My screened porch is a place where I meet with the Lord.  The sun greets me over the trees in the east and bird voices welcome me back to my spot. Sipping hot and black coffee, I crack open His Word and my eyes fall on His character and His promises.  My memory traces His faithfulness over my life.  My hand personalizes these promises in a polka-dot journal.  “Brooke, I am your shepherd, My child, goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life.” (Psalm 23) My heart begins to trust in the exquisite front side of my life-tapestry.  In His grace, often I can even see glimpses of the real-life beauty right here, in the middle of the mess.

In my last post, I shared briefly about the messy threads of life.  In the gritty hours of my days, especially in this life navigating a serious disease while mothering young children, my mind frequently drifts towards this metaphor of the tapestry.  With my eyes of sight, I see the messy backside of the tapestry – the chaotic myriad of colors, the knots and unraveled threads.

The truth: life is challenging – balancing young children, marriage, keeping up a house, and serving in a part time job/ministry. The days feel gritty and imperfect; the rough edges of sin and suffering rub like sandpaper. I see you nodding your head because you get it.

It’s tough enough without cancer.

Add in a two year fight against an unrelenting disease, and these circumstances could crush me.  Instead, they’ve brought me to my knees in utter desperation for my God.  That’s not a bad place to be.

These past two years have removed any false notion that I am smart enough, disciplined enough, and capable enough to do this life on my own. Today, I’m desperate like never before, leaning hard into the One I can trust with everything.  It feels like a deep breath of surrender, and the comforting embrace of just being held.  I’m humbled that God would entrust me with this desperation journey at age 37, instead of 77.

Today I’m sharing the “Friday Threads” of my heart and health.

Health

*God has been gracious in the healing from mastectomy surgery on 6/21/17.  I’m five weeks out, and all pain is gone!  Hallelujah! My range of motion is returning! Praise the Lord!  The healing of my heart and accepting my new scarred and broken body will take much longer. Right now my coping mechanism is to avoid mirrors. It may not be the healthiest way to cope, but this is all part of the journey and He’s there.

*Next week I start radiation therapy at MD Anderson Cancer Center.  The radiation will be on both my right chest area and sternum.  I’ll have radiation in Houston five days a week for six weeks.  The radiation oncologists in Houston are very specialized and it is imperative that I get the best care.  I’ve already been radiated once, so this situation is very delicate.  I’ll be living in Houston six weeks in a short-term, fully furnished apartment four miles from MD Anderson.  Justin and grandparents will be home with the children. I have several groups of visitors coming to keep me company for a few days at a time. Thanks to God’s provision and kind, generous souls I’ll be able to return home to see Justin and the children some of the weekends.  I have plans to fill my days alone in Houston with set apart time with God, NEPC Women’s Ministry work, reading, worship walks around Rice University (beautiful!), writing, making blog changes, and praying for divine appointments with other ladies who need prayer and a hug.

*For updates about my cancer journey, please “like” my Facebook page: Brooke Turner’s Cancer Journey  I would be so grateful if you could life up our family during these days.  I post specific prayer requests on the Facebook page.

Heart

Six weeks feels like too long for any mother to be separated from her children, especially when a new school year is starting, and the baby of the family will be starting kindergarten.  A new adventure to begin, a milestone to experience without the comfort and encouragement of Mama in person.

Six weeks feels like too long for any wife to be separate from her husband; requiring him to be Mr. Mom and Mr. Dad, and provider, and boo-boo kisser, and homework doer, and lunch packer.

Anxiety and worry can bubble up when I dwell on all that seems wrong with this scenario.  If you and I speak about this time in Houston for more than 30 seconds, there is a 99% chance that I will cry.  Especially if the topic of kindergarten comes up.

BUT GOD.

When I pause and take just a moment to lift up my eyes, He reminds me of the hidden work that He is accomplishing in my life, and in my family.  He reminds me of His daily faithfulness and provision each day I’ve traveled this rocky journey. Reflecting on His goodness along this unchosen path transforms my attitude from grumbly to grateful.

I’m grateful for His provision of a supportive husband and incredible daddy who loves his children so fiercely.

I’m grateful for grandparents who selflessly serve our family and provide some semblance of consistency (and laundered clothes!) during these topsy-turvy days.

I’m grateful for my sister who, in the midst of a full family life and demanding work life, has come alongside me in so many beautiful ways; coordinating trips and finding me an apartment, and traveling with me to Houston, and making plans to help with the children.

I’m grateful for friends who generously provide house cleaners, and send gift cards, and listening ears, and voxer messages, and warm hugs, and encouraging texts, and funny cards.

I’m grateful for the crinkly pages of Isaiah 61 in my blue bible.  My hope is wrapped up in this promised One, Jesus, who every single time without fail exchanges gladness from despair; comfort from mourning; beauty from ashes.

I’m grateful that I don’t have to wait to get to the other side of these difficult circumstances to experience God’s goodness and be steadied by His Hope.  His presence and His Hope are right here in the messy middle. This establishes my soul, and it can establish yours too.

Many of you look at our situation and allow fear to hold your heart in bondage.  “What if that happened to me?  How would I cope?”

One purpose of writing and sharing my story is to show you through this one, imperfect life that as we walk with the Lord in suffering, God always exchanges beauty for ashes.  

I pray my words infuse hope into your messy middle.  We’re all in the middle of something that feels like a mess.  It has not been easy, but this journey has been sweet and intimate, and one which God has gloriously grown me in ways only He can.  Our darkest seasons brith desperation for God, which allow for us to know Him intimately and comfort others with the comfort He has given us.  As we draw near to the weaver-God, He allows us to believe that He is weaving a perfect tapestry through the seemingly disconnected threads of our circumstances.

Housekeeping

*As I went through treatments (again) for breast cancer, most days I was too weak or my brain was too foggy to continue writing on this blog. God gave me a precious gift in my dear friend, Maria Currey, who so graciously sat at the feet of the Lord each week and wrote beautiful prayers which she posted here as ACTS of prayer.  Maria was my point person to distribute prayers both on the blog and in our church for faithful prayer warriors.  I’ve heard from many how thess “ACTS of Prayer” deeply ministered to so many of you, as you used them to enter into time with the Lord by first adoring who He is before seeking His hand.  I have saved each of these and plan to put them in a special place on my blog,  Thank you, dear Maria, for faithfully serving me and the readers of this blog.

*My vision for this blog is to serve you as you seek to find God’s goodness and His hope in the middle of your own mess.  The Lord has impressed this on my heart, as I listen, cry and pray for women in my life.  We’re all in the middle of something that feels like a mess. Your mess may be a waiting room of infertility, chaotic days with young children, infidelity, a broken relationship, or a debilitating disease.  Your answers will help me as I seek to serve you from an overflow of what God is doing in my life, as He walks with me through stage IV cancer.  I’ll be unpacking this further in the days ahead (as I have hours along in Houston). In the meantime, if you have a moment and you feel a need for this message in your life or in the life of a friend, would you please answer this:

What obstacles do you fight against as you seek to see God’s goodness and experience His hope in the messy middle of your circumstances?

You can comment here, email me at brooke@brookeaturner.com or send me a message on Facebook or Instagram.

Thank you for how you’ve carried our family in prayer in these days. Your love for our family is making indelible imprints into our hearts and the hearts of our children.  For this we are deeply grateful.