Still Learning To Trust Him//Cynthia Thomeer

A year ago this week, I had an incredible experience that filled me with terror and perfect peace at the same time. God’s presence throughout and His perfect love cast out the fear that seemed to be unavoidable. When I look back at it now, I’m filled with awe and gratitude for how He communed with me through His Word and His people. I had just finished a year of treatments for breast cancer that included surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. Then, I was told that the breast cancer had spread to my brain. As I prepared to begin treatments for this new diagnosis, I had the privilege to share during the women’s time at the Tidewater RVA Fall Retreat. It was such a gift! Besides the tremendous blessing of spending a little bit of time with these wonderful women, the week I was able to spend meditating, reminiscing and communing with God was the most blessed week of my life. Amidst the chaos in my mind and emotions, He came in and calmed me in the deepest way. I knew that I should be terrified; I could see the fear on the faces of my loved ones and hear it in their voices. We looked at the statistics for my diagnosis and it was not good. That I am here right now and doing so well is not what we expected. As I thought about what to share with you here, I was drawn back to something that God has been teaching me for many years: to trust Him. It sounds so simple and, really, it is. But I have found that when everything is going well, I don’t tend to trust Him. I find ways to take care of everything, either by myself or, more frequently, with the help of others; and, honestly, most of the time, it works out pretty well. After all, if it didn’t work out so well, we wouldn’t keep trying to do it all on our own. God used my experience last year to show me that I am not able to take care of any of it, no matter how big or small. This thing was just too big and too out of my control. The “big” thing was the radiosurgery I had on my brain, but the sweetest thing was the week He gave me with Him. God reminded me of  His faithful and steadfast love and that He would never leave nor forsake me. He has used a passage in Jeremiah to remind me that He is the only one who is worthy of our trust. I want to share that passage with you and a little bit of what it meant to me specifically during this time a year ago.

Here is an excerpt from my Caring Bridge post right after my first cyber knife treatment (if you’re not familiar with radiosurgery, google it — it’s pretty cool!):

My first radiosurgery treatment is behind me now and I am so glad! It turned out to be fairly easy, so I trust that my treatments on Monday & Tuesday will be, as well. I laid on a skinny, but comfy table for about 1 1/2 hours with a plastic mesh mask over my face that was attached to the table. As soon as it was buckled down, I felt pressure on my head and that remained throughout the time; just a little reminder that, “No, Cynthia, you can’t sit up or even move your head, so don’t even think about it.” With my claustrophobia this should’ve been terrifying, but God kept me calm and it was actually a fairly pleasant experience. . . On Tuesday of this week, I was feeling scared all day; just thinking about the procedure and all that could go wrong (I don’t even know all that could go wrong, but my mind is pretty good at making stuff up). I was focusing on the humans who would be doing the treatment . . .

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 The next day, God began to remind me that He was going to be the one in charge of all of it, not the humans, they are His instruments, not the other way around. What a difference that made! Suddenly, I began to feel a little excited about getting it done (I also tend to swing wildly from one extreme to the other, at times), so by the time I went in today, I was feeling pretty fine about it all . . . A passage that the Lord has used for me in the past came to me today and I want to share it with you. Maybe it will be something that God will use for you in your current circumstances or to prepare you for what’s to come. Jeremiah was a prophet to Judah and was told by God that he needed to give them a warning they wouldn’t heed, they would reject him (Jeremiah and God), but that God would deliver him; not an entirely pleasant thing for Jeremiah to hear, nor task to be given, but Jeremiah obeyed. In this passage, God reminds him and us in whom we can place our trust:

Thus says the Lord: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

At first glance, it can hit you wrong; we all have people in our lives who we trust and we don’t like to think that there’s even a possibility that they could let us down. But this truth is that we all have that in us, the inability to be trustworthy at times, because we’re human and the sin nature is still in us telling us that we are self-reliant and don’t need God. So, the strong word of “curse” here is definitely appropriate in the sense that no person is worthy of our full trust; only God is and, truly, blessed is the one who puts his trust in the only One who is worthy and able to carry out the promises He has made. This is the truth that I carried with me today into that room with the skinny table and apparatus that shot radiation beams into my head that were so strong that the humans administering them had to stand on the other side of a very thick door. And on that, I could not let myself dwell; my focus was, and is, on my Father who loves me unconditionally and so much that nothing can separate me from that love, even me. I hope that you are able to hear and apply this truth to whatever is going on in your life right now, whether it be something difficult or joyful. Often, the joyful things do a bigger job of drawing us into our own self reliance, so I pray that we will all be aware of where and in Whom we are placing our trust. Only He is worthy!

I’m thrilled to report that God used these treatments to knock out the three tumors! I have had three clear brain scans in the past year. I’ll have a brain scan every three months, most likely, from now on. I am so thankful that God is still reminding me that I can trust Him, no matter what comes.

 

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I am a big supporter of CRU, especially Tidewater RVA CRU! I love seeing God’s love displayed through college students as they are faced with huge challenges and I want to offer encouragement. My husband, Paul, and I live in Yorktown; we have 4 grown children, a son-in-law and 2 grandchildren. I love listening to podcasts while I’m doing all kinds of tasks at home, everything from sermons to true crime stories. I have found that there are not enough hours in the day for me to hear all of the ones I am interested in and that is very sad.

 

Discipline: So Hard, So Good//Victoria//CNU

The Lord has been so good to me this year, despite my good/tough circumstances…

  • He carried me though Junior year; a very discouraging year (relationally and academically)
  • I was blessed with making new and strong friendships
  • I finished my core classes, the hardest of them now over.
  • I was blessed to have a great discipler who was consistent in challenging, growing me, and encouraged me
  • I learned what it meant to “rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom 12:15)
  • I came home and found out that my GRE scores were solid (making grad school a little less daunting!)
  • While doing OT grad school research, I’ve found that I’ll be a competitive applicant.
  • My family has been incredibly blessed and has been guided and nurtured by the Lord.
  • My sister is graduating high school and going to VCU Arts
  • And most recently… I GOT ENGAGED.
    • This one deserved a sub-bullet because it’s so recent: I am so excited! I felt a little bit ambushed at first because I was clearly the last to know of this before it actually went down. But now oh so thankful to have been surprised and excited. It’s been a blessing to be able to walk alongside someone for so long. We’ve been blessed to be able to see one another grow and mature in more ways than one. Lots of prayer and preparation here. God has been so faithful and so generous; even as the initial wedding planning process begins.

And in all of this, it’s been hard for me to stay spiritually disciplined.  The hard time of ‘walking beside a close friend in pain’ and then the excitement of ‘being engaged to the man you love’ are twoIMG_4029 very different emotional states.

I am lucky enough to spend a total of 2 weeks by the ocean this summer. As every girl does at the beach…. I picked a book to delve into and apply. In view of this past year, I chose Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney. Lets just say I’m learning and being challenged quite a bit.

The purpose of spiritual disciplines is to become more like Christ (1 Tim 4:7). God is holy, and we are called to holiness (in fact, were commanded to in 1 Peter 1:15-16). Being spiritually disciplined ensures that we are growing to be more and more like Christ.

In reality, being spiritually disciplined is difficult. The greek word for discipline is gymnasia which means “to exercise” aka entailing sweat and effort. The desire of being spiritually disciplined is something the Holy Spirit gives and by the grace of God we can have that desire. However, that doesn’t give the Holy Spirit all the blame for not being disciplined. There is indeed a good amount of effort on our behalf. A great example of this “exercise and effort” that the book used was Zacchaeus in Luke 19:1-10…

Zacchaeus knew he was short, and he wanted to be able to see Jesus in the crowds. So to ensure that he’d be in Jesus’ presence, he ran and put “exercise and effort” into climbing the tree. By climbing the tree, Zacchaeus ensured that he’d be in Jesus’ presence. Jesus saw him, and called him by name.

Spiritual disciplines are a way that we intentionally place ourselves in the path of God to see his glory and grace.

Neglecting to exercise spiritual disciplines can be dangerous and hurtful. Without discipline, there will be no visible fruits in your life. If an athlete is disciplined in his training, he will run faster and his friends will see the metals hanging around his neck from all of his wins. The same applies to being spiritually disciplined. However, if we do not stay disciplined, our lives will not make much of a difference for the kingdom. Nobody will see fruits in our lives.

Living in these disciplines by making “exercise and effort” will allow us to see more of Him and His glory and greatness; not to mention it will also create bountiful fruits in our lives.

Join me this summer in disciplining yourself spiritually.  

Lord you are holy. You have called me to holiness. Please give me a desire to pursue holiness. Give me the discipline to walk with you faithfully.

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Hello! My name it’s Victoria Taylor and I wrote the blog above while I sat here on the beach! This week I’m enjoying some rest and relaxation!  It’s been a crazy month of May. I attend Christopher Newport University and plan on graduating in the spring in Psychology, minoring in Biology and Leadership. This summer, I am preparing to marry my (now recent) fiancé, working, and applying to Occupational Therapy graduate schools. I love being outside.  I enjoy hiking. I am a coffee addict. I absolutely love my border collie boys (featured in photo). I love Jesus and am amazed by the way He loves. This semester I learned a lot about grace, and now I’m learning about spiritual disciplines and some theology. Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and getting to know me!

 

 

 

 

Pornography, God, and me/Lauren/CNU

We have a huge God, and when we are going through the motions of life, it can be so easy to forget that. I so easily attain this mindset that underestimates the absolute power that the Lord has, as well as forgets about the sovereignty He has over all of the situations I find myself in. However, over the course of the last few months God has allowed me to experience several different things to serve as reminders of who He is, how I ought to think of Him, and why He deserves to have number one priority in my heart as well as in my life.

Pornography is something that I have struggled with for the past three years of my life. It is still so hard to admit that even now, but the Lord has been teaching me so much recently about amazing things that can come out of being obedient to Him, and in this moment I really feel like this is what He wants me to share today.

My struggle with porn began with simple curiosity that soon turned into something that I suddenly could no longer handle or hide. Pornography is a sin that is so easy to keep a secret. It is also easy to slip into a mindset that says “I can stop whenever I want to,” or “I can handle this on my own.” Both of those beliefs that I had proved to be so wrong and I continued slipping deeper and deeper into sin. Guilt and shame were emotions that I felt constantly because I believed that I was alone in my struggle. As a whole, whenever pornography is talked about in a church setting it is almost always directed towards the guys. I had never heard of girls being addicted to porn and as a result of this I truly believed that I was abnormal or that something was seriously wrong with me. As a result of those feelings, it took almost two years before I finally came clean to someone about what was really going on in my life.  Not only did I feel alone, I also felt as though I was a failure of a Christian and that the Lord had surely given up on me. I couldn’t see how anything good could possibly come out of my seriously messed up life, and I believed that I could never amount to anything in the eyes of God. God, however, felt differently. The Lord provided me with a handful of people over the years who had struggled with the same thing and who were able to disciple me and hold me accountable in my struggle. He never once left me on my own or gave up on me.

This summer I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work at a Christian summer camp in Northern Virginia. This camp encourages it’s counselors to be real with their campers and to share their testimonies with them in order to let the campers know what the Lord has been doing in their lives. Last week, the second week of camp, I got placed with a Co-Ed group of middle schoolers, and I basically decided on day one that I wasn’t going to share my entire testimony with any of the kids. I didn’t want them to know about the specific sin that I had struggled with, so I decided to be pretty vague with them regarding specific details to my testimony. Don’t ask me why I believed that God would let this fly, just know that I thought it would work. Anyways, Thursday night rolls around, and on this night a gospel message is shared during worship and campers are able to receive prayer from staff members at the camp. After worship and having some s’mores with my unit, I decided to  have a girls devotion with all of the girls in my group. As I am in the middle of sharing a devotion on being “be-you-tiful,” to the girls,  I feel the Lord prompting me to share my testimony. At first I tried to ignore God, but after a moment I realized that if the Lord was really laying this on my heart and not letting up, it must be for a reason… so I shared everything with them. The majority of the reactions from my campers were appreciation for my willingness to share with them, however, one of my campers sat in her bed sobbing. I soon came to realize that she had been struggling with pornography and that just as I had been feeling alone and ashamed, she too was experiencing guilt and self-hatred. Her tears, however, were not of embarrassment or even shame, they were of joy. That night after worship, she had prayed to the Lord that He would send her a sign that He was there, that He was real, and that He loved her. Her tears were of joy because the Lord had answered her prayer, and He had done it through my testimony. That night I was able to pray with that camper as she accepted Jesus into her heart for the first time.

God is a m a z i n g. Who else could turn brokenness into beauty, shame into joy, or sin into salvation? That night God reminded me that He has everything in His hands and that He can use any person or situation to bring His children back to Him. Never again will I allow myself to believe that I am too broken to be used to bring glory to the name of Jesus. Never again will I forget about the power that God has or His sovereignty over all situations.

I challenge you to never forget as well.

 

 

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My name is Lauren Radcliff, and I’m a sophomore at CNU. I plan on majoring in Sociology as well as minoring in both Leadership and Communication Studies. I am involved with Cru on campus as well as Extreme Measures, which is a mixed acapella group. So basically, I love to sing and in my free time you could find me making cheese quesadillas or binge watching the Office.