Thursday, October 20, 2016

Thank God for Nose Hairs!



“I think of myself as a nose hair,” Susan said and all the ladies burst out laughing.  I chuckled too as she described her part of the body of Christ, but inside I was thinking: Nose Hairs are Important!

We were having testimony time at our woman’s retreat and Susan was telling of God’s power to raise her off of her sick bed two years ago.  She is getting around now and spreading her joy to others but she is homebound. She relayed to us how she was feeling bad that she was not able, at this time, to help people out with her nursing skills anymore.  God had told her she had something very important she could still do.  She could pray and intercede for those in need.

When I was told that the chemo drugs I would be taking would cause me to lose my hair, I thought about the hair on my head and my eyebrows and eyelashes.  I never really thought about how much hair we have all over our bodies.  But eventually I lost all of it – yes even my nose hairs.

Now, losing nose hairs may not seem like a big deal, (unless of course you need one of those nose hair clippers to keep yours under control.)  But the first time I stood up and a big drip came running down and out my nose I discovered that nose hairs matter.  At first I had no clue what was going on with the drippy nose- just figured it was some new side effect from the chemo drugs.  But thanks to the Internet I discovered that nose hairs not only protect us from dirt going into your sinuses but also catch any leaks coming out!  I quickly learned to have a tissue on me at all times for those unannounced, unpredictable drips, and to never take those nose hairs for granted!

But back to testimony time.  I maybe should have stood up after Susan testified and declared the importance of nose hairs to our body.  But I didn’t.  But I want to declare it now. 

Nose Hairs you are important!  We need you!

God has so wonderfully made our bodies that every single part is precious and important.  Of course the same is true of the body of Christ – his people - all put together so wonderfully - each person so precious and so important to the function of the whole body.

I am so thankful for the nose hairs in my life –yes for those that are now back in my nose and those (if Susan is correct in her assessment) who pray.

A pastor–friend recently said to me “You are a walking miracle!”  Yes, I know in God’s graciousness he has healed me.  “There were so many people praying for you,” he went on to say.  Yes, because of prayer chains, there were people all over the country praying for me.  Some were close friends and relatives, but others were people I will never meet in this lifetime, but people who took time to lift me up before the Healer, the great Deliverer.  I am so grateful.

So for Susan and nose hairs everywhere I want to say, “Thank you!” Thank you for catching the drips and keeping out the dirt.  Thank you for making the whole body stronger and keeping it healthy. 

We all can pray.  We all can praise.  We all can bless another.
No matter how you see yourself, you are important and what you do matters!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Groundhog Day 2016 - No Shadow for Phil!


Groundhog Day 2016  - No Shadow for Phil!

Punxsy Phil doesn’t see a shadow and neither should we!
I’m not talking about an early spring here -although that would be great! I am talking about not retreating into our cozy den when phantom shadows appear.

This idea of shadows has been bouncing around my head for the last month.  But today seems the perfect day for it to emerge out of the of the portal of my mind and have some light shine on it!

It all started when I read these words from Ann Voskamp in her advent devotional. “And once the light of Christ shatters your dark, shadows forever flee your shadowlands.  There’s no going back and living in the dark; you live in the impenetrable, safe Light of light, and Christmas never ends for you.” 1

Wow! Christ has shattered my darkness and transported me from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light but sometimes I feel like there are still shadows lurking.  Why?

Shadows can come from many things: past pain, disappointments, rejection, betrayal, addictions or even sickness.   Shadows of fear of failure, inadequacy and lack can meet you at every turn. They may have you retreating into your cozy den: scared to try something new, or afraid to take the next step.  Sometimes if shadows persist long enough they become a shadowland and you just resign yourself to live there.  But whatever your shadows are, and however they got there, when they are brought into the Light of God’s presence they will vanish.

If I am looking directly into the light I cannot see any shadows.  It is only when I turn my back to the Light or turn to the side that shadows appear. When I look to Christ, the Light of the world, and focus on Him I will not see shadows.  So I need to look ahead and not behind.  I need to put past failures, mistakes and sins behind me and quit dragging them into each New Year.  They are in the past and I can move ahead unencumbered when I leave them there. As written in Isaiah I need to forget the former things and open my eyes and see the new thing God is doing.2

Remember the good. Forget the bad.
Turn toward the light and the shadows will disappear.

So is it as easy as just turning?  And how do I turn?  Sometimes it is not easy.  You need others to help. You need others to pray.  Getting into God's word, and meditating on His promises is a great first step.3  Praise is also a great way to get refocused and turned around.  Spending time magnifying the Lord, remembering His faithfulness, and sharing His love with others will go far in keeping you in the light. 4

Today is a new day.  This is a new year.  Things can be different.
Don’t let the shadows of yesterday's failures paralyze you or drag you down.
Look up!  Follow Jesus the Light of the World.5


1 The Greatest Gift -Ann Voskamp pgs. 139, 140

2 (Isaiah 43:18-19) “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:18-19)


3 (Psalm 119:105) Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.


4 (1 John 1:7) But if we live in the light, as God is in the light, we can share fellowship with each other. Then the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, cleanses us from every sin.


5 (John 8:12) Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”


Friday, November 13, 2015

Grace Rediscovered: Thanksgiving Joy

Grace Rediscovered: Thanksgiving Joy: My neighbor Mary crosses the street. I put down my leaf rake, and she gives me a great big bear hug.  She has been praying for me for the p...

Thanksgiving Joy

My neighbor Mary crosses the street. I put down my leaf rake, and she gives me a great big bear hug.  She has been praying for me for the past three years.

“How are you doing?   How are your check-ups?” she asks.

“Three years now-cancer free!” I say smiling from ear to ear.

We continue catching up when she just suddenly blurts out, “ Well aren’t you a happy thing!”

The words come out of nowhere and I can’t imagine why she said that precisely at that moment, but as we talk about Thanksgiving plans and catch up on our families, the words stick in my head.

Later when I’m folding laundry it really hits me.  I AM HAPPY!  No, really honestly happy!  Some days I feel like I could just burst and out of me would come pink and purple flowers, rainbows, peace signs and hearts.  Kidding of course but you get the picture.

I ‘m a little surprised myself.  In the past I have always felt a certain melancholy but lately joy is pushing up and obviously enough that Mary noticed. 

This thankfulness I’ve been practicing has fruit!  JOY!  I’m beaming now with the thought of it.  OK I admit it. I am a big Ann Voskamp fan and through her words I have been inspired to look at things differently.  I am learning how to be thankful in all things and see the beauty that is all around me if I just look with eyes wide opened. 

Yes I’ve been busy planting seeds and I didn’t even know it.  Seeds of thankfulness and now the fruit is coming – ready to share with others.

But it’s more than just the writing of thanks and this new perspective; it’s also the atmospheric conditions that are making them grow. (Did I just use that big word?) The practice of thankfulness has been leading me into His presence (Psalm 100:4) and in His presence is fullness of Joy! (Psalm 16:11) It is His presence that brings the swelling fullness that just flows over.

You were just having a good day you might say, and I might agree, except now I know every day is a good day. Each day that I live on this earth is a gift from God to see and experience His beauty.  A day to crawl up in His lap and experience His goodness, to bask in His glorious presence and let the seeds grow!

Each day in every situation we get to choose to grumble or to give thanks. 
What kind of seeds will you plant?



Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! 
Give thanks to him; bless his name! Psalm 100:4 (ESV)

 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; 
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16: 11(ESV)


“God is happiest of all.  Joy is God’s life.”1

1Ann Voskamp pg. 86 One Thousand Gifts Devotional


Friday, October 9, 2015

Covered

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; 
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. (Psalm 91:4) 


A fledgling was stuck in our driveway next to the drainpipe that would soon be gushing water from the steady rain that had begun late that Saturday afternoon.

Earlier that day I heard the mother and father squawking at their little one who had gotten itself into a less than ideal spot. Down in our driveway the poor little guy was not able to rise above the four-foot wall that had him trapped and I wasn’t sure what to do.

How long he had been stuck there? Was he injured?  What if a neighborhood cat stalked by and was looking for some easy pickings’?  Should I intervene? Pick up the poor thing, lift him over the wall and place him in the soft grass?  I stood there close to him trying to decide.   If I touched him would his parents disown him? (This is what my mom always told us.)  What if I wore gloves and then gathered him up?  Would he smell like the earth I’d been digging in instead of my own human scent and then he’d be welcomed back into the family?

The concern soon got the best of me. I was going to pick him up with my garden gloves, but then I got a check in my spirit. "Leave him alone," is what I thought I heard in my spirit.

God had been speaking to me recently about letting Him take control of my own “baby”(who is now a full grown adult!) – and I was struggling.  I wanted to intervene, to steer him in the right direction, to pick him up and put him in a place where the grass is soft and he would be safe.

As the rain got harder the mother flew down and nudged the little one to higher ground above the drainpipe.  She was sitting part way on him guarding against him being carried away.  The downpour continued and though the drainpipe was gushing water, the birds were safe.  I didn’t need to intervene after all!  The situation was under control.  Ok Lord I hear you. You’ve got everything under control.

God spoke to me a third time at church that Sunday through Pastor Bob’s sermon. Don’t you love how God is so faithful to continue to speak to us even though we are so slow to learn?  I felt like God said to me: "Just like the little bird the other day, you don’t need to do anything; I’ve got this covered- quit interfering."

Had I been interfering with God’s plan for my son, playing the Holy Spirit?

As I saw the little bird looking helpless it was hard for me to resist the urge to help him out of his mess.  There are times when I should help my children out, but there are other times, when even though the situation looks bad, if the Holy Spirit prompts me to stay back and don’t intervene, I need to obey.

Just as Pastor Bob preached, I need to remember that:
God has a plan for my child
I am not God
Don’t play the Holy Spirit
God has no grandchildren*

Each of us needs to decide on our own whether to accept God’s gift of sonship.   As much as we want that for our children (and God desires it even more), we cannot make that choice for them.  We need to daily release our children to God so that He can be the one who swoops down and covers them with His wings. God’s got it covered.

The little bird eventually flew up on the car, then all the way over the wall into the soft grass – safe.



Mom and baby

Fledgling










*http://mag.sermon.net/mc/main/main/20408948#.VWxxwVEuP9g.facebook

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Just Say NO!






Levi our big golden retriever had just been neutered.  It was a bit more of an operation than normal for that procedure and so I was already concerned.  He was so drugged up he slept right through the first night. The next morning however, we soon realized he would need to wear the “cone of shame” so that he would not bother his stitches.   He was not allowed to run free in the backyard, as he is accustomed to doing.  I had to walk him around so that he could go to the bathroom. He seemed to be fine but then after about 10 hours I realized he hadn’t gone to the bathroom….at all.  He had been eating and drinking just fine. So I began fretting, praying.  What could be wrong? My mind started buzzing. I put a call into the vet but while I waited for their return call back I researched on the Internet all the scary results of not peeing and began worrying some more.  I walk him again and again. Nothing.  My mind was spinning by now. By the time Phil got home from work I could barely think straight! However, wise and patient man that he is, he clearly saw through all the muddle I had created.  Levi couldn’t properly smell with his cone on.  I had not even thought of this.  Of course! Dogs sniff around first to prompt them to do their business. Phil removed the cone, walked him, and after a while Tada! Pee!

OH HOW FOOLISH I FELT, AND HOW FOOLISH I WAS!  How much time had I spent unproductively worrying that Levi’s kidneys might burst or that something serious might be wrong.

I had just recently finished the bible study “Breathe” by one of my favorite teachers, Priscilla Shirer. Through the study she showed how the Sabbath principle should be a lifestyle that enables us to “steer clear of bondage.” The Hebrew word for Sabbath is Shabbat, which means to cease, to stop, to pause, to come to an end. God used the study to show me a few areas in my life that needed a Sabbath. Tendencies to take on too many things just because I couldn’t say “No”(been there?)  and being too much of a perfectionist on projects were just a few.  But now I believe I saw a greater and deeper area that needed Sabbath rest.  My mind.

I see it clearer now- the slave I can be to thoughts.  Bound by worry or indecision – how sad and unnecessary.  It is easy to revert to this unproductive way of thinking because I have allowed it for so long. But now I am determined with God’s grace and help to JUST SAY NO (to worrying). Take a Sabbath from over thinking everything.  ENOUGH IS ENOUGH (let it go -quit ruminating) I guess it really comes down to trust – if I really trust God then I will rest in him.

From decisions as simple as what to make for dinner or as complicated as what to do in this season of my life. When my mind starts spinning, I need to stop. Breathe! Just say No- I’m not going there. Enough is enough! Then I can pray and release my concern to God, who loves me in my muddling and ruminating, but who desires to see me living a life that is free- resting in Him.

 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Words of Life



I was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in June 2012.  Besides being shocked, because I had felt fine until a few weeks earlier, I felt that I just wasn’t a strong enough person to go through what I knew was ahead.  My mother had passed away just 3 years earlier from uterine cancer and I knew some of what she went through.

I had seen God’s faithfulness many times before and knew he would be with me every step of the way on this cancer journey. His word had always been precious to me, but it became something that would truly be a lifeline. From the beginning and still today the following verses have given me courage.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philip. 4:13)

 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Cor.12: 9-10)

God’s word encourages us, and gives us peace.  As I laid in intensive care after surgery, still groggy from the drugs, barely able to talk or move, my sweet daughter Danielle read soothing words from the Psalms that calmed my spirit.

When I got home from the hospital my dear friend Dianne, along with bringing meals, brought me a blue notebook that I treasure to this day.  In it she wrote out bible verses and inserted my name in each of them.  I poured over those scriptures daily.  Along with my strong husband, the blue notebook became a faithful companion during my chemo sessions.

Words are powerful. Proverbs 18:21 says that Death and life are in the power of the tongue. God’s word brings life, but I would come to realize that negative words have power too.
 During my recovery, a well-meaning friend who had also had ovarian cancer called and relayed one negative thing after another that happened to her during her cancer journey.  When I hung up the phone I felt terrible! I felt bad for her, but I also started feeling terrible inside.  I knew right then that I could not let that negativity get into my spirit!  I needed to shift my thinking and as Philippians 4:8 instructs us: think on things that are pure, lovely and a good report.
 There are many ways to get God’s living word in your life; words that will encourage, bring peace and give life. Everyday open up the bible and read His precious promises. You may even want to start your own blue notebook.  Bible Gateway is a great place to search for scriptures on whatever you need. There are many great devotionals out there too.  A few that really spoke to me through the cancer journey were Jesus Calling and Jesus Today by Sarah Young and Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts Devotional. 
This month I am celebrating 3 years with NED – No Evidence of Disease- healed, as I like to say! I am so grateful to God and am thankful each day for life.

My daughter Danielle,  granddaughter Sophie and yours truly celebrating God's faithfulness!

Whatever struggle you are going through, let God’s word fill you.
His words bring life.

 He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave. Psalm 107:20