Peace Family you have been a huge part of my journey with cancer and I wanted to share with you the good news…As of January 28th, 2019 I am now 5 years cancer free! Here’s a picture of my doctor, Kathleen Schmeler and I at my check up a week ago.
I began working for Bryan Broadcasting in 2013 and three months later was diagnosed with cancer. I was shocked and had the unenviable task of telling my bosses that news. I also had to ask for time off for treatment. In all my career I have never asked for time off the first year I work a new job. It’s not done in radio. One of my strengths is being dependable, showing up on time and working hard. This went against everything in me. I was scared.
The news was met with support and an assurance they would hold my job and wait for me to get better. They would be there with me. It was amazing. I also was only 90 minutes from one of the most renowned cancer centers in the world: MD Anderson in Houston. My doctor fast-tracked me there and 25 days later I went under the knife to removed a 2 cm tumor. Then the hard part started. Radiation for 6 weeks M-F with a chemo called Cisplatin every Monday to enhance the radiation. Boy did it. By the 4th week I had second degree burns and was begging for mercy.
No mercy was given. Doctors explained that radiation was cumulative and since I had sensitive skin it would be something I would just have to endure. That was the price to try to make it 5 years without a recurrence. That is a difficult place to be in. I worked years to learn to be present in the moment and not live in the past or future, and now I was asked to reverse that. It pushed me to my limits and drove me into the arms of Jesus. There were some days I was so weak I used a wheelchair. There were times that my prayer was just the word Jesus…it was all I could get out in my suffering.
You never know how you will react to a challenge like cancer but I realized something profound. God is God and he is good even if I had cancer. My faith was solid. I did not ask why or feel sorry for myself. He was my only source of help. If there was any immaturity in me it was burned away during radiation. I realized that I might not be okay and that was okay. I had lived an amazing life and a gratefulness entered me like I had never known.
I had tests every 3 months for 4 years and then every six months. Now, it’s once a year. To be honest I did not think I would make it to the 5 year mark. There is still no guarantee it will not come back at any time. I try now to live fully each day. And my family and lifelong friends say I have a peace and calmness about me that wasn’t there before. I guess facing death will do that to you. And your priorities get checked really fast.
So, in closing, I am here!! I can’t tell you the joy that brings me. Thank you for your prayers and kindness during this time. It’s been an honor to be with you every day on Peace 107 and be a part of your life. My purpose in life is to encourage others in Jesus name. And I will stay and do that as long as God allows me to.
A while back, I was chatting with an unmarried friend about the demise of my first marriage and he commented, “I don’t know how ANYbody can get married! How can you really know someone enough to marry them? It’s just too risky!”
Those words tumbled around in my head for days. I came to the conclusion that he is partially correct. I completely understand why he feels that way. He said it out of his observations of married friends and family members. No marriage is perfect and it sure isn’t easy!! Marriage probably is the riskiest thing you can ever do in life. Riskier than mountain climbing or skydiving. If you don’t make the right choices… you could lose your life!
BUT… in the risk and the danger is so much good, so much growth… so much that will NOT happen without that risk.
When “marriage experts” say that to be successful, a marriage takes 2 people giving 100%… I think that’s low-balling it. You have to give more than you have! Yeah, I know, it makes me sound math-challenged… oh yeah, I am… but a successful marriage takes two people giving much more than 100% each.
Since “math” says more than 100% is impossible, that extra effort, time, energy, passion, wisdom… etc. needs to miraculously come from somewhere… or someONE. Yes, marriage can be successful without the intentional dependence on Jesus. BUT… without Him, you don’t have access to the strength needed to give more than 100%.
Now, back to the risk and value in marrying someone…
Yes, you are risking everything when you give beyond 100% to another fallible human being. I think that’s what God wants from us, however. No, He doesn’t want you miserable! He wants us to LOVE. 1 Corinthians 13, the “Love Chapter“, isn’t only for married people, it’s for everyone. The beginning of verse 8 sums up what true love really is and does… “Love never fails…” Other things may be tried in an attempt to help or fix, but LOVE NEVER FAILS!
Love never fails. But humans do.
And even when humanness causes the failure of a marriage, all is not lost! The effort, time, energy… EVERYthing you put into your marriage is worth it. The most obvious gifts from marriage would be kids! But there is much more that is gained! The lessons learned while loving have great value!
What I’ve said so far is simply my “ever-so-humble-opinion”. It is an opinion that’s been educated by a lifetime of experiences that I’ve let Jesus use to teach me. And He will continue to teach me through things that HAVE happened and WILL happen.
A few observations from my experience…
Nothing is wasted!! Nothing, not a bloomin’ thing! I gained a lot during my marriage that I would not have if I’d not been married. My kids and grandkids are the best things that came from it! Also, I learned an incredible amount during my 30 years of marriage. Here’s an abbreviated list of things I learned:
There is a multitude of other lessons that have been learned… including some about helping children understand about raising animals for food and several regarding the need for steel-toed boots when cutting firewood… I just chose a few and will leave the rest to your imagination.
The knowledge and (semi)wisdom I’ve gained makes the risks well worth it!
Do I have regrets? For sure!! But I try to let Jesus take those and redeem them like everything else. I look back and have to say that if anything was different back then, I might not be where I am right now. And I really like where I am, doing what I’m doing… and LOVE where God is leading me… not that I know exactly where that is and how it will look… BUT I am LOVING the adventure!!
The spring of 2015 I had the opportunity to take a long, much needed road trip. Just me, my Jeep and Jesus! Along the way I visited friends and family. Early in April, I left my Aunt Bobbie’s house well rested and lighthearted. It was such a delightful and fun time with her and some of our extended family!! As I headed up into the mountains northwest of Phoenix, I was surrounded by sights I didn’t get to see in Wisconsin… mountains, palm trees, cactus, Joshua Trees and, occasionally, flowers trying to exist in the desert. The road was winding and rolling between the mountains. (Now, if you know me, I LOVE THAT… winding, rolling… up and down, back and forth… sigh).
I had the CD player cranked. I must have had the silliest grin on my face!! I was laughing, and singing, and gasping at the sights, crying, and laughing some more. I was thanking Jesus and telling Him, out loud (LOUDLY), what an awesome creator He is! I blurted out, giggling; “Oh God! I feel like a little kid!!!” I heard my Heavenly Dad’s voice say… “Yes… I am melting away the years.”
And, like He often orchestrates, this song was next on the CD…
“From the ruins, from the ashes; beauty will rise. From the wreckage, from the darkness; glory will shine” – JG
Isaiah 1:18 …Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow…
God knows I learn better with pictures. Do visuals help you learn His truths? A few years ago He gave me this visual…
I had experienced a couple of really hard days and was in need of one of those pictures! Tired, I crawled into bed, turned on my favorite worship mix and closed my eyes.
I saw Jesus sitting on a bench. I didn’t see His upper body or His feet… just His lap. He was wearing His pure white robe, the same robe I always picture Him in. I smiled and sat down next to Him. All that was in my view was His lap and my lap next to each other.
I was admiring His white robe and I looked at mine and it was white too. I squinted a little, tilted my head and, of course, I had to argue that point. I started to imagine smudges on my robe. I even said to Jesus, “After all we both know I’m not perfect…” and He stopped me. A question hung in the air. Again I tried to say, “Well, you have to admit… (I was thinking about my sins)” and He stopped me again… with the same question… with a smile to His voice, “Oh really?” I gasped! My eyes popped open as I realized what He was trying to tell me! That’s what He did on the cross… and He did it completely… I’m forgiven! I’m clean!
I closed my eyes again and looked back at our laps… they were still next to each other. I smiled as I felt His arm around me. My robe is as pure white as Jesus’ robe.
That’s what “It is finished” meant!! How cool is that?! How white is that?!
In 2007 I was working at a radio station in Madison, WI. The network was doing some “downsizing”, and it was pretty stressful. The workload was increasing, was having trouble with my (then) 19-year-old and our church was experiencing some major spiritual warfare.
In October of that year, I had to drive up to our parent company in Minneapolis for some training needed as I took on more responsibilities. The 5-hour ride was filled with me rotating between crying, singing (loudly) to my Mercy Me and Casting Crown CDs and praying. The praying melted into begging at times. I asked God to comfort me. I was seeking peace and direction through the stress that was building at work.
The training went well and I headed to the cottage, about 2 hours east of the Cities. I was looking forward to some solitude… sitting by the campfire… taking pictures… just spending time outside.
It was a beautiful autumn day… blue skies and lots of colors on the trees.
As I got closer to the cottage, the sun was setting. I had my camera out the window taking flash pictures. I liked how the flash reflected off the birch bark, lit up the blazing leaves and even showed off the pines.
I wound down that gravel road and probably took 20 – 25 pictures.
When I got to the cottage I started looking through the pictures… on the tiny screen on the back of my camera. I deleted many of the pictures and saved the ones I thought turned out OK. I saved only 5 pictures.
Spent the next afternoon on the ATV trails… taking oodles of pictures. It was a fun and restful weekend. Just what I needed.
When I got home I downloaded the pictures onto the computer.
I was stunned when I discovered what was on one of the few pictures I’d saved from my twilight trip down the gravel road. I couldn’t see it on the tiny screen of my camera… I could have just as easily deleted it.
It was God’s way of reaching down and giving me a hug. He was reminding me that He’s always right there with me, in the middle of whatever is going on.
This picture has become my “God’s Speaking” picture…
Peace Family one of the joys of holidays is going through old photos and remembering.
Once you stop laughing at this one, I will tell you it’s my 2nd Grade picture. I was 8 years old. It wasn’t pretty…I was losing baby teeth, forgot my socks that day and my mom pulled my hair back in a ponytail instead of rolling it. I was skinny but an athletic tomboy who was determined to do well in school, because I had a rough home life. My father had abandoned my family when I was 4, and my mother went on to marry 5 times looking for love. My sister, brother and I just felt in the way.
This could have been a tragic story but something amazing happened. My maternal grandmother took me under her wing. She was a strong Christian woman who saw a bit of herself in me. She had been the captain of the basketball team in high school and head cheerleader and she saw athletic and social potential in me and nurtured that. She knew I was lost as a middle child often is, and she wanted to fill in the gap. She began attending all my sports games and choir concerts and was an excellent role model of what a nurturing, strong woman should be.
Years later I would have a counselor tell me that my grandmother saved my life. She believed in me and gave me confidence. She taught me to love Jesus. And she was a career woman all through the 1950s, 60s and 70s, which was rare at the time. She and my grandfather were married 52 years and were a great example of staying with something even when it gets hard. If there’s any good in me it is because of Dessie Mae and Jesus. I am ever so grateful. She died in 1994 but I wear her wedding ring every day on my right hand and think of her. Especially during the holidays.
So don’t be afraid to get out those old pictures and remember the past and where you came from. And build these kind of memories in your kids and families and stand in the gap when you see a need. It can change a life!
By the way, I’m the one on the second row, first on the left. With one front tooth. Stop laughing! 🙂
From a young age most of us have what is called a Fear Of Missing Out or FOMO. When we’re young we yearn to be older and when we’re single we yearn to be married and on and on it goes. Now that we are in this tech-dependent world it’s hard not to check your phone every few minutes. Or at least several times a day.
Instead of living in perpetual fear of missing out, many people are embracing a new approach to our always-on lives. There are people now who don’t want to be a slave to their tech gadgets and computers. They are taking time to tune out. It’s called the Joy Of Missing Out. Amid growing concerns over our digital habits, a growing number of companies have begun to take steps to encourage people to disconnect.
Google and Apple have both jumped on the bandwagon, adding features to their mobile operating systems that help users track their use. The challenge is REAL: On average, adults spend four hours a day with their social feeds. And 70% of employees say they do not disconnect from work even when they are on vacation, according to a Linked In survey.
With the holidays right ahead of us, I encourage you to take ‘time out’ and really enjoy some face-to-face time with your friends and family. Enjoy a healthy conversation with them and look them in the eye like we used to years ago. You can makes some great memories that way and after all, the only thing we can take with us is our memories. I can’t tell you the number of times I have been in the hospital and reliving memories have comforted me and calmed my nerves.
So here’s the challenge: Only use your phone for directions, ETAs, and taking photos. The rest of the time BE PRESENT in the moment. You will be glad you did!
Peace family, if someone you love needs to hear how to have a friendship with God, or you’d like to know for yourself, a good way to remember is A, B, C:
A- Accept that we are all sinners. This is easy to see when we think about all of the bad things in the world. There’s nothing we can do to make up for the ways that we have sinned against God, against others, and broken his rules. We often know deep in our hearts that we are missing something, and we try to fill that hole. We are missing a friendship with God, but none of us is good enough to restore a relationship with God, who is perfect, on our own. The Bible says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) However, God loves us so much, that he wanted to be in a friendship with us, even though we are sinful.
B- Believe that God provided Jesus as a sacrifice, as a payment, for your sins. Jesus was God in human form, and he lived a perfect life in which he was tempted in all the same ways that we are, but he never sinned. He never lied, cheated, or stole, or hated anyone. He was killed on the cross, which is what we deserved, but God raised him from the dead, proving that everything that he said was true. The Bible says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17) No matter your age, your race, your gender, the country you live in, or your past, God wants a friendship with you!
C- Choose to invite Jesus in as the ruler of your life. Talk to him (that’s what prayer is) and tell him that you give your life over to him. From now on, you want to live the way that God asks you to live, and trust that He loves you, that he has paid for all your wrong doing, and that he has a place for you in Heaven with him. It’s as simple as that, but it makes an eternal difference! The Bible says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)
No one is ever too far gone. Even if you feel like you’ve done too many bad things, the fact is, we’ve all sinned too much. We all have the same need to have Jesus as our substitute. God’s gift of forgiveness to us through Jesus is truly amazing! This includes if you have given your life to Jesus before, but gotten tied up in sin. Come to him as you are and let him sort you out. Don’t feel like you need to be perfect before you can give your life to God. Understand that even as a Christian, you will not suddenly be perfect, and you will keep on sinning, even though we wish we wouldn’t.
Continue to grow with God. Tell other believers of Jesus about the choice that you’ve made. Choose a church to spend time with (if you aren’t sure where to start, look at the Peace 107 community calendar and see the churches that have community events and special services where you can make some friends.) Read the Bible so that you know what God wants. Talk to him (pray), and be baptized as a public declaration of your commitment to Christ! Be encouraged that God puts his Holy Spirit inside of you and that he will never abandon you. In the Bible, God says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13.) Jesus also says that we, his “sheep” know his voice, so you can have reassurance that he will guide you. Welcome to the family!
Peace Family, do you need freedom from jealousy and envy? I was recently inspired by my friend LaShunda Mitchell of Grind4God Ministries. She wasn’t speaking to me when she said, “jealousy ends where love begins,” but it was absolutely what I needed to hear.
We all have people whom we envy, or life situations that others seem to be enjoying that we aren’t. We all see a friend or family member on Facebook, or at a family gathering, and wish that we were as well-loved as him, as attractive as her, as successful as him, as happily married with children as her, on the vacation where he is… and the list goes on.
What are some ways that we can specifically love those people, until we are not feeling those ugly pangs of envy anymore? Perhaps we need to start praying for them. Perhaps there is a way that we can start serving them. Maybe we need to look at their lives with compassion, and instead of believing the devil’s lie that they have everything unfairly given to them, we need to actively bless them and lift them up.
No one’s life is perfect, and we will never know the ways that those whom we envy are hurting or struggling. However, when we despise people in our hearts because of the relationships, material possessions, appearances, and successes that they have, we not only are being hateful and conceited by lifting ourselves above that person (it boils down to us believing that we deserve that thing more than they do), but we are also being ungrateful for the blessings that God has given us.
My challenge to you today is to ask 1) what are some of the amazing blessings that God has given me?, and 2) what can I do today to start regarding that person (or those people) I envy with love instead of contempt? Don’t just think about it. Take steps to do it, and you will find that there is so much more freedom when we try to have God’s perspective, and stop looking down on others who have things that we want.