Journal Entry ~ 09/22/17

1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,
2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.
5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.
6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.
7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. - 2 Timothy 2:1-7

Strengthened by grace...I am finding He strengthens me in so many different ways as I walk through this trial. He strengthens me here, every morning as I sit in the Word and listen to Him. He gives me wisdom, comfort, peace, and strength to fight the day as He reveals truths to me from His Word. Life is a battle - sometimes we experience the victories and life is easy; but oftentimes, we experience defeat when the battle is hard. You have to prepare your heart for the battle, otherwise the trials of life are going to knock you out. I know so many people who struggle to find the strength they need to face the day in front of them at times, yet they don't get into the Word to prepare their hearts before they walk into the chaos. They want God's strength or comfort, but they don't go to the one place God consistently pours it out. The Word is essential to preparing our minds and our hearts to face the daily battle of our life - it is our strength. 

I am also being strengthened in prayer - when we humble ourselves and confess our sins, when we pour out our despair and fears to Him, He rushes in to respond in a way only He can do when we're vulnerable and listening. Prayer is that quiet time we meet with our Savior, when we let our guard down, and when we allow Him to enter our hearts.  It is in those most tender moments with Him that prayer changes me and His Spirit ministers to my heart, bringing me the strength I need to fight this battle. 

He has brought me incredible strength through worship music - there is something about singing of the glory of God at the top of your lungs that fills your heart with the strength you need in the battle. It's difficult to even explain, but He changes me when I am singing His praises.  I literally have chosen "battle" songs for this trial, and I play them multiple times throughout the day when I need to be strengthened.

God has strengthened me through excellent teaching - we must make church a priority in our lives if we want to draw on His strength and comfort in our lives. I feel so blessed to be a part of a church where the teaching is solidly rooted in scripture, unapologetically proclaiming the truth. Every single time you walk into that church, you can trust that God has prepared a message specifically for you - not for someone else, it's for you. When we don't go, we miss what He's trying to teach us, we miss the way out of our struggle, and we miss the strength we need to walk our paths. 

Finally, He strengthens me through people - His people. I am blown away by how God continues to walk people into my life with an encouraging word from Him. He has brought a community of believers into my life to give me everything I need to stand strong in this battle. I am beyond thankful for my small group, but it's so much more than just the encouragement they give me. It's the accountability. They're not afraid to call me out when my thinking is off.  I am reminded and encouraged to constantly keep my eyes focused on Him, and this group of believers will stop me and confront me when I'm going off the rails, putting other things before Him.  Prioritizing my small group has become an essential part of the strength I find I need every single day. They are the people who are standing in this battle with me, holding my hand, hugging me, and lifting my chin up when I falter. 

We walk around in these trials, desperately looking for a way out of the battle, and He's providing it - it's through these disciplines we will find the strength we need to stand firm against the enemy. Do not forsake any one of them - when you put something else before those things that God has specifically placed in your life to strengthen you, you forfeit His strength. The world wins when you say you don't have time to get in to the Word, go to church, meet in small group - it's as simple as that. 

A cancer diagnosis brings a roller coaster of emotions with it - one minute I can be just fine at the top of a hill, and in a blink of an eye, I can be careening toward a pit of darkness in my thoughts. But God. I do whatever I can to prepare for this battle every single day - I get into the Word every morning, I spend time in prayer, I sing praises to the Lord, I sit under good teaching, I let people comfort and encourage my heart - so that when I start to fall, He rushes in and pulls me right back up again. Sometimes it's the Word, sometimes it's a song, sometimes it's a person....but He never fails to provide the strength I need.  So many people tell me how strong I am in this battle. This is how I'm strong - I am strengthened by the grace that is in Jesus Christ.

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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