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I’ve always loved an adventure; especially adventures while traveling.  Justin and I were married five years before we had children, and any extra time and money we mostly used for to see new places; experience new things.

As a child, my parents took my sister and me on many incredible trips, even at young ages.  We were not wealthy, but instead of getting new furniture or driving the nicest cars, my parents chose to use anything extra to show us that this world was bigger than Columbia, SC.   I am grateful for these opportunities, and think on the memories with a smile.  Every trip was an adventure, although very well planned by my “expert planner” dad, there were unexpected twists and turns that took us by surprise.

Adventure is defined by Merriam-Webster as: “an exciting or remarkable experience, or an undertaking usually involving unknown risks”.  As we traveled together as a family, without fail we would experience unexpected thrills; unexpected frustrations, surprising joys and difficulties.  Missing trains, getting lost, communicating in a foreign land~ all part of the adventure, unplanned; and although sometimes frustrating in the moment, a source of laughter, memories, and bonding among our family.

As I’ve grown and matured in my faith, since 2006 God has taken me on several divine adventures, including following a call to walk away from a successful corporate career to start my own business, infertility, three children under two, calling me into a ministry position that I felt inadequate for, and breast cancer.  It’s been an adventurous decade, not without difficulty, but full of joy.

The most recent divine adventure God led me on was breast cancer.  In April 2015, I was diagnosed at the age of 35 with an aggressive form of breast cancer  (Her2+). {Read about my cancer journey here.}  The first several weeks were very overwhelming, as I processed the shocking news, and was immediately thrown into a tail-spin of activity with scans and doctor’s appointments.

In the midst of this tornado of activity, I remember one day of quiet retreat.  A precious sister-in-Christ whom I had connected with at a Christian conference a couple  years prior, and a two time breast cancer survivor invited me over for lunch at her lovely home.   Her back porch a haven in the middle of the storm.

We shared lunch as she shared about HER divine adventure through the valley of breast cancer…..twice.  As I was leaving, she placed a journal in my hands, with words from her heart and scripture.    In the journal she wrote “You are embarking on a “divine adventure with the Lord that will forever change you in such wonderful ways…..enjoy Him on this trip of a lifetime!”    I was encouraged to see a woman who walked through breast cancer while maintaining JOY.  I knew I wanted to walk in her lovely footprints.

I learned last week that God will be taking me on another divine adventure.

Although recent scans and mammograms were completely clear (as recent as August),  I have been diagnosed with a new type of cancer: triple negative inflammatory breast cancer (IBC).   IBC is very rare – only representing 2-4% of breast cancers diagnosed each year.

Our family has been processing this shocking news, and clinging tightly to one another.   We are moving in the direction of an appointment at MD Anderson, home of the first (maybe only?) IBC Specialty Clinic.    There are more questions than answers at this point in time.

It’s no accident that I’ve been studying the book of Romans in depth this Fall.

Romans 5:1-5 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

This is where my heart is in these moments:

I have peace WITH God through Jesus Christ, and I have the peace OF God which passes all understanding.   I’m standing right now ONLY because of His grace in which I stand.  And somehow, in a way I do not understand, I do “rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”  I have joy.

In my times of prayer, I have questioned- “Lord am I deluding myself? How is this possible, in these moments?  What is this that I’m feeling?” He speaks to me, “my daughter, this is JOY; the purest joy because it is not circumstantial.”

Friends that is ONLY through my relationship with God through Jesus Christ, who came to earth as a baby born to die.  For ME; for YOU.

Cancer is EVIL.  I do not want to gloss over the fact that there have been many, many tears in processing this news.  I want to be sensitive to everyone whose lives have been tragically intersected with this terrible disease.  Nearly everyone loves someone who has or has had cancer.  Cancer is not of God, but I know my God is big enough to use Cancer for His purposes.

That’s where, once more, I am placing my Hope.  My eyes of faith see an unseen story of grace woven through my life, through these divine adventures.

Christmas reminds me that I have the best Shepherd ~ the perfect guide who will both navigate and provide for every twist and turn ahead.  Jesus put on human flesh so that He could walk among us.  He was a baby born to die; living poured out among the people who despised Him, ultimately to the point of death.  He died so that I may be reconciled to God the Father.  He promises throughout His Word that He will never leave nor forsake me.

There will be many more words from me, as He has once more called me, for whatever reason, to walk this journey through words.  Some of these words I will share with you, some will remain private, forever between me and my Guide.

I am no longer naive to believe that this journey will be easy.  Not all days will be like today, where I feel enveloped in a cocoon of grace.   I’ve been through this once before, and I remember some very dark days.  More than ever, I am desperate for your prayers.  Thank you, in advance, for lifting me before the Father.  

If you feel so led, please share my story with anyone in your life who prays.  I believe God wants to grow us all in our prayer life through this trial.   If He can use cancer in that way in my life and the lives of those who read this blog, I say “Yes Lord”.

How to pray:
~For God’s miraculous healing of my body
~Wisdom, clarity, open doors for where to be treated; if it be God’s will that we would get an appointment at MD Anderson very soon
~If I am assigned to a new oncologist, that he/she would be a Christian; who seeks and knows God and prays with me
~for my PET scan today at 11am~pray the cancer has not spread to other organs
~Hope, Peace, & Joy in the midst for our family as we continue to process this news
~To glorify God through this trial
~praying for people to come to know Jesus through this; beauty from ashes

 

I’m well loved, by my family, church family, friends, co-workers, and blog readers who so faithfully journeyed with me during my first cancer adventure.  I am grateful beyond words for the love and support we are already experiencing on this second divine adventure through the valley of breast cancer.

I’m packing up for this trip of a lifetime.  I pray that I can steward this journey well.