Just to be transparent with you, I am in a different season right now fraught with change and uncertainty and letting go. That’s why I haven’t written in a while.
In this life our journeys take a turn that sometimes come out of nowhere, it seems, and knocks us out for a while. I am starting to very slowly see through the veil that this is another lesson, another level, a gateway into a deeper level with Jesus. Though I feel the breath has been knocked out of me and I am very tired I know from my spirit that Jesus walks this valley with me.
And, yes, I will write more about my story soon.
Which brings me to Lori’s story. I have known Lori for about 30 years. I have watched her and admired her devotion to family and motherhood and God. I knew her Dad, a mighty man of God, and loved him very much. I have been following Lori’s journey through breast cancer and praying along with countless others.
Then yesterday I read this on Facebook and instantly knew her story is a wake up call for me and all of us. Not that we will get cancer, but through her valley of trial, and what she learned there, brings us a message to look at our lives and evaluate what is most important. For our walk on this earth is very short compared to where we are going.
We get so caught up in our ‘masks’ of who we think we are, or we only show what we want people to see; not the real us. Vanity takes over and we live this kind of pseudo life of insincerity. I so admired Lori’s bravery to reveal it all in this trial so that others could see into her world and maybe find hope.
The church was meant for family, for realness, for loving support and transparencies….so that we can grow and heal and know we are not alone.
Peter 5:8-9 says “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
What is the Holy Spirit assuming about your life? That you are under spiritual attack. This is not a passage about nonbelievers; he’s talking about “your brothers and sisters.” Peter takes it for granted that every believer is under some sort of unseen assault. And what does he insist you do? Resist the devil. Fight back, take a stand.
Lori took a stand and has won her victory. But the lessons were many.
Thank you sweet Lori, for allowing me to share your story.
“Twenty-nine radiation treatments ago I was overwhelmed thinking that I would never be standing with one foot hovering over the finish line. On Monday, I will get my last radiation treatment. On Thursday I am having my port removed. I have spent half a year tearing up my body to rid it of cancer and the next half will be spent rebuilding it.
I still have a long road of recovery ahead, but I face it knowing that I am cancer free.
I know it sounds odd, but I am grateful for everything that I have gone through.
Grateful for the pain?
Grateful for the worry?
Grateful for a disease that ravaged my body and tried to kill me?
Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. I am grateful because it has changed me in more ways than taking away (just trying to be real here) half of one of my most magnificent physical features.
The fact that I feel grateful is in itself due to the lessons that fighting cancer has taught me.
When you are diagnosed with cancer, everything stops while you concentrate on beating it. You don’t have the energy to participate in all of your normal activities and your treatments take precedence over everything else in your life…a job, family activities, church, or any other pursuit that normally occupies your time. You try to keep things as normal as possible, but basically your schedule is at the mercy of your disease.
At first, I thought that the world was going to crumble if I had to step down from all of the things I was in charge of. Amazingly, the world did just fine during my sabbatical. My husband and kids survived. My house didn’t burn down. The church, the PTA, the cub scouts and all those other things soldiered on. I learned that I don’t have to control every…single…thing.
I don’t have to stress myself out to make everything my version of perfect. One day it hit me that the same God who I was trusting to heal me was also capable of taking care of the everyday worries in my life. As I began to hand those worries over to Him, I also realized that if I were to leave this earth, He would be there to take care of all those that I left behind.
Cancer certainly causes you to face your immortality. We all know we are going to die…someday. When you are diagnosed with cancer, that far off someday is suddenly smacking you in the face. Death itself, doesn’t scare me. I know where I will spend eternity. I am not afraid of what is to come. For me, facing death was more about worrying over what I was leaving behind.
Don’t get me wrong, I had a peace that God would watch over my family, but I was still sad because I had so many more things that I wanted to do with my kids. There were life lessons I wanted to have the time to teach, memories I wanted to make with them, and my own life experiences that I still hadn’t shared. I was angry at myself for all the time in life I had wasted on things that just don’t matter in the bigger picture.
Cancer forced me sift through all the unimportant things in life, causing me to recognize the things that truly mattered…. Ironically “things” didn’t even make the list. I was actually able to clean out my closets and get rid of those clothes I have been holding onto for 15 years because one day the stars might align and they will once more fit me and come back in style all in the same week.
As I begin to purge the stuff in my house, I also took stock of the stuff in my character. I realized that I had held on to grudges, bitterness, anger, hurts, and worries, much the way I had held onto my Members Only jacket from Jr. High.
It was time to let it all go.
When you have one foot in the grave, what this one said about you or that one did to you really doesn’t matter so much.
With the sweeping away of emotional cobwebs comes clarity. Suddenly it occurred to me how much energy I had wasted being worried about what other people think.
How many times had I not embraced life because I was afraid that someone would say I was too old or too fat or too anything to be participating in something I really wanted to do?
Losing my hair was a wakeup call for me. I thought everyone would stare, but the truth is, most people don’t take the time to look beyond themselves and really see those around them. It only took a few times of walking through the grocery store bald, to figure out that no one was looking at me.
Never again will I forgo an opportunity to swim with my kids or enjoy a gorgeous day at the beach because I am afraid of what people will think of my body. Never again will I allow myself to be shy because I am worried someone won’t like me based on my outward appearance. I also vow to stop avoiding cameras.
I have a ten-year gap in the photo album, where there are no pictures of me. I always made the excuse that I am the one who takes the pictures, so I am never in them.
The truth is that I didn’t want to be in them. We haven’t posed for a family portrait since 2008, because I don’t like the way I look. When I faced my darkest days of cancer, it hit me that if I were to die, my kids wouldn’t have any pictures of me. As they grew older, their memories might grow foggy. They might even be unable to remember their own mother’s face.
I have a picture of my mom and me that she hated because she thought she looked old. When I look at it, I don’t see wrinkles, I just see love. I could continue to be the phony girl with a profile picture on Facebook that was taken in 2004, or I could just say, “Screw it, this is me, love it or hate it I don’t care, I choose to be real.”
As I look back on this journey, I see that the healing I received wasn’t limited to the physical. I like to think that in my battle with breast cancer, a tumor was removed from more than my body.
I feel like a cancerous growth has also been removed from my spirit and for that I am grateful for everything that I have gone through. So thank you, cancer. You invaded my body with sights set on my destruction, but you lost!
Not only were you defeated, but what you meant for bad, in the end made me a happier person. I am not the woman I was a year ago and that suits me just fine.”
Actively letting go is a little more pro-active than when you are forced to let go.
It’s a practice.
It’s being awake.
It can bring great relief.
Except for the agony of it!
It is not the same as “passively letting go”. Like when you have no choice…whereby life rips stuff out of your grip, or you paint yourself into a corner, or life gets suddenly interrupted by a sudden loss.
I’m talking about a decision to let go of something that only Jesus can heal or take care of.
We are not saviors. He is!
5 Things I know by experience about actively letting go:
1. There’s always more to let go of. Our life is a journey of surrender. The sooner we realize we are not the fixers, the sooner we are released from the burden of trying to figure it all out. And sometimes we have to let go of the same thing 100 times or more.
2. Letting go is painful – in varying degrees, and it is going to stretch you until you feel pain. It leaves an emptiness, a place that the thing took up, that you then have to ask Jesus to fill up for you.
3. When you find the strength in your spirit to be tough enough to let go, you cross over a sacred line. And on the other side, His tenderness is waiting for you for He has just been waiting for you to release it, (or them, or whatever it is that you were holding onto).
4. Baby steps are okay, but you can’t avoid the pain that surfaces when you commit to the letting go and the longer you wait, the longer it takes to see Him fixing the thing you had a vice grip on.
5. Acceptance is obedience and obedience means intimacy with the One who stands there waiting patiently for you to get there.
When you just accept that the pain of letting go is part of the deal, your let-go wound will heal faster.
I’ve had to let go of a dizzying amount of things in a relatively short amount of time:
Our joint investigation business, a steady income as a result, my picture of what my ministry should look like by now, my books selling as fast as I wanted them too, adult children (whom God-is-doing-amazing things-in-their-lives-but-only-after-I-gave-up-trying-to-make-it-happen by-myself, and got out of His way), my house, my mother, our joint income, vacations as I knew them, Grandbabies growing up, a lifestyle I cherished, friends moving on…need I go on?
But I’ve surrendered to the endlessness of it. And it’s a resolution that softens my spirit. It is a solution of surrender…which means growth and trust and intimacy with the One that I trust to handle it all for me; the things out of my control…
Where I got in the way!
Deep, deep, deep in my soul, beneath limits of time, and fantasies, and things I “captured” along the way that I thought I could fix, is the freedom that has been pulling me forward my whole life. Forward right into His lap.
Gazing into His eyes with my spirit, even though each and every time it is like cutting off an appendage, I let go of my priceless treasures that are outside of my control, and give it all to Him.
So I’m still shedding — taking deep breaths and actively letting go. I’m not waiting until I’m ready to let go. I’ve waited long enough. Carried stuff long enough. Longed long enough.
For that tender place, dancing with Him, on the other side of courage.
And you know what? In each and every case after actively letting go, I have found the reality of truly living by faith…for He has never let me down.
And I have delightfully discovered that He does a much better job of fixing than I can.
So, take a deep breath, and as an act of faith, share with me those things you have truly let go of too!
It is my story. MY story! We all have a story. This is mine. I am getting ready in a few weeks to launch my 2nd book, 50 Ways To Meet Your Lover, An Invitation Into a Captivating Walk With Jesus the Lover of Your Heart and Soul.
A SECOND BOOK! How crazy is that?
Who knew this would happen in my life. I could not have dreamed that the little girl who was a victim of incest, abused by her spiritual leaders; the woman who endured seeing her own sweet little girl become a victim of the same travesty; the woman who had no self esteem, no hope for the future, and no idea she even had a gift to use for God could be here today proclaiming to you that God has made me into an Author and a Life Purpose Coach,
….and yet here I am.
Don’t tell me God can’t use you because of your past. I am a walking miracle and living proof. And He uses my past to set others free now!
You are a walking miracle!! You may not know it yet, but you are.
After writing my first book, Climbing Out of the Box, My Journey Out of Sexual and Spiritual Abuse Into Freedom and Healing, I learned that it is in our vulnerability and transparency that others can truly relate and be transformed by our stories. I learned to let my story go for the good of mankind, so to speak. For I knew if my story could possibly change the life on one person it would have been worth it to me and to Jesus.
Then I went a step further and realized that even if it was just an act of obedience and I was writing just for Jesus, it still would be more than worth it.
The surprise was that in writing my story….
I FOUND HEALING!!
And this is why I am such a promoter of journaling your story and thoughts and prayers to God. If you have coached with me you already know that. In getting it all out your story begins to make more sense, your life purpose comes into focus, and you find a cleansing of the past like never before.
So, I moved forward in my writing at first never really knowing if it was real. At first I had no idea what I was doing. It was blind faith. We use the tools and gifting God has given us….sometimes without seeing the completed plan. He grows us up to reach outside of ourselves to see others walk in the same freedoms.
And that is my goal, really; To make a difference in the lives of others.
I love to write but I’m not really patient to wait for the plan, the dream, to unfold. Especially if I have a vision of what I want to put down on paper. I can see it. I can feel it. I am excited about it. I want to do it now and see it published next week.
But then I wait and write.
And wait and write some more.
And then I don’t want to let go if it, again, and wonder why anyone would want t o read my stuff.
Looking at my motives I realized it is not just about whether my book will be a best seller or not, though that would be wonderful. It is about being me and being true to who I was created to be and to my calling. God has a plan. Then I had to face the fact that even if I knew it wouldn’t be a best seller, I would write it anyway, if only to reach that one person who thought there was no hope left.
There is a divine journey assigned to just me. There is one assigned to you too. It is a journey about reaching out, touching lives, healing hearts and being vulnerable enough with my story that it will truly make a difference in the lives of others.
I want to flow in His plan and not get ahead of myself. At least in my heart I do. My head is a different matter. It wants everything yesterday. It’s because I have this dream, and it is not going away. I have more stories to tell. They are not going away either. But when I am writing I have need of patience and I always learn in the process.
Maybe it simply means validation. When my books make it into print, it says to me, “Yes, you are doing this right.” I am doing what I’m meant to be doing.
So, here I am with one book published and one about to be published in a week or two; waiting for them to get in the hands of the right people through social media and word of mouth,
..and being okay with it.
My soon to be released book, 50 Ways to Meet Your Lover, A Captivating Invitation Into a Daily Walk Of Intimacy With Jesus the Lover of Your Heart and Soul is a compilation of my own personal journey– stories of faith, trial and temptations and humor. It amazes me that many of you will be reading about my very private times of intimacy with Jesus, and actually growing in faith to the place that if He can do it for me, He can certainly do it for you. At least that is my prayer.
It’s not as though I have a choice. I can’t control it, this walk of faith –not if I want to continue upward. And I can’t control the outcome or the wait. But God knows and His timing is always best for our journeys.
He zigs while I zag……I must continue to walk in the light of Him on my journey. It is all about surrendering to the process of growing.
Both books can be purchased on Amazon in a few weeks!! You can get Climbing Out of the Box right now!