Sunday, March 1, 2015

What Comes Next? A Letter to the Brave Ladies of Rise Up

Dear Brave Sisters,

I am so proud of you. I am sure Jesus is proud too. Do you realize what you did yesterday? You let down the chains that were binding you. You were courageous enough to step out of the whirlwind of fear and into the gentle breeze of His grace. I am overwhelmed by the response to my story that I shared at Rise Up. If you weren't there- here is the very condensed version:

A good, beautiful, faith-filled friend of mine shared a thought with me last Summer when we were together at Bethel's WorshipU. She said, "you have to take your what-ifs and turn them into even ifs". At the time, I was going through some things in ministry that had caught me off guard. That phrase changed my life at that moment, by setting my mind at ease that "even if" I lost something that was very dear to my heart, God was still good, He still loved me, and still had a plan for my life. It was an act that turned WORRY into WORSHIP. A way of saying, "yet I will rejoice in the Lord" (Habakkuk 3:18)

Well, imagine my surprise just a couple weeks later when I, at the young age of 35, was told I had breast cancer. It was time to really test this "Even if" thing. It was a time of testing of every thought I have ever had about God. Did He really love me? Was He some distant God off in the clouds, not knowing what was happening to me, or anyone for that matter? Through my journey with cancer, I learned that YES, He loved me. And NO, He was not distant. In fact, He had never been closer. Instead of being inundated with "what ifs" like, What if I lose my hair? What if I die and leave my precious husband and three boys behind? What if my body is ruined? The Holy Spirit helped me to think with an eternal perspective: EVEN IF my hair falls out, my body is destroyed, or I leave this world way too early, HE IS STILL GOOD. HE IS STILL GOD. AND I KNOW HE LOVES ME. Thankfully, I made it through my journey with my hair, my life, and my body, more or less in tact.I still have scars, but have come to the conclusion that scars hold the redemption. Jesus was not ashamed to show the scars that showed His death and rebirth. We shouldn't be ashamed either. Without scars, the story is incomplete. The miracles He worked and the way He healed my body AND my heart leave me in absolute, stunned, awe.

So as I shared my What If to Even if perspective shift at Rise Up, I encouraged all the ladies in the room to make the shift too, to step out of fear and into acceptance and praise of God and His ways. Last night and today, I got a lot of messages from ladies impacted by the message contained in the two little words, "Even if". The response has so overwhelmed me, in fact, that I know in my heart that these weren't just two little words, but the start of a movement of women who want to trade worry for worship. I don't know what it looks like yet. And I don't know what to do next. But know that you have been heard. I want to make a way for you to know HOW to tell your story and a PLACE for you to do that.

So please follow my blog here, or watch Facebook for updates. I do have  my last reconstructive surgery on March 11 and will be down for a couple weeks, but this is actually perfect timing! Plenty of uninterrupted time to think, to write, and to dream with God about what is next.

In the mean time, if you were at Rise Up and you are wondering, "What do I do next?" Here's the simple answer- do everything you can to get closer to God so you can hear His voice. Dig deeply into His word. Buy some new worship music. Get alone with God and let Him love you. Here is a warning though, please don't come out of Rise Up and plan to "fix yourself" or somehow make yourself "better". It does not work that way and you will quickly become ensnared in the trap of striving, works-based religion. His love and grace have got to be the basis for life change. Get together with some ladies for coffee and prayer and wrestle through the question of "what next". As you do these things, know I am praying for you. This is only the beginning.

Thank you, ladies, for your honesty and your desire to love Him.

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