What’s On Your Mind?

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“You have cancer.” What comes to mind when you think of a cancer diagnosis? In 2011, this question was no longer a hypothetical. I’m sure my response was normal as I began to wrap my mind around cancer and my name in the same sentence.

I dealt with many different emotions in the beginning.

Denial: I remember telling the doctor that I didn’t have any pain. “How can it be cancer?” (This was my first lesson about breast cancer. Pain is not necessarily a symptom.)

Fear: Would I be around for my younger son’s high school graduation in six months. We had a diagnosis with no further details. What did my future look like?

Grasping for Control: Immediately I began to network with friends and friends of friends who were in the medical profession or knew breast cancer survivors. I wanted to be informed and ask the right questions so I could get answers. If I could articulate the issues, perhaps I could grasp control and rein in this cancer invading my body.

Going to a Dark Place: Learning and discovering more information introduced me to the sad stories and sadder endings with breast cancer. I began to ponder the new realities in regards to my body, my life, and ultimately, my mortality. Would I feel the same if I had a mastectomy? Would I look like me if I needed chemotherapy and lost my hair? Would there be a future? Would I be there to celebrate my sons’ weddings and dote on grandkids someday?

One evening, my husband and I sat at the kitchen table discussing my cancer as it was a too common conversation topic in those days. The burdens of all my thoughts, fears, and anxieties spilled out as tears falling down my cheeks. I asked my husband, “Will you still love me if…?” and filled in the blanks with the very personal feelings I hadn’t been able to express up to that point.

I desperately needed my husband to scoop me into his arms, reassure me with the strength of his love and answer with a loud “YES!” My husband did and said something that caught me off-guard. It was even better than what I thought I needed from him. He looked me directly in the eyes with an intensity I am not used to and responded, “I am in it for the long haul!” That moment was a turning point in my cancer journey.

We were going to get through “this,” whatever it looked like because I had his heart and he had mine. I have no doubts that God used that conversation around the kitchen table to personally demonstrate His love for me.

As we face crises, we need something, really someone, to lean into and know that we are never alone. We can look into God’s word in the Bible and sense His intense love and unending compassion for us. We can keep on keeping on with confidence because God has promised to never leave nor forsake us.

God wraps us in His hedge of protection and whispers into our hearts, “You are loved. I have always loved you.” Jesus’ death on the cross is the purest evidence for the depth of God’s love for you and for me.

Almost seven years later, I am healthy and remain cancer-free. I still lean into God for His hugs and to hear Him say, “I love you!” My heart responds with gratitude and devotion as I tell God, “I’m in this life for the long haul with you!”

Isaiah 42:16

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

 

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A Walk Through Isaiah

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It is difficult for me to pick a favorite book of the Bible, but Isaiah in the Old Testament is a top contender. Digging deeper past God’s judgment of sin, we find promises fulfilled only in Jesus, assurance of God’s comfort, and anticipation of heaven’s glory revealed.

The beautiful diversity of Dolly Sods Wilderness in the Monongahela National Forest (of West Virginia) reminded me of a walk through Isaiah to discover earth-shattering truths that change hearts and lives to follow the LORD.

 

Isaiah 2:5

Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Red Creek Trail

Red Creek Trail

 

Isaiah 30:21

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Beaver View Trail

Beaver View Trail

 

Isaiah 40:4-5

Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Raven Ridge Trail

Raven Ridge Trail

 

Isaiah 42:16

I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

Raven Ridge Trail

Raven Ridge Trail

 

Isaiah 44:22

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.  Return to me, for I have redeemed you.

Beaver View Trail

Beaver View Trail

 

Isaiah 49:10

They will neither hunger nor thirst, nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them. He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.

Red Creek

Red Creek