Friday, January 2, 2015


Last December/January I thought long and hard about what my 2014 goals would look like. I love goals and lists and fresh planners! But I really felt like I should put the traditional goals on hold and focus on one word. Here is an excerpt from that post last January:

I know so many who have chosen just one word for the year and are making that their focus.  I love that idea!  It was easy to come up with mine, since God has been stirring things in my heart.  My one word is SURRENDER.

I believe God is going to call us to bigger and harder and scarier things in the coming year.  In our pursuit of a life of significance, I want my knee-jerk response to be "all I am is yours".  I want to lose myself and the human-sized plans I have for my life and exchange them for God-sized, world-changing plans.

So much of the year I felt like I was in a holding pattern. I was preparing my heart (which maybe could more candidly be phrased "bracing myself") for the bigger, harder and scarier things I just knew God was bringing us to. 

In March we got a call for a sibling group of three, ages 8,7,3. In a three-minute conversation, after hearing the barest of details about their case, Shaun and I agreed to take them. For several hours I made up beds and got some groceries and prayed but in the end they ended up going to another home that didn't yet have any children (verses ours that already had four). 

For months they stayed in my heart and I was really heartbroken it didn't work had seemed like such a good fit for us (and them!)

Around that time, my boss offered me several different ways I could expand my responsibilities within the company. Its something I've been wanting to do, and they were definitely things I was interested in and thought I'd be good at...its a small company, so its a big deal to take on something new and I just didn't feel like I could commit at that time.

My wedding photography had virtually dried up. Because of our major house renovation last spring/summer/fall, I neglected going after new business for the following year, which left me with just a few weddings on the books for this year.

Through all this, I never forgot my one word...surrender. That stirring I felt all through the year never left. I tried to stay trusting that God had a plan but as the year wore on I began to wonder if I'd missed the mark. 

And then in September...cancer. As one doctor described it, "one day you are crossing the street and you get run over by a truck".

Initially, I fully expected to be healed and then it became apparent that this is my surrender. Please don't get me wrong. I am NOT surrendering to the cancer and I still believe and know I will be healed. But I've experienced a surrendering to the process and the purpose that God has in all of this and I believe the greatest miracle God can do is not to change my circumstances but to change my heart while I'm in the circumstances. I desire that He would continue to open my eyes so that I see Him right before me.

Some days are harder than others to look at it from that perspective and many times I'd be tempted to take the "get out of jail free card" if it was offered. But when God allows me to see glimpses of His glory and grace and His hand at work, even on the low days of doing cancer...that is the abundant life....when Jesus continues to show up right in my messy circumstances.

Already I can see how God was working things out over the course of the year. In hind sight I'm relieved that sibling group didn't come to live with us because we would have been forced to make some difficult decisions about what to do with them through all this. 

I'm also glad I didn't take on the extra work that I would have been forced to back out of, leaving a burden on the company I love so much.

Am I saying this makes sense to me? Not hardly. I really don't get it. How could cancer be a better use of my time than mothering three hurting kids in the foster care system? How is it better to be spending money on medical bills than to be earning extra money with my job so we can give more extravagantly? I don't understand. But in faith, in surrender, I step down from the throne in the Kingdom of Me:

Figuring out God's way isn't any of my business. Following Him is.

Following Jesus is to offer to him all that you think you are, all that you really are, all that you think you are not, and all that you really are not--to be used in the way he chooses. It is stepping down from the throne in the Kingdom of Me and joining a new kingdom--the Kingdom of God. Its following him, even when following makes no sense. ~Kay Warren, Dangerous Surrender

In our surrender to this process of walking the cancer journey to healing, Shaun and I often say we don't want to miss any of the lessons or growing opportunities that are inherent in something like this....we want to make sure we get it all the FIRST time. :) We are expecting that God is going to do a good work in us through this.

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. James 1:2-4

Traditional goal-setting seems a little silly to me again this year, so I am prayerfully considering a new "one word" for 2015. Lord, may I please have something easier than "surrender" this year? :) :)


Meg A. said...

This, your heart, is SO beautiful. Speechless.

P.S. Maybe pick a word like "relax" or "vacation" for 2015?! :)

The Bug said...

I like Meg's suggestions :)

And boy have I felt you surrendering during this process - you don't want to slow down and miss things, but you're surrendering to what your body needs during this healing time.

sara said...

this is possibly the most beautiful post I have ever read. You, Lisa, are such an inspiration to me.

This...Figuring out God's way isn't any of my business. Following Him my heart also.

I think a good new word is "expectant". Maybe that will be mine! :)

LuAnn said...

They way you witness your faith is truly a blessing to you and others.

You have taken this battle head on with the Lord as your leader.

I would pick the word Faith for your new word . I don't know how anyone gets through anything in their life without having Faith.

Laura said...

My word for 2015 is love - will encourage others to ponder and pick a word too - will let you know