The End of a Journey

Graduation season is upon us, and I, too, find myself ready to “graduate”.   With my story told, it seems only logical to wind down this blog.  I don’t look at it so much as an ending, but as an “advancement”.  It’s time to take what I have learned in looking back, turn my sights, and walk boldly into my future, armed with new knowledge, understanding and expectancy.

Although I am not grateful to have had cancer, I am grateful for how this experience has changed me.  I have been humbled by my frailty, and amazed by the strength God provides.  I walk forward with a greater appreciation for life, a deeper gratitude for relationships, and more empathy for others than I had known before.  I may have come away slightly beat-up physically, but I’ve also come away much stronger spiritually.  I have not only survived, but grown through the process.  And I am here to say, you can too.

Every one of us struggles.  I am no different than so many people… too many people.  But what I’ve been trying to say is simple; we have a choice.  Even in life’s brutal trials, we can choose how we live in it.  In most cases, no one can tell us if we will live through it, how we live in it may be the last thing we do.  I say choose hope.  How in the world, you might ask, can one have hope at such a time?  It’s simple.  You can’t… alone.  There is only one I know who offers the kind of hope that transcends even life itself, and that is God.  And there is only one I know who offers a way to be in right relationship with God, and that is Christ.  If you choose Him, you will find it truly doesn’t matter where He takes you.

So as I turn the tassel, my happy ending marks a new beginning.  There is one last thing I would want you to know, and that is how profoundly grateful I am for you.  Thank you my loving family, my caring friends, neighbors, and churches families near and far, for supporting me with massive prayer, small acts of kindness, and everything in between.  Thank you all, for not giving up on me, and for walking with me the whole way.

Note: I will keep this blog public for a time so it can remain available to new visitors. 

In God’s Eyes ©Lynnea Washburn

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Hope in the Fire

The smelter’s fire.  Intense heat.  A forced forging.  A process.  One in which a solid becomes malleable.  Shifting, sifting, chaffing, changing.  A removal of impurities and unwanted elements.  A refining.  In fact, a freeing.  A freeing of what is pure from what is not.

I’ve been there, in that fire.  My fire of adversity was named cancer.  From its appearance, it looked beyond enduring.  When you are in the thick of it, you feel like you are being reduced to your base.  You have no concept of how you got there, how long you will be there, if the process will be repeated, or if you will survive it at all.  And if you do, what will be left of you?

Yet, the Smelter’s fire refines.  If you consider the word “refine”, you see its origin coming from Re, meaning again, and the verb Fine.  Again, fine.  One could even say Again Fine is merely a new starting point, as refine also means to improve little by little, as to be perfected.  Also quite compelling is the word “adversity”, as it is derived from the Latin adveretere; meaning “turn toward”.

Adversity. Turn toward.  Refine.  Again fine.  Improved.

Although we may face adversity in its very worst form, we should always remind ourselves that we still have choices while we are in it.  We can be bitter and angry at our circumstances, asking why me, or why this, or why now.  Or we can turn toward the master Smelter, trust Him, and yield to His hand.

If we trust that in this, there are impurities being purged, in this, we are being reshaped into something more, in this, a greater understanding of truth can be learned, and in this, a deeper relationship with God can be gained, then we will have hope in the fire.  And in the end, we will know that is wasn’t all for naught.

Sometimes, it takes the hottest fire to free us, but at all times, God is still with us.  And when adversity comes our way, if we cling to Him, and put ourselves into His loving hands, then He can use the fire to shape us into the people He made us to be.*

*Zachariah 13:9

This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold.  They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”

Daybreak, by Lynnea Washburn, from the Living Victoriously collection.

All portions of the blog are ©Lynnea Washburn.  All rights reserved.

Restoration

The tech nurse was just about done, and as she disconnected the electrodes she used in the exam,  she smiled.

“Well,” she said, “I don’t want to steal the doctor’s thunder, but… things are looking pretty good.”

It was probably a good thing I wasn’t still hooked up because I was sure my heart just skipped a beat.

It was February, and the time had come for another echocardiogram. This is a type of sonogram of the heart.  It looks at valve function, how the ventricles communicate, and measures cardiac output called Ejection Fraction (EF).  Two years ago my EF was about half at what it should be (>30), which, as a heart failure patient, was not surprising (but as a new heart patient, very).  At that time, my cardiologist said that with medicine and diet changes, we would see improvement, but in honesty, it was not likely my heart would ever return fully to normal function.  And indeed, after the first year, my EF had not improved very much at all.

Coming into this examination, I did not know what to expect, yet I couldn’t help but remain hopeful.  I had been diligent with my medications and diet, and my quality of life had definitely improved.  And, of course, I had been praying every day, thanking God for the healing work He was doing in my body.  So either I was truly getting better, or I only felt like I was getting better.  Now was the day to find out which.  So after the remark by the tech nurse, I was eager for my doctor’s appointment that followed.

My cardiologist confirmed that great news immediately.  It was so good, in fact, that my heart was now functioning in the normal range!  Albeit on the low-end of the normal range, but still, within the normal range.  She said that now she wouldn’t even be surprised to see further improvement.  What a wonderful, fantastic, ecstatic, incredible day it had suddenly become.  We jumped up and hugged, and laughed, and called in my favorite cardio nurse, and we all celebrated together.

“Sometimes the medicine just takes longer to work in some people,” she said, and then added, “I know your faith has had a lot to do with this also.”

Damn right.

Wow.  And wow again.  I couldn’t wait to tell my husband, the kids, my parents, siblings, friends, and well,  just anyone who cared to listen!  Joy and more joy was the order of the day.  I also recalled the moment in December, when my sister (and sister in Christ) told me she had gotten a word from God for me for the New Year.  Now, if anyone ever tells you that, you make sure to stop everything you are doing and listen.  Her word for me was: Restoration.

Indeed.

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I once said, “sometimes we find ourselves in a place where we least expect it.”  Now, instead of that place being cancer, or heart failure, that place is wholeness and healing.  I feel so blessed, very blessed, to be where I am today.  I never want anyone to wish it away… wish that I didn’t have to go through what I did, because there has been so much growing, so much learning, so much faith-building, and so much intimacy with the Lord during this very difficult journey.  I am proof that in all things God can make good for those who love Him*.  He has never left my side, He has shown up for me in new ways, He has heard every prayer, and He has spoken life over me.  Through it all I felt His love, His hope, and His peace like no other time in my life.

So if you have doubt, you remember me.  And if you need encouragement, you call me.  And if you need prayer, you ask me.  We will take these things to God together.

If I should ever again face something that could take my life, I will gladly put myself into the arms of God once more.  He may choose to bring me through it, or choose to bring me home.  But no matter what He chooses, I choose Him.  And today by His grace I can say, I am.

*Romans 8:28

All portions of this blog are ©Lynnea Washburn.  All rights reserved.