Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Glimpse of Glory

The spray hits our upturned faces.
Braced by the unusually cold October wind,
Bundled in layers -wearing our rain gear
We stand together and take it all in.

Does he see it?  Feel it like I do?
Transcended to another realm we can’t look away
It is all too magnificent
Our eyes are fixed – looking - longing

Rainbows intersecting rainbows
Piercing brightness shining thru the ethereal mist
With eyes squinted we can barely look straight ahead
But we can’t look away - it is too glorious!

The boat moves us closer
The roar of the water growing louder and louder
We are in it now –in the mist
My smile so big it hurts- my heart so full I am about to burst!

The beauty and majesty are so great
We continue to look and are dazzled
Is this precious glimpse a sliver of heaven?
Is this a taste of His glory?
Are we getting close to the unapproachable light where He dwells?

The boat begins to turn around and I look at Phil with my tear filled eyes
Yes he has seen it too.
Our faces glow for we have had a glimpse of His glory

A recent devotion quoting the lyrics of an old hymn brought back the memory of our Maid of the Mist boat trip at Niagara Falls.
Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible, hid from our eyes.

1 Timothy 6:16 says that Christ lives in unapproachable light. He is surrounded by such splendor and glory that our human eyes can’t look upon Him.  Jesus chose to leave it all for our sake. The Son of God became the Son of Man so that someday we can have a glorified body that will be able to live in that heavenly splendor with Him.

May I be a Maid of His Midst - face ever upward -eyes fixed on Him - heart full.

John 1:14 and the word became flesh and dwelt among us and we have seen His glory….

Monday, November 24, 2014

A Season to be Thankful - A Lifetime to be Grateful

During this Thanksgiving season I have so much to be thankful for.  For starters- I am still here!  I am healed and healthy.  I have the most wonderful loving husband in the world. His tender strength has got me through the hard times.  After 31 years of marriage he is still my best friend and my true love. I have two precious children who are my pride and joy. I have been so blessed to be their mom, and now also their friend.  I have a beautiful granddaughter who calls me up to tell me silly jokes, and whose free spirit delights me to no end. I have family and friends who I could write pages about they are such a blessing and joy. I have good food to eat, clean water to drink, a warm cozy house. The list could and should go on and on…

Ann Voskamp inspired me to make a list of  things I am thankful for each day. I want to live a life of gratefulness.  In the easy times and the hard times, in the messes and the blessings- to be thankful in all things.  For thanksgiving is the key that opens the door to his presence

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 100: 4-5

Thank him in the good times, and thank him in the hard times.

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior. 
Habakkuk 3:17-18

This daily counting of blessing has changed my life, and I would like to challenge each of you who take the time to read my meanderings to start a grateful list.  It will help you keep life in perspective. It will refocus your gaze off of your problems and onto the one who is the giver of all that is good and precious. 

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thess 5: 16-18

Thursday, October 23, 2014


Brought in the fig tree from my sister – out of winter’s cold
Leaves slowly wither - all that remains is a stick
It looks dead
It sits in our garage - I water it – occasionally-
My dead stick

I think there’s life under that ground, but I can’t be certain.
(This is my first year growing a fig)

The winter goes on long
Dark in the garage
But I water my stick
Will it come back to life?
I believe it will
I hope it will

Spring arrives – the ground begins to warm
Soon I will see if my stick survived

I bring it into the warmth of the basement
Tiny leaves appear!
I am thrilled- YES!
It is still alive!

When the nights turn warm I dig a hole and plant my fig back outside
Spring showers and summer warmth and sunshine do their work
The fig grows – it flourishes.

I can relate
In the past two years I was stripped till I felt bare as a stick
But underneath I knew my roots were still intact.
The warmth and sunshine of God’s love came through his people,
And the watering of His word did its work
By the grace of God I survived
I am alive and flourishing!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Song in the Night

Sometimes it feels as if the weight of the whole world is upon you.  Darkness fills your soul and your spirit can’t seem to rise above the heaviness. You are hurting, wounded, gripped with fear. Tormenting thoughts fill your mind.  What should you do?   I believe I have the answer.   Sing!  Sing a song to the Lord.  It worked for Paul and Silas, it worked for King David, it has worked for me and I believe it will work for you.

After being beaten, Paul and Silas were thrown into the inner prison cell of darkness.  They were chained, but they knew a truth that would set them free. A truth that can set all of us free from whatever bondage we are in. In the midnight bleakness they began to pray and sing praises to the only one who could release them from their prison. Suddenly, a violent earthquake shook the prison, the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose! The jailer was so terrified that he asked, “What must I do to be saved?”

Paul and Silas had much to complain about and even more they could have worried about concerning their future, but they chose to sing instead. It was the right choice!
After the praises went up to God not only were Paul and Silas set free physically but also the jailer and his family were set free spiritually. (Acts 16:22-34)

The Psalms are filled with every emotion we will ever experience.  David pours out his heart to God many times starting in despair with his eyes focused on his circumstances, but somewhere in the singing the focus changes.  He gets it right.  His eyes are set upon the King, the Healer, the Deliver, and praise rises up and fills his spirit, calms his emotions and brings peace.

Often we don’t feel like singing, but it is just what we need. After surgery, when I could barely make it down the steps, I knew I needed to play and sing to the God who had got me through it all. I had so little energy it was very difficult to sing, but I had to pour out my heart to Him. He is so worthy of our praise!

During a recent struggle I remember singing a song by Plumb that voiced my despair:
How many times have you heard me cry out
"God please take this?”
How many times have you given me strength to
Just keep breathing?
Oh I need you
God, I need you now.

Like many of David’s psalms this song cries out to God for rescue. As I sang this over and over God set me free from worry and gave me peace about the situation.

Maybe you need a song in the night to set you free from the oppression you are under. Maybe you just need to get your eyes off your circumstance and refocused on Him. Put on some praise music or make up your own song. Sing a song unto the Lord.  Sing with all your heart, mind and strength. You will be glad you did!

Monday, July 21, 2014


“Would you like to take a shower?” asked an angel of a nurse Friday morning. After a week of lying in the hospital bed, recovering from surgery, I’m sure I looked a mess and smelled even worse. Funny, with all I had just been through, I had not really thought about being dirty or getting clean.  But when she asked the question, my spirit leaped inside of me and a great desire rose up in me - a ray of hope.  “Yes, that would be wonderful!” I replied with tears in my eyes from the kindness of this angel-nurse. She left the room to get things ready then returned and began to unhooked my tubes and wrap everything thoroughly so I would not get my incision or any tube wet.  She wheeled me into the oversized shower stall across the hall, adjusted the water, gave me soap and shampoo and then left to allow me some privacy.  I get goose bumps just thinking about it now.  It was almost sacred. As the warm water caressed my scarred and battered body I sat there in the wheelchair overwhelmed with emotions. Oh how I needed this! As the shower continued to wash over and soothe my body, the tears followed. The more the water flowed, washing over me, the more the tears joined in beginning the inside cleansing of emotions that would continue for months. Oh to be clean- refreshed-oh how that cleansing water lifted my spirits.  The angel-nurse was back. I dried off and she wrapped me in a fresh new hospital gown.

Many years earlier, Jesus asked me a similar question. “Do you want to be clean?” 
At the time I don’t really remember feeling particularly dirty (though I was) and wasn’t looking for ways to get clean.  But when I heard Him ask, my spirit leaped inside me and a great desire rose up in me.  “Yes Lord, that would be wonderful”

Cleansed by the blood
The blood of the Lamb
Precious and Holy the Great I AM 
Bids me “Come, and lay it all bare,”
So He can wash over all sin and cares. 

Cleansed – how I feel it!
All sin washed away.
Cleansed- I receive it!
Rejoicing today.

A robe of righteousness
He bestowed upon me
Cleansed and forgiven
Redeemed and set free.

A heaven sent shower that continuously flows
From God’s Holy throne to the earth below.
Come underneath it and be made new
A brand new life is waiting for you.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (NKJV)

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 
Psalm 51:7 (NIV)

His kindness leads us to repentance.  
(Romans 2:4)

Monday, July 7, 2014


I have never felt particularly strong: physically, mentally or emotionally. When I found out I had cancer, I remember not being fearful of the cancer itself.  The diagnosis had taken me totally by surprise, but I knew it hadn’t taken God by surprise.  He knew.  What did make me fearful was that I didn’t feel I had the strength that it would take to get through to the other side of it.  One of the first things I did was got a notebook and started writing scriptures down that I could take to the hospital with me.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil. 4:13
When I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor. 12:10

I have never needed or used those verses more than in the past two years. Each hard, hesitant step of the way, I would remind myself of those words the apostle Paul wrote during his trials and hardships. Many days I felt overwhelmed, but God was there to fill me with His strength and power.

You may feel utterly weak and lack the strength to take the next step.  But take it.  God is with you- holding you up when you feel faint, holding your hand when you feel alone. Nudging you forward when you’d rather retreat.
You may feel small compared to the big problem that looms in front of you.  You may feel insignificant compared to the situation you desire to have an impact on. You may feel ill-equipped to handle the task that has been given to you. But all these things are easy for Him.  Let Him take control. He will be:

Strength in your weakness
Courage in your fear
Faith in your doubt
Peace in your storm.

Dear friend, what do you need today? It is all His – at His disposal, ready to hand out if we would just ask.

Isaiah 40:29-31 (NKJV)

He gives power to the weak,
And to those who have no might He increases strength.
Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A snip and a prayer

The Prayer of Faith, the laying on of hands, the working of miracles, I have experienced all of these through my hairdresser Chrissie and her sweet mother Evelyn at whose house my hair gets primped and styled.   I went there in August of 2012, just two days after my first chemo session, feeling totally miserable.  Even though I was praying that I wouldn’t lose my hair, odds said that I would.  I had picked out a shorter style wig from a catalog and asked Chrissie if she could give me a similar cut. Then I could see how I looked with that style before I ordered the wig, and there would be less hair going down the drain if / when it did fall out. 

A snip here, a snip there “Lord we just thank you for a complete healing.  We curse these cancer cells.”  Snip Snip.  “Get all the way down to the root Oh Lord.”  And so it goes- intercession and work, like the men on the wall in Nehemiah.*  Doing the work of rebuilding the wall with one hand and having the sword ready to do battle against those who would oppose them in the other.  Phil is sitting beside me.  He has driven me, since I am still not able to drive yet.   Chrissie encourages us both.  “No charge” she says as she shakes out the sheet covered with hair.   “Come into the living room. Mom and I want to pray for you.”   I take a seat and Phil kneels next to me.  My spirit tries to rise above the pain I am feeling. Oh Lord, thank you for such special friends.  Lord I receive your answers to these prayers. They anoint us both with oil, lay hands on us, and pray for healing.  Pray for us to be witnesses to God’s great mercy.  And they pray some more. I feel sick and yet full of gratefulness and thanksgiving.  A God that hears and answers prayers.  A mother and daughter with Holy Ghost boldness.  A husband who is always by my side.  I am truly blessed.

Is this how to pray without ceasing - as I go about my work each day?

Prayer... automatic, effortless - 
as natural as breathing
Unashamed, Holy Spirit, faith-filled prayer
flowing from my lips as I go about my day.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18(ESV)
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,  give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
* Nehemiah 4:17

Friday, May 30, 2014


The song plays in my head over and over, like His faithfulness: never ending- never ceasing.

Standing on this mountaintop
Looking just how far we’ve come
Knowing that for every step
You were with us

Kneeling on this battle ground
Seeing just how much You’ve done
Knowing every victory
Was Your power in us

Yes! We have made it to the mountaintop! I am done with maintenance chemo and so thankful for God’s healing.  Looking back over this past two years my heart just resonates with these verses from Matt Redman’s song. He has done so much for us and I just want to give Him the glory.

As I look back his faithfulness was so evident.
Jehovah-Nissi-  our banner of encouragement
Jehovah-Jireh – our provider who meets all our needs
Jehovah-Shalom – our peace in every situation
Jehovah-Rohi – our shepherd and guide
Jehovah-Rapha – our healer from every disease
Jehovah-Shammah- our ever-present help- always with us.

I have seen His faithfulness throughout my life, but going thru the cancer battle I came to recognize it so much more. I know I could have never made it through without Him being with me every day- every step of the way.

Never once did we ever walk alone
Never once did You leave us on our own
You are faithful, God, You are faithful

Phil was with me as much as he could be. I know he would have been with me every moment – but there were some places he wasn’t allowed. Even though I had to enter some rooms alone, -never once was I truly alone. The Holy Spirit was with me.
When my thoughts would torment me He would speak a word,  when I needed courage He would provide it.  When I thought I couldn’t take anymore He would hold me in His arms and reassure me that He would bring me through. He was always there.

Do you feel alone in your struggle?   Does it seem that no one cares?
God loves you and is with you.  Ask Him to walk beside you.  Take His hand and let Him guide you.  Sit with Him and read His word and He will instruct you.  Praise Him and He will lift heaviness and depression off you.  Tell him you can’t do it and instead let Him do it.  Lean on Him, He will hold you up.

When I look down at my belly I see the scars- not pretty to the physical eye -but to me, a thing of beauty, for they serve to remind me of His great faithfulness!

Scars and struggles on the way
But with joy our hearts can say
Never once did we ever walk alone
Carried by Your constant grace
Held within Your perfect peace
Never once, no, we never walk alone

Never once!  He was and is always there.  Oh praise Him for His faithfulness!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Deep Roots

I needed to repot my Jade plant.  It had grown too tall for the pot it was in and was leaning terribly- ready to fall over.  As I lifted it out of the soil, I saw the reason for it's off-kilter position.  Although the plant was a foot tall, it's roots were very shallow, barely an inch deep.  It couldn't stay upright and centered with such a small root system to hold it in place.

What a different picture to see the root system of a wild fig tree in South Africa with roots that go 400 feet deep.  Roots going down deep- that’s what I want.
Standing strong for years, though nature’s elements come against it – that is my desire.  Year after year unmoved when erosion and age set in-let this be me.

Oh Lord, I want to be like those majestic trees with roots that go down deep into the rich soil of your word. When strong winds come, let my roots hold firm so my faith won’t be uprooted.  When fear and doubt try to push me over, let my roots spread out even further and take in nourishment from your unending love. 

The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
They will still bear fruit in old age,
they will stay fresh and green,
proclaiming, “The Lord is upright;
he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
Psalm 92:12-15

When my roots are strong and healthy in the Lord then I will be able to let my branches reach up and spread out so that I can give shade to the weary. As I remain rooted and grounded in Him I will bear fruit to help those in need. 

Thank you Lord for this promise.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

His Precious Blood

His precious blood was shed for me
Upon that old and rugged tree
To cleanse my sin, to set me free,
His precious blood was shed for me

His precious blood was spilt for me
Upon that ground on Calvary
To heal my sickness and disease
His precious blood was spilt for me

His precious blood it covers me
I’m marked as His eternally
Sealed forever, I am His
His precious blood it covers me.

When death’s dark angel passes by
He can’t come here, he must Passover
For upon the doorpost of my heart, over every cell, every part
I apply His precious blood

Blood that cover sins
Blood that sets me free
Blood that flows within
Protecting me – Healing me – Cleansing me

The spotless lamb was sacrificed.
Jesus, my Passover Lamb

God’s indescribable gift to us all!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Faith Prayers

You think I would have learned by now.  I’ve been praying wrong again. Worry Prayers instead of Faith Prayers.  “Please God, don’t let this happen” prayers instead of “Thank you” prayers. But I was up for three hours in the middle of the night (again) fretting over a loved one. Praying Worry Prayers

God, you never fret and worry.  You are seated on your throne.  Full of life, love, peace, and joy, you are not pacing back and forth worried about all your children who seem to stray daily off the right path.  How do I get to that same peaceful place that God inhabits when everything seems to be falling apart? 

Philippians 4:6 &7 says - Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

So how do I obtain peace?
Go to God with my request.
Give the situation totally to Him (no take backs).
Quit trying with my puny mind and limited resources to control the outcome.
Trust Him that He will do what is best.
Thank Him that He is more than able to handle anything I give to Him.
Rest in Him for He has it all under control.

Two verses earlier Philippians 4:4 says - Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.   
Is this the key- where I should start?  Rejoicing in who God is, in His ability to handle all this?

Oh God, you came to set the captives free.  You said to the dry bones, ”Live!” and they came to life. You opened blind eyes; you can open my love one’s to see the truth. Nothing is too hard for You!

It's hard to stop these anxious thoughts. Fear and worry come more naturally to me than fight and faith. But we are in a battle and the way to win is thru Faith Prayers.

Psalm 68 says - Let God arise and His enemies be scattered.
 Those enemies- fear and worry – will be scattered when I offer up praise and thanksgiving- when I magnify God and His goodness to me. Thanking him before I see any change. 

Faith not fear  
Trust not worry
Faith Prayers not Worry Prayers

God hears all our prayers: prayers of desperation, prayers of anguish, even our worry prayers, but if we get thru those prayers to prayers of faith, that is when God’s peace will come and the battle will be won!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Trust - part II

In Matthew 14:22-33 we again find the disciples in a boat with the wind and waves coming against them.  Jesus sent them on ahead while He takes some time to pray. When they are quite a distance off shore, Jesus comes to them walking on the water! Jesus is not sleeping through the storm this time- He is walking above it. When the disciples see him they are terrified. “Take courage!  It is I.” Jesus assures them,  “Don’t be afraid”

They had seen Him calm the storm before with just a command from His voice and their faith had increased.  Now their faith is being challenged again and Peter is ready – ready for crazy water walking faith and so he calls out “If it is you Lord, command me to come to you on the water.”  Jesus calls him, “Come.”

Have you heard Him call, “Come”?
Come step out in faith to do what I’ve called you to do.
Come push out into the deep waters where your faith will be tested and purified like gold. 
Come believe that I can heal cancer.
Come walk with me above the waves, above your circumstances. 
Come even though fear and doubt are trying to pull you under.
Come keep your eyes on me; I’ve called you here so your faith can grow.

Peter gets out of the boat and begins walking on the water to Jesus. But then he begins to look at the wind whipping around and becomes frightened. He starts to sink and cries out “Lord, save me!”  Jesus immediately reaches out his hand and catches him. “You of little faith,” he said, “Why did you doubt?” Then they climb into the boat, and the wind dies down.  The disciples finally get it “Truly you are the Son of God.”
There are seasons when it is easy sailing; the sea is calm, the sun is shining.  But there are also times when we are called out into the deep, into uncharted, turbulent waters.  This is where we would never choose to go on our own, but when He leads us, how can we say no?  He will be with us there and our faith will be strengthened. We may even find ourselves doing some crazy water walking! We will see His greatness and like the disciples we will be able to say without a doubt  “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Friday, March 21, 2014

Trust - part I

Does God care about your situation and mine? 
Does it sometimes seem that He is sleeping thru the worst storms in your life?

The disciples may have thought so. Mark 4:35-41 recounts the story of a test of their faith. After a long day of teaching on the shore of Galilee, Jesus says to the disciples “Let us go across to the other side.” So they take their boat and head out. While crossing to the other side, a windstorm comes that threatens to do them in.  The disciples become frantic, expecting the worse. Jesus however is asleep. They wake him up. “Teacher don’t you care that we are perishing?” 

Did Jesus know there would be a storm before He got into the boat?  If he knew, why did he suggest they go out, and why did He let himself fall asleep?  Didn’t he know the disciples would need him?  Was this all just to show them who He really was?

Jesus wakes up and rebukes them.  “Why are you so afraid?  Have you still no faith?” They had seen Him do miracles for others, but now they needed a miracle themselves.
Did they still not really know who He was?

Is this really an issue of trust? Am I, like the disciples, quick to assume the worst will happen when a storm comes?  Do I frantically try to bail the water out of my sinking ship myself?  Or do I put my total trust in Him even though the waves continue to batter and toss my boat? Do I stop worrying and quiet my soul long enough to hear Him say “Come rest here in my arms, I’ve got this under control.”
Do I take refuge in His arms and know that He has everything under control?
Do I recognize who He really is?

“Peace!  Be Still!  He spoke to the storm. The wind ceased and there was great calm.
The disciples marveled “Who is this that even the wind and sea obey Him?”

Who is Jesus? He is the one who spoke the wind and the sea into existence-the one who holds this whole world together-the one that storms obey. 

“Peace!  Be Still!”  He says to my anxious heart.
He spoke it to me when I found out I had ovarian cancer.
He speaks it to me still.
“You are not alone. I care. I am with you always.”

You are His child.  Trust Him. Let Him hold you in His arms and speak peace to the raging storm around you and peace to the raging storm within you. He will get you safely to the other side.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Gift of Time

Why am I always in such a hurry? What is the gain? God is infinite and we stand on the brink of eternity.  There is time for rest, for joy, for fellowship, for love, for reading, walking and creating.  It is up to me.   I can choose my pace or God’s pace.  God is never in a hurry.  A thousand years are as a day to Him.  He waits patiently for all of us to repent.  He waits patiently for me to realize and understand that life is more than doing- it is being.  Life is more than accomplishments.  It is more about how we do a thing, than what we do.

When we are in pain, or going through a trial we wish time would pass quickly.
When everything is good, we wish that time would stand still.

Those of us that have experienced a hard winter can’t wait for spring.  This has been a long, hard winter outside my window and inside my heart.  I yearn for warmer days and look forward to the sweet smelling blossoms spring will bring.  I eagerly await the day when there are no more treatments or doctors appointments.  Those days will come. In the meantime I choose: to take time to marvel at the sparkling silver-white blanket covering the ground, to sing with the fat red cardinal perched in my crabapple, to raise hands in praise with the black oaks under the heavy winter sky. I want to appreciate the time I have to hear God reveal more of His truth as I sit quietly in His presence.  New life will come. The grass will again be green, the oaks will praise with covered leaves, and I will sing a new song of gratitude for the time God has given me.

 None of us knows how much time we have on this earth, so we need to make the most of each day.  Not doing more, being more.  More like Jesus who no matter where He was, or what He was doing; took time to hold the children, took time to pray for the sick, took time to share about the Father.  He did not mind the interruptions, for He new they were divine.  In His short 33 years on earth He accomplished exactly what He was sent to do.
God has given me all the time I need to accomplish His will too.

for behold, the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
The fig tree ripens its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance.
Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away.  Song of Solomon 2:11-13(ESV)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Beautiful Hands

The day my mother went home to be with Jesus was a day I will never forget.  Still etched upon my mind as her body lay in the bed for us all to visit one last time, I noticed her hands.  “Look how beautiful her hands are,” I remember telling my sister.  I remember my gaze being fixed on them.  It was as if they were speaking to me kindness, gentleness, and goodness and love.

These were not the hands I remember my mother having as we were growing up.  Her hands were cracked from hard work.  Her nails never polished.  I don’t think she ever had a manicure in her life.  Often they were stained from some project she had us doing to keep us busy like making Ukrainian Eggs.  I remember my mom most with her hands covered in dirt for she loved to garden.   She was either planting seeds or tending the plants that were growing up.  The seeds she planted were not just in the soil of the earth, but also in the soil of her children, which were 7, plus all the other children who she did seed planting in with Girl Scouts, CCD and Junior Garden Club (just to name a few). Her hands were dried and cracked from the long hours spent washing dishes and watering the seeds she had planted in our hearts.  I can still see her nails with dirt under them from the constant weeding she did in her flower gardens and in our hearts. Her rough hands nourished our bodies with good food to eat and took care of us when we were sick. 
As she knelt by our beds when we were young, her folded hands taught ours to pray to a loving God.

But now her hands were at rest just as her soul was.  She had used her hands for good.  Martha seemed the perfect name for my mother who always was busy serving someone.

Another pair of hands that were just as beautiful were those I saw during my recovery from surgery.  They were the hands of His body.  The body of Christ in action, the way God designed it to be. Carrying one another’s burden-lifting each other up in prayer - serving selflessly.  These I saw as the body of Christ expressed its heart of love for my family and me.

Hands of little girls who drew me get well pictures
Hands that penned sweet words of encouragement
Hands that folded and lifted us up in prayer
Hands that prepare and carried nourishing meals to our family
Hands that brought gifts to cheer
Hands that took on dirt to weed my gardens
Hands that wrote checks to help with the medical bills
Hands that took on grime to clean my house and do my laundry
Hands that took care of my physical needs
Hands that were laid on me with healing prayers
Hands that held mine and walked with me every step of the way

And of course the most beautiful hands of all.

Hands that catch me when I fall
Hands that pick me up again and dust me off
Hands that point the right direction when I don’t know which way to go
Hands that nudge me forward when I am afraid to take the first step
Hands reaching out touching me with healing, comforting my soul
Hands that hold up the whole world and everything in it
Hands that wrote the truth
Hands that fed the multitudes
Hands that cleansed the leapers
Hands that broke bread and washed feet
Hands that took up a gnarled cross and carried it to Calvary
Hands that took the nails for me
Hands that reach out still to each of us

Lord, give us your heart of love and let our hands become your hands to minister to those in need.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Blessing in Disguise

Only a week had passed since I had been released from the hospital, but here I was sitting in that cold examination room hearing the doctor tell me that in 4 days I was to go back to the hospital and get a port put in so that I could begin the chemo treatments.

Start the chemo? How can I possibly do that- my body is so weak I can barely even walk? The doctor examined the incision I had received two weeks earlier to get to the cancer that was slowing eating away at my body.  “The incision looks good,” he said. It did. I was amazed at how quickly that had healed up, but what about all the incisions inside of me?  They still felt raw and hurting, even the slightest move hurt. He continued the exam and I showed him a few red spots that had appeared a day earlier on the top of my leg.  “Hmmm looks like it may be shingles,” he said.  Then without missing a beat, he left me with instruction to call the hospital to set up my appointment for Friday to get the port.

I couldn’t take it in.  Get chemo already, in this condition!  It was like asking a mortally wounded soldier to go back up to the front line.  I wasn’t ready for my body to get knocked down again. What was the doctor thinking, and what on earth are shingles?

The rash got progressively worse so I went back to see the doctor.  “Yes, it’s shingles.” He said “ Unfortunately we will need to wait until it clears up to get the port.”

If you’ve had shingles, you know the agony. You also know there’s not a lot you can do to get rid of them. Just try to endure until they’ve run their course.

At first I didn’t see it- what God was up to.
Was I cursed?  Cancer, and now shingles!
Wasn’t one hard blow enough- did I really two?

“Maybe this is a blessing in disguise,” my friend Linda who had similar surgery said as she made plans to bring us several meals.  The pain, the burning, a blessing?  Really?  As I lay in my bed thinking, it took awhile, but I realized she was right.  I was much too weak and broken to start chemo.  I’m sure that God could of used other things to delay the start of chemo. But if there weren’t some compelling reason, the doctor would have gone along with his plans to get the port in and begin no matter how bad I felt. 

 The port wouldn’t go in for another two weeks, and the chemo wouldn’t start for 11 days after that.  By that time my shuffle had turned into a slow walk.  I was able to sit for more than a half hour at a time and I could turn in bed from one side to another without assistance.  I was far from being back to normal, but compared to a month earlier I was doing fine. The shingles were no fun, but they allowed me time to rest and recover.

A bloody broken body hung in the public square.
At first they didn’t see it- what God was up to.
Was He cursed?
After 40 lashes – did they need to crucify Him too?
 It took awhile, but a few days later they would understand.  
This was a blessing in disguise.

 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith. Galatians 3:13-15 (ESV)

What did I learn?  To be thankful in all things, even shingles. That our times our in His hands.
He is watching over every part of our lives (the very hairs on our heads are numbered).

Unexpected, unwanted things may not be the curse that they first seem to be. 
Look closer, and wait- they may just be a blessing in disguise!


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Nothing is wasted

Nothing is wasted

The worship team plays that song again. The one that makes my hands fly up in surrender as the tears fall over my cheeks. The sanctuary is dim, the tissues come out and the wiping begins.  Only my dear Phil standing next to me, and God see the release.  The tears are for me and for Him.  For my cleansing and His glory.

You raised the dead to life.  You’ve done the same for me Jesus
You are loving, You are wise.  There is nothing in my life that You cannot revive
You are loving, You are wise.  There is nothing too hard for our God.

I am singing with my lips but the sound doesn’t surface – there is too much emotion inside stifling it, and all that is bottled up comes bursting out as tears.
You have gotten me through this Lord.  I am alive and so grateful.
Cancer is no big deal to you - you raise the dead.
My body is still weak, but you can revive it.  You can make me whole again.

They are singing the chorus now.

Nothing is wasted  
You work all things for good

The presence of the Lord hits me harder now as the song gives answer to the question I had been asking over and over.  What is all this for?  I know there must be a reason for this trial I am going through.

Nothing is wasted  
You work all things for good

Repeatedly the answer comes.  God is not wasteful. He uses everything.   He will use this for good.  As I lift my hands in surrender, I give him everything.  All the pain, the hurt, the tears, the emotions, and say “Take it Lord.  Make something beautiful.”

My dear friend, what is the fiery trial or dark valley you are walking thru this day?  Give it to God.  Let it become seed in His hand that He can plant it in the rich soil of His love and mercy.  Watch expectantly as He nurtures and waters it.  That seed will yield a plentiful harvest that will bless others and you.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28 (NKJV)

I have seen the seed begin to grow.  He has used it all.  Nothing is wasted.

"Nothing is Wasted" by Elevation Worship

Friday, January 10, 2014

Fresh Grace

Fresh Grace

In June 2012 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  I don’t tell you this so that you will feel sorry for me or even so that you will offer up prayers on my behalf (although prayers would be welcome and appreciated).  I tell you to let you know how this blog and future writing came about.  Going through surgery and chemotherapy was the closest I ever got to a  “valley of the shadow of death” experience that the psalmist alludes to in Psalm 23.  This fiery trial that I had to go through, although not pleasant or easy, has given me new eyes and a fresh vision.  Truly it has been a gift that has given me a greater and fresh revelation of God’s mercy and grace. 

During this difficult time, while taking the bible study “Missing Pieces” by Jennifer Rothschild, I came to realize that I not only deserved cancer and sickness but death and separation from God. I deserved it because I am a sinner. The bible says the wages of sin is death and I, like every human, am a sinner so I deserved death.  But I did not receive death; instead I received God’s mercy. The definition of mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm. In other words, not getting what we deserve. The only one who could enforce this death sentence, was also the only one who could who could absolve me. God the father was able to forgive me and cancel my death sentence because Jesus paid the price for my sin.  Jesus took my sins upon His body and paid my sin debt with His precious blood on the cross of Calvary.  He took my punishment and in exchange gave me eternal life with Him.

Thank God that I did not get what I deserved but not only that, I got what I didn’t deserve. Grace is defined as the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.  James 1:17 says "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning." The beautiful world all around us, the tender love of family and friends, the delicious food we eat, the warm cozy home we live in, are all manifestation of God’s amazing grace. Grace is being treated to God’s best even though we did nothing to deserve it.

Several years before I found out I had cancer, God was telling me to write down things I was thankful for.  I was not a good listener and started a list, but soon got busy and quit. He also was urging me to read “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp which I highly recommend, but I put off reading until recently. I am on my way to listing my thousand and more gifts, but more than that, I am seeing everything with fresh eyes.  Like the song says “I was blind but now I see.” God’s grace and mercy had always been with me but I didn’t always see them. Now I see everything as coming from the Father’s hand.  Trials, joys, laughter, contentment, struggles, harmony - these are all gifts of grace.

Sometimes it takes the long, dark, bleak night to truly appreciate the bright new dawn.