Oct 16

Navigating Life’s Storms

 

So how are you feeling today? Happy? Frustrated? Overwhelmed?

Popular psychology tells us that feelings are “neither right nor wrong.” But I want to tell you that feelings do not necessarily mirror the facts.

I witnessed this firsthand a few years ago when my husband and I headed out with my boss, Dr. Marc Hirsh, and his wife, Elizabeth for our annual Labor Day weekend cruise on their thirty-two-foot Bayliner. The weather looked rather foul, but Elizabeth had checked with her brother who lives right on the Gunpowder River leading into the Chesapeake Bay, and he assured us the weather reports didn’t look that bad despite a hurricane that was heading northward up the coast. (We later learned he had accidentally listened to the wrong forecast!)

So we took off anyway, knowing that Marc and Elizabeth were seasoned boaters—although the whitecaps on the usually calm river should have been our first clue it wasn’t a good idea.

We had a short two-hour cruise ahead of us, but it wasn’t long before the white caps turned into three-foot waves. The wind whipped up, and then the thunder, lightning, and rain came. At first we all laughed and enjoyed the warm rain soaking us as the boat pounded through the waves. But then I stopped laughing and my stomach started rebelling. Elizabeth handed me a supply of Ziploc bags, which I started filling.

The waves were now five feet high and crashing clear over the top of the boat’s windshield, drenching us. It was nearly impossible for Marc to see out the rain-splattered windshield, and my husband and Elizabeth were trying to read the navigational charts and look for the numbered buoys, which would keep us in the correct channel away from large shipping vessels, shallow water, and crab pots. We were too far out to turn back toward home, yet not sure we could make it to our planned destination.

And then it got really bad.

Marc announced that according to the boat’s compass we were headed in exactly the wrong direction: south when we should have been heading north.

We all were sure we hadn’t turned around—Elizabeth was especially positive we still were pointing in the right direction. She was convinced she would have noticed if the boat had made an about-face. From past experience I knew she usually was right whenever the two of them had a boating disagreement.

The three of us looked at Marc, waiting to see what he would do. (Well, I didn’t look long because I was busy praying there were enough Ziploc bags.)

After a long pause, Marc posed his now-famous question: “Should I trust my wife . . . or the magnetic poles of the earth?”

It wouldn’t have surprised me if he’d gone with Elizabeth’s feelings because she was so adamant about them, but his scientific brain won out and Marc turned the boat 180 degrees.

Within a few moments, we sighted buoys, which confirmed that we, indeed, had been going in the wrong direction despite all of us “feeling” otherwise.

The storm raging around us had distorted reality and our feelings had fallen fickle.

The same thing can happen in the storms of life. We can feel as if we’re unable to cope or that we have no hope. These are the times we need a compass—something that always will steer us in the right direction. A magnetic compass always will point you to the North Pole, and God’s Word always will point you to His unchanging truths and promises.

Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”

Like Marc as he captained our boat that stormy trip, it’s your choice whether or not to trust the magnetic poles of the earth.

The grass does wither. Flowers do fade.  Troubles will disrupt lives. But God’s Word stands forever. Open up a Bible and let God speak the truth your anxious heart needs to hear.

Sep 25

Having some doubts?

Have the trials of life caused you to doubt God? Are you wondering why He hasn’t shown up in answer to your fervent prayers?

“Doubt rises up to obscure His presence and disillusionment settles into despair,” writes Dr. James Dobson in When God Doesn’t Make Sense. “The greatest frustration is knowing that (God) created the entire universe by simply speaking it into existence, and He has all the power and all understanding. He could rescue. He could heal. He could save. But why won’t He do it?”

Feeling abandoned by God is especially terrible to experience after you earlier felt a closeness with Him.

“Satan then drops by for a little visit and whispers ‘He is not there! You are alone!’” Dr. Dobson adds.

I can’t begin to explain why your loved one passed away or why your child has cancer or why you or your loved one have received such a dismal diagnosis. I agree with you that it doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t seem right, and it certainly doesn’t feel like God cares.

 

Back in the summer of 1990 my husband was leaving the hospital where I was recuperating from colon cancer surgery and the car in front of him had a bumper sticker which read: 

“Is He really?” my husband muttered to himself that day.

The possibility of burying another wife had shaken his faith to its core and Ralph actually wondered how he ever was going to preach again.

But as he prayed and studied that week for his next sermon, he came to the conclusion that despite life’s really tough situations, we all are deeply loved by our Heavenly Father. And the way we can know that for certain, my husband concluded, is because God proved it once and for all two-thousand years ago when He sent His only Son to die on the cross for your sins and for mine.

My husband finished what was one of his most stirring sermons ever, by declaring that even if God never answered another single prayer on our behalf, He already has done enough. When God raised Jesus to life, He defeated our greatest enemy: Death…and that is enough.

 

So go ahead and ask God all your questions. But remember, God is not required to defend His actions (or seeming inactions) to you and you may never know in this lifetime the reasons for the suffering which has touched your life.

He asks only one thing of you—to trust Him even when it doesn’t make sense.

My husband and the bumper sticker were right–Jesus is enough.

(Be sure to open in your browser to listen to the music video below.)

Sep 11

How is your tent holding up?

I distinctly remember the last time my family and I went tent camping…and why we never did again after that experience.

It was the summer of 1983 and my pastor-husband convinced me that it would be fun for our daughters and me to join him on the youth group camping trip. So I packed up everything required for the overnight stay at a nearby state park and we borrowed two small tents.

Did I mention that our girls were 5, 3 and 15 months?

Fortunately,  we got everyone to sleep–Ralph in one tent with our 3-year-old and me in the other with the baby and our oldest.  But it wasn’t long before I heard my husband calling out to me from his nearby tent: “Stay really still–there’s a mother skunk and four babies heading toward your tent.”

I cautiously turned toward the tent wall and sure enough, there was a mommy skunk silhouette and four smaller shadows toddling behind. I held my breath as the critters walked so close their sides pressed against the canvas. Luckily, the skunk family kept moving without leaving behind any of their special brand of perfume and I literally could exhale.

I thought the night’s excitement was over until a couple hours later a thunderstorm erupted and my husband’s tent starting leaking –waking up Bethany.  My tent fared better, but the three of us had to scoot in really tight so as not to touch the soggy canvas walls.

We survived the rest of the night undisturbed by weather or wildlife, but I vowed never to take three little kids tent camping again and I happily have kept that promise.

 

So how is your tent holding up? You know, that earthly dwelling we call our body.

“Unless you are in peak form and full of vigor, you have already experienced frustration with this earthly tent. If you haven’t yet, you will. It grows old and weary eventually, and then it dies,” writes author Chris Tiegreen.

I know many of you reading this are experiencing frustration with your earthly tent or your loved one’s.  Maybe the storm already has hit and you’re wondering whether your tent is going to hold up. And perhaps you even can feel some “skunks” pressing up against as you dread the stench of more bad news.

 And for some of you, the worst already has happened to someone you loved.  Less than 24 hours ago, I got the news that another dear friend had taken her last earthly breath, just four years after receiving a cancer diagnosis.

I don’t know how any of us can face the storms and stink of this life  without God’s great and precious promise: “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” 2 Corinthians 5:1

These tents are definitely temporary dwellings and that’s why they rip, get dumped on and wear out.  They are not our permanent residences.

“When hope in this life proves futile, when bodies ache and souls cry out, we can count on the glorious promise of resurrection,” Tiegreen adds. “There is an eternal house fitted just for us.”

I’m sure it will be the best Home ever and I doubt there will be any skunks!

Be sure to view this email in your browser to hear the music video below by Matt Redman, “One Day (When We All Get to Heaven.”

Aug 28

How could God let this happen?

When you believe in God, it can be hard to come to terms with the fact that He has allowed adversity to come into your life or your loved one’s. Author David Biebel talks about this fact in his book If God Is So Good, Why Do I Hurt So Bad?

Biebel says there are two truths suffering people have to reconcile:
1. Sometimes life is agony
2. Our loving God is in control

Think about it.

If God knows everything, this diagnosis did not surprise Him.

If God sees everything, He saw the bad news coming.

If God has power over everything, He could have stopped it.

But He didn’t.

He didn’t stop you or your loved one from getting cancer–or MS or Alzheimer’s or heart disease or whatever other affliction you’ve encountered. He didn’t stop it from happening to you or your loved one or tons of other people and their loved ones.

But the reality is that God’s Word never promises that He will stop all bad things from happening to us. On the contrary, it assures us that He is prepared for each crisis and will intervene on our behalf.

The Message Bible paraphrases 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 this way: We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do, but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized. But God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.” 

God is in control.

Errant cells aren’t.

Toxic medicine isn’t.

White-coated doctors aren’t.

Herbs and vitamins aren’t.

We aren’t.

The sooner we learn this truth, the easier our struggle against serious or chronic illness will be. It’s actually quite freeing once you get it right. You can relax knowing Someone else is in charge—Someone much more intelligent, powerful and vigilant than we are or could ever hope to be.

Be encouraged that this health crisis has not taken God by surprise. He is in control and will equip you with whatever you need. And best of all, He will never leave your side.

Romans 8:38-39 has a powerful promise: “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

As Kathy Broccoli reminds us in the song below “My life is in your hands. My heart is in your keeping. I’m never without hope–not when my future is with You.”

Aug 14

How God Transformed a Valley of Trouble into a Gateway of Hope

As I was reading in the book of Hosea about how God promised to “transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope,” I couldn’t help but think of my friend Lauren.

His cancer journey has been an incredible roller coaster with hopes dashed one minute and unexpected new hopes found the next.

I hope the valley of trouble that you or your loved one faces is a lot smoother ride than Lauren’s, but just in case you hit a bunch of bends in the road, I thought you’d like to hear his hope-filled story.

It all started in December of 2006 when Lauren, then 54, was diagnosed with a rare mantle cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He began a course of chemo at nearby Hershey Medical Center, but never really got a good remission and restarted more treatment in July of 2008 after more tumors developed.

In November of that year, he walked his only daughter down the aisle (and unlike his wife, didn’t have to worry about how his hair looked that day!) A couple weeks later he headed back to Hershey for a stem cell transplant, because he still had a lot of active disease.

The transplant involved Lauren receiving an intravenous lethal dose of chemo and then being “rescued” from death with a transfusion of an anonymous donor’s healthy stem cells.

Lauren survived the transplant, but some of the cancer also survived and started growing. The doctors tried a couple of new chemos, which didn’t work and then some radiation, which also failed to stop the tumors growing on his arm.

“Many times I was about to throw in the towel, but my wife kept telling me ‘Don’t give up’!” Lauren recalls. “ When my faith was weak, the faith of others helped hold me up.”

Finally in October 2009, the Hershey doctor said there was one more hope: a donor lymphocyte infusion. (Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard of it—Lauren hadn’t either.) Basically, it involved putting some of the donor’s white blood cells (lymphocytes) into him to see if they could recognize and destroy the cancer cells.

Lauren was the first to know the procedure was working.

“Within a week I could see the shrinkage in the tumors on my arm,” he recalls.

A second dose was given and the tumors disappeared. Nearly a decade later, Lauren and Joan have welcomed several  grandchildren into their family and he continues to get clean bills of health from Hershey.

 

A few years ago, Lauren and his wife traveled West and stopped in Death Valley.

“I kept thinking about the verse in Psalm 23:
‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me’,” recalls Lauren. “I knew I had come through that valley and He was with me.”

As Lauren and I talked on the phone about this day’s writing, he told me he was looking at his favorite picture in his home. It’s a poster of a craggy mountaintop with this inscription underneath: “It’s not the greatness of my faith that moves mountains, but my faith in the greatness of God.”

Don’t worry, my friend, today if your faith is not that big. Just be sure to put it all in a very big God.

I will…transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. Hosea 2:15
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Excerpted from 50 Days of Hope, copyright 2012 by LYNN EIB

 

 

Jul 31

Walking with Friends in the Dark

 

In those nerve-wracking few days between my diagnosis and my surgery, I announced to my husband, “We need a pastor—and I don’t mean you!”

I think he could tell by the distraught look on my face that I was serious, so he called our good friend David Dunn, pastor of a sister church in a nearby town.

In my mind’s eye I can still see the moment David and his wife Carolyn walked into our family room. David headed straight for Ralph and Carolyn moved toward me. Her extended arms enveloped me in a warm embrace as I lay my head on her shoulder and released my soul-aching sobs.

I can’t tell you how long the four of us stood there huddled with only wordless weeping. David and Carolyn did not try to cheer us up in their delightful Maine accents. They did not quote any of the hundreds of Bible verses they knew so well. Neither shared any wisdom garnered from living longer on this earth than either my husband or I had.

Instead…they felt our pain. Their embraces spoke volumes to us: we love you and we are here holding you up as long as you need us.

I count that as my first lesson in learning how to be a patient advocate and walk with a friend in the dark.

My friend Ken says the presence of a friend usually meant much more to him than the words of a friend when
he was facing a diagnosis of tongue cancer  many years ago.

His advice to friends and family of patients facing serious illness is to “just BE!”

“Be a friend,” he says, “Be a shoulder. Be a hugger. Be an asset.  Please just BE there and God will BE there. If you do this, you will BE the giver of the greatest gift a suffering friend needs—presence without fixing; love without agenda,” he adds.

 

 

Helen Keller walked in the dark from the age of 19 months when an illness struck her blind, deaf and dumb.
She later did learn to speak, but lived the rest of her nearly 88 years without benefit of sight or hearing. Still Helen prized friendship so much that she thought it preferable to be blind and have true friends, than be sighted and have none.

Won’t you pray today for God to send true friends into your life? Whether you are the patient or the caregiver, resist the urge to go it alone. You need a loyal friend who will love you regardless of your situation. Swallow your pride and allow people the privilege of walking with you in the dark.

And if you are the caregiver for someone facing a life trial, won’t you please pray to be the kind of friend who offers your presence as the most important gift? Don’t be concerned that you might not know what to say to your hurting friend or family member. Your actions will say much more than your words as Proverbs 17:7 makes clear:

true friend loves regardless of the situation,
    and a real brother exists to share the tough times. (The Voice Bible)

Friends love through all kinds of weather,
and families stick together in all kinds of trouble. (The Message Bible paraphrase)

And never forget that God longs to walk with you in the dark and empower you for your journey.

You light a lamp for me.
The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.
 In your strength I can crush an army;
with my God I can scale any wall.
Psalm 18:28-29 New Living Translation

Excerpted from Peace in the Face of Cancer, copyright 2017 by Lynn Eib
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View in your browser to be able to hear the music video below “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” by Matt Maher

Jul 17

Are you negotiating with God?

Don’t let this adorable, seemingly innocent smile fool you… she’s a negotiator.  Consider our recent conversation.

ABBY: You have any stuffed animals dat were mommy’s when she was a widdle girl?
ME: I don’t think so. I think I gave them all to her already.
ABBY: Can you just check?
ME: Sure, I can do that.
ABBY: An’ if you find any, can you give ’em to me?
ME: OK, I’ll do that.
ABBY: Good, ’cause Mommy said we no can buy any more stuffed animals.

Uh-oh. Scammed by a preschooler.

I don’t think Abby’s negotiating skills are all that unusual as I believe most children are negotiators–wrangling to get what they want, how and when they want it. By the teenage years the art seems to be perfected. (I recall our middle daughter insisting that because she was old enough to have donated blood, she was old enough to do whatever else she wanted!)

But for many of us, negotiating is something we carry into adulthood and even into our relationship with God. I know I’ve been guilty over the years of trying to bargain with the Almighty. I remember in the spring of 1991 just after finishing my chemo, I knew God was calling me to start a cancer support ministry. Honestly, I just wanted to put cancer behind me and get back to my normal life. Hanging out with cancer patients sounded depressing.

However, a few weeks later I came up with an idea that I figured would suit both God and me: I would start a cancer support group, and God would have to let me live because everyone in that group would need me!

But God reminded me that He doesn’t play “Let’s Make a Deal.” (I was surprised, too,  that He knew that TV show!) Instead, He wanted me to get involved—no guarantees and definitely no negotiating.

As most of you know, I reluctantly started a Cancer Prayer Support Group in October 1991 and it became one of the greatest joys of my life. In fact, many of you reading this are people I met in that group. Eventually, that group led to me being hired by my oncologist, Dr. Marc Hirsh, where I met many, many more of you. And then my role as his patient advocate led to my writing my first book, When God & Cancer Meet, which has sold more than 100,000 copies and allowed me to meet many, many, many more of you.

What a great lesson in non-negotiating. I didn’t need to wring blessings from God’s hands.  He was  not interested in my bargaining chips or attempted cajoling. I just needed to follow where He was leading and leave the rest up to Him. When I did, He proved to me one again that He is able to “accomplish more than we might ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20)

“So I stop all negotiations with the God of all Creation.
You’re bigger than I thought You were.
You’re bigger than I thought You were.
I will rest in the Father’s hands.
Leave the rest in the Father’s hands.”
–Passion “Bigger than I Thought You Were”

(P.S. Don’t miss the music video below–I honestly planned this whole blog around the words because they are so powerful.)

 

Jul 03

So Many Unanswered Questions


Twenty-nine years ago if I had heeded this quote from the creator of Peanuts, I could have saved myself many sleepless nights.

I was pretty consumed back then with trying to figure out how a healthy-eating-and-exercising-mom in her thirties could get cancer. Especially colon cancer for crying out loud! Colonoscopies aren’t even recommended for the average person until age 50.

I never smoked. I wasn’t overweight and worked out regularly at the local Y. I ate a high-fiber, low-fat diet including all our homegrown pesticide-free vegetables. In my mind someone who leaves the skin on their mashed potatoes and who shakes wheat germ on everything should not get colon cancer! Besides my little girls needed their mommy and my husband already watched one wife die a slow, debilitating death.

How? Why? What if?

Any unanswered questions keeping you awake at night?

If you’re trying to figure out exactly why you or your loved one is facing a trial right now, I’m afraid you won’t get any explanations from me. I don’t believe we can make sense of another person’s suffering—only our own. People often want to try anyway and they’ll preach and tell you why it all happened, but they’re not God and they don’t really know. It might make them feel better to think they have it all figured out, but I doubt it will do much for you.

And if you are the loved one of someone facing really difficult circumstances, please don’t tell them “everything happens for a reason.” Such a comment minimizes the sufferer’s feelings and implies that there’s a good, rational justification for what has occurred. I won’t be uttering that phrase to my daughter’s friends who have a 5-year-old  with  spina bifida and  a 7-year-old with an aggressive brain tumor. Instead I will pray that these dear parents, who love their sons and their Lord will run with their sleep-interrupting questions to the One who knows them best and loves them most.

I waited a long time for the Eternal;
He finally knelt down to hear me.
He listened to my weak and whispered cry. Psalm 40:1 The Voice Bible

Hear me, O God, when I cry;
listen to my prayer.
You are the One I will call when pushed to the edge,
when my heart is faint.
Shoulder me to the rock above me. Psalm 60:1-2 The Voice Bible

I’ll never know the answers to your questions or all of mine, but something I read in a book by C.S. Lewis has helped me to be more at peace with not knowing.

It’s found in a scene from The Horse and His Boy, part of Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia series. These classic children’s books (loved by adults, too) are set in the magical land of Narnia, which is ruled by a powerful lion named Aslan (who represents Jesus). At one point Aslan explains to a rich runaway girl named Aravis why some of the awful things that happened to her had to occur. She then asks Aslan what will happen to her stepmother’s slave, who was punished for falling asleep after Aravis had drugged her.

“Will any more harm come to her by what I did?”

“Child,” said the Lion, “I am telling you your story, not hers. No-one is told any story but their own.”[1]

 

Are you trying to understand your story? Take your questions to your Heavenly Father, who will either give you the answers you need…or the peace to live with the questions.

[1]C. S. Lewis, Horse and His Boy (New York: Harper Collins, 2005), 202.

Excerpted from Peace in the Face of Cancer. Copyright 2017 by Lynn Eib.
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Be sure to open this blog in your browser to hear the music video below “Hold Me Jesus” by Rich Mullins.

Jun 19

Are You Slamming the Door in God’s Face?

Over the years this quote from author Norman Cousins became a sort of rallying cry for my cancer support group members who were facing especially difficult circumstances. These are the kind of folks who realize shock and disbelief—although understandable reactions to a diagnosis—can’t really do anything to change the situation. So they decide to take the bull by the horns and refuse to give in to any statistics on a piece of paper or doomsday predictions from a doctor’s lips.

So just in case you or your loved one has been given some not-so-great cure odds or perhaps even no odds for a cure, I encourage you to quit fighting against the diagnosis and instead try and fight the verdict. Even if you or your loved one has great survival odds or your trial is something other than cancer, I think you’ll be blessed by today’s story of a patient defying the odds.

My German-born friend Jutta (pronounced YOU-tuh) was diagnosed with Stage 3 pancreatic cancer at the age of 38. It’s an understatement to say that cancer of the pancreas is not a “good” kind of cancer and it’s especially scary when your children are only 6 and 10. But that was the situation in which Jutta found herself in July 2003.

She felt fine and hadn’t even considered that the jaundice she was experiencing might mean she was seriously ill. The day after exploratory surgery discovered a malignant pancreatic tumor already spread to the lymph nodes, Jutta’s surgeon came into her hospital room and told her: “You better get your act together. You have cancer and you’ve only got two years.

Jutta was shocked not only at the diagnosis, but at the less-than-compassionate way the news was delivered.

“It took me at least a month to get over that,” she says. Eventually she decided the doctor’s prediction was only that—a prediction—and she would not live believing it had to come true. Good thing—it is almost 16 years later and Jutta (far right in the photo) has never had a recurrence and remains cancer-free. 

As she reflects on her cancer journey, she says, “You don’t stop living just because you hear the word cancer. That’s the worst thing you can do. Even if my cancer had been stage 4, I would have still set goals and gone for them. I believe that somebody who sets goals lives longer.”

Jutta says she still has a goal of being “an encouragement to other people.” (You can bet I tell every new pancreatic patient I know about her!)

You need to know and believe that cancer–or any illness–is not an automatic death sentence. Doctors do their best at predicting cure rates and odds of survival, but these predictions are just educated guesses. I’m very glad that my oncologist does not regularly dole out predictions about how long patients have to live. He feels those predictions become self-fulfilling prophecies in many patients’ minds. I know zillions of people who have lived longer—some many times longer—than doctors or medical science predicted.

Predictions are just that. They do not have the last word. Please remember today that your and your loved one’s times are in God’s hands and He ­doesn’t need “good odds” to heal.

In the words of the late pastor/author Charles L. Allen:

 “When you say a situation or person is hopeless, you are slamming the door in the face of God.”[1]

Lord, Please help us all from slamming the door in Your face; from refusing to believe that you are the God of the unexpected, the improbable and even the impossible. Thank You that You don’t need good odds to do mighty works and that no statistic or white coat has the final word over our lives. Thank you that You have power over everything—over every errant cell in our bodies, over every discouraging word on our lips and over every hopeless thought in our minds. We open the door to You and the healing touch You want to bring to our lives. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

[1] All Things are Possible through Prayer, pg. 51, Charles L. Allen, Revell, 2003.

Be sure to view this in your browser to hear the music video below “All Things Possible” by Mark Schultz

Jun 05

What’s on your to-do list today?

 

My husband has a serious problem.

And what’s worse is the fact he doesn’t even think he has a problem. I have no doubt that when I tell you what his problem is, you’ll be pretty shocked. But perhaps my talking about it in front of hundreds and hundreds of people will help him see what a terrible problem it is.

Better sit down before you read any more.

My husband’s problem (besides eating really blue birthday cake frosting) is  that he doesn’t make to-do lists.I can hear the gasps now. I mean, how can such a wonderful, kind person not make to-do lists? After 45 years of watching me faithfully make these lists and carefully updating them throughout the day, how can he have failed to see the light?

I’ve patiently tried to cure him of this malady by making to-do lists for him. He has responded in one of two ways: either losing the list or failing to cross out any items after he completes them. When I ask him about this latter misstep, he tells me that he knows he has done the task, so he doesn’t need to cross it off.

How can you not cross off a finished task on your to-do list? There is such superb satisfaction in drawing that ink line across the item.

Some of you know exactly what I mean and others of you, I’m afraid, are sympathizing with my husband because you also have a genetic mutation which prevents you from making to-do lists. (And yes, of course I will pray for you–you don’t even need to ask. I’ll just add praying to my to-do list.)

However, my husband is too sweet to tell you (and he doesn’t blog), but I also have a serious problem.

I can get so wrapped up in my to-do list that I may miss something God wants me to do. Or I can be so busy crossing off items that I fail to hear His still small voice.

Here’s what I do to treat my problem. At the top of my to-do list I often write: LOVE LIKE JESUS.  I remind myself that no matter how much–or how little–I accomplish in 24 hours, I always can love like Jesus. While I may have a good plan for my day, He may have a better one. What seems like an interruption or even a roadblock in my day may simply be a chance for me to love and trust Him more. And I may be completing tasks with temporal significance while neglecting ones with eternal value.

So what’s on your to-do list today? How about Ephesians 5:1-2?

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.

Or as The Message paraphrase puts it:  Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

No matter what else gets done today, choose to LOVE LIKE JESUS.
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(Be sure to open in your browser so you don’t miss the music video below: “Love Like Jesus.”