The whole story…

Beth Moore wrote a Bible study called, “A Heart Like His.” It is a study of David’s life and how God called him a “man after his own heart.” I, like David, want to be more like God and to be called “a woman after his own heart.” I have expressed that desire to God and would like to share how God has revealed himself to my heart over the past several years. I am truly becoming a woman after the heart of my God.

My story began years ago. Like David, I grew up loving God and knowing He loved me. This knowledge is such a precious gift from God and from my parents who taught me how to love Him. So, I had a great anchor to hold on to when this latest storm came into my life. The scripture that best expresses this is Psalm 71:6 which says, “You have been with me from birth and have helped me constantly. My success is because you are my mighty protector. All day long I’ll praise and honor you, O God; for all that you have done for me.” Let me take you on the journey I just completed. I’ll tell it from a hindsight view, so we can celebrate how God was working even before I was aware there was a problem.

In the fall of 2004, my husband, Charlie, had a physical and found that his red blood count was low, but the physician said that his large lungs made up for this deficiency in his blood. However, Charlie started trying to find ways to increase his red blood cells. As an avid bicyclist, one way to improve your ability to ride is to have your body create more red blood cells. When you have more red blood cells, your muscle output is greater. Professional bicyclists sleep “at altitude” where your body makes more red blood cells to make up for the thinner air. Because many bikers desire this, scientists created a tent you could put over your bed and create a high altitude effect, wherever you live. We bought a tent and began to sleep “at altitude.” I didn’t think I needed this, but it didn’t hurt me, so I gained more red blood cells along with Charlie. This was 12 or more months before I found out about the cancer, but God was already at work to heal me. Because, you see, when you go through Chemo, it lowers your red blood cell count and makes you less able to recover. We thought the tent was for Charlie, but as we look back on this and see how God brought me through, we are convinced that is was for my benefit that we had this tent. The Dr. said that he had never had a patient that had such great blood counts through Chemo. My body wouldn’t have had time to create extra red blood cells if we had tried this after we discovered the cancer.

Well, back to the journey. Because I thought I had a bladder infection for 2 months in a row, my family physician had me do an ultrasound. That is when they saw the cysts on my ovaries. We watched them for a while because my OBGYN wanted to wait until after Christmas to remove them. However, my family doctor, who is a great Christian man, insisted that I not wait. This was another great gift from God already in place when I needed it. When the pathology report came back, it was discovered that I had stromal tumors. Cancer! This was the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced! I was in shock, then in denial, and finally in despair. God met me there and walked me through all that happened. His words in Psalm 94:18-19, 22 spoke to me, “When I said, “my foot is slipping” your love, O Lord supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul. But the Lord has become my fortress, and my God the rock in whom I take refuge.” Finally, Hebrews 13:6 reminded me that the Lord is my helper.

After the initial shock, I began to pray that if there was anything in my life that wasn’t pleasing to Him that He would show me so I could confess it. I had learned in past lessons that God rarely tells you “why” so, I didn’t dwell on why I got cancer, but went looking for comfort in his promises. I read lots of Bible verses. Psalms especially spoke to me because David wrote his true emotions to God and many of the trials he endured sounded like the exact same emotions I was feeling. I would like to share some of verses that God used to comfort me.

Psalm 31: 3 “Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name, lead and guide me.”
Psalm 25:15 “My eyes are ever looking to the Lord for help for He alone can rescue me.”
Psalm 22:9, 10, 21-23 “Lord, you’ve helped me before and I have depended on you. Don’t stay away, O God, my strength, hurry to my aid. Rescue me from death. I will praise you to all my brothers. I will testify to the wonderful things you have done.”
Psalm 23: 1 “Because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need.”
Psalm 9:10 “All those who know your mercy Lord, will count on you for help, for you have never forsaken those who trust in you.”
Psalm 41:1-3 “Blessed is he who has regard for the weak. The Lord delivers him in times of trouble. The Lord will protect him and preserve his life. He will bless him in the land and not surrender him to the desires of his foes. The Lord will sustain him on his sickbed and restore him from his bed of illness.”

To shorten this story, I’ll just briefly cover the rest. I had a hysterectomy, broke my arm, (an additional lesson in ‘who is in control’) and 3 rounds of Chemo. After the last Chemo, I got a horrible rash that made my whole face swell and covered my entire body. It was awful, but it caused the doctor to not do the fourth Chemo which turned out to be a blessing. After completing the Chemo, a CAT scan was done for a clear picture that could be watched for the next 5-10 years for changes. Renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) was discovered through this test. This was another God intervention. My OBGYN said that because they found a slight amount of cancer on the uterus, they ordered this test. They normally wouldn’t have done this. The kidney doctor my physician recommended was a friend from our past and a wonderful God fearing man whom we felt comfortable with. This reminded me once again that God is in control of even the smallest details. The recommended treatment was to remove the right kidney. Fortunately, because it had not spread beyond the kidney, after surgery there was no chemo. Praise God! Since then, I have had a few CAT scans and some other tests and have been declared cancer free. They will continue to watch me, but I will continue to trust God with my future.

Well, although you have heard the physical side of things, the spiritual side is much more profound. The journey I went on with the Lord was much more life changing than the cancer. I read a sentence in a beautiful devotional book called Streams in the Desert that changed the way I look at things. It said, “God may send you some valuable gifts wrapped in unattractive paper but inside are treasures of love, kindness and wisdom.” I delight in sharing my story in hopes that when you encounter the storms in your life, perhaps my journey can be a helpful “map” to get you through the trial and to victory on the other side.

So, the story started with me already loving God and knowing He loved me. He had always been there before and I knew He was in control. I knew this in my head, but now I know and believe it with my whole being. I leaned on God and He was my rock, but Charlie was my rock I could touch. My husband was an incredible anchor. He was such a wonderful picture of God with skin on. He was with me for all the doctor visits, tests and surgeries. He listened to my every complaint, did all my regular jobs, held me when I felt fear, fatigue and worry and told me I was beautiful without hair, with bumps and scars, etc. And, he wasn’t the only person God used to show his love for me….of course my parents, family, best friends, and many of you reading this story provided strength and comfort. These messengers of God sent cards, meals, prayers, flowers, books, blankets, devotionals, books, etc. I was overwhelmed by how many people cared for me and expressed it in some way!

Finally, I was prayed for in many states and all around the world. The power of prayer to comfort and heal was amazing to experience! Prayer is very powerful yet we don’t pray near enough. I used to just whisper a quick prayer here and there, but I am trying to spend more time now in prayer. It is so powerful! We should be in constant communication with the power source: God! I read a great prayer recently. It goes like this, “Lord, help me to take to heart the fact that whatever problems lay ahead, they are not as great as the power behind me.” Now, I want to throw a side note in here. We don’t always get what we pray for. God knows best and is in control, and we need to trust him.