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lenten interviews - part 3

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Laneia Thomas              

Tell us your name, age, and current background (job, family, school, etc.). 
I’m Laneia Thomas, and I’ve been married for 14 ½ years to Jonathan Thomas. We have two kids, Ethan and Molly, who are seven and five. I’m a stay-at-home mom currently. It started out by choice but now it’s because of my health. I’ve been fighting breast cancer for almost three years.

When did Jesus become real to you? Tell us what led to that. 
It started probably when I was seventeen years old. I was saved when I was eight. He is the potter, and we are the clay. He was molding me and making me, and I wasn’t aware of all He was doing. But once I got out from under my parents’ rule and reign, He grabbed me. Jesus grabbed me at a retreat. I was at a concert there and blown away to tears. I was anxious about life. I had all these questions about the Holy Spirit and living life for Jesus. My life didn’t resemble what preachers were preaching about, and I didn’t understand why. I had a lot of anxiety about things I did in my past. A lady knelt down by me and prayed over me and prayed Phil 4:6-7. It was one of the first times that someone had ever shown me God’s Word and how it applied to my life. “Don’t be anxious…..”  That stayed with me. It was my first memory. That’s probably when He became really real to me.

How do you experience Him on a day to day basis? 
I was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago and have been experiencing Him every day since then. It’s not that He had not been in my life, but started paying more attention. It’s very noticeable. The first thing I remember is when we first got this diagnosis. After my husband passed out, after we were told I might have cancer, we looked at each other and literally asked ourselves, “What are we going to do?” We had to make the choice right then: Are we going to pursue this on our own or are we going to depend on God? We didn’t feel good…but we chose to depend on God and trust in God through all of this.

I remember several months after the diagnosis when it was all getting to me so intensely, I was literally brought down to my knees. It was in our kitchen, and I chose to say…it was another choice…that God is good. They were the hardest words I ever had to say. We had surgeries, doctor appointments every week, little kids we were taking care of, calls every time we turned around, Jon still had to work….there was a lot. I wasn’t feeling well, but I chose to say “God is good.” That wasn’t me. I’ve been working through a Bible verse that says, “no one is righteous.” We can’t choose that on our own. The only reason we can say or choose that is because of the Holy Spirit. That verse is so real to me now.

The last thing happened recently when I started going through a good break. There was a moment I was in between treatments. They weren’t giving me the chemo anymore and so I was feeling better. I had more energy, starting to help with kids, contribute, etc. but Jon’s health started to falter because everything came to a head. The stress manifested itself in various ways in his physical health. I realized it during church worship, and I started crying. God was showing me that now I’m on a good path with everything. I don’t feel bad. There’s a little break. Now I want you to start focusing on Jon. Now you can focus on Jon. Pray for him, tell others to pray, be there for Jon. It’s his turn now. He literally had to take on both parenting roles, and he suffers as well. I was so afraid something bad was going to happen to him, but God showed me that, “I’m still here and I’m still taking care of you all” by encouraging me to take care of my husband.

Have you ever felt really far from God? 
It ebbs and flows.

When you have doubts, how do you stay focused on Him? 
The Holy Spirit. He’s living and active. He loves us and He cares for us enough to reach down and pull us by the shirt and tell us to “Listen!” That’s how I stay focused. I don’t know how else to explain. When I feel far from God, I feel far from God. I don’t want to pray. In my heart, it’s hard to read my Bible. That’s me being real. God grabs me and says, “Hey child, eyes on me.” It’s like when you find out your kids are doing badly on homework or hiding in their room doing something they shouldn’t…you find out and you bring them back around. That’s what He does with me. I’m His child.

What is one thing that makes you feel close to Jesus? 
This struggle that we’ve been going through with cancer treatment. Cancer enough provides its own stress but the treatment is even more stressful because it makes me sick. God’s whipped my face around with it and told me to look at Him.

Also, when my kids humble me. When they ask me questions about Jesus, and when they try to work out their understanding of God. I love getting to talk to them about God. He doesn’t just love us. He loves the whole world. When I get to talk about God like that, I do feel closer to Him.

I want to feel close to Him in the silence. I’ve been struggling with that lately and really my whole life. It’s almost like I’m scared of the silence. There’s a fear there. I know He’s there and present. But there’s discomfort with the silence. Because I want to feel close to Him all the time.