Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Miracles, Forever and Freedom Words

I came across my Destiny In Bloom blog from August 2010 today; a blog written as our family walked in the news of Heather's cancer remission; a word that was spoken and then retracted in about a month's time. I remembered the emotions of writing this--joy and excitement coupled with God-size bigness-- but, more importantly, I was reminded of the lesson that God spoke into this blog: Miracles don't always mean forever, they can be given just for today. 

At that time, many doubted whether Heather was given a remission diagnosis because she really was in remission. Many believed the doctor just got it wrong. But I believed then and still believe today that nobody 'got it wrong', they 'got it from God'. Without that word [remission] being spoken over Heather, I'm not sure she would have ventured out to Europe or gone to the Bahamas for an overdue honeymoon. I'm not sure those that walked the closest with her would have let her go, despite her desire to {live life}. 

Whether God spoke [remission] and she was truly healed for that short period, or whether He spoke and blinded the eyes of the one who should have seen cancer (but didn't) doesn't matter to me. Both circumstances are miracles! With that word doors were opened for Heather--both physically and emotionally--to experience two once-in-a-lifetime trips; one with her best friend, the other with her forever love. [Remission] carried the breath of life on its word-wings and that very breath carried Heather's physical health while she was exploring Europe and loving the Bahamas.

I believe God spoke that word [remission] because He wanted to, not because someone made an error. God knew what it would take for those who loved her to release her to {live life}; life outside the hospital and chemotherapy treatments. Remission was their freedom word that helped them to let go of--even if only for a short time--their hold on medicine. And that freedom word gave God room to move. He knew exactly what He was doing when he whispered [remission] to HolySpirit and HolySpirit, in turn, whispered it into the ear of her doctor. (my imaginings, not gospel truth)

And while that word did not last a physical forever, it was the catalyst that created moments that will FOREVER be remembered; moments that were given as love gifts from God because He knew they would turn into memories more precious than gold ... for her best friend and her {forever love}.

I wonder now, as my spirit is being stirred by the inspiration of HolySpirit, if there are any freedom words God is speaking into my life that I just don't recognize, nor want to acknowledge, as freedom? And if I've allowed God's Love Gifts of [today miracles] to pass me by, unnoticed in the blur of busy-ness, to-do's and expectation?

I wonder as I remember...

I AM MAKING EVERYTHING NEW (written for Destiny In Bloom)

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look! I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down...” Revelation 21:5

I know that these specific words were spoken to John as God was revealing the New Jerusalem, but for the past few years this verse has been my driving inspiration for writing. With the evolution of longhand journaling to online blogging, and the replacement of ballpoint pens with keyboards, a whole world has been opened up to us that didn’t exist just 10 years ago.

We have an incredible opportunity to not only share our lives with those who will take the time to read our words but, more importantly, we have been given a tool to share God’s amazing and miraculous works in our lives and those we share life with. When I transitioned from a hardbound journal to the Blogger website, I realized that I was no longer writing for just my eyes but for anyone who was interested enough to read my journey with me. And the importance of sharing testimonies – stories – of how God is changing me and redefining who I am became just as significant as documenting the memories I don’t want to forget years from now.

“Look! I am making everything new! Write this down…”

Those nine words light me up every time I read them. Since God has given me a passion for writing, it is my responsibility – and joy – to write as He reveals. And as I sat down to write again for Destiny In Bloom, Holy Spirit whispered to me, “Write this down”, and followed those words up with a name: Heather Faith (my niece). Immediately, her story flooded my heart and I felt the breath of inspiration.

In October of 2009, she visited her doctor concerned about a lump in her breast. She was sent home without an ultrasound, biopsy or any kind of follow-up. Just some brush off words from her physician about hormones and breast tissue. After all, at 26-years-old, she was too young to be considered a candidate for breast cancer.

Fast forward six months and that ‘insignificant’ lump had doubled in size, was painful to the touch and could be seen under her skin with the naked eye. This time, a biopsy was ordered and the news that came back shocked everyone: Stage 3 Breast Cancer. Ironically, that diagnosis sounded positive compared to what was uncovered over the coming weeks. Additional tests revealed that her cancer was systemic (not localized but in her blood stream), and more cancer was found in her lymph nodes, lungs and neck. Stage 3 became Stage 4 and she was given a death sentence. Only 5% of patients with her aggressive form of cancer actually live more than three years beyond their diagnosis.

As a medical team organized her treatment schedule, our family went into another kind of action. A 30-day fast was scheduled. Across the states – wherever family and friends were located – we were all praying for her at the same time, every day. Pink bracelets were placed on all our wrists to remind us of what we were fighting for, and the girls even opted to only wear pink nail polish as a show of solidarity.

Our family has faced death before, just like every other family out there, but we’ve never been hit with the prospect of losing someone so young; someone with so much life left to be lived. Heather was diagnosed months after celebrating her first wedding anniversary. She was just into the latter half of her twenties, enjoying the newly found gift of marriage and life was waiting ahead of her, expectant and eager. And then … cancer.

Weeks of rigorous chemotherapy turned into months. Heather was ‘treated’ with the harshest cocktail of chemicals to combat the aggressive cancer. Her body reacted to the poison coursing through her veins and soon her long, brown hair was falling out and her youthful strength was drained, causing her to opt for a wheelchair over walking. With each successive round of chemotherapy, the drugs took more out of her, and she spent two out of every three weeks in bed, recovering from the effects of what was being used to cure her. But our prayers for healing continued. We were fighting an uphill battle, and we refused to lie down and allow this enemy to win.

There is something strange that happens inside a heart when one is awakened to the reality of death before death is even considered. Emotions rise and fall like the waves of the ocean, and mortality is given a new priority in your vocabulary. Heaven is pondered more consistently, and the possibility of living life without someone you love brings forth tears when you least expect them. But something else rose up during those first few weeks when Heather’s diagnosis grew more stark with each successive test result. Anger … a righteous anger. I understood more deeply the determination to fight boldly against our unseen enemy with a strength and position of authority I hadn’t experienced before. We were warring for Heather’s life on our knees, and God was pouring out His faith, peace, love, comfort, and strength in the exact moments we needed them and in the exact proportion that sustained us. We believed for healing, and we stood in faith to win back the years of life for Heather to live.

A month ago Heather finished her last, scheduled chemotherapy treatment and tests were run to determine its success. She was told going in that with her form of cancer, she shouldn’t expect much. Few actually achieve remission. And then the test results were shared: the cancer was gone from her lungs and neck and the only remnant that remained was the lump in her breast. She was scheduled for surgery, the tumor was removed and the words “In Remission” were written in her medical chart.

God had worked a miracle!

As I write this, Heather is spending a week touring Europe with her best friend. PRAISE YOU, FATHER! And as soon as she returns, she heads out on a week-long, overdue honeymoon with her Groom; one they had to postpone because he was in school at the time they married. PRAISE YOU, HEALER GOD!

As we revel in the reality of a modern day miracle, Heather’s physicians are still skeptical. They expect to see her back within the next six months or so with cancer having popped back up somewhere in her body. After all, her cancer is labeled systemic; and even though they can’t see it now, they believe it’s lying dormant, waiting for its chance to attack somewhere else in her body. It’s hard to walk in the miracle that is ‘now’ when the medical professionals besiege you with statistics that aren’t in your favor, even a tiny bit. But God desires us to celebrate every miracle, even if it’s just for today.

And this I know: My God beat the odds this time! Odds are just numbers, and they will not stand in His way if LIFE is the diagnosis He’s handing out. Yes, according to her doctors, Heather’s prognosis hasn’t changed. She is currently in remission but still faces the reality that only 5% of those who battle this cancer truly beat it. I say, “Well, someone has to be in that 5%.”

And this I know: My God is JEHOVAH-RAPHA: the LORD who heals. And I will stand and praise Him for the healing Heather is walking in right now. To do anything less would be removing the glory due to Him.

These past six months have been a different journey for everyone involved. I have watched as God has changed people’s perspective, drawn hearts close to Him that were at one time distant, revealed His truth to the unspoken questions and brought out faith and strength where doubt and weakness once dwelled.

I recently listened to a pastor teach on the supernatural aspect of miracles. One thing he said really caught my ear and settled into my soul:

“The miracle is not always the physical healing. Many times it’s the transformed heart in the process.” - Pastor Brady Boyd

While we are celebrating the obvious, physical healing that has taken place; I can’t help but be more overwhelmed by the hearts that have been changed in this process. Look around you. People are being healed every day - maybe not from cancer - but broken hearts are repaired to love again, freedom demolishes our invisible chains of bondage, souls once lost to sin are purified by the blood of Jesus and eternities are sealed.

I have to believe that God and the Host of Heaven – although in battle against our enemy – is in a constant state of celebration because they see all the day-to-day miracles that we often overlook. Can you smile today when yesterday there were tears? Miracle! Can you dance today when yesterday felt unbearably heavy? Miracle! Has God brought clarity to what was cloudy? Miracle! Has compassion replaced judgment? Has beauty replaced ashes? Has joy replaced sorrow? Miracle! Miracle! Miracle!

Celebrate the miracle that is ‘now’, even if it’s just for today. Just LOOK! He’s making everything new!

1 comment:

  1. Don't mind me. I'm just on the other side of the computer crying as we talk about our Facebook angel. ;) Well, really you are talking and I am listening. But everything feels like a conversation when it is shared between our hearts.

    Her temporary remission was her earthly miracle. :) AGREED. Love this blog. Love hearing someone talk about Heath. Love the reminder to listen for my freedom words. AND LOOOOOOVE YOU.