So, what about the ants?

I often get asked about my faith and why I believe what I do. How do I know God exists? Isn’t “religion” an old fashioned idea? Aren’t we just physical beings responding to programmed biological impulses?

It is difficult to answer these questions because faith is so personal and nothing I can ever PROVE. So I speak from my experience.

– I believe God exists because I can’t look at the beauty, diversity and complexity of this world and think it happened by accident. All the details. Everything working together. I don’t necessarily believe the earth was created in our equivalent of 7 days but ultimately I’m OK with not knowing. I’m thankful every time a sunset or an alpine lake takes my breath away…or I’m in awe of how intricate the human body is because it helps me to remember how awesome God is.

– I do not believe we are just physical beings…balls of hormones and biology wandering this planet with only a need to evolve and pro create. For me that is too simple and is actually a cop out from taking responsibility for your own behavior. “Biology” made me do it. I’m programmed that way I can’t help it. That might be part of the story but I think we are so much more than that. I look at this world and I see pain and heartbreak…joy and passion. Why do we need community or crave relationships? Honestly, I believe there is a deep longing to be loved and accepted in each one of us…we just have different ways of going about meeting that need. Relationships. Success. Sex. Since we live in an imperfect world this need will never fully be met and that can cause pain. And again everyone does something different with this pain. They can bury it…pretend it doesn’t exist. Numb it with work or alcohol. But I believe this basic need is there in all of us and I believe it can only be met by a relational God.

– Isn’t religion an old fashioned idea? Well, you’ve got me there. I don’t like “religion”. Because, honestly, I don’t often see a lot of love and acceptance in the message they share. I hear rules. Do’s and don’ts to get into heaven or stay out of hell. Judgement. It often doesn’t resemble the Jesus I know. But if you want to talk to me about how to find freedom in love, compassion, kindness, grace and mercy…that’s my religion. That’s what I gunny-optimistic-ant-comic-pebble-magnifying-glass-human-fine-idea-picsstake my life on.

So, what about the ants? A response that I have gotten is for me to look at the ants. They just go about their business purely programmed by biology. They don’t love. They seem to survive just fine executing the tasks they were created for. They create armies and wars. Aren’t we just big versions of that? Aren’t you putting too much significance on our existence? Interesting argument. Honestly, I don’t know what the ants have to do with me? I can’t speak to their experiences. They might survive purely on biology. I have no idea but either way it has no bearing on me. I can only speak to my human experience. And my human experience involves emotions. Hearts longing for love and acceptance. For intimacy. We are relational people. And I believe that need for intimacy is ultimately met in a loving, relational God. But I’m not asking you to agree with me.




Checking in…

Well hello there blogging world…I am indeed alive. ๐Ÿ™‚ I haven’t been writing as much recently for a variety of reasons and realized that I should at least check in.

In the past my blogging breaks have come when I am navigating a particularly rough emotional season. That is not the case here and I have appreciated the off line messages from friends making sure everything is good. And honestly it really is. Sometimes surprisingly so. I’m just exhausted. I have been trying to go back to work more full time and my energy at the end of the day is gone…especially when it comes to writing.

I had a surprising feeling last Monday morning.

Something I honestly haven’t felt in a while.

I woke up…HAPPY.

It caught me off guard and you know there has to be some divine influence for that to happen on a Monday Morning getting ready for work. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was surreal, I paused for a moment, said a prayer of thanksgiving and thought…I didn’t believe this could happen…I’m HEALING. My circumstances haven’t changed and there are still many things I would like to be different but apparently that doesn’t matter.

This moment encouraged me that things truly wont always be so hard. That things are moving. That my heart is healing and God is transforming the pain into something life giving. I have spent many hours and journal pages writing about healing…physical healing…emotional healing…spiritual healing. It is an amazing process. I will write more on the blog when I get back to my storm survival posts. But even with all my writing/processing the idea of healing is still a great mystery to me and one that I have had to absolutely trust God with. I can’t even count the number of times I wrote this in my various journals over the last 2 years:

Jesus, I know you see the pain in my heart…it hurts. I know that I can’t heal it on my own. I need you. I trust you alone to heal me. I trust you to work all this out for my good and your glory.

I have trusted this in my core for the last 2 years and I will admit that sometimes it is extremely difficult to keep trusting…day after never ending day when it feels like nothing is happening. There were seasons when life seemed to be getting worse rather than better. Things aren’t working out on my timeline. But I keep (attempting to) wake up trusting and I have learned that God’s healing is never superficial. The moments when things felt like they were getting worse he was cutting cancer out of my life and scrubbing old wounds with antiseptic. I still have no idea how my life will work out practically but I am able to live with more freedom and love than I ever have in the past. And I wouldn’t give that back for anything.

Happy Monday,



All Night Long

This blog has been a little bit quiet the last week because my sister has been visiting me from Singapore…and the sun finally emerged in the Netherlands so I have to enjoy that while I can. But I wanted to get a quick “Storm Survival” post out.

I have received this particular “Streams in the Desert” post 3 times in the last 2 days and stormy seawanted to share it. I found it to be very encouraging and sometimes storm survival is just allowing yourself to be encouraged for that day…allowing God to provide what you need to keep going and keep hoping. The post talks about Exodus 14 and God parting the Red Sea so the Israelites could cross.

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea and GOD, with a terrific east wind ALL NIGHT LONG, made the sea go back. He made the sea dry ground. The seawaters split”
– Exodus 14:21 (The Message – emphasis mine)

I’d heard this story many times but somehow always missed the part that God worked through the night to part the sea. I guess I had internalized the “Hollywood” version where Moses raises his hand and the clouds get stormy and the waters immediately part…or at least within the span of the 2 minute clip. Nothing about them needing to wait all night. The first 1:30 from this clip of the Bible Miniseries Episode 2 (Exodus) does a great job of illustrating what I am talking about with the dramatization of the event:

I am trying to imagine what it was like. God had just used Moses to free his people from slavery under the Egyptians in a pretty spectacular fashion. He sent 10 plagues down to try and convince Pharaoh to release them…they were all pretty brutal but Pharaoh wouldn’t budge until the last one that killed his son. He had finally had enough of the Hebrew people and their God and allowed them to leave. So they collected their families and belongings and set out as a giant mob across the desert heading to the “Promised Land” where God would establish them as a new nation. Pharaoh eventually regrets letting his entire work force go and calls up his army to go after them.

There comes a point where the Israelites reach the Red Sea and God promised they would cross to the other side on dry land but I’m sure it looked pretty impossible to them…also they know now that Pharaoh is coming after them. There’s water in the front and a vicious army behind them. I think it would be pretty easy to doubt God’s promises and be afraid. Especially when Moses raises his hands, the wind picks up…and then nothing immediately happens. They need to wait ALL NIGHT.

Here is an excerpt from the Streams in the Desert post:

In this verse there is a comforting message showing how God works in the dark. The real work of God for the children of Israel, was not when they awakened and found they could get over the Red Sea; but it was “all that night”.

So there may be a great working in your life when it all seems dark and you cannot see or trace, but yet God is working. Just as truly did He work “all that night,” as all the next day. The next day simply manifested what God had done during the night. Is there anyone reading these lines who may have gotten to a place where it seems dark?

You believe to see, but you are not seeing. In your life-progress there is not constant victory; the daily, undisturbed communion is not there, and all seems dark.

“The Lord caused the sea to go back all that night.” Do not forget that it was “all that night.” God works all the night, until the light comes. You may not see it, but all that “night” in your life, as you believe God. He works.

– C.H.P. (via Streams in the Desert)

To me this is encouraging in the waiting, hoping, trusting season I am in. God was and IS faithful. The sea did part and the Hebrew people were able to cross to the other side. But I imagine that night of waiting was extremely terrifying for them.

I can’t see God working right now. I am in a figurative “night” holding on to promises that He will work all things out for my good. I feel like I am standing in front of a “Red Sea” with no idea how I am going to get to the other side. I do believe that when the time is right the path forward will be revealed…when this night shifts to day. Until then, I will remind myself of God’s faithfulness in my life and in the past generations and I have no reason to think this is any different. I will attempt to live my life in faith/trust not in fear.



Let go of the envelope

In case you missed it my jewelry website went live a couple weeks ago.

(Please consider “Liking” my Burning Brightly Facebook page to keep up to date on new posts and designs)

And I have actually received some orders. ๐Ÿ™‚ So this past week and a half I have been frantically making trees trying to get them into the mail before the Royal craziness descends on the Netherlands tomorrow. (And I literally mean “Royal” craziness…Queen Beatrix is abdicating the throne to the crown prince Willem Alexander on Tuesday making him the first King here in more than a century. And we will celebrate that with a big party and a controversial song – if you’re interested check out “The King’s song”/”Koningslied” here )

Now once I finished the trees and carefully packaged them…I had a moment of anxiety as I brought them to the post office. If I choose to have the package tracked it increases my shipping cost by $25, which is substantial. But with standard post I drop the envelopes in the box, say a prayer, cross my fingers and do a rain dance hoping they make it to the proper destination. I am completely powerless to guarantee they reach the right person and am at the mercy of the postal service. It is not easy for me to let that go.

Now my mom likes to send me inspirational e-mails periodically and right after I came home from the post office this “Streams in the Desert” email was in my inbox.

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” Hebrews 11:1

Genuine faith puts its letter in the mailbox and lets go. Distrust, however, holds on to a corner of the envelope and then wonders why the answer never arrives. There are some letters on my desk that I wrote weeks ago, but I have yet to mail them because of my uncertainty over the address or the contents. Those letters have not done any good for me or anyone else at this point. And they never will accomplish anything until I let go of them, trusting them to the postal service.

It is the same with genuine faith. It hands its circumstance over to God, allowing Him to work. Psalm 37:5 is a great confirmation of this:”Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this.” He will never work until we commit…

Talk about timing. It was interesting to me that I had just wrestled with the reality of releasing these envelopes and came home to an e-mail comparing that to releasing all aspects of my life. Releasing the control of reaching a certain destination. Recognizing the talents and gifts I have been blessed with and offering those back to God to use for his kingdom. Releasing my fears of judgement and apprehension about whether I am good enough.

And while I know there is a reason why I don’t fully trust the Postal Service…it is not infallible and does lose packages. I am thankful that in the things that really matter I can fully entrust them to God. I have had to put my weight down on Him in every aspect of my life this year. And His faithfulness continues to humble and amaze me…although you’d think I would come to expect it by now. ๐Ÿ™‚

What are you holding on to? Are there things you need to release?



Searching for “something”

My blogging has been a bit sporadic lately because life took another major turn and I have once again been trying to pick up the pieces and recover my “new new normal”. I changed the tagline of this blog to “Living for Jesus…dealing with breast cancer and life.” Because while I feel like I am in the twilight of this breast cancer battle that is only a small part of what I am trying to reinvent. Many people have told me how strong I am through this…and while I know I’m strong…I’m not THIS fucking strong. But God is.

When I first moved to the Netherlands I was asked frequently if I was “religious”. Honestly, I didn’t know how to answer that because I believe in God but don’t think that “religion” has done a very good job of representing him on this earth. I don’t believe in a church or an institution…I believe in a good, loving and personal God. A God who knows me. A God who won’t prevent bad things from happening (obviously) but will support, love and restore me through them.

Faith to me is a recognition that there is a longing in my heart for “something”. In college I tried to fill that “something” with an engineering degree or partying. And while there were some fun times I would wake up in the morning and know that there was “something” more than what I was choosing. No amount of hobbies or career aspirations or relationships or money or travel orย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย  ย ย  would fill that “something”. Only God. I heard a story about a God that created the heavens and the earth…but knows every hair on my head (heh, that’s not too hard for Him right now ๐Ÿ™‚ )…not a God of condemnation…but a God that knows all the dark places in my life and loves me anyway. A God of grace. A God that wants me to know him as intimately as he knows me. This God filled that “something”.

Now that I’ve written a few things that God is to me…here are a few that he isn’t:

  • A political party
  • A license to spew hateful words or condemnation
  • A crutch for when bad things happen…I promise if you put your full weight on a crutch that isn’t real you will still fall on your face
  • A free pass to the “good life”…or feeling that if things aren’t easy it means God doesn’t exist or doesn’t care
  • God is not a cosmic vending machine there to solve all your problems, in the way you want them to be solved in the timing you want.

So if you are looking at my life from the outside…dealing with cancer…navigating a relationship crisis…in a foreign country…please know I get out of bed and write a blog post only because I am being upheld by his righteous right hand.


PS – On a health update I only have 4 more radiation appointments left!! Wahoo…I’m done on Thursday.