Friday, March 10, 2017

Finding faith without feeling it

This morning's devotion in Streams was a sweet reminder for me. 

My righteous one will live by faith. Hebrews 10:38

In this plush, every-physical-need-met, land of plenty, first world country that we live in, it is so common to have "bad moods" because we feel upset or unjustly wronged. (Cue very very tiny violin)

Let me set the stage of my most recent pity party and expose my flawed state...

Monday, sick child-me, catering to his every need and thinking, "yeah! I get to stay home allll day today"
Tuesday, sick child again-cancel my hair appointment, start fretting that the others will catch it and have to stay home too.
Wednesday, sick teen-cancel my massage, but because it's later than 24 hr notice I may still have to pay (grrrrrr :/ ). Fretting that she will still be sick for the opening of the school play and that the other 2 healthy ones will get sick too. 

It's official....I'm grumpy.
Hard to smile.
Very little joy, even though I try to pep talk myself into thinking "this too shall pass".
I'm a freakin' brat.

I finally recovered, thank you Jesus, apologized to my mom for being a storm cloud (because I had seen her in my state-o-glory) and thanked Jesus that my kids had the flu, not a terminal illness. I bratty.

I share this ridiculous, but true, scenario as proof of how we use our feelings as a faith gage-r.

I think I've shared before, that when I got word, back in late May of 2014, that my cancer was back and now considered stage 4 metastatic, that I experienced a dry season. I was literally on my face crying out to the Lord and nothing -------radio silence---------.
I "felt" nothing. I couldn't understand why He would desert me now? Why was He not comforting me? It was a hard, but real lesson that I have carried with me and has gently nudged me out of those seemingly dry times. 

"Lord, you are here. And though the bush before me does not seem to burn, it does burn. I will take the shoes from my feet, 'for the place where [I am] standing is holy ground." London Christian (as quoted in Streams)

It goes back to what I know about God and His unchanging character & Word. He said He will be there. He will be there.

Trust God's Word and His power more than you trust your own feelings and experiences. Remember, you Rock is Christ, and it is the sea that ebbs and flows with the tides, not Him. Samuel Rutherford (Streams in the Desert)

Bottom line, when the waves get rough, or even a little choppy, is it better to cling to that little dingy we brought with us because it's what we know? Or, shall we climb onto & cling to the Rock, the one that crashing waves cannot move and that's stood the test of time? 

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear [nor be afraid of them]; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6 nkjv

Thank you Lord that my feelings, always changing and often misplaced or inaccurate, are not all You left me with. 
May you find your faith in His steadfast Word and not be swayed by the every changing feelings!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Still and here

Wow! I didn't realize it's been close to 3 months since I last blogged! Shame. On. Me.
No excuse. Except perhaps that I have so much going on in my head & soul that I often get overwhelmed thinking about blogging it and wondering if instead of a blog entry, it may turn into a book chapter.....hmmmm, that's an idea. 
I digress. 
Ok, bottom lines first...then I'll unpack what God has been doing and how He has been moving in unexpected, fresh and gloriously gracious ways in the Neese household this 2017, since it has been since last year that I've shared:/. (Oops)

1. Had a scan. Disease progression...9 new spots on my liver.
2. Starting oral chemo again tomorrow! (Yeah! Let's do this!)
3. Moving to the northern most tip of San Diego County, a peaceful, rolling hill, growing stuff, kinda little town, by the name of Bonsall, after school gets out.
4. Attending a new church

2017 met us with lots of uncertainty. Jason's time at The Rock Church had come to an end. We were praying and searching for what the Lord had for us next. Stay in SD? Go? 
And as you would expect, each decision we make is closely followed by the question of my healthcare and how any changes may affect my care. 
We thought He was moving us one way, and then it seemed He wasn't. We took a week or two to just. Be. Still. 
(Deep, cleansing breathe sigh here)
This stillness and rest was exactly where we needed to be. I often see my life in themes, or chapter titles. This season, or chapter seems to be titled, "being still and resting in Him". 
It's as though Jesus lifted a cloth, and revealed what He had next for wasn't hard, or confusing and really, once we stopped and just rested in Him, it was revealed. 

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and overburdened, and I will cause you rest. (I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls)
Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. [jer.6:16]
Matthew 11:28-29 ampc

This time, of new jobs, new school, new church and new community, could very well be scary and intimidating if our eyes were not on the One who led us here. 
Jason and I both feel that this time is such a gift. A season of rest and newness. 
Unexpected Adventure. 
While we love our school community and neighborhood, we know that our time here has come to an end and to try to stay would be to miss blessings and growth that the Lord has for each of us! My parents are graciously letting us live on some property they have and we have found a new community we know we will soon love. 

As for my sneaky cancer, amazingly some previous spots have shrunk or stayed the same. But there are 9 new spots on my liver. Grrrrrrr. The liver cannot be operated on to remove the spots (one of my first questions :) and one needs their liver to survive, sooo I've opted to move from my targeted therapy to an oral chemo drug that I was on previously, that seemed to work on my cancer. However, I went off this oral chemo after my heart episode. I am not convinced that the heart episode in January 2016 was related to the oral chemo not working, but rather the radiation I was undergoing at the time. So, my oncologist is allowing me to give it another run. We will watch my heart closely and have a scan in 2 months to see if I'm getting the desired results on those spots on my liver (aka kicking it's butt).
Specifically praying....heal the liver!:) please join me!!
Other than that I've been feeling so "normal!" 
We enjoyed a ski trip with friends to Tahoe, thanks to their generosity ;).
We celebrated Bellen's 6th birthday. (Something I wasn't convinced I'd see when I was diagnosed before she even had her first birthday) praise be to God!
And Jason and I enjoyed our first trip to Seattle, to celebrate my 42nd birthday, traveling with friends.

We are attending a new church. Even this has been a new experience because we have always attend where Jason was employed. It's a new season of rest, even in this. 
Today's message was especially soul filling, reinforcing the season of rest that the Lord has begun to show us even this past month or so. You know when you read a Devo or hear a message and think,"thank you Lord, I know this was your divine plan that I hear this word, right now!"
That was today. And practically ever devotion I've read this pas month in Streams in the Desert! A girlfriend and I joke almost daily after reading Streams, that, yep, God wrote that just for me!
My heart is full of joyful gratitude. God is walking this journey close, so close with me. So many gifts and sweet personal blessings.

Oh friend, how I hope you feel Him in your every day. Rest in Him. He loves you. He has the perfect plan for your life. And He is with you, every step of the way. May your soul find rest in Him.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. Psalms 100:4 nkjv

*seattle photo creds: sarah mortimore

Gratitude exclaims, very properly, "how good of God to give me this" ~C.S.Lewis

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