JOY!  Do you have joy in your lives?  I recently watched a video of a precious friend who is taking care of her boyfriend that was in a terrible car wreck in October.  The family was told that he wouldn’t make it, would never have the trach removed, and would basically be a “vegetable” for the rest of his life. And guess what?  He’s making all of those doctors stand in awe,  doing exactly what they said he’d never do.  He’s eating, beginning to communicate some, and the trach was removed this week.  She said that she’s had a hard time finding JOY after so much sadness recently in her young life.  But that she constantly remembers the letters in JOY…(Jesus, others, and then yourself) each day, in that order.  We all have gone through hardships and pain but we must rejoice that we have a loving God.  And that should bring so much JOY each day to our lives.  Pray for her to stay strong as she’s caring for her boyfriend and for him to have a full recovery.  They are just so precious.  

Last week was our church’s first cancer support group.  It was originally planned for the beginning of February but with teaching 25 second graders and having a small child, I somehow got the flu.  SHOCKER!!!  I knew the minute my hair began hurting at school that I needed to get myself to the doctor to see if I had the dreaded virus.  And I did.  I remember getting it last year right after my mastectomy and being knocked down after trying to go and do a little too fast after surgery.  And the same thing happened this year.  So I took heed, slowed down, rested, and healed.  And rescheduled this night that I had so been looking forward to.  I’ve always worked with the children’s ministry at our church, with VBS, Sunday School, AWANA, etc. but I have felt a strong pull towards ministering to individuals who have cancer, have had cancer, and their caregivers and families.  So when asked if I would be interested in starting a group for our church/community, I gladly accepted and began planning.  JOY filled my heart as I began praying for Him to guide me as I prepared for this special time with others that have gone through cancer.  The Bible says that Jesus will MAKE us fishers of men or people.  He will use us to ”fish” for people and draw them in to HIS saving grace.  All we have to do is use the tools He’s given us to help others and then share HIS love.  And that’s exactly what has happened since July 12, the day I was diagnosed with cancer.  I remember vividly the morning of July 13, waking up to the slamming car door of an amazing cancer warrior that took the day off to love on me.  She spent hours reassuring me that I was going to be ok.  She showed me her scars, wrapped me in her arms, just like Jesus.  Her visit still brings me to tears when I think about seeing her at my door after being told the devastating news that NO ONE wants to hear.  And since that day, I felt that God’s purpose for me was to take this terrible situation, use it for HIS good, and minister to others, showing love and giving hope.  I’ve prayed so many times for Him to use me to spread the gospel and share the promise that HE’s made to us all.  The verse Deuteronomy 31:6  says “He will never leave us nor forsake us” and that rings in my ears daily, as I live each day knowing that cancer tried to take my life and draw near to His promise that He will never go back on it.  Someone once told me to seal that in my heart and wow…how I’ve done that many times when I walk in fear.  So on the morning of the support group, I woke up feeling great and ready to conquer the day.  I prayed that God would use me to love on the broken people that have been affected by cancer.  Cold and rainy weather came in, but not a single raindrop could keep me from smiling, knowing that we would praise Him that night. Chili and cornbread warmed our bellies and a precious testimony from my friend Sarah warmed our souls as she spoke about being a nurse navigator for many and then diagnosed with breast cancer herself last October.  Each time I saw her at the cancer center, she always had a smile on her face and a kind word to say.  She radiated positive energy even when she felt terrible.  And that’s what she shared with us that evening.  By having cancer herself, she can truly share real life experiences with cancer patients to help them get through their daily lives, focusing on God’s grace and love.  The men and women that came for the support group brought different stories, each with pain and sorrow.  I couldn’t help but think about how many days had been spent amongst us all feeling like our last days were near.  But then to see us all in one room, alive, after much suffering.  The tears welled in my eyes.  God is using all of us in unexpected ways.  When we turn to Him for comfort and love in our hard times, it also allows us to help others. And He never has told us to not deny our suffering, but take heart in His ability to use it for good.  So good is what came from our night.  Many relationships were formed and some were reconnected.  And I pray that many left with a full heart, knowing that they aren’t alone in this process.  He’s right there with us with each challenge that we’re given.  And having friends with similar challenges to run the race with, makes life a little easier too.  Our next meeting is on Thursday, May 16.  My best friend Erica will be speaking on the importance of having a friend to walk beside you through the cancer journey.  

As for me, I’m still feeling great.  The medicine I’m on has had no side effects which I’m so thankful for.  Each morning when I pop that tiny white pill into my mouth, I thank Jesus for modern medicine to keep the cancer away, and for allowing me another day on this Earth with my people.  We’ve been super busy with Swanky Steer, the beginning stages of remodeling our house (YIPPEE), Jett taking riding lessons, beginning tee ball, church, jobs, and the daily life of a normal family.  My hair has been the topic of many conversations as I added some color on it last week to cover up those crazy grays. My sweet hairdresser straightened it for me to see how long it actually is but the consensus vote for most people is to keep my hair CURLY.  So that’s what I’ll do.  Throwing water and a little hair cream on it each morning is so convenient and not having to crank up the straightener each day, makes life a little easier. And I like easy.

So remember the word JOY.  As I walked into the cancer center yesterday so many people radiated JOY!  I’m serious!  I’ve never seen such happy people in such a place that can be so depressing.  Jesus’ presence was so felt throughout the whole building.  Be that joy to others.  Discover your joy.  Let joy be your compass. Serve the world with your joy.  Run straight for joy.  The root of joy is gratefulness.  And grateful is exactly what I am each day, finding joy in the journey!

“Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”  Habakkuk 3:18

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