Dear praying friends and family,
Last treatment! It’s time for my happy dance, right? Yes – and surprisingly – no.
While I’m excited to check chemo off my battle plan, I’m also acutely aware that today’s treatment is the final “ground troop” assault on microscopic, systemic cancer – and it’s critical to wipe out any hidden enemy cancer cells – now or never. More on that in Part 4: Lifelong Prognosis.
Big time facing the facts! At my appointment tonight, Dr. B found a lump at the surgical site. It could be fluid – or cancer. Ultrasound tomorrow. I need your help through prayer – however, my hope is not in you praying enough! My hope is in God alone – and He says to pray. I believe God.
Wow! What a real time example of “practicing what I preach” – when fear can present itself as bigger than God. So, at this moment, I lift my shield of faith and remember “But God…”
- Loves me
- Will use all things for good
- Has made me more than a conqueror
- Will fulfill His purpose for me
- Will graciously give me all things
- Is faithful
- Will remember me
- Is a friend who sticks closer than a brother
- Says “Do not fear.” “I’m preparing a place for you.”
- Has overcome death
Forever Side Effects: Then and Now
As Promised: “But God” Wrestling
Facing the Facts
I’m experiencing some temporary, increasing side effects from friendly fire -I’m tried- heading into today’s treatment at about 50% bounce back.
Side effects range from mild, short-term, bothersome to potentially serious, life-long, fearsome.
Whether short-term bothersome or life-long fearsome, they are the uber-uch of chemo. Imagine those park-setting, beautiful life, drug commercials – followed by nightmarish whispered warnings, “side effects may include…” and we wonder: Who would risk it? I do. Seriously laughable. More on that in Part 4: Lifelong Prognosis.
Even fatal friendly-fire side effects are temporary.
But God intends forever side effects – for my good and His glory!
For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18
Photobombs: Uglify or Beautify?
Facing the facts apart from faith uglifies. Fear, anger, and unbelief photobomb the beautiful picture God wants me to see (and share!)
Forever Side Effects -Breast Cancer #1
Everything in me wants to flashback to Breast Cancer #1 and share my “But God…” stories.
Everything changes when faith (“But God…”) photobombs every picture. We see God’s glory. Beautiful.
Someday I will flashback and declare God’s faithfulness through Breast Cancer #1 stories. For now, a brief list.
- He is worthy of my trust. Let Him do something good with this.
- Prepare the horse for battle, but victory rests in the LORD.
- Sweet intimacy with Jesus through suffering – and afterwards.
- Life is short. Live with eternity in mind. Heart of wisdom.
- Bad things happen – not because He doesn’t love me or because I’m not good enough.
- Because He loves me and I’m called to His purposes, He promises to use it all (even cancer at 23) for good.
- Sometimes He shows His power through sparing us from suffering and sometimes by sustaining us through suffering.
- With God all things are possible. Prayer is real help. Powerful. Really.
Remembering God’s past faithfulness has strengthened me to trust Him through Breast Cancer #2.
Facing the Facts: And I am oh-so-average! Unbelief – mostly looking like fear – attempts to photobomb many of my life photos – thoughts and actions.
But God: He is changing me. Although Unbelief pops in, I’m quicker to notice his unglifying presence, and I shoo Him out and invite God’s beautifying Truth and Power into the picture, instead.
What is photobombing your life photos?
Uglifying Unbelief or Beautifying “But God?”
More and more, let’s face the facts without wavering in unbelief. Instead, let’s strengthen in faith and give glory to God, fully persuaded that God has power to do what He has promised. (From Romans 4:19-21)
Forever Side Effects -Breast Cancer #2
Although Forever Side Effects include knowing God alone as my Rest, Hope, Refuge, and Shield – all with love stories to tell – I’ve been looking forward to telling the “Dearly Loved” story.
You are holy and dearly loved. Colossians 3:12
Nearly 29 years ago, Breast Cancer #1, just diagnosed, sobbing on my bed, crying out to God: “You are not a Good Shepherd. Good Shepherds don’t let 23 year old, just married brides get breast cancer! You must not love me.”
God met me there – in my tears (accusing Him!) – with a question. Have you noticed God often responds with a good question? It’s a story worth telling – another time.
The point is, He knows I might interpret another breast cancer diagnosis with “You must not love me.”
Flash-forward 28 years, summer 2015:
God asked me to host a Bible study and invite a now-treasured, beautiful ragamuffin group of women – all ages. At the time, each woman knew one or two other women – some were strangers to me. So weird!
Too many times I’ve said “no” to God when His invitations didn’t make sense to me – BIG mistake! Lesson learned (mostly!). I said yes, and He blessed in ways I could never have asked or imagined!
Fourteen women gathered on our sweet-fellowship-much-answered-prayer denim couch, curious to discover how God sets us free. (Breaking Free, Beth Moore)
Summer 2015, and for some time before that, I wasn’t really hearing personally from God.
What I mean by that: Although I spent time daily praying, listening, reading the Bible, – basking in His presence, love, and truth, and benefiting from that – I hadn’t experienced God interrupting my “Quiet Time” with words personally for me. You know when He interrupts the routine with a thunder whisper and He’s breathing on you?
What?? That doesn’t fit the lesson!
Week 2, Day 1 homework of Breaking Free application question:
After all this time I was surprised – and sort of disappointed – with “You are dearly loved.” I wasn’t feeling unloved. Wasn’t there something more practical to know and believe Him for – more fitting with the lesson? (Imagine! Who am I? Yikes!)
But God knew!
Four months later, after 28 years cancer-free, I’d face my 2nd breast cancer diagnosis, and I might be tempted to let the lie “unloved” photobomb the facts.
During the entire Bible study and the months to follow, God proved “dearly loved” again and again: Through helping us with your prayers (and tender words, yummy meals, and thoughtful gifts) and through my Molly Maids deep cleaning! (The story I’ve been winding up to tell!)
- “I don’t cook, but I clean! Why don’t you let me come clean your house? – Heather, beloved mommy from The Greenhouse
- “I’m happy to come clean! I think Sabrina and Carol would help, too.” -Misty, forever friend
- “Why don’t you let us pay for housecleaning?” -Mom and Dad, the most generous people I know
Facing the Facts: My Filth
Yikes! If someone cleans my house they will see all my filth. They will know what stays mostly hidden behind my fairly tidy and comfortable home. They will be repulsed by me.
Housecleaning is – well, intimate; however, my fatigue won over my fear. Safer to start with Molly Maids. They can handle the super filth – the hard to get at and easy to avoid dirt that hasn’t been touched in years.
The Deep Clean
First the free estimate. The boss tours my house and gently hits me with the cost of the deep clean. $!$!$!
Monday, they come to clean. I go to school, leaving the cleaning girls a note to thank them for helping me, explaining my need, and a gift – hoping they won’t be repulsed by the filth – my filth I need them to clean for me.
Home from school, I walk in on Victoria and Maria scrubbing my kitchen and handling every item on my living room shelves – handling gently, cleaning both inside and outside. I’m embarrassed. They are touching everything in our home. They see me – all that’s treasured and beautiful and all the deep-down-hidden ugliness. All of it.
Five hours later, they’re done. Five hours, two people- that’s a DEEP CLEAN!
But God!: “Dearly Loved” photobombs Breast Cancer #2.
Maria knocks on my bedroom door – I’ve been resting; they’ve been cleaning. In broken English she asks me to sign something, then – to my surprise – she hugs me, tight, holding on. And I’m undone. Tears.
In Every Language
We don’t speak the same language – yet we do.
A bald head, covered by a cute hat, means the same in many languages.
And we suffer in every language – some less visibly than cancer, some less able to hide under a cute hat.
And we all have hidden filth. Filth we can’t imagine anyone seeing, yet alone touching and cleaning inside and out.
And this is the gospel.
I expected Maria to be repulsed by my filth, but instead she embraced me and held tight. She seemed to know me – deeply – and love me. Intimacy – after I invited her in, she saw the treasures and the trash , and she cleaned the filth.
Jesus is the same.
Facing the Facts: Many of us often excuse, justify, hide, or compare our filth, allowing shame and self-righteousness to photobomb our lives.
But God!: Confess. Jesus is not repulsed. He loves us! How about letting forgiveness photobomb every life photo?
But if we confess our sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong. And it is perfectly proper for God to do this for us because Christ died to wash away our sins. 1 John 1:9 (TLB)
If you’ve never really understood Jesus – our need for forgiveness, our need for the cross – but have read this far – I suspect He has your attention.
But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! Romans 5:8
Facing the Facts: Our filth, whether admitted ugliness or pretentious self-righteousness, separates us from a right, loving, relationship with God. We can’t clean our own filth – not clean enough to be right with God.
But God!: Jesus came to cleanse our sin – to make us right with God – to restore a loving relationship. Only the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. He loves us. He’s not repulsed by all our dirt. Just like Maria, He’s seen it all, cleans it all, and hugs us tight.
Thanking God for you! And praying we know we are dearly loved– more and more.
Love, Becky (His.Princess.Warrior.)
(Who, by faith, is believing I am dearly loved and trusting that God’s powerful truth will begin photobombing all the snapshots of our lives!)
May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love. Ephesians 3:17