Our Plan, His Will

These past few days have been entirely orchestrated by God, of that I am sure.

Tuesday night, our church had it’s monthly women’s event, and I was asked to be a small group leader for the evening. One of my dear friends shared her testimony with all of us, and her message was enriched with His faithfulness. In fact, God’s faithfulness was the theme of the night. I am convinced that both the theme and it’s timing were orchestrated with enormous purpose.

Most of us say that He is faithful. We worship Him with that word. We pray for that characteristic to shine in our lives. But how many of us really know that it is true? God’s faithfulness is not measured by how many prayers are answered. He remains faithful even when our plans aren’t in alignment with His.

As I led my group into discussion, I was given questions to pose to the ladies. Here are a few that stood out to me, and have meaning especially now:

  • “Has there been a time where God has made something beautiful out of your hurt or pain?”
  • “How is our story part of God’s bigger story? Share a time when it was hard for you to see at first, but in the end you realized that God was doing something for a reason that you couldn’t see at the time.”
  • “Why is it sometimes hard to surrender to God’s plan in our lives?”

Notice that not one of these questions mentions an ease to or fulfillment of our plans. Many times God sees our plans and wants something bigger for us. I’m sure He looks at our life goals, plans, and desires and thinks, “That’s it? That’s all you want? My will is far greater that that.”

My follow-up CT scan was on Monday. Our women’s event was Tuesday. And I received the scan results on Wednesday. In the moment, I wanted the results immediately. Why couldn’t I receive them within seven hours like I did last time? I didn’t understand why. But now I do. Tuesday was God’s time to speak to me. To remind me of His faithfulness, regardless of the circumstance. It was His moment to encourage and empower me, and to remind me of His steadfast love. His timing was perfect.

I received the call yesterday morning at 7:03 am. Upon answering the phone, I heard my doctor’s voice. I immediately knew. A tumor had grown near my remaining ovary on the right side of my abdomen. It’s a little smaller than two inches. The cancer has returned for a third time. After listening to the medical details and ensuing plan of action, the conversation ended. My husband slid to the ground with his face in his hands, and began to cry. Tears began to fall from my eyes, as well. Instead of asking “Why?” I uttered, “I don’t understand. What plans do You have for me Lord?” I refuse to question His intentions, but can’t help questioning His plan. The tears of disappointment quickly turned into tears of sadness that I would, yet again, lose my hair. I ran my hands through my thick curls, and continued to express grief over the future loss of my locks. I hate losing my hair. It continues to be the most difficult part of this journey.

From the moment I processed this news, a calm confidence has filled my spirit. Where fear, doubt, and worry could hide, confidence has held residence instead. Large Cell Neuroendocrine cancer is extremely aggressive and, more often than not, fatal. However, this cancer is behaving unusual in my body. Unusually good. Sounds oxymoronic considering it’s return, however, it’s seemingly losing it’s power inside of me. Typically, this disease grows out of control and spreads quickly. Because both my hormonal and nervous system (Neuroendocrine) are under attack, this cancer has no bounds to where it can travel. In fact, in many cases, it heads to the lungs and brain rapidly. Yet, for some reason, it is remaining very localized in my pelvic region. It’s attaching itself to surgically removable organs. It is nowhere else in my body, and is no longer growing out of control. The tumor this time is significantly smaller than the second softball-sized tumor that developed within three months. I have been out of treatment for nearly six months, and was nearing the one year mark for being cancer free. All of these facts are good. They give me great confidence that once we remove this last ovary, the cancer will see nowhere else to grow and will cease residency in my body. I’m not dying from cancer. God has bigger things in store.

On October 6th, Matt and I will be running our very first 5k. We have been training for nearly eight weeks, and have put a lot of sweaty effort into our goal. This race immediately flashed in front of my eyes upon hearing the news that I would need surgery and chemotherapy all over again. “I WILL run this race. We’ll postpone surgery if we have to, but we ARE running this race.” Matt was adamant that I was delusional, but agreed to speak with my doctor. Explaining that this accomplishment would mean so much, I was insistent that cancer not take it away from me. Thankfully my doctor agreed, and smiling, she told us to run the 5k. Thank you, Jesus! Postponing surgery a few more days than expected should not have an impact on my health. If at any time between now and surgery, we feel the need to move forward with the procedure earlier, we can and will. However, my hope and prayer is that my pain will remain at a minimum and that the tumor will neither grow nor spread in this time. Our race is in ten days. Surgery is scheduled in eleven days, on October the 7th.

Through all of this, God remains faithful. Our plans and His are not in alignment, yet I know that His will for my life is far greater than I can imagine. For that reason, I continue to trust in His healing power, and know that He’s got this all figured out.

Psalm 138:8 (MSG)

“When I walk into the thick of trouble, keep me alive in the angry turmoil. With one hand strike my foes, with your other hand save me. Finish what you started in me, God. Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now.”

 

 

11 Comments on Our Plan, His Will

  1. Jacqueline
    September 26, 2013 at 9:19 AM (10 months ago)

    You are so incredibly strong! I will continue to pray for you…. You are very uplifting despite your circumstances! Stay strong Warrior Princess… This too shall pass! (HUGS) XOXOXO

  2. Penny Keller
    September 26, 2013 at 9:39 AM (10 months ago)

    Stephanie – the courage that God gives you is beyond beautiful – I praise Him for His gentle presence, like a dewdrop on a leaf in the forest, juxtaposed with the most dreaded news, He softens it with the fact that the cancer is acting abnormally, attaching itself only to organs that can be removed and that it is NOT out of control. You remind me of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, she took her news from the angel, while it was beautiful news of being the Mother of our Savior, it had a cost to her but she received it with surrender and trust. Stephanie, I join you in the hope that this will be the last visit from the beast and that the soft heart you have with this news will continue as you enter this familiar treatment plan once again. We are ALL WITH YOU, praying for you and feeling all of this with you. You are the Lord’s girl. AND MAY GOD GIVE MATT ALL THE GRACE HE NEEDS IN THIS JOURNEY AS WELL. Much Love, Penny

  3. Heidi Carlson
    September 26, 2013 at 12:04 PM (10 months ago)

    Stephanie your response to a 3rd returning tumor is an astounding posture in the hands of your Creator. I don’t know you (I’m a friend of Lindsay Smith Simon) and my heart fell when I read your post with tears in my eyes. Dear sister in Christ, I continue to join you through prayer for this marathon you in in the middle of.

    In Christ, Heidi

  4. Heather
    September 26, 2013 at 3:14 PM (10 months ago)

    “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)” Hillsong

    You call me out upon the waters
    The great unknown where feet may fail
    And there I find You in the mystery
    In oceans deep
    My faith will stand

    And I will call upon Your name
    And keep my eyes above the waves
    When oceans rise
    My soul will rest in Your embrace
    For I am Yours and You are mine

    Your grace abounds in deepest waters
    Your sovereign hand
    Will be my guide
    Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
    You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

    So I will call upon Your name
    And keep my eyes above the waves
    When oceans rise
    My soul will rest in Your embrace
    For I am Yours and You are mine

    Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
    Let me walk upon the waters
    Wherever You would call me
    Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
    And my faith will be made stronger
    In the presence of my Savior
    [x6]

    I will call upon Your Name
    Keep my eyes above the waves
    My soul will rest in Your embrace
    I am Yours and You are mine

  5. Julie Hanna
    September 26, 2013 at 3:33 PM (10 months ago)

    Our beautiful Steph & Matt
    As Gods love and hugs reaches across the oceans we will be lifting you up in prayers that keep you in His arms x

  6. Judy Meurer
    September 26, 2013 at 6:19 PM (10 months ago)

    My heart sank when I heard the news, but reading your words leaves me in awe, speechless. Your faith is a light in the darkness. You will overcome, of that I am sure. I’ve begun today praying all manner of prayers over you, your beautiful body, your loving husband. I will pray every day for you.
    Judy Meurer

  7. Heather Butler
    September 26, 2013 at 10:05 PM (10 months ago)

    You leave me speechless. The display of Jesus’ power & faithfulness in you is incredible. We love you both very much.

  8. Linda
    September 27, 2013 at 12:25 AM (10 months ago)

    Your strength and faith in God’s plan will get you through. Hugs and prayers.

  9. Stephanie Oleson
    September 27, 2013 at 12:13 PM (10 months ago)

    As I read of your response and the response of your dear hubby Matt and just felt such a deep sense of empathy for Matt and of rock solid faith for
    you both. I thank God that – as you’ve made so very clear – the tumor is attached to a ‘removable’ part and that it is indeed NOT acting at ALL as
    it should be! I am sure that is the Lord’s hand at work and I pray for you and your husband and you navigate this course once again. I am joining
    in with the rest of your friends and family who love and support you and asking God to truly make this ‘third time the charm’ in all the possitive, God
    directed ways it can be! You are covered by the blood of the Lamb and you are the apple of His eye.
    God bless and keep you and Matt.
    Love You honey!
    Stephanie Oleson

  10. NotDownOrOut
    September 28, 2013 at 8:17 AM (10 months ago)

    I pray with you for God to continue to guide you to overcome this cancer. Your tumor sounds small, you are very strong, and, as you say, the tumor sounds relatively small. Disease will surely find you a mighty foe. Hugs!

  11. donnajeanne
    October 4, 2013 at 8:09 PM (10 months ago)

    oh, Stephanie, your life is so precious! Thank you for allowing us this glimpse of your heart and all that the Lord is doing within it through the struggles and heartaches… We weep with you, we rejoice with you, and we are led to TRUST with you…May He continue to do what the God of all comfort always does…COMFORT YOU…and thank you for being such an example to us all!

    Thank you for being faithful even when you do not understand.

    His love shines through every cell!!

    Love and gratitude to you for your attitude, and your sharing, so we can be blessed!
    Donna jeanne Schneider