Introspective Insights

Introspective - adj: Examining sensory and perceptual experiences. Insight - n: The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation.

Praise God No Matter What

In April 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During those days, I wrote constantly. This post is a continuing series of the book I hope to one day publish. I survived cancer, which is a tremendous gift, but cancer continues to remain a shadow in my mind.

Journal entry 5/17/16: I’m waiting for the call about the MRI biopsy results. Very much hoping it is this morning. Praying for no more cancer. I keep going to the bathroom. I’m a little shaky, yet I can’t keep my eyes open like my body wants to shut down.

I think God is telling me to praise him no matter what – regardless of the biopsy results. I will – but I don’t know what that looks like – what to do or how to act. But for now, I’m going to write down the verses that people have given me or those that have been revealed to me.

Revealed to me:

  • Philippians 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” This is a hard truth – but isn’t it true that we win either way?
  • A constant for over a year and hanging on the wall in our living room: Philippians 4:13 (ESV) “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
  • To remember that it is not what we can see in this world that matters, but what is unseen. 2 Corinthians 5:7 “For we live by faith, not by sight.”
  • That God’s purposes are beyond our understanding. And even though he does not want us to suffer or be in pain he will work all things out for our good, for those of us who are his children. Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Tim S. / Rachel: comfort in anxiety. Philippians 4:4-7 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I do not have to accept anxiety but pray and receive the peace of God which is beyond my understanding.

Mom: One of my favorite bands is Jars of Clay, named after the following verses, which Mom reminded me of: 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”

Beth and Lisa L: Lisa said that she was praying and reading her Bible and this verse made her think of me. Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Laura E. texted me this verse reminding me of who God is, even in this storm. Psalm 46:10 “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’”

Beth: reminding me that God sees me in all things. Psalm 139:1-2,12 ESV “O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. Even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”

My friends and family, giving me spirit-filled words to lift me up and remind me that I’m not alone.

The phone rings and the MRI biopsy results are good – no cancer in the two spots sampled! One was a benign spot. The other is an interductal papilloma – a “high risk breast lesion”. They will remove this spot separately from the cancer lump and it will not affect anything. Certainly not a case for mastectomy. I am overjoyed! God is good! Somehow getting this good news breathes new life into me.

Lori and Diana pick me up and take me to Panera to celebrate. We laugh about silly things. Talking and eating and sharing with them soothes my soul.

Gifts Upon Gifts

In April 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. During those days, I wrote constantly. This post is a continuing series of the book I hope to one day publish. I survived cancer, which is a tremendous gift, but cancer continues to remain a shadow in my mind.

Journal entry 5/13/16: One of my love languages is gifts and people have been so generous with their time, prayers, and money, buying us food, and pouring into our family. There have been dinners, gift cards, cards, phone calls, watching the kids, text messages, flowers, coffee, candy. One of my most treasured gifts is from my dear friend Charlotte. As we were on the phone last night, she prayed a beautiful, moving prayer over me. I was stunned and calmed and overwhelmed by her beautiful, spirit-inspired words.

These are the true gifts that community can offer. Yet reaching out is hard for so many of us. When my mom had cancer, I didn’t know how to help, to talk to her about it. We live 150 miles apart and, in my head, I used every excuse in the book to be silent, to not visit. I was at her surgery, but as treatment progressed I didn’t visit. It feels so awful writing this down and realizing how much of an avoider I am. One day she was talking about how difficult her days were – when her eyes watered so much she couldn’t watch TV, couldn’t read. Food had no taste and lying in bed too much hurt more than being awake. During that terrible time, she said, “All I wanted was someone to talk to.”

When someone you know is going through serious illness or grief, it is better to say something through a simple text or message, a card, your presence, even when you don’t know what to say, than to say nothing at all. This shows that you see them, you are thinking about them, that you love them. All gestures big and small are appreciated.

No-Spend Challenge?

While the stereotypical stay-at-home mom sits home and eat bonbons (said no one ever), I am usually out and about looking for the latest bargain. Most of the time, I’d like to think it is to find items we need, but that probably is not true.

Since all three kids are at school, it is difficult for me to be home. Being alone is not the issue, it is the quiet. Before the first frost, I could literally hear crickets. I miss my little people and a vibrating restlessness overcomes me and I leave the house.

It is true, I have found phenomenal deals on things that we need, but I have also purchased some nice-to-haves and want-to-haves too. This spendiness problem daily challenges me. One of the ways I show love to others is buying them gifts. But I can’t buy gifts all the time and ironically, I’m terrible with remembering birthdays. So I end up with a bunch of pretty awesome items that are reasonably priced, but the sheer sum is the issue.

I’m considering a no-spend challenge. I’ve heard of others doing this for either 10 days or up to 30 days. I honestly don’t know how to do it, and yes, this is definitely a “first world” problem. It seems there should be some rules – number of days, possibly some exceptions such as getting gas or food (and a fluffy latte is not food).

Ideas? Thoughts? Have you ever done a no-spend challenge? If so, please tell us about it in the comments.

Love Gifts

Valentine’s Day was few days ago and as I perused Facebook, I saw many posts by people whom I love and respect that fly in the face of traditional and superficial Valentine’s gifts. These posts focused on the sacrificial giving of one person to another as husband and wife and how giving the gift of each other and caring for children was truly what love meant to them. I agree with this assessment, but as someone who enjoys receiving gifts (yes, it is one of my love languages), I challenge that maybe giving and/or receiving gifts can be important. The key is in the motivation and receiving of the gift.


I’m doing an in-depth Bible study on the book of Matthew and in my arm-chair review of this gospel, I found no recorded instance of Jesus giving a gift. (Just to be clear, I’m not counting the gifts of time, provision, or care / healing.) What I do see recorded is Jesus RECEIVING gifts. The first gifts that come to mind are those that Jesus received as a child from the wise men – gold, frankincense, and myrrh (Matthew 2:11). These gifts were priceless and in their given form, could not be used for day-to-day purposes. The other gift was from the woman who poured expensive perfume on Jesus head as he reclined at the table days before his death (Matthew 26:7-13). Again, perfume was not something that could be used in a practical sense for daily needs, it was a luxury. These two examples show that the giver of the gifts understands who Jesus is and presented the gifts to him as a way to honor him. They chose those gifts based on what he means to them.


I believe that people who give Valentine’s Day gifts, if they give with pure motives, do the very same thing. They are looking for a small token to show their love for the other person based on who that person is. Do they get it right every time? No. Is their gift supposed to make up for months or years of neglect or indifference? No, better not. But for those of us who enjoy gifts, they are great reminders and celebrations of love and honor. Are they the be-all, end-all? No. Do I respect and love my husband for the daily sacrifices he makes in caring for our children, taking out the trash, and other menial, irritating tasks? Of course. I’m grateful for the man he is and the daily servant-leadership he shows our family.


For those of you who treat these small celebrations such as Valentine’s Day like “just another day”, more power to you; but that’s not for me. I enjoy these little reminders of love we built and stand on everyday. 
What do you think? Are Valentine’s Day gifts a waste of money or meaningful to you?