Thursday, April 28, 2011

Turning Trials Into Treasures




We have been itching to put up our first person who inspires for awhile now. Cryssi and I came across Lizzie Metcalf just a few months ago. I saw she had commented on our facebook,
noticed her adorable profile pic and introduced myself. What I saw to be a vintage loving, adorable, faith-infused lady turned out to be so much more. 
Lizzies story and passion have sparked a new love for life in Cryssi and I. One thing that I have noticed about the photography world is that it is easy to get burned out, slammed down, and dejected... sometimes what starts out as a passion turns flat. After reading Lizzies chemo chronicles and seeing her renewed excitement for life, it put that fire burning back in me. She is a joy filled photographer who has already been used to brighten up the world just in her nineteen years. Not only is her story beautiful, but the images she captures are full of a giddy love. She has an eye for all things lovely! Go like her page EK photography on facebook here AND be renewed by reading her Chemo Chronicles blog here  I am so glad that she decided to share this piece of herself with me and all of you. I know you all will love her as much as we do :) Enjoy!
Much xoxo
Lollie and Cryssi

Sweet Christen and Lauren asked me to write for their blog… My initial reaction was to melt into a puddle on the floor. Not because I'd ever dread writing, especially for them. But because it's so intimidating writing on someone [else's] blog! Especially two sassy creative sisters whom I admire so much. Well.. I suppose I'll start with telling you a little bit of where I come from. My name is Lizzie. I'm nineteen, and was recently diagnosed with T-Lymphatic Lymphoma and Leukemia. 

Up until this point my health had always been relatively normal; no broken bones or serious illnesses. I had just finished Esthetician school and was doing photography on the side while searching for a day job. At the time, I thought things were difficult. In early December I attended a women's breakfast with my bible study, I had the pleasure of hearing the testimony of a true woman of faith. She prayed that God would humble her regardless of the cost, and shortly after her husband was diagnosed with cancer. He passed away a short time after they had their first child. Here was a woman who asked that God would give her anything that would bring her closer to Him, and she harbored no bitterness or resentment towards God as many people selfishly would; but she had peace and joy! The next day as I was driving on the freeway, I prayed that same prayer (on a keen lookout for potential accident scenarios). The following week I totaled my car. Thinking that this was the humbling trial, I had a big sigh of relief and wiped my brow. It was that night that I found a tiny weird lump in my armpit, I assumed it was one of those things that would just "go away". Fast forward two weeks and it had grown to the size of my fist. My sister convinced me to go to urgent care, which became a day filled with tests. The next day I got a call from the urgent care doctor who shortly and insensitively informed me that my biopsy results came back as lymphoma (I didn't even know what that was!), and I needed to see their oncologist within the next two hours. From there the oncologist informed me that I needed to to to UCLA as soon as possible for treatment. I was admitted into UCLA Medical center that night, and started chemo within two days of admittance. This was all such a blur.. I couldn't believe it, I felt like I was in a dream just waiting to wake up. I had an ugly sweater party to go to, and my friends were throwing a fur and sequin themed christmas party! How could I miss those, for chemo? Through the shock and confusion, there was an extreme sense of peace. One I can't explain with any other cause than Jesus Christ. I just know that over the prior months God was preparing me for it. I had a conversation with my sister just the week before about how I'd be content if He chose lifelong singleness for me, or even a short life. Granted I ate those words, and the Lord really put my faith to the test. 

From there I had six different kinds of chemo's infused in my body, and spent a miserable month in the hospital. It was in that month that I truly learned the depth of God's love. He loves me so much that He sent His son to die for ME, a sinner who spits in His face on a daily basis. He loves me so much that He would put me through hardship so that I could become more like His son. He loves me so much that He took away everything from me, but Himself. He took away all the things that caused pride in me, especially my ever changing hair. I took pride in how 'bold' I was, really I just wanted everyone to know how cool I am. ;)(and now all that coolness has washed away… into a lifeless little ball of fuzz on the floor, that no abundance of hairspray could preserve!) He's prepared me for this trial over the last few years, and gave me what He knows exactly what I can handle.

You know what my biggest fear is? My biggest fear is for the "good" people who go their whole lives thinking that they're Christians because they go to church every Sunday and said a prayer when they were fifteen. Don't deceive yourself! True Christianity isn't caused by a building, or bloodline or mindless repetition. Christianity is when you study what the Bible says, and live consistently to the fact that everything in it is God breathed. Faith manifests action, it manifests fruit of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Living for the Lord is a roller coaster, it isn't always smiles. The road is windy and hard, there is pain. But the end justifies the means, suffering is God's perfect way of showing us His love because through endurance of trials we are made perfect and complete (James 1:2-4). God is gracious to forgive our sin, we're ABLE to live because Jesus lived perfectly and died. I hope that if you claim Christianity, that this makes you rethink your prayers. Comfort isn't biblical, perseverance is. It wasn't until recently that I wouldn't be hesitant to say that, hesitant that you (whoever you are) might think I was crazy, or extreme. But it took almost dying to teach me how to live, and I want everyone in this world to experience that sweetness, regardless of their circumstances. And there is only one way to experience that. 

I am so blessed. God gave me what I asked for, growth. Growth is never easy, but it is growth that gives more joy than this very life has to offer. Would you like to know how I'm doing now? I'm in my third of five rounds, almost done! Lord willing I will be done by the summer. I'll start maintenance chemo shortly after the hard part is done, where I take a pill every day for two years and go back to work! I have so much to look forward to, and fully intend on appreciating every part of life to the fullest extent. My chances of surviving are extremely high, and percentage of relapse is extremely low. Here is a quote that ever constantly encourages me, it is a quote from a book of puritan prayers that I turn to when I just don't know what to pray myself. 

“Thou hast disarmed me of the means in which I trusted,
and I have no strength but in Thee.
Thou canst hold back my evil ways,
But without Thy grace to sustain me I fall.
Satan’s darts quickly inflame me,
and the shield that should quench them 
easily drops from my Hand:
Empower me against his wiles and assaults.
Keep me sensible of my weakness,
and of my dependence upon Thy strength. Let every trial teach me more of Thy peace,
More of Thy love.” -Valley of Vision

Photos Courtesy of EK Photography 
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  1. Boo, my comment disappeared!
    Here I go again - I have a feeling it won't be quite as eloquent sounding this time around!

    Lizzie, you are an inspiration. Your strength and faith shine through your words. I have actually read your story through a mutual friend's facebook page, and I find it so interesting that, having never met you, you cross my mind & I keep you in my prayers. I am so happy you shared your story - please keep sharing it, as I am certain you will change people's lives without even knowing it. I'll keep you in my prayers!

    Sassy Sisters, you girls rock! What a great first inspirational entry! I look forward to reading more inspiring stories :) xo!

  2. What a beautiful, strong, courageous, faithful, talented woman of God. We all go through trials, but it is really how you deal with them, that shows your true hope in God. Lizzie exemplifies how we should handle our trials, she made the choice to live, share, help others, and be joyous in all. What an amazing example to all of us who complain daily about the little things. I am inspired by you Lizzie and you Lauren and Christen!

  3. Thank you so much for this beautiful proclamation. It is so refreshing to see someone so full of God's joy, at 19!! :) Not only is she inspiring as a photographer, but as a Christian! I pray that I would have the courage to ask for whatever it takes to be closer to God. With Lizzie as my inspiration, I thank you both, again, for sharing these humbling words with us.