Feb 14

Can ANYTHING else go wrong???

 

If I believed in a “technology curse” (which I don’t), I would be convinced someone had put one on me! Allow me to recap the past few months of my life with technology:

  • My cell phone Apple ID was all screwed up sending me dozens of error messages everyday. And after many, many hours of phone conversations with Apple customer service (“I’ve never seen anything like this!”) and callbacks from supervisors and senior technicians (“I don’t know why that didn’t fix it.”), I had to reset my phone to factory default twice. That did not solve the problem, so my youngest daughter spent five hours on the phone with Apple as they completely wiped out my phone (“We think we should be able to get the data back.”)
  • The phone wipeout solved the Apple ID problem, but I lost all my messages, voicemails and about 50 contacts, the latter of which had to be recovered from a corrupted backup I had to install on an old iPhone and then manually enter into my clean phone (another three-hour total process!)
  • Meanwhile problems with my website and WordPress blog which began last September continued. Blogs no longer posted to Facebook and I had to manually go through several steps each week to make it happen. My WordPress would seem to be working fine and then after about two hours of writing, I could no longer save anything. That meant no more adding anything or changing anything–even if the blog wasn’t done. Sometimes I could add a photo from the library and sometimes not. Once in a while I could insert a YouTube music video, but not usually.
  • During these “cursed” months, I attempted to fix the mounting problems: engaged a second webmaster to try and solve the issues; got help from a tech at my publisher; switched to a larger, faster server; upgraded my internet speed; and replaced my aging PC with my first Mac.

I sat down last Monday ready to write because I was SURE all my efforts (and prayers!) had solved my problems, but instead things went from bad to worse. An error message appeared informing me that my website “could not be found.” And sure enough, it was true–my website and my admin login page to reach it were gone–vanished into cyberspace.

Fighting back tears, I contacted my new server and discovered they had taken down the site because when my files were transferred from my old server, 100+ infected pages were discovered. Customer service assured me that my website was not really gone, but had to be cleaned up.

Twelve hours and $200 later, my new security company had “disinfected” my site and it was up and running. Since then I’ve spent another 8-10 hours implementing most of the recommended security measures (not quite done yet). As of this writing, WordPress seems to be working fine although I still cannot post to Facebook.

And did I mention that the same day my website “disappeared,” my husband came down with the flu replete with a horrible, hacking cough? While I struggled all week to follow instructions written in technical jargon way above my pay grade, I couldn’t get a sympathy hug, a de-stressing neck massage or even talk to him because any vocalizing brought on a new coughing fit. (My dearest friends for the past week have been Lysol spray and Clorox disinfecting wipes!)

And why in the world am I telling you all this? Partly because I thought it might be good therapy for me and cheaper than actual counseling 🙂 but mainly because I want to say that: GOD IS GOOD.

Most of the time people utter that phrase when things have gone well–a good CT scan, improved blood counts, successful surgery, disappearance of side effects. We tend to say “God is good” when our prayer has been answered the way we hoped it would.

But that’s not the message of scripture. The Bible says that God is good ALL the time.

Psalm 145:8,9 The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.

Psalm 119:68 You are good and do only good; teach me your decrees.

Psalm 34:8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.

We tend to think God is good when disaster has been averted or circumstances improve, but God is good even when disaster strikes and circumstances do not get better. All of God’s attributes–including His goodness–are present all the time.

  • He is good when your phone has to be wiped out.
  • He is good when your blog doesn’t work.
  • He is good when your website disappears.
  • He is good when your husband has the flu just when you really need him.
  • He is good when the cancer recurs.
  • He is good when the pain doesn’t stop.
  • He is good when…you fill in the blank based on your day (week, month or year!)

The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk understood this truth:

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
    and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
    and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
    and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
The Sovereign Lord is my
strength!
Habakkuk 3:17-19a

We see the goodness of God when we remember that He loved us so much He allowed His only Son’s prayers to go unanswered (Luke 22:42) in order to save our souls and make sure this trial-filled life is not all there is for us. And until that day we are set free from all our struggles (I’m positive there is no technology in Heaven), He gives us strength through His Holy Spirit to face each day.

Yes, God IS good all the time!

Jan 17

Isn’t There a Faster Way to Wait?

Why does it take so long to get back my blood work?”

“I have to hang on the whole weekend for the test results?”

“What do you mean the doctor can’t see me until next week?”

“This waiting is killing me!”

Ever moaned any of these phrases? I sure have. I once made the mistake of scheduling a barium enema test on a Friday. I thought I would have ulcers by the time I finally got the results on Monday. I jumped every time the phone rang and worried every time it didn’t. black-and-white-woman-girl-sitting.jpg

The first few years after I finished chemo, I used to call and talk to the nurses prior to each of my follow-ups so I could get my tumor marker results before I went in for my appointment. I just couldn’t stand to wait.

When I have to wait, my mind begins to wander, the bad little voice of fear starts to pipe up, and I usually begin to think the worst.

A few months after I finished my chemo, I had a CT scan for some terrible abdominal pain I was experiencing. The technician asked me to wait twice while she conferred with another medical person and came back and took more pictures. Each time she came back in the little room and looked at me I became more and more convinced she looked sadder. I should have realized she probably felt sorry for me in my pitiful little blue paper gown, but instead I surmised I must be going to get terrible news.

Finally when she came back in for the third time—even though I knew she wasn’t allowed to say anything about the scan—I blurted out: “Please tell me what’s wrong. I know it must be really bad. Just tell me, I can’t stand this waiting anymore!”

She looked rather puzzled and reassured me that the only thing wrong was that the pictures were not quite clear enough so she had to take another set. I felt better for a moment and then decided she probably was paid to say that to everyone.

I went home and waited for the call from my family physician. When it came, my fear that a new tumor was obstructing my bowel was quickly put to rest. Instead I was told that I needed to take a laxative!

I am convinced that those of us who are planners, who like to be prepared and who relish being in control, make the worst “wait-ers” on the face of the earth. Waiting prevents us from planning, impedes us from being fully prepared, and thwarts our attempt to be absolutely in control of the present as well as the future.

Waiting is a common theme throughout the Bible—after God miraculously freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, they waited in the desert for forty years before He allowed them to enter the Promised Land. Jacob waited fourteen years to marry his beloved Rachel after he was tricked into virtual slave labor by his future father-in-law. The disciples of Jesus waited three very long, agonizing days for Him to rise from the dead.

Often when we wait we become discouraged and are tempted to give up. The Israelites whined and moaned during most of their forty years of waiting. Jacob was furious when he discovered that his father-in-law had tricked him into marrying Rachel’s older sister and he would have to work another seven years to marry Rachel. Following Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples gave up right away and were already back fishing before His resurrection.

When you’re waiting, I have some advice for you. It’s the same advice I tell myself when things are taking too long. Don’t give up. Give in . . . to God.

Go ahead and put yourself at His mercy. That’s where you already are anyway. You might as well as admit it, because when you do then you can start to experience the transforming power that waiting can have on our character.

Don’t get confused. It’s not that the waiting itself changes us—otherwise we all would be pretty wonderful people. After all, everybody has to wait sometimes! But it’s how we respond to the waiting that can be transforming.

I love how author-pastor Rick Warren explains in The Purpose-Driven Life that godly characteristics—things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control— are developed in our lives when we are put in situations in which we are tempted to respond exactly the opposite way.

Patience “is developed in circumstances in which we’re forced to wait and are tempted to be angry or have a short fuse,” Warren writes.

I put this principle into practice one day while I braked for yet another red light on my hurried lunch-hour errand trip. I looked straight at the light, smiled, and said out loud to myself: “I am not waiting for a traffic signal. I am being conformed into the image of Jesus!”

The declaration made me laugh out loud. But I’ll tell you; it was a wonderfully freeing moment. I didn’t squirm waiting for the light to change. I wasn’t frustrated that I wasn’t making good time. I just sat there and enjoyed the presence of God, which supernaturally settled over me.

Try it yourself.

I am not waiting for test results. I am learning to depend more on God.

I am not waiting for a doctor to call me back. I am learning to be patient as God is patient with me.

I am not waiting in cancer’s shadow; I am becoming more like Jesus.

There is no faster way to wait, but there is a better way.

Jan 10

A Simple Way to be Healthier in 2018

So are you one of many people trying to eat healthier in the New Year? I’ve seen  quite pexels-photo-264537a few Facebook posts touting various plans: Whole 30, Clean-Eating, Volumetrics, Eat This Not That, and the 3-Day Military Diet, to name a few.

Or are you one of the scores of folks aiming to exercise into a healthier 2018? I found all these fitness routines recommended on Pinterest: 30-day Butt and Gut Challenge; 25-minute Treadmill Hilt Workout; Sweat Your Way through the Alphabet; Guns, Buns & Abs Challenge; and Low Angle View of Woman Relaxing on Beach Against Blue Skyeven the Victoria Secret Full Body Workout. (I don’t even think I want to know what that last one entails!)

Healthy eating makes very good sense to me and I tried to practice it right up until I got diagnosed in 1990 with stage 3 colon cancer at the age of 36! In addition to my careful cuisine back then, I belonged to the local “Y” and exercised for 90 minutes three times a week. So I’m the first person to admit that eating well and exercising do NOT guarantee a healthy, long life. But, I’m here 27 cancer-free years later so I’m NOT about to say my lifestyle didn’t help either.

But we all know we are more than just flesh and bones. Each of us is a spiritual being as well. And we can’t really separate our body, mind and spirit. Each one affects the other. What we put into our bodies can affect our minds and spirits (like how your mind feels after drinking too much caffeine or how a dark chocolate Dove bar seems to make the day seem brighter?).

What we allow into our minds  can influence how our bodies and spirits feel (like how I have trouble falling asleep after watching a scary movie or can’t relax right after an exciting late-night football game).

And the condition of our spirit can affect our mind and body as well (like how I get a headache when my trust with a friend has been betrayed).

A holistic approach to good health is, I believe, crucial for wellness. But it can be difficult to be strong in spirit when we don’t feel well in body or mind. Mental stress, physical fatigue or pain can discourage and/or depress even the best of us.

That’s why its so crucial to care and “feed” all our parts. It’s pretty obvious that our bodies need the right food (and that Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream does not count as a fruit serving!). They also need the right rest (listen to your body if it’s telling you to take a nap!). And they need the right exercise (reaching in and out of a potato chip does not count as repetitive arm curls!).

It’s clear we can feed our minds by filling them with such things as soothing music, positive thoughts (like good blogs!) and mental stimulation. But how do we feed out spirits?

It’s actually very simple, and unlike organic foods and fancy gym memberships, it’s free. As you read the Word of God and truths about His Word, you are supplying the Free stock photo of business, cross, shadow, religionnourishment your spirit needs. You can access Bibles and inspirational daily readings through sites and free apps like https://www.biblegateway.com/ and https://www.youversion.com/ . You can even sign up for no-cost Bible plans on a variety of topics designed to encourage and empower you in everyday life.

Even if serious or chronic illness makes it difficult for you to strengthen your body some days, don’t ever let your spirit go hungry–feed it everyday with God’s Word and you will be strong in spirit.

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit. —3 John 1:2

 

 

 

 

Jan 03

What do you want MORE of in 2018?

 
My 3-year-old granddaughter Abby is not the world’s best sleeper.

Image may contain: 1 person, eating, sitting, child, food and indoor

She’s not the worst either, but definitely not as good as her brothers, ages 1 and 5. In  fact she’s quite the master of “stalling” at bedtime and/or “needing” things in the middle of the night. You may be  familiar with the toddlers’ universal “necessities” list: potty, drink, doll, stuffed animal, nightlight, book, blanket, socks etc.

But Abby has upped this game to a new level as she cries out in the wee hours of the morning and Mommy appears and asks the sensible question: “What do you need, Abby?” To which this adorable child sweetly replies: “More Jesus.”

Check and checkmate–Abby wins hands down. I mean no matter what time it is and how tired you are, how does anyone say no to “more Jesus”?

In case you’re wondering, what Abby specifically is requesting– it’s for her mommy to sing the bedtime ritual melody “Jesus Loves Me” one more time. (Often she even will add her tiny voice to the chorus.)

The kid is a genius. I would want to give her “more Jesus” any time day or night.

Of course Abby’s hard-to-deny request got me thinking about what do I want MORE of in 2018? (I can definitely think of some things I want LESS of–pounds, wrinkles, gray hair, and sagging, just to name a few!) But what do I hope there was MORE of?

Certainly more good health for all of you fighting cancer and other serious/chronic illnesses. Definitely more comfort for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones. Clearly more love for families torn apart by the pain of addictions, divorce and abuse. And absolutely more peace for this violent world.

But when it comes right down to it, I think I’ll pray that you and I have more Jesus this year. 

I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. —Ephesians 3:16-19a

And when you can’t fall asleep or when you wake up in the middle of the night, perhaps you will choose to echo my little granddaughter’s request: More Jesus.

 

Dec 06

My Dad vs. an Angry Mother Goose

 

Did I ever tell you about the time my father was attacked on a golf course? It’s true. After he retired, he worked part-time at a community golf course as a ranger riding one of those little golf carts. He knew there was a nesting goose on the course who had laid several eggs, and he thought he was keeping a good distance from her not-hatched-yet babies.

But mother goose apparently didn’t agree that he was far enough away and as he rode by in his cart, she circled around and began flying straight toward him.  My dad kept thinking that surely she would turn, but instead she aimed her beak right between his eyes. At the last second he threw up his arm to protect his face as her broad wing knocked off his ball cap. He lost control of the cart and ended up capsizing in the nearby stream (much to the amusement of a nearby foursome on the green!).

He laughed as he later told me the story, but I was horrified.

“Dad, what if you hadn’t thrown up your arm in time?” I chided him. “Do you know what the newspaper headline would have been the next day?…’Man Goosed to Death on Golf Course’!”

 

Sorry that I shared my weird sense of humor there, but as an ex-newspaper reporter, I’m always thinking about stories and headlines! Anyway, the moral of this story is that a goose will do what she needs to do to protect her family!

Mother hens do likewise. Have you ever watched one clucking and spreading her wings as she tries to safely gather her chicks as some danger approached–perhaps a predator or even a storm.

Did you know that Jesus once described Himself as a mother hen? In Matthew 23:37 we read: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.” 

As He looked over the city of Jerusalem, Jesus knew He was the answer ti the longings of Jewish hearts, but the people didn’t want to hear it. Like a protective, loving parent, the Lord wished He could draw these folks close to His heart and keep the safe, but they wouldn’t let Him.

Can you feel those imaginary wings over you today–protecting you, shielding you and drawing you close? Have you trusted Jesus enough to let Him truly cover you? He longs to do that for you. Don’t miss your chance to be hidden safely in His arms.

 

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Today’s song is a really old one, but the words are timeless.

Nov 29

The Day the Dog Walked on Water

 

Did you hear about the farmer who lived next door to a pessimist? If the farmer said “Isn’t is a beautiful sunny day?” the pessimist would reply, “We need rain.” If it rained and the farmer commented on how wonderful it was to have rain, the pessimist would reply, “It’ll probably ruin the crops.” He always managed to see the worst in any situation.

But one day the farmer decided he would put an end to his neighbor’s pessimism. He called his neighbor to come over and see an amazing trick his dog could do. The farmer proceeded to throw a stick into the middle of his pond. Immediately the dog jumped on top of the water out to the floating stick. He carefully picked it up in his mouth, walked back across on top of the water safely to the shore and laid the stick at the pessimist’s feet.

The farmer looked at his neighbor and said “Pretty amazing, huh?” to which the pessimist replied, “Can’t swim, can he?”

 

I know I’m a pretty skeptical person, but I think a dog walking on water would have impressed me! (I tried to find such a photo for you here, but had to settle for one swimming back to shore with his stick!)

In the Gospel of Matthew, we read the description of Jesus walking on the water toward His disciples in their boat. If you had witnessed this, what would you have done? Would you have been skeptical? Afraid? Like Peter  and ask Jesus to walk on water too?

Now remember this was no calm lake on a bright sunny day that Peter stepped onto. It was the middle of the night, a strong wind was whipping,and the boat was fighting heavy waves. It took some amazing courage on Peter’s part to step over the side of that boat. and it paid off as he, just like the farmer’s dog 🙂 walked on top  of the water.

But Peter’s triumph quickly turned to trouble as he became terrified and started sinking. Did Peter sink because the wind got stronger or the waves got higher? I don’t think so. I think it was because he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at his circumstances instead.

Don’t look at the “waves” below you or the “wind” above you today. Instead, as the old hymn says, “Turn your eyes open Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

 

 

 

 

Nov 22

What are you worried about?

 

What are you worried about today? That you’ll never feel normal again? That your spouse will be widowed? That your children will grow up without you? That this  next holiday may be your last? You may even be worried that you worry so much!

Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom once wrote “Worrying about tomorrow robs today of its joy.”  That is so true.

Your mind will find peace when you can live in the present and not the “what-ifs” of the future. People often suggest that those dealing with serious/chronic illness take life “one day at a time,” but there may be some days when you can only face one hour or one minute at a time!

When you hear the phrase “what if?” pop into your mind, that’s a signal you’re not living in the present and probably are getting ready to worry. And if worry seems to be a chronic problem for you, please check the condition of your “soil.” Jesus says our hearts are like soil and His truth is like a seed planted there (Mark 4:1-10, 13-20). Sometimes our soil is so rocky that when problems come along–like illness–our love for God grows weak. Other times our soil is so thorny that all the worries–health, financial and otherwise–choke out our closeness with God.

So you are the right kind of “dirt”? How open is your heart to God? Is you soil ready to receive whatever truth He has for you?

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34 

What a great, short verse to memorize and meditate on instead of any what-ifs. As you trust in God’s promises, I believe He will pour His own brand of “miracle grow” on your life and in spite of whatever you face, you will produce good fruit!

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Today’s music video is a little different than what I usually post, but I thought the story behind the song–a friend diagnosed with breast cancer inspired it–was really cool. I’ve posted the lyrics here because they aren’t on the video–but if you watch long enough, the friend with cancer is! “Pray and Don’t Worry” by the group GI (also known as God’s Image).

Give me a mountain and I promise I’ll move it
Show me a valley and I’ll walk right through it
I aint worried!!! (No matter what is thrown at me)
Give me a hurdle, I’ll jump right over
Like a game of limbo I’ll get down lower
I aint worried!!! (I’m focused on my destiny)
Cause worrying only makes you feel as if you can’t win!!!
And when you’re feeling down remember you can Pray and Don’t Worry
Thank Him for the Victory! You got Authority, In Jesus (The Battle is over)
Pray and Don’t Worry
Thank Him for the Victory! You got Authority, In Jesus (The Battle is over)
Put me in darkness and I’ll be the light
Throw me in the ring and I’ll show you a fight
I aint worried!!! (No matter what is thrown at me)
If I’m in trouble you’ll get me in order
Push me out the boat and I’ll walk on water!
Cause worrying only makes you feel as if you can’t win!!!
And when you’re feeling down remember you can
I aint worried!!! (I’m focused on my destiny)
Read more: GI – Pray And Don’t Worry Lyrics | MetroLyrics

Nov 14

How Captain America Saved the Day for Me

 

As you can see I met Captain America recently—he actually stopped by my house the other day for a few hours. The Captain, a.k.a. grandson Benny, wanted to show me his new shield (Mommy, a.k.a. Wonder Woman-Shopper, found it in the Target clearance bin) and the pint-sized super hero clearly explained to me that it was “made of indestructible vibranium.”

I was especially glad he brought the shield as he deftly used it to block the swinging plastic bat aimed at my face by his 1-year-old brother Jack. Both boys seemed to immensely enjoy this game of the little one taking aim at Grandma and the bigger one interjecting the vibranium shield at just the right moment.

I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of Captain America by telling him I didn’t know what vibranium was, so after he left I Googled it. Turns out it’s only real in Marvel comic books, but on those pages it is able to absorb all the vibrations of anything that hits it. And I will attest that in my real life, it did absorb blows from a free-swinging toddler.

After the shield saved my face from being pummeled, it got me thinking about some 27 years ago when another friend held up a shield for me.

It was in 1990 just a few days after I came home from my colon cancer surgery that our dear friends Gene and Sheila Latta stopped by for a visited. I begged the usually jovial Gene not to say anything to try and make me laugh because my abdominal incision with 27 staples hurt way too much. He obliged and I began to pour out my fears and my tears to Sheila, my older and wiser friend.

“Everyone prayed for Ralph’s first wife and she still died,” I sobbed. “If God didn’t heal her, why would He heal me? I’m no better than she was.”

Thankfully, Sheila didn’t try to explain why one faithful follower doesn’t survive a life-threatening illness and why another does because there is no answer this side of eternity. But she did remind me of Truth.

“Your fight with cancer is a physical battle, but it also is a spiritual battle,” she gently explained. “You need to hold up your shield of faith.”

I knew the verse in Ephesians 6:16 to which she was referring: “Hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.” For me, those fiery arrows included depression, fear, anxiety and despair—all common for people facing life’s dark trials.

Sheila prayed for me and reminded me of what I knew in my head, but could not feel in my heart: God’s love and presence in our life are not based on whether we’re “good enough”—they are unconditional gifts from our heavenly Father. She promised to continually pray for me to have the strength to hold up my shield of faith in a God who has proved His love for me: “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” (I John 4:10)

Slowly, but surely that shield absorbed the lying arrows of the devil and I felt God’s love and experienced His peace even in the face of cancer.

How are you doing holding up your shield of faith? Are you listening to the lies of the enemy or the truth of the lover of your soul? Do you need to ask a trusted friend to help you hold up that shield? Do you need to ask a trusted friend to help you hold up that shield? No matter what you can see or not see, you can’t see it all. Have faith in the God who will never leave you nor forsake you.

I hope you are fortunate to have Captain America stop by your home and protect you with his vibranium shield, but I especially pray you hold up your shield of true faith: “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

(I am still experiencing major technical difficulties with my website, so i can’t upload the music video here. But please click on the link to enjoy “Give Me Faith'” by Elevation Worship) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMVvqI1-tM4 

Nov 01

Cancer Can’t Stop Her Joy!

 

Bunnie Gasperini's Profile Photo, Image may contain: 1 person

My friend Bunnie is a redheaded, retired heavy equipment operator with a delightful New England accent who loves to laugh. On weekends she “clowns” around at the local Dairy Queen as she whips up balloons and smiles for children, while sharing God’s love for them. On weekdays she takes off her clown make-up and cooks hot meals which she joyfully delivers to the homeless folks in a nearby neighborhood.

Did I mention that she has stage 4 tongue cancer, carries her portable oxygen tank everywhere and is on hospice?

“I’m a bulldog for the Lord!” she explains.

“When I make dog balloons for the children, I tell them ‘God wants us to be like dogs’—a dog is loving, faithful, obedient and always happy to see us!”

And with the tenacity of a bulldog, Bunnie has refused to allow a cancer diagnosis and multiple recurrences to change her goal of sharing the joy of Jesus with anyone she meets. Here’s a little of her inspiring story from my new book Peace in the Face of Cancer.

 

When Bunnie moved to Florida in 2011, she wondered what she would do in her post-retirement life.

I was laughing so much, I dreamt I should be a clown,” she recalls with a chuckle. On a whim she searched online for “clown schools” and found there was one only two hours from her new home. She took the courses, and since 2012 she has been a professional clown and member of the Fellowship of Christian Magicians.

She began volunteering at her local Dairy Queen, where she performed magic tricks and twisted balloons into animal shapes. While the children enjoyed their ice cream, she shared character-building stories and told them about God’s love for them.

But in August 2013 the shows stopped when Bunnie was diagnosed with inoperable tongue cancer. Doctors told her that without chemo and radiation, she probably had six months to live. She was devastated with that prognosis, but resolute in her faith: “You can even take my tongue, and I’ll still find a way to share the gospel,” she announced to her doctor.

Bunnie had thirty-five radiation and eight chemo treatments. After a two-week hiatus, she was back whipping up balloons and smiles at Dairy Queen.

When she read a copy of my first book, When God & Cancer Meet, Bunnie felt as if God were telling her to share her story by giving away copies of the book. (Why doesn’t He tell everyone to do that?J)

So she bought dozens of books and gave them away to cancer patients and their families at the cancer center. But in May 2015 a scan showed the cancer had spread to her lungs.

“I was really, really devastated for a little while—for maybe an hour or something,” she told me, chuckling on the phone, after we became Facebook friends. “The Lord said, ‘You’re still here for Me and I’m going to use you right here at the cancer center.’”

She headed back there for more treatment, armed with more books.

Her methods might be a little unorthodox, but they produced her desired results.

“I went to the chemo waiting room with twenty-six books,” she explains. “I stood up and said, ‘Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, but two years ago I was right where you are, and the Lord gave me peace and brought me through. And my friend gave me a book that strengthened me so much.’”

Then she held up a copy of the book and announced, “If you’d like a free copy, just raise your hand.”

Within a few seconds nearly every book was taken, and that’s what happened every time she spoke.

 

I promise you that my purpose in sharing Bunnie’s story is not to draw attention to her giving away, by her count, 425 copies of my first book—as grateful as I am for that! What I want to highlight is her generous and bold spirit as she has learned not just to battle cancer, but to dance with it.

Think about it. She has every reason to be bitter—a devastating cancer diagnosis in a new state with no family nearby, just when she was ready to relax and enjoy retirement. Cancer of the tongue when she loves to talk fast and laugh often.

But Bunnie knows what I hope you do too—that your purpose in life never changes. It is the same whether you or your loved one has a lot of cancer, a little cancer, or even no cancer. Your purpose in life—and mine—is to know God and love Him more, and to help others know God and love Him more.

Bunnie says her life verse is the same one I have chosen in my retirement: “My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the task assigned to me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.” (Acts 20:24 NLT)

As long as you have breath (even if it’s from an oxygen tank!), God is not finished with you.

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,

and he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair,

out of the mud and the mire.

He set my feet on solid ground

and steadied me as I walked along.

He has given me a new song to sing,

a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see what he has done and be amazed.

They will put their trust in the Lord.

Psalm 40:1-3

Please enjoy this music video with Jason Davis, the pastor who lost part of his tongue to cancer singing his original song “These Walls.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ga_m8wqg3us

 

Oct 25

“Mother, PLEASE, I’d rather do it myself!”

  Anybody else old like me and remember the 1965 Anacin pain reliever commercial shown  here?   I was a pre-teen when that commercial appeared on the screen of our little black-and-white TV (with the aluminum foil on the rabbit ears) and my mom and I thought it was hilarious. We would joke around and quote it to each other whenever one of us offered to do something for the other. But headache or not, I think most of us are I’d-rather-do-it-myself kind of people. That’s one of the reasons why it’s especially frustrating when serious or chronic illness hits us or those we care about. It’s not really in our nature to admit there’s something weighing us down and we can’t really fix it. How heavy is the load you are carrying these days? Are your arms weary from trying to hold up yourself or your loved one? Is your back breaking from the weight of medical bills piling up? Is your mind exhausted from trying to keep track of all the appointments and medications? Is your spirit feeling let down by the unfairness of life? Jesus has an exchange He’d like to make: your heavy burdens for His light one. 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.” Matthew 11:28-30 NLT

Notice He doesn’t promise to just take everything away so that we have no burdens? It’s as if right now we’re plowing through life as a single ox Image result for photo double yoked oxenwith a heavy yoke on our necks. When we give that big burden to Jesus, He comes alongside us, attaches His double yoke, and plows right with us.

No wonder our burdens are so much lighter and we are so much less weary! You don’t have to carry this heavy load by yourself. Lay down your I-can-do-it-by-myself yoke and allow Jesus to lighten the load as you walk side by side through whatever lies ahead.   Please enjoy this “oldie but goodie” song from 1975 by Chuck Girard, whom I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing back in the ’90s when he sang at Houghton College (and yes, I still own and listen to this album!).