• Holly Tomlin

My New Reality

“To risk is to willingly place your life in the hand of an unseen God and an unknown future, then to watch him come through. He starts to get real when you live like that.” (Jennie Allen, “Anything”) It’s been a little over two weeks since one word forever changed my life. Cancer. The first few days after are still such a blur. We left for Florida the day I after we found out. Nothing like twelve hours in a car to deal with this new reality.  Really amazing though how it all worked out that we got to spend a week in paradise. If there’s any place to digest this news, this is the best I can imagine. I have always said that the beach is the place that I always feel closest to Jesus. I love just listening to the sounds of the waves, like it’s His peace washing over me. It’s endless. Just like His love for me. The first few days are still such a blur. They were awful really. Lots of tears. My worst fear has always been that I would have cancer. That I would not live to see my children grow up or to grow old with my husband. Now my worst fear was my new reality. On June 23rd, I prayed that the Lord would teach me to trust Him more. That He would show me what I was putting more importance on that Him. My idol is control. I have always held this false belief that I was in control of my life. I placed more importance on controlling my life which caused me to live in my own strength. That in turn allowed fear to creep in. Fear of anything that would affect what I am in “control of”. My life. My marriage. My children.  Since I found out, I literally have been clinging to the Lord with everything that I am. The enemy knows this and has been full on attacking me since. Wanting me to believe that the Lord is not good. That He is not bigger than my worst fear. That my life is over. Little does the enemy know, my life is only beginning. By completing surrendering to the Lord for His will I have found peace. Freedom. Confessing to Him that I am an awful god. Repenting for trying to do His job. Truly leaning into Him and allowing His arms to carry me. In this place of complete surrender the Lord showed up. He has been so faithful. For the first time in my life, God is real. He is not just something I read about and long for. A relationship I feel that I have to earn. He has been there all along; waiting for me to let go. There have been many scriptures that I have read over the last two weeks that I now see with open eyes. I have had some of the sweetest time with God in these quiet moments. Felt His presence. Truly the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7). There are some things that over these last few weeks I have heard from the Lord. 1). He is above all other things. It’s Him first. He doesn’t compete with other idols. By choosing Him, doesn’t mean I can’t have my family. The enemy wanted me to believe that by placing God first in my life may mean losing everything (my family, my life). But the Lord clearly told me, it’s not one or the other. Choose me first. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have both. By choosing Him, I will find my life. 2). He is everything. I am nothing apart from Him. For so long, I have lived my life and going to God “when I needed Him”. I know now that I need Him all the time. There is no me apart from Him. I literally know what it feels like to live in complete dependence on Him. There are so many examples of the Lord’s faithfulness over the last two weeks. Moments when I cry out to Him and moments with my face to the ground asking for His help. He continues to show up in various ways, through family and friends. So many people being the hands and feet of Jesus. Tonight I received a gift basket from friends at my church. Literally, blown away just staring at the generosity of others. People using the resources the Lord has given them to pour into my family’s lives. My family is amazing- every single one of them. I have been prayed over and so much love has been poured out. My marriage is better than it has ever been. Funny how much perspective something like this will give a person. No more petty fights or grudges being held.  One morning I was feeling very overwhelmed and doubt was creeping in. The enemy was taking hold of my thoughts. I prayed and asked the Lord to be reminded of His truths. In less than an hour, an envelope showed up on my front porch with note cards of specific prayers that someone was praying over me and my family. Wow! I have received countless texts, email and cards in the mail. So many reminders of His truth and promises. Several days ago, I was getting ready for the day and felt anxiety setting in. I started praying for the Holy Spirit to calm my nerves. For peace in His presence. I grabbed my phone to read a few scriptures to refocus. I have been reading through the Psalms over the last few weeks. I love how real David is with God. He holds nothing back. The Lord always responds. He rescues him, protects him, and provides calm in the storm of life. I couldn’t remember exactly where I had left off but Psalm 30 came to my mind. I had no idea what this chapter said. When I pulled it up on my phone, I nearly passed out. Psalm 30:1-4 I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me. O Lord my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health. You brought me up from the grave,[a] O Lord. You kept me from falling into the pit of death. Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. I felt the Lord asking me again, “Do you trust me?”.  If you remember I prayed that prayer. I told the Lord “I want to surrender my life to you. Every single part. I want to trust and rest.” All the Lord wants from me (and all of us) is to say “Yes” to Him. To fully surrender to Him. I am totally guilty of wholeheartedly wanting to serve Him and use the gifts He has given me, but as long as they fit under my guidelines. I didn’t want it to hurt too bad. I am guilty of putting God in a box. My sister and sister-in-law have both been reading and studying the book called “Anything” by Jennie Allen. I have heard nothing but amazing things from everyone who has read this book. But it’s not a warm and fuzzy read. It challenges you to confront your life head on. Funny enough, I have had the book for several years. But, I have always been hesitant to pick it up. Anything? Would I really do anything? The honest answer is no. Do I want to have cancer? No. Do I want to lose a loved one? Go through a divorce? Lose my job? Move to Africa? Not really any of those, but thank you. Yesterday, I picked up the book and have barely put it down. I am almost finished. Wow, is all I can say. So much of what she is saying resonates within my soul now.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes from her book. “We don’t want to fall. We like to see great testimonies of God’s grace, but we don’t want to be the testimony.” “God is saying, I am God! I know what I am doing. I know this feels excruciating, but I am about something here, and I am asking you to trust the one who tells the ocean where to stop and the sun when to launch.” “We control because we are afraid of what may happen if we let go.” “Honestly, we grow up through suffering. And most of us need to grow up. I’ve learned to quite wishing away all the hard stuff, because I don’t want to miss all the good stuff that goes with it.” I just have to believe that God is who He says He is. I keep getting a taste of the freedom He promises. I can’t wait to see the freedom I will have once He walks me through my biggest fear. At that point, once I’ve reached the other side, I will not have anything to hold back. He is healing all my hurts, both physical and emotional. He is breaking every stronghold in my heart. I will close with this from “Anything”… what I also feel God is speaking to me. “You protect yourself with me. You bind truth to the front of you so when darkness comes you remember me. You remember I am bigger. You remember I win. You remember I am with you today and forever; even if you can’t see me, I am there. You put my Word, my truth, in front of you. Protect yourself with me and my righteousness. And then, you run. Let your feet carry you into battle building my name, sharing my love, telling my story, showing my glory. Go. Run. Fight. Do not just sit there feeling sorry for yourself. Run and fight. Let your shield be faith. See, if I am real to you- if you believe you stand behind the God of universes- you won’t need to be afraid. You may get tired but you won’t forget why this war matters if you don’t forget me. You’ll fight bravely, like someone who knows she fights for a cause worth dying for. You’ll keep fighting if you see me. You have me with you – I am in you. Fight bravely because I am for you and I am with you.” The battle starts tomorrow morning. May the treatments I undergo not only kill every cancer cell and completely heal my physical wounds. But, Lord may this process heal my emotional wounds. May you break every chain. Lord, I am ready. Prepare my heart for what is to come. Strengthen my family and protect them as well. Lord, I would never have picked this path, but you made me in your perfect image. You knit me in my mother’s womb and know the number of hairs on my head. By your wounds, I am healed. May I never stop telling of all you have done in and through me. Lord, all I have ever wanted is freedom. Amazing how it takes walking through my biggest fear to find it. Jesus, this is all for you.You have gone before me and will never leave me.  Holly

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