Wednesday, April 16, 2014

deserved recognition

"You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia,and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it. I was glad when Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus arrived, because they have supplied what was lacking from you. For they refreshed my spirit and yours also. Such men deserve recognition."   1 Corinthians 16:15-18

There is something special about a person who can come in and be a breath of fresh air for you.  
My friend, Janis, did this for me in college.  You can read about her here.  Miss her.  Still.
A group of people one summer who took me in as one of their own blessed me with an unexpected gift.  They are dear friends still to this day.  
Sometimes people come from your past into your present as I wrote about in this post.  
But then, once I start naming names, I consider all who remain unnamed and wonder if it is such a good idea.  I love, appreciate, and thank everyone who has refreshed my spirit no more or less than those who have been named thus far in a post.  
Sometimes, though, a person comes along during a certain time in life and you know without a doubt that she/he/they were meant to cross paths with you.  They were sent for you.  Or you were sent for them.  Perhaps both.  And it's worth talking about because it is a story of God's perfect plan and provision.
Like my nurse during radiation therapy.
(Just as a forethought, there was nothing therapeutic about radiation, not in the sense that I like to think of therapy, anyway.)  I know...random.
Radiation was the beginning of the end of my cancer treatment.  One final step to reach the goal.  It, by far, was the most difficult for me out of everything I had to endure from October 16th until March 11th.  You can find my beginning moments in "weak but strong". The middle and ending moments of radiation were not easy either.  But there were blessings to be found along the journey.
Jennie was the first person I met during radiation.  Her smiling face, friendly demeanor, they were a comfort.  She talked of normal life things.  Bringing my mind other things to think about while sitting in that room was a huge blessing.  Sharing with me her story, her life, it made me feel something like what I remembered "normal" to be like for myself. Always with the assurance that I will find myself again.  (I have as I shared a few weeks back.)
I met with Jennie every Monday.  Those Mondays were the highlights of every week.  For a few minutes at the beginning of each week, I felt peace.  There was a sense of longing, though, that remained in me that she would get to meet the real me.  The me she met with was so out of character, I was confused to who I was any longer myself.  Jennie always asked the hard questions.  I answered them as best I could.  She pressed, consoled, encouraged.  I needed it all.  
One Monday, not even halfway through my six weeks and two days (due to Snowpocalypse and Icemaggedon) she asked how I was and I flat out lied.  (Sorry, Jennie!!!)
I said I was okay.  
I was anything but okay.  
Really.
The very next day I told myself that if she was sitting at her desk, not on the phone, I would ask to speak with her after my treatment.  Part of me so wanted her to not be there because I did not want my weakness to become known.  Part of me so desperately wanted her to be there because I was falling apart and fast.
She was there.  
Not on the phone.  
I asked.  
She made time for me.  
I fell apart in a safe place, in good company.  
For the first time in weeks, I really believed I would be okay again.
She (and my radiation oncologist) gave me a soft place to fall and help to get back up on my feet again.  Her encouragement and insight were so needed.
I am forever grateful.
We met up again for my three week checkup after my last treatment.  It was a joy to catch up!  
Thank you, Jennie, for refreshing my spirit each day we met and others inbetween.  Know I so appreciate what you do and how you go about doing it, even when the days are long and the stories are so many.  For this, you deserve recognition here.  I am blessed to call you a friend.

Friday, April 4, 2014

made new

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, 
to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 
to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, 
created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.  
Ephesians 4:22-24
I have been given relief this week.
An "a-ha" moment, of sorts, has given me freedom to let go of the search for the former me prior to October 16th, 2013.
God spoke to my spirit through the morning show on our local Christian radio station.  It is difficult to explain it, but for whatever reason, I needed to be made new.  God can and does use all things for His glory and our good.  Even cancer.
It is found in the verse above and in Revelation 21:5...
Then the One seated on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new.” 
He also said, “Write, because these words are faithful and true.”
Yes, I know these verses speak of salvation through Jesus Christ.  We do become a new creation when Jesus is Lord of our life.  We are made new in Him and His righteousness. This newness does not have to begin and end with salvation.  As we mature in our walk with Christ, things are revealed to us and in us that we need to put behind us with God's help, His forgiveness, and/or His healing.
God carried me through a cancer diagnosis, surgery, and radiation therapy in order for me to be made new.  For His glory.  For my good.  I am not the same person.  If for no other reason, I believe He has given me story to be shared with others.  An experience that will help someone else down the road to endure their own.  A new understanding.  A new empathy.  A new perspective.  
Gone now is the desire for my old self.  In its place lies a kindled fire to find the path for this new self.  Another verse that makes more sense to me is Mark 2:22:
“No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment. Otherwise, the new piece will pull away from the old, making the tear worse. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.”
I am new.  So are the things that I will do.  Matched together by a God who was, and is, and is to come.  He knows the former and the future.  He knows me and how I fit into both.  He knows me and yet uses me.  An amazing God changes me to make me more like Him.  A forgiving God who uses an imperfect person as myself to further His Kingdom.  That is only something God can do.  
A new self needs a new path.  
No more searching behind me, only ahead.
What a relief!