Aug 08

Does Everything REALLY Happen for a Reason?

 

Everything happens for a reason.

 Has anyone said that to you since your or your loved one’s diagnosis? I’m wondering how it made you feel? I have to be honest and say that phrase usually annoys me. So if it’s your favorite phrase in life and you love to say it or have people say it to you often, you might want to skip this blog.

Well, because you’re still reading I have to believe it’s for a reason 🙂  and I’m praying God uses these words to give you hope today as we wonder together what’s the “reason” for serious/chronic illness–or any of life’s trials.

I’m not sure who should get the original credit for that phrase: “Everything happens for a reason.” I’ve seen it attributed to Marilyn Monroe and Oprah Winfrey and I’m sure many other famous and not-so-famous people have spoken it often. I remember using it myself when I was a new Christ-follower back in college (at THE Ohio State University) and someone stole my wallet right out of my purse in the checkout line at the campus bookstore. I was terribly distraught and remarked to my friend Vince: “I know everything happens for a reason, but I can’t figure out what God is trying to teach me through this.”

I’ll always remember Vince’s reply: “I’ll tell you the reason this happened—someone sinned and stole your wallet!”

I liked that explanation. I quit agonizing over some spiritual lesson God was trying to teach me. Oh, I definitely learned things from the incident—like closing up my purse faster and trusting God for the money I’d lost—but I stopped imagining that every single thing that happened to me throughout the day was orchestrated by God for a divine reason that I had to figure out.

The phrase “everything happens for a reason” probably has multiple meanings to the many folks who utter it. But the word “reason” by definition means there is an explanation, a justification or rational grounds for what’s occurring. What’s implied is there is a good reason behind every single thing that occurs. I’m just not sure that fits life here on earth.


What’s the explanation for babies with cancer?

            What’s the justification for a married couple both having serious health issues at the same time?

            What’s the rational grounds for a young parent dying?

I honestly never figured out the  medical reason I got colorectal cancer at the age of 36 despite having no known risk factors. But I do know that “reason” did not have the final say in my life.

Remember Joseph, the young man in the Old Testament with the “coat of many colors?” His jealous brothers sold him into slavery, but he became a powerful person in Pharaoh’s court and eventually saved their lives. When his brothers finally asked for forgiveness for their evil actions, Joseph replied: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good.”

I don’t know why this trial has “intended” to harm you or your loved one, but I do know from Romans 8:28 God can “intend” it for good.

Please notice this is a conditional promise. The working-together-for-good only happens to people who “love God” and are “called according to his purpose.”

The very next verse explains what that means. It says God “chose them to become like his Son.” That’s our purpose in life: to become more like Jesus. Then and only then can we be assured that everything that happens to us—even bad things—will be used by God for good.

Whatever the “reason” a serious trial has intruded your life, here is my prayer for you today from Philippians 1:9-11— I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character of Jesus Christ—for this will bring much glory and praise to God. Amen

P.S. Thanks for reading this today—I do believe it happened for a good reason! 🙂
Copyright 2102 by Lynn Eib, 50 Days of Hope

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Aug 01

Do I Have to Go to Oz to Get Some Courage?

 

I am by nature a wimp.

I bruise and scar easily. Loud noises hurt my ears. I get motion sickness just turning around in the front seat of a car.

And I definitely do not like pain.

When I made the appointment for my first post-cancer colonoscopy (absolutely not scheduled to air on national TV like Katie Couric’s!), I told the secretary I wanted plenty of anesthesia because I had been uncomfortably awake during most of the procedure the first time with a different physician.

“Be sure and tell the doctor,” I instructed her. But her casual “uh-huh” left me feeling that she didn’t think it was a real priority.

“Write on my chart ‘Wimp—needs lots of anesthesia,’” I instructed her again. She laughed and I still wondered whether she knew how serious I was.

My question was answered a few weeks later when I met my new gastroenterologist, Dr. Jim Srour, just moments before he started the procedure. The I.V. already was running into my hand as he read my medical chart. “I see it says here that you are a wimp and need lots of anesthesia,” he said without cracking a smile.

“Yes, that’s me!” I exclaimed.

He instructed the nurse to put more anesthesia in my I.V., and that is how and why Jim Srour became my favorite gastroenterologist!

Like the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, I often feel I could use a dose of courage, but it’s not usually as easy as getting a little more medicine in an I.V. tube. But I do believe it is possible, even if we’re not naturally brave, to supernaturally receive courage for ourselves and even enough to share with others.

It’s important to understand that receiving supernatural courage is not the same as being a naturally brave person. It’s not something magical that happens to some people and not to others. No, you don’t have to go to Oz to find it.

The kind of courage I’m talking about is what God supernaturally pours into our hearts—even into ordinary, wimpy hearts like mine—through the power of His Spirit as we draw close to Him. And when He does, others notice—especially if we’re in a difficult situation.

“People tell me that I have a shine about me that they just don’t usually see in people,” says my friend Jutta, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003 and given two years to survive, but still cancer-free today. “I tell them that’s just a gift from God.”

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:7

Yes, it takes courage to live with life’s trials, but it’s not something we just have to reach way down deep into ourselves and find. No, instead, it’s power we receive from God to be strong even when we are weak.

I love psychiatrist M. Scott Peck’s thoughts on courage: “The absence of fear is not courage; the absence of fear is some kind of brain damage. Courage is the capacity to go ahead in spite of the fear, or in spite of the pain.”*

I know it is difficult to persevere in life’s trials, but I am convinced that it’s not the amount of our faith that gives us courage, it’s the object of our faith that makes all the difference.

Whenever I place my faith in God, I find courage. I don’t need luck, natural bravery, or a trip to the Wizard of Oz! You don’t need a lot of faith to find courage, but you do need to place your faith in the only One who can meet your deepest needs.

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage: I have overcome the world.–Jesus speaking in John 16:33

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.– Deuteronomy 31:8

* M.Scott Peck, Further Along the Road Less Traveled (New York: Touchstone, 1993), 23.

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Jul 25

Encouraging a Depressed Loved One

 

The word “encourage” means to inspire or fill someone with courage, spirit or hope. But how in the world do you encourage someone who is depressed?

To answer that difficult question, I’d like to share some thoughts from the book New Light on Depression by David Biebel, D.Min. and Harold Koenig, M.D.

“Family members, loved ones, and friends should encourage depressed persons—to get up in the morning, to go out to dinner, to go to a movie, to exercise with them, to do the things their depression is preventing them from enjoying, and to seek professional help if they are not doing so already. Once depressed people get out and start moving they often feel a lot better. Encouraging, however is not the same as forcing, manipulating, or cajoling, nor will arguing about it help much…Here, again, discernment is crucial so that your suggestions are made in the right way at the right time, to ensure the greatest likelihood that they will be accepted.

“One way to encourage a depressed friend to get out (and to get help) is to find a good depression support group and invite your loved one to attend it with you.” [1]

Biebel and Koenig identify “four helping patterns” they have seen Christians employ with their depressed family and friends-only one of which really helps. These are:

  1. Judging (“Your problem is caused by sin or lack of faith”)
  2. Giving advice (“Cheer up—things could be worse!”),i
  3. Identification (sympathizing so much that you get sucked into the pit of depression, too) and
  4. Empathy (suffering together with the person).

According to the authors “Only empathy really helps.” [2] Empathizers deeply feel the other person’s pain, without making it their own.

“The empathizer goes and gets a ladder, puts it in the pit, and climbs down to be with the depressed person until he or she is ready to climb out,” the authors say. “The key difference is that the empathizer has a goal in mind—not just to feel the depressed person’s pain, but to also act in a sense as a redeemer, willing to pay whatever cost there is in order for the other person to be healed

“If you are really going to help your loved one through and beyond depression, the only way is to lay aside your rights, by choice, with the goal of serving that person’s best interests until he or she emerges into the light of day again.” [3]

Got a ladder? Put it down in your depressed loved one’s pit, climb down with them and pray for them until they can climb out.

Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck.
 Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold.
I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me.
I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched.
My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me… 
Answer my prayers, O Lordfor your unfailing love is wonderful.
Take care of me, for your mercy is so plentiful.
Don’t hide from your servant; answer me quickly, for I am in deep trouble!
 Come and redeem me; free me from my enemies. Psalm 69:1-3, 16-18

O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health. Psalm 30:2

[1] David B. Biebel and Harold G. Koenig New Light on Depression: Help, Hope, and Answers for the Depressed and Those Who Love Them (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House), 2004, 233.
[2] Ibid, 246.
[3] Ibid, 248-249.

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Jul 18

How Your Mind Can Help Heal Your Body

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

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

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

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

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

Your beliefs create your thoughts.

Your thoughts generate feelings.

Your feelings affect your body’s healing systems.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jul 11

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But it doesn’t work that way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jul 04

Celebrating a Second Chance at Life Together

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As if I ever could forget.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jun 27

God Has Unimaginable Power for Your Life

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jun 20

Do You Like Life Easy or Hard?

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Jun 13

I’m Not Hanging on Any Longer

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

Instead…I’ve decided to let go.

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

I’m letting go…so I can just be held.

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

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

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

Jun 06

What to Do When the Stress Never Ends

 

I just needed to hang in there until May 31.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Just when I almost had made it to May 31.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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