She is radiant and beautiful inside and out. She is one determined young lady and God has big plans for her life. Our paths intersected when her family was assigned to be my host family at Lighthouse Family Retreat over 10 years ago (www.lighthousefamilyretreat.org). I am beyond excited to share Ali’s beauty for ashes story with you today…
November 26, 2002 2:36pm will forever be marked as the day my life changed. Faced with a leukemia diagnosis was by far the scariest moment of my life.
Although I was diagnosed early and began chemo immediately, with treatment brought many complications. After starting treatment, I contracted a rare fungal infection in my sinuses. With the risk of spreading to my brain, surgeons removed the majority of my right sinus cavity. Once the infection was under control, my chemotherapy resumed. Although I officially came off treatment in 2005, I have been undergoing various facial reconstructive surgeries to repair and rebuild what the infection destroyed. Over the past 9 years, I have had 5 reconstructive surgeries with possibly more to come.
Twelve years ago I never would have asked to be diagnosed with leukemia. I mean, who would, right? But so many blessings have come from my gift of cancer. I have learned what it truly means to trust in God. When you feel completely lost and don’t know what to do, trust in Him and know that He will take care everything. I have also learned what it is to let go. Letting go not in the sense of giving up, but rather letting go of all your fears and completely giving them up to Him. So no, I never would have asked for it, but I am so thankful for this journey and the person it has made me.
So many times we blame our circumstances when things aren’t going well just like we blame the ref when a game isn’t going our way. But maybe our problem isn’t our circumstances. Maybe the problem is our perspective (Batterson, 64). Many of our prayers are misguided. “We pray for comfort instead of character. We pray for an easy way out instead of the strength to make it through. We pray for no pain, when the result would be no gain. We pray that God will keep us out of pits and away from lions. But if God answered our prayer, it would rob us of our greatest opportunities. Many of our prayers would short circuit God’s plans and purposes for our lives if He answered them. Maybe we should stop asking God to get us out of difficult circumstances and start asking Him what He wants us to get out of those difficult circumstances” (Batterson, 64).
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Ali spent this past summer as Retreat Director/Summer Intern at Blue Skies Ministries. This ministry was launched to bring the hope of Christ to families living through pediatric cancer. Around twelve families join them at the beach for a retreat where they play, laugh, and reconnect as a family. Because of generous donations, families are able to attend at no cost to them beyond their transportation to and from the retreat. To find out more about volunteering for, donating to or participating in this ministry, check out their website at… http://www.blueskiesministries.org/
Thanks Ali for boldly sharing your story!