Journey Principles Radio: Throwbacks

It is our hope that the Journey Principles Podcast will help you grow and lead you toward the life you want with amazing guests, easy to apply practical principles, and personal motivation. Stephen shares from his knowledge, his experiences, and most of all, his heart! He knows all about suffering and bears witness to how amazing life can be when we choose to take a stand and apply principles that matter. Many of these are the same principles that transcended him from being virtually homeless and ready to take his life to becoming a respected and successful business owner. In a very transparent way, Stephen and his guests will walk you through the principles they have adopted into their lives and use daily. They will teach you how to transform from who you think you are today to becoming who you’re meant to be! It does not matter what kind of setbacks you have experienced so far. Stephen and his guests share from their personal, real-life journeys in order to empower you, the listener.
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May 9, 2016

Undone Part 1 with Michele Cushatt -

Today we have one of the most courageous women that we know on the show. She has spent the last 5 years of her life battling cancer and fighting for her life. Michele Cushatt is a living example of faithful perseverance. On top of her struggles, she is a successful speaker and book writer, as well as an instructor and key team member of Dynamic Communicators International. Her first book, “Undone”, was just released and is quickly getting into the hearts and minds of many. Her book is full of grace and poetic truths.

Michele shares with us a cliff notes version of her life over the last 5 years. She starts her story on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving in 2010. It was an ordinary day, her three boys had just left for school, her husband had already went to work, and she was about to leave to go grocery shopping for their big Thanksgiving meal when she got a phone call from her doctor. The conversation started with “Michele, it’s not good.” What her and her doctor thought was a simple ulcer on the side of her tongue due to too much acidic food actually ended up being tongue cancer. Over the weeks that followed she had many doctors’ appointments and had a small section of her tongue removed. They thought they had caught the cancer early enough and there was nothing to worry about. Little did she know that Tuesday morning was actually the start of a 5 year battle that she is still going through.

Three years after she was diagnosed with tongue cancer and when they felt that the cancer would not return, it did. This time it was more severe. In March of 2014 she a more extensive surgery where a third of her tongue was removed and reconstructed. 7 months later, it came back for a third time. This time, as we can imagine, it was much more aggressive and advanced. Within a couple of weeks, Michele has radical surgery. It was 9 hours long and two-thirds of her tongue was removed. They reconstructed her tongue with blood vessels and tissue from her arms, left leg and neck. The doctors gave her 3 weeks to recover and then she went through an extensive round of radiation and chemotherapy. 6 weeks after that she had another surgery with internal radiation on her mouth. Talk about an uphill battle!

A year ago from now, Michele had third degree burns from her face to mid-chest, her vocal cords did not work, she had a feeding tube for 5 months and a tracheotomy opening for almost 2 months. Her doctor said they took her body to the brink, when her body couldn’t take anymore without dying, they brought her back. For the last 12 months she had been trying to come back to life.

On top of all this, her and her family took in 3 more children from a traumatic background and she lost her father to terminal pancreatic cancer. One of the many things that she learned during this struggle was that our lives can be turned upside down in such a short period of time.

Not only did she face a physical struggle, she also faced emotional and spiritual struggles. Her emotional response is a PTSD response. She is still wrestling with this today. She had many questions regarding her faith. She grew up knowing Jesus. She has gone to church since she was 6 months old. But her view on Christianity was much like a math equation. She felt that if she always did good things and didn’t do wrong that she would have a good life. So when she was faced with such an adversity, she got angry. She wrestled with 3 questions that she feels that many people who are faced with adversity wrestle with.

  1. Is God real? Our suffering might indicate that God is not real.
  2. If God is real, is He good? How could a good God allow suffering?
  3. If God is real and He is good, then can I trust Him?

The way Michele came out of these questions was with lots of reading and research. She read the Bible often and books on suffering and the purpose of suffering. With this research she found 4 foundational truths.

4 Foundation Truths

  1. The unexpected is unavoidable. – Michele thought suffering was unique to her. That she was the only person in pain. Once she opened her eyes globally and began listening to other peoples’ stories, she realized suffering is universal. You can’t avoid it.
  2. Suffering is invaluable. – She first viewed suffering as simply an obstacle to the joy and happiness in life. She learned that suffering is the most valuable teacher that we can have. Many people resent suffering rather than learn from it. She was taught more about compassion and the value of the presence of God.
  3. The truth is unshakable. – Michele was in fear that her doubts would lead her to a place of no God. That if she was having doubts that meant there was no God. But in fact doubt didn’t mean she didn’t have faith. Doubt was actually a means to deepen her faith. We must be honest about our doubts, present them to God and allow him to walk us through. The truth stands regardless of us. Our doubts don’t diminish the truth; it leads us to a more understanding of the truth.
  4. The reward is incomparable. There is no comparison to the reward of understanding suffering and struggles. Many times we feel that what is at stake is our health, our career or our finances. But what is really at stake is our faith. Ultimately the only thing we can take with us is our faith or lack of it.

Michele is now much less apologetic of her faith. Before she was very cautious to not offend someone with her beliefs. But now she lives life every day with not knowing if she will be here the next. She feels that her faith is too important not to talk about it. She encourages everyone to live life as if every day is a gift, because it is.

In western civilization we are so buffered by our own desire for comfort and the fact that we can get any need met in a span of seconds. Because of that, we don’t have much of a grasp of the urgency of our circumstance. We don’t spend enough time on the fact that we are mortal. We shouldn’t take a day of our lives for granted. Every single one of us should operate with the foundational awareness of life and death. Always value every moment and the peace within that moment.  Everything can change in a matter of seconds.

Michele has such a fantastic and inspiring story that we have broken it up into 2 segments.  It simply could not fit into 1. So please listen again in a couple of days for part 2 of Michele Cushatt.

We sincerely hope you enjoy today’s podcast. Please comment and share with others. This might be the one testimony that a friend or family member needs to hear. Until next time, continue to follow us on Facebook, The Journey Principles , and on Twitter, @stephen_scoggin. Also keep the questions coming! We enjoy hearing from you all. We will be starting our podcast episode with your questions very soon!