Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Different Journey

I thought I was going to Africa. The last week of January Tom and I fasted Sunday through Sunday asking God to prepare our hearts and minds for all that He had for us in 2010. We were thinking mostly about our church, our children and our "chores." On the 2nd day of that fast I sensed God call me to go with Sumer to Ethiopia. I laughed about it every time I mentioned it! God confirmed that call when I heard Sumer's story and saw the pictures of the "children in the dump."

I've been reading Hudson Taylor's biography this year (it's long) and two weeks ago knelt by our bed and said to Tom, "I don't think we really 'get it.'" I was referring to the TOTAL SURRENDER to God's heart for His world that I saw in the missionaries who served China in the mid 1800's. They challenged me! God was speaking strongly to me about complete surrender. He knew something I didn't know, and was graciously preparing me for the news.

Monday, March 1 I discoverd that God was taking me on a different journey. Instead of going to Ethiopia on March 24, I'm going to Vanderbilt Hospital on March 23 to have colon cancer removed from my body. I never, in my wildest imagination dreamt I would experience cancer. When other people "got it" I assumed they had poor genes, or that they ate too many twinkies. My children are fussing at me. They are convinced that eating healthy has caused this cancer. I saw a poster that told me I'm in .2% of the population who "gets" colon cancer before the age of 50. (Lucky me.)

This is not the trip I signed up for. I told someone yesterday that I felt like I was being inducted into a sorority I never wanted to join. It's like all the other "cancer people" have adjusted to their situation and are eating and drinking and even laughing at times with one another and I'm frantically looking for an open window I can crawl through to escape. It's not fun.

But already God has been so incredibly REAL to me. I'm not even going to try to explain or describe it to you. You'll see when you get your turn to "dance with disaster." (Tom preached on that just a few Sundays ago!) Those of you who have already "danced" know exactly what I'm talking about.

Many people have marveled at my faith and some have encouraged me that I don't have to be strong all the time. (Believe me, I'm not.) But when Dr. Caudill put his arm around me and said, "you've got cancer" my mortality forced me to take notice. I cried, I looked at Tom's face and pleaded for it to not be so, but when we got in the car I took a deep breath and realized death isn't the enemy I thought it was. From deep within me I knew (in my KNOWER) that Jesus took care of death for me a long time ago on a cruel Roman cross.

Guess what the name of the Hudson Taylor biography is, "It's not Death to Die."

And it's not. Since Monday, March 1 we've discovered I'm not dying afterall, at least not now. Seems I just might live another 40 or 50 years. I do have quite the ordeal to endure. But I'm going to look at it this way; God has invited me on a journey. A sweet and precious invitation to put everything I've ever taught to the test. It's like lab work in my college biology class. Either what I've been teaching is true or it's not.

I've trusted God since I was 11 years old. He's never let me down--not ever. Now is certainly NOT the time to stop doing what's been working for me. I asked Him what He wanted of me when we were talking on Tuesday morning. Very clearly He said, "Leighann, I want you to trust Me. I want you to depend on Me. And, I want you to be obedient." It was a great relief to hear this command. I responded, "Lord, I can do that! I know how to do that." You see, I've been doing that for years--He's not asking anything more of me now than He ever has before.

Thank you for being interested enough to keep up with my journey. I'm not going to bog this site down with medical details. To tell you the truth I don't really want you to know the specifics of what I'm having to go through with my "innards!" But if you want to come visit here and see what God is teaching me I'm going to try to keep that flowing.

Thank you so much for your prayers and your expressions of love. I am humbled that God has so richly blessed Tom and me with incredible ministries filled with friends across the globe. We love you dearly and are sustained by your love in return.


Alex and Jill said...

Praying for you!!

Alex and Jill said...

Praying for you!!

Melissa said...

I love you sister! I'll be excited to see what God has planned for you. We will be lifting you up in prayer! In fact, the 23rd is my next day to fast for the staff! How is that for timing?


Alicia (dna) said...

Beautifully said, my friend!
Love you!

Paula said...

Melissa Greene Tweeted about you (isn't that a strange thing to say?)and I came over to read about your news. My mother had colon cancer in 1987 and is still blowing and going at 82. I have started a prayer journal just for people I "meet" through blogging and the internet and you will be on that list. Thanks for sharing and I wish you God's blessing and covering while you pick your way through this maze.


Julie Peyton said...

Hey sweet friend! This may sound crazy and you may want to slap me after reading this comment....but your faith in light of this situation....makes cancer less scary for me. I know, I know....if I had it I may not feel that way, but I liken it to when I finally "surrendered" my life to the Lord and was flooded with the peace only His arms can provide...and then..I was no longer afraid of death. So....thank you for your faith....the actions you take in it and the souls that will be saved because of it. I love 'ya! -Julie

Hollis said...

Sweet Leighann, Thanks sharing your journey so openly with those of us who love you. You have now joined my club. I didn't want you in my club! In July of 1995 I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. This July I will be cancer-free for 15 years!! When I say I know exactly how you are feeling.....I mean I REALLY know exactly how you are feeling. Every part of it. We should have a "survivors" party because there are a lot of us at TSC!!! Praying for you. I'm here if you need me...along with a few hundred other people!!!

Hollis said...

Beautiful post, Leighann. I am one of many who knows EXACTLY how all of this feels. I was diagnosed with kidney cancer in July 1995. This July I will be cancer-free for 15 years!! There are lots of us at TSC. We should start a "Survivors Sunday School Class"!!
I pray often for you. I'm here for you whenever you need me!!(along with hundreds of other people!)

Wife of the Pres. said...

As I am typing, I am watching and listening to my baby girl sleep soundly right here in a room at Vanderbilt Hospital!

I wish I had known where you were today. Not sure I could've stolen away as S was planted in my lap most of the day. At any rate, I do love Vanderbilt Hospital. Things about it drive me nuts, but no doubt about it God is at work in this place!

Like I told you standing in Target, sometimes it is just one moment at a time. But you know, when you are surrendering to Him in such a deep and personal way, it really is SWEET. I know that sounds crazy, but it doesn't get any more real than that Leighann.

When you are faced with death and the reality of it (for yourself or in my case our child), you either run to God and claim all of the promises He has already given us or you run away.

Most days I do choose to run into His waiting arms. I don't recommend the latter, because it just does no good. He can run faster than I can, and I am guessing than you can too!

Praying and believing with you that this journey is going to bring you closer to the heart of God than you ever imagined possible in your wildest of KNOWERS here on earth! :) Leslie

Wife of the Pres. said...

P.S. I am glad you updated your blog! I just cannot do Fa*cebook; on the computer enough as it is!!! I'll be checking in on your blog. I am going to get on that meal sign-up list too! I am guessing that PT would like a good, old-fashioned SOUTHERN meal and that I can do!

Wife of the Pres. said...

P.S. I am glad you updated your blog! I just cannot do Fa*cebook; on the computer enough as it is!!! I'll be checking in on your blog. I am going to get on that meal sign-up list too! I am guessing that PT would like a good, old-fashioned SOUTHERN meal and that I can do!

Sue said...

Praying for you AND your "innards," Leighann! :)