An Act of Worship – Vivian’s Story & a Book Giveaway

I met Vivian within a few weeks of one of my best friends being diagnosed with breast cancer. After learning that Vivian had written a book about her experience, I quickly asked if I could be among the first to read it. I was not disappointed: I read it within 24 hours of getting it, and was the first person to post a review on Amazon.com. I am so grateful for Viv’s story, and so thankful that she’s participating in the Words That Changed My World series. Also, I have a free copy of Vivian’s book “Warrior in Pink” to give away. Leave a comment after this post to enter!

warriorinpinkThe book about my cancer journey released on April 1st. When God began opening the doors for the book to be birthed, I had to learn a whole new world: query letters, book proposals, literary agents, pub boards, platform, shopping a manuscript, and on and on. My learning curve was almost a vertical up and down. Now I am familiar with these publishing terms, but the same feelings of being overwhelmed have been replaced by a new set of fears: launching a book, juggling a growing travel and speaking schedule, live radio interviews, fiddling with another proposal for book number two. I circle around again to that familiar feeling of inadequacy, of not being ____________ enough, of being way in over my head. Part of me wants to fall into a hole and take a long nap.

Like the Israelites who needed reminding and re-reminding, I needed a perspective restorer which came from my husband, Darrin, two years ago. His words changed me. They shifted my thinking entirely.

On the phone, during the pause before a connecting flight to his ministry meetings, Darrin shared these wise words:

“We don’t have control over how the Lord blesses or gifts us. We are stewards of what He shows us to do and to be. This (the writing) for you is an act of worship.”

 An act of worship. That changes everything. It alleviates the pressure of having to “make it happen” or control the outcome of this whole crazy adventure. Darrin encouraged me to just write. Where God would take the book was completely in His hands.

When I first started blogging during cancer treatment, every entry felt like an act of worship. I wrote from my heart and there was no striving, no proofreading. It was holy ground. I still have much to learn about the nuts and bolts of writing and trust that those things will come as I continue, but more important is the posture of my heart.

And today, as I sit feeling fearful and inadequate about the road ahead, I’m reminded of the simple truth of dedicating my heart and actions to the Lord.

Looking back over this two year book publishing adventure, I see God’s faithfulness. His purposes will be accomplished. My choice is to shift the pressure of trying to control the outcome, which I fully know is an illusion, to that of opening my hands and lifting my works to the King.

This act of worship spills over into every area of life. In the mountains of unending laundry, the helping with homework, walking the dog, conversations with the neighbor, the everything of the everyday. Stewarding well our lives, our experiences, our relationships, our stuff, is a form of worship.

You and I have been entrusted with leading in various places and in various capacities. All of it is an act of worship.

And in our worship our purpose and prayer is to life Jesus high.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen.(Romans 11:36 NASB)

Vivian Mabuni joined staff with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) 25 years ago and has served on the UC Berkeley and UCLA campuses and on the Epic National Executive Team (Epic is the Asian American ministry of Cru). Vivian enjoys teaching and training college students at conferences and retreats and speaking at women’s events. She is the author of “Warrior In Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community and the God Who Comforts” (Discovery House Publishers). She has been married 22 years to her husband, Darrin, and is mom to three wonderful kids, Jonathan (20), Michael (17), and Julia (12). They live in Mission Viejo, California along with their German Shepherd, Koa. Connect with her at the following places:

Website: vivianmabuni.com
Twitter/Instagram: @vivmabuni
Facebook: facebook.com/VivianMabuniWriter

Cancer is Not Her Tagline

cancertagline

Wednesday

Her hair is falling out.

Every time she touches her fingers to her head, they return with a fistful of hair. “It started yesterday,” she says. “They said it would happen soon after the chemo started, but this is faster than I expected.”

We walk through town, and spend longer than usual looking at hats. “Maybe someone will teach me how to wrap a scarf around my head so that it looks pretty,” she says. I nod, mute and marveling at her resolve.

Thursdsay

I am wiping down a counter, watching her play with her children. Matt Redman’s song based on Psalm 103 is playing overhead:

Bless The Lord, O my soul, O my soul.
Worship his holy name.
Sing like never before, O my soul,
I’ll worship his holy name.”

I’m humming and wiping, humming and wiping, and next thing I hear her singing along to the final verse:

“And on that day when my strength is failing,
The end is near and my time has come.
Still my soul will sing your praise unending,
Ten thousand years and then forevermore.”

I am undone. I turn to hide the tears in my eyes, marveling at her resolve.

Friday

She is standing behind a microphone, the first speaker up at the conference. Her hair is cropped close to her head, and from where I’m sitting she looks like a model: elfin, ethereal, radiant.

She tells a story from a dozen years ago: how she called a work contact on the phone and introduced herself, “Hi, I’m R’s wife.” The gracious voice at the other end of the line said, “I know who you are. And you are not just his wife. Your identity is found in Christ.”

She tells how later that evening, her husband of three years came home and announced that he didn’t love her anymore, and wanted out the marriage. The strange phone greeting from earlier in the day rang in her ears. “I am not just his wife. My identity is found in Christ.”

I sit with a room full of women, breathless as she continues her story of how, in the months that followed, she delved into the Scriptures and sought the arms of friends who could act as conduits of Christ’s comfort. Clinging to Psalm 62 and the promise of a strong and loving God, she made it through. The years that followed brought travel, growth, a wonderful new husband and three gorgeous children.

“Six weeks ago,” she continues,”I found out I have breast cancer. It is not what I wanted. But….” (you could hear a pin drop) “… I am in that place once again of needing to trust God through this. Once again, I am learning that I am more than a wife. I am more than the Mom of three little ones. I am not the-tragic-story-of-the-young-mom-with-cancer. Above all, I am a child of God and deeply loved by Him. I’m clinging to him.”

I nod, mute and marveling at her resolve.

Saturday

It is my turn behind the microphone, and I am teaching about being a daughter of the King. I talk about how Jesus has rescued us from the marketplace of slavery to sin. I talk about how he has moved us out of the courtroom of condemnation, and brought us into the family room of God, where we now stand as adopted and beloved children of God.

In the sea of faces, I keep finding hers. “There she is,” I think to myself, “the daughter of God.”

She is my friend. She is a wife. She is a mom. She has cancer. But those are not her taglines. Each of those relationships, while real and precious, are temporal. If one has to have a tagline for one’s life, it should be one that will outlast the seasons. Cancer is not her tagline.

Above all, she is the daughter of God.

Sunday

This morning she is wearing a hat. “I washed my hair,” she explains. “It all came off. Eventually I had to get out the shower because there was no end to the shedding and I was clogging the drain.”

Her hat is cute, but this is not the time for admiring her fashion-sense.

I am fighting the urge to cry. I fight the urge to make a lame pun and let laughter mask the awfulness. I swallow my words, “hair today, gone tomorrow.” I nod.

“I didn’t realize it before,” she says, “but it’s true what the Bible says about a woman’s hair being her glory. It really looks terrible. We were made to be with hair.”

I look at my friend and imagine her glory lying in clumps in the shower drain. But then I look at her and Psalm 103 comes to mind again:

Bless The Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits….
…. he crowns you with love and compassion.” (Psalm 103:2, 4)

She may not be crowned with hair, but her head is covered with glory. She is the daughter of the King, crowned with His love and compassion.

She may have cancer, but cancer does not have her. She does not belong to chemo, she belongs to Jesus; and His glory is written all over her.

I watch her walk out the door, sporting a diaper bag and a different, cute hat. She is on her way to church to worship her God.

For the first time, I’m beginning to feel her resolve.

You may also like this related post: To be or not to be
This post is part of the 31 Days of Belonging Series. For a complete list of posts, click here.