providence.

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High Tea in Hong Kong, 2 Months Pre-Diagnosis

A year ago today, I was having surgery on my face to remove a Stage I malignant melanoma. I was anxious and depressed. I was worried about having a huge scar right under my eye. I was lost in my own little world of what if’s and should have’s.

Basically, I was in the spin cycle that comes when I step away from God and try to do it all out of my own strength. I was angry that I even had this spot on my face—in my mind, a direct consequence of stepping out and serving, living in developing countries on the equator, not using sunscreen because it would just melt off anyway. It felt like a confusing punishment, an unrighteous consequence of a youth well spent. (Please note, this was all through the lens of a fairly severe depressive state).

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Post-Biopsy

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Mid-Surgery, January 14, 2014

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Post-Surgery Selfie

In those moments, I did not really see his providence: one of the best dermatologists in the country accepting my wonky travel insurance so 80% of the care costs were covered. This same dermatologist being a leading expert in his field and deciding MOHS surgery would be just fine in treating me (rather than the standard procedure, which would have involved cutting up half my face, and skin transplants, and all sorts of other messy things). His assistant being one of the best plastic surgeon-esque P.A.s, leaving me with (in the words of multiple dermatologists) “a beautiful scar.”

2015/01/img_2749-0.jpg(Stitches. Yay)  2015/01/img_2761-0.jpg (My beautiful scar)

2015/01/img_4172-0.jpgA year later, though, I can see His hand in everything. I can see how he gave my best friend in Hong Kong the boldness to question this icky spot on my face (you gotta love those friends who know all the nooks and crannies). I can see how my intense homesickness got me on the plane to California so I could be diagnosed and treated while it was still a stage 1 spot. I can see how doctors and insurance lined up for the best possible care. I can see how He gave me friends I didn’t even know I needed, who loved me through the fear, anxiety and depression, who met me where I was and wandered through the wilderness with me.

I can rejoice at being cancer-free. I can rejoice in health and wholeness, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I can rejoice in this season I find myself in, of entering into the promised land, of breakthroughs and hard work, of the provision in the wilderness and the partnership in the promise.

I am really, truly grateful. For all the things. The hard things and the wonderful things. A friend of mine told me last year right after the surgery that the scar that was left was a tangible reminder of a life laid down, and a testimony to Jesus and who I am in Him-an overcomer, a fighter, someone who lives in victory and surrender. I cried a bit and didn’t really believe it, and now my scar is barely noticeable, but I still think it’s true. He was with me in the stillness and with me in the storm, in the wilderness and in the promise. I was never alone. I am never alone. And I am grateful for this journey, this process, these difficulties that led to deeper trust and a willing spirit to say, “Yes. What’s next, Papa?”

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timing.

I have been thinking a lot about timing the past few days (months, really). We always say “All in God’s timing” and “God’s timing is perfect” but I feel like we use the platitudes to placate doubt and not because we always believe them.

I was reading the story of Hannah a few weeks ago. For years, she prayed for a son. Her husband, Elkanah, had another wife who had kids, and Hannah always felt like not enough. Elkanah loved her so much, he would give her extra portions, and tried to take care of her. But Hannah really, really desired a son. Finally one year while they were worshipping at Shiloh, Hannah was in the sanctuary, weeping and praying. She vowed to God that if he gave her a son, she would set him apart for God’s service. Somehow this was the year that Eli, the priest, heard her crying and praying, and though he initially accused her of being drunk, once he heard her story, he told her to go in peace and asked that God would give her what she asked of him.

Hannah got pregnant and had Samuel, and when the time came, she committed him to the Lord.

You’ve probably heard that story before. I certainly had. What I never quite pieced together was the timing of it all. Hannah wanted a baby for years and years. And God knew it. He was well aware of her desires and he was not ignoring her. But God knew who He wanted Samuel to be. He knew the role He was preparing for Samuel, and He knew Samuel’s life had to overlap Eli’s, and Eli’s sons, and Saul’s, and David’s. If Samuel had been born earlier, he would not have been born at the time God needed him to do all the things he would do, like becoming a true prophet of the Lord, hearing his voice and speaking out what God was saying, first to Eli, then to the people of Israel about cleaning house and restoring what God had given them, then anointing Saul as Israel’s first king. Samuel eventually anointed David as the next king of Israel, as was the Word of the Lord.

Samuel’s life had to overlap in such a way that he was there to do all the things God asked him to do. To be the last judge of Israel and to anoint the first and second kings.

And then I think about what God promised David, about the house and the kingdom and the throne. About Jesus foreshadowed way back then, and the timing through which God made that true. About Tamar and Rahab and Ruth and Bathsheba. How each life had to overlap just so, connect just so, to bring forth the promises of God, in his timing.

He knows what He’s doing, and He’s been reminding me of all the ways His timing is at work in my life too.

mijas.

Today I kind of want to run home to Spain. I still have friends there and their beautiful, sunny, warm Instagrams of dear Mijas make me miss it and want to be there with them.

148974_10101286066938375_1951501205_nI want the clarity that comes from gazing out over the Med from the look-out and feeling the whispering wind reassuring me of this brutiful life and its choices and struggles and highlights.

I want the confidence that comes from being surrounded by people who believe in me so strongly, who hear God so clearly and profess His heart so boldly.

I want the alertness that comes from the expectation that God is speaking and has something to say TODAY. The quickening of my spirit hearing His spirit and knowing deep in my knower the truth of love and relationship.

I want the passion of a stirred up soul on fire for His Kingdom.Spain2014-33

I want to wander the cobblestone streets and stare at the whitewashed walls until my eyes see twinkles and stars.

I want to sit at the edge of the Mediterranean and ponder the mysteries of life. To plumb the depths of soul and spirit and remember again and again that it is okay to be a piece of sea glass, slowly shaped by the ebb and flow of the waves, by the turning over and over on the rough sand and refining pebbles. To be okay with this process and embrace this journey. To enjoy the moments and not always be thinking of the next thing.

But I won’t. At least not today. I won’t run away from Memphis & from what God is doing here. I won’t pretend I’m not struggling with the funemployment and the lack of vocational clarity, but I also refuse to deny all the great things that are happening here.

memphis-7Maybe I’ll go stare out over the Mississippi to ponder the connectedness of rivers and streams and oceans.

Maybe the clarity will come from conversations from dear friends here.

Maybe the presence so clearly felt in Mijas can, in fact, transcend the Atlantic ocean and international borders and settle right here, at the dining room table.

Maybe that’s why I’m here, why we’re here… to steward all the wondrous things about Mijas and find them in Memphis (or wherever you find yourself today).

Maybe it’s not about a place but about a Person… and finding that Person in today, just today.

Just maybe.