Thursday, October 28, 2010

Israel, our deeper selves

Beth Moore hit me with a 2x4. AGAIN. She's good like that. She was teaching us about names and their importance to our lives- or at least the importance they used to have in old testament times. I do not know what my name should be, but I know what it means: It means victorious, victor.
I am not going to say what you think! This one is so old and buried that it frightened me.
I am victorious. I had an honest fight with myself and God. I won it only a short time ago. It was a fight about who I am. It was a fight about forgiveness and acceptance. It was a fight about the past. And do you know that he delivered me.
My name could have been Jacob. It means deceiver and cheater. But it could have been my name many years ago. Circumstances made it so. Choices made to me and for me made it so. Choices I made made it so. But a Jacob I have been. Jacob happened because of a moment of crisis and many years of self worth issues and perhaps self loathing. But Victoria was my birth name, and Victoria is who I ended up being.
The fight was so much longer than it needed to be. Once I let God find me and take ahold of me I realized what a fight I had ahead of me. I knew who I wanted to be, and that did not include guilt ridden and unforgiven. Beth's quote was 'God can break your legs or you can get on your knees'. That just cracked me up. If we would just give in and BEND he would heal us, he would bless us. But we just love a good fight- hanging on with all our might to what we really think we need or want from any given person or situation. Fighting tooth and nail to be proven right, righteous, guiltless. Just because we don't want to admit our part in our downfall or our sin. Pulling hair, kicking and screaming, clawing our way to the top we believe is for us.
We can live lives of lies. And that is what I did. I believed a lie, told to me as a teen. I believed it and because I believed it I acted the part. It was not a part created for me, but I surely did a bang up job performing. I was continuously trying to be what I knew I wanted for myself but continued to fall back into believing the lie. It's trying to do that which I know I should but continuing to do the thing I don't want to. That lie. That lie led me into the hands of God. Twenty years later-after cancer later- I finally gave up the fight. God let some things happen and in that process I was able to heal because truth was given to me- and proof of that truth was shown to me. The person who told me the lies became a christian many years ago. Huh. Now what. Can't hate anymore. Can't not forgive anymore. So I forgave, and told them so. And the freedom that came with that was the blessing God had been trying to give me for years.
Honest appraisal? I was full of unforgiveness and insecurity
Honest fight? a stronghold of insecurity can keep us from fighting the good fight, having an honest conflict.
Honest blessing? In every struggle do not let go until the blessing comes.
Honest name? Jacob for a time, Victoria now. Israel is my deeper self.
Beth continues to say God will touch our injury in order for us to be healed. Sometimes he has to hurt us to get us to submit so he can bless us. Oh why can't we just submit?
Oh that forgiveness were always easy. You would think that after such an awesome blessing forgiveness would come naturally. Not so much.
But, I am working on being Israel, Victoria. I am a child of God. Even now....

Friday, July 30, 2010

Proverbs 1:32-33

'For the waywardness of the simple will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them, but whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.' Proverbs 1:32-33

Listening. It takes time to listen to people, to listen to our friends stories of life and kids and family. It all takes time. Time we spend with friends and family are important. Time with our children and their sporting events or dance or whatever they are into is so very important. Time at the church serving is important. Time. So often we spend it doing and doing and doing. In and of itself is not bad of course. I wonder tho if we were doing with God being our guide if all that time we spend doing would become doing for God.
I keep warning, myself included, that if we continue to refuse to spend time doing for God our doing is in vain. It takes much time to hear God. Not only does it take time it takes effort and reading and learning and studying. It takes conversations with people of faith to sharpen our skills in communicating what it is we do believe. What if what we did we did with a purpose that included something for God. What if each baseball tournament I went to I talked about how I love my church and why, how God is who I try to follow and how sometimes I just fall on my face in failure. What if our business is really supposed to be a ministry tool for these families we do funeral DVD's for. I have thought about that one quite a bit. Use it as a ministry so God can be glorified. But just being your sweet and compassionate self is just not enough. People can be sweet and compassionate and not have God in their life. How do I say what is in my heart?
Listen: to what God has to say about that. Hard to do when I am constantly on the go. I seem to be continually smacked in the face with that one. Busy is something I do thrive on- no big secret there. But it isn't helping me to focus on God. I would think that after all that has happened in the last 2 years I would have a handle on that one. I had nothing but time while I was fighting cancer. Lots of time to learn some lessons God had for me. And one of them was the verse above; that if I listen to God I will live in safety and be at ease, living without fear. And it worked! I had much time to spend with God- to spend time WITH God. I had time for processing and really learning life changing concepts. Some as simple as no matter what cancer has in store for me it cannot take away what God has in store for me. I mean my goodness, God had me speaking in front of people, sharing my story, sharing His story in me. That's a big deal.
Having cancer changes a person. Physically, I am not the same. I am not as scared to speak my mind. I am going to do all I can to keep up with the kids. I may be busy, but it is a different busy. Baseball and family and friend busy. Not wasting time busy. Busy building the business-trying to make it a ministry too. Busy avoiding thoughts of the fear of recurrence or metastasis. That is perhaps when busy should stop so time to heal and think and listen can occur.
It isn't so much about living without harm. I mean disease is harmful. But living by listening so I can have some peace about my health- whether good or bad. So I can still be at ease with the life that has been chosen for me to live. The harm comes when I go against what God wants me to do. Harm to my soul, to my witness. Of that harm I could become fearful. So listening to what God has to say to me seems to be pretty important- safety, ease and no fear of harm. It just seems easier to focus on that when you are in a bad spot, in a desert region. When life is smoothly following a steady path it is so much more difficult to hear what it is God is saying and wanting us to do.
So I am going to try to listen, so I can live in safety and at ease and without fear of harm. The key is knowing safety and ease can come to us even in those times of trial and desert walking.
Face the desert with open ears.
Face the normal day with open ears.
Then let your heart follow.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Too much talky talky

I learned something today. A hard something. Here's the verse:
Prov 17:9 He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
Yeah, tough one right. This is so hard to practice, but it gets a lot of practice because no one is good at it!! There are some things I am very good at not repeating, of covering out of love for someone else. But then there are those things that are said that I don't even think about as improper to talk about. Yikes. I've really been working on going to the person who is the topic of conversation when something is said that could be harmful. But I am no where near being good at it yet. When I think about talking with people I realize that so many conversations are about others. Why do we do that? Why do I do that? I know much of it is based out of compassion and genuine concern but still, why?
I know as women we are relationally based, we live for relationships, for caring for others, for compassion and companionship. I wonder how often we are repeating matters that could cause a friendship to suffer.
Does that mean we can't seek counsel from others? I don't think so. I think it means we have to be very careful with whom we seek that counsel. Sometimes our best counsel is someone not so close to us, someone who can see the situation more clearly. Sometimes we should seek someone we know has gone thru a similar situation for their counsel. Sometimes out of the blue someone will seek us to give us counsel. That is always so weird!! How do people know? How do people know when we are struggling? Because it shows. It shows on our face, in where we sit, in who we are sitting with or not sitting with, in our tears during worship songs. It shows because sometimes people are really good at watching others and seeing the signs of stress. It shows because sometimes God wants us to step out of our boxes and seek the counsel, or seek to be the counsel to someone.
So cover the offenses so you are showing love, and don't repeat what you are told in confidence because you could ruin a friendship- yours or someone you love. Be someone who is good at counsel and keeping information confidential. Strive for excellence.
That is what I learned today. It's going to be hard striving for that excellence, but I'm gonna strive- and fail, and succeed. Wish me luck! I wish you luck, too.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

To Gods heart be true

To man belong the plans of the heart, but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue PR 16:1
In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. PR 16:9
Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails. PR 19:21
He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is kept safe. PR28:26
When the wicked thrive, so does sin, but the righteous will see their downfall. PR 29:16

So clearly we can have many ideas ourselves, we can plan the course to fulfill our ideas. We can even keep them in our hearts, and then when we trust the plans we've made we become fools. If however, we take those plans God will give us the words needed, determine our steps, and make it his purpose so it can prevail. We are kept safe when we walk in wisdom.
Finding that wisdom is a whole journey in itself. The verse that is getting me is this: Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails.

Our wicked hearts and the plans they make. We can quietly make plans in our hearts and keep them to ourselves. We can make plans for other peoples hearts, surely loosing to their own plans. But when we learn to line up our plans with what God has to say those plans can and will be successful. When God is given control of our dreams it means we no longer have to work so hard at figuring out what to do. Simply stated, the plans we need to make are plans to follow the dreams God has given to us and listening for his voice during the process of identifying the dream.

When the wicked thrive, so does sin, but the righteous will see their downfall. Anyone? Is anyone watching someone thrive in their sin- even seem to be doing well because of it? Right now I am clinging to that promise that we will get to see them fall. Not that I want them to fall, but then we get to help pick up all their pieces.

Pieces of us. We have all had someone who was there to pick up after our fall. I am so thankful God allows us to try again, that he will glue us back together, stronger than we were before, smarter, more usable, more real, more like Christ, because of the falls.

I have this piece that keeps falling. Its the independence piece of me. It is so stubborn and strong it won't even stay where it is supposed to. I get going on a project or whatever and somehow, each time, miss a something special that should have been for my hubby. My piece forgets to completely think things thru sometimes. So I guess it is in the excitement of the service that I 'fall' apart. Yeah, that sums it up pretty well.

So I continue to work on staying in one place, not so many at a time. It's super hard for me. So if I say no- well know you'll know why.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Grenades

Our sermon in church this week was amazing. We heard a story of a hero. A soldier in Iraq that died for his unit while doing house to house checks. He was shot at one house, as were some of his buddies. The shot did not kill him. While the shoot out was happening a grenade was thrown by the enemy and it landed by this man. He reached for the grenade and tucked it under himself by his heart. He knew he would save many yet loose his own life. He had great honor and commitment to his unit. He had also just become a Christian, being baptized in a hole filled with water. He was learning about Christ's love for him, learning about the price Jesus paid for our sins. And he obeyed the ultimate command, to love others as Christ loves you: to do for others what you would want done for you.
We have grenades launched at us all day everyday. Some of them are really big, some just small annoyances. We just take those grenades, hold them close to our hearts so that the ones we love may be spared. Isn't that what we do as women? We always want to take care of others. Soldiers for our families and friends. Its important for us to handle our grenades carefully. We have to be sure we handle them the way others would handle them for us. Have you ever had the privilege of doing for someone else? Isn't it just the greatest to be a blessing for someone else? I wonder what God had to say to that soldier in Iraq. For sure Well done Good and Faithful servant. How proud God must have been at the mans bravery and most importantly his selflessness.
It is amazing to have the chance to be selfless. To give money or things to others in need. To bring meals to others. To bring up our children to love God. To serve the church, Jesus, in our everyday life. Grenades: speeding tickets, school projects, bullies, illness, headaches, family strife, financial issues, job loss, job change, moving, staying, death, broken hearts... So many for us to catch. So many for us to handle. I hope we continue to learn to give the grenades to our Father. He can take the explosion for us. I hope we can learn to tuck the grenade in to our hearts so God can take it. He holds our hearts, therefore he holds the grenades as well. So tuck them away my friends. Hold them close knowing that who you are protecting is who God wants you to protect. Knowing that who you are loving in spite of or because of the grenade is who God wants you to love. Earn your hero status by letting God be your hero. Because we will never be good enough. We can only be humble enough to take our gift of life from God and to live our lives as he would want. So live this life. Serve. Love. Handle Grenades with care....

Thursday, May 20, 2010

God IS GOOD

So many things to say today. After such a good report from my oncologist I just go to thinking about how good God is.
And that is where my problem begins: God is good.
I received the study drug, extended version. Very good news since it shows a good correlation of a lower rate of recurrence basically. So my comment, my thoughts were God is so good. When faced with the decision to be in a trial we jumped at the chance. But at that moment of facing cancer and that battle I just couldn't handle worrying about whether or not I was getting the trial drug. I plainly said to God- hey you've got this one. I cannot think of another thing. You work it out to way you want it- either I get it or I don't.
So the question is: how would I feel if I found out today that I wasn't receiving the drug? We always thought I was based on certain side effects, but never knew for certain. I was scared to find out for certain. I am sure that had nothing to do with the fact that when I signed in they gave me papers for an Advanced Directive. Um, seriously? Followed by the paper stating the study was complete and I could ask my Doctor if I was in the study. I was the only one of his patients that was. WHY??
God? Of course. But does that mean the other ladies didn't have God? Doubtful. If I found out I had received the placebo would I still be saying God is so good? Is God bad when people aren't in the study?
I've decided I would (eventually). Why you ask. Well because God IS GOOD. That is who He is. He can't even think bad let alone act badly. So since he is good even my not receiving the study drug would be ok. Recurrence would be ok. And it would. Because there would be some reason that God wanted me back in that place. Of course I don't know what that reason would be, but that is just sometimes not for us to know.
I think God just treated me with extra grace- his specialty. For that there are really no words. I've been humbled so many times during this process. Thankfully God just gives out his grace to us at every turn- even the bad turns.
Life is moving from one normal to the next normal. We will never get to just stay in that one happy moment. We just won't. Life is hard. Life is unfair to all. We all have a thing. And recovery from that thing is accepting the new normal. So maybe we go from normal to the new normal to the next new normal. Constant change for an unchanging and every powerful God who loves us. If we don't change, we'll miss Him. So I'm heading for that new normal and I know plenty of people heading that direction as well. Me? I'm just trying to find the balance between remembering that cancer is a part of my life and I can't busy my way out of it. So some sense of slowness is coming around my corner.
So cancer- you do not have power over me. You are just another avenue to prove God is real and true and loving, no matter what the future results might be.
God is GOOD- even if I get cancer again.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Still Blooming

It is strange how a song can change your perspective. I've written about this song before, "My faith is in Bloom" by Aron Kirk, our beloved and talented worship minister. I went back to the meaning of that song because of an upcoming worship session.
I realized that my faith is still in bloom. I realized that the blooming was not about the cancer, but about faith. There is a part of me that wonders if cancer happened to get my attention focused on what God had in store for me. I say that because my journey was not really about dealing with cancer. It was about having faith in the middle of a crisis, of pain and suffering.
Blooming is about letting those seeds of suffering become something beautiful. Blooming is about letting God have control over the suffering as he has control over nature and the flowers that bloom. We are ultimately created for his happiness. For His happiness. We make him happy. How much happier he must be when we show the love that he has for us and for others during our suffering.
It's like this. First a seed gets thrown into the ground a covered with soil. What we don't see is that the soil has the nutrients the seed needs in order to grow. Add the sunshine and the rain and you've got the perfect recipe for a beautiful flower.
We are that seed, thrown into this world (soil). Our soil has the nutrients we need: relationship with God. He nurtures our soul, infiltrates it with the SON and the water needed for our growth. We can only blossom if we grow. We can only grow if we have experiences to learn from. And those experiences that we learn the most from include suffering.
We are promised as Christians that we will suffer. It is a part of the fall, a promise made and kept since time began. Jesus loved us enough to suffer the most excruciating death. Not only the pain of the nails and the weight of his body, but the very real pain of our sin.
If Jesus suffered we should expect the same. But Jesus is the fullest bloom we could ever see- like an amaryllis. He blooms with the love of God-as man, spirit and God. We are mere clovers, constantly mowed down or eaten by the animals, always covered by the shadow of our beautiful Lord.
Let his shadow cover you. Let his shadow hover over you and lead you on your path of life changing blossoms.
I don't want cancer to be my story. My story is so much more than that. It is about a faith I didn't know existed-one that has changed every song I hear, every sermon spoken into a personal message from God. Words have become a part of the nutrients I need to bloom. They are life giving and life changing. They come from God in the form of song, thought, and action. They come from a renewed interest and thirst for bible study. Words are so much more than they used to be. They are full of messages from the SON that shines down on my seeds of suffering to cheer me on to a beautiful bloom.
And together what a beautiful garden we are- my family, friends and church family. A blossom farm, awaiting the great harvest.
Bloom with me, and I'll meet you at the harvest party.
With love,
Vicki