Here I am with a handful of free hours before me.  My tea is hot, music is in my ears telling me that God loves me, my keyboard is at my fingertips and I am bubbling with excitement.  I ran into my neighbor in our lobby on my way to the library to write and she asked me what I was doing with my big backpack.  Excitement filled my voice and face as I shared that I was ready to work on writing.  Oh how I love to write!  This hobby fills my soul with such delight and I’ve got a back log of material to put onto page!  My prayer is that the tremendous growth of my soul over the past couple months will find a way to bring a piece of encouragement into your life.  (I humbled to think that there are people joining me on my journey.)  And so, let’s get started!
I embark on sharing the expanse of what I have learned on my summer vacation.  Let me first paint the picture of what life looked and felt like before vacation.  I’ve shared the turmoil of “what now?”, the struggle to hope as we push past the average glioblastoma survival, my lack of identity as my career fades away.  But in the midst of it all I was unable to fully express myself.  I was raw.  I found myself broken.  My husband broke and so did I.  When life is in pieces how do you keep it moving forward? I really didn’t know how to answer that question.
As a teen and young adult I wrote poetry.  I have picked up the hobby again and am working to compile a volume of my poetry (I hope to enter some poetry contests and am practicing delayed gratification by keeping these poems private for now).  In June I wrote a poem called “Broken”.  Here are the first lines:
            Broken seems to describe how I feel.
            As I grieve my losses I am broken,
            I am less than,
            I am weary.
The song, “lean” by Nichole Nordeman has this line that I fully related to:
“Reaching for more but coming up with less.”  
This was how we entered summer, feeling like we were reaching for more but coming up less.  But praise God summer had much blessing for us. 
Learning about Hearing God speak
Camp Oshkideeis always great.  The teaching this year was phenomenal.  The speaker was sharing on hearing God.  This is a topic that I’ve been bombarded with.  I did the “Voice” study with a friend by Priscilla Shirer, then attended a 6 week workshop at our church on hearing God.  So when we arrived at camp I had to chuckle ironically: “I think God is trying tell me something!”  Indeed we do have a God who speaks!  He speaks intimately and powerfully to our spirit.  I have experienced this for pretty much my entire life; more recently in increasing measure.
As we were at camp the evening weather was spectacular and God spoke through it.  Ryan and I really miss Saskatchewan thunder storms.  There is something beautifully powerful in them.  As we sat in the first 2 evening sessions the heavens lit up and thunder cracked and boomed and the rain poured .  The conversations continued; but I sat in pure awe!  I was reminded how when my mom was in the process of being diagnosed with cancer, God told me he is powerful!*  God’s power was evident!  But it was also balanced with peace and calm and serenity, being on the water stand up paddle-boarding, peddle-boating were clear affirmations of these characteristic of God.  There was beauty in the skies reflecting my God’s beauty. And the joy!  Moments surrounding the lake were rich with joy.  My God has so many facets!  All I can hope for is that I have Eyes to see, ears to hear, and a heart that truly understands.(2) how spectacular our God is.
God further spoke to me through an image He gave me.  A couple weeks before camp I was lying in my bed resting and I saw this in my mind’s eye:  I was at the edge of a deep and wide canyon.  In front of me, spanning this chasm, was a rope and wooden plank bridge in disrepair.  Numerous planks were missing, others were broken in half.  It was clear I needed to cross this bridge.  It was a terrifying feeling, truly frightening.  Then as if in the realm of the supernatural there was a “glitching” in my view of the bridge.  It was like when a computer system isn’t working properly and something is there and then the computer “glitches” and part of it’s gone and it comes back.  When this supernatural “glitching” happened the missing pieces of the bridge were filled in with these clearly supernatural pieces.  I’ll be honest, I still was not too keen on crossing this sort of precarious bridge.  It absolutely still required a trust that these supernatural pieces were actually there.  I didn’t like this image too much.  It didn’t instill much sense of comfort to me.  Then at camp during one of the sessions my image expanded: on the bridge my family joined me. Ahead of me was Ryan, holding my handing stepping on ahead of me.  Behind me were my children, unafraid, secure and frolicking joyously in delight across the bridge.  Surrounding us in the canyon was a very tangible presence of God; a transparent cloud of goodness embracing us, for lack of better descriptors. (I wish I could paint to share the image!)  Now I was prepared, unafraid to cross this crazy bridge!  I shared this vision with the group of adults.  I hadn’t told my husband about the image, afterward he said, “I think that image was for me.”  Therefore, I will try to more readily share images God gives me!  We have a supernatural God who makes a way and brings joy in the midst of it all!
God also spoke to me very strikingly on my way to my last oncologist appointment where I would get my MRI results.  I had not been at all nervous about these results until the morning of.  I couldn’t shake the anxiety.  I tried declaring truths but fears rose.  On the half-hour drive this happened:  We had been having days of thick depressing smoke from forest fires.  I hadn’t seen the sky in at least a week.  As we drove along the smoke and the clouds parted and rays of sunshine broke through.  “That’s sure a nice thing to see today”, I thought.  Then a brief few minutes later I saw cows chilling in a pasture.  I immediately thought of Psalm 23 “he will make you lie down in green pastures.”  I was skeptical that God was speaking, I mean after all (anxiety was taking hold of my mind) the results could be “bad”.  I tried to take hold of those thoughts with minimal success.  We arrived at the clinic.  I reached into my purse to pull out my appointment card and found a paper with Rayna’s memory verse written on it “God’s way is perfect.”  Oh boy, I think this is God speaking?  But I didn’t like it.  What if I just read “God’s way is perfect” and I get bad results??? Can I deal with that?  THEN, we sat down waiting for me to be called in.  Usually we are able to go right into the exam room, but this day we had a 10 min wait.  I pulled out my phone, pulled up Facebook and top on my feed was someone posting an Ann Voskamp post which started out like this: “just for today  — DO. NOT. WORRY.”  Then she quotes Matthew 6:34 (MSG):
            “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
Voskamp continues, “Just for today: Be a prayer warrior — not a panicked worrier. You either leave your worries with God . . . or your worries will make you leave God.
Worry is just the facade of taking action — when prayer really is. 
Bottom line — keep breathing deep and give your worries to God — He’ll give you His peace.”
I think God was downright smacking me on the head!
Do you know what my response was?  “God, how can I not worry if the doctor tells me there’s changes for the worse?”  But I have a patient God.  I was called into the exam room and as I looked out the window God replied, “because I am here.”

 “I am here.”

 And I finally got it.  I finally saw that God is with me in bad news and in good news.  I finally saw that what matters most is that God is here.  That he speaks. (When I take time to listen.)  And I believed him.  I believed that He was with me and that (in the words of my mom) it would be okay, no matter what the results were.  After all he showed himself present with me the entire 45 minute journey to that doctor’s room.  
Yes God speaks.
*I have never heard God speak audibly.  But He speaks to my spirit and I know with clarity that it is God speaking.  The moment is burned into my mind: I was out for a run crossing the main street on my way to the trail and it was crystal clear: “Cheryl I am a powerful God.”
2) “I bless you with eyes that see, ears that hear, and a heart that understands.” This is the blessing the speaker prayed over us.  He encouraged us to speak and pray it over others regularly.  Usually I tack on …a heart that truly understands the deep love of God.