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!


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

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!

The Gift of Community

Community is a remarkable thing. It’s defined as a group of people who live in the same area or with a common background or shared interests. But there’s a type of community that goes deeper than shared interests or location. It’s the collective action that emerges in difficult situations: large scale catastrophes like 9/11 or Hurricane Katrina or local tragedies like a young woman fighting to stay alive

We were designed with the purpose to love our neighbors as ourselves and there’s something in our hearts that compels us to act on the behalf of others. I see it every day on my Facebook and Twitter feeds – people speaking out for the vulnerable, praising others for their good deeds and encouraging both friends and strangers to keep reaching for their dreams. Some people devote their life’s work to these great acts of community. Others come forward in the most critical hour of need. And still others contribute life-giving service in small trickles throughout their lives. 

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Romans 12:9-10

We have been blessed with a very special community through this season. The oncology team at Newton Wellesley Hospital provided a level of care that greatly exceeded our expectations. Our employers generously supported us and the many hours and days we had to take off from our jobs. A church in Maine prayed over a prayer cloth for Tyler and mailed it to us in Boston so that Tyler could receive anointing from a distance.

Many of you reading this post have also played a vital part in our story. You prayed with us, cooked for us, sent us care packages, visited us, made us laugh, washed our dishes and even installed an air conditioner (thanks Matt!). You, as our community, walked each step of this journey with us. For this, and for all the ways you continue to participate in our story, we are eternally grateful.

We want to pay this gift of community forward. As I mentioned in my last post, we are running the Maine Half Marathon on September 30th. Back in April, just before Tyler started chemotherapy, we had the privilege of watching our friend Mike run the Boston Marathon to raise support for a great organization called Cradles to Crayons. While we were watching the race, we saw a man run by with a shirt that read:

“Stage Three Brain Cancer. And Never Giving Up.”

My eyes well with tears every time I think back to this moment. I’ll never forget the look on Tyler’s face. I could just see the encouragement rising within him. Seeing that, in the midst of a huge crowd of people all cheering in support for others, many whom were running for incredible non-profits… it changed us.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve always been a little hesitant about races and “a-thon’s” being an effective way to raise money and make a difference. And while I do still wish that people would put their hands to work in addition to their feet and wallets, I now understand the power of these events.

For us, a half-marathon is a BIG stretch. Logic and research point to the likelihood that we will not be able to run even half the race. (Okay, maybe we should have picked a 10K first…) Much like marriage, race training is hard work! I’ve already had an injury and we’ve had a few “fight runs” as I like to call them. But we will finish the race on September 30th, even if we are the last ones limping across that finish line, because we believe in the power of working together for good, no matter how many obstacles come before us.

To honor the community who has coached us along the way of our own cancer journey, we will be fundraising for the Cancer Community Center in Maine for the duration of our training for the half-marathon. The Cancer Community Center is a non-profit organization located in South Portland, Maine. The CCC offers a wide array of resources and services to cancer patients and their families, free of charge. Tyler and I understand that cancer is a complex condition that presents a unique set of challenges for each patient. No one’s experience is the same and we are impressed with the comprehensive and diverse support that CCC provides to the community. Whether a patient is looking for a support group, an exercise class tailored to a cancer patient’s needs or more information on a specific condition, CCC has it all. For free!

Giving back is important to us and we feel that by supporting the Cancer Community Center, not only will we be contributing financially to an important organization, we will be paying it forward to the many patients and families who will walk their own cancer journey. A strong, supportive community is just as important in fighting cancer as doctors, nutrition, and treatment therapies. We invite you to join us in bringing awareness and support to this organization that serves a critical need for cancer patients in Maine.

If you would like to participate in our fundraising efforts, please visit our page at the CCC’s StayClassy fundraising site: http://www.stayclassy.org/fundraise?fcid=207888

Tyler and I would like to find other ways of serving the cancer community and will post our findings on this blog. If you have experience with this, we would love to share your story of service.

Thank you for participating in our story. Your comments encourage us and your prayers lift us up. We thank God for our wonderful community and pray for a ripple effect in each of your unique networks.

God bless!

A New Strength

*Disclaimer: Tyler always reads and edits my posts before I publish but I took a risk to go ahead with this one before he approved. He is very modest and wouldn’t like for me to brag about him, but I can’t help it! I hope you, too, share my joy through this post.*

Tyler had his post-chemo appointment about a month ago. We told the oncology team how we were training for a half-marathon scheduled for September 30th in our beloved home state of Maine. They were wary that it would be a good idea for Tyler to run that soon after finishing chemo, warning that it would take at least 6 months for him to feel back to normal. We left that appointment promising that we would take it one day at a time and that Tyler would not push himself too hard.

Fast forward to today, 5:45AM. I get out of bed to see if my hip has stopped hurting from Monday’s run, an injury that led me to take Wednesday off from our training schedule. It’s still painful to jog so I crawl back into bed.

Tyler gets up and runs nearly 3 miles in under 30 minutes. Without me and without stopping.

It may not seem like much for someone who is training for a half marathon. We are about on par, maybe a little behind, with our 12 week training schedule. But for someone who is not supposed to feel back to his normal self for another 5 months… it’s pretty incredible, isn’t it?

Tyler and I are not runners. In fact, before July, I’m not sure either of us could remember the last time we had gone for a run.  Tyler prefers cycling and I love interval training. Out of the two of us, I have always been the more diligent about my workouts.

Yet Tyler is kicking. My. Butt.

I am so proud of my husband. He is dedicated to training and working really hard to stay motivated and push through the doubt and discomfort that comes so easily in running. He works long hard days, comes home to spend time with me then drags himself out of bed and onto the pavement in the morning. No excuses.

Not to downplay his incredible effort, but I have to think there’s a little more going on here. I’m beginning to wonder if God’s making a statement through Tyler (and maybe using my injury and weakness to highlight it even further). I can’t stop thinking about this verse:

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

It seems like the most cliché verse to apply to a post about running but I just can’t leave it alone. Tyler is living this verse. He is not supposed to be running and soaring high. His body is supposed to be healing and slowly going back to what it was before cancer.

Instead, he has found new strength. A strength that he has been fighting for since March. A strength that God blessed him with through his complete trust in God’s plan. He is not back to his pre-cancer self. He is stronger.

Last week we had a new couple in our small group and we had to give a quick synopsis of Tyler’s diagnosis and treatment. As we were walking to our car that night, Tyler said to me, “I keep saying God was faithful through it all but I can’t help but wonder if it would be so easy to say that if things hadn’t turned out so well.”

I reminded him that there was a time when things weren’t turning out so well. When the lump became a tumor. And then the tumor became cancer.  And then the cancer spread. And the chemo kept going.

Tyler kept trusting. He knew God was faithful, even when he was scared. His faith made him strong.

And now he’s running and not getting weary.

Praise God!!

(I can’t wait to brag to the doctors at his next appointment :))

Unfailing Love

We live in a broken world where poverty, sickness and suffering infect every neighborhood, every street, every home. I can’t think of anyone in my life who has escaped some version of brokenness. It is just the reality we live in.

When Tyler was diagnosed with cancer six months into our marriage, many people lamented the tragedy of it occurring during what should be our happiest, most carefree time. We, too, were devastated. I’ll never forget the shaking fear between the two of us, sitting in the exam room as the doctor read the results. It was absolutely surreal. Cancer was never part of our vocabulary. How could my young, vibrant husband be so sick?

Fortunately, we know that hope and restoration do exist in the brokenness. Through the mourning of our “honeymoon phase”, we have drawn nearer to the God we have both come to know since we were children. In our anxious trembling, we find comfort and peace. When fear overcomes us, we hold onto each other and declare that God is with us.

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. Isaiah 54:10

The Bible mentions God’s unfailing love at least 40 times in the Old Testament. It never fails.  Never. Isn’t that amazing? God has never left us through this time. God has revealed so much to us in this trial that while I never wish our experience on anyone, I pray that when you do experience brokenness, that you come to know the Creator who has never failed those who live by His Word. That unfailing love is available to anyone.

I named this blog “Heights of Love”, borrowed from the Stuart Townsend song “In Christ Alone”:

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

Tyler and I both feel called to share experiences from our marriage that reveal more of God’s character. We hope that our marriage, and this blog, will be a reflection of the heights God carries us to with His unfailing love, in spite of the brokenness that will always be with us on this earth.

Those who know and follow Christ are not exempt from suffering. Rather, in the deep valleys of life, we know that His heights are endless and He will always carry us through.

Thanks for reading :)