How to Make Peace with an Unexpected Life

An Interview with Michele Cushatt

This video was previously aired and represents Michele Cushatt’s testimony to God’s faithfulness prior to her having major surgery.

Cancer. The “C” word . . . it’s supposed to happen to other people. But what happens when a terminal diagnosis invades our lives? Few understand this better than Michele Cushatt.

Michele Cushatt
Michele Cushatt

Michele, a two-time survivor of tongue cancer, who tells her story in her new book: Undone: A Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life.

In this interview, we talk of God’s goodness . . . how Michele confronted cancer in the midst of being called to public speaking, how she served as the Women of Faith emcee, how she’s mom to six kids, and how she’s dealing with a new recurrence of tongue cancer.

Michele’s interview was recorded one day before her daunting nine-hour surgery. In the midst of this massive, raging storm, Michele speaks with calmness and clarity about her past, her new book, and what she is learning as she moves forward. This interview is life-changing!

Watch the Interview

Interview Questions

  1. What was the phone call that changed your life, and how did you respond?
  2. How did God comfort you and remind you of His presence in the moments following your cancer diagnosis?
  3. What have you learned about yourself during this tough time?
  4. Who has been helpful to you throughout your journey?
  5. How does your scuba diving experience relate to where our focus should be?
  6. How can we handle our darkest moments?
  7. What can you say to the person who feels that God is not showing up during his or her tough moments?
  8. Managing vs. Experiencing: What have you learned about trying to control situations?
  9. What would you say to those who are suffering?

When the word terminal invades your life, it’s a game changer. However, if we search Scriptures, we find we are all “terminal.” Not one of us knows when or where our final breath will be.

  • Do you live like this?
  • Do you trust that God knows what He is doing, even though tough circumstances might be raging about you?
  • Do you live in anticipation or dread?

Let Me Hear from You

In this interview, Michele said that once she released worry and control to God, she received an anticipation of what God was going to do with her life. You can be freed from fear. You can know that God will take care of all things, whether or not we see, feel, or know it.

You can connect with those who will give you hope here at Insight for Living Ministries or with Michele. We can help you face your fear and show you how to live in freedom and joy in spite of your circumstances.

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Michele Cushatt Resources

Michele CushattYou can connect with Michele via her blog, Facebook, or Twitter—as well as find information about her speaking engagements and her new book: Undone: A Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life.

Insight for Living Ministries Resources

Topical Pages

Reframing Ministries

  • This really was a great conversation. So glad to hear Michele’s heart and her encouragement about God’s faithfulness when life’s unexpected surprises come. Thanks for this.

    • Wayne,
      It is always a pleasure to hear from you and to read your blog page as well. Yes, Michele’s words are so very encouraging and insightful. Her story highlights the mysterious ways of God…an emcee for Women of Faith, Public Speaker, Podcast co-host…and here she is struck with a third round of extensive tongue cancer; reducing her ability to speak at all for some time. His ways are not our ways so the scriptures teach us; it’s one thing to know that cognitively, another to endure the trials that come through thick, deep waters of adversity. She is enduring…this third bout has been very painful so continued prayers are appreciated. But she has a terrific sense of humor and will to fight…two vital components for fighting the good fight. As always, it’s great to hear from you. Colleen

  • Madeline

    I really like the story about the diving master.

    • Madeline….
      Wasn’t that fantastic!!! When I read that she had a panic attack UNDER water, I felt like I was choking. But it does make sense even though it stinks. For whatever reason, I wasn’t able to see who was on so I’m sorry I missed you; glad you were able to make it and I hope you are able to join us often. Colleen

  • Gina Marie

    Thank you both.

  • Melissa Melvin

    Dear
    Colleen,

    Thank you for this interview. I
    stumbled upon your blog this afternoon It was as if God brought me to the page give me a hug
    from heaven and remind me that He is
    with me and He will not let me go. This is actually the second interview that
    you have done that I have had the privilege to come across since yesterday afternoon.
    In the simple act of finding these messages I can see God’s hand assuring me though this
    season of my life and I am so thankful!

    Your very real questions and the joy of your
    spirit that shines through in your smile and your voice is contagious. It is both challenging and uplifting to my heart.

    As an adult living with Cerebral Palsy and
    walking with the assistance of two canes, I am no stranger to adversity or the
    need for perseverance, but as I come face to face with perhaps the most challenging
    physical hurdles of my life, teaching myself to walk in a
    completely new way with my ankles in a fixed position, I find myself overcome
    by fear and uncertainty. Wondering how I am going to convince my brain
    and my legs to work together in this unknown manner and what if it does not
    work? To be completely honest, every time I pause to consider what lies ahead
    anxious, hot tears have spill form my eyes. This feels like too much. I have allowed fear
    to get the best of me sending me into full panic, causing me to rapidly lose
    weight and lose sight of what I know to be true.

    As a missionary having made several trips to serve orphans in Romania and
    Guatemala, time and again I have seen the faithfulness of God. Thank you for
    encouraging me to quiet my thoughts and call to mind s His faithfulness and promises. That He who was faithful in the past will be
    faithful again. It might not look like I
    expect or hope it will, but no matter what it will be good because He who began
    a good work in me will carry it to completion. He invites me to experience all
    that He has for me and live in anticipation of what He is going to do.

    I thank God for both you and Michelle. I pray
    that God will continue to use you to draw many hearts Himself. I cannot wait to get a copy of
    Michelle’s book. God bless you!

    • Melissa,
      Oh my gosh…my heart just broke as I read our words…getting your feet to work with your brain. I recall reading a book on CP by an individual…it took him 20 minutes to make it from his bed to brushing his teeth only a few feet away. How I hurt for you…your physical pain must be intense and I’m so very sorry for it all. If I could, I would take it from you; yet I am learning through my own physical pain as of late that God works in mighty ways when we are at our weakest point. It’s so counter cultural…our society shouts “Be Strong”, “Need Nothing”, “I can do this myself”, “Dependence is wrong”….when actually, as I read Christ’s sermon on the Mount, He says how blessed are those who are weak, mourn, in need, crying out for help…how BLESSED…isn’t that amazing, Melissa. As you work to get your feet to turn-whether they do or do not-YOU are blessed by our God. Whether your body cooperates with your mind-YOU are blessed! Forget what others may think or say; always remember YOU ARE BLESSED! That is the odd but true message of Christ we must believe when we are in pain or when life doesn’t make sense. I am so glad you ‘stumbled’ upon the blog and I hope this is the beginning of a new relationship…one of hope, truth, grace and peace. I have yet to meet someone who is authentic and real who has bypassed suffering. In the midst of your pain, you are real and authentic…what a joy it is to meet you here. I hope we continue to connect and you find your soul encouraged. Colleen

      • Melissa Melvin

        Colleen,

        How I wish I could have an in person conversation with you. Your words are a gift to my restless heart.

        You are right I am blessed. My life is a canvas on which God is carefully blending the deep hues of adversity with the brilliant colors of His gentle grace creating a masterpiece that He alone deserves the credit for. I believe that life with Spastic Cerebral Palsy is a gift that is wrapped in layers of challenge and tied with a ribbon of hardship. It is not what I would have asked for, but God knows best. It is a gift because through it I have seen God open doors and work in ways that might not have been possible otherwise. The daily physical discomforts of tight, contracted muscles, spasms, and frequent falls keep me from becoming too comfortable with life on this Earth. Oh, how I long to fall for the last time right into the arms of Jesus– to look into His eyes and be free from the confines of this fragile human body. Until then I will seek to press on, trusting God and giving thanks.

        Thank you for reminding me that I am blessed in my mourning and need for help. I really needed to hear that. In 30 years 0f living with CP I never imagined
        that life would look or feel the way that it does today. With the changes that
        have come there is a measure of grief. Growing up I learned to be strong, adapt to my
        surroundings, and do things on my own. Now pain has become more constant and it
        is taking me more effort to move around. I find myself struggling at times, yet
        doing everything in my power to remain strong and fend for myself. God has allowed
        me to come to a place where I feel a weakness like never before. My strength is
        depleted. I know for certain that I cannot face the road ahead on my own. I pray that God’ grace will meet me.

        I am so sorry to hear that you are in pain and in need of surgery. I pray that you will experience the tenderness of God in the midst of this storm. It is a privilege to pray for you. I have written your name down and I will pray for you and your family daily in the
        days and weeks to come.

        Heavenly Father,

        I come before you with a heart of thanksgiving for Colleen. Thank you for her heart for and you her willingness to offer encouragement and hope to friends and stranger. Thank you for her joy that comes from you. An authentic joy that overflows into the hearts and lives
        of all who know her and all who are blessed to be within the reach of her words
        as she share your Love and truth

        Father I pray that you would surround Colleen with your presence in a very tangible way. As she seeks You through this season of life may she encounter you like never before. Please give her comfort and ease her pain. May she keep her eyes fixed on you; and wait with eager expectation for what you are doing in and through her. As she prepares for back surgery in the coming days, I pray that you would go before her and be on every side. Please guide the hands of the attending medical team. Please give her the comfort, peace and strength that only You can provide.

        I pray for Jon and their entire family as they walk through this time. Lord please pour out your grace in abundance. May they have the calm assurance of your presence with them. May they know that they are kept, cared for and held secure in the palm of your hand. Thank you, God that you are forever faithful, perfect in love and sovereign over us.
        It is in the wondrous name of Jesus that I pray, Amen

        May God bless you richly, Colleen!

        Love in Christ,

        Melissa

        • Melissa,
          My heart just groans for you as you continue with chronic pain. I think there are few challenges greater than constant, unrelenting pain. It does zap you of your strength. I will never forget what Joni Eareckson Tada said in one of our interviews about her chronic pain. She said she asked the Lord for a hymn every morning…as she was having so many help her get ready for the day, her prayer was for a hymn to sing through the day. Without a doubt, the Lord provided a song for her soul and continues to each day. As I sat here writing you, the first hymn that came to mine was “I Need Thee Every Hour” which says: I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain; Come quickly and abide, or life is in vain. I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will; And Thy rich promises in me fulfill. I need Thee every hour, most Holy One; O make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son. I need Thee . I need Thee, O I need Thee; Every hour I need Thee; O bless me now, my Savior, I come to Thee. Sometimes just the reminder of those simple words…I need you Lord…I need you now….makes all the difference. I don’t know if your pain will be removed or relieved; I wish I could take it away. I do know that God, who promises to be faithful, will always be faithful in our time of need. Melissa, I’ve also learned that His faithfulness isn’t always apparent at the moment we are desperate for it. It is in those times that, should we choose to trust and allow our faith to dig deep into the earth of our soul, eventually we are met with a peace that surpasses all understanding. I used to get so frustrated with the Lord when it didn’t seem He responded exactly when I called. Looking back, I learned it was in those moments of grief or pain or silence that my faith grew the most because I sought Him with relentless abandon. I don’t know where you are today…if you are having a good day or if these words are striking a chord in you of hope; either way, my prayer is that you sense how deeply I care and am so thankful you have reached out. We need one another to help us along in this life. Sometimes a word or whisper of Jesus helps us press on. You are such a dear soul and I hope we will continue to write and lift one another up. Thank you for your dear prayer as well. That meant so very much. Have a good day, my friend. Colleen

          • Melissa Melvin

            Colleen

            Thank you very much for your message. Oh the beauty and truth of this hymn that nourishes the soul. I have been asking God to meet me. I have felt
            like I cannot take another day of pain. Your message and the remainder of this hymn was one way that God choose to meet me today.

            Last night I came across an interview that you did in January,“Transforming the Soul—What We Didn’t Learn in Seminary” It was an amazing, transparent interview full of so many nuggets of truth. As the interview concluded and I turned off the light to go to bed, I had no idea how much I was going to need a portion of what was discussed just to face tomorrow.

            At the sound of my alarm this morning one of the first realizations I had was how stiff and pained I felt. A wave of defeat swept over me. I wanted nothing more than to pull the covers over my head and stay hidden beneath the blankets. I just did not feel like I had the strength to put my feet on the floor and step into the day. Then I remembered the conclusion of that interview. “ Sometimes you have to behave your way into how you feel. Get up, make your bed, and do the next right thing.” So I embrace this day one minute, one task at a time; desperately in need of God’s strength to carry me through.

            I don’t understand the sovereignty of God. I don’t know His entire purpose for allowing me to walk through life amidst the challenges of Cerebral Palsy, and the years of chronic pain. I cannot deny that I wish things could be different. I have wished that I could somehow turn back the hands of time to easier much less painful days. I am battling some of the “invisible 7 dwarfs”.Questions swirl within me. I feel like a failure. I wonder what happened, and where I went wrong. But, I know that even if I had answers to my questions that would not change my circumstances. So, I will keep taking one day at a time, giving thanks not for but in all things, believing that God is doing something greater than what I can see or comprehend. He is making me into the likeness of His son. There is nothing greater than that.

            As God continues to transform me, I have the privilege of being able to use my life experiences to comfort others with the comfort I have received and offer encouragement to those who find themselves in a similar place on this journey through life. And what a privilege that responsibility is!

            I will continue to uphold you in fervent prayer as you look ahead to surgery,
            recovery and physical therapy. I have personal understanding of all of these
            things. It can test you and push you to limits that you feel like you cannot go
            beyond, but God will meet you in those moments. I pray that God will give you
            the strength and endurance necessary to move forward on the road to recovery. I
            pray that you will experience relief from pain and full restoration of your mobility.
            As you press into God during this time I pray that you will discover the wonders of His character in ways like never before. If you would please keep us up to date on your surgery and recovery so that we know how best to be praying for you. I am thankful that God has allowed me to cross paths with you! Thank you for your blog. It has been a comfort and encouragement to my soul.

            Cheering you on in Christ,

            Melissa

          • Sandra

            Hello Colleen, I saw your returning to your blog, not sure yet if full time but welcome back. I continue to keep you in thought and prayer.
            I wanted to say I read the post by Melissa and wished to say to her that I embrace you , you are so Loved, what an amazing young lady. Her words so touching, filled with such grace. Her writing speaks an amazing tenderness of heart and soul. I hear she has endured yet her words are some of the warmest energy, grace and high point of love.
            Love and Peace,
            Take good care as you continue to recovery. I know you are in the best hands, Our Lord hands,and He has provided you with the most loving support of family. Many Blessings. Thinking of You .Happy Mothers Day Colleen!
            Sandra