Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Weak or Strong?

I don’t know how many of you caught the Gabby Gifford’s special broadcast last week or so (I seem to have lost track of time a bit as the days run together)
Anyway, it was very inspiring on many levels. At one point she and her husband, Mark Kellly were being interviewed and she was asked how she was doing, she replied “pretty good”...then a few seconds later with her signature fist swing she added, “strong, strong, strong!”
It was a powerful and touching moment, as this women who had escaped death and was fighting her way back from a myriad of physical effects associated with her brain injury, proclaimed herself as strong.
Gabby may be small in stature, but she is big in courage and hope. ( that must be why her book is called A Story of Courage and Hope..:)
I have felt WEAK this past week ( no pun intended) physically, as the anti-cancer drug races through my system, it feels like a roller coaster ride in my very being. Nausea and her host of nasty friends come to visit and make it hard to get off the ride!
I consider others who have gone through far worse treatment in their battle against cancer and I exclaim, “I don’t know how they did it! 
Like one person said, ”It’s like having a case of the flu for a year.”
I applaud you ..seriously!
But I AM WEAK! I admit it. I hate feeling sick. In such a moment of proclamation,  a verse came floating back to me: 
“But I am poor and needy;
Yet the LORD thinks upon me.”
 Ps. 40:17
And thus, I was so encouraged!
I AM POOR AND NEEDY (and really insignificant in this world of 7 billion people,)
BUT the Lord - the God of this vast universe .....thinks upon me.
Why would He? Why does He?
I honestly have no answer,  I mean, I know the theological answers: He loves me (understatement), He is faithful to those that are HIS, (indeed) He does so, for His name’s sake ( He is GOD!)
I just know that daily He hears my every minor cry, He answers somehow when I call, He picks me up when I am weak, and gives me strength to keep going.
So all you weaklings, c’mon!
Shout it out with me ” I am weak!!” and when you do, realize you are in good company!
Listen to the apostle Paul concerning his bodily affliction:
“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:7-10
And then look at what God has promised us!:
“He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.” Isaiah 40:29
A song came to my attention last week (surprise!) It has become my theme song for right now. I just love it and am so en-courage-d by the words
Here are the lyrics and below is a link - you simply must listen!
It’s true--fear is a lie!
Strong Enough to Save
by Tenth Avenue North
You fought 
but you were just too weak 
so you lost 
all the things you try to keep 
now you're on your knees, you're on your knees 
But wait, 
everything can change, 
in a moment’s time, you don't have to be afraid, 
Cause fear is just a lie 
open up your eyes 
And He'll break 
open the sky to save 
those who cry out His name 
the One the wind and waves obey 
He's strong enough to save you 
now is not too late 
lift up your head 
let the rain fall on your face 
you’re not far from grace, your not too far from grace 
And He'll break 
open the sky to save 
those who cry out His name 
The One the winds and the waves obey
is strong enough to save you 
I know the weight of this world can take you down like gravity
And I know the current of yourself can take you out, out to sea
But hold on, hold on 
And he'll break 
open the sky to save 
those who cry out His name 
the One the wind and the waves obey
is strong enough to save you
To listen:
*As for me, I am just daily taking the medicine and waiting for Jesus!
 I have another PET /CT scan on Dec. 16th..
“Let the weak say, “I am strong..” Joel 3:10
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Phil 4:13

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Word of Life

The night that I bowed my head and asked Jesus to forgive my sins and come into my life, there were three very special girls present.
After we prayed and I experienced the inexpressible freedom and joy of the new birth,
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become      new.” 2 Cor. 5:17
one of them looked at me and said in earnest,
“Read your Bible everyday.”
This scene took place in a small meeting room in the girls dormitory at Zion National Park,where a friend and I had gotten summer jobs after high school
That night changed the direction and destination of my life forever; but, 
what has continued to change my heart still thirty one years later, is the Word of God.
I love God’s Word.
It is a blazing beacon of truth. When my soul has a dark night at sea, the light of HIs Word shines brightly; proclaiming peace, hope and security within the fall of its beam.
When my ship gets off course, it illuminates the way, correcting and redirecting me back to safe waters.
When I discovered the reality that there was ABSOLUTE TRUTH in the world, my soul found it’s much longed for resting place.
Searching for answers much of my teen years, dabbling in this and that, subscribing to the notion that there were many paths to God and that what worked for one might not work for another...never comforted my restless and wandering heart.
Encountering Jesus, the God of the Bible, and HIs Word did.
I will say unashamedly, it is the absolute rock of my existence. I seriously could not live without it. 
The other day, I heard a well known, solid Bible teacher commenting about inductive Bible study. As most of you know, that is a method of studying the Bible, verse by verse within the context of the book it was written in.
This technique is far different from picking and choosing verses at random or approaching the Bible with preconceived ideas.
She mentioned how studying inductively takes time and continued on, by sharing that some women had complained to her that they just didn’t have the time for that, stating,”Just tell me what to believe!”
I love her response, 
“Grow up! You are in a battle!”
We are in a battle from life’s first breath: but, after we become citizens of the Kingdom, we either stand our ground or advance into new spiritual territory. Retreat is not an option, for victory is ours because of Jesus. 
We wouldn’t dare go into battle without the proper artillery and armor, and such it is in the Christian’s walk.
God’s Word is the essential weapon of mass destruction for taking down strongholds, banishing the lies of the enemy, and marching on with the banner of truth held high.
There are days when I get very overwhelmed with all the things going on around and inside of me.
If it weren’t for the truth of His Word assuring me, reassuring me and giving me the hope that only He gives..I would be left floundering in a sea of dark emotions.
It was about 2:30 a.m. that morning, July 25 when Jesus rescued me. A few short hours afterwards, I walked down the path from my dorm room and into work at the resort restaurant. One of the special girls with me that night was a hostess there and began walking towards me with a box. A package had arrived. For me. It was a Bible.
She had ordered it several days, if not weeks before, but there it was... arriving when I needed it most, on the very first day of my new life.
God’s Word is like that. In the days when you have been left bare, like a faithful friend and a rushing wind, it will come back to you.  It’s powerful truths will punch through the darkness and pierce the painful moments with absolute clarity.
To have it impact and sustain our lives, The Word must be ingested deep into our souls, by our:
Reading it
Understanding it
Applying It
Sharing it
We can’t afford to skip any of these steps in our preparation as soldiers. 
So go on, grab your Bible and may you discover anew or for the first time, the joy of God’s love letter to you today!
“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.” Luke 4:4

If you feel led to, post a current favorite passage!
I’ll start, with Psalm 103:
Bless the LORD, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2  Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3  Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4  Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5  Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6  The LORD executes righteousness
And justice for all who are oppressed.
7  He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the children of Israel.
8  The LORD is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
9  He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10  He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
11  For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
12  As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13  As a father pities his children,
So the LORD pities those who fear Him.
14  For He knows our frame;
He remembers that we are dust.
15  As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16  For the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
And its place remembers it no more. [fn1]

  But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
18  To such as keep His covenant,
And to those who remember His commandments to do them.
19  The LORD has established His throne in heaven,
And His kingdom rules over all.
20  Bless the LORD, you His angels,
Who excel in strength, who do His word,
Heeding the voice of His word.
21  Bless the LORD, all you His hosts,
You ministers of His, who do His pleasure.
22  Bless the LORD, all His works,
In all places of His dominion.
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
* We are slowly increasing the dosage on the medicine, please pray with us for no side affects and maximum effectiveness!   

Monday, November 14, 2011

Unstoppable Love

A couple of days ago, I went to a nearby park with my daughter and 2 and half ( “almost 3! ”, she will proudly tell you) year old granddaughter.
In a children’s area there, they had a brightly colored concrete fountain which emptied into a little stream.
Given a small piece of wood (a boat) upon arrival, to put into the fountain, you could watch it glide into the stream and float all the way down, until the boat plopped out onto the ground at the end of the stream.
Of course this was purely fascinating and had to be done multiple times to our delight!
I think part of the reason that children ( and some adults..:)  like to do things like that over and over again, is because the results come out basically, the same every time. The game or activity becomes a “safe” adventure that through repetition, provides a satisfying sense of security and confidence. 
And it proved true in this instance too. The water moved the little boat along to it's final resting place every time it was placed in its flow.
How true this is of God’s love. It’s power continues to flow into our lives steadily and consistently.
In the river of life, there are pebbles, often boulders and maybe even a fallen tree or two. 
Sometimes, great storms will upset a river’s landscape greatly. By dumping so much silt and dirt into it’s path they can threaten to stop the flow of the river altogether. It may indeed appear that no water will be able to pass by these daunting obstacles.
But water, like God’s love makes a way. If water can't go through, it will go over. If it can't go over, it will go under. Though sometimes undetectable to us on the surface, it is at work underground, creating great channels that go down deep.
1 John 4:8  says that “..God is love”
Love is His very essence. His nature. It’s not that He created this thing called love, it’s that HE IS love.
Earlier in his epistle, John exclaims, 
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! “1 John 3:1
What obstacles are trying to hinder the flow of God’s great love for you, His child, from freely rushing into your life today?’
Lies of the enemy that you are not good enough? Or that God’s not good enough, strong enough or cares enough?
The facts are, God is love and He loves you immeasurably. Nothing you have done or haven't done can stop that.  Amazing. Humbling. Empowering.
Wherever you are today, if you place the boat of your heart into His stream of life, God’s love will make a way to carry you through all the storms and peaceful crossings. 
Dive in and become persuaded of this unchanging truth!  

 “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Song for today!
May your heart sing..:)
  • I am doing really great on this half dose of medicine with no side effects! Praise our Lord!!!
Thank you for praying! Please pray for increases to follow HIS plan and timing!
Love you!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Beauty of Forgiveness

I have been pondering more of the life of Joseph and am so struck by this powerful portrait of forgiveness.
Joseph had many years to relive, remember and recount the story of his brother’s abominable act of betrayal, which included throwing him in a pit and then selling him to slave traders.
Yet, many years later,
AFTER Joseph has risen from slave to servant in Potipher’s house;
and AFTER he was falsely accused of inappropriate behavior towards Potipher’s wife and thrown in prison for it,
And way AFTER he was forgotten there for years,
and then AFTER he was remembered because Pharaoh had a nagging dream and needed an interpreter,
Then finally, AFTER God gives Joseph the dream to interpret and Pharaoh raises him to second in all the land of Egypt......Then, yes then, when his brothers appear in Egypt to seek bread due to a famine in their homeland, Joseph is remarkably not a bit....bitter. 
Rather, he is so overcome with love and longing for this rag tag bunch that he has to leave the room to contain himself.
In place of the cold shoulder he embraces.
Instead of revenge Joseph blesses.
Instead of recalling all their legitimate offenses, he redirects them to God’s provision in spite of their actions.
Joseph’s hardships had brought him to a place where he could do the most good for others.
Even those who wronged him.
Because of his position, Joseph is able to bring the whole family down to Egypt and provide for them there with Pharaoh’s blessings.
After his father, Israel (Jacob) dies, the brothers become worried that now that he is gone, Joseph will take revenge on them.
Listen to his response to their concerns:
Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” 
Genesis 50:19-21
They say the heart never forgets.
Perhaps there’s is a person you think of often and wish things were right with.
A regret that has festered into a wound.
Maybe there were unkind words said or actions done. Or even far greater wounds were inflicted.
I know not all relationships can or should be restored. 
But, Joseph’s life holds out a promise of hope and a lighter load for all who are willing to turn the key in the lock that has kept them imprisoned.
1. Acknowledge the offense
Joseph says of his brothers,  “....you meant evil against me”
Wow. No sugar coating or excuses made here! They did! And maybe the person who hurt you did too...
Go on. Say it. Say it loudly if you need to! They hurt me!! It hurt! Tell the Lord all about it.
To deal with an infliction you have to first go to the source of the pain; but, it is imperative not to stay there! Quickly..move on to the next step!
2.Let God be God.
Joseph’s question , “..am I in the place of God?”, demands the obvious answer for all of us,- “No, we are not in the place of God.” 
God sees everything. Everything. Every heart, every motive, every intent. He is the Just Judge. Forgive and trust Him to take care of the rest. 
3.KNOW that God is good.  
Joseph’s conclusion is the key to not becoming bitter ”..God meant it for good.”  
Can God take really bad situations and make really good things come out of them? Joseph’s experience shouts a resounding, “YES!”  And He can for you and me too. As a matter of fact, it’s His specialty!
The past itself can be a chain that we need  loosed. To not let it keep us from experiencing God’s new blessings, we must do as one of my friend says in her New York accent, “Fahget about it!!”
Good advice.
The apostle Paul elaborates:
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,...”
Phil. 3:13
Today is a new day! What good things could be ahead for you and me..... today? I’m excited to hear, trusting with you that again, He is working all things together for His good!
*Today, finds me back on the medicine, which I began taking last night at half strength. 
Praying for minimal and manageable side effects!
This is the song in my head for today..:) Listen and be blessed!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Comfort of Kindness

Once again God has “..brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay,...”  Psalm 40:2
The “miry clay” is healing on my head and I am so thankful for His hand that reaches down into the pit of our pain! 
Last night I was thinking of Jesus’ words to His disciples right before His arrest and crucifixion. On the eve that He was about to experience the most intense suffering, Jesus was deeply concerned about His friends.
He told them not to be troubled, that He was going to prepare a place for them. He encouraged that by informing them it was actually to their advantage that He went away because when He did, He would send them the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives is incomparable. WIthout Him, we would never be drawn to God or empowered and equipped to live for Him.
But what kept coming to mind for me, was that Jesus referred to Him as “the Comforter.”
We live in an uncomfortable world. In fact, I think many pursuits are born to escape that reality.
When Jesus walked the earth, His touch healed and soothed. He words encouraged and gave strength to the weak.
Now, the Spirit faithfully does the same in each one that belongs to the Father.
So gentle and steady is His Comfort, that we often don’t perceive it until we realize through the smell of smoke, that we are standing unscorched by the flames.
Among the fruit of the Spirit, is an often overlooked slice called kindness.
Kindness has the ability to take a difficult hour, a hard day or an uncomfortable season and make it better by simple and genuine actions.

There were those who soothed the rough edges of this last week for me that made a huge difference by their acts of kindness.
From the doctor, who with dignity helped me with my condition and showed me practical measures in a reassuring manner, to my sweet mom who put lotion on my dry skin, to friends who brought us food and more. Kindness has made this time bearable, In fact it too, has been a hand up out of the pit to grab hold of His strong arm.
Desiring to honor his friend’s legacy, King David in 2 Samuel 9:2 says, “Is there still anyone who is left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan’s sake?”
A servant informs him that, yes there was one of Jonathan’ sons left. A young man named Mephibosheth, who was lame in both of his feet.
The king sends for him to come to his palace and appoints him a special place at his table for the rest of his life.
I think it’s safe to say that there are those around you and I who are having difficulty running the race of faith today. Those whose spiritual feet need strengthening and maybe even a hand up to recover from a fall.
May we all take those opportunities to show the kindness of our God and bring comfort to those who need it. You may never know the difference you made, but the recipient of your gift will....and so will your God.
 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”  2 Corinthians 1:3-4
  • I meet with the doctors tomorrow. We are praying I would be able to go back on the medication at a lower dosage without the severity of the side effects...:)
Love to you!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Casualties of War

A couple of nights ago, I watched a movie with my mom that portrayed a pretty intense battle scene.
Taking place in the late 1800‘s, it involved hand to hand combat with one side having various guns and ammo, while the other side had only swords to fight with.
Needless to say, there were many casualties and naturally only the main character survived.
Last Tuesday night, I began my cancer treatment-a targeted gene therapy in a pill form that attacks an epidermal enzyme that makes the cancer grow.
As I took it that first night we prayed and my 17 year old chanted “kill it, kill it!"
Indeed that is the goal.
In every war there are casualties and I was warned that this would have side affects, but nothing prepared me for what I am dealing with now.
My entire head is covered in painful pustules (very gross I know) that are just continually oozing. I cannot wash my hair or touch my head as this makes it worse
The doctors had to take me off cancer drug two days ago and are now trying a second antibiotic as of today and pain pills 
( thankfully) to alleviate the problem. They said they have never seen as bad of a reaction as this.
This is a quick and desperate shout out to ask for prayer. I definitely can relate with Job on this level, but he did not have any pain meds, so he was in much worse shape.
Please pray that this gets under control. That the infection stops and that somehow by God’s grace and intervention I could go back on the cancer drug.
I am at His mercy and in His hands.
Love you and thank you so much.