We're home after our annual retreat. That we even get an annual retreat is such a luxury. I love that our church family across Canada (the ECCC, in case you're wondering) values allowing pastors and their spouses to retreat together. We gather together in a beautiful setting among the Canadian Rockies. We eat, sing, praise, learn, reflect, eat some more, sleep, and. AND.
This year was a bit different for me. In a book I am reading, Fight Back With Joy, by Margaret Feinberg, she talks about finding springs in the desert. Cancer and treatment are my desert. I asked God for a time of refreshing, a spring of goodness if you will, and the retreat was it! I felt all kinds of refreshed.
Remember on my birthday that there was another bald woman in the tiny restaurant we ate at? Well, I walked into retreat and saw a good friend with a shaved head. I only get to see this friend once a year, and there she was, standing with me in this. It took my breath away.
Angela and I
The same evening, as I crossed the room, I saw another woman. Bald. Not "I just decided to give myself a buzz cut" bald, but chemo bald. And young. I immediately went up to her and awkwardly threw my diagnosis out there, only to have her repeat the same (although I'm sure she was less awkward than I). Another 35 year old mom with invasive breast cancer, doing the exact same chemo regimen as me. God knew we needed to meet, share story, and encourage one another.
Y'all, retreat is so good. I know that we live busy, full-to-the-brim lives, but God is near in the retreat and we need it. I'm prescribing some sort of get away for you all. If someone gives you heck about it, tell them your friend with cancer said so (drop the c-word, it gets you just about anything you want).
Then, we came home.
Can I just be honest here? Yesterday sucked. I woke up with a rash. Yippee (sarcastic thanks to chemo side effects)! I also woke up with a nagging sense of fear. Get behind me Satan, I want no part of it.
I sat alone most of the day (boys in school, Jason going with my mom to the border). I sang, read, sang some more. It was basically, "fake it till you make it." ALL.DAY.LONG.
There were tears shed. It was just a hard day. And isn't this always the way? We get some good time with God and then the enemy tries to steal that away. I ended the day in the posture I try to adopt when I am in a funk: thanksgiving. I prayed thanks for every good thing. There are many, many good things.
I fell asleep praying new mercies would come in the morning. This is something I am learning through all this: adopt a posture, even if you don't feel it, and stay there until it comes to fruition. I wanted to get out of my little mini-depression and into a better space, so I positioned myself to be able to do that. I filled my mind with songs of praise, I read the word, I allowed myself to grieve, I gave thanks for it all, and I woke up in a different place.
My view this morning...it seems so fitting!
Hear me friends, I don't say this to be prescriptive. In other words, I'm not trying to tell you what to do. I'm describing my experience for you and you have to make your own. Maybe singing and praying and reading and crying aren't your thing. What if painting and walking and and silence are yours? Great! How about meditating and being with people and getting lost in nature? Awesome! Do those things; posture yourself in such a way that you can commune with God and do it until it changes your heart.
God so desires for all of us to adopt practices that put us in touch with Him. Practice the posture that places you in a position to have a heart change (hooray for alliteration). This isn't always easy. Sometimes it takes a while...days, weeks, repetitive months of posturing. Don't wait until life is difficult to begin! When we do those things while life is good, it will be second nature to do them when the road gets rough.
So, today. A new day, the same posture. Thanksgiving, prayer, singing, and maybe a few less tears.