Thursday, April 11, 2013

From Death to Life

"See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land." Song of Solomon 2:11-12

We all have dreams for our lives--thoughts, aspirations, hopes. These things are very real to us, and we start thinking of them as soon as our minds can comprehend this developmentally. Thoughts like, “I want to be a singer when I grow up, I want to marry a man like this...I want a house like this...lots of kids...etc.”  We all have this, and we can see some of these things come to pass and some as we all know, do not. Life is made up of a series of choices and circumstances. Things we get to choose, and things we have absolutely no control over. We cannot write in every part of the Story that we want. What we can choose every single time is our response to the Story. By now, you all are aware of my story. Mine started off very well...of course, there have been lots of ups and downs, I have faced loss before early on in life with the death of my oldest sister, I have lost grandparents, I have faced other numerous hard circumstances on a personal level just like everyone else. Overall, I would count myself as being very blessed. A marriage of 12 years, to a faithful, extremely loving & generous man, an amazing father with 3 children. To live a life of love on that level is one of the greatest treasures in life. For me, it is the primary goal, and others are secondary. So, nothing could have prepared me for the circumstances that would shake us up and remove that which is central and foundational to that dream. I could have never prepared myself for losing a husband and the father to my children, and at such a young age. However, I know now, you cannot measure the grace of God, the love of God that can get you through the most unimaginable circumstances if you will allow Him too. 
My choice was this---I choose to believe in the goodness of God. I choose to lean not on my own understanding, and in ALL my ways acknowledge Him. This takes surrender like you wouldn’t believe. This takes trust...blind faith...going all in. In my mind there was no other choice. I can either give into pain, anger, darkness, depression...or I can choose to live. He has given me the courage to face these circumstances and say that He is good. If Chris was here right now I know he would say to me, “live!...don’t waste time, keep dreaming, keep loving, keep going into what it is that God has put in your heart.” That would be his heart I know, and my Father’s heart is the same...”I know the plans that I have for you...plans to prosper give you a hope and a future.” 
Words like that for me right now are dangerous words. They are not light and airy, fairy tale words. They are an invitation to believe in an extravagant God who knows my every thought, my desires, and what He created me to do and be before the foundation of the world. The same for my children.
I have already seen how He takes the bitter and makes it sweet. My newborn son Benjamin Promise has been a constant reminder of Life. He has been our little bundle of joy, our physical manifestation of the promises of God. He has promised to give us a hope and a future. When Benjamin was born I felt a major transition in my heart and life. His birth brought us out of death, and into life. The winter was over, and spring had come! For someone in my circumstances the promise of a hope and a future takes on an extreme meaning and I maintain that I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living. He has shown us His faithfulness and I know that He will continue to lead us into a bright future of extravagant living. 
If you pray for us or think of us, pray with us into our futures. Believe with us for a fresh start-- a new beginning and a life of proclaiming His blessing and seeing the goodness of God in the land of the living. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Love is Invincible

“Hang my locket around your neck, wear my ring on your finger. 
Love is invincible facing danger and death. 
Passion laughs at the terrors of hell. 
The fire of love stops at nothing-- it sweeps everything before it. 
Flood waters cannot drown love, torrents of rain
can’t put it out. Love can’t be bought, love can’t be sold-- 
it’s not to be found in the marketplace.”
Song of Solomon 8:6-8 The Message

I absolutely love the poignancy of these words. I had read them before, but not in this particular translation. That is, until the Lord began whispering these words to me Christmas Eve, just shy of two weeks after Chris’ death. These words began my ascent toward heaven, towards Christ. When someone so extremely close to you dies, there is so much loss of hope, pain, anger, a myriad of emotions, and you somehow have to figure out how to hold your head above water, so you don’t drown in the stormy waters that have overtaken you, and those waters that you can do absolutely nothing about. You need to rely on a force greater than yourself to show you the way. How to survive again, how to live again, sometimes how to simply face the day. 
Words from heaven are an important part in this process...they are vital, life-giving, resuscitating, rescuing forces that bring you up out of your present misery. Those words are the very DNA of our existence, after all...we were created from the Living Word. Now, as He is, so are we. And we live not “by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from his mouth.” (Matt. 4:4)  These words from the Song of all Songs filled me with hope and the realization that I am not facing anything that is too much for God, His life empowers me to face every challenge. “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)

I was thinking about this all again this morning, mostly about the simple phrase,
“Love is invincible.” In this process I have had my share of moments of intense grief (as you can imagine) the kind that you feel completely overshadowed by the pain that your life will never be the same, and what you held most dear was violently taken from you...
Yet, I press on. His grace, His love compels me forward. The knowledge that I am so extravagantly loved by a King who has already faced danger and death for me fills me with peace as I face the death of my precious husband. When you realize that your life died with Christ, you start to see very clearly that your life is not your own. It is beautifully, wonderfully His, it is worth surrender. It is worth the cost that He paid. You can count on a love that will never leave you no matter the sorrow that you face, the grief, the pain, the danger. He is closer than the air that we breathe. 

Love truly is invincible. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Enduring thoughts

It has been over two weeks since Chris has gone into heaven...the longest I have been away from him in 12 years. As you can imagine I am dealing with extreme grief and doing my best just to get through the day and allow myself to feel the depth of the man that I lost. There is so much I could say about Chris, and those that know me, know how deeply we loved one another. At the risk of being too personal and sharing too many details, I had it on my heart to share the letter I wrote from the bulletin for Chris' memorial. I know some of you couldn't be there, and I myself have been rereading what was written as a reminder. I wrote it as if it was from Chris and I because I know he would have  echoed the same thoughts. So, here goes...

The Gospel is the greatest love story that has ever been and will continue to be. The Gospel is a story of creation, inspiration, agony and the pursuit of romance. In God's own Son is the display of his out of proportion love for us. His suffering is our healing. His death is our death. His life is our life. Everything He has done for us was for Love. Chris' life, and  death revealed the gospel to me deeper than the lowest valley and higher than the tallest mountain. Chris mirrored to me the lengths that a lover will go to for his bride. He served me in every way I could have ever wanted. He revealed his heart of love for me and His children on a daily basis. In his suffering he continued to love, even deeper still. His thoughts were always towards me and our children. Chris fought and lived with bravery, endurance, patience and strength. He surrendered his life to God and to others wholeheartedly, unselfishly, without an expected return. His life was the most beautiful thing to witness. He was and will always be a masterpiece. 
Chris has given me the greatest gift I could ever ask for. He showed me the love of God in such a tangible way that will mark me and countless others for the rest of eternity. The same can be said of Chris as a father. A father will do anything for his children, and I too saw this in his life. Chris had a father's heart the size of an couldn't measure the love.
I do not pretend to understand everything that has happened to us. Romance is not a neatly wrapped package. Love cannot always be explained. It is felt, received, and displayed. All I know is, through the pain, there is one amazing love story that will live forever in our hearts.

That is the story I know with all of my heart Chris would want us all to be left with. Let us not in our pain, misinterpret what has happened to this wonderful man, Christopher Neal Underwood. This mystery, however perplexing it may be, is a treasure to be guarded, unwrapped and discovered throughout eternity.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Our latest with love.

Hello everyone,
I wanted to give you all an update on Chris' progress and let you in on how we are doing!  We just celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary yesterday. We were actually able to go out of town to a place very special to us, Apple Hill. We took the kids, and stayed with my parents for three nights. As you can imagine, we haven't been out of town, let alone out of the house very much at all in the past month & a half, so this provided us with so much rejuvenation and encouragement. We were able to enjoy the outdoors more, and still get the rest that is needed for us right now. I am now in my third trimester, and I am doing great, but I definitely am starting to feel more pregnant!  I think I am also entering that nesting phase…ready to tackle the nursery and get our house in order for Benjamin!

We mentioned to you all before that Chris was offered little to no hope with traditional medical treatments, such as radiation, chemo. even other clinical trials that had been previously offered to us. The thought was that this would only provide a very temporary solution--if it worked at all. Looking back on this short time, we are actually thankful for that, because we feel the Lord has led us in another direction which is to treat Chris at home, naturally, through nutrition, supplements, etc. At the end of the day, you have to go with what the Lord is speaking to you, and we have felt led in this direction. We know that the human body is amazing and designed with an amazing capacity to heal, restore, fight disease. We feel the largest weapon we have and continue to have is prayer! We know so many of you are standing with us--daily, moment by moment even! This is amazing and good things are happening!

Two of the main things we are thankful for right now is that Chris' energy level is improving steadily. He is not ready to run a marathon yet--but he has much more time standing up, walking around, engaging, wanting to get outside, etc. This is a huge improvement from just a few weeks ago where he needed several naps a day, and mostly had to rest in the chair or bed. Also, he had little to no desire to eat and we had to stay on top of offering him food even when he didn't want it. Now, he is enjoying food more, a bit of a wider variety, and expressing desire for certain things that had no appeal before. He is still not ready for wings and beer….but that is for the best right now….hahahahaha

So, good things are happening. Prayers are being answered and we are continuing to be encouraged by you all, and mostly by our Father.  We continue to be humbled, taken back at the love and support we have been shown from people all over the globe! People coming together and uniting on our behalf, so much generosity, it is unreal!!!! We adore you all…can't wait to share more good news!

Chris and Amy

Monday, November 19, 2012

Incorruptible Seed

In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. He was present originally with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being. In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men. And the Light shines on in the darkness , for the darkness has never overpowered it [put it out or absorbed it or appropriated it, and is unreceptive to it]. 
John 1:1-5 Amp. 

There are a lot of reasons why I believe that Chris is healed, and we will start to see this more and more in his body. I would like to share with you one of those reasons today. Of course, there are many obvious texts in the Bible on healing, where Jesus Himself healed people, the apostles healed people, and there are many current testimonies in this day of healings happening. What I want to share with you today is a bit different. It is an insight the Father has been speaking to me about, and it has to do with the Beginning. 

We have had many poignant prayer times surrounding this time in our lives. Times of intensity, fervor, passion, shouts for help, tears, quietness, and reflection. One of these times, I was gathered with a few of my girlfriends in our church's prayer room, and I began to sing, almost hum a melody that came deep from my spirit. It was a song I had never sung before, but God was speaking to me. I began to see (in my mind's eye) an image of an ancient garden. A place where ground was being cultivated, rich earth was being tilled, cared for, and being ready to bring forth something new. I saw the Father's hands plant seeds. It was a place of protection, where nothing could harm it, no weeds, disasters, storms, anything that could snatch those seeds. All I felt was a sense of peace, absence of fear, and a great love intertwined. I began singing words as well, yet I don't remember what they were. I know now, that I was seeing the Beginning. The place where Chris was first called into being, dreamed about, talked about, and enjoyed. Where every cell was created, every bone put into place, every sound from his voice. This was his start (our start too). This was the place where it all started….communion with our Creator, a place of harmony, and no separation. 

I have reflected on this often, and I believe the Lord showed me this to show me what truly is…the greatest reality. This is the place that Jesus came to redeem….the plan that God had in mind from the Beginning. It all started in a garden. Since that night, I have been able to have similar times of prayer over Chris, and others have unknowingly prayed similar prayers. If you are considering the story of someone' s life, don't you always start at the Beginning? That is what I have felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to do. Remember the Beginning, remember I have had a plan all along, remember I see and know all the details, and I am working them out for your good. 

As we pray, let us pray from this place of faith. That our Creator is so mind-full of us. That He sees all of our intricate needs and knows how to fix them. That He has had a plan all along, and He wants, more than we do, to see it through. 

I want to leave you with one last illustration. Last Christmas, we gave Sophie her first, own "big-girl" Bible. It is lavender with pink and orange flowers on it, of course. The moment we gave it to her, she began to try and read what it said, reading it as if she knew what it said, and soaking up every page, every word. Sophie is five years old, in kindergarten, and is just now learning how to read. No one told her to love her Bible, she just does. I was having a conversation about this with my mom last night. She said Sophie brought her Bible to church with her yesterday, and they were in the car trying to find some words in it Sophie could actually read. My mom showed her, "God is love." They looked through it together some more, and Sophie said, "this book is very special to me." Why, in particular, is it a special book? It is alive, and it has been with us from the beginning…1 Peter calls it the incorruptible seed. We all have this "seed" inside of us. We have the Word of God and can call it forth anytime. This word has been one of our greatest treasures in this time especially. It is a word that is unshakable…nothing can overpower it…it is living and active…everything else will fade away. This word is active in showing us what is truly true. No matter what tests have been performed, what has been said, or what we have seen with our natural eyes…this Word is what is Real. 

I have to say again to everyone….thank you!!!!!! Thank you for the prayers, cards, meals, hugs, encouragement, financial support, emails, etc. We are so grateful for 
all of you. 

Love, Amy

1 Peter 1:23 KJV "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever."

Saturday, November 10, 2012

His banner over me is Love.

So Amy and I have been walking through a difficult few months that have seemed as years! It seemed for a while we were getting a bad report from some doctor about everyday. Sorting these reports through the lens of heaven became top priority. 

We have realized that what we do with these circumstances in our minds will change everything. Do I know what this healing is going to look like? Do I know how all of this is going to come together? No, I don't.  But I was promised by the Lord, through His word, a perfectly stitched, masterful, life changing journey for myself and loved ones walking through this with me. If you look to the Source, honestly and candidly you will see nothing but the love of a good Father pouring out on you like honey. 

There are obviously different ways a heart can handle this level of adversity, and different negative modes of thinking that can be adopted before you even realize they rang your doorbell. Worry and fear are the two most unwelcome houseguests. Amy and I have gotten better and better at recognizing those suckers at the door, and not letting them join our party. There is no fruit to worry. There is no helpfulness in fear. There is no fear in love. These are only devices that keep you from becoming the full potential of who you were dreamed up to be before the world was made. God IS NOT worried about the cancer cells in my body. He knows me and is a deeply loving Father who is intimately connected to my physical & emotional pain, concerns, frustrations and He is well aware that I really have no idea about any of what's going on. He has walked me through each one of these 'contradictions' with love, grace and compassion. The first question that often bubbles up in my mind when these contradictions happen is, "I thought you were a good God! How could you let this happen!?" It is an honest statement, and a great opener for the Father to start communicating His love and perfect acceptance of me. The more we know who the actual person of God is, who Jesus is, trust floods our hearts and we are able to sleep in the storm. 

Impossible situations need supernatural grace to get through, and I can fully and wholeheartedly testify that Jesus himself and his act of restoring the open relationship between God and man IS ENOUGH. Has my last 2 months been hard? Yes. But I have seen the face of God in work colleagues, dear friends, family and total strangers. This has changed me forever and given me a glimpse into the family of God. 

The truth that I am coming to is that even though the doctors tell me I am dying (you're right, I don't believe them either) I am more alive now than I ever have been. There is a joy and rest that comes from knowing that you will never be left hung out to dry and alone. This is something to feel alive about. 

Everyone's concern, care and generosity has floored myself and my family. Deep thanks for choosing to be on this journey with us. I believe that we all will share in a celebration coming. 


"And He asked them, But who do you yourselves say that I am? Peter replied to Him, You are the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). " Mark 8:29 Amplified
"He said to them, But who do you [yourselves] say that I am? Simon Peter replied, You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Then Jesus answered him, Blessed (happy, fortunate, and to be envied) are you, Simon Bar-Jonah. For flesh and blood [men] have not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven." Matthew 16:15-18 Amplified
How we ourselves answer this question changes everything...

"There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love's complete perfection]." 1John 4:18

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control." 
1Timothy 1:7

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Our promise

One of the greatest joys we can share with you right now is the name of our son, who is coming some time late February or early March. There is a bit of a story behind this. Going back 32 years, it started when my mom was pregnant with me... My grandfather was in a meeting at Lamb's Chapel and stood up in front of a group of people to prophesy that my mom (who already had 3 girls) was going to have a boy, and his name would be Benjamin. As you can see, instead, she had a girl named Amy Rebecca. I know my grandfather hears the voice of the Lord, and is not afraid to speak out when he senses God is saying something. I am sure that did a little number on his pride for a moment, but it never stopped him from boldly proclaiming the word of the Lord. We are thankful for that, because it brings us to the name of our son, which will be Benjamin! We have been dreaming of his name since we found out I was pregnant, and even more so since we found out he was a boy. We found several names we really liked, and they just didn't stick. We weren't ready to commit. Until a few weeks ago, the morning that we had gone to the doctor and discovered that Chris' cancer had was that morning that the Lord breathed the name in my heart...Benjamin. We talked about it in between all of the waiting rooms, CT scans, and news from the doctor. When I shared the name with Chris, he reminded me that he had a dream (before we knew I was pregnant) about himself walking with his 3rd child. He was older and looked like my cousin Benjamin. When I asked him about the name Benjamin, he thought about this dream. This is how we both decided that the name will be Benjamin!

We had already decided what the middle name would be...Promise. This too, has a story. Early on in my pregnancy, Chris heard the Lord speak to him, "this baby is a promise." At the time, we thought, that is true, but not knowing the deep significance that those words would carry. Daily, we hold those words in our heart. This baby is a promise. God always provides life, He is a giver of life, dreams, hope, love, healing...the list is endless. His promises and his word is true. So, with that, we give you the name of our son, Benjamin Promise. He is the apple of our eye already, and how much more his heavenly Father's!
We love you all, and continue to be overwhelmed and overjoyed at all of your prayers and support.
With so much love,
Chris and Amy