When David answered the door, he had no idea how his life was about to change. His doctor and friend had come to tell him he had chronic myelogenous leukemia and just 3-5 years to live. Click on the screenshot and hear about David’s remarkable cancer journey.
Even if you can’t walk with us on October 1st, you can join the Leveraging Life Stick It 2 cancer team by making a donation of any amount. It all adds up and has the potential to save lives like you just saw in that video.
I’m not sure if I should classify today as a milestone or an anniversary? In actuality it is an anniversary of a conversation which took place four months ago that became a target for me…a milestone that has been on my horizon ever since.
I don’t know about you but for me I always envisioned the day I applied for my marriage license as a day filled with joy. Unfortunately March 3, 2011 was anything but that as the only time to fit it in was between a series of doctor’s appointments. A few weeks earlier Shari and I had learned my merkel cell cancer had metastasized, something which resulted in our changing our plans to be married in the Spring rather than the fall. My cancer once thought to be isolated, had now spread to the bones in my legs and one of my arms, plus there was a suspicious spot on my pancreas. The typical merkel cell treatment protocol was now out the window, chemotherapy was now in the picture, and a return visit to Seattle for treatment might now be a part of our honeymoon plans. This was a day where joy never came close to registering on my radar, because I was too busy being angry and looking for someone to blame.
For those of you who have been around Leveraging Life the past year or so, you may be wondering where is the worship song and video. For those of you who stumbled across Leveraging Life via some search engine because of a flash mob search, you may be wondering what this video has to do with worship, God, or anything spiritual.
Sixteen hours in a car driving to and from Indiana for a wedding last weekend afforded me a good bit of time to reflect on the first six months of 2011. In the moments when my family dozed, one thought emerged almost as often as overpasses appeared on the horizon:
I had not “paused” as often as I hoped to this year.
My first inclination was to go through a long list of excuses why, and those familiar with my story might consider most to be legitimate. Regardless of the excuses, though, one question lingered.
Is there a correlation between pausing and being grateful?
When you live your life at a pace life dictates, you miss what opportunities are present to go deeper, past those surface level observations. At the surface everything is a blur, much like when you lie in bed at night and the day just plays through your head like a movie preview trailer. But if you truly desire to see the real story being written by your life, you need to make an effort to look past the obvious and find the picture God is painting.
Most Fridays I feature a website, blog, or a book that for me has become a favorite. It maybe a favorite resource, a source of inspiration, or just something I found interesting. Please feel free to comment and I hope you might share a favorite or two of your own in the comment section. Who knows, maybe I will feature something you shared as a future Friday Favorite.
It’s unusual for me to feature something I haven’t tried or experienced yet, but when Casey Darnell is involved, I have no reservations sharing this as our Friday Favorite. Casey will be releasing his new CD Coming Alive on iTunes June 21 which features When The Waters Rise, a song that has become an anthem for my cancer journey as it speaks directly what it means to trust God period.
Monday was a pivotal day in my cancer battle as I had my first PET scan since beginning Chemotherapy in March. Early on my team of doctors prepared me for two initial cycles of chemo to see how the cancer would react to the “cocktail” they prescribed and this scan would be used to measure the progress. Funny thing was as the PET scan was being scheduled, my third cycle of chemo was already set to begin without having the results of the scan, which became yet another cancer lesson learned.
Assume Nothing and Question Everything!
That being said, Shari and I figured there were more chemo treatments on the horizon and I’d better stop in at the local drug store to stock up on more….”sunscreen” for my now bald head. Continue Reading…
Why Me and Why Now is the second installment in a series of posts called My Cancer Confessionals, where I lift the mask on how I “try” to leverage my faith in the midst of adversity. I outlined earlier my concern that my optimistic and encouraging attitude might lead readers to believe I somehow never have doubts, fears, or concerns…all of which couldn’t be further from the truth. For me, trusting God periodis a day-to-day challenge, and some days are just harder than others. But thanks to my personal relationship with my Heavenly Father, on those tough days when I don’t have what I need, He is there to bridge the gap and that relationship grows deeper.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” Proverbs 3:5 NIV
Truth be told, my world, my life, and yes, even my faith has ebbed and flowed in the midst of all the sub-plots in my life and was what I was referring to in my post entitled Paradigm Shift. As one dream was coming true, Shari and I deciding to get married and were signing up for our church’s 2:1 pre-marital mentoring program, a nightmare re-emerged as I learned my merkel cell cancer had metastasized. What was thought to be remote and isolated had now taken on a “popcorn” effect (one doctor’s term) and popped up in multiple areas of my body.
What you see here is what greeted Shari on the afternoon I proposed. Most people would say three weeks is just too short of period of time to plan a wedding. A lot of life was crammed into those 21 incredible days, plus we had so much affirmation in the God Winks which paved the way to March 19, 2011, their was no denying that Saturday would be the day when Shari and I became husband and wife.
Regardless of the size, weddings require planning, coordination, and organization in order to insure the day is filled with memories. Time usually is the best friend a bride and groom have to guaranty those memories are good memories. Our wedding and the variables that went with it…schedules, location, catering, musician, rings, etc…each obstacles in their own right at some point, all somehow fell in place as the day approached. And those who know us and our story, saw first hand all the God Winks in those 21 days, even my car being broken into two days before the ceremony.
Our God Wink Story
Shari and I met in 2008 while we attended different locations (campuses) of North Point Church. I was a member of and served at the Buckhead Church campus, and Shari was a member of and served at the Alpharetta Church campus some 15 miles away. As much as I would have liked to participate in Fusion (our singles program) at my home campus, Buckhead, making two trips downtown on a Sunday just didn’t make much sense. Fortunately for me I had the option to join the Alpharetta group and in our eyes that was where the God Winks began for us. And despite meeting then, both of us were in different places and that was all it was meeting and going our separate ways for the next two years.
Random, Fate, or another God Wink
In the spring of 2010 we both signed up for Fusion again, and yes for me once again Alpharetta…not Buckhead. Odds were about the same 400+ singles randomly assigned to 7-8 different host homes, yet we find ourselves not only placed in the same host home, but also in the same small group within that home. Coincidence, chance…destiny…we know it to be one big defining God Wink!
As 2010 came to an end and 2011 began I found myself doing quite a bit of reflecting, maybe more than usual. I think for most of us a change of season or a change of year brings that on, but this year more than before this has been a prevailing mindset. For me, I think that comes from being in a great place personally, professionally, and spiritually.
Now don’t get me wrong my life isn’t perfect, but the reality is life is so much richer than it has ever been before. Certainly not in the monetary sense, because I’ve made a lot more, but it’s rich on so many other levels. Words like fulfilling, promise, satisfaction, peace, and trust all come to mind and when they do I find myself wondering where I’d be if I had not come to know God in a real and personal way. A real relationship with God and His Son Jesus Christ, not just religion; faith grounded in grace not acts, deeds, and ritual.
So much of what has gone on these last four years came from me not depending on me, not trying to earn something I’d never be worthy of, and me not trusting God for this but not for that…..just trusting God period in all things!
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
In the spirit of my one word for 2011, pause, and because of this reflective mindset I thought it was the appropriate time to share my story….my testimony and the reason why I’m trying to Leverage Life better now than before….because of this personal relationship!
My Story 1964-2007
My name is Tom Martin and I grew up in a family where church was a part of my life for as long as I can remember. But for me faith came to represent attendance and obligation which carried forward as I became an adult.
After graduating from college most people would say work dominated my life. I still went to church but it had become the thing I did on Sunday before playing golf. Just when I thought everything was the way it was supposed to be, the company I worked for twelve years was sold and I started questioning God’s role in my life. And then when I found myself with serious health issues I became disillusioned with God and drifted away.
As I tried to process what was going on in my world I think God used those two crises to get my attention. I realized that the people who were supporting me were the family and friends who came second to my career all those years, and I felt if they could extend me so much grace and mercy maybe God could as well.
As I recovered from surgery I was having trouble gaining clarity on moving forward with my life and my sister Molly sent me an email with a message that said, “not sure if this is what you’re looking for but it might be a place to start.” I thought it was probably something she’d seen on Oprah, but it was a youtube link to the “It’s Personal” series. At first it was difficult to grasp because Andy wasn’t talking about going to church he was talking about having a relationship with God, and after watching it over and over, I knew that was what was missing in my life all those years.
I started to attend Buckhead Church with family last year and found some of the clarity I was looking for in the Hope Mentoring program. David Schmidt was my Hope mentor and he helped me learn what it meant to have a relationship with God. Participating in Starting Point, joining a men’s small group, and volunteering on the production team have all played a role in my being here today.
This past year has not been perfect, there still were challenges personally and for my family, but there is a peace that comes from leaning into that relationship and just watching God be God in my life and lives of my family.
I’d like to thank my family for their love and especially Molly for have the courage to send that email. I’d also like to David Schmidt, Paul Cote, and Russ West for being the kind of friends who went out of their way to reassure me that they could see God working in my life when I had my doubts. And a final thank you to all of you who have prayed for me throughout this journey, I believe that my declaration today that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior is the answer to all those prayers. From My Baptism Video Testimony May 31, 2009
Feel free to contact me for more information or additional links to learn more about anything featured in this post or with questions on how you can also begin to have a personal relationship with your Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
trusting God period
Thanks for taking the time to watch the videos and thanks in advance for spreading the word about Leveraging Life, please use the Sharing is Caringlinks at the bottom to update your Facebook and Twitter pages, and don’t forget to email your friends.
To mix this up for the holidays, I’ll be featuring Christmas music and assorted holiday videos every Wednesday, as part of the Worship Wednesday feature, through the end of the year.
Northpoint.tv is premiering a completely new way to share the Christmas message in just 5 minutes. Choose whether to listen or to watch, and then select an option on how to share this message with friends and family.
A Savior is Born
Celebrating the birth of a Savior:
Who never promised to keep us from our sin.
Who promised to save us from and forgive us for our sin.
Who came to make it clear that God had given us a platform upon which to stand when we address God and He say we are to can address Him as Heavenly Father in spite of our past, in spite of our failure, and in spite of our sin.