Apr 19

“Give Peace a Chance”

 

 

 

 

 

So if you’re too young to remember this John Lennon hit from 1969, I will tell you that it’s another one of those wonderful Beatle tunes with not-so-wonderful theology. The haunting refrain of “give peace a chance” was later explained by Lennon:It wasn’t like ‘You have to have peace!’ Just give it a chance. We ain’t giving any gospel here – just saying how about this version for a change? We think we have the right to have a say in the future. And we think the future is made in your mind.”

Say what?

I’m not even going to try and dissect what that explanation means. I realize Lennon was mainly talking about peace in the world—as in the absence of war or conflict. But I’m pretty sure he also was looking for peace for his mind and soul–just as you and I do.

This week is extremely busy for me getting ready for two speaking engagements, a big radio interview and writing magazine articles from the new book. So I was thinking that I could share the “peaceful” verses I put in the back of 50 Days of Hope to save me a lot of time compared to writing a whole new blog.

And then I felt bad that I was “only” sharing verses. I felt I should almost apologize for not writing more.

Say what?

Apologize for “only” sharing God’s Word? Yikes! Where did I get that idea?

So without apology, here are some of my favorite “peace” verses. Meditate on them and give GOD a chance to bring His perfect peace into your or your loved one’s situation. I believe that at least one of these will be used by the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart and mind today. Feel free to comment which one it was!

 

May the Lord show you his favor

and give you his peace.

Numbers 6:26

In peace I will lie down and sleep,

 for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.

Psalm 4:8

I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying,

 for he speaks peace to his faithful people.

But let them not return to their foolish ways.

Psalm 85:8

A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body;

 jealousy is like cancer in the bones.

Proverbs 14:30

You will keep in perfect peace

all who trust in you,

 all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Isaiah 26:3

 

Because of God’s tender mercy,

the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

and to guide us to the path of peace.

Luke 1:78-79

Jesus said:

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart.

And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.

 So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

John 14:27

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me.

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.

 But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33

So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death.

But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.

Romans 8:6

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely

 with joy and peace because you trust in him.

Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13

And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.

For as members of one body you are called to live in peace.

And always be thankful.

Colossians 3:15

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you

 his peace at all times and in every situation.

The Lord be with you all.

2 Thessalonians 3:16

P.S. Turns out this file had a  lot of special formatting which wouldn’t display on this blog and all had to be retyped and reformatted by me! Good thing I can have peace even if I didn’t save much time!

(If the music video below doesn’t automatically load, please copy and paste this link to enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls01XGV7oA0 )

Apr 12

An Amazing Story of Beating the Odds

 

 

 

 

 

Are you praying for yourself or someone you love to be cured? Are the odds stacked against that prayer? Or have doctors even told you not to expect it to happen?

I have an amazing story for you today about a man who was given no chance for survival, but is still beating the odds.

When my friend Jim was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme (translation—the deadliest brain cancer) in July 2006 at the age of 59, no one gave him much hope. The golf-ball sized tumor affected his left side and he had to learn to walk and talk again after surgery. When the tumor recurred just four months later, no one gave him any hope at all.

But Jim, a Vietnam veteran with two Purple Hearts was desperate to live as he was caring for his wife Jean, who had advanced cancer. When I saw him in our office, he told me the doctors at Hershey Medical Center thought he might have only three months to live. I suggested he “try to defy the verdict” and set some goals for himself.

“What would you like to be alive to see?” I asked him, thinking he’d choose something happening in the next few months.

“I want to see my son Travis graduate from college,” he quickly replied.

“OK,” I said. “What year is he now?”

“A freshman.”

Uh, oh. I suggested that perhaps Jim should pick a closer goal so we could celebrate sooner (while thinking there is NO way this patient is going to be alive in four years!)  So, we decided on his daughter Abby’s wedding in six months. Realistically, there was no reason to expect Jim to live even that short time, but it was a good goal and I told the radiation tech next door that Jim wanted to walk his daughter down the aisle in the spring.

“I don’t think there’s much chance of that after looking at his tumor,” the tech honestly replied.

Jim got radiation and oral chemo, but the mass persisted. Every time I saw him over the next few months, we talked about the impending wedding and prayed for Jim to be there—even if his hair wouldn’t. On May 12, 2007, the prayer was answered and Jim brought me the wedding photos to prove it!

Then a couple months later, he went on a clinical trial drug because there was no other treatment available and set a new goal of holding his son Ryan’s first child due in October. Both Jim and Jean got to hold that little grandson, and an MRI in January showed Jim’s tumor had decreased slightly. But the joy was short-lived as Jean passed away in August 2008. Our clinical staff bemoaned the fact Jean’s four children undoubtedly would be burying both parents in a short span of time. But Jim continued to defy the verdict. He set another goal of seeing Abby’s first child born (she wasn’t even pregnant yet!)

Bi-monthly MRIs continued to show Jim’s tumor shrinking and in May 2009, he joyfully announced that Abby’s little daughter, Lillian Jean had arrived. Then an unexpected joy came: the next month’s MRI showed the tumor was gone! That fall Travis entered his senior year of college and Jim set his sights on seeing that graduation.

In May 2010, despite all odds, Jim was there to watch his youngest son awarded his college diploma.

But then he faced a new problem.

“What’s my goal going to be now?” Jim asked me afterward.

“I guess you need to see Travis get married and have some kids,” I volunteered.

“Sounds good,” he replied.

And Travis did.

And Jim was there.

As I write it’s been almost 11 years since his diagnosis and Jim remains in an unexplained complete remission. I’ve honestly lost track of how many grandkids he has now and I’m thinking we may need to set a goal of him seeing his great-grandchildren!

When Jim was first diagnosed with a brain tumor, he was angry, disappointed and frustrated, especially over the fact he was told he had such a short time to live. What gave him hope, he said, was hearing about others who had survived brain tumors or had lived much longer than doctors expected.

“I thought if they can do it, why can’t I?” he recalls. “I was most thankful for people encouraging me and telling me there was still hope. And without my faith in God, I don’t think I would be here now.”

 

I can’t promise God will answer your prayers exactly as he did for Jim, but I can promise that He hears the longings of your heart and wants to show you His great love today. He may do the impossible in your or your loved’s one’s situation or He may do the impossible in your hearts about the situation. And as you face an uncertain future, whatever your goals are, “let love be your highest goal” (1 Corinthians 14:1 NLT) and believe that “the impossible is possible with God.” (Luke 1:37 The Voice)

 

(If the music video below doesn’t automatically load, please copy and paste this link to enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKjcyiXAMSs )

 

Apr 05

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at My Not-So-Peaceful Life

 

 

 

 

 

My new book Peace in the Face of Cancer officially released yesterday and I thought I’d share a little behind-the-scenes look at my life—just in case you have any misconception I have it all together!

Last week I had three online podcast interviews.  The first two were on Skype, which I didn’t even know existed the last time I had a book published. As grateful as I am for the opportunities to talk about the book, I’ve concluded I do not like Skype interviews.  Why? Because people can see me!

I have to be dressed in something besides a baggy sweatshirt (although I did leave on sweat pants). I have to do something with my hair and my make-up and I can’t have a bunch of “cheat” sheets helping me answer questions about what I wrote in my book more than a year ago and don’t really remember anymore!

But by the time I got to the second Skype interview, I knew the drill. I moved my big black chair out of my office because I looked too businesslike seated in it. I shoved all my tax papers on the card table behind me out of the camera view. I fixed the lighting and the blinds just right. I spent about 35-40 minutes making sure both the room and I looked presentable before I made the evening call to the show’s producer.

“Uh, could you turn off your video,” was the first thing she said to me.  “It’s only an audio interview.”

Sure, no problem–at least I’ll look good for my husband when we sit in our La-Z-Boys afterward!

I verified the third interview definitely included video and even “practiced” a call with that producer the day before. However, when it came time for the real thing, she said I looked really “grainy” and laughingly admonished her viewers not to complain about the poor quality from my VERY OLD lap top!  (For the records, the graininess helps hide wrinkles.)

 

Anyway, those were the best part of my week. The worst part was that my entire normal “support team” was either knocked out of commission or otherwise occupied:

  • My youngest daughter’s 2-year-old had the flu, her 6-month-old had a double ear infection and her husband and 4-year-old were recovering from the flu.
  • My middle daughter was tending to her 2- and 4-year-olds, both with the flu, following her own (and her 6-year-old’s) bouts with it.
  • One of my oldest daughter’s best friends was struck by a car while jogging and in trauma care fighting for her life (still is!).
  • My prayer partner of many years was recovering from the flu and couldn’t get off the couch or even talk on the phone without hacking away.
  • My closest friend from church was on vacation in another country.
  • My other good church friend was supposed to be home from vacation but totaled her car.
  • While working on my 2016 taxes—much too late this year—I discovered a clerical error made with our tax bills resulting in several thousand dollars of unpaid taxes, penalty fees galore, and a possible lien being put on our home
  • And did I mention that my poor, weary husband still had trouble with his three-month-old knee replacement and could not walk or drive more than short distances without a great deal of pain?

 

Guess who wasn’t feeling much peace? That’s right, the one who’s read every single verse about peace in several different Bible translations and wrote a whole book about how to seek and find peace. As I stressed over deadlines for taxes, FB book launch posts, blogs, magazine articles, speaking engagement preparations, and concern for so many loved ones dealing with such difficult circumstances, peace vanished.

I tried to put into practice what I “preached” in my book and I made efforts to be “good” to myself. I got a massage. I went for walks.  I sat in my hot tub. I ate big bowls of popcorn. I drank a root beer float with the popcorn. But I still wasn’t feeling it.

I prayed. I read my Bible. I listed to Jordan Smith sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” on my iPhone. But even The Voice Season 9 winner couldn’t deliver my elusive peace.

So I texted my friend Gigi who lives out West, told her I was really stressed and asked her to call me that weekend. We’ve been friends for nearly 39 years and she always can make me laugh.

Within moments my phone beeped (while I was on it talking to the tax debt collector!). I called Gigi back as soon as I finished with the Tax-Man.

“You must be really desperate to want me to call,” she said with a laugh.

“I am!” I responded as the tears welled up.

And then I dumped it all on my dear friend. Everything I wrote about here with much more detail and many more tears. I just unloaded it all into her ears.

 

I’m not going to share exactly how she responded, other than to tell you that she calmly and prayerfully led me into the presence of Jesus so that I could feel His love for me and He could take the burdens I was never meant to carry.

In those few moments absolutely nothing changed in my circumstances and yet everything changed inside me. I trusted that God could do the impossible… and I found peace.

It happened because I put into practice something else I wrote in the new book:  “it will take trust on our part because there are amazing things that only God can do for us and in us.”

So go ahead and come to the end of yourself. When you do, He’ll supernaturally be there with His peace that doesn’t even make sense. He has done it for me time and again and He can and will do it for you, my friend.  And if you need help with your peace-seeking, do as I did, and call a trusted friend with listening ears and a warm Jesus-filled heart. You’ll be glad you did.

 

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you,

                All whose thoughts are fixed on you!  Isaiah 26:3 NLT

P.S.  Gigi did eventually make me laugh when she later texted: “I’ll trade you a guy who walks and drives and talks to himself aloud (and a lot) for a quiet guy who doesn’t drive or walk.” (I told you we were really good friends and yes,  I’m still considering the offer. :-)

(If the music video below doesn’t automatically load, please copy and paste this link to enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttEgZLg-2-Y

 

 

Mar 29

Nothing Surprises God

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t think most people are truly prepared to get bad health news. Instead we hope against hope that things will not turn out as we fear and the whole nightmare will go away. Right up until I saw the look on my gastroenterologist’s face after my colonoscopy in June 1990, I had hoped—and believed—there was nothing wrong with me. So much for the power of positive thinking!

I don’t know if your or your loved one’s diagnosis has taken you by surprise, but I guarantee it has not taken God by surprise.

 

He is all-knowing.

He is all-seeing.

He is all-powerful.

He is in control of ­every­thing.

He knows what you need and when you need it.

You may feel unprepared, but God is prepared and He is preparing things for you—good things—things that you can’t even imagine.

No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9

And I believe He literally goes before all of His followers into each new day to provide what we’ll need for that day. Hear His promise through Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 31:8 (as expressed in three different Bible versions):

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” NIV

God is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t worry. The Message

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” NLT

Authors Henry and Richard Blackaby explain God’s promise this way:

“God never sends you into a situation alone. He always goes before His children as He did with the children of Israel when He led them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. . . . He always precedes you in any situation you encounter. God is never caught by surprise by your experience; He has already been there. He is prepared to meet your every need because He has gone before you and knows exactly what you will need for your pilgrimage.”[i]

And the really good news is that He doesn’t just go on ahead of us, He stays with us, too, ensuring we are never alone.

“Not only does God go before you, but He also stands beside you and behind you, to provide protection and comfort,” the Blackabys add. “If you are going through a difficult or confusing time, know that the Lord has gone before you and He is present with you. He is fully aware of what you are facing, and He is actively responding to your need.”[ii]

God knows exactly what you need to be prepared for today.

It’s okay if you feel disbelief or shock or unprepared for whatever’s next. Perhaps you would like to pray with the Psalmist today from Psalm 25:5:

Lead me by Your truth and teach me, for You are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in You. Amen.

 

[i] Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby, Experiencing God Day by Day: Devotional (Nashville: B&H Publishing, 1998),  94. The story of the Israelites being led by God with a cloud and a fire pillar is found in Exodus 13:21.

[ii] Ibid.

If the music video below doesn’t automatically load, please copy and paste this link to enjoy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=by6no4QTU_g

Mar 22

A Sneak Peek at My First Chapter!

 

 

 

 

 

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive;

and to do it with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.

MAYA ANGELOU

 

I remember going in for my five-year cancer checkup and gleefully announcing to my oncologist, Dr. Marc Hirsh, that I wouldn’t be seeing him professionally anymore.

“Where did you get that idea?” he responded.

“It’s five years; I’m cured!” I told him, surprised he was unaware of such a momentous occasion.

“Well, the chance the cancer will return has diminished greatly, but you still need to be checked for the rest of your life,” Marc replied.

I felt as if my winning lottery ticket had been declared a forgery. After five whole years of waiting to be proclaimed cured, there was going to be no such official announcement.

Of course, back then I thought there were only two alternatives regarding cancer: sick or cured.

Thankfully, I learned there’s a crucial third distinction: survivor. The National Cancer Institute says that’s what we become “from the time of diagnosis until the end of life.” So survivors include folks who have just found out they have cancer, people who used to have cancer, and those who can expect always to have it. I’m pretty sure that includes everybody who has ever heard those three dreaded words: “You have cancer.”

As I write, there are an estimated 14.5 million people in the United States with a history of cancer, and about the same number of new diagnoses is expected worldwide this year.

That’s an incredible total of survivors, but I wonder how many fit only the first dictionary definition of survive: “to remain alive or in existence”? And how many also portray the second meaning: “to continue to function or prosper”?

Functioning and prospering sound a great deal better to me than simply being alive and existing. If you agree and want to see how you or your survivor loved one also can be a “thriver,” keep reading!

I think bestselling author and poet Maya Angelou’s mission statement is a perfect one to apply to our post-diagnosis lives. I’ve been living as a survivor since 1990, when I was diagnosed with colon cancer at the age of thirty-six. My girls were eight, ten, and twelve at the time, and now I’m a grandmother to six. In the ensuing years, my mission, like Ms. Angelou’s, has been not only to survive, but to thrive, and I’ve dedicated my life to helping cancer patients and their caregivers do the same.

 

Some of the people you will meet in this book are in treatment or have finished treatment with the hope that their cancer will be cured and never come back. Many (like me) were told there was a high chance the cancer would reappear, but guess what? No one on this earth really knows. (I’m still here, cancer- free, defying the 40-percent survival rate given me.) Still others you will encounter here have been told the cancer is “treatable, not curable” or will never go away. Despite that grim prognosis, some of those folks are in remission, and a few even have no signs of cancer!

And all of these survivors and their caregivers are peace seekers.

They are people like you who want to experience tranquility and contentment no matter what the diagnosis or prognosis. I’ll share their peace-seeking, peacekeeping stories so this book can become a volume of “portable peace” for you. Take it with you to read during treatment or while waiting at doctors’ offices or before you put your head on the pillow each night.

You see, I truly believe finding peace requires a two-pronged approach. It will take effort on our part. There are specific things we can do or not do to help create calm in our homes, our minds, and our hearts.

And it will take trust on our part because there are amazing things that only God can do for us and in us.

 

Here’s what I think is going to happen as you read this book:

Because of God’s tender mercy,

the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,

 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

and to guide us to the path of peace.  Luke 1:78-79

 (If the music video doesn’t automatically load below, please copy and paste this link to enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FPBEyfQVts )

Mar 15

Is Heaven on Your Mind?

 

 

 

 

How much do you think about Heaven? A lot? A little? Not at all?

Whether your earthly life is close to it’s end or you have many decades still in front of you, I hope your thoughts turn often to Heaven because that eternal perspective lifts the weariness we all face. One of my dear friends who thought well and often of Heaven was named Melina.

Melina was a dark-haired, dark-eyed beauty (think, full-blooded Italian parents!) She and her husband Brian met in 1988 and married a decade later. Together their love produced two adorable little girls, Cecilia and Olivia. Melina was a mortgage broker and Brian worked as an electrical engineer.

It was a beautiful world.

But that was before October of 2003 came. And with it a diagnosis for 33-year-old Melina of colon cancer. I had just met Melina’s younger sister Rina through a mutual friend and I sent Melina a little note of encouragement when I heard about her diagnosis. I knew how important it was to hear from other survivors of “your” kind of cancer. I reminded her that I was still alive after having colon cancer spread to five lymph nodes (she “only” had it in two).

After surgery, Melina started chemotherapy, availing herself of the new anti-colon cancer drugs that had not been available to me back in 1990. But in August of 2004, three weeks after doctors told her there was no evidence of disease, she developed terrible abdominal pain: a grapefruit sized mass was on her ovary. Then a PET scan showed tiny cancerous spots in both lungs.

Melina quit her job to stay home with her daughters and for the next nearly three years, Melina fought back against the cancer, enduring such things as a clinical trial that left her bedridden for five months and a trip to Germany for a new laser procedure to remove the lung nodules. She spent two weeks in California learning about organic and whole food nutrition, and traveled to cancer centers in Philadelphia and Virginia to see what they could offer.

Each new approach seemed to knock down the cancer for a while, only to have it rear its ugly head once again.

Like many cancer patients do during their fight, Melina started a web page. She called it “Melina’s Hope.” As an author who appreciates a really great opening thought, I loved the way Melina began the first page of her site: “You might think my hope is to preserve my earthly life…”

That’s exactly what I was thinking her hope would be. But that’s because I was thinking of her cancer diagnosis as the beginning of her story. She set me and all her readers straight right away by explaining “My story begins one Sunday morning in August 2002.

“What a beautiful day,” she writes. “It was the day I accepted the Lord Jesus into my heart. With that acceptance came a promise: if I trust the Lord with all my heart and acknowledge Him in all my ways, He would direct my paths—and that He did in my journey with colon cancer.”

And that is why Melina said her strongest hope was not to preserve her earthly life, “but more important than that, is my hope that my story changes but one heart to accept the love and protection that comes from our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and don’t depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take. Proverbs 3:5

That was Melina’s favorite verse—the one on which she firmly staked her life and the one by which she squarely faced her death.

“I can’t abandon the one true healer, Jesus Christ,” she wrote about five months before her passing. “It’s His decision where my healing will take place, here on earth or with Him in heaven. That is where my hope and comfort come from. I trust completely that the Lord will do what is best for me, my family and friends.”

Even though Melina grieved that she was going to leave this earth and not see her little girls grow up or grow old with her husband, she had hope because she knew this life is not all there is.

Hope that she was not saying goodbye forever.

Hope that she was headed to her real Home: Heaven.

Hope that in Heaven she would get a new disease-free body.

Hope that one day there would be a grand reunion of all her family and friends who also trusted in the Lord.

Near the very end of her life, she told her distraught adult family members: “I know you guys don’t want to hear this, but I know where I’m going and I can’t wait to get there!”

Then she added with a smile: “You’ll see me again.”

One of my favorite daydreams is to imagine that upon my arrival in Heaven, Jesus greets me and then takes me to a long line of smiling people: Melina and all of the faith-filled cancer patients I knew. I see that they are physically healed just like we prayed for so many times. We embrace and while there are no sad tears in Heaven, in my daydream I am filled with tears of joy.

But my dream is not just wishful thinking. The promise of Heaven for all who believe in Jesus is real and I know that reunion will really happen.

Another one of the people I look forward to seeing in Heaven is someone I never met on earth: my paternal great-grandmother May Andrews Peirce. She was a prolific poet and I’d like to think my writing ability came down through her genes. In 1928 when she was nearly 60, she wrote a poem she called “HOME.”

In childhood’s days, our thoughts of Heaven

Are pearly gates, and streets of gold.

But in the gathering years,

When time, within its fading leaf

With eyes, perchance be-dimmed with tears,

And hearts oft’ overwhelmed with grief,

We look beyond the pearly gates,

Beyond the clouds of sin’s dark night,

And see a place where loved ones wait,

A place all beautiful and bright.

And over all, we’ll see the face of Him

Who’ll bring us to our own—

Not to some far-off, distant place.

For Heaven is, after all, just HOME.

Today’s song is a real OLDIE (but goodie) from a live performance by Keith Green in 1977. Five years later he was killed in a plane crash at the age of 29. I’ve also included a “bonus,” more contemporary song about Heaven. (If the videos don’t automatically load for you, please copy and paste these links to hear.)  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbzJYqj2xC4https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1lrfjmSFkU

Mar 08

A Boy, a Dad and Some Pizza

 

 

 

 

My 4-year-old grandson Benjamin may look more like his mother, but he is a total Daddy’s boy—as in, the best time of day is when Daddy comes home and the worst time is when he leaves.

So it wasn’t surprising when we were all at a local pizza buffet restaurant recently and Benny looked up and asked:  “Where’s Daddy?”

“He’s at the buffet getting salad,” I replied. “Remember, he told you he was going there and he would be right back?”

“No, I can’t see him,” Benny said as his inside “restaurant” voice got a little louder.

“I can see him, Ben,” I calmly told him. “He’s right there,” I said, gesturing to the salad bar at the end of the room.

Benny surveyed as much of the room as he could see from his height advantage and frantically announced: “I can’t see Daddy!”

Quickly he jumped down from our table calling for his father: “Daaaaaaaaddy!”

“Over here, Ben!” his Dad quickly replied, as the little guy followed that familiar voice to the salad buffet, where, surprise, surprise, Daddy stood smiling. The two joined hands as Ben swallowed his tears and waited patiently for Daddy to finish and walk back to the table with him.

Poor little Benny: he was worried and afraid because he lost sight of his Daddy.

Do you know how he felt? Have the struggles of this world—in your life or in someone’s life that you care for—weighed you down so much you’ve lost sight of your heavenly Father?

You’re straining to see how it’s all going to pan out. You’re wondering if God really can work all things together for good. You really need to feel His reassuring touch.

I suggest you follow the steps my worried little grandson took.

  1. Tell a trusted friend/relative that you’re having trouble seeing God in your/your loved one’s life right now. Make sure it’s someone who will listen to your feelings and not belittle them. Someone who loves you and will pray for you to see God again.
  2. Listen to your heavenly Father’s words about where He is in times of trouble. Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. ” Psalm 145:18 The LORD is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.”
  3. Call out to Him. Psalm 61:2 “From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety.” Psalm 10:17 “LORD, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.”  Psalm 34:17 “The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.”
  4. Listen for your heavenly Father’s familiar voice. John 10:14,16c “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep and they know me…They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.”
  5. Run to His open arms. Isaiah 40:11 “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart.”  Psalm 63:8 “My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”
  6. Let Him love you. Jeremiah 31:3-4 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt.” Zephaniah 3:17b “He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love.”

It was wonderful to watch my son-in-law Frank quiet Benjamin with his love. It’s even more wonderful to feel God quiet us with His great love. May you see your Abba Father today and let Him love you as only He can.

(If the music video doesn’t automatically load below, please copy and paste this link to enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzfPHnoT0-0 )

 

 

 

 

Mar 01

How to Encourage the Discouraged

 

 

 

 

I remember so well the first cancer support group meeting I attended at our community  hospital. It was the summer of 1990. I was a reporter for a local newspaper and recently had interviewed Mary, the new group’s facilitator. When I showed up at a support group meeting just eight weeks after my story ran, Mary naturally assumed I was visiting the group as a follow-up to my published article.

“How sweet that you would come to our meeting,” she said with a big smile.

“Actually, I was diagnosed with colon cancer last month,” I told her as her jaw dropped.

It was an incredible irony. I had to talk myself into attending that meeting because I wasn’t sure I really wanted to be with a bunch of people with cancer. As introductions were made around the table, I happened to be the most newly diagnosed and the last to introduce myself.

I burst into tears before I could even get out my name.

I felt really silly for falling apart like that, but I had been trying to hold it together in front of everyone else for so long that it seemed good to let down my feelings with others who had “been there, done that.”

 

After my friend Ken was diagnosed with tongue cancer in 2002, he believed for a while that he wouldn’t need things like support groups.

“I assumed that because of my (spiritual) faith I wouldn’t need other forms of support such as groups, family counseling and massage therapy, but I was dead wrong,” Ken explains.

Many years later and still cancer-free, Ken urges newly diagnosed patients not to try and go it alone.

“Circle the wagons—family, friends, co-workers and anyone else who can and will be an available asset in your battle,” he says. “You can never have too many assets!”

 

Before I retired as a patient advocate, I always  was inviting cancer patients and their caregivers to my support group meetings* (see note at end) and I heard a lot of reasons why they didn’t attend. Often people told me “I’m not really that depressed that I need to come.”

To which I replied, “I need people there who aren’t depressed to support those who are!”

I believe there are two reasons for people to attend support groups for whatever problem they face—either to be encouraged or to be an encourager. And I’m pretty sure you could fit into one of those categories!

What life difficulty are you facing or has God already brought you through? Divorce? Addiction? Weight issues? Prison? Special needs child? Relatives with dementia? Abuse? Loss of a job? Infertility? Grief?

The list of life’s trials is endless…and so is the grace of God to see us through.

“God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Don’t waste the pain you’ve encountered by failing to share your experiences with others. The troubles you’ve faced with God’s strength will be a comfort to those facing the same kinds of circumstances.

When the Apostle Paul was down and out, God sent his friend Titus at just the right time to him.

“When we arrived in Macedonia, there was no rest for us. We faced conflict from every direction, with battles on the outside and fear on the inside. But God, who encourages those who are discouraged, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus. His presence was a joy.” 2 Corinthians 7:5, 6

God knows exactly what you need to deal with today’s discouragement. Ask Him to bring a “Titus” (or two) into your life to encourage you. (He might even direct you to a support group with a bunch of Tituses!). Or ask how you can be the Titus-encourager someone else needs to meet.

 I pray that we each see one another through the eyes of God–the God who encourages those who are discouraged. Yes, Lord, “give me your eyes for just one second.”

If today’s music video doesn’t automatically load, please copy and paste this link to enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mhpLjPslbM

*** If you are seeking a faith-based cancer support group, I’m compiling a state-by-state list on my website www.lynneib.com .  Or if you are thinking about starting one of your one in your area, there are free helps available there to do just that.***

Feb 22

How to Handle Stupid Remarks

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”
Attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt

“Oh, my grandmother had that kind of cancer—she didn’t last long.”

“Just stay positive and you’ll be fine.”

“My neighbor had that—he was in a lot of pain.”

“God doesn’t give you more than you can handle!”

Heard any of these insensitive (dare I say stupid) remarks? I’ve heard them all and then some. I remember bumping into a church friend at the grocery store shortly after I began chemo back in 1990. She apologized for not being in touch with me.

“I thought I heard you were going to die. I didn’t know if that was true, so I just didn’t know what to do,” she quickly spit out.

She kept babbling for a while, and I remember I ended up trying to comfort her in the fresh vegetable aisle.

I think relatives, friends, and acquaintances are usually at a loss for words when they hear about someone’s diagnosis or recurrence, so they say something to either a) try to identify with the person or b) try to lift the person’s spirits. Often they succeed with neither, especially when they immediately begin quoting Bible verses.

My Arkansas physician-friend Tom has been dealing with prostate cancer since 2000. He knows exactly what I mean.

“When people told me ‘all things work together for good’ or otherwise dismissed my fear, anxiety, or sadness, it upset me,” Tom recalls. “It doesn’t sound good when you are in the midst of a tornado. It made me feel like they had no idea what I was really going through.”

That same verse from Romans 8:28 was quoted to my western New York friend Ken moments after he was given the devastating news of tongue cancer that required life-altering surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

“I only heard the first few words and wanted to scream at my friend, ‘Stop! Just stop!’” he recalls fourteen cancer-free years later.

I’m willing to bet you can remember some not-very-helpful comments made to you or your loved one. How do we handle such insensitivity?

I like former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice: To handle others, use your heart. We need to hear beyond people’s words and instead hear their hearts.

Do you think my friend at the grocery store saw me standing by the romaine lettuce and thought, I’ll walk over to Lynn and say something that will make her feel really bad? Or I plan to fall apart so much she’ll end up comforting me?

Of course not. I’m sure her heart was feeling love for me and concern over my well-being, however poorly she expressed it. And the same was surely true for the Bible-quoting friends of Tom and Ken.

Think about the last cancer-related (or any other life-struggle) conversation you had with someone that left you feeling worse instead of better. Ask yourself whether you think that was the person’s intention. If yes, I recommend you speak with someone who can help you establish healthy boundaries with a spiteful person! But if you answered no, then throw away that person’s words and just hear his or her heart for you. Replay the scenario like I did and consider whether the person really wanted to make you feel bad. (This also works well in other situations whenever people don’t act the way we wish they would; e.g. I had to ask myself today, Do I really think my husband wanted to annoy me by eating the last Planters Peanut Bar while I was busy writing a book to help people facing cancer?)

We always want people to give us the benefit of the doubt or cut us some slack, but we have to admit, it’s not always easy to do the same for others—especially when our world has been rocked by a life-altering event. Our emotions are fragile, our bodies are hurting, and our spirits can be wounded easily. That makes it hard to be patient with well-meaning but insensitive folks. Nevertheless, if we want to find peace in the face of cancer (or any other difficulty), sometimes we will have to hear people’s hearts and ignore their words (and perhaps their actions, too).

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. –Jesus, speaking in John 14:27

We experience peace when we hear people’s hearts and not just their words.

If the video below doesn’t automatically load, please copy and paste this link to enjoy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BMIJHZSavo

Feb 15

No more bad news!

 

 

 

 

Would you believe I’m typing this blog at 11:20 p.m. the night before? I was lying in bed thinking about my day: naming things for which I’m thankful and praying for those in need when it hit me: I never wrote a blog for this week! AAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!

Part of me thought that I should just skip it–it’s not like the blog police are going to arrest me for failure to write.But I kept thinking maybe there was someone who really needed a Word to the Weary today. In just the last few days so many of my friends have gotten bad news–cancer recurrences, the need for more chemo, the death of a loved one, loss of a job, and the list goes on and on. Maybe you or someone in your family has gotten some awful news too. And even if you didn’t personally get such news, there’s been enough rotten world and national news to discourage even the most optimistic person–me included!

So I decided to get out of my nice warm bed and get my four typing fingers moving and at least write a few words of encouragement to all of us who are feeling the weight of so much bad news. (Now I know why I couldn’t get Psalm 112:7 out of my mind all day.)

They will not be afraid when the news is bad because they have resolved to trust in the Eternal.  (The Voice Bible)

Scripture never promises that those of us who love and follow God won’t get bad news. In fact, it pretty much assures us we will. We can’t really choose whether or not to get bad news–although turning off the TV and not reading newspapers or Facebook might help a little :-)  It’s when the bad news comes that we have a choice: we get to choose how we respond. And we can decide not to be afraid.

Why can we make that decision? Because we have resolved to trust God. The Google dictionary says resolved means that we have “decided firmly on a course of action.” The Amplified Bible translates that part of Psalm 112:7 as “steadfast, trusting [confidently relying on and believing] in the Lord.” Any way you put it, our minds are made up. We are not budging. We will trust God in spite of every negative, discouraging, evil, disease-filled, sad, depressing circumstance we come up against.

Well, it’s after midnight as I finish typing–I didn’t even stay up this late on New Year’s Eve! I’m not much for New Year’s Resolutions, but here’s the resolution I am making this night: I am resolved to trust in the Eternal God no matter what this life brings (or doesn’t bring). Won’t you join me today, and all the days that follow, in making that same resolution?

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

If the video doesn’t automatically load below, please copy and paste this link to enjoy this song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXMPNXXnCls

 

 

Older posts «