ONE WORD. The “What If” I Didn’t Plan on Asking in 2016!

For those that know me well or follow me on this blog, you probably remember me proclaiming my word for the year at the beginning of 2016. “What if?” I know that’s technically 2 words, but when you hashtag it – it works. #whatif.

I’m a dreamer and a doer. I love to have my head in the clouds, but there are also times when I just put my head down and get stuff done. It’s a unique tension in my life that I’ve learned to embrace. There have been so many wonderful “What if…” moments this year that I could fill all of 2017 with blogs to inspire what if’s in your own life. However, this is NOT that kind of POST.

This post is not about all the “what ifs” that got me pumped up, it’s about the ONE “what if” that had me jacked up for almost 10 months of this year.

What if…my heart never recovers?

I almost wish I was speaking emotionally or metaphorically about lost love or dreams that were crushed because of circumstances (almost – because I do understand that this has happened for people who struggle with this question and I don’t want to minimize their experience nor would I wish that on anyone). No, I’m speaking about the very real, odd shaped, irreplaceable muscle that pumps the life-blood through our bodies. MY HEART!


Here’s the backstory.

On Feb 12th, I was admitted to the hospital after a trip to the ER where I had some trouble breathing only to be diagnosed with a viral cardiomyopathy. They actually don’t know what causes this, but a very specific virus attacks the heart and weakens it by reducing the percentage of blood it pumps for you. It’s a slow and silent disease that most don’t notice until they visit the hospital for a different symptom and it’s discovered OR you have a cardiac arrest OUT OF THIN AIR no matter your age, health, or physical fitness lifestyle! Your “normal” percentage of blood pumping is 60% (which means every time your heart pumps, 60% is blood and the rest is oxygen and other necessities). I was functioning at 5-10%.


After 10 months that started off with wearing a defibrillator life vest and being pumped full of 4 different kinds of medicine, I can say that I’ve seen progress. I quickly rose back up to 35% within 8 weeks! However, the last 7 months have only produced a 10% change (up to 45%) and it seems to have plateaued in the last 3. This should be good news, but because my heart is not back to “normal” yet, I am forced to live on a cocktail of beta blockers, ace inhibitors, and a blood pressure medicine that GREATLY reduces my energy level, mood, and physical ability.

My ONE WORD for 2014 was FOCUS and it’s where I began focusing on my health. I lost 69 pounds in 12 months and with the help of a local doctor, was able to address my metabolism as well my insulin resistance (both of which caused me not to be able to gain muscle and was a fast track to diabetes). Huge thanks got Dr. Galvin, Mike & Katie Dixon (KadiFit), Nate Olsen (HopeFit), and Diamond Dallas Page for his YRG program – and of course all of my friends, family, and church family who supported me on this journey.

So, I spent 16 months getting to know my body better and seeing AMAZING improvements in my health and life… only to spend the last 10 with a governor on my heart that has kept me from experiencing any of the growth and health I had JUST gotten a taste for.

Back to my “What if” question that I never planned on asking this year. What if my heart never recovers?

This kind of question is filled with possible negative answers. There is almost no positive way to spin the direction of this contemplation without blanket phrases like “well at least I’m not dead…” or “ it’s not that bad, who needs to go hiking anyway?” I have close friends that live with chronic pain and illness and have pondered this on their behalf before, but this year it was much harder to move from the theoretical answers to the very real prospect that I might be looking at a NEW NORMAL for my life that I would never want for anyone.

However, one of my more recent messages had to do with the topic of “unanswered prayers.” The kind of prayers that pray for healing & deliverance, but from our perspective God said “NO” or “NOT YET” or anything in between, because nothing seemed to change and maybe only got worse.

One (of the many) scriptures I referenced and has stuck with me is from 2 Corinthians 12:7-8;

2 Corinthians 12:7 Even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. 8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”

Paul speaks of a “thorn.” Scholars and people smarter than me have tried to figure out what it was and all of them have different ideas. Some think it was emotional or spiritual oppression. Some think it might have been mental instability or illness (like bi-polar or depression). Many believe it to be physical on account of his history of being beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, and in-prisoned over his life.

Whatever it was, he seemed to have landed on an answer from God that brought him a certain amount of peace. I do appreciate that he never stopped praying and asking God to REMOVE the thorn. But the answer didn’t seem to change – I assume based on the fact that the “thorn” remained even after begging God to remove it.

So, to be honest, I’m in a very similar place as I start 2017.

I’m not sure what my ONE WORD will be, nor do I know for certain what the next year holds for me. I do know that as I look back over 2016 (even with my heart condition) God has been incredibly faithful and has done amazing things in and through me, regardless of my health. The stories of life change, through those at my church and those around the world that I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of, continue to happen and God continues to use me in ways that ALWAYS surprise me.

I won’t stop asking for prayer over my heart, nor will I stop asking God to completely heal this issue and get me off these medications that govern my daily activity. I don’t think that is dishonoring to God, or at least not until I get a peace that I shouldn’t ask for that anymore.

No, I plan to press forward into a NEW YEAR of incredible WHAT IF’s and the vision God has for me and those around me. I will wake up every day and know that regardless of my seemingly chronic ailment that God’s grace is all that I need and that He always SHOWS UP and SHOWS OFF when I humbly rely on HIM to accomplish more than I could ask or imagine and not my own strength or ability to make things happen.

What if my heart never recovers?

So be it! God will continue to use me and I will continue to live my life for Him! 

Weekend Preview | Why Can I Trust The Bible? Part 3

By Zack DeBerry

I don’t know about you, but one of the questions that I sometimes hear and even have to answer for myself revolves around the usefulness of the Bible in everyday life. We have talked about the Bible in terms of history and reliability, but just how useful is it on a daily basis?

This is the very question that we will be addressing this Sunday at Journey as we close our “Why I Can Trust The Bible” series. We hope that you will see why the Bible is timeless and culturally relevant to all people in all places. The Bible is a text that has survived for thousands of years and still remains relevant to our lives today.

This week, we will talk about why we believe you can trust the Bible to have answers for whatever you are facing in your day to day life. Join us at our Huntersville campus at 9AM or 11AM or catch us live online at 11AM.

Weekend Preview | Why Can I Trust The Bible? Part 2

By David McNeely

Is there any reason to believe the Bible when some of it’s claims seem so outrageous?

Last year, I met with a 29 year-old engineer for dinner over the course of 4 weeks. He was and still is brilliant. He’s also compassionate, kind, and respectful. It was a joy to meet with him. He stills comes to our church. He enjoys coming and learning. Last year when we began meeting, he was unconvinced of the truthfulness of the Bible. He was stuck on two issues: Creation and Jesus’ resurrection. He is not alone.

Many people struggle to believe the validity of a book that makes claims that the earth was created in six days and that a guy was dead on Friday but came back to life on Sunday. The reason it is hard for many to swallow is obvious– we just don’t see that happen today.

This weekend, we will look at two differing ways to apply apologetics. We’ll ask these kind of questions.

  • Was the earth created in six 24 hour days? Can one believe something different and still say the Bible is without error?
  • Was Jesus really physically dead on Friday, Saturday, and into Sunday?
  • Did he physically rise from the dead sometime that Sunday morning?
  • Can one believe something different and believe the scriptures are reliable?

We’ll use these two issues and see how to give a reasonable argument for the validity of God’s Word.

Can you trust the Bible? Yes, you can. See you on Sunday!

Weekend Preview | Why Can I Trust The Bible?: Part 1

By Don Gentry

This Sunday, we are starting a new series called Why I Can Trust the Bible. It is unfortunate that many people feel that they can’t adequately explain and express why they believe in Jesus and the Bible without feeling like they are inferior intellectuals.

Many non-believers feel that Christianity is some form of a religious or emotional crutch. Yet it is also amazing the number of Christians that cannot articulate a reason for their faith in Christ. This series is designed to help us as individuals have a solid, explainable approach to understanding our faith.

As a church, we also want you to be able to express your faith to everyone as we humbly point others to absolute hope. There is a passage of scripture that really helps to solidify the purpose behind this series. We are going to spend the next few weeks covering this incredibly important and interesting approach to faith.

“15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”, 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV2011)

Our church’s mission is to humbly point Everyone to absolute Hope. How do we share an “absolute truth” without aggressively debating, emotionally shaming, intellectually convincing, or personally guilting others into a belief? It is done by expressing a truth with gentleness and respect. This series is designed to help equip us to know how to do this better.

This week, we will be making our faith come alive as we look at how history supports trust and belief in the scriptures. I look forward to watching the truth of the word come alive to each of us over the next few weeks.

Weekend Preview | What if there is Nothing to Fear?

“The Only Thing to Fear is Fear Itself” – Franklin D. Roosevelt (1st Inaugural Address)

FDR’s famous words have been repeated throughout the years as an anthem cry to those who desire to push past the fear that they face in life and overcome their circumstances.

Contextually, FDR was addressing our nation about the Great Depression that we were facing in our country, he needed people to trust in their leadership if they wanted to see our nation move forward in the midst of uncertainty. This is his full quote:

“…let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

I really love his quote – but I LOVE the follow-up statement even more.

The way he describes fear is a “nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Last week, we discussed the power of asking “What if?” and the power of those words to help us believe that anything is possible.

The #1 enemy of our “What if?” questions that are filled with dreams and possibilities is FEAR! A nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes our efforts and keeps us from moving forward!

– it keeps us from making necessary changes
– it keeps us from living out our heart’s passion
– it keeps us from risking and trying something new
– it keeps us from fully trusting God alone for everything.

This week, we will be asking a very important question.

“What if there is nothing to fear?”

In your marriage, at your job, in your relationships, with your kids, in your finances… what if there is nothing to fear? How different would our lives look today? What kind of different decisions would you make today? In what areas would you experience freedom today?

Join us Sunday, as we consider this next “What If?” question. If you need to catch up on our celebration and introduction to our “What if? Series” last weekend, click here.

Weekend Preview | Hope: Part 2 – Hope Is

By Chris Denning

Click Here to Listen on Spotify

Hope is one thing that every person on Earth wants.  I doubt there is anyone who’s ever lived who didn’t desire hope.

Hope for love.

Hope for their family.

Hope for their career.

Hope for the world.

Hope for their life.

Hope is something or someone to have confidence in/on.  Hope is a solution to trust in.  Hope is a source that sustains us.

Simply put, what we place our hope in will define our lives.

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