Exodus: The Hardening of Hearts

To be honest as I’ve read Exodus, I’ve never really applied it to my own life before, but as I’ve read the OT this go around I’ve been seeking “How does this apply to me or mine?” Tonight, it jumped off of the page at me. The hardening of hearts.

In Exodus 7, it speaks as Pharaoh’s heart begins to harden as he has his men of magic come repeat Aaron throwing down his staff and it turning into a snake. Of course, he couldn’t explain why Aaron’s snake ate his magicians’ snakes. But this made me think of my own hardened heart.

My father was 47 years old when he was diagnosed with cancer. Before cancer, he was strong, vibrant, busy and full of life. He worked hard and played harder. He was the type of dad that seemed to be everywhere all the time. I don’t know how he was able to do it all and make it all work. He went to work and still showed up at our games that were hours from home. The joys of living in the middle of nowhere and always having to travel to play sports. He would sit in the stands of my basketball and keep my stats. I loved it and hated it all at the same time. I’d give anything to have one of those papers from when I was playing.

Daddy would also play with us even though we didn’t always gravitate to the same sports he loved and was good at. He taught us all to swim but we wouldn’t go on to be on competitive swim or dive teams. He taught us to play tennis, but few of us ever competed and none of us at his level. He wrestled and we only did that on our living room floor. He played football as did my brother, but he also had four daughters. I loved to play basketball. He was a self taught bull in the China cabinet cross between a wanna be Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar that loved to shoot granny shot free throws. But I can’t tell you how many times my dad and I would get into it or I’d be mad at someone or something else in the world, and he’d stand outside with me in silence as he rebounded ball after ball. It had to be so boring for him. Yet, it’s how he communicated with me without saying a word.

When he got sick, he became everything he’d never been. He was too sick to work and too weak to play. Cancer took his life a cell and a bone at a time. I hated it! I hated every moment of it! I got so angry. Unfortunately, I want the child he was as a father. I couldn’t sit idly by and rebound for him. As a more mature adult, I wish I could have been more like he had been for me in those moments. Instead, my heart became hardened a lot like Pharaoh’s.

In retrospect now, I see that God was rescuing my father from cancer. He allowed healing to come through his death, which is exactly what I had prayed for. But in the moments before and after his passing, I only saw it for what it was for me at that moment – the greatest loss of my life! I didn’t understand God. I didn’t want to see if from His perspective. I didn’t like the answer, so God probably wasn’t as real as I’d been led to believe He was. It wasn’t fair. I didn’t like it. I didn’t agree with. I didn’t want to understand it. I hardened my heart.

Now, that’s not to say I didn’t live on the fence. I was very much a lukewarm, untrusting Christian. Go to church. Look the part. Read my Bible. Believe the parts I liked, look over the parts I didn’t, and so on and so on.

I’ve watched as my own children have struggle. I’ve watched as hearts have been hardened. Why their mom? I’ve heard their reasons why it shouldn’t have been me. They casts their doubts. They yelled in anger. They’ve told me the words I’ve told others. Told myself. It’s harder on this side even when I understand because I’m looking back at 20 years of heartache while I searched for the holes to be filled not realizing God’s love was really all I needed to fill the gaps. To find peace. So instead I lived in turmoil and chaos. Exactly where I don’t want them to reside. Yet, there they are closing off their hearts to the miracles right in front of their faces.

As I read through these plagues, I wonder if I’ll find the heartaches of my own life embedded within now that I’m searching for how this applies to me. Will I find my children’s struggles? Will they open their eyes and allow God to soften their hearts faster than I did or will they fall victim to their own demise as well until a small miracle, too great to discredit, rescues them?

This was a hard one for me to wrestle with tonight, but something I needed to face and pray about. God has told me to lay it all at His feet. He’s told me their battles are not mine to fight. He’s given me my own, so I’ll stay out of their way as difficult as that is as their momma. God has called me to trust Him with my offspring just as He called the other greats to trust Him with theirs. I pray for them daily. May they open their eyes to God Almighty and see Him for all that He is. For He is the Great I Am!

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Genesis 29: The Story of Leah

Why have I never really paid close attention to this story before? Jacob was basically tricked into marrying Leah. He was really in love with her little sister, Rachel, which he would marry next.

God was aware Leah was unloved, so he enabled her to conceive a son while Rachel remained childless. Leah thought this newborn son would make Jacob love her. She would continue to give birth to three sons in the hopes of Jacob loving her. By the time she became pregnant with her fourth son, she said, “This time I will praise the Lord.”

This story grabbed me and wouldn’t let loose. How many times have we done something over and over again seeking the approval, the love, or the attention of someone who’s never going to meet our needs? I know I have! How much better our lives would be if we would just praise the Lord for the gifts He grants us and live our lives for His approval, His love, and His attention.

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Even “the Greats” Made Mistakes

As I journey through Genesis, I read chapters 12-15 this evening. Each time I read I’m searching for one nugget to take away. What’s here in this section that might be applicable to my own life? I read this section twice and listened to it once. I really struggled with some pieces throughout tonight’s reading.

First of all, Abram wasn’t perfect even though he’s considered “one of the greats” of the Bible. He lied to save himself and to prosper. In this moment, his actions didn’t show he was faithful to God to believe He would protect him or his wife, so he took the issue into his own hands. Abram, one we believe to be so righteous and faithful, shows he, too, had moments of weakness. He was also selfish. He made bad choices. It also proves he was a man living in a sinful world just as we are.

I found a little bit of comfort in knowing that even “the greats” of the Bible struggled and had moments of weaknesses.

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The Spirit of God in the Wind

Genesis 8-11 begins with the flood and ends with the linage from Noah to Abram (later he’d be called Abraham).

Remember when the Spirit of God hovered over the dark, formless and chaotic nothingness in Genesis 1:2? In the New Revised Standard Version the “Spirit of God” is called “a wind from God”. Personally, I like the image of the Spirit of God hovering over me better than wind from God, but I point this out because in Genesis 8:1 it says, “. . . and he [God] sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded.” When I think about the flood waters at their highest point, I’d think it would be a lot like experiencing being out on the vastness of the ocean on a cruise ship. When you look out and over the edge, it’s dark, sometimes it all appears to be flat or formless, and it can be a bit terrifying even, especially when the seas are rough and the waves are churning. There again I get the image of the Spirit of God hovering over the dark, formless and chaotic depths of water.

Now mind you, I grew up and spent many years of my life on the plains of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas where the wind blows and blows and blows. There’s really nothing calming about nonstop wind. It’s annoying at best. But I also know how quickly the wind can dry the land after a thunderstorm. A flood obviously took a little longer, but there in the wind was the Spirit of God once again clearing away the darkness for God’s creation to spring forth from the chaos. It’s a beautiful image, isn’t it?

I’m going to hold on to this Spirit of God hovering over the darkness. I’m curious to discover how many times it occurs in the Bible as I reread this marvelous book once again with my perspective renewed.

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Back to the Beginning

Last night my reading was Genesis 4-7. It begins with the lineage from Adam to Noah. Until I read through the Bible using the Bible Recap Podcast a couple of years ago, I literally skipped over all the genealogy in the Bible. So and so had so and so and had other sons and daughters and died so many years later. Why did it matter? Why did I care? Tara-Leigh Cobble in The Bible Recap Podcast helped me understand the answers to those questions. Plus, somewhere along the way I also started using Ancestry.com to help me understand the linage of my husband’s biological family and curiosity took me to visit my own as well.

Today, I noticed as I was checking my spelling of Genesis that within it is the word “gene”. Gene means a unit of heredity which is transferred from a parent to offspring and is held to determine some characteristic of the offspring. Isn’t that interesting because in the Bible we are told from the creation of man (Genesis 1:26, 1:27, & 5:1) that man was created in God’s image or likeness. Adam had a son named Seth and in Genesis 5:3 once again we find out Seth was created in Adam’s own image, his likeness. As the genes were passed from one generation to the next all the way to Noah, we see the pattern of passing one’s likeness to the next generation. And it all began with the first life being created in the likeness of God. Therefore, I am too and so are you! What a wonderful takeaway!

I was created in the image and likeness and with characteristics of God within me; therefore, my life is not worthless or without purpose. Seth had no clue when he was created, or even when he died, that Noah, a man of his own genes, would be the one to share his genes with the entire future of mankind because he found favor with God in a sinful world. I say this to help myself realize that sometimes I’m not going to know what or why I’m going through whatever I am, but it’s not without plan or purpose. Maybe my life is just a gene being passed on to create another life that will create another life and yet more life and that life way after I’m dead and gone is the entire reason why I ever existed. That’s how far reaching and meaningful our lives are. For we do not know the plans for our lives, but God does. (Jeremiah 29:11-14)

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God Creates Purpose Out of Chaos

I’ve began rereading the Bible with a focus this year on the Old Testament. Genesis 1-2 is the story of creation I’m sure most are familiar with the story. As I read this, I began wondering what can I take away from this that will make a difference in my life right now. I got stuck on Genesis 1:2 where it says, “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

There in the darkness, in the chaos, was the Spirit of God waiting to turn the chaos into purpose. There was a plan. It was good. But before it was good, it was dark, formless, and chaotic. Isn’t this how we view the tough times in our life? We see them as “dark times”, we can’t figure out what’s going on or what the purpose of our lives are so it seems “formless”, or we feel like we’ve lost control and everything is “chaotic”. Yet, there above it all, sits the Spirit of God waiting for us to call out to the Father and have faith that He will create purpose out of the dark, formless and chaotic moments we find ourselves in. Creation didn’t stop in the first week. Creation is ongoing. God is waiting to create a new creation within us by using every dark, formless and chaotic moment in our lives. No, they aren’t good YET, but He has a plan to turn even this (whatever your “this” is) into something amazing!

I’ve read this part of the Bible so many times throughout my life and have never considered once that God’s spirit was hovering over my life just as it hovered over the dark, formless and chaotic universe waiting for me to call out and ask God to create purpose out of all of this!





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Nov. 9, 2022: Here Again

I find myself here again. Once again we know, but we don’t. One more time we wait and wait and wait. The best part is God is here again as well, and He’s pouring peace upon me. Peace. It’s a gift I never realized was so incredible.

My circle is smaller, tighter. I don’t feel so willing to share it all. It’s different.

I feel more controlling, yet when my family needs some; as reluctant as I am, I still cave and give them some. That’s love.

I’m not looking forward to the days ahead. The ins and outs. The waiting and waiting. The decisions that never really seem like decisions. The unknowns and the knowns.

I’m thankful for faith, for hope, for love, and for peace. The Mighty Great I Am holds me and He holds me close; therefore, I choose to trust Him and fear not!

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Nov. 2, 2022: Waiting

Have you ever been stuck in traffic that’s literally going absolutely nowhere? I remember driving in Florida traffic and always having a novel in the seat next to me for when I literally rolled down my windows and shut off my engine because we wouldn’t be moving for a good half hour or more. I currently feel like I’m in this type of traffic jam. I know it’s just part of it, but I can’t help but wonder what’s ahead that’s stopped traffic. Is it construction to maintain the roads or is it a minor fender bender or is it a horrific crash that’s resulted in a fatality?

I wish I was waiting on traffic. I wish I had a great novel to read. Instead, I’m just sitting here waiting.

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Nov. 1, 2022: It’s Me Again

Peace. It’s weird when peace shows up. Think about some of the times mankind feels truly at peace. It’s usually in the middle of chaos. The eye of a hurricane, the calmness before a storm, or even the adrenaline rush that allows someone to deal with the most horrendous injury ever. Peace comes and washes over us as if God the Father is saying, “Trust me Child. You are Mine, and I am Yours. Have faith that I hold you close. Do not be afraid.” And in that brief moment, we allow ourselves to be covered in His divine protection. We surrender all.

Why don’t we stay there? Why do we fight for control? Why do we run away? Why don’t we lift up our arms to the heavens and shout, “Hallelujah!”?

Maybe I should change the questions . . .

What if I just stay here?

What if I don’t fight for control?

What if I lift my arms to the heavens and shout, “Hallelujah!”?

What if I surrender all even IF . . . ?

Matthew 17 – the disciples ask “Why couldn’t we . . .?”

Matthew 17:20-21 – Jesus tells them their faith is lacking. God only asks for faith the size of a mustard seed to move a mountain. That’s it!

One tiny mustard seed of faith . . . may I use this tiny seed to have faith in your will for my life on this earth . . . a little bit of faith is all it takes. I’m going to believe in the Creator of the seed that allows life to spring forth from.

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Breast Cancer? What Kind?

Chances are you know someone who has or has had breast cancer; but you might be surprised to find out that if you know more than one person with breast cancer, theirs wasn’t the same kind.

The Main Kinds

  • Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)
  • Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)
  • Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS)
  • Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC)
  • Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC)
  • Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)
  • Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC)

Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS)

  • abnormal cells are located in the lining of the breast milk ducts
  • it hasn’t spread outside the ducts
  • usually no signs or symptoms so often found during routine mammograms
  • very treatable

Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (IDC)

  • abnormal cells began in the breast milk ducts but have spread into the breast tissue and possibly beyond
  • most common type of breast cancer making up 70-80% of diagnosed cases
  • most common kind of breast cancer discovered in men too
  • Lump, thickening or reddening of the skin on the breast, changes in breast size, discharge from nipple, dimpling of the skin of the breast, some breast pain or discomfort

Lobular Carcinoma In Situ (LCIS)

  • abnormal cells found in the lobules (milk glands) of the breast
  • it hasn’t spread outside the lobules
  • highly treatable
  • commonly found in both breasts
  • no symptoms are usually found before diagnosis but sometimes a lump can be felt

Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (ILC)

  • begins in the lobules (milk glands) of the breast but has also spread to the breast tissue
  • can also spread through the blood or nymph system
  • 2nd most common type of breast cancer
  • aren’t often detected clearly in a mammogram and typically need an MRI to be completed to confirm
  • usually a slower growing cancer (Grade I or II)
  • tumors may appear smaller than they really are because of how they grow
  • usually ER+ and HER2-
  • hormone therapy is a key part of treatment
  • Lump in breast, nipple discharge, inverted nipple, rash on the nipple, thickening, rash or redness on breast, swelling in one breast and not the other, dimpling on the skin of breast

Triple Negative Breast Cancer (TNBC)

  • Estrogen, Progesterone, & HER2 receptors are not present
  • 10-20% of all diagnosed breast cancers
  • more likely in younger patients
  • more likely in African-Americans, Hispanics, and those with the BRAC1 mutation
  • often a more aggressive and more difficult to treat form of breast cancer
  • has a higher recurrence
  • catching this type of cancer early is important
  • Breast lump, swelling in all or part of the breast, dimpled skin on the breast, breast or nipple pain, nipple turns inward, nipple or breast skin becomes dry, flakes, thickens, or becomes red, nipple discharge

Inflammatory Breast Cancer (IBC)

  • cancer cells infiltrate the skin and lymph vessels of the breast
  • not typically associated with a lump or bump
  • often associated with itching, rash, skin irritation
  • breast is often red, swollen, warm to the touch
  • skin may appear dimpled like a citrus peel
  • nipples may undergo changes
  • often an aggressive and fast-growing type of cancer
  • Stage III
  • survival rates have improved significantly in recent years

Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC)

  • Stage IV
  • cancerous cells have spread outside of the breast into other parts of the body (lungs, liver, bones, and brain are most common)
  • cancerous cells travel through the blood or lymphatic system
  • several new treatments are improving survival rates

On top of the kind, there are other things that might make one person’s breast cancer different than someone else’s which might completely change their treatment plan. In the world of breast cancer, you hear terms like ER+/-, PR+/-, HER2+/-, Grade I, II, III, Rate I, II, III, Stage 0, I, II, III, IV, BRAC1, BRAC2, a variation of different Onco types, and lymph node involvement or not, and recurrence rates.

Whenever you are given a breast cancer diagnosis, regardless of which one, fear is a very common side effect. My best advice is to take your fears to the Lord and allow Him to transform them into something beautiful. Allow this dark moment to become a shining beacon to those who will walk the path behind you.

*sources: Clevelandclinic.org, Hopkinsmedicine.org, Nationalbreastcancer.org

Taken while vacationing in Cancun after I was NED

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