From Today On, Your Life Will Never Be the Same

Image courtesy of mrpuen at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of mrpuen at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Those are the words that my oncologist shared with me this week as he explained next steps.  You see, when you are diagnosed with a disease that can potentially take your life from you, you change.  You look at relationships differently, you don’t get upset so much over stupid things, you never take a day for granted and you put a big smile on your face every day that you wake up, are alive and feeling good. Well, at least that is the way I look at things.  I know there are others who will choose to retreat into their own little world, become angry with God, begin feeling like they are owed something for their sufferings and are basically bitter and miserable every day of their lives.

Each one of us is required to make choices when change comes into our lives.  When I go speak, I talk about the fact that people either run towards God or away from God when they face trials.  Personally, I choose to run towards God.  I have learned in my 29 years of following God that He is always faithful.  He may not answer our pleas for help in the timing that we think He should.  Nor does He always answer our prayers with the answer we asked for.  But one thing I’ve learned…even when we don’t see Him, you can rest assured He is there.

I went to two oncology offices last week…one was hematology for meds and/or chemo.  The other was for radiation treatments.  My first appointment of the week was very upsetting.  It’s a long story but let’s just leave it at that. On Thursday, I went to the second oncologist and I was petrified as I sat outside of their office preparing to go in for my appointment.  I certainly need to trust these doctors who hold my life and well-being in their hands.  If I were going to have an experience like I did on Monday, I was thinking about just ignoring the fact I have cancer and just going on as usual.  I know that’s not a reasonable thought, but if I couldn’t trust those in charge of my care, I had no hope.

I read the Bible every morning…or at least try to do so. I typically follow one of the reading plans with the You Version online Bible.  That way I can check off what I have read and track my progress.  My reading the last couple of days had been in Ecclesiastes and then the Song of Solomon.  Although each book has its benefits, I didn’t think they would provide me with the encouragement I needed for that particular day.  I kept thinking, “I should read the book of James today.”  However, life got in the way.  Robin Roberts had returned to Good Morning America and I needed to check in to see how she was holding up on her second day back.  Then I had to check Facebook and answer some emails.  All of a sudden I looked up and I only had about 20 minutes to get a shower and be ready to leave for my appointment!

I was feeling bad that I didn’t get my reading in so I took my iPad with me so I could read a little while waiting to go into my appointment.  I also chose to keep the radio off during the drive there and prayed instead.  When I arrived I sat in the parking lot thinking to myself, “Maybe I should just forget all of this stuff.  They are going to poison my body and give me other bad things to heal this already bad thing I have.  At least most of the bad things they’re going to give me won’t actually kill me like cancer.  They will only make me miserable as time goes on.  But then I was reminded about how I want to be here for my grandchildren.  I want them to know who I was as I don’t remember mine other than one grandpa.  I want them to understand my faith in God and I want to tell them about Him when they are old enough to understand.  I need to fight.”  So I bravely got out of the car and went inside.

I tried to put a big smile on my face as I was greeted by the receptionist but it just came out about halfway.  As I sat down to wait, I pulled out my iPad and opened it to James 1.  As I sat in the waiting room, I had tears streaming down my face as God literally met me there with His Word.  James 1:2-4 (NKJV) says: My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

It has been confirmed.  I know now that life as I knew it is going to change.  God is taking me to a new dimension of knowing Him.  He is using my circumstances to stretch me, mold me and teach me His ways.  I need to have praise on my lips and patience in my heart as He once again shows me more of Him.  How can I not get excited knowing that He loves me enough to be there for me in my time of weakness and sorrow so that some day I might be perfected… complete…lacking NOTHING!

So yes, I will have days in my humanness that I am sad and ask, “Why me?”  However, I hope that there will be many more days of praising Him for what He is doing and has done in my life through this current trial.  Again, I will ask but with different meaning, “Why me?  Why not choose to use someone who is a much better person than me?  And then I will smile because I know that with my suffering, God will give me joy and meet me right where I am.  He will fill me with more knowledge of Him and from today on, my life will never be the same.  With that, I choose to praise Him all the rest of the days of my life! I have found my hope!

What trial have you been through that changed your life?  Have you praised and thanked God for that experience or did you become bitter, missing the opportunity for growth?  I realize that yes, it is important to trust my doctors.  However, it is even more important to trust my Lord and Savior.  He is the one that holds the answers and will see me through.  I hope that you will be inspired to give God that struggle you have in your life today.  No longer will you put your trust in man; rather, you will trust the God who is right there with you seeing you through.   I promise you.  If you make the choice to trust God today, your life as you know it will never be the same!  Be blessed this week and don’t forget…go out and be a blessing!

A couple of more inspirational thoughts sent to me from friends…

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

“God, who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain.” — C.S. Lewis

Stripping Away The Layers (Part 1)

Have you ever had a home where you had to remove wallpaper?  We just moved as most of you know and this house is filled with it!  I have stripped walls for days and am going to be doing it for weeks before it is done, I fear.  I’ve tried all of the tricks and there is nothing that makes it fun or easy.  For that matter, I am thinking I’m going to go to congress soon and order a new law to be put in place.  I don’t think anyone should be able to sell a home without removing all of the wallpaper before it transfers to the new owner.  It’s a simple as that.

I am always thinking about my next blog and what I will write about as I go about my week.  As I was laboring every free minute I had on my wallpaper this week, I thought this is really going to be a boring blog.  I have nothing to write about but wallpaper.  It is my life, it is consuming me and I will be obsessed until the job is done.  I know this about me.  It’s a flaw.  But once I get something I focus on, it becomes an obsession until I accomplish it.

A couple of weeks ago, we had a baptism service at our church.  I always shed tears of joy each time another person chooses to follow Christ and is baptized as an expression of that new life.  It caused me to reflect on the day when I was baptized.  What a glorious day it was. I did it out of obedience never realizing the blessing I would receive in return.  As I came up out of the water, I felt as though I would never be the same.  My old life had been washed away and the new life had begun.  Literally!  I was also reminded of my early days as a Christian and the hard work and dedication involved just to stay on the path so to speak.  I had developed bad habits and a lifestyle that needed to be changed if I were going to be obedient in my newfound faith.

Then my thoughts went back to my walls.  In my warped mind, I started imagining how my walls must have felt being smothered by this horrifically ugly paper for twelve long years.  It may have dreamed of seeing the sunshine, breathing a fresh breath of air and simply being released from the bondage this paper held on it.  As I steamed and scraped, it seemed like some pieces of paper just fell off the wall; no problem there.  However, other pieces shredded into tiny pieces as I pulled and seemed to be extra hard to remove.  I worked diligently all week, steaming, scraping, and tugging, over and over again.  A little at a time, I am beginning to see the walls as the builder created them to be when he built this home twelve years ago.  Ahhhh!  They can breathe again!  Hehe.

My thoughts then returned to those who were baptized and of how their new lives will be similar to that of my walls.  They have been in bondage and sin and now in their new lives they will begin to pull away the layers of the old life so that can finally see the true being God created them to be.  Some areas of their lives will be more easily unpeeled than others.  There will be those things in their past that will want to hang on and actually shred into little pieces as they are being pulled away making it more difficult to be freed from them.

If you are that person, feeling that you’ve still got some layers to unpeel, don’t give up.  Ask the Holy Spirit to give you some extra steam so that you can understand what you have to do to rid yourself of that issue forever.  Even if each piece comes off in shreds, it’s OK.  Each person is different.  God allows us each to move at our own pace as He patiently peels away the layers one by one.

This week as I am steaming and peeling away at my layers on my walls, I’ve decided not to grumble and complain.  Rather, I am going to be praying.  Praying for those who are still struggling with the old life for whatever reason.  I’m going to ask God to remove those things left over from the old life that aren’t pretty while helping my friends find the real beauty underneath.  I pray that His scraping will be gentle but effective and when steam is necessary, I pray that He do whatever it takes to remove this hindrance from their lives.  For having been there, done that, I understand the worth of a little steam here and there to get it out of our lives once and for all!

So for now, wallpaper removal seems like a worthwhile task.  That is, as long as I look at it through God’s eyes and include a lot of prayer!  Be sure to send me a private message at JustTryingToBeABlessing@gmail.com if you have a “layer of the old life” you need to have unpeeled.  I would be glad to add you to my prayer list…I certainly am going to have a lot of time to reflect and pray with this big job ahead!  Have a great week!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV) “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Philippians 2:14  Do all things without complaining and disputing,

2Corinthians 5:17  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

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