Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Guest Post from Derek: Light Always Wins

I've been asking Derek for years to do a guest post on my blog. And he has finally complied to my request. So here it is, Derek's blogging debut!

Light always Wins!

Anne and I had the pleasure of going to the Power and Love Conference last week and got to hear a few amazing speakers (Dan Mohler, Todd White, Bob Hazlett)! After having a few days to reflect and think about what I have learned, I thought I’d share it with you.  So here I go…

Life is hard. Circumstances, family dynamics, broken friendships, health issues, work struggles and yes even death swirl around us like a Texas dust twister. Some days it may feel as though you have traveled across the unforgivable terrain of a barren desert barely holding on to survive. You might feel tired, beaten up, mistreated, and too tired to love or give anymore.  Why did God have to make life so hard?

This is what I learned this past week…I realized the structure of my question (Why did God make life hard for me?) was what had been making life so hard…I had been blaming God for why life is hard. God wasn’t making life hard…I was. I was letting the circumstances of my life determine how I felt. If life was good it was easy to thank God. When life got tough it was hard to be thankful for much of anything. It was like when God didn’t answer my prayers I just kept my hands in my pockets on Sunday Morning worship because I didn’t have anything to praise.

In a nut shell I was letting the circumstances of my life become the idols and gods I served because they impacted me greater than God himself. What a selfish mess I am! This week at the Power and Love conference these truths were spoken to me from the Holy Spirit Himself:

Life and circumstances will always be tough. You need to Embrace Me (Jesus!) Let the Light in and let the darkness out. Otherwise you will be praying the same prayers the next week…just about different problems.

The Gospel is not about God taking care of you, it’s about God transforming you!
You were never made for you! You were made for God!

Stop giving your flesh a voice, give the Spirit the platform to transform your life.

Life is not about Providing, Provision, and Prosperity – it’s about Transformation!

You are a new creation. The old is GONE! The new has COME! Embrace your new life!

-----Have I lost any one yet?------Cause this is just the beginning!

You must become the Word – stop trying to apply it.

Why do you find yourself offended by others?! You died to yourself! Derek – A dead person cannot be offended. Go try it. Go to a graveyard and try to offend someone there. It is impossible! Therefore, because you denied yourself stop feeling sorry for yourself and turn your focus to Christ!

Don’t let life eat your lunch! Let Love (Jesus) be the Food you eat and feed it to others!

Do not yield to your feelings. You don’t have to feel ok! You already are!

You don’t need deliverance; you have already been delivered!

Then God really poured on the Truth….

Don’t sell cheap! You have been bought very costly!

You don’t have issues, circumstances, bad days….YOU HAVE JESUS!

What you fix your eyes on you will become! The eye is the lamp of your body!

If you are thinking wow…what Truth…What I shared with you thus far is only 1 of 6 talks I heard!

You see what they preached to me last week was Jesus. They did not preach to me something I did not have, they just gave me access to what I already had! They taught me to be intentional with my time, with God, and with others. They taught me to seek the Spirit throughout my day. They taught me to seek out others to pray for and lay hands on.  I learned from multiple testimonies (some that happened that very week) that Healing and Miracles isn’t just something that happened 2000 years ago, it still happens this very day because we have the same Holy Spirit that Jesus’ Disciples had! Amen!

I left last week changed. I see things differently. I no longer see God or others from a worldly point of view (Read 2 Corthians 5:16-21). You see, God makes beautiful things. He has already made beautiful things out of us. We don't have to wait for God to make us beautiful, he already has! That is the Gospel. And that is what we get to share with others! We get to tell them they are beautiful! And I am so excited to spend the rest of my life sharing my life and the Gospel with others and tell them that they are beautiful!

1 Thes. 2:8,19-20 – “We loved you so much that we delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God, but our lives as well, because you have become so dear to us. For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed you are our glory and joy!

You see guys I have been filled with the Light. I no longer live but it is Jesus inside of me. I have been spending so much of my life trying to fix things I just needed to let die. For so long I have tried to control my selfishness. This was so hard! Why was this so hard – It was because God didn’t create me to be selfish……..Dagger!

Therefore, life wasn’t intended to be hard. It became hard at the Fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden. At the point we became broken, bruised, damaged and a damned people. The Good news is that when Jesus died for us he took on all of that brokenness, hurt, and sin and has reconciled us back to God. We don’t have to wait to clean up our life before we can encounter God; God has already restored us! We just need to accept and believe in his restoration, because it is then and only then life stops being hard and becomes life to the full (John 10:10)! You see Light always beats Darkness. So let’s let God’s light shine on us and lets absorb His rays! Let us be the Salt and Light of the world! For Light always wins!

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Weekend of Celebrations

We've been doing a lot of celebrating around here. It seems that all of our friends are either getting married or having babies. Which means that nearly all of our weekends these past few months have involved some sort of shower, bachelor/bachelorette party, wedding, birth, etc.

Well, this weekend might have broken a record for us.

I woke up on Saturday to a text from my best friend from high school, Amy, saying she was in the hospital in labor! That morning, one of my best friends from college, Jen, was having a baby shower. That evening, one of Derek's best childhood friends, Jordan, was getting married. Then on Sunday, we had a bridal shower for another great friend, Laura. After I got home from Laura's shower on Sunday, I got a text from Amy's husband with a picture of their new sweet baby girl. Yup, she was in the labor the entire time I was at 2 showers and a wedding.

It was a crazy weekend (I also managed to squeeze a garage sale, church and church small group in there as well) but I feel so blessed to be able to celebrate these wonderful events of our friends' lives. I even managed to take a couple of photos.

You can see more about Jen's shower here. And below are a few pics I took.

I love the pink and navy bicycle theme - the decorations were so cute.

Jen's aunt from Germany knit here this little sweater and these baby booties. Amazing.

UK booties - are you kidding me? I can't stand it!

Unfortunately I had to leave Jen's shower a little early so we could head up to Columbus, Indiana for Jordan's wedding. The ceremony was at Irwin Gardens downtown, and was a gorgeous venue.

They had a typewrite that guests could use to leave notes. So fun! Our letter was full of typos!

This is an Italian tradition we had at our wedding too - the cookie table! Unfortunately I have no self control and ended up not feeling so hot after eating too many cookies.

They had a dollar dance with the groom and Derek was of course the first person to get in on that action.
Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures at Laura's shower. But that doesn't mean I love her any less, I was just pretty worn out by that point. But it was lots of fun, and we can't wait for her and Alex to tie the knot in a couple of weeks!

And finally, here is sweet little baby Hannah!  I cannot wait to meet this little one!

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Boxer

When I'm at work and I have a tedious task that I need to get done, I like to listen to music. There is something about it that allows me to drown out all distractions and focus on the task at hand. Today it was excel work. So I decided to listen to the new Mumford and Sons album. Derek has pretty much had this on repeat since it came out, and the more I listen to it, the more I like it.

The first time I heard one of the songs on the album I got really confused and said to Derek, "Hey! This is a Simon and Garfunkel song!" I grabbed the iphone, and sure enough, it was "The Boxer" featuring Jerry Douglas and Paul Simon. I managed to impress Derek with my knowledge of music that came out before I was born, although the real credit goes to my dad.

One summer when I was younger, I can't remember which one exactly, but I think it was between my 4th and 5th grade year, my dad, my grandma and I drove to California. We loaded up the car (I think it was my grandma's Saturn but it could have been my dad's, I don't remember) and drove across the country for 4 days. In anticipation of all the time in the car, my dad copied a bunch of his favorite CDs onto cassette tape, since we had a CD player at home, but there wasn't one in the car. We had hours of Simon and Garfunkel, the Moody Blues, James Taylor, Crosby Stills Nash & Young and many more whose names I can't think of right now, but if a song came on I would probably still know all the words.

I remember sitting in the backseat with a little pink tray that sat over my lap so I could color in coloring books or whatever else would keep me occupied. I remember vowing to hurt someone or myself if I ever had to see another soybean. I think this was also the trip where I made up the Waffle House song. I also remember playing a game with my dad where we would guess how long it would take for him to pass the semi that was miles ahead of us. That was a great game to play in Kansas.

I remember when we got to California going to see the house my grandparents built in Lake Tahoe. I remember staying at the houses of old family friends, and waking up to sun streaming into the window. Lots of the people we stayed with had pools, which I thought was fantastic. I remember visiting relatives who that would be the only time in my life I would ever get to meet them. We went and saw the redwood forest and San Francisco and the pacific ocean. I remember thinking it was a waste to have an ocean that you couldn't swim in.

The 29 year old version of me wishes I knew what a cool experience that had been. I think I tried to journal about a little, but I wasn't very consistent, nor was I very detailed. (As a side note, Derek has the spiritual gift of finding all of the random stuff I wrote as a kid when we visit my parents house, and he LOVES to read it to me. It is pretty hilarious, and I vaguely remember reading entries from the California trip. I started off strong but then it just ended.) I'm sure there are pictures somewhere. But I wish I had a better memory of all the details, the people I met, and the things I saw.

My dad and I flew back to Columbus after a week of being out there. My grandma stayed out there visiting with friends and family, and a few weeks later my dad and younger sister flew back out, my sister got to visit for a week, and then the 3 of them drove back to Ohio. She got to visit a ranch in Wyoming, which I'm totally jealous of, although I'm sure I wasn't at the time.

I remember on the trip back there were bad thunderstorms in Chicago, and my dad and I had to get a hotel room since our flight was delayed til the next day. We didn't have our suitcases because it was a connecting flight. That was the beginning of my dislike for O'Hare airport, and now I never connect through O'Hare due to multiple bad experiences.

It's funny how one song can bring back so many memories. Next time I'm in Columbus I'm going to go searching for some pictures of the trip. I'll be sure to scan them in and share them if I find any.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Really Great News

In March of last year, we found out that Derek's mom's ovarian cancer had returned. Surgery was performed to remove the cancer, however, they found some that couldn't be removed. After surgery she started chemotherapy, and 16 weeks later, there were no traces of cancer. Praise the Lord!

Since then, Linda goes to the doctor every 6 weeks to have her CA125 levels measured. This number is a cancer indicator. And as long as it stays low, we are in the clear.

A couple of weeks ago she had her levels tested and they were high. Higher than they had been last March when they found cancer in various spots and couldn't remove it all.

Not good. But we were hopeful that maybe the test was wrong. Maybe something else triggered that number to go up. She was tested again, and the number went up, again.

This was not good news. This indicated that the ovarian cancer had returned for the 3rd time, and this would be the fourth time in her life that she would battle cancer.

A CAT scan was scheduled two days later that would show where the cancer had spread, and would determine the treatment plan.

The dramatic increase in the CA-125 numbers, coupled with the fact that last time the cancer had spread to various part of her abdomen (now in an open cavity rather than contained) had us very worried. We asked many friends and family members to pray that the CAT scan would show that the cancer hadn't spread to vital organs and that it would be treatable with chemo. It was a rough couple of days as we waited to find out what the future would look like.

Last Friday the doctor's office would call Linda and tell her the results of the CAT scan. Derek and I knew that this would be big news, regardless of the outcome, so we decided to to head up to NKY to surprise her and spend the day with her.

We arrived around 11. Linda had already called the office and been told that the nurse practitioner who would discuss the results with her would not be in until 11. So we would wait. Until 4:30 when they finally called. I know that every patient at this doctor's office is a cancer patient, and so everyone they see is a life and death situation. But didn't they realize that the magnitude of the outcome of these results?

Looking back, I'm so glad we were there. I would have been a mess at work, and not been able concentrate or get any work done. Linda would have been home all day, waiting. I'm glad Derek and I were there to help pass the time, take her mind off of it etc.

When Mary, the nurse practitioner, finally did call, we all held our breath. Linda walked into another room and I heard a gasp. Then she stepped out with a big smile on her face and a thumbs up. The scan was CLEAR!!!!!

She cried. I cried. We all cried. We hugged. I'm getting tears in my eyes just thinking about it.

Linda had been praying for a clear scan. Our friends and family had been praying for a clear scan. And me with my little faith was just hoping that it could be treated.

God is so, so, so, so good. He is faithful.

We are ecstatic.

Linda will still go ahead and start chemotherapy treatment. The rise in the CA-125 indicates that there is likely some microscopic cancer activity. But we feel confident that this round of chemo will totally get rid of it. We joked that we've never seen someone so happy to be starting chemo.

But no surgeries, no surprises about where it has spread to. Just really great news!

We went out to celebrate Friday night. It was a wonderful night. Enjoying the blessings of a God who cares for us, and who answers prayer. We are thankful.

You can still pray for Linda as she goes through another round of chemo. It's not easy. But Linda is strong and when she is weak we know that God will be her strength. Praise Him!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


I just read this post, and couldn't not share it.

Do you ever find yourself upset? Worried? Discontent? Afraid? And then you think about how it could be so much worse, and then you feel guilty for having those feelings?  Read this post.

Our problems are real, even when they seem silly. But they are problems not because of our circumstances, but because of our hearts. Our problems can't be fixed by changing our circumstances, they can only be fixed by changing our hearts. And only God can do that.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fall Weekends

This weekend was a good one. It started out with some really great news. (I'll share more on that soon because it deserves its own post.) It involved a little girls soccer game, time with my parents, an apple orchard, apple cider and apple donuts, a trip to Lowe's and the purchase of some mums (yay for fall!), college football, delicious dinner I didn't have to cook, apple pie, church, reading in bed and snuggling with a kitten, Bible study and a BBQ and Blues festival at church. I love weekends!

Feeling very grateful today, not just for fun weekends, but because God is good, whether your weekend is wonderful or terrible.