Monday, February 27, 2012

So Loved - Love Week Recap

"Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you." Psalm 63:3

Precious Friends,

It is with so much joy that I am writing this today as I perhaps have never felt more loved than I have these past two weeks. The week of Valentine's Day was Love Week at Allen High School. As Matt and I have said before, the International Baccelorette program at Allen High School (where I used to teach physics) chooses someone each year who needs a 'little extra love' to be their Love Week recipient, and this year I was chosen! The IB kids have been working tirelessly since Novemeber to make the week a success. I wish everyone of you was here so you could see how incredibly thoughtful and selfless these high school kids are. It is all so humbling and overwhleming! There were fun events every day at the high school to bring awareness to breast cancer and to fundraise for us. There was a Muffin bake sale, in honor of McKinley, whom is known as Muffin around here:) There was Chick-Fila day, different dress up costume days, Tape-your-teacher to the pole day and a Love Week concert showcasing our Allen High School talent. It was all so much fun! I am so overwhlemed with how great God is that he would use all of you to show me how sweet His love is every day. Thank you for teaching me so much about Christ's beautiful love. I know so many have selflessly sacrificed their time, energy and money to bless us. It is such a beautiful picture of how Jesus loved everyone of us so much that he gave His life so that we can live. I get to truly live every day because Christ loved me; and you all have been my daily reminders of that. Thank you. Your love has meant more than I could ever express. Below are some fun pictures of friends and family all over the country repping their Love week-shirts.

The first couple of pictures are of Matt, McKinley and I at the Love Week concert! (isn't it incredible how fast my hair has grown! lol:)

This is a picture of Matt and McKinley with his darling parents and grandparents at the Love week concert. Four Generations... so much love!

This one is of us doing the Twist at the Love week concert- so fun!

Here are some of our awesome friends at the concert. We are so blessed!

The next two pictures are of my Mom, Dad and baby brother, Lance. How cute are they repping their love week apparel from Highlands Ranch, Colorado! My mom told me that Lance even wears his t-shirt to school (he is a senior in high school)! How precious is that!

These two pictures are of my older sister, Rachel, and her oldest son, Tony, who live all the way in Minot, North Dakota. She is the mom to four darling kiddos and still finds time to love on us:)

This picture is of my younger sister, Ryli, her wonderful boyfriend, Jase, and their sweet friends supporting 'Team Randi' from Denver!

This picture is of my youngest sister, Ranai and all her Kappa Kappa Gamma sisters at Colorado State University. Just looking at it brings me to tears! Forty of Ranai's sorority sisters ordered Love week t-shirts and surpirised Ranai (and me) with them! Unbelievable! I was completely blown away! I never thought I'd say this, but I Love the Kappas!

This picture is of some of our former Young Life kids who now go to Texas A&M University! How incredibly sweet are they?!

As I look at these pictures, and the many others that we have been sent, my heart melts. I smile and cry all at the same time. I wish I could fully describe to y'all how much your thoughtfulness, gernerousity and love has meant to us. God has taught me so much about love through you. In 1 Corinthians13:4-8, it describes what love is: "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." I love Love. I am a hopeless romantic, the Cinderella/Prince Charming type:) I have always dreamt of the fairytale type of love where the hero swoops in and rescues his princess and they ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after. I would love to think that all love stories play out just like that, but then I look out at our world and see so much pain, hurt, and broken hearts. As I really read what true love should look like in 1 Corinthians, it almost seems impossible... "Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." Mark 10:27 Amen! We can't truly love until we know what love truly is. "And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him." 1 John 4:16 God is love. We will never know true love apart from God. He is the hero that swoops in and rescues us and captivates our hearts for the rest of our lives. He is the half that makes us whole. He is the author of love; He is the only one who writes true love stories. And the greatest love story ever told was that of Jesus on the cross. The perfect man, literally sent from heaven, laid down his life to save ours. Its the perfect love. Its the love we spend our whole lives searching for. Stop searching! Fall in love with the creator of love. Let yourself be rescued and loved for all of eternity. Only then will we be able to truly love each other. "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." 1 John 4:10-12 Friends, I know the sweetness of God's love in such greater depth because of the love you have shared with us. Thank you for loving us. I pray that you know the God of love and that you deeply feel the love of God. And if you know that love, I enocurage you to share it with someone today. How you love someone could be their picture of God. Love others like Christ loves you: selflessly, sacrifically, passionately. "We love because He first loved us." 1 John 4:19

I pray I can love others in this way. I do hate this cancer, but I love how it much it has taught me about God's perfect love for us. I pray that whatever you are facing today, you would run to the the only hero who can ever truly love and save you.

I have round 3 of chemotherapy tomorrow (Tuesday, February 28th). My sweet little sister, Ryli is here to take care of us, which is such a treat! I have felt so healthly this past week, which has been an incredible blessing. I am so thankful for my healthy weeks! Although I still have 14 rounds of chemo left, I am halfway done with the really bad treatments. Praise God for that! Please keep me in your prayers this week that the side effects would be mild and that in my weakness, I would run to my hero. I love you all so very much!

Joyfully in HIM~


PS- If you ordered a love week t-shirt, will you please take a picture of yourself and send it to us?!!! Oh, I would love that!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Providence - His Provision When Needed Most

"So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Matthew 6:8 (NASB)

Beloved Friends,

We are making our way through Round 2 of Chemotherapy. Randi went in this Tuesday (2/7/12) and her white blood cell count was sufficient to get the treatment. We can do nothing but praise our Heavenly Father this week because it has been a much better week than last round, although Randi has felt much weaker. The nausea and vomiting haven't been as much of an issue this round and we have found God's All-Sufficient Hand to be outstretched to us. Through this trial we are facing, I believe that we are learning ever more what Providence is.

There are moments in many people's lives where one feels as though continuing on is simply too difficult. The weight of the circumstance faced is too heavy a load to bear and the effort exerted to walk thus far has depleted all resources. The pain is taxing both emotionally as well as physically and discouragement soon sets in, shortly followed by despair. Hope becomes a faded memory washed out by the shadowy gloom of the storm one finds themselves in. Maybe you have felt this way? Oh, where does help come from? Oh, what is the discouraged to do?

It would not be a stretch by any means to say that Randi and I have both been here on multiple occasions through this journey of cancer. The detour seems to be just around every corner of progress. I am grateful, however, that these detours are not our Destiny. Friend, it is in these moments that the question the Psalmist asks is answered:

Psalm 121:1-8 NASB - A Song of Ascents. I will lift up my eyes to the mountains; From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day, Nor the moon by night. The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in From this time forth and forever.

Over and over again in our moments of weakness and worry, God has shown up in His Providence. Two weekends ago, I sat impatient in my struggles. I was a roller-coaster of emotions, frustrated, angry, sad with a tinge of 'woe-is-me.' Although I was in great company of best friends who reminded me of the utmost Truth, I didn't want to hear it, I just wanted to be sour. I got home Sunday night and then proceeded to pass those ugly feelings on to my beautiful bride; I felt as though I was in a hopeless and helpless situation...Then Providence showed up. I had grabbed the mail on my way in and had opened a letter addressed to me. Randi read it aloud to me; it was precisely the encouragement I needed. I broke down in tears and cried to out to God thanking Him that He never leaves me even when I am acting a fool. Sweet words from a sweet friend removed my sour heart. Proverbs 12:25 KJV - Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad. This is just one example of the innumerable instances where Randi and I have seen Providence at work in our circumstances through YOU. So many have taken the time to write us a letter, email, or message and it shows up exactly when we need it. Some might call this coincidence. Randi has told me that she has heard it said that coincidences are just God's way of remaining anonymous. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your words of encouragement. You have fulfilled the command given in Isaiah: Isa 35:3 NASB - Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. We have been overwhelmed by how you have loved us during this time. No note has gone unnoticed, we are grateful for every good thing that you have done. Maybe there is someone else you should encourage today? I encourage you to write them a letter. What's stopping you? You might just be the provision of the Provident One to that person.

This Tuesday as Randi sat in the chemotherapy chair, there were rumbles of emotions rolling inside her. Sitting there, Randi opened her Bible. As the drugs seeped in to her bloodstream, Truth soaked into her soul. The first verse she read was this: 2 Timothy 2:3 NIV - Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. A tear hit her cheek, in His Providence God gave Randi exactly the words she needed to continue on. Oh, how good is our God? We are continuing to find this truth ever more true: Philippians 4:19 KJV - But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Randi got her supply that day because she went to the Supplier. Is there anything you are in lack of today? Have you sought out the One who supplies?

Providence has also shown its hand through the upcoming week known as Love Week (written about here). So many of our friends have worked hard on this week, so many have bought a shirt or a button or a wristband. Last week the Allen High School newspaper published this article. We also invite you the benefit concert Friday night February 17th at 7PM in the AHS blackbox theater. We could never thank you enough for all your generous support. We are at a loss for words. Through this whole journey we can boldly say Romans 8:35-39 NIV - Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Thank you for at many times being the binding that God uses to keep us connected to His Love. We are so grateful for you and for your generosity.

With Love,