Caring Bridge Journal
SO ALL COULD KNOW…
Caring Bridge Journal – Debbie Maulsby – Hepatitis C
I have a lot of family — nosy family at that. So, I’m just saying I come by it honestly.
This treatment – it overwhelmed me. Some days I could not talk, some days I could not sit or stand, some days all I could do was breathe – on the floor of the bathroom. Which makes it hard to talk on a phone and update everyone who loves me on all the latest details of doctor visits and lab results.
I was so thrilled to find Caring Bridge, a website onto which I could enter every fear, concern, and doctor visit. They, in turn, could log on and be very much a part of our lives while going through such a difficult time.
If you are experiencing health issues – go find this website. CaringBridge.org. You will be glad you did – but not half as glad as your family and friends will be.
I pray you will look past the misspelled words, the improper grammar, the ramblings of a chemo induced mind — and see and hear the Truth as He ministered to me, to my loved ones, and brought about healing in our hearts and filled our spirits with joy in the suffering. (Oh, I started to cry all over again at His goodness as I was copying this journal onto the website! He is G.O.O.D.)
If you are hurting today – He is speaking to you through my experience — Listen to Him. He will NOT disappoint.
He is already in your pain – waiting for you.
FIRST JOURNAL ENTRY
Written March 5, 2010 6:08pm
Hopefully, this time will not be as hard as last. Hopefully, I will be able to tolerate it and continue through to the end. One thing for sure that I know…I could not do it without all of you. Your words of encouragement, your calls and cards, your prayers and your availability bless me more than I have words to express.
My plan is to enjoy this weekend. Tonight we babysit one last time for three wonderful grandsons as their parents enjoy a date night out. We will have movie night and popcorn, giggling, maybe some Nascar races, and there is always the chance for the Wii challenge.
Tomorrow Ken and I will take time together to do happily mundane chores as we delight in the beautiful weather we are having…I feel a walk coming on and I might even prepare my flower beds so that when it is warm enough they will be begonia ready!
We will spend time with the closest of friends and we will laugh and tease and be happy for the chance to be together. Of course, we are already rested from a perfect vacation in Angel Fire, New Mexico at their cabin. Sledding, snowshoeing, hikes, time on the deck enjoying the view, so much laughter our sides hurt…oh what a perfect vision to have in my mind on days when I am not feeling well this year.
We will hug and kiss family again and enjoy a time of worship on Sunday. Sunday night I plan on taking my first shot and then going to bed and hopefully sleeping through the fever and chills and wake up to a new Monday that might not be so bad after all.
I am looking forward to looking back on all that God provides this year…
And I am hoping for…”that measure of health which will most glorify Him!”
You are much loved.
Written March 8, 2010 8:12am
fever 105 and chills after 2 hrs.
Nausea and vomiting started within 5 hours.
Ken got me 7-up and sat by my bed to help.2010
woke up hungry and had pudding cup at 1!!!
NO NAUSEA OR VOMITING…NOT EVEN A HINT OF IT!
got up this a.m. and made my own tea and toast!!!
Oh..Praise you Lord…who truly gave me more than I had even hoped!!!
Now, it is just the first day…and there will be hard days ahead…but I have a feeling…no wait…I believe I have an assurance!!! that this time might not be as bad and even the worst of days might not have the same results as last time!
More to come later…but just had to send a quick update! I told my parents this morning that, “I AM EATING TOAST AND DRINKING TEA AND I FEEL FINE….and I did not even have to FAKE it!!!!! (so they would not worry!!)
Thank you for praying and thinking of me….and thank you LORD, for truly blessing me with more than I ever could have hoped or imagined!
(and now I head back to bed for a morning nap because I am very fatigued and my arms and legs feel like they have weights on them…BUT THAT I CAN DEAL WITH!!!)
Much love to all of you!
He has done great things for us(me) – and I am filled with joy!!!
Written March 9, 2010 10:54am
In the “Bigness” of God…I got “…Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…”
And I say with great passion…”to Him be the glory in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.”
In my small faith, I begged to get up off the floor…I was even happy enough to endure the nausea…if I could just not be throwing up all the time (sorry for the visual but it is too much of the story!!!)
If I had gotten what I asked for…we might have been able to just explain it away…we might have been able to say that, out of sheer willpower, I pulled myself up off the floor.
BUT – THIS WAY — there is no question, not even a hint of suspicion that this is anything less than a Mighty God at work showering His mercy on a very undeserving child. MERCY…JUST MERCY!
I’m not just up…I am up and living life! Thank you Lord for allowing this week to encourage me and allowing me to consider that I might just make it through this year!
He provided strength for me today so that I could make it to Bible Study!!! It was my desire, but even as I prayed for it, I did not think it would happen…I am so small…I think so small…I believe so small…I have so much to learn…
I was willing to settle for a small God…and once again He knocked my socks off to show Himself for the Almighty God that He is!!
I am not naive in thinking that there are not harder days ahead…but the gift this week, of showing me that His Hand provides in magnificent ways, will be with me always!
Wow…that is all I can say…Wow…If that word can be a praise word…for me…my worship word this week is WOW!
Wow…WOW…wow…wow!!!!!!!!! A thousand times…WOW!!!
THANK YOU LORD FOR WOW-ING ME!
Great are the works of the LORD; they are pondered by all who delight in them. Ps. 111:2
Written March 10, 2010 1:12pm
The thoughtfulness of your hearts in your prayers and your gifts have been so so sweet. I am so overwhelmed by the showering of your love and gifts…Ball caps to cover thinning hair (Be on the lookout for pictures of Mexican hairless chihuahuas to come later…just so you can recognize me if you see me in public!!!). Journals to record His hand during this time…bedside caddies filled with everything I could need, pajamas to be comfortable in, DVDs to watch, tea to drink, mugs to drink from, flowers, AND a laptop from my children!!! No one should be this blessed…
The picture of Scripture is a panel of a quilt that a dear friend and Bible study sister made for me. How appropriate the scripture God gave her.
I will, “… rest in His shadow…He covers me(along with a beautiful, warm quilt)…He is my refuge…and HIS faithfulness will be my shield.” Ps. 91:1-4
And I am covered, safely in the refuge of His Faithfulness.
These days of rejoicing will be tucked away in my heart so that on not so good days, I can be reminded that when things are good…He is Sovereign and Lord…and when things are bad…He is Sovereign and Lord.
THE LORD HAS PROVIDED FOR ME.
Much love to all of you, whom He used in providing for me.
And now I am off to a much needed nap for my liver so it can soak in the meds and start to heal…
I might just start liking my liver again!
Written March 12, 2010 10:20am
Full doses of medicine now…Five pills every day…none of the side effects like before…I have not needed to take ONE pill for nausea…I am thrilled…just thrilled…
This week was a gift…even if other weeks are bad…this week was a gift of hope…to show me that perhaps this next year will not entirely be spent in bed…oh what a gift!
And so, I will update again on Monday to report how the Sunday injection goes…and I will never be the same after this week in regards to being absolutely convinced that He is such a PERSONAL God…Such an INTIMATE God…who has provided me with this medicine and wonderful doctors, friends and family who will help see me through this year.
That is the thing about life changing illnesses or circumstances…it allows us to see a God we would never have known had we not walked through it.
He fixes in our hearts and minds who He is and who we are to Him…I love it…
These words are part of a song that I love…it is a song that was sung many times over in New York and all over after the destruction of the Twin Towers…
“You make your face to shine on me…
That my soul knows very well.
You lift me up, and I’m cleansed and free…
And that my soul knows very well.
When mountains fall…I’ll stand…
By the power of Your hand…
And in Your heart of hearts I’ll dwell…
And that my soul knows very well.
Joy and Strength each day I find…
And that my sould knows very well.
Forgiveness, Lord, I know is mine…
And that my soul knows very well!”
Darlene Zschech…from song “My Soul Knows Very Well”
Forgive me for repeating myself to those of you who have had Bible Study with me before…But the Lord has been working on cementing Himself into every aspect of my life.
He has done that by asking me this past year or so to meditate on this scripture…”Wonderful are Your works, Oh Lord…and that my soul knows very well.” Ps. 139:14
“What is it that your soul knows very well about Me, Child?”
So for these past couple years…at each turn in life…my spirit has been encouraged by His voice as He anchors in my heart those things that I know that I know, because He is the One teaching them.
BUT this week…I have been stunned by the works of His hand as He has fixed in my heart new things that my soul knows very well now.
I have always known very well that His plans for me are good…
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer. 29:11
I have always known very well that He drew me and claimed me. Is. 43:1
I have always known very well that it is His love and kindness that draws me to repentance. Rom.2:4
I know very well that He does not just listen to me…He hears deeper than words and when “my spirit is overwhelmed within me…He knows my path.”
I know very well that He takes great delight in meeting even the smallest of requests, and sometimes the way He meets them is NOT the way I would have wished they were met…but His way was far better than my way.
I know very well that when I can’t see past the dire situation…all I have to do is lift my eyes to see where my hope comes from.
I know very well that no matter whether things are good…or whether things are bad…He is the same God and deserving of the same praise.
I know very well that He has had the best time this week proving to me that He not only heard my cries and the cries of my friends and family…He chose to change those cries into shouts of praise and I think He is LOVING it!!
AND – I know very well where I dwell…in His heart of hearts…
What does your soul know very well?
Written March 15, 2010 10:43am
Many many thanks to all of you for lifting me up in prayer! I cannot thank you enough for your faithfulness on my part.
I am humbled…just humbled…
and now, I go to rest…and revel in the fact that after I finish resting…I will be able to get up and do some laundry…or clean a bathroom…or take a walk…because I will NOT be confined to my bed by illness!
Much love to all of you…I could not do this without you.
Written March 17, 2010 5:38pm
Truly…I have run out of ways to say “Thank You”. I cannot think of any more words to describe how humbled and thankful I am that the Lord truly answered prayers more than we ever hoped or imagined.
Each of the past 10 days has been a true testimony to the delight that the Lord takes in answering our prayers sometimes in ways that just totally astound us.
And each day has been a lesson in how limited my sight and how small my faith.
I never thought I would be quoting this scripture…but I find it to be a very appropriate word from the Lord.
I do not pray it for the reason that many pray it. I know it has been widely used to pray for God’s material blessings and success…
“Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that You would bless me indeed and enlarge my border, and that Your hand might be with me, and that You would keep me from harm that it may not pain me!” And God granted him what he requested.”
1 Chronicles 4:9-11
A loose Hebrew paraphrase would be, “Oh that You would show Your benevolence to me, Lord…enlarge my borders…and that Your hand would be constantly guiding me, and with only the ability God can give, protect me from destruction so that it would not cause me great mental and physical anguish.”
I pray not for enlargement of my border of world’s goods…or success or fame…I pray for an enlargement of what has so kindly been shown to me this week by my precious Lord, of my spiritual borders.
I pray that He would bless me with the wisdom of Himself and the knowledge of who He is, and poke a gaping hole in the borders I have placed around Him.
I pray that He rips down each fencepost I have placed around Him that holds Him back from being able to accomplish His will and His purpose in my life…
not for any other reason than to know Him more deeply so that I can proclaim Him more loudly!
So, maybe I pray not the prayer of Jabez…I pray the Prayer of my heart…
“Oh that You would show Your benevolence to me, Lord…completely destroy all of my feeble human borders that I have built around You, that have kept me from seeing the Truth of Your heart…and (I pray) that Your hand would be constantly guiding me, with only the ability You can give, protect me from the destruction that I so easily bring upon myself, so that I reap not pain…but an enlarged “territory of Your grace and truth” with no borders to limit You.”
And I pray that He answers my prayer…actually, since He is so obviously revealing to me that I need to broaden my horizons of Who I believe Him to be…what I should be saying is…
“And I look anxiously to see how He will grant my request.”
Forgive my limited borders that I so carefully marked off…and enlarge them, Lord…enlarge them with You and only You.
Thank you thank you for your encouragement and prayers…you have been a picture of Christ to me!
Enlarge me, Lord…enlarge me…NO WAIT…Enlarge YOU in me…YOU in me, Lord.
With Much Love,
Written March 22, 2010 1:07pm
The Lord has been so good to heal me through these past 4 years. It might be a different healing than most would want…but it has been more than sufficient for me.
He was so good in 2006 to heal me from my fear!!! It was complete…it was immediate and it was freeing. No more fear regarding this illness…. it has allowed me to live life without constantly worrying about what was going to happen to me. I continually thank Him for that healing.
It has left me with a peace that allows me to say, “Lord, whatever I need…You will provide.” So blessed am I to be able to rest in His care.
I pray that He is healing me today through this medicine…but I remain un afraid of the results…good or bad…it is in His hands and I am so thankful for a powerful God.
Thank you thank you for praying for me and checking on me. I will update again next Monday after the injection and let you know about my first check up on April 6.
Much love to all of you – you have encouraged me more than I can tell you.
Written March 28, 2010 11:48am
Maybe you have felt the same way before…maybe you have had weeks, or months, or years…of wondering where He was. Knowing that you have His assurance of faithfulness and yet, you don’t see it. Maybe you think to yourself that you must have misunderstood Him…because this was not what you thought He said…and why wasn’t He doing things the way you thought He would or should?
God knows – and I know – I have had many times of questioning…but this week, for me…He was a statement and not a question!
And so, where was He this week? He was even closer than the other weeks…as a matter of fact…I was privilege to a front row seat of His physical manifestations of His love and care for me.
His gentleness came through loud and clear each time Ken changed the cold washcloth on my forehead to help relieve the pain in my head, and when he slept on the floor this week so as not to move the bed and make me feel worse, but close enough to hear me if I needed anything.
His concern for my heart was shown in precious letters and cards and e-mails this week that were showered on me by sweet friends and family to encourage me.
His healing hand lay gently on my head as Ken prayed for me multiple times each day.
His joy over me lifted my spirits as I was given several beautiful days of sunshine in which I could rest outside and watch cardinals and fat robins and a couple of morning doves as they prepare for spring.
His blessing and favor was given to me every time the front door opened and in walked(well, one of them was carried!) 3 laughing, giggling bundles of happiness and their mother who brought me soup from Chick-fil-a. AND in every phone call from a precious son-in-law, son and daughter-in-law who called to check on me or tell me they loved me.
And so in this, the hardest of the weeks, I saw His blessing, His favor, His concern, His gentleness, His joy over me, and His healing hand of love.
Where was He…and where is He when you think you can’t see Him?
He is everywhere…we just have to get our own ideas of who He should be out of the way…and let Him reveal Himself in ways we are too limited to imagine.
Oh He’s there all right…and He will be there this coming week…whether it is a good week for me physically, or a challenging one like this week.
He’s already there waiting for me in ways that will bless me immeasurably…if only I’ll open my eyes.
So, I am hoping for a week of feeling better…BUT, I am praying for a week of better vision.
“Open my eyes, Lord…Open my eyes…help me to see.”
“He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen.” Deut.10:21
Much love to all of you…thank you for allowing Him to use you this week to show me how much He loves me.
Written March 29, 2010 3:09pm
Written April 6, 2010 4:07pm
I am so thrilled to be able to say that the Lord has been so gracious to us in these past weeks. Only one rough week out of 5 and my first dr. appt. this morning.
Not all of the lab work is in yet…but preliminary results are very good. She said she can tell it is doing something because my liver enzymes are coming down.
White count and platelet count are both low…but not at concerning levels. It is just smarter for me to stay out of large groups of people right now…and I am perfectly happy to comply.
Much much thanks to all of you who have checked on me and prayed for me and over me…God has answered the prayers of His children, He has done great things and I am filled with joy.
Written April 10, 2010 3:44pm
See these happy faces???? They are why I am going through this…I have soccer games to watch and sleepovers to go to and camp outs and vacations and school programs and snuggles in bed as we tuck them in for the night…I do not have time to be sick…and grandbabies I have not even met yet from Jess and Sara! I have too much to do.
Which is why I could not be happier about the fact that my latest lab results are so so promising!!
1,100!!! I had to see it in print! 1,100, 1,100, 1,100!!!
That is my viral load number!!! The goal is 0….and when I started 5 weeks ago, my number was 349,000!!! In 5 weeks I have lost almost 348,000 points!!!!!!!!!! Thank you Lord, thank you!! A thousand times, thank you…NO…348,000 thank you!!
Oh, we were dancing around my house…screaming, laughing, whooping and hollering…Aisha…the girl who gave me my results, was just laughing on the other end of the phone and finally started just saying “Praise the Lord” right along with me!!
A day for praise for me…a new day…a hope for a new life without this disease haunting me in the background…I have even been told that as I finish out the treatment this year – YES – I DO have to finish the treatment out…there is a 95% chance of being free of this virus forever! The idea is to get my number down to 0 – which will probably be another week or two…and THEN keep it at 0 for the year, which ensures that the medicine will root out every little virus cell there is and kill it.
I CAN DO THIS…I CAN DO A WHOLE YEAR…WELL – GOD can do a whole year and I will just be happy to be along for the ride!!
And, my prayer from the beginning has been, “…that measure of health which will glorify Him most…”. For five years (well actually for much much longer, but I have only known five years) that measure of health has not been all that great…but today…the glimmer of hope that my measure of health might be a physical blessing.
Most of you recall that after the first attempt at treatment…I experienced healing at the Lord’s hand. It was sweet, it was miraculous and it was complete. It just did not look like people thought it would look like.
He healed me then, from any fear of this disease and has allowed such a testimony of His hand in my life that I told Him many times I would gladly hold onto this as long as He wanted or the rest of my life…if I could just have HIM be this sweet and this gracious at every turn. So truly I have not ever really let myself think of a physical healing. How could I ask for more when I had already been healed?
AND SO this day…the Lord opened a door of physical hope for me…and it is a very different feeling. A humbling of sorts that I do not ever want to forget. A grace at His hand that will need to be proclaimed and retold every chance I get…so that He indeed will be given all the glory and praise.
And now…I am off to plant flowers that my three grandsons and their mother surprised me with last night as a celebration of test results. They showed up at the doorstep with every kind of flower possible and a little Japanese maple in the very center…tickled pink with themselves for surprising me…I am so blessed, so blessed.
1,100….don’t forget it…I know I won’t!!
Written April 16, 2010 10:33am
I love a storm…thunder rolling, lightning crashing, rain pelting…I don’t know why…I just love them. They rarely frighten me – unless of course there is a tornado in the middle. I think the gardener in me loves the water that nourishes my flowerbeds and how green the grass is when the storm passes.
I am not a big fan of life’s storms, however…I am sure you know what I mean. I’m not talking about a rain-shower or a mild sprinkling that allows me to still see the joy in the midst of the rain and leaves me happy and glow-y just knowing that God is at work.
I did not have a “storm” kind of week…but I did have a “storms could be on the horizon kind of week.” A week spent trying to fight off the nauseating effects of the chemo…and I must say that even though it was not as bad as last time…it did leave me dreading a whole year.
Yes, I know…I had a great week last week. I had some wonderful news about the medicine working and I am so so thankful that I am among the fortunate. I do not mean to be ungrateful. But, the human part of me this week, was a little weary from fighting the nausea.
It reminded me that I have been so faithfully rescued from so many storms, I should know that He is at work.
BIG STORMS – He has rescued me. I am talking S-T-O-R-M-S…one that is not over in a day or a week, or even a month…you know the kind. Where the rain is so thick we can’t even see the raindrops and we have no idea when it is going to let up…let alone the possibility of a rainbow at the end. That kind of storm…not a big fan.
I don’t know about you, but I start begging my way out of them from the beginning.
I am sure God does not WANT me in a storm…so, come on God…calm the waters! Surely I have learned so much by now that I can rely on those lessons learned from past storms. Seriously, I am sure I can do Him more good by testifying about the victory over the storm…can’t I, Lord?
Sometimes I am almost sure I can see Him shaking His head at me…not judgmentally…just shaking His head…smiling lovingly, not at my predicament, but at the knowledge that once again, while I am looking for an easy way out…He is looking for a deeper way in.
It usually plays out like this…Jesus says(as in Luke 8), “Child, let us go over to the other side of the lake.” A journey with Jesus…that sounds awesome, “Count me in,” I say as I hop in the boat. What could possibly go wrong…we are just going over to the other side of the lake.
And just as suddenly, a beautiful day trip turns into a fierce gale of wind and now as the boat is crashing against the waves and the waves are higher than the boat…I am feeling a little sea sick…get me off this stupid boat…or at least out of the storm! And HE is so peaceful He is resting…WHAT? I’m drowning…He’s RESTING?
I don’t usually wait long before I start begging! “Master, Master…I am perishing!” For Pete’s sake, surely You could see that?
There have been times when He has calmed the waters at my first cry. There have been many more times when He did not calm the waters…but He did calm my heart. Only my heart had to go to an unfamiliar place, deeper than any waves, deeper than any pelting rain…very deep…deeper than I ever thought I could go and still survive.
There is a place in the ocean where, no matter how furiously the storms rage, no matter how high the waves, no matter what is thrown about by the storm…there is a place no storm can touch.
It is called the “Cushion of the Sea.” And it is deep, very deep. Not just, put on our scuba gear and let’s check it out deep. Way, way farther down than is thought possible to go.
There could be a tsunami going on at the surface of the sea…but at this depth…there would be no sign of any storm, nothing being blown about. As a matter of fact, if divers were to take samples from the sea floor…they would discover that nothing has been stirred for hundreds, or thousands of years.
A “Cushion” from the storms…a calm place…a serene place…a very very deep place. As I look down into the water from my crashing boat…I can see Him looking up at me from that quiet place. I can see Him holding out His hand and telling me, it’s okay, come on…there is peace down here…get out of the boat, Child.
I wonder why I would rather stay in a crashing boat than jump into the water? I think I am afraid of drowning.
And yet, wherever He is…that is where I want to go, if I drown, I’ll drown with Him. The first plunge is always the coldest and scariest…and while I thought that the deeper He drug me, the harder it would be to breathe, I am finding that I can actually breathe deeper than I ever thought imaginable in the middle of the storm raging on top of the water.
And I find that He was not AT rest in the boat crashing in the storm…He is THE Rest.
While storms rage and boats crash and we feel ourselves sinking and drowning…He is actually very much at work, taking us to a place of Peace and Rest…taking us to Himself.
Our ANCHOR in storms…ones we are in and ones on the horizon. Head for the Cushion of Sea…the air is much clearer, the atmosphere more peaceful, and you will find your REST there.
Like Max Lucado says in his book, “Six Hours One Friday”,
“Anchor deep…say a prayer…and hold on. And don’t be surprised if someone walks across the water to give you a hand.”
Much love to all of you for the faithfulness of your prayers and the encouragement you give me daily!
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast…” Heb.6:19
Written April 27, 2010 10:11am
Each day new…and that can be very annoying for a person who likes to plan. Whenever I think of my self laid plans, I am always reminded of that old comment…”Want to see God laugh? Make plans!”
More fatigue these past two weeks and a little nausea, but all in all, the worst days now are better than the best days before…so I cannot complain.
I have had some precious pictures embedded in my mind from these weeks.
Sweet, sweet Jantzen, who brought his “favorite green blankie” to me while I was laying on the couch so that I could feel better.
The ever compassionate Jaxson who was trying so hard to find his caterpillar collection because…”Honey, if you could just see how cute and fuzzy they are…it will make you feel better.”
And Pal…wow…he surprised us all when I suddenly came down with a bad case of nausea while we were watching the boys(which is what gives me the most pleasure these days – not the nausea…being with the boys! Jennah is so good to make sure I am able to spend a lot of time with them – they are a good diversion), and I walked out of the bathroom and there was Pal…one boy on either side of him watching Pixar cartoons, and one baby in his lap…all four of them laughing hysterically over the cartoons…even the baby! Good Job, Pal!!!
Jess and Sara stop by, call and check on me…Jennah, Jaaf and the boys bring me chicken soup from Chick-fil-a…Ken makes sure I am okay during the day…precious friends stop by for visits or send encouraging cards…each day is new and each day is blessed.
The Lord keeps bringing to my mind that phrase, “Sealed Orders”. “Sealed Orders, Debbie, it is what I give you each day…for THAT day.”
In times of war, many of our great navy vessels were sent to sea without knowing where they were going. Their assignment was written on a scroll and sealed and it was not to be opened until they had embarked on their journey.
When they were out to sea, the captain would open the seal and read the orders for his ship. Often he was not told where he was going, he was just given a longitude and latitude and when he reached this point, he was to radio back to see where he was to go next. They spent their whole time at sea not knowing exactly where they were going, but always confident that the one in control knew just where to send them.
And so…my life is being lived every morning unsealing new orders. I have no idea what they will be or where they will take me. And I am not the kind of person who enjoys knowing just the longitude and latitude!
However, when this whole process began again, I asked the Lord, “How in the world can I get through a whole year of not feeling well? A YEAR? How will I do that, Lord?”
“YOU won’t be able to do that, Dear One.” I heard my Savior say…”But WE will…and we will do it one day at a time. I will give you what you need, when you need it…and that is how we will make it through a year.”
And He has proven to be faithful in that…now we are 8 weeks down!! My sealed orders have taken me to so many different locations, and then as soon as I get there, I am given new orders. I figure I am probably going to be sailing this whole year and have no idea what my destination is.
However….I may not know my destinations…but I DO know my Navigator…and He can take me anywhere He wants.
“By faith, Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out…and he went out not knowing where he was going.” Heb.11:8
Thank you for being a picture of God’s love for me. You have all blessed me.
Written May 4, 2010 10:37am
“The one who feeds on Me will live…” (John 6:57)
Good Tuesday Morning, Friends and Family! I have just been in a spirit of thankfulness this morning as I have enjoyed 2 very good mornings after my Sunday shot. I am beginning to think that perhaps I could be one of the many who are able to tolerate this treatment better after the first 3 months.A serious or chronic illness causes such a shift in thinking. While errands used to be irritants that could eat up my time…they are now fun, quick excursions that I am ever so grateful I feel well enough to embark upon. A run to the bank, a drive to the post office, the energy to clean my own kitchen…all gifts…absolute gifts that the Lord has allowed me to have for most of these past 9 weeks.As I was thanking the Lord this morning, His sweet voice reminded me once again…”It is all about choice, Debbie, all about choice.”I can choose to be upset that all I can do is small errands…or I can choose to be thankful that I have the ability to run small errands. I can choose to be upset that I have to go through this treatment…or I can choose to be thankful that there is medicine that could cure it.
We can choose — it is a gift He has given us.
Joy or discouragement
Positive or negative
Forgiveness or anger
Light or darkness
Peace or fear
Life or death
A choice…and what I choose affects everything and everyone around me.
There has been an actual scientific study done that shows that negative thinking shows up physically in the brain as a pattern…negative thoughts beget more negative thoughts. And that when the choice is made to focus on positive and not negative…there is an actual physical shift that can be noted in the brain. And with practice, the brain can be trained to think positively instead of negatively…but the key word is practice…we can choose…positive…negative.
“We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.
They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Victor Frankl
I remember when He was so good to heal me of my fear after we had to discontinue treatment in 2006. And, trust me, fear did have a hold on me for awhile.
I have a disease…it wreaks havoc on a liver and it increases chances of other more serious liver diseases. There was much anxiety before every blood test. Was this the time that a much more serious problem would arise? Are there indicators of something more serious setting in? Have I just doomed myself to any early death because of quitting the treatment or have I now caused irreparable damage?
Waiting for test results could drive a person insane…days seem like years when your fate lies in the balance.
I remember that day in 2006…I was waiting for results that were very slow in coming…the days dragged on to weeks and still no word. The anxiety was beginning to make me feel sick to my stomach.
As I was finally reduced to a puddle of worry and begging the Lord to pleeeeaaaaaasssssssseeeeeeeee get those tests back…His reassuring hand calmed my heart.
Forgive me…I know many of you already know this story…it just needs to be told to make a point, bear with me.
“Debbie,” He said, “What if, what I meant when I said I would heal you…was that I would heal you from your fear?”
And with that, every worry, every fear, every anxiety melted completely away and I was left saying, “Oh YES, Lord…I’ll take it!” Healing from fear covers a much wider scope than healing from my disease!
And so there was a healing…I would like to say that it has never come up again…but serpents being what they are will always try to confuse us and question His work in our lives.
There have been many times over the past years when I have heard him hiss doubt into my soul…”Truly…is the fear gone? How can you be so close to permanent physical damage…or worse…and NOT be afraid? Why…if He truly loved you…wouldn’t He just take it away and make you well?” You know the routine…he hisses the same things into your soul…whatever your weakest point is…he knows it and he uses it.
The key is being able to distinguish between a serpent and a Shepherd…one voice causes confusion…the other speaks life. We have a choice which one we listen to.
And so, for me, these past five years have been a choice…do I listen to the doubt being fostered in my heart…or do I stand firm in the knowledge that He healed my fear.
I choose to believe in Him and His hand of healing. I choose to say “no” to the destructive thoughts and cling to the One who truly has the power to heal. I remind the confuser that indeed I was healed from the fear and he has no right to bring it back.
And when that questioner comes to destroy peace, I allow My Shepherd to usher him out the door…and lock it behind him.
Don’t get me wrong…I have chosen to feed my fear many times…but really…what’s the point? The more I feast on fear…the more fear reproduces…it leaves me drained from anything that resembles life.
I choose to feast on the Bread of Life.
It’s a choice…fear or faith.
I choose faith…
I just choose Him.
“Do not fear for I have redeemed you…when you pass through the waters…they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched…For I am the Lord your God…the Holy One of Israel…your Savior…” Is.43:1-3
Much love to you my family and friends…for your constant support, encouragement and prayers. You make all the difference.
Written May 13, 2010 11:00am
I have waited to post this week until I had my final lab work results in.
I am VERY happy to say that my virus numbers that started out at 350,000 are now down to 43! Yes…that’s what I said…43!
So very thankful…the medicine is working, my body is responding and I will be taking my 11th shot this weekend! Almost have the first quarter out of the way!
It has been an up and down kind of week, but I am still holding my own and thankful for all of the Lord’s blessings. I was reminded this week of how hard it is to wait for lab tests. I don’t know why it was brought home more this week, but it was.
Living with serious and chronic illnesses force you and your loved ones to live in the realm of the unknown. I don’t know of very many people who LIKE the unknown. Most of us want to know results or at least a plan of action. But there is so much about diseases and treatments that we do not know.
And actually, there is much about life that we do not…and cannot know.
We cannot know the outcomes before they are brought about.
We cannot know how we will fare until we are in the middle of it.
We cannot know if this will ever happen again or if anyone we love will ever have to go through something like this.
So much we cannot know…but the Lord reminded me several times this week as I did not know all my test results…
“Do not allow what you cannot know, Debbie, to interfere with what you CAN know.”
And so I was reminded again to focus on only those things that I CAN know…and not become preoccupied with what I cannot.
I can know that I will never have to walk through any trials alone…God has given me extra special family and friends to support and encourage me. And I can always count on HIM to be there!
I can always know that even when I am very sick and cannot talk or communicate very well…He still speaks lovingly to my spirit and I can hear Him comfort me.
I can always know that while I do not know what the future holds…I do know the One who plans my future and I know His plans are for good.
I can always know (and I have learned from experience) that at my very weakest points…He is at His strongest.
Choosing to focus on what I CAN know instead of what I cannot know changes what I see.
If I look only at what I canNOT know…I focus only on circumstances and events…and worry, lots of worry.
If I look only at what I CAN know…I see the blessings of my family and friends and His hand in my life.
Like Beth Moore says in her study on “Esther”…
“When we wait on an event, we become weak and worried…
When we wait on HIM, our strength will be renewed.”
“Those who wait upon the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they wil run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Is. 40:31
Much love to all of you!! And my favorite number today is 43!!!!!
Written May 17, 2010 11:30am
WARNING…WARNING…THINGS ARE ABOUT TO GET UGLY!!
(Actually…they already are!) No matter how many times people tell me I look “great”…I have eyes…I can see the mirror.
(Do not worry…I am completely confident in my worth to God and the world around me…I am not in any way having an identity crisis. But, I have found that one of the best ways to deal with life is to be able to not take yourself too seriously and learn to laugh AT myself and WITH myself)
I appreciate their love for me and wanting to build up my spirits with their kindness…but…trust me when I say…things are about to get ugly!
I know this because every morning there is more hair on my pillow and in my hands when I shampoo. (Shampoo reminds me that when my daughter, Jennah, asked 4YO Jantzen what he wanted to do this summer, he replied…”I want to go to the beach to see Shampoo…you know, the killer whale!! Random…but I thought we could all use a laugh!)
There is a rather pallid look to my coloring that is commonly described as “chemo gray”…it is lovely…such a show stopping accent to the bags under the eyes and white lips.
I would send a picture but there is something to be said for protecting innocent eyes from visions they cannot remove from their memories, but wish like crazy they could!
I am SURE my neighbor, Jim, wishes that he could remove the image from his mind!!
Jim is so generous to often offer Thunder basketball tickets to Ken when he has extras! We love our new pro basketball team in OKC and any time Ken can go to relieve the stress of life right now, it is a welcome respite.
Our doorbell rang not too long ago…for obvious reasons I do not answer the door anymore…but Ken happened to be mowing the back yard and I was left to scare the daylights out of Jim.
After several rings, during which time I was contemplating ignoring or answering the door…(but only for Jim’s sake, not mine), I slowly opened the door while I gradually revealed myself in all my loveliness so as not to shock Jim into a stupor…it did not work.
I am not sure which impressed him the most…the lovely hair that was flat on one side from laying in bed all day, the pale skin and lips, the bags, the wrinkles…or maybe it was all the wrinkles in my t-shirt and sweat pants(again from laying in bed that day!)
I laugh as I type this because Jim completely validated all these past weeks of me saying, “Yikes…I am losing my cute-ness!” and all my loved ones telling me, “No, really, you look fine!!” HA!! I say to them now…HA!! I was right all along.
Poor Jim, as the door opened wider, so did his eyes, until all I could see was two huge eyeballs and one mouth hanging open.
“DEBBIE?????” Jim said with just a touch of panic in his voice. And then he could not finish his sentence. I am quite sure it was because he could not remember what he was going to say after the shock of my revealing.
“I, uhhh, I wanted to, ummm, uhhhh…”
I think he was getting ready to call an ambulance.
I decided it was time to put him out of his misery.
“Jim…don’t worry, I’m okay…you probably did not know that I had started treatment again, but it is much better than last time. It just leaves me very tired(I really wanted to add…”and ugly”but I did not.)…don’t worry.”
Relief flooded his face…and then of course, he expressed his kind concern for me and I led him out to the backyard where he gave Ken some tickets for a game.
Poor Jim…I hope he did not suffer too many nightmares.
I love this story…because, we who are sick, know we are sick and sometimes it is so refreshing to just see pure honest emotion (albeit horror is not usually a welcome expression).
I have been ill for long enough to have heard it all and seen a whole range of comfort that loved ones offer. The honest ones comfort the most.
Honesty…it helps the most. Pure, sweet, simple, and caring.
I LOVED LOVED Jim’s reaction…because it said, “WOW…something is not right here!” And he was right.
I love it when people don’t try to say things are going to be just fine…because none of us knows if it will be fine for our loved ones or ourselves.
I have loved all the cards, phone calls and e-mails that just say, “I’m thinking of you…I love you…I am praying for you…I miss you.”
I loved the friends who did not argue that my hair was going to thin or fall out…they just bought me some ball caps.
I loved the card that said, “I am looking forward to looking back on this!”
I had one friend whose response when she first heard about treatment again was just, “Well, that just ticks me off that you have to do this again…I think I hate your liver.” She made me laugh.
It is healing to be able to be honest about illness…to be able to express sorrow and fears.
So, if you have loved ones going through physical illnesses know these things:
Any physical illness is also emotional illness…you have to deal not just with the body…but also the heart and soul.
Allow those you love to run the gamut of emotions and don’t try to explain away their feelings. They are valid feelings and it might be a long period of mourning over lost health before they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Don’t try to always make them see the bright side of things…some days it feels like there is no bright side. (Wow Dad…I am SO SO SORRY THAT I DID NOT KNOW THIS BEFORE YOUR HEART SURGERY AND CANCER! I hope you can forgive me for always trying to bring out the positive because that can be downright annoying AND invalidates your feelings of loss!!!)
Allowing the person to have their bad days allows them to experience the pain and not stifle it. If it is just always covered up and sugar coated…it just gets repressed and there is no healing in repressing. When you truly get to the end of yourself…and you feel the pain that involves…that can also be your point of beginning to heal because now you are faced with a choice…you can overcome it, or you can allow it to overcome you.
There are some battles that only the patient can fight…but it is so so comforting to know that I don’t have to fight them alone. You cannot make my body better…but you have made my heart better!
I love you.
I am thinking about you today.
I wish you did not have to go through this.
I am going to the store-what can I get you?
Can I bring you lunch?
How can I pray for you?
What could I do to help ease your pain/anxiety/worry/fear?
I don’t blame you…you have every right to feel this.
I am here for you.
I am thankful there is medicine…but I hate it that you have to suffer side effects.
I am thinking about you today.
I love you. I love you. I love you.
All excellent things to say if you have someone sick in your life.
Thank you, all of you, for your precious responses…all of you have lifted my spirits, allowed me to genuinely voice my disappointments and my victories, and loved me through these past 5 years.
And thanks, Jim, your reaction validated every feeling I have had these past 3 months!!
P.S. Good day today…no nausea and I am even going to work in my flower beds!
Written May 27, 2010 10:01am
Unless you had been here in 2006 to watch the Interferon treatment as it slowly sapped my life away…
It would be hard to appreciate the fact that yesterday, I went to buy milk and a watermelon…all by myself.
Unless you had been Ken or Jennah or Jess…and had to pick me up off the bathroom floor and try to help me crawl to the bed…
It would be hard to understand that each time I do a load of laundry or make a sandwich, I am reminded of the miracle God is working right now.
Unless you had been sweet friends here to pray over me and for me, and bring food to my family because I could not stand the smell of food…
It would be hard to believe how happy I was this weekend to make birthday cake and custard pies for Ken’s birthday.
I cannot stand up for very long without resting, I cannot talk much without being short of breath, and my muscles feel like they are jell-o and begin to tremble after I unload the dishwasher…but I CAN unload the dishwasher!
Just because something is not HUGE…does not make it any less of a miracle.
It is the little things that I am able to do every day that reminds me of the “big-ness” of God.
That is not to say that it is easy…each week has some part of it that leaves me thinking…”Whew…this is going to be a long year!” But then, each week also has a gift that leaves me reminded of God’s promise that we would make it through this year one day at a time.
And so, in March, when I started the treatment…my mountain sure seemed impossible to climb…but today I am one fourth of the way up the side of the mountain!
I was reminded this week as I climbed another few steps up the mountain that this year is my “Goliath”.
One of my favorite books is “Facing Your Giants” by Max Lucado. I love what he says when he describes the confrontation between David and his Goliath…
“Giants…we all have them. First thought of morning, last worry of night…your Goliath dominates your day and infiltrates your joy. The question is…is he all you see?
“Who is this Philistine that he should defy the armies of the Living God,” David asks. “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine!”
Max says, “David shows up discussing God. He sees what others don’t and refuses to see what others do. David majors in God. He sees the giant, mind you…he just sees God more so.”
‘You come to me with a sword, a spear and a javelin,’ David says to Goliath. ‘I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel…this day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands…so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.’
And David ran quickly out to meet him and struck Goliath in the forehead using a sling and a stone…and Goliath fell down at David’s feet.”(1 Sam. 17)
Max says, “God thoughts out number Goliath thoughts by 4 times. Is your list of blessings 4 times longer than your list of complaints? Are you 4 times more likely to describe the strength of God as you are the demands of your day?
Giants…we all have to face them…we just don’t have to face them alone.
See your giant…just see God more!”
This week I received my second shipment of medicine. Now that might not sound like a miracle…but trust me, it is a compilation of miracles:
I could answer the door and sign for the meds…Miracle.
I needed another shipment because I am already finished with the first shipment…Miracle.
I told my daughter-in-law’s mother, Pam, last week that even the statement, “This is going to be a long year” is a miracle. Because last time, 12 weeks in, I was saying, “I can’t do this another week.” This time I am saying it will be a long year…but I am not even considering that I won’t make it a year…THAT IS A MIRACLE!
So, I am not under any delusions that this year will be easy, and the mountain might be treacherous.
I choose to run out, like David, and meet my Goliath head on(hang on – I have to get my sling and stone)…
Oh I see him alright…I just see God more!
Much love to all of you and thank you for loving me!
P.s. Ginny Duvall..you take the most amazing pictures…thank you for all you and Don have done.
Written June 3, 2010 11:01am
I think I must be hard headed…even when I learn a lesson, it seems that it is necessary for the Lord to bring it back and teach me again…or maybe He is just bringing it back to teach me MORE.
Having a chronic illness or disease, and the treatments that go with them, can be a rollercoaster ride. Sometimes up, sometimes down and we have the tendency to focus on just the “up” times. You know, the “I have learned so much about myself and God is working a miracle” times. There is something in me that loves to share what God has done and the gifts of His generous hand.
However, there is something in me even stronger, that wants to share the “down” times more. Not to berate myself or anyone having a down time…but to bring home the knowledge that we are human…not superhuman.
There is no one person, no matter how strong, who can endure all of life’s trials and never have any “down” time. As much as we would like to be able to say we can handle everything that is thrown at us…we cannot. And it is prideful of us if we think we can.
Let me preface this by saying…”Mom and Dad…don’t worry…I’m okay!” (I am smiling as I type this because I know them!)
I had a rough weekend. I had, as a matter of fact, reached a point this weekend where 9 hours of cramping and nausea left me tired and worn.
Poor Ken…so patient with me. I think I must have looked pretty pitiful when he walked into the bedroom and found me sitting on the bed crying.
“What’s wrong??? Are you going to be okay???” He asked.
“I – DON’T – KNOW!” I sobbed. “A year of not feeling good? I am so tired of waking up and having to fight nausea so many mornings.” And yada yada yada as I had a pity party on how hard things were.
That’s right…a breakdown…I had one. As much as I would like to say that I can handle things…the Lord always brings it home crystal clear to show me how limited my strength is on my own.
I heard His kind voice repeating to me again the lesson He had taught 5 years ago.
“Child…tell me HOW I can be your strength when you keep trying to hold on to your own strength. We are fighting over the reigns and I cannot do what I need to do as long as you keep trying to pull them out of my hands.”
“As long as YOU are determined to be strong on your own…it leaves no room for Me to be able to fill you with MY strength. You are in the way.”
I am in the way.
I want His help…I ask for His help..I beg for His wisdom…I long for His rescue and peace…and yet…
I get in the way.
I’m in the way each time I try to figure things out on my own and then hope He will go along with it.
I’m in the way each day that I pray for strength and then do not surrender my weakness.
I’m in the way every time I ask Him to do something and then try to work things out on my own because I do not like His timetable.
Good grief…I am my own worst obstacle!
“Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4.
It is His kindness that leads us to repentance. It is His kindness that draws us out of ourselves and to His heart. It is His kindness, it is His kindness, it is His kindness…
And because of that kindness…we are safe to get to the end of ourselves.
It is His kind and loving hand that strokes the brow of the fevered and sick.
It is His kind and loving voice that sings over us to replenish our spirit.
It is His kind and redeeming heart that allows us to trust Him enough to say, “I am weak, I am weak, I am weak.”
So I found myself on the bathroom floor this weekend saying, “I am weak, I am very weak, I have no strength in me.”
And in that same moment I heard Him whisper…”Oh but you are wrong, Dear One. The moment of admitting your weakness allows Me the room to fill you with MY strength.”
So while I would like to be strong enough to get through every obstacle on my own…I find that I am not strong enough to make it through anything on my own.
And the second I say, “I give up…”I can hear the smile in His voice as He whispers, “Ah, now THAT I can work with!””…God has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you…My power is perfected in weakness.’
Therefore most gladly I will boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me…for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:9,10
Written June 9, 2010 7:05pm
My sister in law, Carolyn, sent me a card that made me laugh out loud this week, and then tacked on a challenge. I am up to the challenge, but, Carolyn, it will have to wait until next week because of something that happened this week. (Look for it, Carolyn, I think you’ll be happy!)
This week has been a welcome relief after last week. Not nearly as much nausea and more energy than before. Thank you, Lord!
But this week, my oldest grandson, Jaxson(pictured above with his Pal), taught us all a lesson. Jaxson is a 6 year old delight with a smile that twinkles all the way to his toes. He has one of the most tender hearts of a little boy that I have ever seen. He is sensitive and wise beyond his years and has a love for the Lord that is not often seen in one so young.
He never goes to school without putting on his armour, “Honey, make sure you have on your breastplate of righteousness and your sword of the spirit and shield of salvation so you can be strong and courageous for Jesus!” he has told me before.
Jaxson is a man of prayer!! He prays about everything. He prays for homeless people when he sees them in the winter that God will provide a warm place for them. He prays for his family, for his school, for his friends, for children who do not have as much as he does, and that the Lord would make him strong and courageous.
If Jaxson hears someone ask for prayer, he immediately drops what he is doing so that he can pray right that second…because why would you wait when someone needs prayer right away?
He prays with strength and might for someone so young…he has learned it from his mom and dad.
I could use up all this page bragging on my boy!
This week, Jaxson came down sick. His mother took him to the doctor and had prepared him that he might have to have blood taken…I am sure he probably turned 3 shades of green thinking about it, but Jennah said he was so brave.
They poked the needle in once…but no vein. So they moved the needle all around (ouch!!) inside his arm trying to find the vein. No luck. So they poked him again with the same results, then the other arm.
After several failed attempts, they finally laid him on the table and let his arm fall over the side and they were able to get some blood. Poor little guy!
One poke of a needle would have most kids screaming…let alone 4 different pokes and then poking around under the skin!
But there was no screaming. He got sick to his stomach (I would be too!), but no yelling. He is only 6 mind you!
His mother bent lovingly over the table to comfort her son and whispered fervent prayer in his ears to help take his mind off the pain and to ask the Lord for strength to endure it.
Later that day, after Jaxson heard his mother telling his Pal how much it hurt and how brave Jaxson was, he said, “Pal, it did not hurt as bad as I thought…I just kept praying the whole time, ‘Jesus please make me strong and courageous and don’t let it hurt and please help me to get through this…'”
His mother said, “Jaxson, mommy was praying in your ear the whole time, do you remember mommy praying for you while it was going on?”
“No, mom,” Jaxson said, “I did not hear anything because I was listening too hard to Jesus and praying.”
He is six…that is all…and yet, Jaxson has placed so much faith in the Lord that he not only prays to Him, he believes Jesus has the power to answer his prayers, and he listens for the voice of His Savior.
He listens so hard that he was not thinking of the pain. As a matter of fact, he was praying and listening so hard to only Jesus that he did not even hear his mother’s voice as
she whispered prayers into his ear.
Jaxson’s faith convicted me this week.
Am I concentrating on the work that the Lord is doing so fully that it blocks out anything that would draw my attention away from Him.
Focus…Jaxson had it, the distraction of the needle and even the voice of his mother praying in his ear did not pull him from the focus of his Lord.
I pray for Jaxson’s kind of “focus”…I pray that as the things of the world and this illness might try to distract me from my King, I pray that my eyes and my ears are intently tuned to only one voice.
And just as Jennah leaned over that bed and whispered prayers of healing and strength over her boy…I ask that the Lord bring that same picture to our minds as we are in our beds, or in our cars, or at our desks…that picture of Him…as He lays his loving hands on our heads, and leaning in so close that only we can hear as our Father whispers words of hope, words of love, words of healing.
And I pray that I am so intently focused on the words of His heart that the things of the world will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.
Thank you my precious grandson, for once again teaching your Honey about a stronger faith.
Written June 16, 2010 12:01pm
Written June 24, 2010 1:18pm
“A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie.” T. Jordan
It is a commonly known concept among Christian philosophers, theologians and counselors, that the very first glimpse we have into God’s character, comes from our relationship with our parents.
If we had loving, forgiving, accessible parents, we tend to rest in those same assurances from our Father.
Conversely, we can also mistakenly attribute to God those negative human characteristics, if we experienced unforgiving, harsh, or emotionally or physically absent parents.
Of course, no person could ever be the perfect parent, and it is only through seeking God that we learn to see Him for who He truly is and forgive our parents in their shortcomings…and pray that our children can forgive us in ours.
I say this because, if ever there were parents who taught about the loving aspects of God, and his forgiveness and acceptance, they are (and still are) mine.
I was reminded of that this past week as I was allowed some much needed “Mother” time, since my daughter and son-in-law flew her in to surprise me! My family conspired and I did not even guess!
What a shock I had when I walked into my kitchen and the whole family had gathered with my mother sitting at my breakfast table. I was so shocked I could not stop crying…(My grandsons do not even get concerned anymore if I happen to burst into tears…they just mumble, “Tears of joy, tears of joy…”). I also needed to go straight to the couch to lie down as my blood sugar and pressure dropped and the rooms started spinning from the shock!
What a wonderful week we had. I loved watching my mother as she got on the floor to play with Jaxson, Jantz and Jett.
She is not afraid to be silly or be happy or crawl around with children as she delights in them and plays with them. She is a picture of the absolute joy the Lord takes in spending time with us. We are His beloved…and His joy.
One of my favorite authors says, “If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning… Face it, friend. He is crazy about you! ” M. Lucado
This past week was one of my strongest weeks…I am convinced it was because of mother. My blinds, my windows, my floors and my plants have not looked this good in 3 months! I sat on the couch and she hopped from one project to another and in between work, she made me snacks and lunches and bowls of fruit. And in the evenings, we sat on the bed upstairs, watching television and laughing like school girls.
I DO have to say that I evidently have a selfish side…the first day mother was here, every time she asked what she could do to help me, I told her she did not need to do anything, just sit with me. By the third day, I was asking for lunch, breakfast, tea, fruit….I slipped into this quite quickly and I guess I need to work on my selflessness. (Except it was so so wonderful to be able to have her help that I could not help myself! Who doesn’t love having their mom help them?)
Oh she was good for the soul.
My mother is an unusual person. Even after many mountains and valleys in her life…she still chooses to see the joy in it. (Note the picture with Jaxson…my daughter pointed out that their smiles are identical!) My mother does not just live…she squeezes every single breath out of every single day and does not want to miss a thing! (Which is awesome for all of us…except sometimes she totally wears us out!!! No one should have that much energy all the time!)
She is never anything but thankful and grateful and kindness is on her lips at all times. She always believes the best in people and when others disappoint her, she does forgiveness better than anyone I know.
If someone is in need…they can usually count on mother to be the first one there. Her entire family has stories of how we could not have gotten through something if it weren’t for her.
She has failures, just like the rest of us, but they are eclipsed by the strengths of her character and integrity.
Truly, the words have already been written to describe her…
“An excellent wife (and mother), who can find? Her worth is far above jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her. She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.
She works with her hands in delight.
She girds herself with strength.
She extends her hand to the poor; and stretches out her hands to the needy.
Strength and dignity are her clothing and she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
Her children rise up and bless her,
Her husband also, he praises her saying, “Many women have done nobly, but you excel them all.”
A woman who loves the Lord, she shall be praised.” Prov. 31
Thanks MOM!!! Not just for everything you did last week to help, but for allowing your life to be a living testimony of joy, selflessness, kindness, strength, forgiveness and love. I know I speak for the rest of the family, too, when I say you have taught us more than you will ever know…not only with words, but with your life.
I will always be grateful that I was fortunate enough to grow up with a woman of character as my example.
I love you and I LOVE YOU!!
AND I MISS YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Written July 2, 2010 5:01pm
That’s what this year feels like…a trip over a mountain, one pebble at a time…not a fun way to travel for someone who likes to get somewhere fast.
A couple of weeks ago, my sister in law, Carolyn, sent me a musical card. I opened it up and immediately heard, “Haaaaaang on Sloopy, Sloopy hang on!” I am sure you can hear that song in your head. It made me smile.
Then I read her sweet note and this is how it ended, “Your mission, should you choose to accept it, find a spiritual meaning to Hang on Sloopy!” That made me laugh out loud, Carolyn. I guess the spiritual message could be that laughter is good for the soul!
So, I did what all good Bible students do…they look for the Greek or Hebrew meaning to a word. It might not surprise you to hear that there is virtually NO Greek or Hebrew translation for the word, “Sloopy”! Zip, zilch, nada. WHO KNEW?
Which pretty much just leaves us with “Hang on”! And THAT my friend, will preach.
Hang on, don’t give up, keep going, don’t let go…in other words…persevere. And THAT does have a Greek meaning.
How do you picture “perseverance”? What does it look like in your mind when you think about persevering?
I think of just barely hanging on by the skin of your teeth (is that a real saying??? Skin of your teeth?) I have a picture of someone who has slipped off the side of a cliff and is desperately clawing their hands in the dirt trying to get back on solid ground. Any moment now they might fall to their doom. Heart racing, panic rising…quickly looking around for anyone to pull them up.
I have to confess that I have spent many trials persevering on the side of a cliff with panic rising.
But, I could not have been more wrong. Because the true meaning of the word perseverance comes from two words meaning, “abide” and “under”, with the realization of hope…that quality that does not surrender to circumstance or succumb to trial.
So I find that I persevered by “hanging on for dear life”…but what I am meant to do is persevere and endure (not from the side of a cliff), but drawn close to the breast of the Creator abiding under the safety of His wing.
A place where the hanging on is not dependent on my strength to hold on…but it is dependent on the fact that my Savior is hanging onto me. And He will never grow weary or tired. And since He’s got me…I can rest…I can “abide under hope”.
Feel like you’re falling? He’s got you.
Feel like you don’t want to get out of bed because of all the stress in your life? He’s got you.
Feel like you have lost control of everything? You have…Only He has the control…and He’s got you.
Feel like you will never get through and can’t take another setback? I did…and guess what…He’s got me.
So much of these past few months have been up and down, good and bad, hard and not so hard. This week my lab work shows a very low white blood cell count which vastly enhances my chances of acquiring an infection. I can do a lot to contribute to the success of this treatment…but I cannot control the white blood cells.
For a day or two, it was me on the side of the cliff, trying to claw my way back to solid ground.
But, how good He is to rescue me from myself.
And so I find that I must learn to change my thinking.
I don’t need to persevere on the side of the cliff…He has already made for me a perfect place in which to reside while He walks me one step at a time through the circumstances of this treatment and the trials of life.
And so, my precious friends and family, I ask for your prayers. I ask for prayer for strength for my body and peace for my soul. I ask for prayer for my white blood cells to start reproducing!! I ask for wisdom in making decisions regarding treatment. I ask for good results from lab work when we repeat it in two weeks.
And I ask for prayer for the climbing of this mountain, one pebble at a time and the patience to endure and persevere(but not on the side of a cliff).
I choose to not succumb or surrender to the circumstance, I choose to surrender to the One who can bring me through the circumstance.
So…don’t go looking for me out on the side of any cliffs in the coming months…
If you can’t find me…you’ll know where to look…Under the wing of the Almighty… where all I have to do to get through this trial, is place my foot in His footprint as He gently ushers me over this mountain.
Safe, cared for, loved, protected…
Abiding under hope…actually…abiding under Hope.
“Hang on Sloopy”…there are better days coming!
With Much Love.
Written July 9, 2010 2:10pm
I know you have all seen those motivational posters that inspire teamwork, or success, or determination. There is a website out there which has taken these “inspirational sayings”, and turned them into DE-motivating sayings and put them on posters, mugs, T-shirts, etc. HILARIOUS!! I thought we could all use a few laughs, so…be inspired.
On Mistakes: It could be that the sole purpose of your life is to serve as a warning to others.
Adversity: That which does not kill me, only prolongs the inevitable.
Meetings: There are no stupid questions…but there ARE a LOT of inquisitive idiots.
Customer Service: Because we’re not satisfied until you’re not satisfied.
Losing: If at first you don’t succeed…failure may be your style.
Perspective: Less is more…unless you’re standing next to the one with more, then less just looks pathetic.
Fear: Unless you have the courage to leave the shore…you’ll never know the terror of being lost forever at sea.
And my favorite…
It’s always darkest just before it turns pitch black!
I hope you had a laugh! (Jennifer Fish…I can hear you giggling!)
So, if these are DE-motivators…what is it then, that motivates you? What makes you keep going, keep trying, keep hoping, keep believing, keep believing, keep believing?
I don’t know about you, but the “keeping” part can be wearing. What keeps us “keeping” when giving up would be so much easier?
Actually, I guess…the “giving up” is the secret to the “keeping”.
We all have had preconceived ideas and dreams of what this life should look like for us. For some, the dream of success in careers, for others, the dream of a spouse (and not just any spouse…we want a perfect spouse!). Then the dreams for physical accomplishments, career accomplishments, family and friends gathered around a holiday table with smiles on their faces, loving being with each other and everyone successful in their own right. Of course everyone is healthy, no one experiences severe loss, and certainly no one ever dies unless they have lived a long, productive, enjoyable life.
I don’t know who first put these ideas in our heads, but the “Unmet Expectations” of our lives are the biggest culprits in anger, frustration, disappointment, divorce, depression…and the list goes on. We can really be hard on each other when someone doesn’t live up to our expectations, can’t we?
God had them too…expectations, that is. A garden, abundant life, fruit, food, rivers…Paradise…and just because it lacked heart…He said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…and God created them, male and female…and He blessed them…and saw all that He had made and it was very good. “Gen.1:24-30
A place where He could enjoy His creation and they could enjoy the Creator.
Obviously…that expectation went sorely unmet and it went pretty quickly. A thief had come to, “steal, kill and destroy…” (It is silly to blame everything bad in life on the thief, but we would be foolish indeed if we were not aware of his plan to steal our peace, kill our faith, and destroy as much of our joy as he is allowed).
But a Plan was already in the works…A writer once said, “As the sound of the crunch of the apple was still echoing through the Garden…The Son began His journey to the cross.”
A Way out. A stream in the desert. A Hope in the devastation. Water for the thirsty, Bread for the hungry.
And that is what I want to say this week…No matter the disappointment, no matter the tragedy, no matter the fear, or the anxiety, no matter what happened to our expectations…He has made a Way out.
He IS the Way out. If we would just “give up” what we think life should be…and allow Him to reveal Himself in the way life IS…we could keep on “keeping”. Because the moment we stop forcing our expectations on life (and the people around us), the “giving up” can begin.
And our prayer can change from “God, WHY isn’t this working out the way I want?”, to ”God allow me to see You at work today, even in the pain, even in the stress, even in the heartache, get my eyes off of me…and show me YOU!”
And trust me when I say, THAT is a prayer He will honor…because He promises we will find Him if we seek Him…and He is a promise keeping God.
I did not expect to lose a baby 30 some years ago that would require emergency surgery…I did not expect that I would need 6-7 pints of blood to keep me from dying, and I did not expect to find out these many years later that it was tainted with a disease. NONE of those things were in my plan for my life. If God had asked me ahead of time, I would not have agreed to it, I would have made Him come up with a better plan. But, I am selfish and that makes me human.
BUT IF IT HAD NOT HAPPENED…I would not have known the strength that comes from surrendering control. I would not have been a witness to the work of God in the lives of my family as He strengthened them (because I could not be their strength…I couldn’t even be my OWN STRENGTH!) I would not have been able to see God’s caring hands in the form of friends and family as they help me along this journey back to wellness.
So, while I would have not chosen it…I find it to be one of the greatest blessings in my life. Not the illness, or the treatment, or the side effects…but having no other choice than to surrender what I THOUGHT life would be, and allowing Him to show Himself in ways too precious for a human mind to imagine.
So, it is in the “giving up” that I can find My Strength…my motivation to keep hoping, keep believing, keep trusting. I have no expectations in this right now…I might be healed, I might not…this might go smoothly, it might not.
Last week I had bad news about my white blood count(which is low), but THIS WEEK I had wonderful news that there is no virus detected in my body right now!! I am praising the Lord as I type! I have given this illness over to Him…He can use it, and me, any way He wants, whether He heals or not.
And so today, I rejoice in the good news of no virus…but every day I choose to rejoice in the Good News.
I have chosen not to focus on the healing…I have chosen to focus on the Heal-er…and that gives a whole new perspective.
If a healing is all we want…we are focused on our bodies, hearts, or limitations.
If a Healer is what we want…it forces us to shift our gaze upwards, away from ourselves and onto the only One holds all of eternity in His hands.
And as long as HE is the One working it out… you can bet I am motivated every day to watch expectantly to see how He will make Himself known.
The “giving up” of expectations is what allows the healing to begin.
“Give up” old disappointments and find joy in the new works He is doing every day.
“Give up” old heartaches and betrayals, and find He not only forgives you for your part in it, He gives you the power to forgive those who have hurt you.
“Give up” what you thought life should look like, and allow Him to show you how Life was really meant to be.
“Give up”…and you will find that you will become an overcomer…and He has promised we will overcome…
Why…He even made a Way for us.
“ He shall wipe every tear from their eyes, there shall no longer be any death, there shall no longer be mourning, or crying, or pain…Behold I am making all things new…I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life…and he who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” Rv.21:7
I LOVE YOU GUYS!
With Much Love
Written July 15, 2010 3:59pm
Answered prayer…sometimes I take it so for granted. It seems that there have been times in my life when I have found myself on my knees, begging the Lord to please fix a situation, or a circumstance…or even a person. Some of them desperate situations, others not as much, but all of them have ended up with me praying my heart out that God would take care of the need…and then, of course, I follow it with MY suggestion on how these situations could best be handled.
I want to bring something to God for Him to fix, and then I want to tell Him how that can best happen…I have control issues(but that is another entry for another day!).
I was convicted today, as the Lord answered our prayers these past two weeks of increasing my white cell count. I was convicted of how quickly I move on to the next need in my life after He has answered the previous one.
Although He is thrilled when we bring every need to Him…I do not want to take for granted when He has answered prayer.
I do not want to be ungrateful for the favor that He has poured out on us during these past 5 months (yes…that’s right…5 months!)
I want it burned upon my heart and my mind that He is faithful and true to bring about His plan.
I don’t want to just remember…I want to never forget.
Anchor points…a way for us to never forget the works of His generous hand.
I have them…times in my life when the outlook has been so bleak that I did not think we could see our way out…and He walked us through it and brought us out triumphant.
Anchor points…a point in time you can look back on and say, “Only God could have done that, only God.” I have lists of them.
They anchor our faith…they keep us from being tossed about by every wave that comes along. And if we have engraved them on our hearts…they will also take us through times in the future when life will be precarious.
We are able to testify that, “I do not know how this issue or situation will work out…but I DO know that God has been faithful in the past to work in miraculous ways, and I have every confidence He will do so again.”
SOME OF MY ANCHOR POINTS:
1. Before we even knew for sure what my illness was…we prayed fervently that God would take it away. He did not.
BUT – He HAS worked in mighty and beautiful ways these past 5 years…ways that I would have never seen if I had gotten my way.
2. One morning as I was bringing all of our needs for medicine and insurance issues, and economical issues…and a multitude of other things…I very clearly heard the Shepherd’s voice tell me,
“Child, you are to say only one thing, ‘The Lord will Provide.'”
And so, in all areas of life this year…the need may be great, the situation bleak…but I can say with confidence, “The Lord will Provide.”
When I needed strength to face treatment again…He provided.
When I needed to be able to pay for this expensive medicine…He provided it to me FREE!
When I asked for His favor regarding my side effects, He granted it. While there have been bad days…none of them have been as bad as the best days of my first attempt.
When I needed to know that I would not have to do this alone, He showered me with blessings from all of you! Blessings too numerous to even mention here.
When I asked for Him to strengthen me, He took away all the strength I had and replaced it with His.
3. When I was having a rough time, God had already been making a way for mother to be able to come visit. He knew I needed a mother’s help.
4. When we prayed for Him to multiply my white cells…He did it.
5. When we prayed that the treatment would be effective…He granted it.
There are many more points…these are just a few. My anchor points…the times in my life when God has manifested Himself in beautiful ways.
Anchor points…what are yours? What things in your life can you recount and realize that God was at work?
We are told to write them down…to tell our children and our children’s children of the greatness of a Mighty God at work.
Anchor points…write yours down and see if you are not blessed by the mercy of His hand.
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast.” Heb. 6:1
WITH MUCH LOVE.
Written July 29, 2010 3:07pm
“GLANCE AT SELF…
GAZE AT GOD.”
“Peter and John were going up to the temple for prayer. A man who had been crippled since birth was carried to the Gate Beautiful (which is the east gate into the city), and he was set there every day to beg from everyone going into the temple. When he saw Peter and John, he began begging for money.
And Peter fixed his gaze on him and said, ‘Look at us!’
And he began giving them his attention and expecting to receive something from them.
But Peter said, ‘I do not possess silver and gold, but what I DO have, I give to you; In the name of Jesus Christ…WALK!’
And with a leap he stood up and walked and began praising God.
And all the people took note of him being the crippled beggar who could now walk and they were filled with wonder and amazement!” Acts 3:1-11
If we are human in any way, when we go through trials that last a long time, we begin to wonder if this will ever end.
And really…are we doing anyone any good, because we can feel pretty useless when most of the things we were able to do, we can no longer do.
This week I had another good dr. appt and my blood work shows my white count still low, but holding steady. However, I had a low grade fever and the decision was made that I avoid as many public places as possible…even the grocery store!
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! Sorry…just had to get that off my chest!
One of my favorite things that has made me feel normal has been at least being able to go to the store and get a few groceries…but…no more!
I am so thankful for Ken and the kids because they willingly do all the things I cannot do anymore. However, I do recognize the importance of trying to keep from catching a bug of some kind. But it is hard to give up independence. (However, I KNOW that my job is to do everything I can to get well…so I am committed).
If ever there was someone who had a right to wonder what good he was to anyone, it would have been this lame beggar. Not even able to get himself to the gate, he had to rely on others to carry him there. And he had to rely on others to give him some small scrap of food or money, because there was no way for him to make a living.
Day after day, week after week, year after year…sitting at the entrance into the city, begging.
What I love about this story is NOT that Peter healed him (however, I am sure the beggar would disagree with me).
What I love about this story is that Jesus would have seen this beggar every time he walked through the Beautiful Gate and into the city to go to the temple. He was not ignoring him…He was very much involved with him and aware of his needs…as a matter of fact, He was going to use those needs to draw others to Himself through a miracle.
I wonder if the beggar ever asked himself why this Christ, who healed so many others, walked by him every day and did not heal him. It is a question many of us have asked of Him…if so many others could be healed…why not us…or why not our loved one?
I wonder if Christ was particularly loving and had a soft spot for this man He passed so many times, knowing that He could heal him, but chose not to.
I can almost picture Him walking by and patting the shoulder of this beggar, almost hear Him whispering under His holy breath, “Not yet, son, not yet. But soon…I have something miraculous in mind…but it is not yet time.”
Because while others (and maybe even himself) might question whether or not this crippled beggar’s life had any purpose…God knew the big picture.
Which brings us to the problem we have so much trouble accepting…we do NOT know the big picture. We see only what is in front of us. But, what we don’t see is what God has in store for us.
We desire relief…God desires holiness.
We desire healing…God desires brokenness.
We desire a normal life…God desires an exceptional life for us.
And so, because we do NOT see…we have to step out in faith, and believe that God DOES see.
Christ passed the beggar at the gate many times…the beggar would have seen Christ pass him by, would have witnessed the healings of others…and yet no healing for him.
Easy to get discouraged? You bet!
Easy to be disheartened and feel dejected if your own personal illness or tragedy seems to be ignored? Absolutely!
AND YET…we are not ignored. We are just looking in the wrong places for the wrong things. God has greater plans in mind. Much greater than our plans.
The beggar might have been wondering why he was passed by…but Christ had planned that his healing would be through Peter and John, and it would serve as a testimony of the power of God to all who would see! It does not say it, but I would not be surprised if many came to know Christ because of this powerful miracle.
I love that the beggar “…gave them his full attention, expecting to receive something…”
And I love it that the beggar did not try to argue with them that he could not walk…he just got up and started walking and leaping and praising God…and this was a testimony to everyone who saw.
Wish that your illness, or treatment, or personal difficulty would be healed or resolved?
Disheartened because you cannot figure out why you are going through this?
These are the things I KNOW for sure:
God has a plan for us, even in the middle of great turmoil or illness. We might not see it, but there is a plan. (Even if that plan puts a stop to going to the grocery store – DRATS!)
If we stop focusing on our situation, and give our “…attention, expecting to receive something…” He will show Himself in ways we could not imagine.
Do not be discouraged if things are not done the way we would like…God is working a bigger picture…we just can’t see it.
If we continue to speak of the greatness of a Mighty God, even through illness, even through disappointments, even through loss and tragedy…then lives around us will be touched, not by us, but by the magnificent work of an Almighty God.
God does beautiful work in the midst of great disappointments. He can use a beggar, He can use me and He can use you.
And so,the next time I start to become discouraged…I need to tune my ears to the Master’s voice…
Listen closely…I am sure I can hear Him whisper, “Not yet, Dear One, Not yet…I have something miraculous in mind.”
And then Believe Him!
With Much Love.
Written August 5, 2010 3:39pm
Well, I have just ordered my 3rd quarter of medicines. We are slowly, but surely, making it through…just like God promised…with enough grace for just the present day…and knowing tomorrow He will provide enough grace for tomorrow.
I am thankful to be able to do little things and doing my best to make sure I get enough rest and food. (Good news is that I have lost weight!!! Bad news is chemotherapy is NOT a good diet plan!)
My energy level is good and not as many queasy days. So, I just want to say, “Thank you, Lord!” I don’t ever want to forget the goodness of His proivision during this time.
I don’t know why…but the Lord kept drawing me to this Biblical account of Daniel, who was taken into captivity. This young king knew Daniel to be a man of God and called him to interpret the message God had given him.
His grandfather before him was the king who initially overpowered the Israelites and put the violent Babylonians in charge. He was resistant to God in the beginning, he turned his back on God, he forced his prisoners to denounce God and if they did not…they were burned in a very hot fire…but that is another story.
Eventually, through many twists and turns, this king finally acknowledged the one true God, and his kingdom grew and prospered under God’s blessing.
Now his grandson was in charge and instead of following his grandfather’s wisdom, the young king desecrated the temple and committed sin against God.
As he was partying one night…he had a vision of a hand, writing a message on the wall, but could not read the inscription. (Hence the cautionary phrase…”You can see the handwriting on the wall.)
In fear, he called for Daniel, a man of God, who had proven many times over in his years of captivity, to be a man of character and integrity. And Daniel read the message to him.
The message was a warning to the king, regarding what was going to happen to his kingdom.
Part of the handwriting read, “You have been weighed on the scales and have been found wanting.”
And over and over this week, the Lord has brought that phrase to my mind, and a picture of an old fashioned scale with two arms balancing two dishes, in which were placed the appropriate measure of weights on one side, and then the appropriate amount of spices or medicines. The transaction was completed when both dishes were equalized.
“You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting.” Ouch…that had to hurt.
He had been measured on the scales of what a godly king should do and be…and he was found deficient. His kingdom had been weighed on the scales of righteousness and fairness…and found deficient.
And truthfully, for all of us, when we are weighed on the scales of righteousness — we, too, are found wanting.
I am so grateful for a risen Lord, who sees my “wanting”, my deficiencies, and covers them with His grace.
Never, never do I want to be found “wanting” in a submitted heart.
I hope my character is never found “wanting” in integrity.
When I am measured, I do not want to be found deficient in the areas of love and forgiveness towards others.
But most of all, let it never be said of me that I was deficient in the area of giving God all glory and honor.
HOWEVER…as I thought this week…there ARE some things in which I want to be found “wanting”, not deficient…WANTING.
I have a deep “wanting” of the Lord to have dominion over every area of my heart…not just the pretty side of things that we put forward …but a side where, if left unchecked in any of us…anger can abide, or selfishness, or a sharp and hurting tongue, or unforgiveness, or judgmentalism, etc.
You know, those parts of us that we try to bury or make excuses for. (And don’t rationalize behavior and hide behind, “Oh that is just the way I am).
He is an expert at taking our worst faults and turning them into something He can use. I “Want” Him to take any ugliness and replace it with Himself.
I want to be found “wanting” God to take what little I can offer and use it for His glory. Not for MY edification…but for HIS…only His.
I “want” His vision…I “want” to be able to see beyond the momentary pain of a year’s worth of treatment…to take my eyes off of my inconveniences and physical weaknesses…I “want” to see my illness and treatment from His standpoint. Help me to see, Lord.
I hope I am found “wanting” to know Him more. Wanting His Word to be like bread and water. I want a hunger and a thirst that can be satisfied only by Him.
So, I guess the appropriate prayer is that we are found, not deficient…but “wanting” what He desires for us.
I would be very happy to hear one day, “Child, you have been measured and found “wanting”…and I am well pleased in what you “want”.
He can do it…He can change even the most stubborn of deficiencies. He can make all things new…
But…and here’s the key…we have to be found “wanting” Him to do it!
Find me wanting, Lord, find me wanting.
Much love to all of you!
Written August 17, 2010 1:29pm
We had never been more sure of anything in our whole lives. We were the ripe old ages of 21 and 18, and we were MORE than mature enough to be able to understand true love and commit to marriage, which we did 35 years ago, yesterday.
Did I mention we were 21 and 18??????
Did I mention we thought we had an unusuallly insightful view of long term commitment?? And no one could have convinced us otherwise.
I knew I loved him…I could not wait for him to call. I watched out the window so I could watch him pull up and I hated it when he had to leave. What else do you need to be convinced?? What else do you need to make it through? (Yes, I can hear lots of chuckling out there!)
Tragic illnesses and treatments have a way of washing away the unimportant. Meetings, clubs, activities, the frantic rushing of life, all melt away at the prospect of health issues that take not just health, but in some cases, life.
It is almost as if seeing all things new…time with family becomes so precious. And not just time with them…but making sure that they know how much they mean to us.
Harriett Beecher Stowe once said, “The bitterest of tears cried over graves are for words unsaid and deeds undone.”
And so, today, after having celebrated 35 years together, I honor you, my husband, for showing me through the years what it has taken to honor wedding vows and our life together and still come out with a sense of humor and our family intact.
Thank you for making those first years so interesting as we ministered in different churches for so many years.
Thank you for praying for me as you sat on the floor of the hospital basement over 30 years ago, when you were told we lost our first baby and maybe me too.
Thank you for helping me through what we thought was a horrible case of the flu…and it turned out to be Jennah!
Thank you for GETTING US TO THE HOSPITAL (I don’t know how many laws we broke getting there, but I did not care!) so that Jess did not have to be born on the side of the road! Why…we even made it with 10 minutes to SPARE!!
Thank you for showing your family what it looks like to live out the selfless life…for all of the years you gave up vacations so that the kids could go to youth camp and on mission trips.
Thank you for all the times you made your own lunch to save the money so that you could buy cheer outfits and golf clubs, or tennis rackets, or baseball equipment.
Thank you for being the dad who made every cheer event, yes, even the wrestling…and for being the one who held umbrellas and brought hot chocolate to shivering cheerleaders.
Thank you for making your children a priority every time you rushed out of a busy airport to run to the car, so that you could make it just in time to sit out in the rain or snow and watch Jennah’s jumps and vaults, or Jess’ sporting event…time after time after time…)
Thank you for turning down that promotion so that Jennah could stay and finish high school with her lifelong friends.
Thank you for being the kind of dad who loved, loved, loved having Saturday morning breakfasts with his son…and then sometimes go and test drive new cars or jeeps just for fun.
It is funny how much a wife’s love can grow for her husband as she watches him be a good dad.
And then it grows even more watching you with the grandsons…the joys of your life. You are the best “Pal” ever!
Thank you for sitting next to me in the doctor’s office on our 30th anniversary when we found out about my disease. Thank you for patting my hand and telling me it will be alright. ( Even though we did not know how the illness and treatment would turn out…I instinctively knew that it would be alright because I would never be dealing with it alone…and things are always alright when we deal with it together.)
Thank you for knowing I like a cold washcloth on my head when I am really sick. And for still knowing what I need even when I am so sick I can’t talk.
Thank you for spending night after night in a sleeping bag on the floor by the bed so that you would not move the bed and make me feel nauseated.
Thank you for coming in every Sunday night doing your best Nurse Ratchet impression with the syringe…and giving me my shot. (Crazy how you can even make a shot funny!) And then thank you for praying for me each week with your hand on me and praying healing and blessing over me.
I love how you are one of the funniest men I have ever met.
I love how you always have a story to tell or an interesting fact about something.
I love how you always make sure my car is cleaned because you know how much I like it.
I love it that, no matter how bad the circumstance, you can always find something that God is teaching us in it.
I love it that I don’t have to worry about car upkeep.
I love your travel folders that you make for me when I travel with all the information I need if anything goes wrong.
I love it that you don’t wait for me to ask you to do something right now while I am sick…you do it before I even know it needs to be done.
I love all your funny phrases and stories that even though they are repeated over and over…we still laugh at them.
I love how even during the worst of times, you always have a song that you are singing.
And seriously…this used to irritate me, but now it cracks me up…the way you turn into GI JOE, hand to hand combat, don’t quit until you kill it, get out of my house kind of fly killer! A fly doesn’t stand a chance in our house.
I love how I have to be careful what I ask for because you will move heaven and earth to get it for me…all because of..”Your undying love for me.”
I love your version of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.
I love it when you sing every song in Les Miserables better than any of the performers.
I love the way you make friends wherever we go…even though it takes us longer to get somewhere because you have to find out everything about the life of the guy at the gas station.
This is not to say that life has been a picnic and always happy and easy. After 35 years of ups and downs and ins and outs, we have faced some pretty tragic situations. No one can escape life without them.
But…life…and love…is all about choices and sometimes the choices are not easy.
Thank you for choosing:
love over abandonment
forgiveness over holding grudges
the family over the world’s idea of a good time
commitment over leaving
sticking it out over giving up
me over anyone else.
I would consider it an honor to share the next 35 years with you.
“I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.” Song of Sol 6:3
With Much Love.
Written August 28, 2010 4:48pm
What our Lord did was done with the intent, and this alone, that
he might be with us and we with him.— Meister Eckhart
I have reached my wilderness…
Moses understands. That time in a journey after we have embarked upon it, but before we arrive at our destination.
Some journeys last longer than others. For Moses, it lasted 40 years…thankfully, mine is just one! And he was stuck in the desert with thousands of complaining, whining Israelites! I feel for him. They wanted a penthouse suite with a view and 600 thread count sheets. What they got was a camping trip and no one bothered to bring the groceries.
How quickly they forgot the chains of slavery. How quickly they forgot the miracles they had already seen and the parting of the Red Sea. They were hungry and tired and they weren’t too thrilled with the situation. They were lamenting the days of slavery…at least they had food and water there.
Isn’t that just like us? To be willing to settle for the chains of the past instead of take a chance on what might be a long and painful expedition, but eventually end in joy.
There was a more direct route to the Promised Land, you know. It would have taken them so much less time…but God did not take them on the quick route. Oh no…He needed to take them someplace where they had to learn to trust every need to Him, someplace that could truly display the might works of His power. He took them the looooonnnnnnggggggg way around.
A famous author, my favorite Bible Study teacher, Beth Moore, once said something like this, “We will all have our time of bondage at some point in our lives, whether it is bondage to worry/anxiety, or unforgiveness, or anger, or selfishness, or control, or a myriad of things that are manifested in human flesh. We will all have a time of wilderness, and eventually, hopefully, we will one day arrive at our Promised Land.”
And so, I feel as if the past 5 years has been a time of bondage to this disease as it wreaked havoc on my body. I feel as if the Lord has plucked me out of that bondage now by the means of this medicine that has worked so wonderfully on the virus.
But, I am by no means finished. I still have six long months, and so, I find myself “Wilderness Walking”. And He has chosen to take me on the loooooooonnnnnnngggggggg way around.
One of the biggest challenges I have had this time is trying to make sure that I feed my body well enough to stay healthy. It is pretty hard to bite off a piece of food when your stomach is rebelling. And yet, 2006 taught me that I cannot afford to succumb to the temptation of spurning food. I have to push past the nausea and queasiness and eat so that I can finish this race well.
As I was trying to eat some toast one morning, the Lord reminded me that, “I am your Manna, your Bread of Life, Dear One.” And like He told Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you and you shall go out and gather it every day, with just enough for a day’s portion.” Any bread that was gathered over the daily portion was eaten by worms. They were to depend on Him for food, every single day.
Isn’t it just like Him to meet me at the point of one of my greatest challenges? As I commit to keeping my body nourished and fed, He has made sure that I remember there is more than one way to be nourished.
My daily portion…of Bread, of Living Water, of grace, of mercy, of hope, of strength, of rest…it is offered every day and mine for the taking. I am not inactive in this…I must go out and gather it. He offers us what we need for each day. He does not, however, give us enough for 2 days, or 2 weeks, or even months…He provides our portion each morning…He IS our Portion.
It also explains how some people amazingly walk their wilderness with smiles on their faces even though the outcome looks so menacing. I had a friend who came straight from her doctor’s office to church one night. She was beaming and glowing and, I promise, smiling. She looked radiant. I wondered what she had done differently to appear so beautiful. As church began, she stood up and said that she could not go on without telling what God had done for her that day. She had just been diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer…but she could not stop singing the praises of a good and bountiful God.
WHAT? She is testifying of His greatness when she had been given a very grim diagnosis not 3 hours before? But that is the point isn’t it? Angela had been offered her daily portion of grace and strength, and she had the courage to gather it in. It was Angela’s portion…not mine. He gave Angela her manna. Because of her leap of faith, Angela reached her Promised Land of peace and blessing before she ever reached her eternal Promised Land.
So I find myself shuffling on dusty wilderness roads under a hot sun, with tumbleweeds blowing by, and yet I am satisfied. Each day, for the next 23 weeks, no wait…for the rest of my life, I will be fed and nourished when I gather what He rains from heaven.
And something I did not realize until reading today…in Deuteronomy 32:9, it tells us that WE are the Lord’s portion! Me? I am HIS portion? Wow! Just as He is just what we need…WE are just what HE needs. He is satisfied in His portion…satisfied in me.
Satisfied not because I am powerful or perfect…but satisfied in the joy of His own, as He enjoys His relationship with us…with me. Mind boggling isn’t it, that we are His portion, the Lord of the Universe…how great is His grace and mercy.
I want to be a pleasing portion for Him…a portion that blesses Him with her life. A portion that makes it out of slavery, through the wilderness and straight into the arms of my Portion.
And so, I will keep my eyes on the prize of my Promised Land, which, surprisingly for me, is not good health.
The Land of Milk and Honey for me has nothing to do with how comfortable or uncomfortable my physical situation is…and has everything to do with making the choice of Him increasing and me decreasing. My Promised Land is a place where I stand firmly on the Rock and refuse to be moved by any storm, a place where even in the worst of circumstances, I unflinchingly trust His hand and abide in joy. A place where Angela has been. I am afraid there is still too much of me in the way…but I am still in my wilderness, you know.
But I will continue to keep my eyes on my Portion, and bless His Name in plenty or in want.
Because I can tell you one thing…I do NOT want to be mistaken for a whining Israelite!
“For the Lord’s portion is His people…” Deut. 32:9
With Much Love.
Written September 9, 2010 1:41pm
FAITH – believing in advance for something that can only be understood in reverse.
More days of walking in faith in the wilderness…it is not such a bad place to be once you get over the dust and sand. Each day brings new blessings and sometimes new setbacks.
My white count holds steady – THANK YOU LORD! My liver enzymes are normal! Both wonderful things. I am anemic and have to watch this…but, like I said…it is a wilderness walk of faith…putting one foot in front of the other every day…and choosing to focus on the only One who can lead me out of it.
What is it about faith that makes it so hard for us to leap into it? We all want it…or we want more of it…and yet, it seems like it is something that is almost out of our grasp. Almost like a carrot dangling in front of a horse…something we know is there…but we never quite obtain. We know we should…but we don’t know how.
But faith is not a destination…it is a journey…one that lasts a lifetime…and it seems as if faith is grown the most through trials.
It is a decision made to believe in God’s goodness, even in the midst of heartbreak… to believe that He is at work even in the most mundane of days, to trust when it seems as if all is falling apart around us, and to look forward, knowing that He will make Himself known…we just don’t know how yet.
The thing about a leap of faith is that for a short while…it feels as if we are falling. That first step…it’s always the scariest.
The interesting thing about faith is…it is not up to us to grow it. It is God’s job to grow our faith. It is our job to take that tiny measure of faith we have and offer it to Him…and believe that He will multiply that faith like the fishes and loaves.
Stepping out in faith…it means I choose God instead of myself. In each situation…I choose God more than me…His ideas, His plans, His revelations, His hand…but mostly…in faith I choose His heart.
And knowing His heart…allows me the confidence of surrendering what I think should happen. I know His plans are for me not against me. I know that He loves me with a steadfast love. I know that when I fall, He will uphold me with His righteous right hand.
These past 4 years have been a walk of faith. Upon hearing the diagnosis, I had to make a choice to believe that His plans for me were for good-even in the midst of a life threatening illness. I had to choose to trust Him for each day. Suffering…He promised it would come in this life…but He has also made a way to rise above it. Faith…it is a choice every day.
I had to make the decision that I would not wallow in “What if…or…If only.”(Mind you I DID wallow for awhile!) You know what I mean…you have said them too.
WHAT IF this doesn’t get better…WHAT IF I lose my job…WHAT IF I lose someone I love…WHAT IF this relationship doesn’t work…WHAT IF I don’t succeed…WHAT IF I am not good enough…WHAT IF I get hurt again…WHAT IF…WHAT IF…WHAT IF…
And, IF ONLY…IF ONLY I had been a better parent…IF ONLY I had not said those things…IF ONLY I had not done these things…IF ONLY I could go back and do it over…IF ONLY I had tried harder…IF ONLY…IF ONLY…
The problem with WHAT IF is it places our focus on anxiety over what might happen in the future.
That problem with IF ONLY is it places our focus on regrets of the past.
Neither place is a faith-builder. I remember a day of “If only”…If only I had not needed a blood transfusion…or caught this earlier…or reacted better to the treatment…”What if” this time the treatment does not work? “What if” I always have this disease…”What if” I get worse…
“Child,” I heard my Father say, “You are missing Me in the present…When your eyes are on regrets and anxiety…your eyes are not on Me. You cannot change the past…you have no control over the future…all things are in My hands…Look at Me, Dearest, Look at Me.”
And so, I want to share with you that even though the wilderness can be a scary place…it is also a place where we just might find a blessing we were not expecting. Don’t look too far behind you (unless you are looking back to recount the works of God in your life), and don’t look too far ahead of you…you will not want to miss God when He is right in front of you.
And after our wilderness journey we will be able to look back and see the many provisions of God in the middle of the trial.
By faith we will be overcomers, just like the great saints through the ages.
The Hall of Fame in Hebrews:11
“BY FAITH Noah in reverance prepared an ark…
BY FAITH ABRAHAM offered his son, Isaac, as a sacrifice…
BY FAITH SARA conceived a son as an old woman…
BY FAITH MOSES led the Israelites through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry ground…
BY FAITH ISAAC, BY FAITH JACOB, BY FAITH JOSEPH…”
And so we will all have our own legacy of faith…
I pray mine will say that, through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows…she chose Him…by faith.
“Faith…believing it’s so, before it’s so, because God said so.”
With much love to all of you!
Written September 21, 2010 4:17pm
“And I saw heaven opened and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called ‘FAITHFUL AND TRUE’.” Rev. 19:11
My Friends and Family, thank you so much for your constant encouragement and support. I was so blessed by all of the many responses and e-mails that you sent after the last posting on “Faith”.
It was such an enjoyment to read how God used that one little post to speak to so many of you. I loved what all of you had to say. I especially loved my friend, Paula’s, insight regarding the growing of our faith.
“ONE THING GOD WAS POINTING OUT TO ME AS I READ… (she said)
NOAH… HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO BUILD THE ARK
ABRAHAM AND SARAH — HOW LONG DID YOU HAVE TO WAIT FOR THAT PRECIOUS LITTLE PEACH OF A CHILD
MOSES — HOW LONG IN THAT WILDERNESS WALKING SAND STORM OF LIFE
JOSEPH — HOW LONG IN THIS 2 X 2 JAIL
THEY ALL ROSE TO A GREAT CALLING … BUT IT TEACHES ME AGAIN WAIT ON GOD… AND OBEY … ”
Thank you, Paula, for reminding us that sometimes, it is a very long time before we see the fruits of our suffering.
Maybe you have something you have been praying about for a long time. Maybe you have a hurt that has never healed, a betrayal never set right, an anger that has been allowed to fester, a worry that now clouds your thoughts. It might seem like the prayers are not being heard, or the petitions are not being resolved…maybe you have thought like I have before, “How much longer, Oh Lord, will this go on?”
I can remember a particularly rough time when I was begging Him to just resolve the issue…pllllleeeeaassseeee…for Pete’s sake, we’re all exhausted from the situation.
And I heard in the recesses of my spirit…
“What do you love about Me, Debbie? What part of my many faceted personality moves you the most?”
“Oh, it is Your Faithfulness, Lord. You are true to Your Word and Your promises. You are worthy to be found trustworthy and Your Truth has given me a solid rock on which to stand…yes, Your Faithfulness, definitely.”
“How did you learn My Faithfulness, Child?”
“You remember, Lord…I learned it after I lost the baby and had to endure tests for 5 years when the doctors thought I could not have children…
I learned it when I prayed for precious babies before they were born (and before there was ultrasound). I prayed that they might be strong and bold in You as they grew into adults…
I learned it when I spent many nights praying for the safety of those children while they were teenagers and we watched them drive off in their own cars…
I learned it when You did not answer my prayer to take this illness away…because instead of healing my body…You provided Your peace and strength – which surpassed anything I could have imagined…
I have learned it through years of praying with friends and family through hard and difficult times…not that You always worked those things out the way we prayed for them…but You did prove that You have a bigger plan in mind and our minds are too small to see the big picture. And You were faithful to provide power and might and a peace for the pain.
And I am learning it all over again this year as days drag on and there is so much I cannot do…You have been so faithful to provide loved ones who have given human form to Your love. (FYI -This week was better and I am feeling much stronger!)
And the list is so much longer, Lord, of the trials and heartaches You carried us through, I could not list them all.”
And the Lord was so sweet to impress upon me just then…the years of learning His faithfulness were the hardest of times, the roughest of situations, the deepest of hurts.
None of us wants to be in distressing circumstances…and yet…for those of us who have had the privilege(yes privilege) of suffering, we have also been granted a small peek into the window of the Father’s heart.
When everything else fails and we finally bring Him our desperation and disappointment…we have the good fortune of being able to see Him knit even the bad things together for His good. We find that truly there CAN be blessing in suffering.
He has a way of Lighting up the darkest of pains. Not that the pain is necessarily gone or better…but the Light makes it easier to see His hand at work.
I pray a special prayer for you all this week…that you woud be able to hear your Shepherd’s voice this week as He asks some of you…”What is it about Me that you love so much?”
I pray that as the Lord continues to work in my life, He will use whatever means it takes to strengthen my faith and teach me His Faithfulness.
His Faithfulness…Yes…His Faithfulness…I love Him for it.
“You remember, right Lord? All of those times?”
“Oh Yes, Daughter I have always remembered…I just wanted YOU to remember.”
With Much Love.
Written October 5, 2010 4:10pm
Thank you for your patience over these last couple of weeks. The anemia really knocked me for a loop and my arms and feet felt like they had 20 pound weights on them. Fred Flintstone is my new hero…chew one of his vitamins every other day and you too could feel like a new person!
These past 3 weeks have also brought other issues…whatever side effects I had NOT been experiencing thus far, reared their ugly head. And I would like to say that, just in time for fall, what hair I have left on my scalp has taken on a beautiful straw-like appearance and it mostly just sticks out from my head wherever it feels like it. Think scarecrow…think haystacks…think Phyllis Diller, only she had more hair! It is lovely…
There are so many worse things that people are facing these days…we know personally of recent deaths from cancer and Huntington’s, a 4 year old child diagnosed with a deadly nerve disease, a grandmother who will not get to see her fifth grandchild born because the Lord decided to put an end to her pain and bring her home. So many worse things going on…
So…I want you to know that I am most grateful for what the Lord has done with this treatment. But…if you have gone through any kind of long illness…even the minor irritating side effects can just get on your nerves.
red rashes to any part of the skin exposed to sun-check
shortness of breath-check
rapid heart beat-check
low white blood cell count-check
And my all time favorite…a taste in your mouth that feels like you have been sucking on aluminum foil…blechhhhhhh!
The only side effect I have not had so far is swelling…and I probably just jinxed myself for next week!
This week, while sitting at the sink while handfuls of hair came out in my hands…self pity set in for awhile.
“Really, Lord, REALLY??? Is it not enough I have all the side effects listed…couldn’t I just not have one???? You DO know my name is not Job, right? What next?? Boils? Am I going to lose my livestock and sheep?”
I realized then, I sounded a little whiny since Job lost his oxen, cows, sheep, servants, children and home before he was covered in boils from head to foot. God was good enough to at least leave his wife, who showed tremendous support and encouragement for her husband as she said, “Curse God and die!”
I have not given Job nearly enough sympathy for all of his afflictions.
And yet, “…through all of this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.”
Sometime there is just no answer for continued pain, or loss, or illness. Sometimes there is an answer, but we are not wise enough to know or understand it.
It was a week to be reminded that this is not all about me. Trials and adversity come because of many factors:
We live in human bodies that begin dying the moment we are born.
Sometimes our trials are brought on by someone else, yet we are left to suffer the consequences.
I have done my share of wanting to know the “why” of things…I don’t know who I think I am to demand answers from a Holy God. Job did it too…I think most humans would.
“…My soul is poured out within me, days of affliction have seized me…I cry out to You for help, but You do not answer me…I stand up and it seems like You have turned Your attention away from me…” Job says.
I have said this before…it is a cry for relief.
I DO know this, however…no matter the “why” of our problem or pain…God can work it around and use it for good…He promises He will…we just have to be willing to quit demanding a logical answer for what is happening and bow to a Righteous God who will be able to take a surrendered heart and use it in ways we would never think possible.
I do not know your circumstance…
I DO know your God…and He is more than faithful to finish the good work He has begun in us.
And so, after any questioning of the Lord, I find that the most appropriate answer comes from God Himself. And interestingly enough…the answer is in the form of questions. (Of which I will only list a few since there are 5 chapters of questions!) Notice that Job is never given a reason for his pain and suffering…He is just reminded of Who he serves.
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? I will ask you and you instruct Me!
Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Who set its measurements…On what were its bases sunk or who laid its cornerstone?
Who enclosed the sea with doors and placed boundaries on it and said, “You shall only come this far, and here will your proud waves stop”?
Have you ever in your life commanded the morning and caused the dawn to know its place?
Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades, or loose the cord of Orion? Can you lift up your voice to the clouds…and send forth lightning?
Is it by your command that the hawk soars, stretching his wings to the south? Is it at your command that the eagle mounts up and makes his nest on high?
Then the Lord answered Job and said, “Will you really annul My judgment?”
And Job answered, “What can I reply to You…I lay my hand over my mouth…I know You can do all things and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted…I have heard of the You, God, by the hearing of the ear…But now my eyes see You.
Therefore, I retract what I have said…and I am sorry…”
And God restored Job and blessed his latter days even more than in his early days.
And so, I was reminded this week…
I did NOT set the foundations of the world…but I know Who did.
I did NOT set the dawn and sunset into motion and tell the stars where to stand…but I know Who did.
I did NOT set the eagle soaring in the wind or give life to all living things…but I know Who did…
Who am I to annul His judgment?
so if you will excuse me now…I am feeling the need to “put my hand over my mouth”…and slip to my knees…it will look like my face is in my hands as I crouch on the floor in my office…but I am not there…my head is not resting in my hands…it is resting on the feet of my Creator and Savior…where I am instantly reminded of the pain and suffering that a hammered nail can cause to Holy hands and feet.
With Much Love.
Written October 22, 2010 1:50pm
I am overwhelmed. You overwhelmed me. All of you…I could just cry right now thinking of how precious all of you have been to me since my last posting. I cannot begin to tell you how you have encouraged me and uplifted me these past days. You have literally showered me with blessings, gifts, love and encouragement. I have been lavishly loved this week…thank you so much.
My parents’ friends in Ohio, Don and Ginny Duvall sent me a package with some beautiful hats to cover my head with my thin hair. Ginny makes them for their local hospital to give out to the chemo patients…I am sure so many have been blessed by her. She is also a prolific photographer and she sent me a book of the most beautiful outdoor scenes, flowers, sunsets…beautiful. Pictures to enjoy God’s gifts on days when I cannot get out.
My mother sent me some knitted hats with matching warm socks and some nice cozy pajamas.
My aunt and uncle in San Francisco sent me a beautiful deer figurine craning her neck around to see the sweet blue butterfly that has landed on her back. Our friends David and Martha have come to visit and brought dinner for all of us to enjoy.
My husband bought me a Kindle to make it easy to read. Children came over to spend family time…friends have called and sent e-mails and phone messages…and my son-in-law’s mother, Andi, sent me a bottle of scalp conditioner that helps keep from losing so much hair!
You have given me the most wonderful gift that anyone going through a difficult time could receive. While the gifts were so special…they are not the best gift. Whether we are facing physical challenges or emotional challenges, the days can get long and sometimes we just long for a little relief.
And the absolute best gift that anyone in that predicament can receive is the opportunity to be honest and open regarding the desperateness of the situation…in a safe and loving environment. Thank you for allowing me the privilege of being able to share the wonderful things that the Lord has done this year, along with the frustrations that come with prolonged trials. You have blessed me more than I can say.
Thank you so much for all of the Scriptures that you sent me…His Word comforts like nothing else. My sister-in-law, Carolyn sent me the scripture from Job regarding the refining process that the Lord is using to transform our hearts and minds.
I thought it a good time to share what many of you already know, but it never hurts to be reminded. There are many times in the Bible where the refining process is used as a picture of what happens as we go through difficult times. In our days, we miss the true magnitude of the lessons because through the years, the processes have changed. Let me share what the people back then would have known about this refining process that we do not realize today. Maybe you can relate.
There were no large machines or vats or tools to dig ore out of the ground. There was only the Refiner, who went to the source of the ore and handpicked those pieces of ore that he could see had the potential to be fine silver or gold. He looked for those pieces in which he could see a treasure.
Back at his workshop, the Refiner begins making the fire…it needs to be just the right temperature…too hot could ruin it…not hot enough and the ore would never turn into silver.
Then the Refiner chooses a hammer and being careful not to lose any pieces, begins hammering the chunks or ore into the smallest pieces he can get. A large chunk of ore, not prepared by being broken first, would never melt in the fire to produce the desired result.
At this point, the Refiner would choose a container in which to place the ore while it is over the fire. This container is called a crucible, which by definition is, something that has already been through the fire and found to be “proven”. Proven to be of such character that it can withstand the heat of the fire.
Then the crucible is placed into the fire. The Refiner knew it would be a long day. The silver can never be left alone in the fire. It will need the constant attention of the Refiner…silver is too precious to be forsaken in the fire, too valuable to be ruined through inattention.
The silver melts first and as it sinks to the bottom of the crucible, the impurities of the ore rise to the top. This is the dross and the Refiner skims it off. The Refiner continues this all day and into the night, skimming off the impurities, and never leaving the treasure unattended. The fire is then made even hotter to bring out every last impurity that would interfere with the silver being “choice”. Intermittently the Refiner gazes into the crucible…He is looking for something.
Finally, after much heat, attention and care…He sees it…there it is! Now the Refiner is satisfied…He has taken what was a lump of ore and turned it into a prize. What was once just a rock…now a much valued metal…beautiful to behold. He is finished…and He knows this because when He looks into the crucible now filled with only pure molten silver, He sees in that silver a reflection…of Himself. Throughout the process, every time He looked into the hot liquid, He would have at first seen only impurities. But the more He skimmed, the more He began to see His reflection…at first it was dull and just barely able to make out a silhouette. Then, as the silver became more pure and brighter, He could begin to make out His features, but it was still not ready. And then, I can almost see the smile come across His face as He looks into the crucible and staring back at him is a clear, sharp image of Himself.
Under the Refiner’s watchful eye, the treasure is ready and it was never left unattended.
What was once worthless is now valuable.
What was once broken is now perfected.
And the fire made all the difference.
The Refiner…I love Him. He sought me out and pursued me. He saw in me something I could never see. He went about breaking anything in me that would interfere with His desired outcome. He placed me in a safe place over the fire of refining…a Crucible, my Crucible…already proven by the fire of crucifixion and resurrection. In Him I was cared for and protected from destruction as the process of skimming impurities began. He tests and proves our faith, not to discourage us…but to show us how far we have come. He perfects our endurance. And as each day goes by, I pray that every time He looks into my life, He sees a bright reflection of Himself…and that as time goes on, that reflection becomes brighter and clearer.
It’s a picture the Refiner wanted us to have in our minds as we endure the fiery trials. As we traipse through our long wilderness journeys. The promise of a purpose to all that we endure…there is a reason and there is a Hope.
I am still in my wilderness…but because of all of you…I found a sweet oasis this week. A green, lush island in the desert with fresh, sparkling water in which to be refreshed by your love and care for me.
I think I will just sit here awhile and bask in it.
With Much Love.
Written October 30, 2010 11:39am
Written November 6, 2010 10:05pm
Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did. ~Newt Gingrich
(First things first…thank you for humoring me last week with the picture of the Mexican hairless – 10 hairs tied with a pink bow, eyes bugging out in shock and tongue hanging out of mouth…when I saw it I thought I was looking in a mirror and just had to share it! It gave me a good laugh.)
Here’s the thing…
When God is trying to teach perseverance…the lesson is never short.
Faith…miracles…hope…service…all lessons that can be taught in a long lesson or a short lesson.
Not endurance…the lesson is never short.
Maybe you have said the same thing I have said before, “I just want to hurry up and learn what God is teaching me so I can get through this.” As if we can put the Almighty on our time schedule.
“Hurry”…”Quick”…”Fast”…sometimes I think we must all be obsessed with it. I want the fast food lane to move faster. I want the instant Internet service I have to immediately connect. I want my microwave to hurry up and warm food…I even have the nerve to stand there impatiently counting down the seconds until it is ready. For some reason, we have determined there is value in the phrenetic pace.
And a busy, frantic life makes a long, slow lesson extremely trying.
The lesson has a game plan. The plan is to take us from the place we are…to the place He wants us to be. The problem is that we usually go kicking and screaming as He tries to move us on the path He has planned out for us.
The journey of endurance usually begins with a crisis. It is the starting gate for the coming race that we are to learn to run with endurance. It is an incidence of some kind that changes a relationship, or a circumstance, or a heartbreak, or an urgent petition on behalf of a loved one.
We don’t want to go through it, but it has been brought into our lives to take us from “here” to “there”.
The problem is that we like “here”. We are comfortable “here”…it is familiar to us and we have learned how to navigate through life “here”. “Here” feels safe.
“There” is a scary thought…sometimes a terrifying thought. We don’t know what we are going to have to do to get “there”. We don’t know what, or who, we might lose on the journey “there”. We don’t know what will be required of us…and we are pretty sure we don’t want to go unless we can have more information. However, even if we had more information, a lot of us still would not embark on a journey “there”…we don’t even know where “there” IS! So, no thank you…we would rather stay “here”.
And so the dragging of us kicking and screaming begins.
Perseverance – endurance – it is not just one long race that we run to completion. It is the running and completing of many small races that add up to the long race.
“I can watch a mason deliver 100 blows to the stone and on the 101st blow, the stone breaks at his command. I know, however, that it was not the 101st blow that produced the break in the stone…it was all the ones that came before it.” Unknown
And so it is with the learning of perseverance. Lesson added to lesson and the sum of all lessons, add up to it.
As I have walked through this year…and heard the stories of many of your situations, it seems to me that the path to “there” is very similar for most of us. The destination for everyone is different, and the final goal is personal to our own lives…but the tutorial we receive as we learn is very similar.
It starts with the offering of an opportunity to walk with the Shepherd. It does not look like a walk though, it looks more like pain and not many of us want to go. Some of us begin the walk only after a high speed chase has ensued and the Sheperd’s crook has brought us back to His plan. Most of us begin our lesson unwillingly.
And so the small lessons begin. School is in session and the Teacher has a plan for the student.
There is the learning of submitting to His hand.
There is the learning of giving up control and the realization that His ways are higher than our ways.
There is the learning of what to do with very real and very strong emotions…fear, anger, unforgiveness, disbelief, frustration, denial, hopelessness, sadness, grief, even abandonment and loneliness and so many more. Each emotion is a race of its own and we usually run each one. Good news though!! God is not intimidated by any of these feelings…He is still God even when I am angry or sad.
There is the lesson of accepting that He might want to use us in the middle of our pain. And sweet lessons interspersed with the painful ones…we learn of His faithfulness and His kindness. We learn His peace, we experience His strength, we allow Him to bind our wounds and lift our heads.
Many races…each one adding up…each one a new revelation into the heart of the Maker, which is not to say that I have not dreaded some of my races.
Interestingly…the toughest races reveal the sweetest lessons. We can only learn trust by having no control. We can only learn of His ability to take away our anger by experiencing first the anger. We learn of His peace when we are being tossed about in our boat during a storm. We learn His strength when we admit that we are weak. We must first have wounds to allow Him to bind them and heal them.
Perseverance…the ability to keep going even in the face of great distress.
The resolve to purposefully look up when it would be so much easier to give up.
The giving up of what we expected life to be, so that we can see how God meant it to be.
And so, ultimately perseverance is just stubbornness with hope. The determination and tenacity that says, ”I don’t know where He is taking me, but I choose Him…even if things look bleak…I choose Him. My hope is in Him.”
I don’t know how the next 3 months will be…but I choose Him.
I don’t know if this year of chemo will totally wipe out the virus forever…but I choose Him.
I don’t know if I will ever have to listen to a doctor give us bad news…but I choose Him.
I don’t know what losses or grief I will face in the future…but I choose Him.
I choose Him…the only other choice would be myself, and I am not even close to being a viable option.
I choose Him because He is worthy. The sacrificial Lamb who knew exactly what His race would be…and He chose it anyway…just for me…and you as well.
“…We also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Rom.5:3-5
With Much Love.
Written November 25, 2010 1:43pm
Lessons on thankfulness learned these past 10 months:
Sometimes His sweetest gifts come during the worst of days.
When you are laying sick on a bathroom floor…the only direction you can look is up.
Grandsons make you forget the pain.
My weakness, given to Christ, is immeasurably stronger than any of my most admirable strengths on my own.
God provides all we need…but not until we need it.
I might see pain, or desperation, or anxiety, or hopelessness…but He sees a chance for His glory to be made known.
Caring friends and loving family are worth more than gold.
Grandsons can bring joy to a tough day.
It is truly possible to be thankful in all things…and when a heart is full of thankfulness…it does not leave any room for doubt or worry.
There is no shortcut to learning endurance.
There is no gift of greater value than a grandson who shares his blankie with you to make you feel better.
Never underestimate the power of believers lifting us up in prayer when we are too weary to pray for ourselves.
When the future is unsure…the only place to be is in the hands of the One who already knows it.
So many more lessons…but just a few to remember this beautiful Thanksgiving day.
Written December 16, 2010 3:31pm
Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.
Corrie Ten Boom
I would have made a lousy Abraham.
I will sacrifice my time, my money, my schedule, my plans, even my health…all lain easily and openly on the altar.But do not ask me to lay my Isaac down on the altar of sacrifice. Do not ask me to climb a mountain with a loved one…any THING else, I’ll gladly sacrifice…but not someone I love. I have already proven this to be one of my biggest weaknesses…the tendency to hold those I love very close and safe against my heart.
During a particularly difficult time in a loved one’s life years ago, I woke up one morning and told Ken that I wrestled with God all night telling Him, “I cannot sacrifice…do not ask it of me…I am not ready to lay this one down whom I love so much…I am begging You, please do not ask this of me.”
Ken, with tears in his eyes said, “I spoke with God about the same thing, only a different context… I said, ‘Lord, here is this one that I love so much. I lay them on the altar and offer up to You all my hopes and dreams and surrender this one to You…may Your will be done.”
Ken was Abraham…I was just scared.
You would have thought I would have learned back then…but sadly, it seems, I am a slow learner…or maybe I am a stubborn learner.
Last week I found myself repeating these same phrases over and over in my mind as I made an emergency trip to Ohio to be with my parents during emergency open heart surgery.
You heard me…I made a TRIP! (The Lord was truly my strength and allowed me to safely fly to Ohio and survive a week of precious time with family as we faced this surgery.)
As I packed my bags, as I made my plans, as I flew in the plane…all communication was a constant begging, “Please Lord, do not ask me to sacrifice my father…I am not ready…HE is not ready…there is still much to enjoy and experience with each other…I beg You do not ask this of me.” Every breath became a whispered plea. I was still not ready to make a climb up the mountain of sacrifice…I wanted to see a ram in a bush to substitute for Dad before I even started to climb…as I said, Abraham I am not.
I would suppose for many of us the handing over of someone we love is extremely painful, the thought too scary to dwell on. This kind of pain paralyzes…it takes over each waking thought and leaves us worn and weary as we try to keep the panic under control…but the panic is always there…bubbling closer and closer to the surface, threatening to suffocate.
We KNOW we are not supposed to worry. We KNOW that it is unproductive and does not change the situation…but truly…how do we GET from paralyzing fear to a calmed and peaceful heart?
It is a question I asked of the Lord the first time I faced sacrificing a loved one and it is one of my most personal lessons that He used again last week to get me through. I know of no other way to share His answer with you than to allow you access to an intimate and precious exchange between a Shepherd and the sheep who struggled with the possibilities of losing a father.
“How, Lord…HOW do I go from stifling fear that sucks the breath out of me to “being anxious for nothing…HOW do I do that? I want more than anything to be able to lay my head down and sleep in peace and get up the next day and live in confidence…but I cannot see out and I do not like the possibilities.”
“Come, Dear one, let us reason together.” I heard Him whisper as we began a walk side by side.
“Can you agree with Me that it is I Who set the foundations of the world?”
“Oh yes, Lord, I can agree with that.”
“Can you agree with Me that I rule over all mankind and am the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End?”
“Oh, I most definitely agree with that my Lord.”
“Can you agree with Me that I knit your father together in the womb of his mother and I planned him before the beginning of time?”
“Yes, Lord, I do agree with that.”
“Can you agree with Me that I know when he sits down and he rises up and that I uphold him with my righteous right hand, and I am using him now as he ministers to my aging children?”
And I began to notice that, as we reasoned, He affirmed over and over the strength of His might and the power of His hand. And He repeatedly reminded me that it is He Who created each heart and He Who will hold each heart. He has written in His book the days that were ordained for each of us. He reminded me of His love and care for my father from the moment he was born until now and His hand has protected and guided all the days of his life. The more I agreed…the less anxious I was becoming.
With each affirmation, I felt a slow melting away of little bits of anxiety. The circumstance had not changed, there was still so much unknown and the possibilities of tragedy, but somehow the fear and panic were not rising at present. (This is not a one time thing…there have been times when I have had to whisper agreement with every breath to make it through the difficulty.)
He had so sweetly shifted my focus from the fear of the moment, onto Who He is and how He is intimately acquainted with the steps of our lives…mine…my father’s…my husband’s, my children and their children. He had proven Himself so many times before and He gently reminded me that whatever the outcome, He would again provide the strength needed for that day.
Thankfully, a sacrifice was not required of my family last week. We were given the gift of more time with each other. While he has quite a long recuperation in front of him…my father is nonetheless still here to press forward. We are a grateful, grateful family.
“I understand sacrifice, Child. And so I say to you now…’Do not fear, for I have redeemed you (and your father); I have called you both by name, you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire you will not be scorched…for I AM THE LORD YOUR GOD, THE HOLY ONE OF ISRAEL, YOUR SAVIOR…and you are both precious in My sight and I love you.”(Is. 43)
I do not think I will ever be able to willingly sacrifice a precious one in my life…and yet, I know that there is a Hand that can calm even the worst of storms and understands the pain.
He, Himself, is not immune to pain…
“I believe you will agree with Me, Child…a sacrifice is always painful, whether it is a loved one on an altar of a hospital bed…or a perfect Lamb on a tree on a hill.”
With Much Love.
Written January 13, 2011 2:56pm
THE SHEMA (What every Jewish child learns from birth…it is repeated upon leaving the house and upon returning…Jesus would have said this from the time He could speak…the WORD…speaking the Word…my mind cannot even comprehend it.)
“Hear O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one! And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deut.6
You know what I love about the Lord?
He just never gives up.
No matter how many times we question Him or doubt Him, or even run from Him…He still keeps on pursuing us. Some of us have even experienced miracles…and still we doubt Him. No matter how much we live in worry or fear or anger or unforgiveness…He still comes after us…reminding us of the Covenant He made not only with Moses, but also with us.
“I shall take you for My people, and I will be your God. And you shall know that I am the Lord your God who brought you out from under your burdens…” (Ex. 6)
The wilderness can be a daunting place to be…and yet, if I had not been in the wilderness, there are many places I would not have experienced. I am, I say with great excitement, about to cross over from wilderness to a land of milk and honey.
He allows wilderness times for shaping our character and cementing the fact that He IS our God…and we ARE His people.
In a span of 40 years, the LORD made these provisions for Moses and His people:
He freed them from bondage.
He did what would seem impossible and parted the Red Sea and gave them a front seat to myriads of miracles.
He gave them physical proof of His leading with a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire by night.
He fed them, He gave them water, He protected them, He corrected them when they got off track, and in Scripture He reminds them, “…I have led you 40 years in the wilderness and your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandal has not worn out on your foot.”
He got them where He promised He would take them.
And still they questioned Him at every turn. How could they watch Him part a sea so they could walk through, and then so quickly fret and worry about how they were going to survive?
Humans…we are just so…just so…so HUMAN, I guess is the word I am looking for. We love to praise Him and thank Him for all of the good things that happen…and yet, the wilderness leaves us questioning ourselves and our God.
HE IS FAITHFUL WHEN WE ARE NOT. HE IS DILIGENT, HE IS PERSISTENT, HE IS ENDURING, HE IS UNSHAKABLE…and He loves us too much to let us go.
And if we will just get ourselves out of the way…He can do amazing things.
And with that I must scream loudly:
I have 3 more weeks of treatment!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Excuse me…I must do a little dance now!)
This time last year, it seemed like this time would never come. It was daunting and it was scary.
You know what you get when you keep putting one foot in front of the other when you are walking in the desert?
You finally get to where you are supposed to be.
The Lord has had me reminiscing this week, from those first days of miracles that gave me hope that I might make it through…to those days of hardship when His loving hand was made so clear in all of you…to those desert walking days when I needed some shade and a cold drink of water. Surely all of these things and more are my pillar of fire by night and pillar of cloud by day.
On the days when I did not think I could put any food into my mouth…He provided bread…and I was never dehydrated this year…it was Living Water, I think.
He freed me from the bondage of the past 6 years as we began this journey to hopeful healing. And He did what seemed impossible a year ago…the medicine was not only tolerated…but it also worked!! (Excuse me…I must do another dance!)
Each lab test that came back positive, each syringe that was emptied into my abdomen every Sunday, each pill that I swallowed and kept down, each morsel of food that I was able to tolerate, each day that I was given a respite from the side effects, each time I was able to take a ride in the car, or sit on the back patio, or play with my grandsons, or enjoy my children and husband, each card or e-mail or phone call from all of you, even each dark and desperate day…all of them drops of water in the Red Sea of this year, and the Lord made a way where there seemed to be no way.
It would do me good to remember that my most hopeless days were a chance for Him to be my Hope…my weakness turned out to be His strength…and each day of questioning or discouragement—He alone has heard every thought, every question, every cry of my heart, every praise, every sigh of relief. It is a story of His faithfulness…and I will not forget it…I have written it down and I will speak of it, and I will tell my children and my children’s children of the great and might works of a God Who never lets us go.
The Lord told the Israelites, “…I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments….I set before you life and death…the blessing and the curse. So CHOOSE LIFE, in order that you and your descendants may live by loving the Lord, your God, by obeying His voice and by holding fast to Him…for this IS your life.”
For all of my days I will choose Life…and I cannot wait until I can start living
Written January 26, 2011 12:21pm
“COURAGE IS BEING SCARED TO DEATH…AND SADDLING UP ANYWAY.” John Wayne
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California is one of the most iconic and beloved bridges of all time. Because of the height and span of the towers and cables, along with the tremendously fierce weather and dangerous conditions, eleven men lost their lives in the construction of the bridge when a piece of the platform broke away. There was a safety net installed that ran the entire length under the bridge, and 19 men were saved from death when they fell from the bridge. These men are known as the members of the “Halfway to Hell” club.
I mention this because I have been thinking a lot about safety nets these days…and I must say that I feel like I should be given an honorary membership to the “Halfway to Hell” club!
This is going to sound so strange…especially given that this place where I am right now…this moment that treatment is getting ready to finish, and the fact that the medicine has appeared to work for now…this is where I have wanted to be since I got my first diagnosis six years ago. A year ago, we could not have dreamed how completely the Lord would have answered all petitions and prayers and given us exactly what we asked for…and even more.
I am thrilled…I am excited…I am strangely tentative. You might find it very unusual that I am feeling a little unsettled over the fact that the course of medicine is almost over.
I remember when Jennah was born…I could not wait to take her home from the hospital and have her to myself. My own baby, my own family at home…all I had ever wanted. We drove home from the hospital…and then it hit me…“Oh NO…I am the MOM!!! It is up to me now…no nurse to call in or ask advice. It is my job to take care of this baby!!” My safety net of doctors and nurses who could help in an emergency was taken away.
Don’t get me wrong…I am eternally thankful that the Lord provided this medicine and even made it efficacious. I don’t like the medicine, and I will not miss the side effects…but it has occurred to me that this year, the medicine has been my safety net. It has kept the virus at bay and I have not had to worry about it all year long.
But, in the next couple of weeks, I will be entering a new phase of this journey that the Lord started 6 years ago. I will not miss the nausea and fatigue, nor the blurred vision or straw hair. I will not miss the foggy brain and the metal taste in my mouth, nor any of the intestinal issues and skin rashes that I have had for the past year. I will be thankful to have them gone.
I WILL miss my safety net of medicine. And yet at the same time, because He has proven Himself in so many ways this year…I know that I am about to go on an even deeper journey that will take me to new levels of walking with Him.
Moses led the people through 40 years of wilderness…but he was not the one who led them into the Promised Land. Joshua led them…a man of God who was given a charge by the Lord, Himself.
“Moses My servant is dead; now rise therefore and cross this Jordan river where I will give to the sons of Israel the land that I promised. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS as you lead these people…BE STRONG AND VERY COURAGEOUS and be careful to do according to the laws I have given you. Do not turn from it to the right or to the left…BE STRONG AND COURAGEOUS! Do not tremble or be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Josh.1)
God told Joshua that the priests were to carry the ark of the covenant ahead of the people as they crossed the River Jordan into their new land. Now the River Jordan is a fast flowing river during this time of year…it would have been impossible to cross without being swept away…and yet, God told them to take the ark and to stand in the river. And as the soles of the feet of the priests rested in the water…the Lord cut the flowing river off and the priests and all the people of Israel crossed through the Jordan on dry land.
When they reached the other side, the Lord instructed a member of each of the 12 tribes of Israel to collect a stone from out in the middle of the River where the waters had been cut off.
“Let this be a sign among you, so that when your children ask later, ‘What do these stones mean?’”, you shall say to them, “These stones shall become a memorial to the work and miracle of God as He cut off the raging river so that His people could cross over into the land He promised.” And so a stone altar was built with the 12 stones…a memorial to the Lord’s provision for His people, and a legacy to all who came after, to remind them of the work of God.
So, here I stand at the bank of the Jordan. I am leaving the wilderness and now I must trust God, who like the ark of the covenant, goes before me to settle raging waters and reminds me He is with me wherever I go. And I can hear His voice as He admonishes me, as with Joshua, “Be strong and courageous, Child. Be strong and very courageous and do not tremble for I will be with you wherever you go.”
Notice the Jordan was not calmed before the priests stepped in…it was only after they had taken a leap of faith and stepped into this river that could carry them all away that the Lord calmed the waters. This miracle they experienced required their faith to be put in Him…and it required a personal risk of drowning…and yet they chose to trust a faithful God and not a raging river.
This journal I have kept this past year will stand as my stone memorial as a testimony of the miracles of God. I look forward to sharing with you one last time in a couple of weeks as I give a report on the wonders of being off medication!! Thank you for being my lifeline and support this difficult year…you have all inspired me and blessed.
“Lord, here I stand at the banks of the River Jordan…ready to dip my toe into the water and watch as You begin new works and new miracles. With Your help, I will be strong and courageous…but I am a little nervous…what will I do without my safety net?”
“Dear One, you are asking the wrong question…your safety net is not a ‘what’, your safety net is a ‘Who’. Would I bring you this far to let you drown?”
With Much Love.
THE LAST — I MEAN LAST – REALLY – THE LAST JOURNAL ENTRY
Written February 27, 2011 5:49pm
“Faith is like a bird that feels dawn breaking and sings while it is still dark.”
(Jen, Jaaf and The boys brought me flowers to celebrate no more treatment and Jess decorated a cake with a syringe with an X through it! And he and Sara brought a little something to toast the new year!)
There was a furnace in the city, and its whole purpose was death.
It was hot enough to cause death, I am sure it looked like death and it probably even smelled like death. Jews who did not renounce God were thrown into this fire. I am not talking about the Holocaust of WWII, although as I was typing this, it occurred to me how history repeats itself. I am talking about the Holocaust of 625 B.C. when the Jews were killed or taken captive.
Three young Jewish men had resolved in their minds that they would not follow the King’s latest decree, calling for instant death for anyone who did not bow down and worship a golden image that he had made. They were teenagers…and yet men…and they had already established that there would be no bowing to a handmade god. It was a dangerous decision, however…and they were very familiar with the consequence. They were brought before the king and given one last chance…”If you will not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of the fire.”
And their response has been ringing in my head continuously for the past 3 weeks…
“…Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the blazing fire and out of your hands, Oh King. BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT…LET IT BE KNOWN to you that we are not going to serve your gods or worship your golden image.” Daniel 3:17-18
They knew before they said it that they were getting ready to burn…but they would not be moved. They had all the faith in the world that if it was His will to deliver them, God would. BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT…LET IT BE KNOWN TO YOU…there would be no questioning God’s decision and they would still worship only Him.
That’s a pretty strong statement for three 18 year olds…One bow of the knee and they could live long and prosperous in this new land under this king. One simple “okay”, and they could be sipping drinks with parasols in them and sitting in a lounge chair (well, I made that last visual up, but you get the idea). The king flew into a rage and demanded the furnace be fired up 7 times hotter than usual. He commanded his warriors to tie the teenagers up and throw them into the fire. This fire was so hot that when the king’s men approached the fire in which to cast the young men…the fire killed the king’s men as they threw the teenagers into the flames. Now that’s hot.
I have been thinking on this because life, while filled with joys and blessings, also has its share of fires…some of them hotter than others and some of them feel like they consume us, and sometimes it seems like we are thrown into another fire just as we manage to crawl out of the last one. We have all had our share and we will have more in the future. The fires will not stop until we see Him face to face.
Oh, I love this next part…I would have loved to have seen the king’s face. Scripture says he was “astounded” and “stood up in haste”, trying to figure out what was going on…were those three men standing in the fire and walking about???
WAIT A MINUTE…”Was it not three men we cast into the fire?? LOOK!! There are four men loosed and walking about in the fire without harm and the fourth is like a son of gods!” Oh he knew, alright…he just did not want to admit it…that fourth man was not anything like the golden image that had been set up…this was a different kind of God. Don’t you love the picture of Him walking around in the fire? Life…True Life…in the middle of what was made for death.
The king came nearer to the fire and yelled in, “Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego, Come out you servants of the Most High God and come here!” And they came out of the midst of the fire.
Interesting, don’t you think, that the king saw four in the fire…but he only called out three! Would you be ready to look face to face with someone you had asked these boys to renounce?
All of the king’s men gathered around the boys and, “…saw the fire had no effect on the bodies of these men…nor was the hair of their head singed, now was their clothing damaged…THERE WAS NOT EVEN THE SMELL OF SMOKE UPON THEM.” The stunned king made this decree, “No one is to speak anything offensive against the God of these men…inasmuch as there is no other god who is able to deliver in this way.” Even the king could see that this was a mighty God who delivers. And he saw it in the lives of 3 teenagers.
There was no one in the fire before the men were thrown in…there was a fourth man (Theologians agree He was the Lord) in the fire while they were in the fire, and there was no man in the midst of the fire after they had been called out. It is the same with us…it is a picture for us of the faithfulness of our God. Not that we will be delivered from all of our fires…but that in the middle of the fire, we will not be left alone. As a matter of fact, if we allow Him, we can come out of the fire with our bodies, hair and clothing intact and not even smell like smoke.” We might not be delivered from our fires…but we will be delivered from facing it by ourselves. Then God gives us the most amazing gifts while we walk around in our fire…blessings beyond any we could imagine through all of your love and constant prayers. I feel selfish because I have had the privilege of being ministered to by all of you. Your cards, your calls, your e-mails and gifts…all blessings that I could not have known would have made such a difference in my year. You are all the most beautiful presents I have ever received.
My fire this year seemed hot sometimes…and then there were times when it seemed 7 times hotter than the month before. There were times I would have liked to have given up or given in and I am still brushing dust from what is left of my hair from that llloooooonnnnngggggg wilderness walk!
But the decision was made from the first weeks of diagnosis in 2005…those first days were blurry and fear filled. I spent much time on my knees and on my face begging for deliverance and healing from this…I pleaded, I bargained, I made promises…I knew He could do it…I have seen Him work miracles in the lives of His own, healing some, delivering others…He is a miracle working God. As a matter of fact…”Why you know, Lord, if You healed me, I would be so careful to give You all the glory for your miraculous works…wouldn’t that be a great story to tell and a good witness for You? Think of how many people will be blessed by the story of Your provision.” You know, I used to be able to talk my dad into just about anything (Thanks Daddy, without your love, I would not have had nearly as good a picture of the love of my Lord!)…I guess I was rather spoiled… but I prefer to think of it as well-loved! But, THIS Father was having none of my bargaining. And being the all-knowing and wise God that He is…He used my own reasoning back on me (I hate it when He does that!).
“Why Child,” I heard my Father say kindly and patiently, “What if I could reach and bless way more people with your illness than with your healing?”
WELL FOR PETE’S SAKE…HOW DO YOU ANSWER THAT? If I say I still don’t want it…then it was truly all about myself, wasn’t it…with no true thought of allowing Him to bless others…If I agree, then I am willingly walking in to a fire that is going to leave me burned to the bone and smelling like smoke! And it is going to be a slow burning!
God…He is so smart…He can solve a problem, answer a question, bring us to our knees, force us to face our selfishness, then truly bring out the willing surrender of a human heart…all in an instant. He makes us face ourselves and then delivers us from ourselves. That’s why He is God…and we are not.
“Well…Lord…I, um, I …” I stumbled around…and then, something miraculous happened…I was not healed and I was fine with it…I knew full well that I was going to have to endure something that might not be fun, and might not be resolved quickly…but love for my Father filled every fiber of my being. I do not remember all that we discussed that day…but I DO remember making a stand that day…before the fire started…that my God was able to deliver me from this, BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT, LET IT BE KNOWN … I WILL NOT BE MOVED IN MY FAITH IN HIM AND HIS GOODNESS.
And now, I stand outside the fire of this past year…I am weak, I am tired, I have less hair and less weight, and I am thrilled to be finished with this past year. I did not think that I would have much reaction to my last shot, other than happiness, but as Ken gave me my last shot and prayed over me…I could not stop crying. I was completely overwhelmed with the fact that this time last year, we just getting ready to start the treatment and we had so many needs and worries. HERE WE STAND AT THE END OF IT AND GOD ANSWERED EVERY ONE OF THEM. He made me face my biggest fear of the year…which was worry that something might happen to one of my parents or siblings or loved ones while I was so sick. It happened, and truly one of my darkest days was waiting for my father’s heart surgery to be over…and then, it was over and God provided all we needed to make it through. And even if this year had not turned out as well for Dad, or for me…LET IT BE KNOWN…I WILL NOT BE MOVED.
While this month has been long, I am finally starting to feel strong! I walk around the house in a spirit of joyful thankfulness! The year…the wilderness…it is over!!! I felt well enough to go to a concert that Don, Ken’s brother and the one who flew me to Ohio, and his wife Carolyn had made reservations for months ago! It was just a fun country concert, but I could not stop crying again! (I am noticing a pattern of emotion, here!) When I started treatment, I could not wait for the time when I could be with loved ones again and enjoy them. Here I was, a year later, all prayers answered and sitting with people I love dearly and enjoying the evening. I am sure I looked ridiculous with tears running down my face while everyone else was clapping to Cotton-Eyed Joe!
Now, the truth of the matter is…these coming years could provide more fires…and the fire from this year might start burning again, although we pray this fire is out for good…or a completely different fire could threaten to turn us to ashes. But this I know…the fire might be hot, the illness might be threatening, the situation or circumstance might seem dire, and there might seem like there is no way out. We ask, of course, for deliverance, knowing full well that this God can work miracles, but also know that His plan is not just about us…it is about a bigger picture…it is about shining the light back onto the Light so that we can all see the Truth of that Light.
And for the rest of my life…I will plant my feet firmly on this Rock, this Strong Foundation, this Cornerstone, knowing that He can do mighty works of deliverance…
BUT EVEN IF HE DOES NOT…LET IT BE KNOWN…