Miracle Day

We did it!

Three months ago, Tyler finished his last round of chemotherapy. The doctors said it would take him six to twelve months until he felt normal again.

Today, we ran a half marathon. 

For anyone who is struggling to see the end of a trial or who feels like they will never rise out of where they are today, we dedicate this day to you. We praise God for His faithfulness and ask Him to bless this accomplishment as a promise to you. We pray for better days to come and that you will know what it’s like to soar on the wings of eagles.

We also dedicate this day to all of our friends and family who have supported us along this journey and to those who helped double our fundraising goal for the Cancer Community Center of Maine. One of the best moments of today was around Mile 5 when we heard “Is that Tyler and Becky?!” It was Jennifer, the Development Director from CCC who was volunteering at the race. She recognized us from reading this blog (Hi Jennifer!) and what a boost it was to give her a big hug knowing the work we had all done together for CCC. Donors, your generosity is going to make a difference in someone else’s life. THANK YOU!

Tyler’s mom said to us this morning that today is a miracle day. I don’t think either of us could have imagined in the middle of chemo that we would ever run 13.1 miles. But we did it: pouring rain, sore muscles, and all. 

So take that cancer. Take that enemy. You cannot defeat us or steal our joy because we serve a Miracle Maker!

 

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Unsure of Ourselves

I was feeling the pull last week to write about marriage, being our one year anniversary and all. But what on earth do we have to say, 12 teeny, tiny months into an institution that has been around for thousands of years? What do we even know about marriage?

Well, not much!

Okay, that’s not entirely true. We had an excellent six months or so of marriage counseling and a lifetime of societal examples to prepare us. However, like most anything in life, you have no idea what you’re getting into until you’re actually in it.

And boy did we have a lot of adjusting to do when we came home from our honeymoon.

What were we going to cook for the week? And who was going to cook?
Where were we going to tithe?
What time did we need to get up in the morning so that we could both get to work on time?
When would we see our friends?
Would we go to the same small group or separate ones?
Who was going to clean the bathroom?
What was our budget going to look like?

In fact, we’re still figuring out almost all of these things. There was no manual waiting in our mailbox telling us what would work and what would make us crazy.

As we settled into our new life, we had to adjust to each other, unrealistic expectations and all. It’s not that we thought the other person was going to be perfect all the time but are you ever really prepared for the first time your spouse fails you in some way? Or how about when you fail your spouse? Or when you don’t agree on a big decision? What about when you are so fed up with having to share your space or your time or your money?

We get upset. We resent. We collect hurts and then we fire them off like ammo the next time we are provoked.

And if we’re not careful, we find ourselves digging our heels into that place of hurt and disappointment; leaping back to it at the slightest offense. We allow the enemy to infiltrate our hearts and attempt to weaken the union God has created in our marriage.

I didn’t know what Tyler and I had to say about marriage until this statement from a book I’m reading (The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness) jumped off the page at me:

“So when it comes to identity, modern people have things completely back to front: Professing to be unsure of God, they pretend to be sure of themselves. Followers of Christ put things the other way around: Unsure of ourselves, we are sure of God.

Let’s be honest here. Tyler and I are unsure of who we are as individuals and also who we are as a married couple. We can’t promise that we will always be patient or kind to each other. We can’t promise that we will always love Indian food or watching football on Sunday. And we can’t promise that we will always agree on the big decisions in life. Tyler and I know that we are going to fail each other. We are human. We sin.

We don’t know what God has planned for us or what He might be pruning within us. But we are sure of Him and His promise for our lives. He already proved to us how His love doesn’t fail.

In those moments where I want to scream at Tyler (or in the moments after I do), I have the ultimate marriage counselor to go to… prayer is our 24/7 marriage hotline. But I have to humble myself to make that call. I’m not going to pretend that every time Tyler and I have a fight, we stop in the middle of it and fall on our knees in prayer. It’s not easy to let go of the anger, disappointment or resentment that we feel. Or to admit that one of us was wrong. Or that we don’t know how to fix the problem ourselves.

But we know that God gives us an abundant grace that covers our sins again and again.

We both believe that Jesus died for our sins and that we have a new life in Him. In accepting His grace, we are made new. Every single time. I can’t think of a more effective form of couple’s therapy. Can you?

So one year into marriage, this is what we have to share: God is the only thing we can be sure of in this very uncertain world.

And honestly, what a relief.  We don’t have to have this whole marriage thing figured out on our own.

Phew!

Sunday Thoughts

1. Spoiler Alert: Do you watch Parenthood? It is one of the few shows Tyler and I make sure to record every week. This past week, one of the characters found out she had breast cancer. It was a very dramatic scene at the end of the episode with no dialogue, just music; the character is alone with the doctor finding out her diagnosis and then in the next scene, telling her husband. The shock, the fear… it was all too familiar, I knew exactly what those characters would have felt if they were in real life.

I was so overcome with emotion, I almost couldn’t breathe.  I am wondering if we have not fully dealt with what we went through this past spring/early summer. Tyler said to me that it all feels like a bad dream. We have marched on to the next chapter in our life with no fear or timidity. But sometimes, a news headline, an anecdote or a scene in a TV show reminds us of the nightmare we walked through.

There’s no question God carried us through with a supernatural grace. Now we have to figure out what it means to continue walking in faith and not in denial.

2. Risk has come up several times during Threshold. Specifically, the best stories involve risk. Tyler and I are both fairly risk-averse. We love to plan, we are OCD about our budget and we are generally just rule-following kind of people. What about you? What might be holding you back from telling a really good story with your life? Finances, fear of failure, lack of confidence, fear of the unknown… there are lots of different ways we might be “getting in our own way.” I’m pretty sure Threshold will be leading us to take some risks in the next few months. Eek!!

3. The sermon this morning touched a little on what I blogged about last week though not in regards to the election, more just general response to government/secular culture by Christians. I want to share the following verse from the book of Romans as a reminder of what’s important as things start to heat up in the coming weeks:

Owe nothing to anyone–except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. Romans 13:8

Isn’t that kind of a relief? With all the issues, candidates, and controversy, the only thing we really need to make sure we do is love our neighbor.

Why do we make that so difficult?

4. And on that note… this song. (“By Our Love”, Christy Nockels)

“The time is now
Come Church arise…
Love with His hands
See with His eyes…
Bind it around you,
Let it never leave you,
And they will know us by our love…”

The time is now. Praying you all receive that love from someone this week <3

A House Divided

Back in 2008, Tyler and I started dating at the height of election season. We were planning to vote for two different candidates and spent many hours debating the issues. We enjoyed being able to discuss our viewpoints, respecting that the other person came from a unique set of experiences and opinions. We argued and disagreed but still managed to fall in love.

Can you imagine falling in love with someone you didn’t agree with politically during this election season?

It seems so full of hate. So divisive. I feel myself pulling away from the internet and television because every where I turn, there is ignorance and hate.  Sunday morning, Tyler turned on Meet the Press and I actually found myself covering my ears. I didn’t even want to hear their voices. I’m so tired of the empty statements, the egos and the hate.

It must be really confusing as a non-Christian to understand where we stand with politics. There are people shouting that the GOP is “God’s Only Party” and then others declaring that Jesus is a liberal and an equal amount of hateful, decidedly “non-Christ-like” behavior on both sides. I know conservative Christians and liberal Christians and am inclined to think that Christ would not identify as a Republican or a Democrat. After all, He was pretty harsh on the political factions of his time, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. 

I don’t identify with a political party so I am registered as an independent. When an old friend of my dad’s asked me if I was a Republican or a Democrat and I told him I was an independent, he said “Oh, so you just can’t make up your mind.”

Not exactly. I just don’t identify enough with either party. I have voted both Republican and Democrat in my short lifetime and would consider myself politically moderate. I love what this evangelical pastor has to say about why he is a registered independent, particularly the following statement:

I’m all for political activism among Christians as long as we keep it in perspective in light of our higher priorities of clarity, unity, and purity. While the occupant of the White House will make some very important decisions in the next four years that will impact our lives and futures, he won’t command our destiny.

We should pray for our next president and vote according to our conscience. But we must give our full allegiance and highest energies to our King Jesus. And he said once, “My kingdom is not of this world.” For me, being a registered independent voter helps me remember this.

My point in this post is not to tell you to register as an independent. I know there are people who are very clear on what they believe and have chosen to identify with a party that represents those beliefs.

I just feel it’s important to state that a Christian is a follower of Christ, and not a conservative or a liberal. Our political affiliation is not part of our identity in Christ:

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:25-27

Jesus didn’t say this at a campaign rally. He didn’t tell the apostles to run for public office. He didn’t advocate for a candidate who He felt embodied the gospel. In fact, Jesus didn’t get involved in politics at all. He got involved in people.

I’m praying this election season that we would remember what it means to be a Christian and not let our political differences divide us. When divided, we leave room for the enemy by perpetuating hateful stereotypes and losing sight of our unified vision in Christ. “A house divided against itself cannot stand” (Mark 3:25).

Even more importantly, let’s not create stumbling blocks for others to get to know Jesus by dragging His name through vitriolic politics. After all, it’s through relationships that people come to know Jesus – not legislation.

Sunday Thoughts

It’s hard to believe summer is over and another academic year has begun. What a whirlwind the last two weeks have been. This time last year we were one week away from becoming husband and wife and now we are getting ready to celebrate our one year anniversary. Praise God for another year!

1. You know those few moments in your life where it feels like a scene in a movie? I had one of those this weekend. It was our first session of Threshold, a small group program about discovering God’s calling for your life. As each person went around the room and introduced themselves, I just had this sense that we were about to embark on a big adventure. I’ve never been in a class where I’ve had to share my hopes, frustrations and vulnerabilities within 10 minutes of meeting my classmates.

Yet there we were, eight strangers looking ahead to the year with one common question:  What part are we going to play in the greater story of life?

2. I feel like there have been so many barriers and obstacles in my race training and had even started to wonder if I’d be able to finish the race at all. With the pressure of fundraising and making such a public declaration of intent, I have been feeling really discouraged. How can I get through 13.1 miles if 3 feels like an eternity?!

I was having the exact thought about running and perseverance when I opened this post by a sweet blogger who happens to be the younger sister of one of my dearest friends. In the post, Elise makes a comparison between the difficulties of training and the struggles we encounter in other areas of our lives. She highlights Hebrews 12:1:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

What a great statement! Just throw off the things that hinder us and fix our eyes on Jesus. It makes me feel like I can breathe in deeply and power ahead, no longer held back by injury, doubt, or fatigue.

I ran six miles this morning and it felt incredible. I wasn’t gasping for air or doubled over with cramps. Tyler even told me to slow down at one point. At the end, I actually could have kept going. I NEVER feel like that after a run. Thanks for the encouragement, Elise!

Oh and Tyler ran NINE miles. My husband is a rockstar.

3. On another running note… thanks to an awesome outpouring of generosity, we have reached our fundraising goal! Thank you, thank you to our incredible donors. We are so excited to run our race knowing the Cancer Community Center of Maine has a little more support behind it.

Back to regular posts later this week. Thanks for reading!

Cheers to a blessed week!