False Prophets, Sea Sick, and back to HoustonĀ 

Ephesians 4:14-15 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

I don’t know about you, but I often get confused about what is Truth. I have gotten so tossed back and forth by the waves of different teachings and opinions that my brain became sea sick.  I have wrestled with what I always assumed to be true from the Bible Belt I was raised in, and what was really Truth.  I love the promise of this scripture: I can become a mature part of the body, with Christ as head.  I can know the Truth.

I have spoken 4 times recently on Ephesians 4, and every time I learn something new. This last time, a new thought stuck in my heart. I’ve often heard that If you hear something 7-9 times it becomes true to you. In this 
Information Age, it is very easy to get confused about what is truth, as we all know from trying to wade through any news we watch or read. We tend to believe what we hear most often. That’s scary, and evident in the great divide we see forming in the USA.  I see people being separated from one another due to perception instead of experience. There are large sweeps of assumption, for instance, if you are at a country music that you are a conservative republican. Or if you are in D.C, you are a liberal and hate people from the Midwest. I believe the reality is that we see the worst or the best of one person, and we prescribe that person’s behavior as typical of all people having a similar characteristic of some sort.  How’s that for prejudice? 

Last Sunday, after writing the previous paragraph, we went to church.  The pastor spoke on John 6. As I read the scripture, I found an example of believing what you’ve been told instead of the truth of the situation. (There is SO much in this small passage, I expect I will be processing it for weeks and months.) See, there was a crowd of people who saw Jesus take 2 fish and 5 loaves given by a boy, and feed 5,000+ people with what was multiplied from that gift. There were 12 baskets of food left after everyone had eaten. During the night, Jesus and the disciples sailed to another town. It didn’t take long for the crowds to find them, and they wanted to see another miracle. They said, do a miracle and we will believe in you. Moses fed our ancestors with bread from heaven. Jesus said No, no, no, the Father fed your ancestors, not Moses. And that same loving Father wants to feed you THE BREAD OF HEAVEN that gives life now in this generation, and I AM that bread. (And I hear the Spirit saying “He gives life to this generation!!“). See, the people had been taught that Moses had given the bread from heaven. Scripture doesn’t say that, but the message got confused somewhere as the stories were passed along. The source of the food moved from the Father to Moses. And the people heard this repeatedly from their parents, and rabbis and teachers. It was a common belief in their community, but that didn’t make it true.  Moses was God’s friend, but he was not the source of the life sustaining manna that fed their ancestors, (despite what both Facebook, FOX, and CNBC reportedšŸ˜œ).

I’ve been occupied with the thought, How do I avoid being dissuaded from the Truth by false teaching? This thought has really harassed me, and for good reason. There are several scriptures that make me fear being mislead.  Here is one:  Matthew 24:24-25 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you ahead of time.  I haven’t been pondering this for weeks, at this point, I’ve been haunted for years. Yet as I spoke the other night, I feel the answer came.

Our truth is determined by what we expose our minds to the most. THE TRUTH is determined by God’s reality. The two can differ greatly.  Lately, my mind has binged on all 6 seasons of Downton Abby, the InvestED podcast, Keeping Up with the Jones, This is Us, and life. It has moderately reflected on the lives of Joseph, Gideon, and now Matthew’s writing. To know THE TRUT, it is VITAL that I am immersed in scripture so I recognize false teachings when I hear them, that I spend time with Holy Spirit being taught (see 1Cor 2:10-13), and that I expose myself to a variety of teachings by people who believe the entirety of scripture and the power of God. 

A few writings ago, I talked about THE LIST. The one we make up in our head that pleases God and makes us good enough for him. I said the list is trash. The list is trash. I cannot earn God’s approval, I can only receive it through Christ’s sacrifice. I want to clarify that because I don’t want to give the impression that studying and knowing scripture is what makes God love us. Studying and knowing scripture protects you from lies and misleading teachings you may hear/read. 

Back to Houston Tomorrow I’m back to Houston for a check up again. I’m expecting all will go well. Last week, I mistakenly opened my calendar to last November, and it brought back a barrage of memories as we approach the anniversary date of my diagnosis. Memories of phone calls, and standing in the doctor’s office watching other people blink away tears, distracting my mind to keep it from going down a bad road. 

In the beginning, we thought I had a different form of cancer that was not responsive to chemo and radiation. If that had been true, and if it had metastasized, there would have been no treatment. They would have only treated my symptoms until I died. It would have been really easy to head down a bad path mentally, and there were a few moments I did. BUT, that wasn’t the truth. God’s peace and provision superseded our understanding of the facts. He is good, and worthy to be praised. And even if those had been the facts, even if that would have been the reality we had to face, He’s still good. As children of God, death does not bring suffering and pain. It brings full understanding of the true goodness of God, his love, his peace, his joy. I have to remind myself of this.



This weekend I lost my &*%$

Wild came on TV this weekend.  All my friends have seen it, and suggested that I would like it. That’s the movie where Reese Witherspoon deals with all the crap in her life as she walks 1000 miles on the Pacific Crest trail.  It wrecked me!  Like, three semi-trucks hitting at full speed kind of wrecked.  Like, I went crying to my daughters room to apologize for getting sick and abandoning her last year kind of wrecked. I expected to remember my Camino trip, to miss hiking, to cry a little. I did not know it would kill my soul! Part of the story is about the main character’s mom dying of cancer and her very negative reaction to it. Over the last six months I have considered how each of my children have reacted differently to my illness. Deacon asks, “is it contagious” and “can it kill you” about each new disease he hears.  He shares every cut and scratch he gets with everyone who will listen.  Emma got silent, so I hear.  My dad said she lost her sense of humor while we were gone, but it is back full force.  She’s a stuffer.  She isn’t one to open up and share her feelings, at least not with me.  She says she can talk to her dad more. (Yes, this kills me a little bit because my mom was so good at listening to my teenage woes, but I’m thankful for her relationship with Cary.) . Ty didn’t talk about my cancer, other than the occasional joke one of us would crack before treatments started or after my return (because humor is how my family deals with stress… humor or yelling).  He still doesn’t talk about it.  This summer though, he depressed.  He said he didn’t worry about me, that he knew I would be okay, but this summer, I think all the being strong caught up with him.  He seems to be dealing with life fine now.  I never considered how I supported them (or didn’t support them) through my illness.  We tried to protect them.  We didn’t mention the “C” word for a few weeks.  We didn’t cry in front of them, or get emotional.  Honestly, I didn’t really get emotional often at all.  We assured them that I was going to be okay, and it wasn’t a lie. I fully believed it was simply something to get through.  It was something to get through, but this hasn’t been simple.  We were gone.  We were in Houston for almost 2 months.

Here’s the deal: I’m not one of those moms who is all about her kids.  I want to be.  I feel horrific guilt over it, but I’m not.  I don’t understand women who rush home after a day with friends like their heart is missing something.  It takes me well over a week to miss them if I travel.  Coming home after time away is painful because of the physical and emotional drain to meet their needs (this is greatly improving as they get older, but I swear “Mom, I want milk” sometimes feels like a threat to my sanity).  When I travel, I may wish they were with me to experience something I experience or to share a common memory, but I don’t long to be home with them. I don’t lose sleep, and I don’t get sad about it.  I know… I suck!! I’ve almost deleted this paragraph 3 times while writing it, but I blog to be honest and transparent, not to be perfect…

I say all of this to say: I don’t call every night when I travel for work.  I don’t even call Cary every night when I travel for work.  We may text, they call when they need something, but that’s kind of the extent of it.  So, as I am watching this movie I am realizing that I didn’t talk to my kids that much when I was in Houston.  I slept through a lot of that time, so I don’t remember how often. I started to realize that they must have felt abandoned, at least to some degree, during that time.  I know their grandparents love them and cared for them, but it doesn’t change the fact that their parents went missing and normalcy went out the window.  When I was apologizing to Em for getting sick and leaving her here to deal with the stress alone, she agreed with me.  She felt very alone.  She doesn’t blame me for getting sick or going for treatments, but she does recognize the loneliness if it all.  I’m thankful she recognizes that.  It will make it easier to heal from later, when she is ready to work through all this.  I wish I could force her, all of my kids actually, to have a SOZO to deal with our last year, but they have to walk their own path to spiritual healing.  Right?  Seriously, my SOZO friends, can I force this issue?

It’s funny how you walk through life and you think you’re doing fine, then something benign happens, and you realize you’re not okay.  Something is broken, and you don’t know how to fix it.  As I watched the movie and cried WAY more that was reasonable, my very astute spouse looked at me and said, “Are you okay?”. I did what all women would do. I said, “I’m fine”, as I walked into the kitchen to make my tea.  Then, I decided not to stuff it.  I walked back in my bedroom, buried my head in his chest and said, “I’m not fine.”  Then I unloaded the barrel.  I said all the things I hadn’t yet let myself think: What if this comes back? What if we have to do Houston again? Do you realize I abandoned my children and I didn’t send you home to take care of them? To give them some normalcy? What kind of mother does that?  I didn’t even call them every night?  Who does that?

He is a very good man, and the peace he exudes when I’m losing my mind only heightens my understanding that I am the one who got the better end of the marriage deal.  He comforted me with reminders of how tired I really was, how badly I really felt, and that I could hardly talk sometimes. He wrapped those big strong arms around me and let me cry. He let me mourn. Because he really is almost perfect (don’t tell him… it will go to his head).

Speaking of Spiritual Healing  I tell all my friends turning 30 to hire a therapist, learn a SOZO lifestyle, and go to RTF.  (We haven’t been to Restoring the Foundations, but it has been life changing for several people I know.  We just need to save the money and find the time off work!)  I feel like 30ish is the age when you can’t fake it any more without major damage.  That is the point where if you continue to stuff the pain and misunderstandings from childhood, you will self-destruct or spend a lifetime hurting other people unintentionally.  Sometimes I look at my kids and their friends (especially the teenagers) and think, “These are the things you’re going to tell your therapist about.” The truth is, no matter how well I do this mom thing, they are going to have baggage.  If I do it all right (and I don’t, as shown in the previous paragraphs) they will spend their lives comparing either themselves or their wives to me, and that will be a disaster.  If I protect them from all the things that caused me pain, they will just find something else to be hurt by.  So, there is a balance between hands-off parenting and wrapping them in bubble wrap that can only be achieved by listening to the Holy Spirit as often as you can remember that He is always with you, every moment.

Tonight I taught the kids at GUMC.  I shared my favorite Bible testimony.  I love hearing about Gideon.  Gideon didn’t have a clue who God created him to be.  He didn’t have faith in himself, and he didn’t believe God had an answer for the struggles his family was facing, but God…  Gideon learned that he can hear God, all the time.  He learned to obey his voice, and he had victory in life. Not because of his strength or intelligence or charisma, but because of his humility and obedience.  I had the kids chant two things for me tonight:  1. I can hear God.  2. When things look impossible, God can take care of it.  That’s true of cancer, that’s true of abandonment, that’s true of huge mistakes you don’t know how to overcome.  That’s true for adults too.  We can hear God, and when things look impossible, he has it all under control.  Take a few minutes.  Chant it under your breath.  If you really get brave, yell it out loud over and over like my 10 little warriors did tonight.  Luke 1:37 For nothing will be impossible with God.