Sunday, October 7, 2018

Reflections from the Home Team – October 7, 2018

“I need to continually remind myself that in our waiting, God is working and that I should never place a period in my life where God may have placed a comma!”

Greetings from Cedar Falls,

As I shared back in late August, I have been having some concerns with some ongoing “pesky” issues and have undergone a number of medical tests over the past month in order to determine the cause and find a solution. My medical team feels those issues can be addressed by scheduling some surgeries in the next few weeks to resolve them. The tough part as I reflect on the past few months is that I often get stuck in what I refer to as the “waiting place”. 

Waiting... I've never really been a fan. Those of you that may know me would probably acknowledge that waiting is difficult for me. When a task needs to be done, I’m generally on it, trying my best to complete it well in a timely manner. The past few years however, I feel like I have earned a PhD in the “art of waiting”. Waiting for the results of lab work, waiting for test results that could mean cancer or mean nothing, waiting for cancer side effect treatments to take hold, waiting for a change in life... Once again, I have been in the waiting place with some of the recent issues I’ve been experiencing from treatments.

I find myself there often, in a waiting place. The place where I know God is sovereign. I know He holds my life in His hands. I know He is there. I know He cares. I know that even the very hairs on my head are numbered, (fewer each day) as are my days. As I recall the physical pain of my cancer treatment regimen, it reminds me that today could be the first day of yet another painful journey. But I don't know yet. I am stuck there… in-between. 

It's the not knowing that twists through my gut... (no pun intended)… It's the not being able to move forward. Not being able to move back. Trust is harder in the “waiting place”.

I actually hate waiting...

When feeling stuck in the waiting place, our culture tends to tell us "Get out of that rut! Life's too short. Stop the excuses. Do something." You'll be told to smile more, care less, be happy, and think good thoughts. Good advice, but sometimes, change is outside our control. Sometimes we're not in charge. Sometimes we're just stuck. I need to continually remind myself that if I’m in a “waiting place” I must remember I am not alone. God, as well as my “Home Team” are ALWAYS right there with me.
I need to continually remind myself that in our waiting, God is working and that I should never place a period in my life where God may have placed a comma!

I’d like to share a recent post from one of my favorite authors, Jon Gordon.  He seems to always come through with a timely message for me as his writing has so often helped me get through many of the challenges I’ve experienced on my life journey.  His post came at a time when I’ve been struggling with some similar stomach pain issues and it sets the stage for this reflection. 
It reads:


I want to share something personal with you.

With my most recent best selling book and amazing speaking opportunities, I'm currently experiencing the greatest moments of my professional life. Yet at the same time I'm dealing with autoimmune issues that have made me allergic to most foods (at least the foods I once enjoyed eating).

On the outside my life and career look amazing. On the inside I’m struggling and trying to find a solution seeing doctors, allergists, etc. I should be enjoying the fruit of all I have worked so hard for over the years but I can’t seem to eat that fruit... or enjoy it.

While the challenge doesn't stop me from doing the work I feel called to do... it does keep me humble. If you see me live or on video speaking to a lot of people just know that beforehand I'm praying for strength and usually eating food from a can. I can't eat eggs, dairy, meat, chicken, gluten, peppers, tomatoes, nuts, etc. I may be at one of the nicest resorts to speak but can't touch the food.

I'm not sharing this to complain.

There are certainly days where I am tired and frustrated but for the most part I’ve accepted what is. I choose to stay positive and pray for healing. I press forward and have hope that I’ll eventually find the solution. I've been using some time off this summer to research and do things that heal my gut and boost my immune system as well.

My main point in sharing this with you is this...

Everyone is struggling with something.

When we look at someone's life from the outside or on social media, what we see is often very different from what the reality is. I just wanted to be transparent and share what my life is really like behind my "perfect life" on social media.

If you are struggling with something please know that you are not alone.
When people learn of my allergies they usually feel bad for me but the truth is, my life is a gift and I'm grateful for every part of it. Sure, I wish there were parts I could change but I've learned that real happiness and joy aren’t circumstantial. While I might not be able to control my circumstances, I can control my response to them.

The struggle is meant to help us grow.

When I ask myself if I would trade my life and what I get to do for the ability to eat pizza, eggs and fried chicken again... the answer is no. I know I'm here to make a difference and that my purpose is greater than my challenges.

The same goes for you.

Don't give up.

- Jon

P.S., I do hope that one day I can eat pizza again while making a difference. :) 

Jon’s message came at a time when the thoughts and challenges he shared have also been racing thru my mind… My frustrations with the stomach pains I’ve recently experienced have been very frustrating.  His encouraging comments in the midst of his personal struggle with autoimmune issues helped me realize the importance of being an encourager, no matter what our circumstance.

I have written a lot about optimism and positivity, and over the years I've learned it's easy to write about it, it's much harder to live it. People who are fighting cancer teach me what real optimism, faith and courage are all about. They demonstrate that we are positive, not because life is easy, but because it can be hard. They show me they are the ultimate “positive warriors” who take on the battle and fight for tomorrow. Encouragement really does matter.

I am so very grateful for the encouraging words that so often come from my “Home Team” dugout! Just reinforces for me the importance of encouragement in all our lives. To me, encouragement represents positive influence, to give courage to someone — not waiting until it's deserved or asked for, but taking the initiative when things are difficult and uncertain. The impact of encouragement can be far reaching and often makes a difference in all our lives. As much as encouraging words from others are so very helpful, a piece of advice I had from one of my College coaches has been especially helpful for me during the past few months.  His advice was simple… “Learn to talk to yourself instead of listening to yourself.” May just be one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received! Think about the power in the simple act of talking to yourself instead of listening to yourself… When a setback occurs -- you have a poor performance -- you lose a game -- do you listen to the doubt and negative thoughts that can creep into your head? Or do you talk to yourself about how much better things are going to be the next time around? It has helped me to be aware of whether I am listening to myself, or talking to myself. It has made a key difference between allowing circumstances to dictate my feelings or, living my life the way I want regardless of any challenges that may come my way.  Matthew 6:34 also provides me with some solid guidance as I head into the surgeries in the next few weeks -- Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own." Now there's a talking point!

As I reflect on these thoughts, it reminds me that we may potentially be the most influential person in someone else’s life . . . in the best position to support, pray for, believe in, and journey with him or her in all the ups and downs that may come their way.  The gift of encouragement and positivity is within each of us right now… let’s be sure to use it when we have the opportunity!



Are you or someone you know fighting cancer... struggling with the physical, emotional and spiritual issues that accompany a cancer journey? If so, Reflections from the Home Team... Go the Distance was written to offer strength, hope and comfort when confronted with a cancer journey's challenges. Share a message of positivity with those you care about. Learn more at this link: