Carolyn is a six-time cancer survivor. Six times. For many people that is incomprehensible. If you haven’t met Carolyn you need to. She is one of the most joy-filled people around, because her joy is found in Jesus. She’s also our pastor’s wife. She and Jeff have two children: Sam and Adelyn.
Carolyn shared her faith story at our July 15 #BIGsmallGroup gathering at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church. As she took us through her faith journey, Carolyn recounted the scriptures that illustrated truth and demonstrated God’s faithfulness through all of the times of crisis in her life. Carolyn’s story powerfully demonstrates that God is always good and God is always great.
After her first diagnosis with cancer, she was taught that no matter what her physical, emotional, or spiritual state was, she should trust in the Lord with all her heart and lean not on her own understanding. In all her ways acknowledge Him, and he will make straight her paths (Proverbs 3: 5-6). When she was diagnosed with cancer a second time and told she wouldn’t be able to have children, she rested on the promises of Hebrews 4:16 and let go of the thought of having children, while knowing He is still good.
Right before moving to Blacksburg, Carolyn was diagnosed with cancer again. During this time she clung to the truth found in 2 Corinthians 4:18, “as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.” As the doctors had predicted, after Carolyn and her family moved to Blacksburg, her cancer returned. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him,” and during this crisis Carolyn was able to reflect and focus on how happy her family was to be in a community that they loved and how her husband was thriving in his work. More recently, Carolyn had another scare with cancer. During this time, God used Deuteronomy 7:9 and a friend’s insistence on helping to teach Carolyn that our struggles are not our own. Carolyn has realized the importance of sharing her story because it gives God the glory for how he has worked in her life.
As Carolyn is learning her new identity as the mom of a college student and she works through her daughter’s medical diagnosis, she is reminded that “the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations” (Psalm 100:5). The most influential lesson she has learned is from Luke 2:19, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.” By pondering God’s work in her life, through all of her crises, Carolyn is able to see the truth that He has taught her through her trials. She has also learned that when she is immersed in a struggle and it seems overwhelming, pondering how God has been faithful in the past as key. Carolyn also knows that it isn’t her job to ponder the future. God has the future in His hands and by not pondering the future she releases the worry, strife, and fear that would otherwise consume her and rob her of joy.