Introducing: Still Waters Cancer Retreat

Last month, I wrote about “My Summer of Cliff Jumping” and promised to share more about Still Waters Cancer Retreat, the nonprofit I’m starting. Today is World Lymphoma Awareness Day, “a day dedicated to raising awareness of lymphoma, an increasingly common form of cancer” {which sounds just like what you’d think it is}. This retreat isn’t just those for lymphoma, but because lymphoma is part of my story, I figured today’s a pretty good day to follow through on my promise. So here goes!

The American Cancer Society publishes its Cancer Facts and Figures report each year {which I keep in my iBooks app on my phone and which is totally normal, right?}, and basically, the rates of cancer have been pretty steady for a while. They estimate that 41/100 men and 38/100 women will get cancer in their lifetimes, not including basal or squamous cell carcinomas, since those aren’t required to be reported. Check out the link here, if you, too, are also semi-morbid and want to read through them: ACS Facts and Figures.

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My Summer of Cliff Jumping

I figure it’s time to give an update on life and let you know what I’ve been working on that I’ve hinted about and which I’m so excited about. Here we go!

For those wondering where I’m living right now and what I’m doing, I quit my teaching job in California at the end of the school year, which means that since June, I have been unemployed, though in a planned way. As everyone started heading back to school over the last week or so, I realized this year is only the fourth in my 30 years where I have not had a first day of school. The other three go to the year when I wrote my book between stints teaching in Hawaii and my first two years of life (yeah, I went to 2-year-old preschool…apparently someone needed a break).

There were many reasons I quit my teaching job, but one of the biggest was because I’m in the process of starting a non-profit, and I knew that with my seven different roles at school, it was never going to happen. It’s sort of how I felt when I knew I needed to write my book but also knew there was no way that was going to happen while teaching high school English (a.k.a. grading papers and reading literature in my “time off”). For the past two years, God’s been reminding me of my heart for those with cancer, and for more than a year, I’ve been working on a vision of starting a faith-based cancer retreat (more on that later!).

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Praise the Lord for Not Knowing

Hebrews 11:8 has always been one of my favorite verses:

“By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.”

I’ve felt like this a few times in my life, where I’ve literally quit my job and moved home, or quit my job again to go to grad school, or now rejected a job while trusting that God is leading somewhere unknown {I’m sensing a common thread…}.

I’m always so encouraged by Abraham’s incredible faith, faith that completely trusted God to lead him, even though he did not know where he was going. I wrote about the blind runner in the epilogue to my book, and I think the reason I loved that image was because it reminded me of Abraham, just running blindly and trusting. 

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The Valley

A year ago, I was in Israel, studying for 6 weeks with Wheaton in the Holy Lands. The trip began on May 17th and ran through June 28th, and we had to keep a daily journal of what we learned and did as part of the course, so I’ve been reading through each day’s journal entry one year later before I go to bed each night.

And wow. It’s been amazing for a number of reasons, but I’m finding that somehow the things I learned one year ago while in the Holy Lands are encouraging and teaching me each day today. The things I learned one year ago are really poignant for my life today, and as I read through each day’s journal entry from last year, it’s like the lessons from archaeological sites in Israel are casting light on my life at home in Fairview, Texas. Go figure. I think maybe the things I learned impacted me at the time, but since we learned so much and did so much in our typical 10-12 hour days “in the field,” it was hard to process everything, to make sense of it all and its impact on the rest of my life.

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2015 Theme of the Year (Part 2)

Seeing the World Through a Redemptive Lens

Last month I wrote about trying to redeem moments of time in 2015. Now I want to focus on the second part of my “redemption” theme for 2015: seeing the world through a redemptive lens. (Stay with me here as I explain the background to a “redemptive lens.”)

During the week-long intensive class I took at HoneyRock Camp in November, the professor had us examine and imagine three different lenses or worldviews that different “churches” might have had, applied to their views on the Bible, the Trinity, and Jesus, the church, humanity, and other categories. The professor asked one group to read through the first three chapters of Genesis, trying to imagine how the “Edenic” church would have viewed these topics. The “Edenic church” would have looked pretty great—life was good, relationships with God and others were great, and humanity was viewed as created in the image of God.

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2015 Theme of the Year (Part 1)

Each year, instead of “resolutions,” I try to think of a theme word or idea to frame my year. Well, for 2015, that’s “Redemption.”

Now, before I jump into what that means and what I hope that looks like, I should explain what that doesn’t mean. I’m not talking about “redemption” in the sense of being vindicated for wrongs done to me or mistakes I’ve made. I’m not on some warpath of vengeance or quest to re-create myself in others’ eyes. Nor do I mean “redemption” in the sense of coming to faith or being redeemed from my sin; praise the Lord for His redemption in my life, but that’s not quite my theme of the year (though His redemption is the foundation from which I hope to live with this theme of redemption).

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In Light of the Incarnation

So, it’s almost Christmas {obviously}. If you’re my sister Katie in Uganda, it actually might be Christmas already. I’ve been wanting to post on this for a while, but I let finishing my grad school classes stand as my excuse…really I think I’ve been sorting through my thoughts on this idea. I first had to think a lot about the “incarnation” over this summer after I got home from Wheaton in the Holy Lands and had to read five books for the program, one of which was early church father Athanasius of Alexandria’s On the Incarnation. Having grown up in the church {in every possible imaginging of what that means…Sunday School, private Christian school, Christian summer camp…you get the picture}, I’ve always heard a lot about the “incarnation,” or the fact that Jesus came to earth and was born as a human to save us from our sins. However, in the past six months, I’ve been thinking about it in new ways, understanding what Jesus’ incarnation actually implies for my own life.

In October, I devoured a book for my Teaching for Transformation class, and I can’t be sure of its long-term impact yet, but in the past couple months, it’s given me new energy, purpose, and encouragement in my pursuit of serving Him. It’s called Visions of Vocation by Steven Garber, and my friend Tony gave me the book back in March, but I didn’t get around to reading it until 7 months later. However, when I started reading, I kept thinking, “I know exactly why Tony gave this to me and knew I needed to read it.”

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5 Years

Five years. I’m torn between exclaiming that “five years” is a long time and lamenting how quickly those years pass, how fast five years can be.

To borrow a phrase my grad school department frequently champions, I’ve been “living in the tension” of how short five years are and yet how much can happen in them.

This past weekend was my five year reunion during Wheaton’s Homecoming. I felt that tension this weekend when I saw the physical signs of the passage of time: several college friends have a child or two, many are married, a few are done with med school and into their residencies, a couple are practicing attorneys, and others are in their sixth year of teaching. By those accounts, a lot can happen in five years. 

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It’s Been a Year

I haven’t posted in a while–2 1/2 months, as I just discovered. Wow…that’s pretty bad, and I can’t believe it’s already October! I meant to post after my 5 year checkup (more on that in a post next week), but I wanted to sit on it for a few days and then things got busy and days turned into weeks, and I never did. I struggle sometimes with posting here consistently if I don’t feel that I have something to actually say that seems worth saying. I don’t want to add to the noise, but then I also know the best way to keep people reading is NOT by posting super infrequently.

Anyway, here we are. It’s October 2nd, and that means it’s a pretty big anniversary for a couple of reasons, so I thought I’d dedicate this post to anniversaries–for today and for my 5 year “cancerversary” (it’s a thing…don’t judge…cancer card).

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On Turning 27 in 2014

So, I turned 27 a few days into my Wheaton in the Holy Lands experience. I’ll post more about those six weeks soon–I have a couple of posts in the works but want to give them the time, thought, and effort that they deserve. 

Somehow, 27 feels a whole lot closer to 30, and 30 seems…well…old. (Sorry for any of you reading this who are over 30…but, you’ve been there, right?!?). I actually heard two girls from the US talking last night, and one was explaining that she’ll turn 27 in a couple months and it suddenly feels much closer to 30, so I’m not the only one, at least. Maybe the fact that I spent the past six weeks alongside 38 undergrads with an average age of 20 made me feel that much closer to 30. I’ve loved my 20s and most of what they’ve entailed: the adventures, the challenges, and the amazing ways God has shown His faithfulness in this decade of my life. Granted, He’s always been faithful and always will be, but I’ve absolutely seen that in the past 7 years. 

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