Tag Archives: Jesus

But What If

“But what if you are sick?!” She questioned, bottom lip quivering, with all of the composure a 4 year old can muster.  My mind raced with all the intricacies of cancer and how best to soften that blow for a child.  Teary-eyed, I explained to her that if that was the case, that God would take care of us.

But she didn’t want to hear that.  She wanted to hear that Mommy was ok and that Mommy wasn’t sick.  My little girl, who is usually an eager sleeper, refused to go to bed because she knew when she went to sleep that when she woke up I wouldn’t be there.  

So much for routine scans!  “Routine scans” are a mysterious blessing not afforded to all cancer patients and not guaranteed to us at any point.  There was a time in my cancer journey that those words, “routine scans”, sounded like a pipe dream.  Literally something that just wasn’t for me because my time had come and gone.  I always feel great until the night before scans.  And even then, the bad feelings are usually reserved for just me.  But tonight, my daughter caught wind of something that she never really fully understood before.  Yes, Mommy was sick through most of her life but from what she can remember, Mommy has always been there.  Tonight as I laid her down for bed, she wrestled with the fact that I wouldn’t be there when she woke up.

“Mommy just needs to go to the doctor for the day so they can tell me I’m not sick!”  I told her.  She seemed relieved at first, until she thought about it more.  But what if…

Our son is almost 7 and he has always just sort of understood all of this.  Not that it hasn’t been hard on him, but he always took it in stride and seemed to understand.  He didn’t like when I wasn’t there but he got it.  This is the first time Brit has asked so many questions and she just is not ok with the answers.  And I don’t blame her, I just wasn’t ready for this tonight.

Tonight as I was laying with her while she fell asleep (something she begged me for tonight, and never does this) she kept trying to figure out ways, through tear-soaked cheeks that she would get through tomorrow.  She finally said, “Ok Mommy, I will sleep as late as I can then pretend you are at the store and will be home at dinner.  Mommy, promise me you will be home by dinner!”

Of course I can’t promise any such thing, but I see my broken-hearted child before me.  Faced, for the first time in her life, with the understanding that Mommy may not always be there.  And so I try to assure her, with as much confidence as I can muster, that I will do my absolute best to be home for dinner tomorrow.  

My son comes out of his room, curious as to why his sister is crying.  And I have to tell him that he needs to be there for her tomorrow and things will be different but that he can make sure she’s ok.  On the surface, I’m only talking about tomorrow.  But in my heart, I know I’m talking much longer term.

What if?  Well, if something shows up, then I will try my best to be here.  And if I can’t, I need him to step in and help her when I can’t.  It’s symbolic and it’s heavy and it’s real.  I have scans tomorrow and they may be just fine.  But what if…

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Perspective…

Over the past few weeks, I’ve used this word to calm me down in the midst of emotional turmoil.  There have been a lot of exciting things happening (our church plant!! So amazing.  Will update on that later 😊) but also a lot of…not so great things.  Without going into detail, just know that my husband and I have been attacked more in these last few weeks and have had our names dragged through the mud and, honestly, it was really a difficult time.  I like people to like me and to understand where I’m coming from so it’s really hard when you find out you are being grossly misrepresented.  It hurts.  And it sucks.  And it’s completely unnecessary!

Perspective.  I’ve reminded myself that my eternity is not defined by what people say about me or how they perceive my motives.  Or even if they like me!  I trust only in God who sent His son to die on the cross for my sins so that I could be reconciled to Him and do His work.  Period.  If that makes me unlikeable, then so be it.  “”
I’ve come to see how wonderful it is to have people in your life who truly “get” you and support you (or call you out when you’re ridiculous).  But I’ve also realized how much time and energy I was putting into caring about things that just don’t matter.  

Let me quick check my meter for how much unnecessary drama I’m able to tolerate right now….ok, yup, it’s at zero.

Think about what you were most outraged/passionate about today, then think about this- According to stats from UNICEF, 29,000 children under the age 5 have died TODAY from preventable causes!  29,000!!  Starvation, diarrhea, lack of access to vaccines, dehydration, and parasites top the list of why.  You see what I mean?!  There’s just no time for nonsense, there is work to be done. 

Don’t get me wrong, it is completely possible to care about a whole bunch of things all at once, absolutely.  And I love being a part of dialogue where all sides are heard and valued.  I just refuse to believe the worst in people so I’ve chosen to always hear people out.  This has been a wonderful tactic for meaningful connection!  And I’m only sorry I didn’t consciously try it sooner.  

Disclaimer: I’m not trying to sound “better than anyone” (because if I’ve learned anything over the last few months it’s that someone will think that) but just to make us think and, yes, give us some perspective.

Get this, I even stopped blogging because I was worried what people would think of me!  They would think I’m annoying and self-promoting, self-righteous and selfish.  I don’t care anymore.  What I do care about is people.  People who are hurting and suffering here and all over the world.  And I intend to do something about that.

Jesus was very clear and I take his commands and those of the disciples very seriously, so instead of worrying about what others think (and by doing so stopping my effectiveness as a disciple of Christ), I’m simply going to focus in on what I’m commanded to do by the One who holds my heart.  If you want to be a part of this ride, you’re more than welcome to join me!!

I’m going to care for the orphans and widows, I’m going to love God and love people, and I’m going to go and make disciples.  Period.

Try and stop me.

Missing Cancer

“I actually miss it.” I said, probably a little too casually.

Her head cocked to the side as her furrowed brows conveyed her confusion.  A tight smile ran across her lips as her mind reeled with the possibilities of how she had misheard me.

“No, really.  I miss it.” I assured her.

They say that after you have a baby you forget about all of the physical agony your body just went through in the wake of basking in the joy of the new life before you.  And although I can’t say this is 100% true, I can say with complete certainty that it’s worth it.  And I would go back in time and do it again, both times, in a heartbeat.  I’ll never forget how much it sucked, but I’ll always remember that it was worth it.

When I look back on my cancer journey, I feel quite the same way.  Because even though there were so many tears and there was so much heartbreak and physical suffering, everything that happened was ultimately good.  Even if not in the moment, it certainly lead to good.  And I miss it.

When I was sick and facing death, I felt God more clearly than I even knew was possible.  My relationship with Him was solid and easy.  His words were clear and His depths seemed to have no end.  I think back and envision our times together as a literal walk side by side in a lush and beautiful garden on a warm, breezy summer evening.  Just the two of us.  The soft, sweet grass squishing gently between my toes as I beamed with pride at the chance to walk with my Father.  Side by side.  Every time I think of it, this is the image in my head and I gasp a little every time I remember this feeling.  So real.  So close.  So much love and intimacy.  

And so fleeting.

And I hate that it’s over and I hate that it’s so hard now.  I have to work so hard to find Him now.  I know He’s here and I will not forget what has done for me.  But I miss it.  I so much miss that intimacy and connection.  I know that even if I don’t get to experience that again in my life, although I yearn for it, that that has been just a glimpse of what is awaiting me when I pass.  And I long for it, as weird as it might sound.

But I thank God for the fact that not only can I, with confidence, assure someone that He really does work for the good of those who love Him, but that I can look back and actually see where that has happened.  

I was willing to die of it meant somehow that more people would find Him through my death than through my living.  And I still mean that.  But I’ve actually gotten to witness first-hand the genuine love of the Lord gripping my children and I get to walk them through tough moments in their lives and I get to see them putting the pieces together of who Jesus is and why we need Him.  I get the great privilege of serving in ministries where I can see Jesus working first hand.  I’m not sure I could have looked at parenting or ministry with such a God-centered urgency without cancer being a pressure on me to do so.  And I thank God for this every day.

Although I’m thrilled to still be here, it was never my goal to survive cancer.  Maybe I was pessimistic or maybe just realistic, but there was a point where, medically, survival wasn’t in the cards and I accepted that.  I wish I could say I had a fighter’s fire within me that just wasn’t going to give up, but that just isn’t true.  Don’t get me wrong, I always appreciate when people say they’ve found strength because of my story.  That to me is such a blessing and I’m so glad for it.  But when it came down to it, I’ve never in my life been someone who people would describe as particularly brave or courageous.  Any strength that I may have projected came only from God.  It was in my illness that I finally understood what God meant when He said that in our weaknesses is where He shows His strength!  I am, and I say this without fishing for compliments, literally as ordinary as they come.  I am awkward and self-conscious and just completely and painfully average.  

But yet somehow through my circumstances, God was able to reach people and draw them to Him.  I’m still in awe that I was able to play any small part in the growth and cultivation of anyone’s faith.  It’s beyond anything I could have dreamed of.

But a few months ago I began to feel like a hypocrite trying to comfort people in the depths of their pain when I was no longer at a place of physically suffering on that level.  And I had something, at least for the time being, that I couldn’t assure them they would have.  I had life.  I had clear scans and improving health.  I had a second chance and I knew that wasn’t anything I could in good conscience give people hope for.  That wouldn’t be fair or honest.  So I stopped writing for the time being and focused on the relationships right in front of me and how to best serve Jesus in a more hands-on way.  Not  I’ve ever been hands-off in ministry, this is just where I felt God leading.

This is something I’ve said from the beginning with this blogging stuff: I don’t want to give people false hope.  There is no hope in medicine, doctors, treatments, holistic stuff, any of that.  All of that can and will, at one point, fail us.  There is hope only in the salvation that comes from Jesus Christ.  That will never change and His grace will never fail us.  I never wanted to give people false hope and I felt that as a stage 4 melanoma survivor who is doing, well, fine, my continued blogging would do just that.  Do I want that for them?  More than anything!  But I can’t give false hope.

I don’t say this to be coldhearted but honest.  I pray for people to be healed and I desperately want that for people who are suffering but I just never found hope in that.  Hope comes from knowing Jesus is who He says He is and did for us what He said He’s done.  God doesn’t change or fail us or leave us.  He may allow suffering but if we embrace it and try to use it, it will be used for good.

I’m just lucky enough somehow to be able to have been around long enough to see some of this good happening.  I’m so appreciative of people who have shared with me how my story has helped them or a loved one.  And because of that I am much more conscious about telling people how much I appreciate them and how much their stories have helped me.

It was just so beautiful.  It was simple.  It was clear and fresh and everything good.

And I miss that.

But wow am I glad to still be here.

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I Just Can’t Believe in a God Who…

A lot of people don’t believe in God.  I get that, hey, I used to dabble in that thought process myself.  But if I’ve heard one argument the most I think it would be, “but I’m a good person.  I haven’t killed anyone and I’m pretty nice, why should I not go to heaven when a mass murderer can say sorry right before he dies and go?  I just can’t believe in a God that would do that.”

Here is where God is battling against our pride.  We are told all our lives to work hard and achieve personal success, doing it yourself as much as possible.  So why shouldn’t it be the same in our faith?  Why shouldn’t I be able to just be “good” and still make it to heaven?

We don’t get this because we are good, we get it because He is good. We can’t boast about what we did to get here because we didn’t do anything to deserve it.  That is, besides chugging a big old cup of humility and facing the fact that we do actually need forgiveness.  All of us.

We all want equality and here it is, plain as day, the equality we claim to want. Across the board with zero discrimination.  And then suddenly it’s not fair.  But this is a cool thing about God – He uses our own logic against us to show us our foolishness.  

There is nothing we can do to earn heaven.  No. Thing.  Of course, our fruit and our works will show that we belong to Christ, that’s straight biblical.  But no amount of works will get us there.

Look, I’m not one to use heaven and hell as a scare tactic.  Honestly, when I accepted Christ almost 9 years ago, that wasn’t what ultimately changed my mind.  I wanted something more.  Something real.  Something bigger.  I had been chasing the dreams the world told me to for so long and I was so unfulfilled.  I was an academic with a bachelor’s degree from Pitt who was ready to make some money and get the heck out of rural PA and move onto grad school.  I was too smart for God.

But then I did something super uncomfortable for me – I went to church.  A Nazarene church.  And I’m not sure why that made a difference in my mind, but it did – perhaps because this is the church God wanted me personally to be in.  And there I saw something that I hadn’t witnessed even once in my 23 years prior.  I saw people being genuinely happy where they were and with what they had.  And they were genuinely happy to help others.  I saw people of all socio-economic standings and all ages working together cohesively for a common goal.  I know some Christians get a bad name, but let me tell ya, at least a lot of the ones I know, they do the work. No, nobody’s perfect and of course there are still struggles with greed and pride, among other sins, within the church.  But in my experience, once we truly give ourselves to Christ, we don’t have to carry the burden of self anymore and are finally free.  Free to love and to give and to serve.  Free to find where we truly fit and what our true purpose is.  And there is rest in peace in that.  Now that is a beautiful gift.  

I’ve seen this with many of the Christians I know and they inspire me all the time to do more and do better.  Not because there will be a greater prize, not out of trying to “out-Christian” each other, not because we have anything to prove, but because we all know we don’t deserve this gift that Christ gave us and so out of gratitude and love for others we will serve.  Sometimes I think we focus so much on the heaven part of the gift that we forget about the gift of freedom in this life.  The broken chains, the freedom from sin, the power of the Holy Spirit within us.  What a gift it is!!

People don’t like the gospel because it implies the need to change.  I get it, I was there once too.  Yes, come as you are, but you aren’t meant to stay that way.  God has a better plan. And yes, it takes some humbling to admit that.  Allow change, allow a clean slate and a new heart and a rebirth.  You won’t regret it.  I know how it feels to have a million questions and doubts running through your mind and none of it making sense.  And if you want to discuss anything further (civilly and respectfully of course 😉) please feel free to email me at morelikecantcer@gmail.com

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Happy Good Friday!!
❤ Kim

My Favorite Day

Maundy Thursday is my favorite holiday, if you can call it that.  It’s just this amazing, completely uncommercialized observance of the greatest act of sacrifice in history.  It’s painful to think about and hard to take in and it’s so, so necessary to keep in mind as we move into Easter.  A story marked by betrayal and undeserved punishment and culminating just a few days later with undeserved favor.

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This will always be my favorite as it is a reminder that God’s word isn’t a fairy tale full of “happy” endings.  No, it’s this story of difficult truths of a man who gave it all up for us.  Who was sentenced to death by a crowd who just a few days welcomed him and shouted his praises.  Who was a threat to power and corruption and therefore was sentenced to die the death of the very worst criminals, although of course He committed no crime.  He beat death itself but it wasn’t without suffering on His part and reminds us that we are no better than our master, as Jesus reminded the disciples on this night many years ago.  It’s a reminder that we are expected to face trials of all sorts.  It also models for us how to pray as in Jesus’ last hours before his arrest, he spent fervently praying. Jesus prayed. Wow.

It’s not altogether uplifting, but in a culture of consumeristic Christianity it’s altogether too easy to forget that this is what we need to keep close to our hearts.

This day deserves reverence.  It deserves a time set aside to soak it in and process it.  Jesus not only felt every physical lash but he felt emotions that make this all the harder to take in.  Just my two cents anyway.

Heading to church now to observe this most holy of days ❤

Trying to Forget

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Going for a walk around our neighborhood is one of our favorite activities.  Brit always grabs her stroller and puts her precious Baby Monkey in it while Evan insists on riding his tractor down the sidewalk, threatening any mailbox that stands in his way.  Eric and I always enjoy the view from behind and like that we can actually catch up with each other and get a moment to talk.  Tonight was a beautiful time to refresh and recharge and…remember.

It was a gorgeous early spring evening with a crispness in the clean, fresh air that was so invigorating and I thought to myself, “I don’t want to forget this moment.”

Just as quickly as I had that thought, a whole range of emotions came over me as I realized that the only reason I was truly taking in this sweet moment to its fullest was because not long ago I wasn’t promised this time. There was a time not so long ago that I was so close to losing my life and somehow…I had forgotten. 

I’ve been laying a little low lately – almost trying to see if maybe I could forget.  Forget what it felt like to be facing death eye to eye.  Forget what it feels like to need to “wrap up the loose ends” that we all have in life.  Trying to forget the feeling of being helpless to take care of my family.  I was trying to forget the pain and heartache and physical and emotional hardship of living with stage 4 cancer. 

And my health has been conducive this way of thinking as I am completely stable right now.  No major pains, no treatments, no appointments, no scans (until May). 

Life is, well, back to normal.  Which is all I ever wanted from the start of this!  Or so I thought.

Tonight I realized tonight 2 things:

1. I can’t forget
There are constant and inevitable reminders of the fact that, yes, all of this really happened.  My body is scarred and in several places grossly misshapen and often painful.  I still have my port.  My kids know too much about death and cancer for their own good and I realized that although I had grown slightly uncomfortable in discussing it, they had not.  There are medical bills still coming in regularly and I still need seizure meds as I still have a brain tumor and thyroid meds because radiation killed my thyroid.  I can’t forget these things. 

Our family has changed because of it. Our marriage has changed because of it. I have changed because of it. And this leads me to #2.

2.  I don’t want to forget. I see now that my diagnosis is on a similar level to that fateful day at the age of 23 where I walked down to the altar and finally found where I belong.  I met Jesus that morning and accepted His unimaginable gift of salvation and my life has not been the same since in the best possible way.  And I consider it not just an honor but a duty to share all of the ways He has been faithful to me since that day.  My battle with cancer is no longer something I want to forget because it too has so deeply changed me and affected how I see and relate to the world.

I always say that sometimes I feel too “Christian” for the secular world and feel to worldly for the Christians.  I often feel like there’s not a place I “fit”.  But God is amazing and has used this as a beautiful testimony and a way to reach other people who also feel like outsiders.  People who doubt.  People struggling with shame and loneliness, just as I once had.  I never want to forget my life before Jesus.  It wasn’t pretty a lot of times, but it shows me just how deeply and truly He can change us.  I’m forever grateful and will spend my days forever glorifying Him. 

So I apologize if I start blogging way too much!  I’m not trying to be annoying (it just comes naturally to some of us 😉) it’s just that I’ve learned so much and have had so many amazing experiences that I need to use every chance I get.  And I look at this blog as another opportunity to bring praise to God.  And honestly, I’ve missed the interaction and connection to others that I feel in doing this.  Its been a great way to meet people, pray for people, and hear other people’s stories. 

I’m not trying to forget anymore.  In fact, I will be trying more and more to remember what this journey has brought because ultimately it has borne fruit in me and I’m so grateful. 

And why would I want to forget that??

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Tears

The other night, the night after speaking to my oncologist, I laid there with his voice running through my head.  I found myself no longer just accepting the news, but trying to make sense of it, trying desperately to put it in perspective.

There is no sign of cancer in me.  My brain tumor is unchanged (possibly dead) with no new mets, my abdominal MRI showed the tumors in my liver were benign and the chest CT showed no change.  The lymph nodes in my lungs are still enlarged but there is no sign of active cancer or metastasis.  For all I know, there may not even be cancer in me at all.  I’m still here.  I’m still freaking here.

I laid there smiling through the tears because I was so in that moment. I thought about how I’m still here and still able to siphon my husband’s body heat on this bitter cold night.  Still able to hear my son snoring away through the thin wall that separates us.  Still able to check on my daughter as in her sleepy stupor she had woken up crying because she couldn’t find her beloved blanky that was of course right under her.  I listened to the dog trying unsuccessfully to scratch his ear from under our bed where he likes to sleep.  I laid on my soft pillow and let the tears silently stream from my cheeks soaking the pillow case as I soaked in my favorite sounds. 

A song began to play in my head.

You’re a good, good Father
It’s who You are, it’s who You are, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You
It’s who I am….

I’m convinced I will never fully understand this reprieve I’ve been given, it’s too big and just difficult.  But I’m so grateful to still be here and able to give and love and feel and cry and hurt and smile and laugh and grow in the Lord and do all of the things I’ve been created to do.  In a way it feels like a chapter of my life has closed.  Of course cancer could rear it’s ugly head again at any time, but I finally feel a peace about feeling good and that feels, well, good.

Some things will take some time.  I still mentally cannot plan more than a few weeks in advance.  There is an absolute mental block there.  Something may make its way onto the calendar, but for the most part I’m still in the mindset of “day by day”.  I still over think just about everything, but I don’t think that’s all bad.  In some ways things are completely back to normal and in other ways things will never be the same, but either way I have gratitude, joy, and a peace that cannot come from anywhere but God himself.

Chris Tomlin’s ministry has been so present and important in this journey.  (Oddly enough, through a friend who knows him, he actually knows this – how weird is that?).  But here’s a song that just reaches my soul and guts me spiritually when I hear it – in a good way.  He’s one of the few artists that can make me ugly cry with great consistency lol.  Here’s “Good Good Father”
Chris Tomlin – Good Good Father

Thanks to everyone who’s been praying.  I don’t take that lightly or for granted.  I’ve seen prayer change things and I know its power and I hope you know how deeply I appreciate that support. Love you guys so much ❤ thanks again.