April 30th, 2013 by Sheree
Do your ears itch?
One of the lasting side effects I have from radiation therapy has been an itching in my right ear accompanied by some hearing loss. It’s annoying, but I happen to believe that everything has a purpose, including this.
This past weekend I finally started my book. (YEAH!) I’m still not sure what the title of the book will be, but the title of the first chapter is “Blindsided.” In it I explore the blind spots we leave exposed and the reasons we’re caught off guard when trouble hits.
As I have reflected on my own blind spots and the things that caught me totally off guard in my battle with cancer I’ve realized it wasn’t necessarily the diagnosis of cancer. The big thing that blindsided me was the tension between my expectation of what God would do about my cancer and what actually happened.
I know what you’re thinking… “What does this have to do with itchy ears?”
Like many American Christians I have been guilty of surrounding myself with teachers who said what my itchy ears wanted to hear, (see 2 Timothy 4:3). Consequently I suffered from some spiritual hearing loss. For years I heard, read, studied and claimed the scriptures that I liked and overlooked ones I should have paid more attention to. I didn’t do it on purpose; it was just easier to accept the scriptures that inspired hope and gloss over the ones shouting warnings I should have heard.
My real life itchy ears and hearing loss have been a constant reminder for me to lean in to God’s word to hear exactly what it says. I no longer feel the urge to pass over the hard to read parts. Now they are music to my ears. Below are a few of my favorites:
- It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. Psalm 119:71
- Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4
- Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed. 1Peter 4:12-13
Notice these aren’t the typical scriptures we plaster on our refrigerator. Nor would they get a “like” response on facebook. No one likes suffering, but it’s part of the Christian walk. God wants to grow our character and suffering is a tool He often allows us to endure so that we can know His decrees, not lack anything and truly be overjoyed when His glory is revealed.
When I satisfied my itchy ears with lopsided teaching I left a huge blind spot for the enemy to attack. Because I didn’t think God would allow me to suffer, I was shocked when I did. Now I know that affliction is good for me. I do consider it pure joy to know that God loves me enough to not leave me lacking. By participating in suffering I am all the more overjoyed that God’s glory was revealed through my healing.
So, I ask again… Do your ears itch? Do you surround yourself with teachers and scriptures that only tell the parts you like to hear? Are you leaving a blind spot open that the enemy can use to catch you off guard?
December 12th, 2012 by Sheree
God Is Still Writing His Story
All of us love a good story. We’re captivated by a budding romance, we sit on the edge of our seats watching a good drama unfold and when up against all odds… we all root for the underdog.
But the story we often miss is the story God is writing in and through our own lives. Instead of seeing the big picture we tend to focus on the individual scenes seeing them as random events.
In his book, “To Be Told”, Dan B. Allender makes an incredible statement:
“Neither your life nor mine is a series of random scenes that pile up like shoes in a closet. We don’t have to clear out old stories to make room for new ones. Both your story and mine have unique characters, surprising plot twists, central themes, tension and suspense, and deep significance. Each is an intriguing tale, and neither is fiction. Our story is truer than any other reality we know, and each of us must discover the meaning of what God has written as our life story. In our story God shows us what He’s up to and what He wants us to be about.”
As I look back at the story God has written in my life over the past year I can see that the surprising plot twist of being diagnosed with throat cancer, the tension and suspense of treatment and the unique characters that I encountered along the way have indeed held deep significance.
Out of the pain God wrote into my story this year I have gained insight that I couldn’t have gotten any other way. While I pray I’ll never have to go through it again, I wouldn’t trade the lessons learned from it. Without a doubt I know He wants me to do something with what I’ve learned. For me that means writing a book, telling my story and sharing the hope I found in the depths of my despair.
With the New Year right around the corner I feel it’s time to embark on this new adventure I sense God calling me to. You’ve followed my story as it was happening, now I would like you to follow the story God has written in me as I attempt to put it in words. As I write I’ll give sneak peeks and ask for feedback.
For starters I would like your help in coming up with a working title. I say working title because often publishers change the title. Below are some titles I’m considering. Do any of them grab you? Or, perhaps you have another idea.
- “Blind Sighted by Trouble, Recovered by Love”
- “Seeing God’s Goodness in the Trials We Face”
- “Turning Trials into Triumphs”
- “Seeing Past Life’s Troubles, Finding a Different Kind of Miracle”
- “Finding Hope, When Life Disappoints Us”
- “Living Through Hard Times Without Losing Your Faith”
Please leave comments with your thoughts and ideas.
January 30th, 2012 by Sheree
Three Words You Never Want to Hear
You’ve got cancer!
The weirdest part is… I feel perfectly fine.
Here are the facts:
My journey started last October. I had just gotten back from a mission trip to Trinidad when I noticed a lump in my neck. I immediately assumed I had picked up something weird from the hospital we had visited in Trinidad. When it didn’t go away after a week or so I decided that I might need to see my doctor. She too thought that it was some kind of infection I had been exposed to in Trinidad so she started me on antibiotics and ran a bunch of tests. After ten days of treatment and no positive results on the many tests she had run, she sent me to an oncologist who in turn sent me to an ENT. Over the next several weeks I had a cat scan and then a needle biopsy. These tests showed some suspicious cells. Right before Christmas I was told that the only way to know for sure what we were dealing with was to take it out, so surgery was scheduled for January 18th. Once it was out the doctor informed me that it was indeed cancer.
The past twelve days have been a roller coaster of emotions and a boatload of doctor appointments. We’ve since learned that the cancer more than likely originated in my tonsils. (Still waiting on a confirmation from the results of a pet scan I had on Friday to confirm.) My doctors have told me that there is an 80-90% cure rate, but the treatment is very tough. They have recommended an aggressive plan of both chemo and radiation to be done simultaneously for the next seven weeks. Treatment is scheduled to begin next Monday, 2/6/12.
Those are the facts about what I am facing. Here’s the real story:
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