Mountains and Valleys

Well it’s been more than 2 months since my last blog post (more than 4 months since my last one that wasn’t a poem), and since starting my blog in February of last year, that is the longest I have gone without posting anything. So, to start, hello again. It’s good to be back.

So much has happened since my last post, and if I could sum up my life since then, using just three words, those words would be “Mountains and Valleys.” Those words, which just happened to be the theme of this year’s UMHB Spring Revival, encompasses the ups and downs I have experienced the past several months, and if God has shown me anything, it is that His grace is sufficient, and that no matter if we are on tallest of mountains, or in the lowest of valleys, He is always there with us.

Probably the biggest “mountaintop” moment for me was March 31st. For about a week prior to this day, my Dad, my family, and I were anxiously awaiting the results of Dad’s PET scans to see if any cancer remained in his body. Then, in the early afternoon of the 31st, I visited with one of my classmates for more than an hour after leaving my International Relations class. As I left our conversation at the steps of Luther Memorial, I noticed the light on my phone going off, signaling to me that someone had sent me a Facebook message. When I saw Dad’s profile picture, I somehow knew exactly what it was about. As I opened it, my heart jumped for joy when I read these words… “PET scans showed absolutely nothing! :P”

Wanting to hear his voice tell me the good news, I gave him a call, and he assured me that there was absolutely no cancer left. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Fighting back tears, I couldn’t wait to tell the world the wonderful news. First I went to Mabee, so that I would have WiFi to share the news on Facebook. I ran into my awesome friend Jesse. I had the privilege of being his Cru-Leader the past year. With his contagious smile, he celebrated the news with me. After I left the building, I knew exactly who I wanted to tell next, Mrs. Cindy Entzminger, my fiercest prayer warrior on campus. As I walked into the Campus Store where she worked, she looked up and said, “You have big news don’t you!?” I guess she could tell by my expression. “Yes,” I said, “My Dad is cancer-free!” She gave me the biggest hug and gleefully proclaimed, “Oh! I’m so excited! Look,” holding out her arms, “I got goosebumps on goosebumps.” I ran into multiple more friends before I reached my apartment, and I couldn’t contain the exciting news, “Dad is cancer-FREE!”

Finally, I got to my room in my apartment, started playing some songs on YouTube, and wept! Tears of joy streamed down my face. I was so amazed by the goodness of my Heavenly Father. Shortly after Easter, God gave me the greatest gift ever (aside from giving His only Son to us), and that was the gift of a SuperDad who can now wear the label of “Two-time cancer SURVIVOR!” I still remember one song in particular as I spent that afternoon weeping tears of never-ending joy, and that was “Worthy the Lamb” by the Gaither Vocal Band (see video below)…

Hear the cries of the shackled from the onset of time,
For the chains of defeat there’s no key.
See the tears of the broken, the cries of the slaves:
Is there no one worthy to set us free?

Then the crying is stilled as the chorus rings out,
The shackled released from their chains.
And thousands of voices are swelling the song:
Worthy the Lamb that was slain.

Worthy, worthy,
Worthy the Lamb that was slain (x2)

Then all the archangels, the saints of all time,
Holding their crowns in their hands,
Fall down before Him joining the song:
Worthy, worthy the Lamb!

Worthy, worthy,
Worthy the Lamb that was slain (x2)

Praise Him, praise Him,
Praise the Lamb that was slain (x2)

As I listened to this song, I knelt on the floor, weeping, thanking God, singing, “Praise Him, Praise Him, Praise the Lamb that was slain! Praise Him, Praise Him, Praise the Lamb that was slain!” As I listened to that song and others, I couldn’t help but cry out, “Lord Jesus, Thank You. Lord Jesus, Thank You.” Emotions overwhelm me even now as I type these words, and I can’t help but say, “Lord Jesus, Thank You!”

A week later, during Revival, with the theme, “Mountains and Valleys,” I felt as if I were at the top of that mountain. I had every reason to celebrate. Life was going great for my family and for me. Sure, I still got emotional, but those were mostly tears of joy. How awesome it was crammed in a large tent with fellow believers as we proclaimed that Christ is King. We ended the three days with the Digital Age singing “All the Poor and Powerless.” And my oh my did we shout and sing at the top of our lungs, leaping, with our hands held high, “Shout it! Go on and scream it from the mountains. Go on and tell it to the masses. That He is God!” (All Sons & Daughters)

Those few weeks I felt like I was on top of that mountain. Yet as my life unfolded, I went back down into the valley. The last few months for me was beyond stressful. With papers, exams, projects, and so much more, there were nights where I only got a few hours of sleep. And in that time, I became depressed. Depression is something that I have always struggled with. Even in its mildest form, depression is something that no one wants to deal with. I couldn’t understand why I had feelings of loneliness and brokenness, yet those feelings were there all the same. I’ve asked God before to give me the strength to not feel the way that I do, and it’s then that I realize that God is already making me strong in Him. Through every single weakness, God is able to move me to be strong in HIM.”

It is then I am reminded of 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (NIV)…

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

For when I am weak, when I feel broken, when I am in my lowest valley, then I am strong. THEN I AM STRONG!

I have had plenty more “mountaintop” moments since my last blog post. I got to go to Spring Formal with my awesome friends, Michael and Katie, and my wonderful sister, Paige. I made all A’s, maintained my career 4.0 GPA, had lunch with my best friend Cody, whom I hadn’t seen in almost a year, and I got to enjoy a visit from my Aunt Karen and Uncle Michael and their kids from Indiana. I also got to enjoy hanging out with all the freshmen Alexa, Katie, and I had been mentoring the past year. A few weeks ago, my best friend, Michael, led worship for the youth group at my church, FBC Florence, and I shared my testimony. It brought a smile to my face to see my friend lead worship as so many young middle and high school students raised their hands praising our Heavenly Father. They all cheered and got excited when we began to sing “Oceans: Where Feet May Fail” by Hillsong United.

These past several months, I have been in the valley, but I’ve also been on that mountain. And no matter where I am, there God is with His arms wrapped around me. He is reminding me that wherever I go, He is there!

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Picture 1: A picture with my Superman who has beat cancer twice!

Picture 2: A picture with the Digital Age after Spring Revival 2016

Picture 3: A picture with Kneeland Brown, this year’s speaker at Revival

Picture 4: A picture with Michael, Paige, and Katie before Spring Formal

Picture 5: A picture with my best friend Cody (best friends since the 1st grade!)

Picture 6: Selfies with Katie, Alexa, and our awesome freshman group

Picture 7: A picture with Christopher, Shayla, and Michael after a night of worship at FBC Florence

All Sons & Daughters. All The Poor And Powerless. By David Leonard and Leslie Jordan, 2011. Web. 30 May 2016.

Gaither Vocal Band. Worthy The Lamb. By Bill and Gloria Gaither, 1974. LyricWikia. Web. 30 May 2016.

New International Version. Bible Gateway. Web. 30 May. 2016.

Worthy The Lamb by The Gaither Vocal Band

All The Poor And Powerless by The Digital Age