Update Fifty-Four

 

I just have to start out by saying if you didn’t hear, my last appointment (end of January) once again came back ALL CLEEEEAR!!!!!!!!! I am sorry for delays in updating, especially around appointment time. I received calls and emails about it from those that were waiting and didn’t hear, so hopefully everyone was taken care of. I want to be better at this!!! Thanks for being patient with me.

Whew! It’s been a busy few months! I can’t believe November was the last time I’ve written… here we are, already in the middle of March2010!:) I don’t have another scan until beginning of May, but it’s high time to get an update out:) Lots has been happening, and my goodness, lots is being learned in this little heart of mine:) I’ve taken to sharing my lessons and life ponderings on this website as the Lord is walking me through this journey since my diagnosis 2 ½ years ago (wow, has it been that long??), and it’s a commitment I want to keep up as long as I feel God calling me to it. Being the introvert I am, I know I’ve grown tremendously as I continue to learn what it means to process outwardly. What has always stayed in my heart and head, I’m learning to translate it to paper and then make it available for everyone to see!  Ahhhh! That can be a scary process, but I am so thankful for such a warm place to put this into practice as I share the depths of my heart in what God has been teaching me. Thank you to all of you who encourage me to keep writing… there are times it flows like butter:), and there are times it’s a downright battle (like this very update for instance). I won’t go into detail for the sake of time, but I knew I was supposed to write an update, even knew some of what I was going to share, but hit roadblock after roadblock trying to actually put it together. I finally set aside a whole day to write, and after a grueling day of barely being able to put two sentences together, I just about blew the whole thing off in frustration! But I did stick with it, and it wasn’t until I started changing my prayers to focus specifically on spiritual attack (asking a few friends to pray too), that thoughts started rolling around 6pm. I finally made myself stop around 2am… with 6 pages under my belt. It certainly wasn’t perfect and effortless, but I just kept writing, afraid to ruin whatever was going on, knowing I could edit/cut/re-shape things later.

It’s funny, the fact that I meet resistance with this, just makes me want to work all the harder to get it out to you all. Call it my feisty side! I don’t know, and probably will never know all the reasons behind my writing. What matters is, if I feel God telling me to write, I will do it and know He has good reason for it. He’s cool and mysterious like that… and I just love it! So all that said… here we go! It’s our little party in cyberspace… thanks for coming out! Hey, did somebody bring jalapeno poppers, um ‘cause I really love those…:):):)

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Just a few weeks ago, on March 4th, I celebrated my 28thbirthday (HORAYYY!!!). After going around the table (staying true to our Ahmann family tradition), and each person sharing something they love about the birthday girl (with tears shed, mostly by me, of course), I got asked what some of my highlights of the year were. I listed a few things – memorable trips, new friendships, time with family, great scans! But the thing that struck me the most when considering all these things is the visible, tangible knowledge that God is EXCITED for my life! See, just writing that makes me tear up.  It’s emotional because it’s easy for me to believe the opposite. It can be easy (in my weakness) to feel overwhelmed by the “could be’s” and the “should be’s” of life.  Scared of the “could be’s”… and discouraged by the “should be’s”, like God’s disappointed in me.

So why, WHY would I ever let my heart get so easily discouraged… especially with all that He’s brought me through? I don’t know, it’s dumb and it’s frustrating… but honestly it’s just fear. It’s one of the enemy’s greatest tools I believe, at least in my life:) What do I have to fear, well let me be really honest and transparent here for a second. In my humanness I fear:

  • failure — messing up and letting people down — not measuring up to somebody’s standard, expectation, or hope of me.
  • wasting my life because I never take the steps to overcome my weaknesses.
  • letting people in close: knowing it could be exposing them to great pain.
  • death – the process of dying of a brain tumor and what might look like. I’m afraid of having to watch my family watch me die – feeling helpless to stop their pain.
  • relationships – letting someone into the intensity of my life and trusting that:
    • He really understands what he’s getting into, and he’s still up for it:)
    • That the relationship wouldn’t take away from my intimacy with the Lord… not sure how to add a third party to our dynamic duo:)
    • God can take care of a broken heart (if that were to happen), just like He can take care of my brain:)
  • the unknown– because its risky.

I could expand on all these points, but I’m not going to, you know why? It’s not where I want to dwell! It’s good to understand the fears, so they can be addressed, but that’s not where I want to live!  This is a little excerpt from a an email I wrote to a friend tonight:

“God’s teaching me a lot about fear being one of my biggest hindrances. The LAST thing I want is to allow my life, especially my specific callings to be shut down by fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of what other people think… it can be pretty crippling if I let it. Yay Jesus for opening my eyes to this and showing me over and over again… that HE is victorious, and His will WILL be done. I’M the one who misses out if I choose fear instead of trust, and that’s not the kind of life I want to live! I want to live with courageous joy and obedient peace… and see what HE can do with it!”

Even in the midst of so many fears though, God is still really truly excited about my journey! He didn’t have to go out of His way to show me that, but He did… because He knows me, knows my insecurities, and loves me that much:) How has He shown me? Well let me share with you just a few examples:

  • He provided me with a beautiful apartment that I honestly couldn’t have created in my mind, to be more perfect for me. Through a series of events, it came at exactly the right time, at an incredible price, in a great location, and a few over-the-top things that He just didn’t have to do (fireplace, cute balcony, and a lovely view!) The first night I slept there after just coming back from spending Christmas with my family… I came in the door and couldn’t stop smiling. I made some tea, lit some candles, made a fire… sat in my cozy chair by the breathtaking view and just cried. Oh how did I get here? How did I deserve this? The truth is… I didn’t. He just chose to bless me, over the top – in ways I never expected! My chair by the window overlooking the treetops and the city was CREATED to be the perfect latte & quiet time spot:) Just can’t get enough:)
  • He’s given me an abundance of life giving relationships new and old.  With the ebb and flow of life’s changes (particularly in the past two years), He NEVER fails to surprise me with how He brings people in at just the right time.  A friend who just gets it because they’re on a similar journey, out-of-state relatives moving within a block of my parents, reconnection with old acquaintances, new journey’s with current friends… these are my stories. God loves me uniquely through the people He’s placed in my life, and looking around in my 28th year… I couldn’t feel more loved.
  • He’s brought a direction for my work in massage, allowing me to engage in my new passion for the medically frail – particularly the cancer patient!  This is brand new for me, fresh and exciting, loaded with possibilities… and yes, laced with a bit of fear.  Why? Well let’s get after it;) I’m starting a non-profit organization that will hopefully allow me work full time offering free massage to those living in various stages of cancer. Remember the internship/volunteer program at the hospital I mentioned a couple updates ago? Well, hopefully with this non-profit, I will be able to bring what I do there, into multiple settings (more hospitals, cancer clinics, even hospice situations). So with the help of a gifted and very passionate board of advisors, we have “Consider the Sparrow” up and running.  It’s SO amazing!

So why the fear you ask? Well it’s simple really. It’s something I can fail at. It’s brand new and I just flat out don’t know what to expect or how this will go. It’s the intimidating world of doctors and professionals who may not understand why I’m there. It’s the fact that I will be facing my fears of recurrence every day as I come alongside beautiful people walking the journey of cancer. It’s the knowledge of the sacred space I will be repeatedly entering with each person, knowing I can encounter anything. I will witness every raw emotion good and bad (from both patients and families).  I will watch bodies both heal and decline.  I will be joyfully invited and also quickly turned away. I will have days where I drive home singing and days I drive home in quiet tears.

But here’s the thing folks, I have a unique way I can safely bring comfort to this group of hurting people. Whether or not it’s received well every time, whether it’s hard on me certain days, or even if this doesn’t take off and last very long, I have something I to offer these people today. What they choose to do with it is up to them and their caregivers, but my passion right now… is just to offer. I am offering my time, my training, and my heart to people that often feel forgotten. And this is where our name comes in! A passage in Luke puts it very eloquently.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by
God. Indeed the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you
are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7

I love that. NO ONE is forgotten. Not the sick, not the hurting, lonely, despairing or even the dying. NO one is insignificant. God forgets NO ONE… and neither should we. How exciting is it then, that we get to be a part of this? With the special trainings I’ve done in oncology massage, in addition to my personal experience with cancer, I can’t help but sense God pointing me in this direction.

So what do I do with the fear? Well, I think once again the answer is simple. Trust. Do I trust God? It’s easy to say, but do I really trust Him? Do I trust Him to direct my steps? Do I trust His love for me (as described with the sparrow)? Do I trust Him enough to care more about how HE values me, over how the world may value me? Do I trust Him enough to take this scary step into the unknown where ANYTHING can happen – failure, emotional toll, or rejection?

Okay let’s take it bigger, beyond “Consider the Sparrow”. Do I trust Him with my life? Do I trust Him to really be my everything? Can I follow His lead with relationships even with the potential for heartbreak again, knowing He will still be enough? Do I trust that if He allows my cancer to come back, and death is on my near horizon, that He will walk with me? Do I trust him to be in control when I feel out of control? Do I trust Him to protect my heart and the hearts of my loved ones if they are to watch me die? Do I trust Him to care of them, when I feel like I’m hurting them and helpless to stop it?

How do we fight fear? We discover where our trust lies. I’m quickly learning that whenever I start putting just the slightest bit of trust into myself and my own capabilities, I’m on a quick road to crippling fear. And that is no way to live life! The Bible is very clear when it comes to fear.

My life verse: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of love, power, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

And more… just a sampling:)
“For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

“… but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” Psalm 18:32

“He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.” Psalm 18:30b

“Do not give way to fear.” I Peter 3:6

“He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.” Psalm 112: 7-8

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.” Psalm 23:1-4

Wow, pretty straight forward eh? He even commands us not to be afraid! He says we are to have no fear in DEATH! We hear those verses so often, I think we can get numb to it sometimes. We allow ourselves to be afraid for a million reasons, and we can justify ‘til we’re blue in the face why we have a RIGHT to have that fear, but there it is, plain and simple. No fear… in death. It doesn’t mean it won’t be hard, it doesn’t mean I won’t get pushed beyond my “limits”, it just means I trust him to walk me through it in a way that he sees fit (I Peter 1:6-9). (I’m having myself a little ‘preach at Christina session’ right now.) All my biggest fears lie in death and the surrounding factors (hurting loved ones, etc). If somehow God can give me the strength to not fear that process, my scariest area… what’s left??? NOTHING!! There’s nothing left! Just think if I could kick my long list of fears to the curb and have nothing holding me back from God’s calling? There’s no limit to what He could use me for… wow, isn’t that an exciting thought??! Coming from a self-proclaimed timid girl, a life without fear sounds out of this world….EXCITING!!!:)

So there you go. This is where I’m at. I struggle with fear, but am becoming quicker and quicker at recognizing it, confessing my unbelief (yes it’s a sin, sigh..), and stepping forward in faith (even when my emotions haven’t caught up yet), trusting that my God really IS who He says he is.  So I’m walking forward in faith (choosing trust with my actions), towards this non-profit, towards the possibility of young death; aware of all the possibilities, good and bad… but knowing that no matter what, my God will supply all that I need, and HE IS ENOUGH. Wow, ok, I have goosebumps!

So my question for you is, do you sense God being excited for your journey? If not, I challenge you to look for it, even in the smallest areas. Because let me tell you something friend, if your heart is turned toward God… He is ecstatic for your life!! And He wants to show you how:) What is it that you fear in life? You might not consider yourself a fearful person, but we ALL have fears. Yours may be much different than mine but the root of them is just the same. Our fears correlate very directly to our trust in God. Do we believe that He is enough? Do we believe He will truly supply our every need like he says (Phil. 4:19)?

I clearly don’t have it all together. BUT even though I still experience fear at times, I KNOW the TRUTH. And so I choose to walk with Him in obedience.

My prayer for you (you can pray this for me as well)…  is that you can live a life FREE of the bondage of fear. I pray that as you face your list of fears/insecurities, you can take every last one of those issues to the feet of Jesus asking for strength to trust Him. Because let me tell you friends, we serve a trustworthy God. Blessings on you as you continue your journey. It’s so good to walk with friends isn’t it?:)

Much love,
Christina

P.S. More details on “Consider the Sparrow” to come! Be on the lookout for a “Sparrow” update coming soon.