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Choosing Joy

Have you ever been fully engrossed in a tv show where your favorite character has something serious and irreversible happen to them. The plot takes a sharp turn, and you are left feeling… what now? At just when you think all is lost, the character wakes up and realizes it was all a dream. Their life hasn’t changed dramatically, and they can go on just as they were; just like you can…after you recover from the shock! I have to admit I hate this storyline. I don’t like spending a whole episode thinking things have changed just to find out it was a false alarm.

But I’m not sure I would complain if that happened to the storyline of my life. Some days I think this is all so unreal. Maybe it’s all a dream. Perhaps I will wake up to find I am still pregnant with Robbyn and we are both completely healthy. But that is not the case.

This summer has been a blur having absolutely flown by. When I look back and see all that has transpired since April, it is unbelievable. Our life is unrecognizable. If you had told me all of the things that we would endure in such a short time, I would not have thought it possible. But by the grace of God, we have persevered. We have taken it one step at a time. Step one is complete: Robbyn is here and healthy. Step two was completed two weeks ago: chemotherapy is finished!

Sure, my life would be much simpler if all of this really had been a dream. I was content in April. Our life was good. Our kids were good (most days. If you have toddlers you understand our love/hate relationship). Our jobs were good. No ripples in the pool that was our life. But I think that may have been part of the problem. We were so content with our life that we weren’t striving to do more. We weren’t looking to see what areas in our life where God could be using us. We were wasting the gifts that God had blessed us with. We weren’t striving toward sanctification with the fervor we should have been. (sanctification: a fancy word for becoming more like Jesus).

In many ways, this cancer has not only been a blessing, but also wake-up call. I have been able to see God’s handiwork in even the smallest corners of my life. I have decided to choose to have joy in every situation.

I’m notorious for nagging the daylights out of my husband and being upset that he has not completed my entire honey-do-list on my rigorous timetable. (Jordan, try to hide your surprised face.) But lately, I have not seen the need to be upset over things I would have blown my lid over a few short months ago. I’ve realized what things are worth getting upset about. When you think you are about to die, life gets put into perspective pretty quickly. I have realized the insignificance of things we tend to get upset about; the unimportance of the things we rant and rave about on social media or with our group of friends.

When I thought my days were numbered with my husband, I didn’t want to spend all of my time being upset over things that really didn’t matter anyway. Does it matter that my Pinterest-inspired kitchen utensil holder was not completed by the deadline I had given him? No. He works hard all week and comes home and loves on our babies who are begging for his attention the instant he walks through the door. I want to show him love and compassion, and I have received the same things from him in return. Our house has been so full of love and joy since April, and it took a cancer diagnosis to move us from our complacency to a place filled with joy.

I can see what a blessing each day is, and I have felt genuinely joyful this summer.

No. I’m not happy all of the time, but that is the difference between joy and happiness. Joy is given by God and is not dependent on our circumstances. Happiness for me anyway, is controlled by my circumstances, emotions, hormones, or quality and quantity of food I have eaten. (If I have gone 24 hours without iced coffee you can bet I’m not a happy camper).

“Therefore you now have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.” John‬ ‭16:22‬ ‭

“You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Psalms‬ ‭16:11‬

I can have joy because of the hope I have in Jesus Christ, and these circumstances have allowed me to experience the fullness of the hope and joy that only Jesus can give. I may never have gotten the opportunity to experience this otherwise.

Choosing joy. Not how I would ideally like to do yard work but trying to make the best of every situation.

If the world looks at Christians and sees how upset we get when life doesn’t go according to our plan, why would they want to trust our God? (Especially when it looks like we don’t even trust him!) If we can’t have joy in every circumstance and we know the ending of the story (we win! Christ has beaten death! And we will be with him in Heaven!), why would other people want to hand their lives over to Christ?

It is not hard to have joy when everything is going according to plan. It takes work to have joy when your world is upside down. I believe that we have a greater impact on nonbelievers if we have joy when our future looks uncertain to them. But we have a secret… we know the ending…our future cannot be too bleak when attain heaven at the end of this life.

Like it says in Philippians 1:21, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Meaning if I live, I get the opportunity and privilege to do Christ’s work here on Earth. How cool is that? The creator of the universe wants me to be a part of his plan for the salvation of the world (But God doesn’t promise we won’t suffer here on Earth). On the flip side, if I die, I gain Heaven and shouldn’t that be the ultimate goal of our life? I get to be in Heaven with Christ, where I FINALLY have COMPLETE sanctification (We are imperfect and we will not be completely Christ-like until we shed this sinful human flesh).

I’m a pretty practical person. I’m not huge on theory and I like to have concrete tools to work with. So here are some tools that I have found helpful in choosing joy in my life

Find the bright side in every situation.

I promise there is one. You might just have to look past your unhappiness to find it.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:3-4‬

If you think you can’t find the bright side in your situation, just know that you will one day be able to comfort and walk alongside someone going through a similar situation.

  • Meditate on the blessings in your life
  • God has blessed you with so many things: your health, your family, your friends, your job, your home and so much more. Take time to thank him for all that he has done for you. No blessing is too small to thank him for. He owes us nothing but chooses to give us so much. If you can’t think of any, then you are missing a BIG ONE! Christ already died on the cross for you.

    “Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.” Isaiah‬ ‭12:4-5‬ ‬

    Don’t stoop to the negativity of others.

    Negativity can spread like wildfire in the workplace, with your group of friends, at home, and even in your church. It is so easy to jump on the bandwagon! Believe me, I know. But I promise you will have more joy in your life if you steer clear. If you aren’t brave enough to tell them to confront it head on then just remove yourself from the situation. It may mean unfollowing people on facebook.

    “Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.” Proverbs‬ ‭12:20‬

    Do something for someone else

    We are all selfish by nature. So if things aren’t going the way you had planned, or you feel like your life is lacking joy, then I would encourage you to stop throwing yourself a pity party and do something nice for someone. I think the quickest way to get out of a funk is to help someone in need. Do it secretly, or without expecting anything in return. I think the people who have the most joy in their lives are the ones who are focusing on others. It may be as easy as doing something kind or out of the ordinary for your spouse. Do a task around the house that is usually theirs just to lighten their load. It doesn’t have to be anything earth-shattering. Although, the most joyful times of my life have been serving on mission trips in Mexico; with no air conditioning, sleeping on the floor, sunburnt, trying to learn how to mix mortar by hand. And the people that we were serving were such a blessing to me.

  • Stop dwelling on the circumstances that are out of your control
  • Give those to God. I find in my life there is a direct correlation between dwelling on things out of my control and the level of my anxiety. It is tough for me to give it to God but it also makes me pray harder and more frequently. I try to move from thinking of those thing and shifting my focus to the things that I can do. I don’t think God wants us to use “let go and let God” as a way to sit on our rumps and do nothing. Maybe you lost your job and you may have had no control over that, but that doesn’t mean you don’t go looking for a job because you are “letting god.” God gave you two hands to write a resume with. So use the tools that God has given you to work on the aspects of your life that you have control over instead of dwelling on the things that you can’t.

    The more you choose joy, the easier it gets.

    I think the inverse is also true. The more you choose negativity, the easier it becomes to jump to that reaction in every situation. Make it a priority to choose joy. You will probably have to stop yourself when you start to head down a path of negative thoughts or feelings. Pray to God to help you see the blessings in your life, pray for the strength and the wisdom to overcome negativity, doubt, and worry. When you feel like you just can’t have joy… pull from your personal source of joy. The Holy Spirit. He will be your joy and sustain you when you have none.

    “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah‬ ‭8:10

    So, my life may not be a dream like so many tv episodes I have seen, but I can have joy because the creator of the universe has written my story.

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    Even When it Hurts

    Growing up in the Barlow house you better have a bone sticking out of your arm if you wanted to get out of going church. Even then, we probably would have gone to the ER and made it to church by 9:05. As a teenager, it didn’t matter if you were out until 3 am, your butt had better be in that pew before the first song started. Whenever we went on vacation, we always found a church to go to nearby. It was embedded in my brain even as a small child. Probably not everyone’s experience as a child but I am so grateful this was my story.

    My parents didn’t give me a choice about brushing my teeth or going to school, so they definitely weren’t going to give me an option about something that would affect my eternity. They instilled in me from a very young age that church is important. And do you know what happened? It went from my parents making me go, to my own personal desire to worship the living God. It’s not just about being there and going through the motions because you think you have to. Sure, I want to be obedient to God, but it’s so much more than suffering through an hour of church while your mind is on where you are going to eat lunch.

    I go to church to hear the word of God preached and to worship the God of the universe collectively with other believers.

    Psalm 66 says

    “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the Earth! Sing out the honor of his name. Make his praise glorious…all the earth shall worship you and bring praise to you, they shall sing praises to your name.

    We had Robbyn the previous Sunday and the next Sunday we planned to go to church and then go up to the NICU. Some might think that seems nuts to not go to the NICU all day but to me going to church to praise God that Sunday was everything I needed. God had given me so many blessings over the past week I needed to be in a house of worship and give God my praise. Louie Giglio, a well-known pastor, said this about worship “We are acknowledging Him as the source of all things, gratefully give back to Him what He has already so graciously given to us.”


    In the New Testament in Acts 16, Paul and Silas are imprisoned for healing a demon-possessed slave girl. Her master is so mad he has lost his profit from the girl’s divination, he takes Paul and Silas to the officials where they are beaten and thrown in jail. While in shackles, Paul and Silas “were praying and singing hymns to God and the prisoners were listening to them.” God then sent an earthquake that opened all of the prison doors and unshackled all of the prisoners. The jailer had fallen asleep, and when he awoke, he saw the door open and assumed all of the prisoners had escaped. Paul stops the jailer as he is about to kill himself with his sword for allowing the prisoners to escape by saying, “Do yourself no harm for we are all here.”

    Paul and Silas were beaten in front of a mob for healing a poor girl, wrongfully imprisoned and what are the seen doing? Praising God! I love worshipping God, but I am pretty sure I would not be seen doing that here. I would be grumbling about being wrongfully put in jail or nursing my wounds. But they praise God publicly in the middle of their trial. The outcome of such an act is that there is an earthquake and not one of the men in prison try to escape when they had every opportunity to.

    They were such a powerful witness to the prisoners in such a short amount of time. It goes on to tell that the jailer and his family also accept Christ because of the impact of Paul and Silas.

    If they can have this impact, it makes me what kind of impact, if any, I will have on someone because of how I react in times of great trial. I’m sure Paul and Silas wanted to be beaten and imprisoned about as much as I want to have cancer. But just as God allowed them to be imprisoned, He has allowed me to have cancer. Without them being in jail, the jailer never would have been saved nor would the prisoners have been witnessed too. I feel the platform God has given me to use to share my faith is my cancer diagnosis, so how can I not praise him for giving me this opportunity I otherwise would not have had.

    Jesus said in Luke 19:39 if we don’t praise God then even the rocks will cry out. Even creation knows who its creator is and longs to praise him. We are called to praise God, in all circumstances, not just when we feel like it. I love singing praise songs in my car or in my kitchen, but there is nothing better than singing to the God of the universe in thanksgiving with your brothers and sisters in Christ to the one who has given us everything.

    Jordan and I have been in our praise band at church for years. We are not professionals by any stretch but we enjoy getting the privilege to lead worship at our church. One of my favorite things in the world is to watch Jordan play the piano. At home and at church. This song is my battle cry for this season of my life. It’s an amazing song called Even when it Hurts by my favorite band, Hillsong United. You should really take a listen to the real song but Jordan and I gave it a go with my trusty iPhone.

    https://youtu.be/b8Yho_5dbYA

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    In Sickness and in Health

    Do you take Kari to be your wife, to have and to hold, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and cherish as long as you both shall live?

    On your wedding day, the happiest day of your life, you say your vows to the love of your life. And during those vows, you are probably only thinking of the better, the richer, and the health. No one is thinking of the worse, the poorer, or the sickness. I mean I assumed those times would eventually occur, but I certainly didn’t think we would be staring down the barrel of sickness five years and eleven months into our marriage.

    My favorite picture of the two of us and it was candid.


    Our wedding was perfect. I know most people think that theirs was but ours really was! I had it all planned. The bridesmaids’ dresses cost only $12 a piece, and I found my dress on clearance. (I refuse to buy things at full price) I had the ceremony configured that from the time I walked down the aisle to the time we were pronounced husband and wife was only 14 minutes (Jordan and I neither one are big fans of standing in front of people). For the Grande Finale, we had a s’mores bar; so yeah, it was pretty awesome.

    But as perfect as our wedding day was, our marriage has been that amazing and more. I swear Jordan treats me like the queen of England. If I ask for anything, he moves heaven and earth to make it possible. I can probably count on my hand the number of times Jordan has told me no. Granted, there are probably plenty of times he should have told me no and didn’t!

    I get all of these brilliant ideas from Pinterest or Joanna Gaines, and I usually get about 1/ 8th of the way through my project before Jordan has to come to bail me out. I have this extraordinary skill; I strip every screw I have ever put in. It’s one of Jordan’s favorite features of mine. He is the one who has to come in and figure out how to finish the project with only stripped screws to work with! Jordan especially likes it when I get the fever to paint, and more paint ends up on the floor and me than on the walls. He just shakes his head at me. But how else am I going to get the farmhouse look?!

    He wears matching Halloween costumes with me every year even though he hates it. He makes me laugh: all the time. He once drove 2.5 hours round trip to make sure there wasn’t a burglar outside the house I was housesitting. He always lets me control the remote. He goes to Walmart to buy me a chocolate cake from the deli section when I just can’t fight the craving. He will sit through a hallmark movie and only complain a quarter of the time. He let me pick our first dog (Jordan looked ridiculous taking a teacup chihuahua for a walk)

    Jordan and I have been on this cancer journey together, every single step of the way. We have had to make so many major decisions that I never dreamed we would be making at this point in our life. Is our life insurance up to date? Will we have to sell our house to pay medical bills? How should we handle our finances? Which hospital system do we trust with to care for our premature baby? Should I have reconstructive surgery? How much should we tell our children?

    Our wedding vows have definitely been put to the test but I think we are passing with flying colors. Our marriage is stronger and more Christ-centered than it has ever been. We have been together since we were 17 and we have grown and matured together spiritually and physically. We have grown through failures and successes. We have tried new things and created traditions. We even took on our own fixer-upper house before the Chip and Joanna were a household name, and I am convinced if you can get through a remodel with your spouse you can get through anything life throws at you.

    We have gone to church camp, Christian conferences, retreats, and bible studies together. He is a perfect example of a Spiritual leader for our family. I think it is so important to pray about decisions in your marriage, to worship together, and to study God’s word together. I pray for Jordan daily and I know he prays for me.

    He has been the rock of this family; especially recently. I don’t have too many complaints about chemotherapy, but I definitely feel more drained as the day goes on. Jordan is here every day in and day out, after working hard all day, doing everything that needs to be done with our house and kids. He gives baths, plays with them outside, changes so many diapers, fixes our air conditioner, does dishes and anything else that needs to be done without uttering a single complaint about the extra load. If Jordan thought chopping of his arm would help me, I know he would do it in a heartbeat. He is the prime example of loving me like Christ loves the church. The love Jordan has for me is a sacrificial love. I do not doubt that if he could bare this disease for me, he would.

    “Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

    Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

    I can’t imagine having to go through all of this without the love and support of my husband. I count it a blessing because I know many people navigating their cancer journeys don’t have the support I have. He has lifted me up mentally, spiritually, and physically over the last few months. But I also know that we would have already crumbled under the weight of this disease if it weren’t for Christ’s love for us and His position in our marriage. Jordan and I are both in agreement that the order of importance for our life is as follows:

    1. God

    2. Spouse

    3. Children

    If these get out of order, I believe our life will quickly be in disorder. The Bible is pretty clear about how our life should be prioritized.

    Matthew 10:37 says, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”

    If I put Jordan before my love of God, then I will rely solely on Jordan. He is only human and will fail eventually, just as I will. We both need to depend on God more than each other because God is perfect and will never fail us. God wants us to have him at the center of our lives because when we put him first, everything else will fall into place.

    Everything in our life needs to be looked at from an eternal perspective: including our marriage. How is what we are doing as a couple affecting the kingdom of God? Are we being a good example of a Christian marriage? Are we raising our kids in a way that leads them to have a strong love of Christ?

    Our marriage should not just be about the two of us. I want our marriage to be a tool that God can use to bring people to him. If we have a good marriage but keep it to ourselves are we really honoring God with what he has given us? We should be doing the work of Christ together. God brought us together for a reason and I don’t want to get to the end of my life and see missed opportunities.

    “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12:48

    Jordan and I have been given so much which means we have so much we need to give back by praying for others, offering support, serving together in and out of the church, raising godly children, being examples for a Christ-centered marriage.

    Sure, Joanna Gaines has Chip, but I have Jordan Justice.

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    Really Connecting

    Have you ever scrolled through your massive amounts of Facebook friends liking pictures, stories, memes? Posted vague comments on people’s walls saying “we need to get together soon?” Kept checking your Facebook or Instagram to see how many likes you got, as if it validates your existence? In a world, we are so “connected,” why is it that so many people feel so alone? Why does the suicide rate continue to rise even with thousands of Facebook friends?

    I’m not an expert in human psychology, in fact, it was one of the few classes in college that I got a B in. Nevertheless, I think that in a world where it is so easy to get in touch with others with a quick comment or like on social media, we use it as an excuse to not make meaningful connections with others. We use it as a crutch to stay at a shallow level and never build a deeper relationship. We claim we don’t have the time (myself included) but we have time to troll through all of our social media accounts and spent hours looking at cat memes. Don’t get me wrong I love a good cat meme.

    I have seen so many people come into the cancer center and sit in the waiting room, looking defeated and completely alone. I have wondered if they are awaiting test results or if they are waiting to find out their treatment options. It is very humbling and makes me feel so guilty that I always, always, have someone or multiple someones with me. My dad insists on taking me to every single appointment, test or, lab draw I have. I had to talk him out of coming to my six-week postpartum OBGYN appointment, because NO ONE wants there dad there for that. He still insisted on dropping me off at the door. He is definitely a helicopter mom, but I am blessed and wouldn’t want it any other way.

    I have had so many offers of people wanting to drive me to chemo and sit with me during my infusion. This is so wonderful, but it also makes me feel so much sadness for all of the people I see there completely alone. I have heard from many of the nurses how lucky I am to have such a great support system because it is so rare. The nurse navigators at Community are phenomenal and attend all of your appointments to make sure they are entirely up to date on your treatment. They know your plan of care and can answer any questions you have, but that is no replacement for the support of a friend or family.

    I’ve said it before, and I will say it again… this is why it is so important to have a church home. Sure, you can watch a sermon online or do a devotional at home alone or with your family, but that should be supplemental to church membership. There is no replacement for the unity you feel when you worship the creator with people who also love him. When you attend church, no matter how well you know the other members, you already have 2 things in common: Christ died for you, and it is up to you to share that message with others.

    “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

    ‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭10:24-25‬

    It doesn’t matter your social standing, economic status, race, political belief, or whether you pull your toilet paper from the top of the roll or from underneath. You all make up the body of Christ. If a church is made of members who are identical to one another, then that Church is not doing a very good job spreading the gospel. It is not meant to be a clique but a home base for your collective mission. It is a place to spiritually renew yourself before you go back out into the world.

    And no, for you skeptics, I don’t believe that the church is perfect. Not even close. As a pastor’s kid, I can tell you, I have seen the downfalls of the Church and its members since I was a little girl. That doesn’t change my feelings on the importance of the church. The church is made up of sinners, and we get off track at times when Satan and our sinful human nature intervene. But for every time I have seen failure in the Church; I have seen support, love, and compassion tenfold, because of the undeserved grace shown to us by Jesus Christ.

    I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if I had an emergency, there are at least 50 people that I could call who would be at my door within minutes. The church is so more than a building. In fact, it has nothing to do with the building at all. It is all about the people whom make up the church. If Mt. Pisgah burned down tomorrow we would still exist and thrive because the people are the church. I can’t help but wonder if these people in the oncology center have a church family to depend on. Are they just part of a church that is not loving its brother or sister in Christ the way they should or do they not have a church family at all? Either way, I feel the Church has probably failed them.

    At most weddings, you have heard I Corinthians chapter 13 (“Love is patient. Love is kind…”) read so lovingly. What you probably don’t know, is that it is not written in the tone of voice it’s read in at weddings. Paul is ranting, actually yelling, at the church in Corinth because they were fighting amongst themselves, and are not loving each other (Fellow Christians, not even the nonbelievers!) as they should!

    “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I give all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, I have nothing.”

    I Corinthians‬ ‭13:2-3

    ‭‭According to my bible commentary, this use of the word love is not commonly used, because it means “self-giving love that is more concerned with giving than receiving” We should have this “self-giving” love for other Christians by more than just a quick thumbs up on Facebook. We should show up for them in their time of need even when it is not convenient for us. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t convenient for Christ to be crucified unjustly for our sins. (Guilt trip intended! I am a mom of three, remember?) I wonder if the people sitting alone at the cancer center had a church family that was just too busy to be there. We should offer our support in person, or through a call, or text.

    Each family in our church has a deacon assigned to them. Our deacon called us in the early stages of our cancer journey when were in the car coming back from an appointment and prayed with us over the phone. That act of love brought us so much peace. We should really pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ, not just type it into a comment box on Facebook. (Not that it is a bad thing…if we actually stop to pray for them)

    I have had the incredible privilege of not only my home church praying fervently for me but multiple churches all over the country and beyond. I have churches in El Paso, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, New York, Alabama, and even Turkey praying for me. How blessed am I? This is just one advantage of church membership! You are not only a member of your church body but also the global church body. Do I sound like a salesman yet?


    I was given this beautiful quilt from the prayer ministry at a church in Georgetown, Kentucky. This quilt has several strings knotted all over the blanket and as it says above “Each not represents a prayer that was said for you.”


    Pictured above are some of the members of Olive Branch Baptist Church in Vevay, Indiana. They are praying for me over 2 blankets that they sent to me. I don’t know most of them personally but we have gone to church camp together for over 15 years, and we share a love of Christ. Matthew 18:29 Christ says, “Where two or more are gathered together in my name I am there in their midst.”

    These pictures may not mean much to you, but I believe in the power of prayer and that “love never fails” (I Corinthians 13:8) I know that these people have not just liked a comment on Facebook, but they have taken action and gone to the throne of God on my behalf. This is love. The kind of love that the world will stop and take notice of. We need to love other Christians (even though sometimes they are the hardest people to love!) so that we can show the world that Christ’s love has made us unique.

    I can’t help but think that if we exhibited this love and reached out to those in our church, making an effort to make others feel cherished, that people would extend that love to the world. We could have an impact on the rate of loneliness, depression, and, suicide by loving others the way that Christ loves us. Like my mom says, especially when watching TV commercials nowadays, “This world needs Jesus!”

    So, to finish my sales pitch, I would encourage you to make a meaningful connection with someone this week. Starting with someone in your own church family.

    If you don’t have a church family, I strongly encourage you to find one. There is a church on just about every corner. Mt Pisgah has a 9 (traditional) service and 11 (contemporary) service, and we would love to have you, as would many other churches in town! http://mtpisgahbaptist.org/

    Contact someone you have been meaning to reach out to but have just been too busy to do so.

    Stop and really pray for someone that God is putting on your heart or mind.

    Invite a new church member out for coffee or play date to make a connection with them.

    Invite someone new to your church.

    Stop watching your cat memes and figuring out which Harry Potter house you belong to and make a real difference in someone’s life.


    ***If you are curious about my study bible here it is. Half of the page is scripture and half is commentary. I find it very helpful to understand fully what the text is saying. It helps me read scripture in context.

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    Lights. Camera. Action.

    People were offering to help us left and right. They were praying for me and “officially” announcing my situation at church in front of so many people. I had heard talk of tee shirts, wristbands, badge holders. All things that people were doing out of the absolute goodness of their hearts, but the thought of being the center of attention on such a large scale, sort of made me want to vomit.

    I have always been slightly socially awkward. My dad and siblings can talk to people with such ease, and I usually end up standing awkwardly to the side, hoping people forget that I’m there. It takes a few times of talking to me to realize I’m not quite as awkward as I first seem. Only slightly!

    Don’t get me wrong; once we get to know each other, it’s hard to shut me up, and I have actually gotten much better than I used to be.

    I swear I did not order my own food at restaurants until I was well into high school; always having my parents or siblings order for me.

    To this day a waiter could bring me the complete wrong meal with a giant hair in it, and I would accept it with a polite smile.

    After this week, it was clear that God was going to pulling me kicking and screaming out of my comfort zone.

    I was going to be in the sympathetic limelight, and there was nothing that I could do about it.

    I wanted to keep my lousy news quiet until we had some answers, but that ship had long sailed. I was so worried people would bombard me questions I didn’t have the answers to, and I was not mentally prepared for that.

    Much to my surprise, it wasn’t people prying or drilling me with questions, but people graciously offering prayers and support, both physical and emotional.

    I had two options. I could keep everything a secret and decline all of this help people were offering so freely, or I could be upfront and accept these sincere acts of charity with as much grace as I could muster.

    Every time I saw someone from my family they were telling of another person or organization that had plans to help Jordan and me. It was so overwhelming. I didn’t want to put people out or have them think I was abusing the charity they had offered.

    I’m sure it has a lot to do with pride. I didn’t want to be the “sick” one needing help. I want to be the one helping others.

    In light of all of these people coming out of the woodwork to offer their help and my ever growing anxiety over all of this, the night before my PET scan I bargained with God, big time!

    I was so concerned that my diagnosis would turn into a spectacle with my name being plastered all over Facebook or my face on posters for benefit dinners. (These are an introvert’s WORST nightmare).

    I prayed and begged God for good PET scan results, and in turn, I would let him make as big of a spectacle as he wanted. (Not the most spiritually mature thing to do, I’m sure) Shoot! I would print off the posters with my face on them myself! I would accept the help offered to me, not turn people away, tell everyone what God had done for me, if he would just heal me.

    Well, the next day, as you know, yielded fantastic news from my scan and the morning after that…God made a pretty funny joke.

    We dropped the kids off at our babysitter pretty early that next morning. I hadn’t been able to see Robbyn the day before because of my slightly radioactive status and wanted to be there in time to feed her.

    We had not been in the room 15 minutes when a tall man in a suit walks in from ”marketing” and says they are shooting a video for nurses’ week and wanted to get shots of a NICU nurse with a family. Our family.


    It was quite a production. Lights. Camera. Action.

    Well if you think I’m not a fan of being in the spotlight, then you should meet my husband! Compared to him, I have the social graces of Miss America. I’m pretty sure most people think he is in physical pain during social gatherings based on the RBF plastered on his face.

    We are a great deal alike though, in that once you get to know him he doesn’t stop talking, and he is loud. Seriously loud.

    He yells all the time in the same tone whether he’s happy, mad, funny, or quoting a movie (which is a well-honed skill of his).

    I swear, he is so loud that all of our children knew his voice better than mine at birth.

    So, this marketing guy really didn’t know how horrible of a situation he was putting Jordan and me in.

    I’d done it though. I told God I would gladly be made a spectacle of and he delivered, very quickly I might add.

    Now, God has blessed us with free will and I had every opportunity to say no, but I was serious when I bargained with him.

    I wanted to be obedient, and see the plan he had in store for me.

    I have failed in the past when God has given me opportunities to share my faith and chickened out; using my God-given awkwardness as an excuse. I didn’t want to fail him again.

    There is a man in the Old Testament, in Judges Chapter 6, named Gideon. He lived in occupied Israel, and when God appears to him, he is cowardly threshing wheat in hiding, so his food isn’t stolen by the country’s enemy, the Midianites. God is coming to Gideon to tell him to raise up an army to rebel against Israel’s captors. God arrives on the scene and says “The LORD is with you mighty man of valor!” 

    God is calling this man to do something extraordinary. A man who is clearly not acting very bold or mighty. A man who is a farmer, not a warrior. A man who knows “My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” (Judges 6:15).

    He is the smallest man, in the weakest clan, from the smallest tribe of an enslaved country.

    He has some legitimate concerns if you ask me.

    Gideon and I have a lot in common. Mainly, we are cowards, and we come prepared with excuses.

    But thankfully, another thing Gideon and I have in common is that we serve a God who sees us not as we are, but as the extraordinary people HE created us to be.

    God came to cowardly Gideon and called him a mighty man of valor. God saw Gideon as the marvelous creature he designed and gifted with the ability to do great things for God. Gideon didn’t even want to believe it when God himself told him.

    I could feel God calling me to be brave.

    To step outside my comfort zone.

    He has a job for me to do and I have been hiding. I’m not special. He has given the same calling to me as all Christians.

    Love God.

    Love People.

    SPREAD THE GOSPEL.

    (So if you don’t think you know what God is calling you to do, start there!)

    I have been so cowardly in the past. I have missed so many opportunities to share the love of God with people. To share how great my life is because of Jesus Christ. That I have peace and hope because he died for me.

    How could I experience this magnificent love and not want to tell everyone I meet?

    I mean, seriously, when I can tell the cashier at Walmart how to get great discounts at Dunkin Donuts but am too scared to tell them Jesus loves them… That is a problem.

    I think God used this nurses’ week commercial as a way to pull me a little further out of my comfort zone before he pushes me head first into the waters of something great.

    I don’t know exactly what that is, and to be honest, it makes me nervous but as Judges 6:14 says “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?”

    He has sent me. So I will go.