Seasons of Life

By: Erica Berres

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I have read these words numerous times, however it is now that these words become life to my soul. I wonder how many of us take the time to look at our life and ask where am I, why am I in this season, what am I going to do with the time that I am given, and am I going to resist this season or move with grace through this season. Yesterday was the day God chose to show me that I could resist or move within the grace of this season. Those who know me personally know, I am a very self-determined woman. I am strong in my identity and I enjoy laughter, life, and fun. Life to me is an adventure. I look forward to each day. Internally, I ache and cry when I see others hurting or being hurt because I enjoy each and every person that crosses my path. I believe each person has a story to share and I want to hear it. I will respect you as an individual, love you unconditionally and allow you to be self-determined to choose. I try to positively affect people so they can see their identity and the personal power they possess to become everything that God has created them for.

Yesterday was a difficult day. I was planning to visit Wisconsin for a few days in the upcoming week. I was there recently, however, I was unable to visit with some friends and I was planning on visiting with them during a short visit next week. My friend from Wisconsin who is staying with me was willing to drive me up to Wisconsin on her return drive and I was planning a return air flight home. As my plans were being arranged, the angst of flying and traveling after brain surgery did not become resolved within my soul. I did the research and knew that I needed to discuss this with my neurosurgeon. I shared my plans with his nurse and she said she would call me to let me know if he would clear the travel. I waited all day to hear what the decision was….no answer from the doctor office to clear the travel.

Along with the travel, the angst of knowing down deep inside traveling with a dog, visiting friends, still having nights struggling with sleep (Currently, writing this at 2:30 a.m.), not in the comfort of my home is adjustments my body and brain has to endure. Honestly, I can appreciate my brain, the work it must do daily to function while putting up with my crazy life and plans because unless you experience brain surgery, we take it for granted how active and how hard our brain works to keep us moving, thinking and alive. Every step we take when we walk our brain is functioning to make sure that the step is taken with grace. Every creative idea, every thought, every landscape we look at, our brain functions the input and places creative descriptive words so we can communicate our feelings and thoughts. It truly is amazing and I have been given the experience to actually feel the awareness of my brain working to make sure I can continue to do this. My brain is working hard and healing. Truly, we are intricately, fearfully and wonderfully created.

Together with the angst of whether I was ready to travel, I received the appointment phone call to go see the radiation oncologist to discuss if radiation was going to be necessary. The words sank into me when I heard “Carti Cancer Center.” The tumor is benign, the reality that this is even a possibility had not really settled in me until those words hit my hard working brain. I had to accept that preventive radiation may be necessary and the best option for me.

I met with my advisor at the University to discuss what the plan for returning to classes this fall would look like. I was taking the quick track to complete my dual degree in Law and Masters in Social Work. I found out the quick track would no longer be quick and by not attending this 10 summer week session lengthened my degree by one complete additional year. Again, the words sinking in and the reality that plans were going to be different.

Last night, I had plans to work on some reading and studying but my brain was too busy with all the new details and changes. I sat alone, just breathing, thinking, praying, and being surrounded in quietness. I needed to quiet my angst and disappointment to find out what God was teaching me through all this.

I learned that in each day, I need to find something to laugh about. Yesterday, there was no laughter. It was a serious day, full of future plans, full of changed plans and I felt sadness about these changes and possible radiation. I tend to be more introspective and serious therefore I keep myself accountable to laugh and dance crazy. Laughter has become more natural to me, however I keep myself from slipping back to being too serious each and every moment of the day.  However, I needed a good dose of medicine and I was reminded a merry heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22) I realized looking back at my day, I did not laugh during the day, I did not break out in dance, and I did not do one silly thing. Yes, that is me, my kids would attest I will act crazy to make someone else smile because we do not take time to laugh and play enough. Some of us are just too serious. I am one of them. So I promised myself, I was going to dance and laugh each day, even in the difficult days. A good dose of laughter is healing to my brain and lightens the work my brain must do each and every day. So I watched a Wanda Sykes video and laughed my little socks off. Tomorrow I may need to jam to Beyonce or Pitbull. My son, Spencer would say, “Mom, time for a little Kendrick Lamar.”

Mostly, I learned that to everything there is a season and a time for every matter under heaven. When I read the list that is included above…a time to mourn, a time to laugh…I am reminded that each moment of time is part of a season and in that season mourning and laughter can occur within the same minute. There is also a balance that is created throughout that list to remind us that where you are positioned in your season, there is a counter force, which is activated to maintain the balance that God has created for each of us to live in. I am comforted by that.

Therefore, the time for me currently is to rest and heal, not to travel. The time for me is to go to the cancer center and take care of my body and do what is the best course so I never have to go through this again. The time for me is to enjoy the journey and gift of receiving an education no matter how long it takes. I have wanted to receive my degree since graduating from High School and my season for that has arrived. Who cares how long it takes? It is about enjoying the journey and reaching the goals and desires God places in my heart.

By: Erica Berres

Lullaby from God

By: Erica Berres

Psalm 42:8 By day the LORD commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

I am sitting in awe of the faithfulness and love of the God that I serve. This week, the neurosurgeon removed my brain tumor that had invaded my skull. The pathology report was going to take 7-10 days to receive. I was trusting God with my life and the path that would be laid before me, knowing no matter the news I received, I would be strong in the resurrected power of Christ. My surgery was Tuesday. The pathology report was delivered on Friday to the neurosurgeon…only four days later. The tumor was a Stage 2 meningioma- atypical and benign. The words that sank into me brought me to tears. The neurosurgeon had told me to expect stage 3 or stage 4, but hope for the best. A miracle for me had occurred. Not only was the news better than what I prepared for the news came early.

In the darkness of Thursday night, I was lying in bed awake because sleep is difficult after a craniotomy. I can feel the pressure when lying down, I can feel the screws in my head as my body heals and tissues regrow and there is a tightness in the skull from the titanium plate. I have chosen to use the time that I cannot sleep to listen to praise and worship music quietly. Thursday night I did not choose my song, God dropped it in my heart and I could hear the words of a song playing over and over as He sang me with a sweet lullaby…It’s my breath in your lungs so pour out your praise, we pour out our praise. I had heard the song on Pandora but was not familiar with the song. Taking the time to research the song, I found the title Great Are You Lord by All Sons and Daughters. I played this song over and over as it calmed me and help me focus on the power of my resurrected King and his healing power. After about thirty minutes, I was sheltered in God’s presence and peace drifting off to sleep. Each time, as I awoke due to the pain I could hear these lyrics in my mind singing. I knew God was moving in my life and he was breathing His life into my lungs. God provided his lullaby for me for this night. I truly believe in my heart, that God was speaking through these words of this song that:

He gives life, He is love
He will bring light to the darkness
He gives hope, He restores
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord

(words changed to personalize)

It was God’s way of telling me that he is in control. He has the end result in the palm of His hand and I will receive life, love, light and restoration.

When I found out the tumor was benign stage 2, I fell to my knees and I have listened to this song before bed each night. I will continue to allow God to heal and restore my mind, my broken heart and broken body with his healing grace. Each day, my prayers will include protection for my mind, heart and body relying on God’s steadfast love and his lullaby to me at night.

God continues to provide his songs during the night as I struggle with sleeping and the pain in my head healing from the surgery. Last night the song was Cornerstone by Hillsong. The lyrics for Cornerstone is:

Christ alone; cornerstone
Weak made strong; in the Savior’s love
Through the storm, He is Lord
Lord of all

Hearing those words reminded me this weakness I am experiencing was immersed in the Love of Christ and he would calm the storm in my pain, my strength is found in His Love for me. Christ carried my tumor to the cross two thousand years ago, nailing it to the cross, defeating the sting of death. This was a temporary period and the pain is the strength of my body doing exactly what it needs to do, which is to heal. Each night will get easier, each night will promise more sleep than the night before and God will continue to provide His lullaby as he cradles me in His love and the strength to endure.

I pray for each of you that when you are going through the storm, the difficult time, you allow God to deliver his song to you at night, as he pours his grace and mercy into your spirit and mind while meditating on the words he sings to you as a gentle lullaby.

By: Erica Berres

 

The Cross Is Heavy

By: Erica Berres

Luke 23:26

And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross to carry it behind Jesus.

Today it is two days after by brain tumor was removed. I came home yesterday. In fact, I woke up from my surgery at 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday and was released from the hospital on Wednesday at 5:10 p.m. Miraculous! I am happy to be home resting with my family and comforts of home. However I am not active. I was lying in bed thinking if I had to do anything strenuous I absolutely could not. I feel weak, fragile, and exhausted. It made me think of Jesus and understand why he could not carry the cross. He was physically unable. He had already suffered so much that he could not endure the weight of the cross. He was betrayed, arrested, beaten and suffered that the weight of the cross was too much. I realized that there are things we will endure that will be heavy under the weight of the cross. We may not be able to carry it alone. We will need help from others to help carry the cross.

Two things I have learned through this process. The first thing is to allow others to help. There is an army of people who want to serve, are called to serve and are willing to serve. When our cross is too heavy to carry, we need to allow others in to serve and help. It is not a sign of weakness, but strength. The second thing, most importantly, I learned is the heaviness of the cross is not the end. It is only part of the journey. The end of the cross that was too heavy for Jesus to carry ended with His resurrection and life. That is the real story. Sometimes the burden is heaviest just before the victory. Without a cross being too heavy for Jesus to carry with his broken body, there would be no life and resurrection to celebrate. Freedom came out of heaviness.

It reminds me of when Paul wrote about his weakness made perfect in Christ. Paul shared that God stated to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-11) Paul wrote I will boast of my weakness…so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. This tells me that when we try to be strong on our own power we are not strong. Therefore, to receive the POWER of Christ we must boast of our weaknesses activating His power. Jesus could not carry his cross in his weakness, however through his weakness and victory of the cross HE will now carry our cross that is too heavy for us to carry. So tonight, I am letting Jesus carry the cross from having brain surgery and having a part of my skull rebuilt. I do not have to be strong. I can be weak and let the power of Christ to rest on me.

By: Erica Berres

 

 

 

Healing In His Wings

By: Erica Berres

One morning after prayer, that small still voice whispered, “There is healing in his wings.” I researched the internet to see if there was a bible verse with these words in it and was led to Malachi 4:2. Malachi 4:2 states “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.”

Malachi 4:2 uses the word wings to describe Jesus’ healing power. When you study this word wings it has a broader meaning. The word we interpret as wings is “kanaph”(Strong # 3671). Kanaph means wing, extremity, edge, winged, border, corner, skirt. When thinking about these words I am focused on the words edge, border, corner and skirt. I am drawn to Mark 5:25-29, “And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “IF I TOUCH EVEN HIS GARMENTS, I WILL BE MADE WELL.” Did she know of this verse in Malachi? Had someone shared with her that the Messiah will rise with healing in the edge, border, corner of his skirt? This woman was healed miraculously by touching the edge of his skirt. Not only was she healed she knew to touch it for she said if I touch even his garments, I will be made well.

One thing I have learned in my life is whether God heals me miraculously by touching the hem of his garment, the only way for me to live is by kneeling at the hem of his garment daily. As Mary sat at the feet of Jesus listening to his teachings, I will continue to spend my days at the hem of his garment for that is where my healing is found…spiritual, emotional and physical healing. God may not heal instantly through a miracle physically, He will heal my heart spiritually and emotionally through the renewing of my mind. And God may choose to bring a miracle. In either circumstance, I will bring Him glory through physical healing or emotional healing for my soul if it is His Will for me to suffer and endure suffering.

Jesus had to suffer. God had a plan and the plan of salvation was Jesus had to suffer. In His suffering though, God brought healing for his soul so he could endure what was before Him. In Luke 22:39-43, Jesus knelt and prayed asking God, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him.” God did not remove the cup of suffering that Jesus was going to endure, but God, also, in his steadfast love did not abandon Him. God sent an angel to minister to Jesus and strengthen Him for what he would endure. God did not remove the cup but God did provide strength for Jesus’ soul, healing the agony he was experiencing in the moment so he could endure what was before him.

Hebrews 1:14 teaches us that angels are ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation. Therefore each and every trial we suffer, angels are assigned to minister to us, strengthening us. God may not remove the physical, but he will provide for our souls, by having angels minister and strengthen us, providing emotional healing as Jesus experienced.

We can believe for healing. We just do not know what the healing will look like; emotional healing and strength for our soul or physical healing in a miracle. God will not abandon us either way…healing will come supernaturally. I do not know the plans of God for me. I can guarantee one thing…God has healing in his wings for me.

By: Erica Berres

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