Sunday, May 29, 2005


I love being a part of the worship team when new songs are introduced. Part of the excitement is hearing Joel's heart behind the song choice and his desire to make these our songs. I was especially touched by "Beautiful" this weekend. The words are so simple and so amazing. A lot of it resonated with something Judy Hougen blogged about a couple weeks ago: "Beauty is part of who God is. Not only does God embody beauty, he also creates it. So if beauty is part of who God is and what he does, are we not in spiritual peril if we ignore or discount the role of beauty in our own lives?" (These few sentences are not doing her post justice. Click on her name to the left to read the entire thing). God created us. God creates beautiful things. Not only is HE beautiful in HIS holiness, he makes US beautiful through HIS holiness.

I was recently turned on to the Jennifer Knapp-type stylings of Christian recording artist Bethany Dillon. (Thanks, Lisa). I have a lot of respect for musicians who write their own stuff and/or play an instrument. Bethany does both. And she's one of those teenage phenoms. She has a song on her new album, also called "Beautiful," that really speaks the same things I mentioned above. She does something cool with the chorus. The first couple times through, the words are very "I" centered ("I want to be beautiful, and make you stand in awe..."), but the last time through, it becomes a God-centered voice. The journey spoken of in the lyrics has brought her to a place where she finds her beauty in who she is in the Lord. "You make me beautiful, You make me stand in awe, You step inside my heart, and I am amazed. I love to hear You say, Who I am is quite enough. You make me worthy of love and beautiful." It's a very refreshing reminder of WHO we are and WHOSE we are.

In a society where beauty is measured by outside appearances, I want to remember to draw from the only one who can make me truly beautiful.
"God does not see the same way people see. People look on the outside of a person, but the Lord looks at the heart." (I Samuel 16:7)

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

It's a happy day

Why? Because today, my mother is a one-year breast cancer survivor.

May 24, 2004. I didn’t usually call mom in the morning. And I don’t remember why I did on this particular morning. But for some reason, I sat down in my classroom and dialed her number. Her crying voice picked up on the other end and said, “I have cancer.” I had a vague recollection that she had gotten a lump checked out. We cried together on the phone for a while. But I had to say goodbye and collect myself. I would have 16 kindergarteners invading my classroom in a matter of minutes. The following week brought uncertainty, a plethora of cards and pink flowers, and a schedule for surgery.

Come the middle of June, mom would have two lumpectomies. The second was on my 24th birthday. They removed the two lumps and 19 lymph nodes, 3 of which were positive.

By the end of July, she was starting chemotherapy. The total of eight treatments took place every two weeks and would bring her right into November. I had the humbling opportunity to accompany her on two of these trips. The chemo took a toll on her body (and hair), but her spirits were stronger than ever. She amazingly continued working through all of this.

Around Thanksgiving, mom started a 6 ½ week course of radiation. Her hair started growing back around Christmas, and her attitude remained as positive as ever. By the middle of January, we were celebrating the end of cancer treatments.

The next few months progressed without any major changes. A couple of doctor’s appointments just for check-ups.

And now, here we are, one year later. Celebrating life. Celebrating strength. Celebrating God’s faithfulness.

So much in me has risen up in this year of watching someone so dear to me play with the crappy hand life dealt her. I remember at one point, toward the end of chemo, she wrote these words:

“So now I'm looking back, and I realize that if the cancer comes back I won't go to pieces! Some might read that as me not having faith that God has healed me. That's not it at all. I know that the Lord walked with me every step of the way. He was so close and so dear. My family and friends were amazing. I may never have to deal with cancer again. But if I do, I'll be okay.”

That gave me such hope as her daughter. I certainly don’t want to watch her go through it again, but knowing that she know she’s going to be okay makes me feel okay. I also felt that if I ever had to go through this myself, I wouldn't be scared.

Fear also rose up at more than one point along this journey. The realization that breast cancer was now part of our family medical history was less than exciting. Watching mom deal with nausea, pain, and fatigue was unbearable. Wanting so badly to help her but not knowing exactly how to was tough.

I remember feelings of thankfulness being prominent. At every point of the journey—the diagnosis, the treatments—there was something to be thankful for. That the lumps weren’t bigger. That more lymph nodes weren’t positive. For the amazing doctors and nurses that were in charge of her care. There was always an overwhelming feeling of the preciousness of life.

By the grace of God, we all made it through the whole ordeal. And just as mom had said, we don’t want to do this all over again, but we know God holds our lives in His amazingly loving hands, and we can’t do anything but trust Him.

My mom is an incredible woman of God. I’m glad that I can call her my best friend. And today I’m glad to call her a survivor.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

It's weird

I want to be a runner.

That's not weird.

The weird thing is that I actually hate running. So far, anyway. It make my knees and lungs ache. It makes me feel like a bit of a dope as I pound the hard pavement 6 feet below my head. But that's exactly what I'm doing.

So why do I run?

I'm still trying to figure out a good answer for that one. The deep desire to "be a runner" is certainly motivating enough right now. I want to be healthy. I want to take advantage of this beautiful spring we're experiencing. Well, I pretend. :)
I'm doing this run/walk program right now, where each week I run more and walk less, and eventually I'll be able to run a marathon or something. Well, maybe not quite.

I'm learning very quickly that running--or any challenge, really--is SO MUCH mind over matter. If I know I have to run a certain number of minutes before I can walk again, my mind prepares my body for that. However, if I start running with no "number of minutes" goal in my head, I can't make it half that distance. It's weird.

I'm hoping to eventually be able to say that I love running. If nothing else in this grand new excursion of mine, I do love my running shoes.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Building for Eternity

I recently came across some old books as I was cleaning and organizing our downstairs office/spare bedroom/workout area. Most of them were books from Bible classes at Northwestern that I wasn't able to sell back at the end of the semester. I hated when that happened. But some of the books were worth putting on a shelf and actually paging through again. One such book is My Utmost for His Highest. I remember receiving it from Pam Keske when I graduated from high school, and I forgot how incredible it is. I also think I have a more mature appreciation for his writing this many years later. I especially love what was written for today--May 7--and I want to share some of it.

"For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?"
~Luke 14:28

"Our Lord refers not to a cost we have to count, but to a cost which He has counted....All that we build is going to be inspected by God. Is God going to detect in His searching fire that we have built on the foundation of Jesus some enterprise of our own? These are days of tremendous enterprises, days when we are trying to work for God, and therein is the snare. Profoundly speaking, we can never work for God. Jesus takes us over for His enterprises, His building schemes entirely, and no soul has any right to claim where he shall be put."
~Oswald Chambers