you can withstand anything. Look at all the cool things you get when you can endure. (See above definition). From what I read, you basically become superman. Or Iron Man. Or Captain America. Or whichever superhero you want to be…

I know he's angry...but I love him.
I know he’s angry…but I love him.

In all seriousness though, it’s not good to cut and run once things get tough. I have to admit, that is my approach to a lot of things.

“This hurts…I’m done.”

“Things aren’t going my way…time for something new.”

“You hurt me…we’re over”

“Why is this taking so long? Time to take control!”

These aren’t exactly good qualities to have, not to mention a serious character flaw. But if I learn to endure I can change these negative character traits into patience, humility, grace and submission.

With those traits, it builds hope.  Hope is such a great thing to have, and right now I feel it waning because I am giving into doubt. I need to remember: Hope hulk-smashes doubt.

Like a boss
Like a boss

Psalm 130:5-6 ESV

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning, more than watchmen for the morning.

I love this verse because it deals with hope. Someone described hope to me as this:

“Hope is waiting for the sun to rise.”

You know its going to happen because it happens everyday. It’s something you can count on. It won’t let you down.

And when the sun rises…it’s so beautiful.

sun.

It’s a reminded of a new day, a new start. Darkness flees, yesterday is gone. Our past sins and failures leave us behind. With each day there is renewed hope, an answer to a promise.

Soon the sun will rise on my promises and the things that I desire in my heart. All the waiting will be worth it, because the outcome will be amazing and a testimony of how much God loves me.

Being honest

Dear God,

I realized today that I am really, really angry with you. I know you’ve known this as I’ve tried to give you the cold shoulder for the past year, but now I am past that. I’m coming right out and saying it: I’M REALLY MAD AT YOU.

I also don’t trust you. There. It’s out there now. I’ve admitted to myself, to everyone, that I don’t trust you.

This makes it hard to love you. To be totally and completely sold out to you.  When there are anger and trust issues present, love is a difficult thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love you. I can’t live without you. But loving you is no easy task.

Sometimes I feel like the kid who’s told to go to bed early.

My anger  and lack of trust stems from my plans never really matching up with your plans. You think I’m strong enough to be without my mom; I think you overestimate my ability to handle it.  You think I can grow without my home church; I think I’m not strong enough.  I want to leave Arizona; you want me to stay. You want me to get ready for a relationship; I really don’t know how to do that. You want me to find my voice; I still don’t know where to look for it.  You want me to be light in a place of darkness; I don’t even know how to turn the light on.

You keep pruning me, watering me and trying to make me grow. Of course, I protest:

“I’m getting growing pains, Lord. STOP IT!!!”

” Isn’t there a hibernation period for your plants? Don’t they have semi-annual, annual, perennial? Can I be one of those? Please?! ”

“I’m totally fine with that wonky leaf hanging off my branch.I like the color yellow. Leave it alone; it’ll turn green someday.”

Yet you ignore me and keep doing what you do. You keep clipping, shaping and watering. I yell at you, and you listen, but the pruning continues. I cry uncle and say enough is enough, but you keep adding more. And this Lord, is why I am angry with you, having a hard time trusting you and even a harder time loving you.

So now that I’ve laid out all my issues with you; what’s next? How do I overcome these issues that I know are present? How do I  follow, trust and love without protest?

I know the verses:

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

Deuteronomy 6:5- Love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength. 

And of course the one I struggle with the most:

Proverbs 3:5-6- Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Seek him in all you do and he will direct your paths.

I know the verses. I have these memorized. I know what I you say to do. Why the heck is it so hard to default to those three verses? Why do I protest? Why can’t I submit? Why do I respond out of anger; why can’t I accept the trials you give me with love?

And the biggest question of all: Why do you continue to put up with me?