Jul 18

How Your Mind Can Help Heal Your Body

Isn’t it amazing the impact our thoughts can have on our bodies?

Back in 1990, I got chemo every Wednesday and that evening we would take our girls to Shoney’s Restaurant for supper because kids 12 and under (of which we had three!) were free. I was always pretty nauseous, so while my family enjoyed the buffet, I sipped a cup of cream of broccoli soup and ate saltines.

A couple weeks after I finished treatment, we decided to go to Shoney’s again. I was anticipating being able to enjoy the array of food, but guess what? The memory of all those stomach-churning weeks made me feel so nauseous I thought I was going to be sick just standing at the buffet! (And it took me years to be able to eat cream of broccoli soup again!)

Our oncology office had a teenage boy who used to come in for treatment and each time–before he even got a drop of chemo–he would puke. No amount of anti-nausea medicine ahead of time ever prevented it. And I also know a cancer survivor who got nauseous when she saw her oncologist at the mall! (Glad that wasn’t true for me because my oncologist and his wife became our best friends!)

Obviously, the connection between mind and body is real. But our mind’s influence on our body can be positive as well as negative. And while I don’t believe our thoughts can guarantee a better outcome for our health, I do believe they can influence it. Psychologist and author Dr. William Backus says people dealing with illness need to remember three facts:

Your beliefs create your thoughts.

Your thoughts generate feelings.

Your feelings affect your body’s healing systems.

“Psychoneuroimmunology” is the fancy label attached to the subject of mind-body healing, which is being studied increasingly by therapists and researchers, who even have discovered a hard-wire connection between the body’s immune system and the brain’s central nervous system.

So, if your brain has the ability to send messages to your immune system cells, “what you believe and tell yourself can become a powerful medication in your personal pharmacy,” according to Dr. Backus.

He advocates not just positive-thinking, but telling ourselves the truth about our situation. He has gathered many examples of truthful healing beliefs embraced by those who have survived life-threatening illnesses. Here are a few—I hope you, too, can add them to your mind’s pharmacy:

  • “I refuse to believe my diagnosis is an automatic death sentence.
  • I believe treatment is effective against this illness, especially the skillful efforts of scientific medicine combined with my strategies for replacing lying thoughts with the truth.
  • I believe my hormones and immune system were created to be on the side of my healing and can work to overcome this illness.
  • I believe God is on the side of my healing because His unbreakable Word says so.
  • I believe I am personally responsible for my treatment and for managing it.
  • I believe hope is a choice. I choose hope, not hopelessness.
  • I believe I’m on earth to share hope, and joy with others. I’m here to love others, regardless of my physical condition.
  • I believe that God’s will is good. I believe that He loves me and wants only the best for me—no matter what He is allowing me to experience right now.
  • I can recover from this illness and live a rich, productive life. But whether I recover or not, I am going to leave this life someday regardless. Until then I can live a full life of service every day for as long as I am given.” William Backus, The Healing Power of the Christian Mind (Minneapolis: Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 1996) 96.

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones. Proverbs 3:7-8

My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lost sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body. Proverbs 4:20-22

If the music video doesn’t automatically load, open in your browser or use this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yzejd6r9DwE

Jul 11

I Don’t Want to Take One Day at a Time

 

There are certain “encouraging” phrases spoken to people going through difficulties which drive me nuts.

“It’s all gonna work out.” (So you have a crystal ball and can see my future?)

“I’m sure everything’s going to be fine.” (Because nothing bad ever happens to nice people?!)

“Just take it one day at a time.” (Thanks, I’d rather skip this whole month!)

I imagine the person uttering these kinds of phrases feels better after saying them, but weary listeners–myself included–aren’t necessarily cheered.

But despite my aversion to these cliches, I must admit that each does have an element of truth. Whatever trouble is happening will be worked out…eventually. I’m just not positive that each of us will see how it gets worked out in our lifetime. And everything will be fine in the sense that the things which really matter most–those of eternal value–can never be lost.

And as much as much as I don’t want anyone saying it to me right now as my husband and I walk through his health crisis, I have been admonishing myself: Just take it one day at a time.

Our grandchildren Ben and Abby have helped me keep that singular focus by making my husband a calendar to countdown the days remaining in his six weeks regimen of daily I.V. antibiotics. Ben, almost a kindergartener, drew the numbers (frontwards twos are overrated!) and Abby, almost a preschooler, helped decorate the background. (I guess 22-month-old Jack’s contribution was not ripping it up!)

Every day my husband and I smile as we rip off a calendar sheet and continue the countdown (Well, except for today as I write this. His PICC line won’t flush so I’m waiting for a nurse to come out and troubleshoot and hoping we are not headed to the hospital!)

It’s so hard to concentrate only on today. My rational mind wants to focus on the fact our entire summer is basically shot because my husband can’t walk. My brain keeps zeroing in on the fact the fall season is not going to be much better as he faces months of rehab. And it’s difficult not to dwell on the reality we’re facing many more months of sleep-interrupted nights, of too-tiring days and of what-if tomorrows.

But the truth is, it’s biblical to just take life one day at a time.

Remember in the desert when the Israelites complained God had forgotten them and they didn’t have anything good to eat? God responded by sending a delicious “flaky substance as fine as frost” which became known as “manna,” meaning “what is it?” And the instructions for gathering this daily sustenance were very specific.

Exodus 16:4: Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions.”

Here’s what happened next: “So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little. But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough, Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed.” (Exodus 16:17-18)

The people were further instructed not to try and save any manna overnight, but some didn’t listen. The next morning, the Bible says, their hoarded manna was full of maggots and smelled terrible.

Personally, I would love to stockpile a supply of manna for a whole month, or at least a week. I’d like some in my back pocket so I knew that what I needed to get through tomorrow and the next day was right there.

But it doesn’t work that way.

What the Israelites needed to get  them through the day had to be provided fresh by God each morning. And what you and I need for our journey in the desert needs to come daily from God’s hand by the power of His Spirit in us.

We are instructed to go to the Lord each morning and gather our daily sustenance–our manna–from Him. As we pray and move into His presence, we find His faithfulness, His love, His mercies, His faithfulness…our hope.

The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.  I say to myself, “The LORD is my inheritance; therefore I will hope in him!” Lamentations 3:22-23

O LORD, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:1-3

So please don’t tell me I need to just take one day at a time–I’m pretty busy telling myself.

P.S. The nurse was able to troubleshoot the PICC line and get it working again. Hurray!

If the music video below doesn’t automatically load, pleas open this blog in your browser or click on this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VNmSrbMxMFA

 

 

 

Jul 04

Celebrating a Second Chance at Life Together

 

My husband and I celebrate two anniversaries every year–not because we married twice, but because God gave us a second chance at life together.

We have celebrated December 29 for the past 44 years as the day two starry-eyed twenty-somethings said “I do” without realizing, of course, what they really were going to have to do. All we knew for certain was that we were confident we could serve God better together than either of us could alone.

And for the past 28 years we have celebrated July 2 as the day two teary-eyed young parents said “please, God!” without realizing, of course whether or not their prayers would really be answered they way they hoped. All we knew for certain was the surgeon was confident he could remove the cancerous tumor that day.

And the next year as that summer date rolled around again, and I still was recovering from my difficult six months of weekly chemo, my mind started reliving the nightmare of the year before. Because I didn’t want the date to be a painful reminder, I told my husband  I wanted to celebrate July 2 as the first anniversary of God’s healing touch on me. We still didn’t know if I would live or die (odds were about 40-percent that I would make it), but we were confident it was a good thing the cancer had been found and the tumor removed. And I wanted to celebrate every extra A.C. (After Cancer) year we were given to share life together.

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My husband normally gives me flowers for this “cancer-versary,” but I was sure he wouldn’t remember this year and that was okay.  After all, he was in a nursing rehab hooked up to I.V. antibiotics in his picc line 4.5 hours a day and still popping Oxycodone for knee pain. He was scheduled to come home Monday, July 2 and that was the only present I needed.

But on Saturday there was my youngest daughter, who lives near us, walking toward me with a bouquet of fresh flowers and her outstretched iPhone on FaceTime. 

“These are from Dad!” she happily announced as I saw his smiling face through cyberspace.

“You remember what Monday is, don’t you?” he asked.

As if I ever could forget.

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If you, like me, have been given a second chance at life, you know just what I mean.  Maybe it was a physical healing or perhaps you survived an accident. Maybe it was your marriage that was repaired or your relationship with one of your kids or grandkids. Maybe you conquered an addiction or you surmounted an abusive childhood. Maybe you have persisted in spite of poverty or pain. Whatever God has brought you and your family through, you have a second chance.

Make up your own “anniversary” to celebrate coming through the hurt as you trust God for whatever kind of healing He has in store for you–body, mind or spirit. I can’t promise you 28 “extra” years like my husband and I have been given, but I am confident that God loves you deeply and will be faithful no matter how unfair life has been. Celebrate each “extra” year, month, week, and day. Life is a gift, so we all are really on “borrowed” time here on earth.

My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises!–Psalm 57:7

As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.–Micah 7:7

They do not fear bad news; they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.–Psalm 112:7

Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.–Romans 12:12

If he music video doesn’t automatically load, try opening it in your browser or click on the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3qGssYNdkU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jun 27

God Has Unimaginable Power for Your Life

 

My husband is recovering from major surgery for an infected knee joint prostheses and I am recovering from Lyme disease, so Chris Tiegreen, one of my favorite authors is bringing a word of encouragement to ALL of us today! (I highly recommend his devotionals. You can order them at bookstores or online, including www.tyndaledirect.com. )

The power of God is at work in our lives. We know that because it’s written so clearly in our Bible and has been preached and taught so often. But life has a way of beating us down as though someone or something–some archenemy or some elemental principle of a fallen world–is trying to convince us that the power of God doesn’t apply to us, or that it isn’t all that powerful in the first place. That’s why many Christians feel defeated. The awesome power of God doesn’t seem all that accessible in real life.

That has produced a curious dynamic. The Bible raises our expectations with miracles and the majesty of God, and then many well-meaning teachers try to lower our expectations again so we won’t be disappointed. This dynamic sets up a choice for us: we can fix our hearts on what Scripture says, or we can accept the words of those who tell us to just be realistic. In other words, we have to choose whether we’re going to have faith or not.

We know the right choice. Still, the promise seems too good to be true. The power at work in and through us is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and exalted Him in heaven. That’s what God offers us. That’s the power we’re called to place our faith in. And that’s why our expectations get raised so high when we read Scripture. God gives us no ordinary promises. We’re offered the greatest power in the universe.

What will you believe today? In the trials you face, in the obstacles you come up against, in the discouragement that hounds you relentlessly, will you cast your confidence toward the power of God or the hard facts of “reality”? That’s the question that confronts you moment by moment in the life of faith. You either believe in God’s unimaginable power or you don’t. Decide today that you will.

Content taken from THE ONE YEAR AT THE CROSS DEVOTIONAL, by Chris Tiegreen. Copyright © 2011. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved.

If the music video below doesn’t automatically load, please open it in your browser.

Jun 20

Do You Like Life Easy or Hard?

 

It was the end of September 1960 and my family had recently moved from Mansfield, Ohio, to Riverside, California.  I had loved first-grade in Ohio, but apparently was “bored’ in second grade in the Golden State. My mother said I usually came home after school, didn’t want to talk about anything and then threw up. I would have suspected the cafeteria food or my tight perm, but Mrs. Cunningham, my parents and the principal got together and decided there was only one appropriate course of action.

After work that Friday, my dad sat on the edge of my bed with me. I don’t remember how the conversation started, but I definitely recall how it ended.

“So do you want to stay in second grade and have EASY work? Or go to third grade and have HARD work?”

With just-turned-seven-year-old exuberance, I replied: “I want to go to third grade and have HARD work, Daddy!”

On Monday morning, I took my crayons out of my desk and marched down the hall of Magnolia Elementary to Miss Milford’s class, where I happily found “hard” work and stopped puking.

Pretty sure that was the last time in my life I voluntarily chose hard instead of easy.

Remember those Staples’ “easy” buttons from about ten years ago? Personally, I would like the phrase “That was easy!” to be a guiding mantra of my day. And I can’t figure out why someone would manage to “hack’ the “easy” button and turn it into a recording device. Seriously! I watched the how-to video online https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OEFxc3zTls and still don’t know why anyone would think this was fun to do. It doesn’t look easy to me. But to each his own, I guess.

As for me, I’m always on the lookout for ways to make life easier–for myself or people I care about.  I pray for quick healings, good test results, uncomplicated surgeries, untroubled marriages, effortless parenting and tranquil decisions.

But more often than not, it seems those prayers do not afford me a chance to respond with an “easy” button. Not only does life often not get any easier, sometimes it gets a whole lot harder–with no relief or explanation in sight.

I know many of you know exactly what I mean because  I’ve sat with you while you heard bad news. I’ve prayed with you when your world turned upside down. And I’ve cried with you when the worst actually happened.

You and I both know that life has not been easy for you and your family.

The word “easy” only appears in the Bible nine times–at least in the New Living Translation. Proverbs has a verse abut lizards being easy to catch and the OldTestament prophet Ezekiel warns that scattered sheep make an easy target for predators.

But my favorite “easy” verse is found in Matthew 11:

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

Forget about the “easy” button and struggling to make life easy-peasy.

Let the Lord direct you each day and believe that His will won’t lead you where His grace won’t keep you. Walking with Him is a much easier way because He will see you “Through It All.”

Here’s an old favorite of mine from Cece Winans and Andrae Crouch (whom I once interviewed when he played at Houghton College). I don’t usually choose live performances, but this a powerful duet and there are Spanish subtitles so my Hispanic friends can sing a long too! If it doesn’t automatically load, please click https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWcxfOlCI3M

 

 

Jun 13

I’m Not Hanging on Any Longer

Last week I wrote about the struggle I was having to hang in there through a difficult season of stress–some of it bad, some of it good, but stress nonetheless. This week my husband and I are anticipating his knee “re-replacement” on June 18 (if it doesn’t get postponed again!) And as I write, we STILL don’t know the type/pervasiveness of the infection, the kind of surgery, or the extent of the rehab.  All we know is that a “picc” line and six weeks of IV antibiotics is guaranteed. It’s been a frustrating week and I need to be honest and tell you that I am no longer hanging on.

Instead…I’ve decided to let go.

I’m letting go of the need to appear to hold it all together. Letting go of the wish to be strong for everyone else. Letting go of the desire to be in control.

I’m letting go…so I can just be held.

I want to be held with my eyes on the Cross of Christ and not on the storm. Held in the promise of God’s never-ending love for me. Held in the secure belief that He is holding my falling-apart world together.

Yes, I’ve decided to stop holding on and just be held.

Perhaps you’d like to join me in letting go of the pain, the hurt, the disappointment, the confusion, the worry or the fear you face.  Please listen to the music video “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns. The lyrics by John Mark Hall, Matthew West and Bernie Herms inspired this blog and express this truth more beautifully than I ever could.

Jun 06

What to Do When the Stress Never Ends

 

I just needed to hang in there until May 31.

I knew April and May would be ridiculously busy with extensive traveling, speaking engagements, ministering to cancer patients/caregivers, serving on faculty at writing conferences, milestone family celebrations, and teaching discipleship classes. But I just had to make it until May 31 and then my schedule would clear, I could relax and shift out of stressful, high-gear living. I knew I could do it.

But that was before we met with the doctor on May 30.

Unexplained, intermittent pain in my husband’s right knee–now a year-and-a-half since bilateral  replacements–led us to yet-another appointment with his surgeon.  An earlier CT scan confirmed what we already knew, i.e. something’s not right. Blood work did not indicate an infection, but the doctor wanted to aspirate some fluid “just to make sure.”

We were anticipating my husband would need a “revision” surgery, placing a small, steel rod beneath his tibia, which appeared to be slipping. It would be a much easier procedure than what he’d already been through and very little rehab required. in fact, the pain should be improved pretty much immediately.

We weren’t crazy about him having to have more surgery–he’s already had four procedures on that knee (two invasive and two arthroscopic)–but it didn’t sound like a big deal. Kind of like when you’ve survived cancer and then a doctor tells you that you have a kidney stone. The latter doesn’t seem nearly as daunting because of what you’ve already faced.

But when the surgeon withdrew the second tube of fluid, he said his “stomach dropped.” Instead of the clear color he expected, it looked yellow and cloudy–normally a sign of infection. Now the conversation shifted from “propping up” the tibia, to removing the entire replacement, cleaning out the area and at some point putting in a new joint followed by extended antibiotics and extensive rehabilitation.

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Just when I almost had made it to May 31.

Do you know that feeling? It happens when your life has been spinning out of control and you discover that the light you see at the end of the tunnel is really an oncoming train. Or when the roller coaster of bad news just keeps taking another plunge.  Or when you can’t seem to catch a break with your job, your finances, your kids, your………………..fill in the blank.

Maybe the bottom dropped out just when you thought you had gotten through it all. Just when you thought life would slow down. Just when you imagined the stress would end. Just when you could exhale.

But now, like me, you are waiting and wondering. How big and heavy is that train I see coming? Is there any chance to derail it? Can I possibly jump away before impact?

Good questions. And I don’t know any of the answers. But I do know how I prayed  after that doctor appointment  and how God answered.

“Lord, I feel terrible for my husband to have to go through pain and excruciating work AGAIN and honestly, I feel terrible for ME to have to go through exhausting caregiving again. It doesn’t make sense. And because I already know how difficult it may be, I can’t logically feel okay about it.

“But, I’m praying and believing that Your Holy Spirit can bring me a peace that passes all understanding. A peace that isn’t based on what I can see or know or even feel on my own, but simply on Your supernatural power to do more than I can ask or imagine.”

I prayed that last Friday. On Saturday morning when I read my Bible, words jumped off the page and encouraged my heart. On Sunday morning, the worship music lifted my spirits and the message was just what I needed to hear. Nothing had changed in our circumstances and no new information was obtained concerning our future, but it was well with my soul.

God will do the same for you and your loved one.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he’s done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand, His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

P.S. Surgery–of some sort–is scheduled for 1 p.m. Friday, June 8. If I don’t blog for a while, it’s because I’m taking really good care of my guy!

If the music video below doesn’t automatically load, click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCR_Fa8YV2U

 

 

 

 

 

May 30

Why You Shouldn’t Trust Everything You See and Hear

 

I was in sunny Colorado (hence the glow on our faces!) visiting Gigi, my friend of 40 years, when all the hoopla broke over “Laurel or Yanny.”  After we finally stopped talking and playing Boggle long enough to listen, I was shocked Gigi heard “Yanny,” as I would have bet my firstborn that the word was “Laurel” (sorry, Danielle). If you’ve been living under a rock, here’s the recording http://time.com/5278817/yanny-or-laurel-audio-clip-debate/  

I’m the kind of skeptical person who likes to depend on my own five senses, but debates like this one (and the white/gold or blue/black dress uproar in 2015 https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/28/business/a-simple-question-about-a-dress-and-the-world-weighs-in.html) remind me that we can’t always trust what we see or hear as the final word. In fact most of this world is invisible to us, and yet crucial for life and many medical treatments.

The only portion of the electromagnet spectrum that the human eye can detect is visible light, but we sure depend on the rest of those electromagnetic waves to get us through the day. Very long radio waves allow us not only to listen to the radio, but also watch TV, utilize the microwave, and call or text on our cell phones. And at the other end of the spectrum, short X-rays give us useful information about our health, and even shorter gamma rays make possible specialized radiation treatment for brain tumors.

And much of the world is inaudible, too. We all know the human ear only can hear a portion of sounds—those in the 2-20 kilohertz range. Dogs can hear much higher frequencies (up to 60KHz,) as can cats, who always pretend they can’t. But did you know most people can expect age-related hearing loss called “presbycusis?” That new vocabulary word explains why my seven-years-older-than-I-am-husband can’t ever seem to hear me.

And although Ralph’s hearing is not as acute as mine, he always has had a superior sense of smell. But his keen nose is nothing compared to a dog’s super-smelling abilities—about 300 million nasal sensors, six times more than a human. Canines already are used by law enforcement agencies to search for bombs and illegal drugs, but medical researchers are studying whether man’s best friend can “sniff” out cancer, too.

A 2016 CNN report described a dog named Lucy, who was kicked out of guide dog school because she was too distracted by odors. So her owners decided to take advantage of her sniffing prowess and train her to find malignancies instead. Apparently she can detect cancer’s unique odors and was reported to correctly sniff out cancer 95-percent of the time over a seven-year period. Clinical trials are continuing. 

Other dogs have been described to accurately identify melanoma by sniffing moles and prostate cancer by taking a whiff of urine. (We already have CAT scans, why not DOG sniffs?)

Researchers also are checking to see if the volatile organic compounds found in our breath can be used to detect breast and lung cancer at early stages. Imagine taking a breathalyzer notto see if you’re too impaired to drive, but to find out if you have a malignant tumor.

And if you really want to blow your mind about the invisibility of our world, check out all the scientists who say what we can see is only a fraction of the whole universe.

I’ve read differing percentages, but most say the stars, planets and galaxies that can be seen make up only 2- to 4-percent of the universe. The remaining 96- to 98- percent can’t be seen, detected or even comprehended by astronomers!

I would never be confused with a quantum physicist, but I have known for decades that what is visible in this world is notthe sum of reality. I believe Plato knew it centuries ago when he asserted “the visible is a shadow cast by the invisible.” And the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. echoed the Greek philosopher’s view in the 20thcentury when he wrote: “Everything we see is a shadow cast by that which we do not see.”

Romans 1:20 “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.”

This world is a shadow of the eternal power and divine nature of God. No matter how this world actually evolved, it started with a Creator and it will end one day with Him, too.

Don’t fix your eyes on what is seen. Don’t fix them on pathology reports or CT scans or blood work or insurance bills or statistics or anything else you can see. No matter what this life brings, fix your eyes on what is unseen. Then you will find peace…whatever you face.

Adapted from Peace in the Face of Cancer, copyright 2017 by Lynn Eib.

If the music video below doesn’t automatically load, click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nO4uIyz_d90

 

 

May 23

“A mermaid has no tears, and that makes her suffer all the more.”–Hans Christian Andersen

 

One of the side effects of my chemo is that my right tear duct was irreparably scarred thereby making that eye “water” all the time. Because of this annoying condition, which often prompts total strangers to ask me if I’m OK when they see me “crying” in public places, I’m probably more fascinated with tears than the average person.

If you ever tasted a tear trickling down your face, then you know they are salty. But tears are much more

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than salty water. They’re actually a complex combination of proteins, enzymes, lipids, metabolites, and electrolytes. (I’m not sure what all those are either, but I know it’s more than just NaCl!)

We all have three different kinds of tears: normal tears that continuously keep our eyes lubricated; irritant tears that wash away foreign substances; and emotional tears we cry for reasons like sadness and pain. Scientists who study tears can look at these tiny drops of water and tell the difference between the first two types and the third kind, because emotional tears have much more protein and less oil.

Every tear has three layers, each of which has a different purpose. The inner layer coats the cornea; the middle layer, which is almost all water, provides moisture and oxygen to the cornea; and the outer layer is an oily film that seals the tears on our eyes and slows evaporation.

Two different glands create the layers. A small gland produces the inner and outer layers and a large gland under the upper eyelid produces the middle layer

Some tear researchers theorize that emotional tears carry hormones from the brain, which release calming endorphins and flush toxins out of the bloodstream returning our bodies to a reduced-stress state. (Others surmise that women tend to live longer than men because on average they cry twice as much as men.)

Isn’t it amazing how much intricacy went into the creation of tiny tears by our Creator!

My husband has joked that the only Bible verse tattoo he would ever get is John 11:35. He doesn’t like needles and that verse is the Bible’s shortest: “Jesus wept.”

Jesus was standing at the grave of his friend Lazarus surrounded by Lazarus’s weeping sisters and other wailing friends and He, too, began to cry.

He could have announced: “Everything’s going to be okay!” After all, Jesus knew He was about to raise Lazarus back to life. He could have said: “Don’t worry, be happy!

” After all, He knew that in moments their sorrow would be turned to joy.

But He didn’t. Instead, He wept.

I certainly don’t assume to definitely know all the reasons why Jesus wept, but I think He wanted those present to know He felt their sadness, too, and I believe He wanted those of us reading this account one day to know He thinks it’s all right to cry.

Many of us (especially men!) need to tell ourselves that truth: that weeping is not a sign of weakness or shame; that tears are indeed a gift from God to express our deepest feelings.

Can you imagine all the tears you’ve ever cried in your life? The ones when kids made fun of you on the playground and when you skinned your knee in the backyard. Don’t forget the ones when your pet died and when your first love broke your heart. Think about the tears you shed when you had your first car accident and when you didn’t have enough money to pay the bills.

Remember the tears when you heard the diagnosis and those you shed when someone who was treated with you “lost” the battle? Don’t forget those you let slip in the shower so you could wash them away before anyone could see.

But someone did see. The same One who created the complexity of tears, saw—and remembers—every one of yours.

You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8 NLT 

I imagine some of us must have some pretty big bottles to store all our tears! But why does God keep and record these little salty drops?

I love the explanation given by author Joni Eareckson Tada, who has been confined to a wheelchair since a 1967 diving accident left her paralyzed from the neck down.

Every tear you’ve cried will be redeemed. God will give you indescribable glory for your grief, not with a general wave of the hand, but in a considered and specific way. Each tear has been listed; each will be recompensed.

“I’ve cried a few times over not having the use of my hands. I think it’s ironic that on the day in heaven when I finally get back use of my hands so I can dry my own tears. . . . I won’t have to: ‘He will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes.’ (Revelation 21:4).”[i]

I look forward to that day when God will wipe away the tears from my watery right eye and show me how He has turned all my sadness into greatness for His kingdom. And until that time, I’m glad I’m not a mermaid so I my tears can soften my suffering.

Adapted from Peace in the Face of Cancer, copyright 2017 by Lynn Eib

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[i]Joni Eareckson Tada, “A List of Tears” in More Precious Than Silver(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), April 24. Thanks to Joni for encouraging me and other readers of this devotional to consider the many reasons we’ve shed tears over the years.

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May 16

“You never really understand a person until you…climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

 

This To Kill a Mockingbird snippet of advice comes from Harper Lee’s fictional character Atticus Finch, a white attorney defending a black man falsely accused of rape in a racist 1930s southern community. Finch is adamant that his own children learn to treat everyone with compassion, regardless of their outward differences and admonishes them to try to see life from another’s perspective.  Image result for atticus finch free photos

Families and friends facing serious illness have differences that are much more than skin deep—very diverse personalities and coping styles, which often are misunderstood or unappreciated.

From my observations ministering to cancer patients and their families for more than 25 years, I can tell you that folks normally cope with cancer the same way they coped with life before cancer. The talkers keep chatting and the quiet ones stay mum. The feelers continue to emote and the thinkers keep on rationalizing. The people-oriented surround themselves with folks to spur them on and the task-oriented gather facts to try and problem-solve.

And guess what? That’s okay…because we need each other.

We need an arsenal of abilities and strengths to fight cancer or any other trial and each person in your inner circle of loved ones brings something different to the table. You will be far better equipped if you can appreciate your differences instead of allowing them to annoy or even divide you.

 

My husband of nearly 45 years and I are pretty much exact opposites in personality. I’m a task-oriented
extrovert and my mate is a people-oriented introvert. He’s easy-going and I have to plan to be spontaneous. If you are familiar with the Myers-Briggs type indicator, I’m an ESTJ and he’s an INFP. Even if you’re not familiar with the traits those 10 letters stand for, you can clearly see none of them matches up![1]

 

If you have ever taken the Gary Smalley Personality Types Inventory, I’m a lion-beaver and he’s a golden retriever-otter. A lion’s rallying cry is “Let’s get it done!” while an otter delightfully squeals “Don’t worry, it will all work out!” [2]  Image result for lion beaver otter golden retriever

And what I’ve learned from all this alphabet soup and animal labels is that sometimes my hubby needs to tighten up and sometimes I need to lighten up. And I’ve especially learned that at times I need someone like him who is very different than I am to help me hear from God.

Our Creator designed us to need each other and to be able to offer one another our talents, our gifts, our insights, and our special brand of encouragement. Please don’t let those differences become a wedge in your relationships. One of the primary ways Satan has to discourage families and friends facing serious illness is to get us at odds with one another. Don’t let that deceiver win.

Whether you are the patient or the caregiver, go ahead and consider the world from someone else’s point of view.  Take a deep breath, climb into his or her skin and walk around a little. You want and need people with personalities different from yours to help you find peace in the face of illness.

Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!…Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Romans 12:16, 18 NLT

Don’t tear down another person with your words. Instead, keep the peace, and be considerate. Be truly humble toward everyone… Titus 3:2 The Voice Bible

Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11 NLT

Adapted from Peace in the Face of Cancer, copyright Lynn Eib 2017.

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[1]For more info about the Myers-Brigg Type Indicator personality inventory, go tohttp://www.myersbriggs.org/my-mbti-personality-type/mbti-basics/

[2]To take the free animal personality test, go to http://www.smalley.cc/free-personality-test/

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