Grace Under Pressure

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April, 2016

Let me be clear. 

I do NOT believe that because I pray, read my Bible, and attend church that God decided I was good enough to heal my husband. I do NOT believe that if there is no healing on earth that you just are not good enough or just did not pray hard enough. I do NOT believe that the bad things that happen to people are punishment for our sins or a test from God.

I DO believe that because I made a commitment to pray, to read my Bible, and to serve at church that God gave, and continues to give, me strength, patience, peace, and grace under pressure. God gives us His armor so that we can withstand Satan’s fiery darts. He will use our difficult situations to grow us, but He is not the cause of the evil in our lives.

I am 42 years old. I have attended church my whole life except for a brief hiatus during my college years when I worked on Sundays. I have believed in Jesus Christ as my Savior for as long as I can even remember. I have served in children’s ministries, sung in the choir, even had a brief stint as an organist in a small church. However, that is not quite the same thing as “closeness” with him. 

In January of 2011, I felt a strong conviction that I call myself a Christian, but I had never even read the Bible all the way through. You see, every January our church has a time of fasting. Many people fast from food, but others fast from other things, whatever we feel pulls us away from our closeness with Him. I am a reader....I LOVE novels....I can ignore the whole world and let it pass me by as I immerse myself in a book. At times my family has complained that I am too busy reading to pay attention. So, for the fast I determined to give up novels and only read the Bible all the way through for the month of January. I was sure I would finish in the month since I read so quickly. I did slip one time and pull out a novel in the bath, but otherwise I stuck to my guns. It took me through the second week in February to finish. It was difficult, but do-able. I felt so CLOSE to God as I stayed immersed in his Word. It was INCREDIBLE.

As I discussed with others how difficult it was to read the Bible all the way through many had tips for ways to read that would be fulfilling, but in smaller bits. I was discussing it with one of my friends who is a youth pastor one day and he made a recommendation about reading a little Old Testament, a little New Testament, and some Psalms and Proverbs daily. I have modified that a bit and I read a chapter or two from OT and NT, and a chapter of Psalms or Proverbs daily. Some days I miss out for one reason (excuse?) or another, but I try not to beat myself up, but just dive back in the next day. Every day I read something that pulls me closer to God

Then, in June of 2012 I began to feel another tug of conviction. We have always given to our church, and to some friends of ours who are missionaries, but never a full TITHE. I just did not see how we could manage to give up THAT much. It would totally wreck our budget and I did not believe we would ever be able to pay our bills. Still I wrote that HUGE check to the church, the same size as our mortgage, and turned it in. Miraculously, we made it through the month....and then through July and August. In fact, so far we have met all our financial obligations. More closeness as I experienced the faithfulness of God.

So you are now thinking, “Where’s the pressure? She is convicted, takes a step, and God has things moving along smoothly. Of course she’s faithful!”

So, let’s go back to March of 2012. My husband and son were steadfast members of Boy Scouts and never missed a camping trip. Charles came home from their monthly camping trip and the next morning he was barely able to move. He had thrown out his back somehow and was off to the doctor. The doctor put him on painkillers and bed rest and he was out of work for a week and on half days for another week. No fun!

Off and on throughout the spring and summer his back would cause him problems. He made several trips to the doctor. Finally our general practitioner sent him to have an MRI done to see if they could figure things out. 

The results of the MRI came back on a Wednesday in August. I was out of town teaching at a workshop. When it was over I realized that Charles had left me a message to call him. To be honest the phone call is kind of a blur. The only thing I clearly remember is that while scanning his back the MRI had turned up "something" on his kidney. They were sending him for an ultrasound to get a better look. 

At this point I was a little shell-shocked. I was expecting a solution to the back problem and instead we were facing something additional. Life all of a sudden had this terrifying uncertainty to it. What was this? How would it impact our lives? We began a dizzying round of doctor’s appointments, scans, and bloodwork. The “something” on the kidney turned out to be a 10cm cyst that might or might not be cancerous. Ten centimeters is about the size of a wiffle ball! Good grief!

Next thing we knew it was October and we had spent at least one day a week at some type of doctor appointment or test. Charles was set to have surgery and I was clinging to every promise that I had ever heard, read, or sung about in church. 

THIS is where the grace comes in. For the first time ever I truly understood the meaning of “the peace that passes all understanding.” It really does exist, and even after having experienced it myself, I still am not really able to understand it. I had the peace to continue with my life, to meet my everyday obligations. I knew and understood deep in my bones that God really did have everything in His control.

I’m not going to tell you that there were no moments of fear. There were times that I broke down and cried, that I didn’t know how I was going to make it. But each time God placed something in my path--a Scripture, a person, a card, a text, a beautiful sunrise--that reminded me of His promises. My Bible from that time has the whole back inside covers filled with scriptures that my friends sent to me.

I sat in the waiting room and knitted through the hours of the surgery, and so many folks came and sat with me and talked. I don’t know what we talked about, but I know that they were there for Charles and I. I can see their faces. I have a vivid memory of being exhausted in one of the days following surgery. Charles was still in the hospital and I just felt unable to leave him, but I was starting to come unglued. I walked to the nurse’s station with tears in my eyes, and a to-this-day unnamed nurse spoke so gently, found me an employees’ shower and let me get clean and then sent me back to the room to sleep. As I drifted off I quoted to myself over and over, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, in prayer and petitions, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” 

The doctor removed the entire cyst and about 1/3 of Charles’ kidney. Once we made it home and Charles was recovering we still had to wait for the dreaded news, did the pathology show cancer or not? How much of the kidney was still functioning? I was still living daily in that “peace that passes all understanding.”

And at this point, I truly believe this is where God showed me that His ways are not our ways, but they are good nonetheless. Charles did have cancer, and only 1/3 of the kidney remained functional. However, the cancer was totally encapsulated. It had not spread anywhere and there would be no chemo, drugs, or radiation. That 1/3 of a working kidney that the doctor worked so hard to spare is enough to keep him going if anything should happen to the one on the other side. 

And then I discovered that the cancer policy that we had taken out “just in case” because we were “getting a little older” had come into effect just ONE MONTH before the cancer was discovered. Everything ended up covered. EVERYTHING! It was more than every tithe we had ever paid. If you had asked me how cancer could be a blessing I would have said that it never, ever could, but in this case that diagnosis provided us the means to pay for everything. If it had been “just a cyst” it would still have been dangerous, would have still had to be removed, but we would never have been able to pay for it.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I like to be in charge, and I like to make plans and follow them. I don’t like kinks in my routine, and I don’t like it when things don’t go my way. I am not patient, I hate being idle, and I dislike waiting. And yet, here was a series of events that did not go the way I had planned at all. I don’t think ONE of the things I prayed for was answered in the way I thought it would be. I spent hours and days sitting, and waiting, and exercising patience. And yet, God showed me that His way is the best way. He showed me that He is looking out for us in all situations and He gives us the grace to handle it.

There are plenty of things that happen in this world that I don’t understand. I don’t believe that Charles was healed because I believed “enough” and that other people are not because they don’t. What I do believe is that God is there with us through each step of the way. He gives us His grace, His peace, His love, and He will provide for us in ways we never dreamed were possible if we will just cling to Him. When you feel that nudge from Him to pray, to read your Bible, to tithe, know that He is preparing you for life. When you feel that conviction from a sermon or from a comment from someone else, take that opportunity to step out in faith. God is growing you to handle everything that life has in store for us. Trust Him, even when it seems so hard. I promise it will be worth it!

// Christy White is a member at Tanglewood Church //
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2018: A Focus on God's Faithfulness

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God is our constant new start. We must not look to a new year to satisfy us because it never will. I've spent a lot of time looking back on God's faithfulness in my life this past year. 2018 was a year of trusting Jesus in the unknowns, seeing change used for so much good, surrendering my control, and waiting for God's perfect plans to be revealed. My new blog post is a testament to some of my favorite things God did in 2018. I have prayed this post reaches and touches your heart! What are you excited and expectant for in 2019? I believe God has God-sized good things in store. Let's cling onto Him and always remember that only Jesus satisfies us. 💗

// Haley Wade is a Guest Blogger & Member at Tanglewood Church //
VIEW HER FULL BLOG

Lessons at the Golf Course

Trey misunderstood his work schedule at the golf course today when he didn’t have to work with the grounds crew. He was thinking the course was closed and didn’t go out and put up the carts like normal. When he found out ALL the carts were still out and needed to be cleaned and put away, it was pretty late. Tonight we taught Trey a lesson. No, we didn’t teach him a lesson by telling him to pay more attention and get it done ever how long it takes. We taught him that family sticks together. It was an oversight, that was all. We all four pitched in and got all the work done together in about an hour and a half. 

If we had fussed and made him do it alone he would have learned a lesson as well. But what do we want to teach our boy? Tonight we taught him that a team is better than a single player. We taught him that misunderstandings happen and we will work through them together. And I hope we taught him something about being a parent and the love one has for their child. 

Lessons are taught in many different ways and with many different results. If he is to one day be the Daddy I want him to be, I have to be the example he sees of how that looks. 

Our family ain’t perfect but I wouldn’t trade us for anything. 💜🙏🏻
 

// Lynn Cahoon is a Guest Blogger & Member at Tanglewood Church //
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Thriving Through Transitions

Our changing schools situation has been the craziest thing. At the end of last year, I wasn’t ready for junior year to end. I knew leaving Bethel was God’s plan, but I was emotional about it. Over the summer, I was really struggling to be positive about starting my senior year. I wasn’t upset about changing schools. Rather, I was clinging onto my familiar schedule. Up until the day before school began, I stayed clenched onto summer. The night before school started, my class had a senior meeting at Starbucks. I was thankful God allowed me to meet most of my classmates before the first day of school! I also had to kill the kings of fear lingering around in my mind before starting a new chapter.

August 15, 2018 was a day I hope I’ll never forget! It was a day filled with God’s guidance, courage, boldness, and Presence! I walked the halls of a school that once felt like uncharted territory to me. Here I am now a few weeks later. My school feels like a home God has given to me for this season. I don’t feel like I am shadowing a class. Instead, I realize I play a vital role in my classmates’ lives! In the short time I have been at my new school, I’ve matured so much. I’m learning how to better share and defend what I believe without turning away people with different views. I have gone from being ready to finish high school to not really wanting it to end. I am enjoying school and finding many reasons to laugh each day.

// Haley Wade is a Guest Blogger & Member at Tanglewood Church //
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Why Wait?

What is it that is so hard to say, "God I need You and I need You now. I need You to help me"? I tell you... it's because of pride. The Bible says that God will resist the proud and give grace to the humble. God has a healing for you today. Today! The Bible says... today... while it is still called today. Don't wait until tomorrow. Don't harden your heart like Pharaoh or like God's people would do. It's today! Say today... today! Why tomorrow? Why not today? Why next week? Why not today? Why do we want to wait? Do we just want to take our chances? Do we want to just roll the dice? Do we want to try it on our own? What is it we are trying to do? Listen. You are looking into The Word and you are seeing the authority of God...you are seeing the authority of God's scriptures... you are seeing the power of the Holy Spirit to set you free TODAY. So why spend one more night with the frogs? 

View the FULL Service & Sermon . . . 
https://livestream.com/.../events/8270328/videos/179742560


// Allen Stocks is Lead Pastor at Tanglewood Church //
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Worth the Wait

My mom asked me to peel jalapeño peppers in order to make them into stuffed cheese poppers tonight. Because of watching an instructional YouTube video on how to make them, my mom advised me to wear gloves. I told her she was funny for watching YouTube, and that I thought my hands would be fine. Nope! Almost two hours after preparing the food, my fingers are still burning! How many times has God given us specific instructions on how to accomplish something? We think our way will work even if it isn’t the way He originally suggested. When we ignore the urgings of the Holy Spirit, we are going to acquire a lot of regrets and pain. What has God told you to do today? Has He told you to wait on something He has promised you? Typing this with stinging little fingers, I encourage you to do things God’s way! He isn’t being funny or ridiculous. He wants to protect you and make sure you get His absolute best results. Our Father’s best is worth the wait. Let’s do things His way!

// Haley Wade is a Guest Blogger & Member at Tanglewood Church //
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Down in the Dumps

Did your day start out like mine... in the dumps???? 

Ok, so maybe you're not "physically" in the dumps, but how about spiritually?
How about mentally or emotionally?

You know what I figured out this morning?  
The longer you stay, the more smell you have to deal with and the more chance you have of getting stuck!  So, do with your life what I did with my truck! Put that baby in drive, move forward and with Gods grace and help get out of the dump!!!  

Haha. It’s amazing where you can get messages at.
 

// Allen Stocks is Lead Pastor at Tanglewood Church //
CONNECT WITH ALLEN