Sep 07

Finding Treasures Hidden in Darkness

 

 

And I would love for you to meet my friend, Nancy, a 10-year survivor of incurable liver cancer. My Cancer Prayer Support Group meetings always were better when she was there—partly because she’s a wonderful baker (she brought four fresh strawberry pies to one summer meeting!), but mostly because she’s just an awesome person.

Nancy originally was told in January 2005 that she had a “very aggressive” liver cancer and there wasn’t anything anyone could do for her.

“If you have anything you want to do, you should do it,” the doctor told her, adding that she would probably die within a month.

But about two weeks later, she got a call from another physician who said she had been misdiagnosed. It indeed was a rare, untreatable liver cancer, but a slow-growing one, which probably would not take her life.

With that good news, Nancy figured the hard part of her cancer journey was over, but she was very wrong. One of her doctors suggested a new, oral chemotherapy, which just might slow the cancer’s growth and Nancy agreed to give it a try. Unfortunately, one of the drug’s side effects was severe depression.

“When I would wake up in the morning, I thought I couldn’t get out of bed,” Nancy recalls. “Any desire to do anything at all was gone. I would just sit and cry.”

Nancy, of course, stopped the drug, but the depression lasted for eighteen months.

“I felt terribly alone even in a roomful of people,” she recalls. “It was the most horrible feeling I ever had.”

I’ve never experienced that kind of depression, but I believe Nancy when she says it was “worse than being told I had cancer or that I was going to die.”

So why am I telling you this story in a blog about encouragement for the weary? Because Nancy got through her depression and is back to her bubbly self and I want you to know that you and your loved one can survive depression if it should rear its ugly head in your lives.

Whenever a newcomer joined our support group and was struggling with depression, I wanted that person to meet Nancy because she’s “been there, done that.” And most of all I wanted them to hear what Nancy discovered during her ordeal.

“I learned that God is faithful,” she says. “I always believed that, but not to the extent I do now.

“Even though I couldn’t feel close to God then, I always sensed He was there,” she says. “When I prayed to die in my sleep, the Holy Spirit was there with me whispering ‘it’s going to be OK—it’s not over yet.’ God was always there.”

I will give you treasures hidden in darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord God of Israel, the one who calls you by name. Isaiah 45:3

Nancy’s path is not one she ever would have chosen for herself, but she wholeheartedly agrees that the Lord gave her treasures that were hidden in the darkness of depression. Now she eagerly shares those “secret riches” with those she meets who are struggling with their own despondent times.

“When I was down, just a teeny bit of hope helped me,” Nancy remembers. “If I can give that to anyone, I’d be happy.”

I always feel more hopeful when I talk to Nancy as the love and light of God shine through her. She and her incredibly supportive husband Tom recently celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary by taking a trip to Belize—not as relaxing tourists, but to work at the orphanage they helped build.

“I just want to give back,” Nancy explains. “I think that’s why God left me here.”

Father, I pray for anyone reading this today who is struggling with depression or any other dark cloud of discouragement. I pray that they will trust that You are faithful and will see them through. And I pray that one day they can look back and see the treasures You have brought to light through this time. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Aug 31

Don’t Waste Your Cancer

 

 

Those are the words penned by author-pastor John Piper on the eve of his surgery for prostate cancer in 2006. Our cancer support group often spent a meeting discussing one of Piper’s ten ways we can “waste” cancer by allowing it—instead of God—to be foremost in our lives. (You can read his wonderful essay at www.desiringgod.org) Many in our group have embraced Piper’s admonition and often remarked: “I don’t want to waste this cancer.”

Probably the cancer survivor who most often expressed that sentiment is my friend Bert, diagnosed in December 2003 with stage 4 prostate cancer at the age of sixty-eight.

Bert’s cancer was not operable, so he underwent eight weeks of radiation and eighteen months of hormone shots to try and slow its course. The radiation went fairly well, but the shots, which “turned off” his male hormones gave him severe hot flashes.

“That gave me a greater appreciation of what women go through in menopause and I sure don’t want to go through childbirth!” Bert admits with a smile.

Because Bert’s father and grandfather both had faced cancer, he wasn’t particularly stunned to get his diagnosis.

“I was surprised and concerned, but I had a peace about it,” he recalls. “I remember thinking that I could go home and feel sorry for myself—but I would still have cancer—or I could use it to show people that I’m not afraid to die. I’ve decided I will use cancer to share and encourage other people.”

Don’t waste your cancer.

That’s the decision Bert made many years ago. Since then his yearly PSA readings are in the normal range as he continues to be in complete remission from the cancer. But he has been told by doctors to expect it to come back at some point.

“Can it come back? Yeah,” he says. “Am I afraid of that? No.”

Bert says his peace about his uncertain future comes from the fact he is a “Christ-follower.”

“I love to explain to people what that means,” he adds. “I like to ask people ‘where is your hope?’ and I like to share with them that my hope is in following Christ.”

I am so glad that Bert decided not to waste his cancer. I can’t begin to tell you all the folks in our support group he has encouraged in their cancer fight, as well as many others in his church and community.

I’d like to think I haven’t wasted my cancer either. I’ll admit I initially was rather reluctant (OK, very reluctant) to minister to cancer patients and their caregivers. But the more I reached out to hurting people, the more I got blessed, too. I realized I couldn’t go back and change my diagnosis, my treatment or even my prognosis, but I could make sure that all the pain I endured was not wasted. I had suffered on my cancer journey, but I also had been comforted by God and I could share that truth with others. As the Apostle Paul explains in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4:

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. 

Whatever you and your family have suffered—whatever hardship still lies ahead for you—will you ask God today to help you not waste it?

Piper wrote that “Christians are never anywhere by divine accident. There are reasons for why we wind up where we do. Consider what Jesus said about painful, unplanned circumstances: ‘They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness.’ (Luke 21:12 -13). So it is with cancer. This will be an opportunity to bear witness. Christ is infinitely worthy. Here is a golden opportunity to show that he is worth more than life. Don’t waste it.”

Heavenly Father, I wish I didn’t have to face cancer, but because I do, I’m asking You to help me not to waste it. Please take these painful, unplanned circumstances and turn them into an opportunity for me to show others that You are worth more than life itself. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

 

Aug 24

When Your World Falls Apart

 

So where were you when the events of 9/11 unfurled? I bet you know exactly. I vividly remember I was standing in the chemo room at our oncology office chatting with patients when the first plane hit.

And if you’re OLD like I am, you recall where you were when President Kennedy was shot in 1963. I know I was at Debbie Walls’ house playing the Barbie game (and poised to secure the good-looking bachelor, Ken, for my “date”) when Debbie’s stepmom rushed in with the terrible news. (Debbie found me on Facebook a few months ago after being out of touch for 50 YEARS and she told me she never forgot me either because of the incredibly sad memory we shared.)

It’s amazing how quickly your world can fall apart. One minute life seems pretty good, and the next minute you’re wondering how you ever will survive.

A health crisis has the ability to shake our worlds in ways difficult to comprehend. A while back, I surveyed a bunch of my cancer survivor friends for remembrances of the day their worlds fell apart.

“Surreal” is the term Wayne uses to describe how it felt to be told he had Stage 4 non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the age of forty-seven.

“My family, like myself was in shock—pure disbelief,” he recalls thirteen years later. “I recently had gone twenty years without missing a full day of work to illness and now I had cancer? I couldn’t believe it.”

Ken was equally surprised nine years ago when his tongue cancer finally was diagnosed after two years of reassurances that the enlarged lymph node was “nothing to worry about.”

“When the doctor finally did say the word ‘cancer,’ I was in total shock,” Ken recalls. “I had no symptoms and I was in great shape for a forty-six-year-old man! I told someone I felt as if I had entered the Twilight Zone and nothing was recognizable.”

Cathy says “denial and total shock” were the first two emotions she experienced after being told in November 2009 that she had breast cancer at age fifty-four.

“My husband’s and my emotions were very different,” she adds. “He was a lot calmer and stronger than I was.”

My nurse/reporter friend Cubby says disbelief also was her first reaction to a breast cancer diagnosis at age fifty-one.

“I froze and my husband’s face turned white,” she still vividly recalls six years later. “The worst part was the fear of the unknown.”

Fear of the unknown.

 I think that’s pretty much a universal response to a cancer diagnosis. The story of the day your world fell apart may be similar to these folks or it might be quite different, but I’m willing to bet that after those initial strong emotions wore off, you were left with the same question for yourself or your loved one: What’s going to happen next?

How difficult will the treatment be?

            Will I/they get sick?

            Can I/they keep working?

And the $64,000-question: Will I/they be cured?

I, of course, will answer all those questions for you in this blog…yeah, right. I have no magic tea leaves for your or your loved one’s future. I believe there’s a good chance that the treatments will be easier than you think because that’s what most of our patients say—the worry before the first chemo or radiation was worse than the actual treatment itself. I think you or your loved one probably will not get sick because there are wonderful anti-nausea drugs available today—at least three or four new ones since I was treated in 1990. (If you knew people treated a long time ago for cancer, please don’t imagine your experience is likely to be like theirs.)

I also think there’s a good possibility you or your loved one will be able to keep up a fairly normal life. I see cancer patients everyday in our office getting chemo and then heading out to their place of employment or home to do yard work. Most folks say they adjust to a “new normal” and enjoy the days with good energy, while resting more on the days when fatigue sets in.

And if you want to know the overall survival odds, 64% of adult cancer patients still are alive five years after their diagnosis, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Of course, I can’t promise my observations all will come true for you. I don’t know your future health any more than I am certain of my own. But I do know the One who does know it all.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

What an incredibly comforting verse for us when our world falls apart. Just don’t miss that itty-bitty word “I” in the first sentence. “For I know the plans I have for you.”

Only God knows the plans for us and they are His plans and not necessarily ours. But whether His plans match ours or not, we can be confident they are good ones and designed to give us hope. Jeremiah 29:12-14 continues with God’s assurances:

In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly,
you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord.

Thank You, Lord, that You are not watching me from a distance, but You are close by and hear me when I pray. Please help me to trust that Your plans for my life are truly good ones. Amen.

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Aug 17

How do you find peace in the face of cancer?

 

 

For years I’ve been wishing there was a book offering hope to those facing cancer which is not expected to be cured—not one on how to get ready to die, but one on how to keep living with cancer for the long haul. I wanted it to be a book for both patients and caregivers because when anyone in the family has cancer, it can feel like everyone does. And I really wanted it to encourage believers to trust in God despite life’s trials and to point seekers to a relationship with Jesus.  But I couldn’t find such a book.

So I wrote one.

Eib wrapPeace in the Face of Cancer is slated to be released by Tyndale House in March 2017 and I’m so excited for the lives it will touch. And I’m especially excited that my editors pushed me to write it not just for those with incurable cancer, but for anyone, anywhere on a cancer journey. That made my writing task more difficult, but because of this broader scope, it’s a far better book with a far bigger audience—an estimated 14.5 million of us living with a history of cancer in the U.S. alone!

I heard a speaker at a recent Christian writers’ conference advise authors not to share a book cover until a month before its release because people will forget. But I am so happy about the cover I just couldn’t wait! (Besides I’ll “remind” you later.)  The cover is soft imitation leather like 50 Days of Hope and is just a little bigger (5×7 instead of 4×6). I love the shiny, gold foil stars and believe that looking up through the trees at a starry nighttime sky is a very peaceful feeling.

I’ll be sharing excerpts as the release date draws closer and more about how this is going to be the first in a new series by Tyndale. The second “Peace in the Face of…” book already has been contracted to a famous NY Times bestselling author! Stay tuned for details.

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 NLT

 

 

Jul 27

Amazing Cancer Patients

 

I knew her as “The Horse Lady” long before I ­ever knew her name was Nicola.

And if I was writing a brochure about amazing things cancer patients have done while ­under­going treatment, the Horse Lady would be my cover photo.

She got her nickname from Dr. Marc Hirsh, who initially had trouble remembering her name, but had no trouble bragging about her exploits to me even before I worked in his office. His favorite story was about how she loaded up one of her prized thoroughbred horses in her horse trailer, hitched it to her pickup, and drove all the way from Pennsylvania to Oklahoma. After delivering the horse to its new owner, she continued to drive herself to Mexico for a vacation.

“Drove the truck herself with her oxygen tank right beside her on the front seat!” Marc said with a satisfied smile. “She’s amazing!”

I’ve met a lot of amazing cancer patients.

 I know a man who earned his green belt for karate while being treated for lung cancer. I know a woman who went to dance class wearing a belt pump that released a continuous infusion of chemotherapy into her while she danced. I know another man who won a racquetball tournament a couple days after his treatment for widespread colon cancer.

My friend Leanna started running 5K races after her diagnosis of Stage 4 melanoma. She’s not super-fast, but at age sixty-eight, she’s usually quick enough to win her age category!

“I thought I’d give it a try to see if it would help me get better,” says Leanna, a grandmother of eleven who still works part-time babysitting neighborhood children and is in complete remission from the cancer. She’s even convinced her husband Larry, seventy, to compete in an upcoming race with her.

“He was going to enter in the ‘Clydesdale’ category for men who weigh over 200 pounds,” she says, “but I told him he might have a better chance of winning the ‘70+’ category in case there’s a young guy who weighs over 200 and is really fast!”

Our oncology office even had our own version of Lance Armstrong with a patient named Eric, who was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1987 at the age of thirty-one. Like Lance, Eric had Stage 4 disease, which had spread to his liver, lung, and groin in 1988. Now twenty-nine years after his diagnosis, Eric remains cancer-free and is enjoying life with his wife and three grown children.

You’ve probably seen the little plastic yellow “Live Strong” bracelets from the Lance Armstrong Foundation. They’re a neat way to remind cancer patients and their caregivers that a little ol’ thing like cancer couldn’t stop Lance from winning seven consecutive Tour de France cycling races. (No matter what controversy surrounds him, there’s no doubt he’s an incredible athlete and an amazing cancer survivor.)

I was sad, though, when I read in his first book, It’s Not about the Bike, that he doesn’t believe in God, but rather only in himself and in his ability to be “essentially a good person.” He gives God absolutely zero credit for his recovery from cancer or his athletic accomplishments.

Personally, I think God supplies supernatural strength to us many times when we don’t even realize it and that the reason our bodies have an amazing ability to heal is because He created us that way!

So while I agree with Lance that cancer patients and their caregivers need to live strong, I like even better the admonition adopted by my friends Barry and Barbara when she was facing pancreatic cancer: “By His Strength.

Barb’s younger brother Tommy even bought silver bracelets for all the family members with the letters “BHS” engraved on the front. The bracelets were partly a Christian response to the “Live Strong” bracelets. But mostly they were a reminder that this family intended to live strong by God’s strength—even if they always didn’t have the fortitude within themselves. The initials BHS always reminded Barb’s family of their heavenly Father and of their earthly family: Barbara Hall Streeter and Barry Howard Streeter.

Perhaps you feel 100-percent confident in your own abilities to face and conquer cancer, but there must be a little room for concern or you probably wouldn’t be reading this blog.

Isn’t it good to know that you don’t always have to have it completely together, you don’t always have to just tough it out and you don’t always have to conjure up your own courage? Instead, at those times when you feel inadequate—or even hopeless—you can live By His Strength.

I love how The Message paraphrase Bible describes Abraham’s response when God told him He was going to make him the “father of many nations” even though Abraham and his wife Sarah were way past childbearing ages:

\When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do,
but on what God said he would do. Romans 4:17

Don’t be discouraged by whatever you—or doctors or medicine—can’t do, but live on the basis of what God says He will do.

But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the Lord their God. Psalm 146:5

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=FFFFEMNU

Lord, I do want to live strong and I want to do it by Your strength. I’m so grateful that You have what I need to get through each day. In Jesus Name, I pray, Amen.

Jul 20

Really Ticked Off

 

If you had asked me after my diagnosis whether I was angry about my situation–stage 3 cancer at age 36 with three young daughters and a husband who already had buried his first wife--I would have responded that I was not. After all, it’s not really proper for a Baptist minister’s wife to get angry, is it?

Well, let me share a couple of the things I thought and felt those first few days after my diagnosis and you tell me what you think my state of mind might have been.

When I was in the hospital after my cancer surgery, a friend came into my room and told me God was going to teach me great things through this trial. I wanted to take the IV out of my arm, stab it in hers, and tell her, “You get in the bed and learn great things from God, because I ­don’t want to learn this way.”

Of course, I didn’t actually say that to her. Instead I just smiled and hoped she would leave very soon.

A couple of days later I was waiting for the pathology report to see if my cancer had been caught early and cured, or whether it was advanced and I would need chemotherapy and perhaps radiation. Lying in that bed, I had lots of time to talk with God.

“You are making a ­really big mistake here,” I fumed. “There’s absolutely nothing You can ever do to make up for this because it is too awful. And ­don’t think You are going to pull me through this somehow and ­I’m going to go and minister to cancer patients, because I won’t do it!”

Perhaps a wee bit of anger there?

When I look back on those early days after my diagnosis, I am incredulous at some of the things I thought and felt. But I was in such a state of shock and disbelief myself that I really was struggling to cope. At one point I was so distraught, that I told my husband “I guess God really doesn’t love me.”

I don’t remember saying it and find it hard to believe I was actually that despondent, but I know my husband isn’t making things up.

So as I look back on those dark days after diagnosis, I realize I experienced a bevy of emotions: shock, disbelief, denial, disappointment, frustration, sadness, worry and yes, anger.

I didn’t have anyone at the time who I felt comfortable “burdening” with my anger, so I just kept taking it to God. The Bible says He can read our minds (Psalm 139:1-4) so I figured I might as well just say all the awful things I was thinking and feeling because He knew them anyway.

Maybe you’re not as angry as I was; perhaps you’re only just a little ticked. Then again, maybe “rage” better describes what you’re feeling today.

Where can you go to dump it?

I suggest you run where all of us with great suffering need to run: to the only One whose shoulders are broad enough, whose arms are strong enough and whose love is deep enough.

“It’s all right—questions, pain, and stabbing anger can be poured out to the Infinite One and He will not be damaged…
For we beat on His chest from within the circle of His arms,” writes Anne Cetas, an author for the daily devotional, Our Daily Bread.

Can you visualize that for yourself? You crying out to God, beating your clenched fists upon His chest and Him holding you in His loving arms.

            I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me. Psalm 69:3

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God,
but you do not answer. Every night you hear my voice, but I find no relief. Psalm 22:1-2

And then after you’ve hurled your questions heavenward, don’t forget to go to God’s Word to find His response. A good place to start might be the promise He gave to Jeremiah, who was filled with so much grief he has been called “the weeping prophet:”

“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…”
God speaking in Jeremiah 31:3, 4 NIV

 

I believe God is the best place to turn to with your suffering. He’ll either give you the answers you seek or the peace you need to live with the questions.

My reporter-friend Cubby fought against a range of emotions accompanied by many tears when she battled breast cancer. But she says she always found hope “when I could visualize Jesus sitting next to me or holding me safely nestled in His lap.”

It was in those moments that the peace came to live with the unanswered questions.

Perhaps you would like to pray today with the Psalmist: O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! 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 for you are my safe refuge. Amen. (Psalm 61:1-3)

Jul 13

When you do everything right and it still goes all wrong…

 

 

Monday morning started out great–in fact it started out perfect. My husband was fly-fishing for the day, so I wouldn’t feel as if I was ignoring him when I spent the day concentrating on my lengthy to-do list. I had plenty to get accomplished, but I wanted to make sure I started the day right.

So I headed to our flower-laden deck for a delicious breakfast of Greek yogurt, fresh berries and sliced almonds. I lingered over my cup of English breakfast tea as I read, not one, but two devotionals! As I enjoyed the colorful songbirds convening at the feeders, I prayed for each member of my family, for friends facing cancer and for others who need to know the love of Jesus. I thought to myself: It doesn’t get much better than this.

But the morning was not over.

I readied myself for a day of running shopping errands, foregoing fashion in favor of my most-reliable sandals.  As I dressed, I smiled when my shorts were too loose instead of too tight as they had been last summer. (Whenever the right size clothes fit on a six-decade-old-body, it’s a good day, right?)

I gathered all my shopping needs: reusable bags, shopping list, coupons, insulated cooler bag with a freezer pack, light sweatshirt for cold stores, circulars with store specials, and a grocery bag full of plastic bags to be recycled at Giant because our curbside recycling company doesn’t accept them. I had a plan for the most efficient way to make my four stops, so I headed into the car. I popped in an old CD and began singing along with the familiar praise songs. At one point,  tears filled my eyes as I sang about the Savior I love so much. It felt well with my soul.

It was a good morning…but it wasn’t over yet.

I parked at the Aldi grocery store and offered a woman the customary quarter for the shopping cart she was returning (FYI–you have to “rent” an Aldi cart until you return it). But the woman insisted I take her cart for free. I quickly found everything on my list. I gathered some really good bargains. The usually crowded store had no line at the checkout.  The clerk was especially friendly. A feeling of gratefulness for so many “small” things filled my heart and I whispered a prayer of gratitude to God, the giver of all good gifts.

It was a great morning…but it wasn’t over yet.

I took my groceries to my car, carefully loading the perishables into the insulated cooler. As I was getting everything settled, the plastic bag stuffed with other plastic bags blew out of my hatchback. I quickly turned to grab the flyaway bags, but another gust of wind whipped them out of my reach. Now all five bags were loose and blowing across the parking lot. I certainly didn’t want to be a litterbug, so I hurried toward them, lunging at the billowing blobs. But they escaped again. I ran to catch up with them.

That is until one of the straps on my most-reliable sandals broke. causing my ankle to turn awkwardly and me to stumble to the pavement. I hit my knee, wrenched my shoulder (which has only recently healed from a serious injury last year) and felt my low back spasm with pain. Oh, but I caught those five errant bags.

I headed back to my car and finished loading the groceries when I realized my not-nearly-completed shopping list  was no longer where I had put it as the chase began. Did I mention that on one side was my list for the other three stores and on the back was my to-do list for the entire week?

I searched everything in the back of the car without success. I began looking around the lot, crouching to peer under neighboring cars. Not easy to do with a broken sandal and shooting pains. I checked out every piece of trash which looked like white paper–and there was plenty of it–but my list was not to be seen. I finally gave up, eased my throbbing shoulder and aching back into the driver’s seat, and tried to recall all those now-missing, wonderful plans.

I did everything right and it still turned out all wrong.

Ever have a day like this? Or a week? Or maybe even what feels like a lifetime of things going wrong? Those of us who are planners get especially frustrated when life goes awry despite our organizing skills. I’m almost 63 years old and I still have the illusion that I can control life with proper planning.

But I can’t…and neither can you. Stuff happens. The wind blows at the wrong time. Old reliable lets you down without warning. You lose things you can’t get back.

And cancer comes–at the wrong time, without warning and it takes precious things away.

My Monday morning, although frustrating, disappointing and downright painful, was nothing compared to the real trials of life. I know that.  But the “small” things, as well as the “big” ones can steal our joy and destroy our peace. When I returned home a few hours later that day, my heart did not feel as light as it did when I left, my mind was not nearly as eternally focused and I had long stopped singing along to my CD.

Until I pulled into the driveway and heard Kim Hill’s voice:

Thank you, Lord, for that wonderful reminder that in You alone my heart has found a resting place. May I always find my security in You. Only in you Alone.

 

P.S. If you see any plastic garbage bags littering parking lots, they might be mine. I have sworn off ever chasing another one!

 

Jun 15

HEALING WORDS

So do retired people go on vacation or is EVERYDAY a vacation day? I think the answer must be BOTH because I’m at the beach relaxing and being refreshed body, mind and spirit. (Sounds like a vacation to me!)

While I’m away, here are some of my favorite “healing” verses (all from the New Living Translation of the Bible). I pray that neither of us ever takes a vacation from reading God’s Word and allowing His Spirit to touch us and meet our deepest needs.

Psalm 6:2

Have compassion on me, LORD, for I am weak.

Heal me, LORD, for my body is in agony.

 

Psalm 30:2

O LORD my God, I cried out to you for help,

and you restored my health.

 

Psalm 41:4

“O LORD,” I prayed, “have mercy on me.

Heal me, for I have sinned against you.”

 

Psalm 103:2-3

Praise the LORD, I tell myself,

and never forget the good things he does for me.

He forgives all my sins

and heals all my diseases.

 

Psalm 107:19-20

“LORD, help!” they cried in their trouble,

and he saved them from their distress.

 

He spoke, and they were healed—

snatched from the door of death.

 

Proverbs 3:7-8

Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn your back on evil.

Then you will gain renewed health and vitality.

 

Proverbs 4:20-22

Pay attention, my child, to what I say. Listen carefully.

Don’t lose sight of my words. Let them penetrate deep within your heart,

for they bring life and radiant health to anyone who discovers their meaning.

 

Proverbs 15:30

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart; good news makes for good health.

 

Matthew 4:24

News about him spread far beyond the borders of Galilee so that the sick were soon coming to be healed from as far away as Syria. And whatever their illness and pain, or if they were possessed by demons, or were epileptics, or were paralyzed—he healed them all.

 

Matthew 8:16-17

That evening many demon-possessed people were brought to Jesus. All the spirits fled when he commanded them to leave; and he healed all the sick. This fulfilled the word of the Lord through Isaiah, who said, “He took our sicknesses and removed our diseases.”

 

Matthew 9:35

Jesus traveled through all the cities and villages of that area, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And wherever he went, he healed people of every sort of disease and illness.

 

Matthew 10:1

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to cast out evil spirits and to heal every kind of disease and illness.

 

Matthew 10:7-8

Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!

 

Matthew 14:14

A vast crowd was there as he stepped from the boat, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

 

Matthew 15:30-31

A vast crowd brought him the lame, blind, crippled, mute, and many others with physical difficulties, and they laid them before Jesus. And he healed them all. The crowd was amazed! Those who hadn’t been able to speak were talking, the crippled were made well, the lame were walking around, and those who had been blind could see again! And they praised the God of Israel.

 

Matthew 19:2

Vast crowds followed him there, and he healed their sick.

 

Mark 10:52

And Jesus said to him, “Go your way. Your faith has healed you.” And instantly the blind man could see! Then he followed Jesus down the road.

 

Luke 9:1-2, 6

One day Jesus called together his twelve apostles and gave them power and authority to cast out demons and to heal all diseases. Then he sent them out to tell everyone about the coming of the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. So they began their circuit of the villages, preaching the Good News and healing the sick.

 

Acts 10:38

And no doubt you know that God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Then Jesus went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil, for God was with him.

 

James 5:14-16

Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well. And anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results.

 

1 Peter 2:24

He personally carried away our sins in his own body on the cross so we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. You have been healed by his wounds!

Jun 01

Becoming the “Ideal Patient”

Are you or your loved one an ideal patient?

I’m not asking whether you do everything the doctors tell you to do. I’m not referring to whether your disease is easily treatable. And I’m not talking about whether you have the right personality.

What I do mean is this: Do you have the right blend of realism and faith as you live wondering when and if your or your loved one’s disease will be cured?

If you haven’t already reached “ideal” status, I pray I can inspire you to achieve it, and if you’re already there, I pray I can encourage you that it’s definitely the best place to stay.

I think that an ideal patient is one who believes firmly in the power of prayer and has no doubt that God can answer with a miracle. Such a patient prays for complete physical healing, absolutely believing that God can do it and feverishly praying that He will do it. But this ideal patient also recognizes that God is sovereign—He is absolute, unlimited, independent, and has supreme authority over us and everything else in the world.

Such an ideal patient understands that when we give our lives to Jesus, we give up our rights and give Him the right to do whatever pleases Him with our lives. When we’re “ideal,” we pray and believe for a physical miracle, but never demand it as the only answer to our prayers.

Some people might say that our faith is decreased if we don’t absolutely “expect” a miracle, but I think it takes even more faith to continue to trust God, stand on His promises and cling to hope when we aren’t healed.

It is not a lack of faith to accept whatever God’s will is for us. It’s a true sign of faith to trust Him no matter what happens—or doesn’t happen—in this lifetime. I pray you will be an ideal patient: trusting God as you pray for His physical healing touch to come and trusting Him still if it doesn’t.

 

To believe in someone

is to have faith

In God’s ability as the Potter

And in that person’s willingness

to be the clay.

I believe in you.

May 25

Peace in the Face of Cancer

 

I’ve just received word from Tyndale House that my manuscript for my new book Peace in the Face of Cancer has been “enthusiastically accepted!” This book has been rolling around in my head for at least a couple of years and I just couldn’t really relax in retirement until I got it out.

For a long time I’ve been wanting to write a book that would be especially for those facing cancer that is not expected to be cured. You know the descriptions. Treatable, but not curable. Chronic cancer.  Always in treatment. Cancer for the long haul. 

This new book–coming out next March–even includes three bonus chapters at the end just for such folks: Why doesn’t God heal? How to dance with cancer instead of  just battling it. And how to live AND die well for Jesus.

And the really good news is that Peace in the Face of Cancer actually is written to speak to the needs of ALL survivors and their caregivers no matter where they are on their cancer journey–newly diagnosed, in treatment, living in cancer’s shadow, dealing with a recurrence or trying to buy more time.

Not sure if you’re a survivor yet?

 

The National Cancer Institute says we become  survivor “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. Pretty sure that means 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 U.S. 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 meet 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?

Between my former job, my cancer prayer support groups and my speaking-travels, I literally have held the hands of thousands of people facing this disease. I count it a real privilege to walk with hurting people, whether the ones with the medical chart or the ones standing nervously by.  But despite my huge number of cancer-acquaintances (including about 90-percent of my Facebook friends!), I never would presume I know exactly what you or your loved ones are going through. Each patient and caregiver journey is unique, but chances are good that you and I have shared some of the same feelings over the years. And chances are very good that I know someone who has been in a very similar medical situation to yours.  And I think it’s especially feasible that you, like me, at times have trouble finding peace in the face of cancer.

  It’s definitely difficult to feel peace…but it is possible.

I know it’s possible because I have been there, done that, and because I’ve known scores of others who are finding peace even though they thought they couldn’t. In the pages of Peace in the Face of Cancer,  I’ll share true, hope-filled stories to encourage you that a survivor also can be a “thriver!”

If I come to your mind, please PRAY for this book as it goes through the editing and design process and that God would use it to bring PEACE in the face of cancer to those who need to hear that message.

“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 NLT