Are you telling yourself the truth?

Do you remember the old game show “To Tell the Truth”?

My mother and I enjoyed watching that daytime show in the ’60s, but if you’re not familiar with it then or the later remakes, here’s the gist.

Three people introduce themselves as the same person–a real individual  who has an incredible story to tell. Of course, only one is telling the truth. Four celebrity panelists ask the contestants questions to try and determine whom they believe.

Sometimes my mom and I spotted the truth-teller, but other times we totally believed the convincing, but wrong person.

As a trained journalist, I like to think of myself as a diehard truth-teller. But while my writing facts are accurate, I know some of the things I tell myself (and believe) are not truth-filled. Especially when I’m physically tired and emotionally overwhelmed, my self-talk can sink into lies or at least half-truths. (I don’t know about you, but those old, discouraging “tapes” in my brain can really take over!)

Christian psychologist, the late Dr. William Backus defines self-talk as “the words we tell ourselves about people, self, experiences, life in general, God, the future, the past…all the words you say to yourself all the time.

Dr. Backus further explains that “In emotional and mental health, what you believe is all important…Other people, circumstances, events and material things are not what make you happy. What you believe about these things is what makes you happy or unhappy.”

That’s why if you don’t want to be fooled by untruths, Dr.Backus says you need to do three things:

  1. Locate your misbeliefs
  2. Remove them.
  3. Replace the misbeliefs with truth.

Here are just a few truths Dr. Backus recommends we tell ourselves:

  • Even if the thing I’m worrying about happens, I can face it without falling apart because God’s Word says my strength is made perfect in weakness.
  • I am not responsible for providing the solutions to everyone’s problems because others can minister as well.
  • God has created me as an emotional being so I can expect to have emotions. But God also has given me the fruit of the Spirit: self-control. I will control my feelings so they can’t control me.

Jesus explained the real source of lies is Satan himself: “He has always hated the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

In contrast, one of the phrases Jesus often spoke was “I tell you the truth” or “Verily, verily” as the KJV translates it. He is the ultimate truth-teller and can be trusted.

Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous?
Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. –Psalm 34:12-13

The psalmist might have been thinking about not lying to others, but I believe that spiritual truth applies also to what we tell ourselves.

So what are you facing that needs some truth-telling?  Illness? A chronic health condition?  Divorce? Financial struggles? A wayward child? Grief? Loneliness?

Whatever it is, dear friend, please tell yourself and believe this truth from Dr. Backus: “My circumstances don’t have to be pleasant or happy because my joy comes from my relationship with God and His unchanging faithfulness.”

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise…Then the God of peace will be with you. –Philippians 4:8-9

Open in your browser to hear the powerful song “Voice of Truth”  © 2003 by Casting Crowns. 

Why We Don’t Lose Heart

A few years ago when my grandson Ben was only 3, we chatted while browsing my wedding album from 1973.

My engagement photo

ME: Do you know who that is?

BEN: Grandma.

ME: That’s right. Grandma when I was young.

BEN: Why you turn out not young anymore?

ME: That’s the same thing I’ve been wondering.


“Where has the time gone?” is just one of the many things I wonder about these days as my 70th birthday nears.

I wonder, too, about scientific things, because despite my father teaching high school biology, I find much of science mind-boggling—especially the fact that most of this world is invisible to us.

The only portion of the electromagnet spectrum that the human eye can detect is visible light, but we sure depend on the rest of those electromagnetic waves to get us through the day. Very long radio waves allow us not only to listen to the radio, but also watch TV, use the microwave, and talk on cell phones. And at the other end of the spectrum, short X-rays give us useful information about our health, while even shorter gamma rays make possible specialized radiation treatment.

And much of the world isn’t just invisible, it’s inaudible, too. The human ear only can hear a portion of sounds—those in the 2-20 kilohertz range. Dogs can hear much higher frequencies (up to 60KHz,) as can cats, who always pretend they can’t.

A 2016 CNN report described a dog named Lucy, who was kicked out of guide dog school because she was too distracted by odors. So her owners decided to take advantage of her sniffing prowess and train her to find malignancies. Lucy was reported to correctly sniff out cancer 95-percent of the time over a seven-year period. 

Other dogs have accurately identified melanoma by sniffing moles and prostate cancer by taking a whiff of urine. (We already have CAT scans, why not DOG sniffs?)

And if you really want to blow your mind about the invisibility of our world, check out all the scientists and science writers who say what we can see is only a fraction of the whole universe. Most of them say the stars, planets and galaxies that can be seen make up only 2- to 4-percent of the universe. The remaining 96- to 98-percent can’t be seen, detected or even comprehended by astronomers!

Nature reminds us that what we see is not all there is.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away,  yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.   For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

All of us truly are visibly “wasting away”—either from the effects of disease, or because you, like me, inevitably are closer to “turn out not young anymore.” Yet deep inside our invisible souls, God is able to renew and refresh.

And when we see Him one day face-to-face, the incredible joy, love, peace and glory awaiting all Christ-followers will make cancer and every one of earth’s trials seem like “light and momentary troubles.”

Don’t fix your eyes on what is seen. Don’t fix them on pathology reports, news headlines, statistics or anything else you can see. No matter what this life brings, fix your eyes on what is unseen

Now may the LORD of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation.
The LORD be with you all.
2 Thessalonians 3:16 

Excerpted from Peace in the Face of Cancer, Lynn Eib ©2017.
Open in your browser to enjoy  “God of Wonders” with Third Day.

The Goodness of God and the “Badness” of Life

The other morning as I listened to CeCe Winans belt out the song “The Goodness of God,” I suddenly had flashbacks of “bad” things I’ve experienced in my nearly seven decades of living.

A Mother’s Day miscarriage.

A life-threatening cancer diagnosis.

Untimely deaths of dear friends.

Painful turmoil in churches.

Addiction crises ending in suicides.

Heartbreaking marriage problems in friends and families.

Heartfelt prayers without the hoped-for answer.

I began to feel an overwhelming sadness and asked myself: How can I sing the words “all my life You have been faithful; all my life You have been so, so good” when I know I have seen a lot of so, so bad?

How about you? Have you ever asked the question “God, if you’re so good, why has this happened?” Or ” Lord, why hasn’t this happened?”

I sure have.

Why now, Lord?

Why them, Father?

Why, again, God?

Why didn’t You do what I know You have the power to do?

I don’t think the Creator of the Universe is dismayed at all by our honest questions. Just read through the Psalms and you will hear the writers pleading with God.

Some want Him to hurry up…

Lord, hear my prayer! Listen to my plea!
Don’t turn away from me in my time of distress.
Bend down to listen, and answer me quickly when I call to you. Psalm 102:1-2

Some feel incredibly discouraged…

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. Psalm 69:1-3

During that recent morning of listening to “the goodness of God,” while visualizing the “badness” of life, the explanation came to me.

All of life is not good, but all of God is.

“The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth “is how God described Himself to Moses.

Yes, God is good…all the time. He is good in the good times and He is good in the bad times. He doesn’t prove His goodness by making life easy or fair or happy. We can trust that His goodness is simply His character and cannot be changed.

As author Chris Tiegreen explains it: “Real faith recognizes God’s nature against all visible circumstances and says ‘I know who You are, I know You’re good, even if I can’t see Your goodness right now’.”

And as Psalm 23 promises “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Won’t you join CeCe Winans today and sing about “The Goodness of God”?

(Be sure to open this blog in your browser to hear the music video.)

Incredible Getaway for Cancer Journeyers (at a very reduced price)!

Walking through cancer is a journey…so whether you’re 20 days in or 20+ years out of treatment (or anywhere in between), this incredible getaway is just for YOU! (And if you haven’t been diagnosed personally, please share this great opportunity with your family and friends who have.)

The 240-acre Oaks Retreat Center near San Diego, CA is the perfect place to find the restoration and rejuvenation we all need – mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Join NY Times bestselling author BOB GOFF,  musician-cancer survivor TIM TIMMONS, comedian-magician TAYLOR HUGHES, and the person-with-the most-cancer-survivor-friends, ME  🙂  as we offer hope, humor, and healing for the journey…unlocking what’s inside and releasing the YOU the world still needs! (And God wants to use!)

At this getaway, you will be poured into and surrounded by inspirational people in a safe environment with others on a cancer journey–who understand your journey like few rarely do. You will have plenty of opportunities to connect with one another or simply to be alone.

There are stunning views to enjoy, hiking trails, pickle ball courts, a swimming pool, cozy nooks in the cafe (complete with a fireplace), rocking chairs throughout the campus, and carefully crafted experiences to help you unlock where you are on your journey and what you need to thrive along the way. (Horseback riding and massage therapy are available for an additional charge.)

The cost includes two nights’ lodging, meals, snacks, and all the retreat sessions. Thanks to special funding, those costs are one-third to one-half of the usual price for a three-day Oaks Retreat with Bob Goff! (A few scholarships also are available for those with financial needs.)

It’s been almost 33 years since my cancer diagnosis and I still consider myself a cancer journeyer living in its shadow. But I’m  so grateful to be finding God’s light to lead me on the way. I would love to meet or reconnect with you June 5-7 at The Oaks Retreat Center and walk some of your journey with you.

Space is limited, so sign up today using this link:  Unlocking YOU

Blessings of HOPE,

Please open in your browser to enjoy the song “Cast My Cares” by Tim Timmons, diagnosed in 2001 with inoperable liver cancer and given a life expectancy of only five years.


Are you in control or out of it?

For me, the best part of playing FreeCell Solitaire is that every single game is winnable because I can use CRTL-Z!Image result

You know what CTRL stands for, right? CONTROL! I’m in control and if the game gets out-of-control and I might lose, I simply undo some of my moves until  everything turns out the way I wanted. (Current win streak is 1,147!) It’s the perfect game for a perfectionist like me who loves to be in control and who hates to lose!

Don’t you wish life had a CTRL-Z button? You could hit it and delete the circumstances that broke your heart. Or you could tap it and erase all the anxiety and the worry. Or you could strike those keys and stop the very first cells from becoming cancerous.  Or at the very least, you could type that command and undo all the treatment side effects. Somehow, some way, you could control a situation until everything turned out just the way you wanted.

Mary, a longtime member of my morning cancer support group, never forgot the out-of-control feeling brought on by her diagnosis of non-small cell lung cancer, just 19 months after she was widowed. Not only did Mary feel out-of-control, but the cancer looked out-of-control, as it already had spread to her liver and bones.

However, within a few months of starting chemo and radiation, scans showed the disease was responding. The liver spots disappeared, the bone lesions stabilized and the lung tumor shrunk by half.

“I could just squeal, I’m so happy,” she told me. “I’m so grateful to God every day.

“I have my moments when it’s hard,” she acknowledged. “But my peace comes from knowing God has a plan and He’s way smarter than I am. If I don’t understand it now, I will later.

“We all pray that we get our own way and we think we know what’s best, but He is the one who does,” Mary said. “I know that’s easy to say, but it’s not always so easy to do.

“I find myself asking God: ‘Could I just have a little control? I want your will, but could I have just a little of mine?’” she added with a laugh.

I really appreciate Mary’s honesty and the fact she recognized the humor in desiring God’s will, but on her own terms. *

If like Mary and me, your anxiety comes not from just thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it, I have some good advice for us from Proverbs 3:5-6. Here’s how The Message Bible paraphrases it:

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.

Quit searching for life’s CRTL-Z button and stop fooling yourself that you can be in charge of it all. We never really were in control, so we might as well get “out” of control by doing just as this beautiful song below says:

I lift my hands to heavenHear my heart surrenderI tell my soul againYou are Lord of all
And though the seas are ragingYou will speak and tame themIn You I find my restYou are in control

Adapted from Peace in the Face of Cancer, ©2017 by Lynn Eib

*My dear friend Mary passed away peacefully more than seven happy years after the first doctor told her there was “no hope.”
Please enjoy the short music video “In Control”  ©2016 Hillsong Music Publishing.

Dancing for “Stable”: My oncologist has cancer (Part 10)


As an adjective, Merriam-Webster defines it as “not changing or fluctuating” and gives it synonyms like firm, solid, steady, secure, fixed and strong.

Those words have positive connotations and especially when applied to a disease not considered curable. Like the very large, very rare, neuroendocrine carcinoma of thymus origin lurking behind the heart of my oncologist and dear friend, Dr. Marc Hirsh.

When I got the good news last week that his scan at Hershey Medical Center once again showed the tumor was stable, I was elated! However, as you can see, my text response was decidedly understated. That’s because I was sitting at a nice restaurant with three women who had driven half an hour to meet me and discuss broadening their cancer support ministry–so, it didn’t seem appropriate to be scrolling through my phone for just the right celebratory emoji!

Marc’s Hershey visit was with a new oncologist (his former one retired) who had mountains of records to read regarding this incredible journey which began in late May 2020. Marc was so sick and the prognosis was so poor back then that he immediately closed his three-decade old, solo-oncology practice.

Because no effective treatment was known, Marc devised his own protocol consisting of monthly hormone injections, daily radiation and an oral chemo.

“So far your regimen is working,” the new oncologist told him.

Marc isn’t ready to give the treatment all the credit because he also believes in the healing power of God.

“Whatever the reason (the tumor is stable), I’m just grateful to have the time,” he told me me on the phone.

So I asked this 72-year-old beloved physician, husband, dad, and grandfather how he uses this gift of “extra” time (besides enjoying family!).

“I read four or five hours a day–books on medicine, philosophy, science and theology; newspapers and magazines,” he replied. “I exercise an hour or two a day, play piano about an hour.”

Oh, and he’s rereading the entire Bible–something he first did in 1973 at the age of 29 after a  good-looking lifeguard at his apartment pool promised him that “if you pray and read the Bible with an open mind, God will reveal Himself to you.”

Marc and the lifeguard have now been married 42 years and shared the ups and downs of life together–including both being diagnosed with COVID-19 in December after attending Marc’s family reunion in New York.

Elizabeth’s symptoms resembled a mild cold. But with the nearly 2.5-inch tumor behind Marc’s heart and one of his lungs damaged from an initial collapse, he fared much worse.

“I had very serious symptoms and was surprised how much pain I had,” he said.

Flat on his back for two weeks, his oxygen levels dropped, but never so low as to need intervention. Both are grateful for vaccinations and boosters, which they feel may have saved his life or at least prevented hospitalization.

Marc admits that he was “slightly worried” heading into this last checkup because of lingering COVID-19 symptoms. But after he and Elizabeth got the good news of “stable” they celebrated.

“When we got home, I poured us each a glass of Moscato (wine) and we danced to some old 45s,” he said. “It was nice.”

Marc, we rejoice with you both that the tumor is “unchanging” and most of all that our God is too.

Jesus Christ never changes! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. –Hebrews 13:8

As always, I close with a song by Rich Mullins, Marc and Elizabeth’s favorite Christian artist. This one is called “You’re My One Thing” and based on Matthew 5:8 in the Sermon on the Mount, one of Marc’s favorite passages.



The Queen of Recycling

Probably not many people outside of my immediate family know this, but…I am the Queen of Recycling!

Yes, it’s true. I attained this title by memorizing what’s recyclable and then fanatically making sure nothing gets missed. I even bring home all the plastic containers from fast-food restaurants so I can rinse and toss everything into the recycling bin (also eases my guilt a little for eating fast-food).

My daughters know that I will be looking in their kitchen trash and recycling containers to make sure items are in the correct bin and will lovingly move them if necessary. However, I do refrain from inspecting friends’ kitchens and making the same adjustments. (Well, maybe I’ve moved a few items at our good friends’ house across the street.)

My obsession got a huge boost a few years ago when our local trash hauler built Total Recycle, a  multi-million-dollar “groundbreaking state-of-the-art single-stream recycling facility.”

Since then we have been able to recycle all kinds of flexible plastic packaging like candy bar wrappers, drink pouches, plastic wrap, and all those bags for chips, pet food, groceries and food storage,

We have weekly, curbside recycling pickup and our big blue pail always is full, sometimes spilling over into two smaller containers. (Disclaimer: I don’t always wear my crown when I take out the bin, but I wanted you to know my royalty is legit.)

Christmas 1980

And why am I so committed to recycling, you ask? I’ve decided it’s in my DNA.

My mother, born during the Great Depression, was the oldest of nine and learned from an early age to salvage, safeguard and save everything possible.  (In photo: my Barbie doll clothes she  made from fabric scraps and I handed down to my girls.)

Mom’s thriftiness carried over into my marriage, especially during those years of me staying home to  raise a family on a not-very-large pastoral salary.  I don’t need to scrimp and save like I used to, but repurposing, reusing, and restoring things (especially OLD things!) just seems to be in my nature.

And that got me thinking about the God I love and serve.

He doesn’t just recycle…He refreshes. He renews. And He restores.

It’s His nature.

And the One sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!”
-Revelation 21:5

And while much of that promise refers to the final restoration of a new Heaven and a new Earth, there are still plenty of promises that God makes things new right now.

What would you like to see restored in your life? Relationships? Health? Peace of mind? Hope?

What needs renewing in your world? Your marriage? Your thoughts? Your words? Your attitude?

Hear God’s message to you:

Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin anew every morning.
–Lamentations 3:23

So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support and strengthen you,
and He will place you on a firm foundation
–1 Peter 5:10

When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs.
–Psalm 84:6

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away,
yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
–2 Corinthians 4:16

Perhaps  Psalm 51:10 could be your prayer today: Create in me a clean heart, O God; restore within me a sense of being brand new.

And whenever you recycle something, don’t think about me, the Queen of Recycling. Instead stop and thank the King of Creation who can renew, refresh and restore your walk with Him.
I hope you’re blessed by the song “You Make All Things New” by Big Daddy Weave ©2019 CURB/Word Entertainment .

Shock, Despair, Peace and Hope

Carolyn and Mark, Vermont vacation a few weeks before diagnosis

Last year when my friend Carolyn took ornaments off the Christmas tree, she wondered what changes would come to her family before she unpacked them again.

Never could she have imagined what 2022 would bring.

But neither could she have foreseen what God was going to supply for one of the most difficult years of her 59-year-old life.

First, in May of last year, a freak boating accident claimed the life of her brother-in-law, a respected radiologist.

Then in July after returning from a wonderful Vermont family vacation, two weeks of random stomach pain led her to consult a doctor, who thought she had a gallstone. But a scan showed something much more ominous: advanced pancreatic cancer related to an inherited gene mutation.

“Shock, tears and wrestling to understand, ” Carolyn recalls. “My daily life–and our family’s–as we knew it was over.”

This diagnosis was her “worst nightmare” as her mother died from ovarian cancer when Carolyn was only 9.

Carolyn’s genetic BRCA mutation, (which was found through testing I did with her many years ago at my oncologist’s office) is associated primarily with increased risk of breast or ovarian cancer. She had taken great pains to lower those risks, but now found herself among the 1-to 3-percent of carriers  who develop pancreatic cancer, for which no reliable early detection exists.

Multiple complications and severe chemo toxicity early on in treatment landed Carolyn in the hospital for extended stays three times in only two months.

“One night as I lay awake in the hospital, my left leg twice the size of my right and throbbing from a blood clot, I was trying to pray… pleading with God,” Carolyn recalls.” Was He even there? Had He abandoned me?

“Then these words came into my mind: ‘Are you willing to suffer for My glory?'” Carolyn says. “I knew immediately this was the Lord speaking.”

She didn’t have to think long before whispering: “Yes, Lord, of course.”

The words “for My glory” lingered in Carolyn’s mind because as a longtime journalist (we actually met in 1988 while covering a civil trial in a Harrisburg courtroom), she always has said “my mission with my writing is to use it for God’s glory.”

“Could it be that the best story I would write to showcase God’s glory would be my own?”

Much has changed since the first oncologist didn’t seem to think treatment could help. Seven months later, Carolyn’s tumor marker has decreased by more than 90-percent, the liver lesions have shrunk, and her current oncologist gives her something crucial: Hope. This month she starts a clinical trial with that Philadelphia oncologist who specializes in BRCA-related pancreatic cancer.

“I have come a long way since last fall when I told Mark to put me on hospice,” she says. “I had lost all hope in the midst of intense physical suffering…but God broke through and I was able to feel Him and talk to Him again. I was filled with a wondrous peace that sustains me still.”

Becky, Olivia, Amy & Carolyn

Carolyn doesn’t know what her future holds, but she’s looking forward to May when oldest daughter Olivia gets married and middle daughter Becky graduates from law school.

“It’s pretty hard for a planner like me not to let my mind wander too far down the road,” she acknowledges. “But there is great relief and peace in being utterly at God’s mercy, one day at a time.

“Every day I approach the throne of grace with boldness, asking God to save my earthly life.”

She also ponders one of her favorite Oswald Chambers’ quotes:

“Are you in the dark just now in your circumstances, or in your life with God?
Then remain quiet…When you are in the dark, listen and
 God will give you a very precious message for someone else when you get into the light.”

I’m trusting that Carolyn’s words will be a “precious message” for someone today.

As soon as I heard the song “Desert Road” by Casting Crowns, I thought of my dear friend Carolyn.

Do You Have Home-Field Advantage?

Granddaughter Abby, 8, with her sign: “Go Hurts! You’re our #1 guy!”


And if you’re wondering what that announcement has to do with words to the weary, I must tell you that I started writing this blog in my mind as I lay awake in the middle of the night after the Eagles’ win. So it must be divine inspiration, right? (Keep reading to decide for yourself if that’s true!)

I was a big sports fan even before I graduated from THE Ohio State University. It’s fascinating how schools, especially ones the size of Ohio State and Penn State, have far better winning records at home. Their 100,000+-seat football stadiums filled with cheering crowds give them something called “home-field advantage.” Studies show home teams on average win 55%-70% of the time (and this phenomenon is not limited to football or colleges).

Several years ago the Boston Red Sox started the season 22-5 at home, with pitcher Roy Oswalt posting a 10-0 record at Fenway Park. When our middle daughter played basketball at Houghton (N.Y.) College, her team was 32-0 at home.

Which brings me back to “my” Eagles, who, as the top team in their division, competed at home for all their playoff games.

Sunday Tweet from former Eagle Chris Long

Eagles Head Coach Nick Sirianni predicted the advantage like this: “Our crowd inspires us. Our crowd makes it difficult for the opposing team with how much communication that has to happen…It’s going to be loud. We’ll feed off that…”

Sunday’s Philly crowd of almost 70,000 roared at 95 decibels most of the Eagles’ 31-7 win. (Not to brag, but our family’s “crowd” of 7 adults and 7 children hit 91 decibels during our off-key rendition of “Fly, Eagles Fly!”)

Sports psychologists don’t know for sure why the home team tends to win, but surmise that the presence of people who feel for us and with us helps bring out the best in us. Their cheers convey: “We care. We think you’re great. We’re proud of you.” And athletes respond by giving their best.

It’s the same way when we’re going through life’s trials, (which can bring out the worst in us). Having friends and family “cheer” us on can bring out the best in us: home-field advantage! 

It doesn’t matter how tough, strong, independent we are—the Bible says we shouldn’t try to go it alone.

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.
If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble…
A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.
Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”-
-Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Bethany’s first (and last!) marathon in 2018 with Bauer, 7, running the last mile while cheering her on

We need to be willing to allow others to come along side and help us even though we probably would rather be on the giving end than the receiving. It’s humbling to let a friend scrub your toilets, mow your yard, or drive you to a doctor’s appointment, but when we turn down acts of kindness, we’re robbing others the joy of giving!

I hope as you face sickness or other life struggles, that you’re welcoming friends and family as your “cheering” crowd. Otherwise, it’s like choosing to play all your games away—no home-field advantage!

And if you’re blessed not to be facing any trials right now, please ask God to show you someone whose load you could lighten by cheering them on–maybe you’ll even hit 95 decibels!
I hope you’re encouraged by this Michael W. Smith song “I Will Carry You.”

God’s Answer to My Unrealistic Prayer

I distinctly remember a day in August 1980 as one of the saddest of my then 26-year-old life.

August ’80 church going-away reception

My husband and I, our two little girls in our arms, watched the moving van pull away with all our worldly belongings. Tears streamed as I said goodbye to my dearest friend, Gigi, her husband George and their three little boys. I finally had a friend with whom I could share the ups and downs of mothering, marriage and ministry, but my husband’s new job was taking me away. (He later called that move one of his “worst decisions ever.”)

This is the story of how that decision led to God answering my seems-to-be-too-good-to-be-true prayer.

When our oldest daughter Danielle was 6 weeks old, the Gaffgas moved to our western New York village (think, one stoplight and lots of lake-effect snow!) . Their towheaded boys were 1 and 3. George pastored the Presbyterian church on one corner; my husband shepherded the Baptist flock on the opposite one. The church-provided parsonages were across the street from one another.

Our husbands enjoyed wonderful ministry between the two churches, as well as George’s practical jokes. A “For Sale” sign on our church lawn. A cracked toilet with a potted plant on our parsonage front porch…You get the idea.

In the spring of 1980, Gigi delivered a third boy six weeks after I delivered our second daughter. I had no car, no spending money, and no family nearby. But I had a friend right across the street who understood me, listened to me and prayed for me.

After our move to Connecticut, we stayed in contact mostly through letters–too expensive to call long distance! After they moved to Long Island and we moved (again!) to start a new church in Pennsylvania, we vacationed  together every summer at a free beach house on the Great Peconic Bay.

Our kids, summer ’88

Our kids (now numbering six after adding a third daughter in Connecticut!) swam and played Monopoly together while our husbands sailed the bay and Gigi and I played the word game Boggle.

Jamie’s high school graduation ’95

Through the years we occasionally reconnected at family graduations and weddings. Eventually technology made staying in touch much easier–texts, phone calls and online Boggle fun. Finally, we all retired–us to our current home and George and Gigi to Colorado.

When the frightening reality of the pandemic hit, Gigi became my steady contact with the outside world. We Boggled everyday to distract us from the isolation, FaceTimed while working on jigsaw puzzles, and encouraged one another that God’s love never fails.

Fast forward to early last year when my elderly neighbor across the street (in a one-story house exactly like ours) had another stroke and was hospitalized for months. Each morning as I sat at my dining room table reading my Bible and gazing at Paul’s house, I prayed for his recovery, but I added something else.

“Lord, if he can’t come home and be safe, please let George and Gigi buy his house and move here.”

It was quite an unrealistic prayer.

Even though Psalm 37:4 says that God “will give you the desires of your heart,” I know that doesn’t mean you always get whatever you wish for. But I do think God sometimes does put an “unrealistic” prayer on your heart because it is His desire.

So I prayed.  And when I found out in August that my neighbor needed to sell his house, I told the Gaffgas about my prayer.  Because they had been wishing they were nearer to their Philly-area son (a single dad with two young daughters), they started praying too.

Dec. ’22 and YES we laugh a lot!

I will summarize the next few months as a whirlwind of negotiating, planning, questioning, pleading and believing. But a week before Christmas, they moved into their new home–across the street just like nearly 45 years ago.

We have come full circle. (Except now we try to get our husbands to nap at the same time instead of our toddlers 🙂 )

We raised our children together and now we will dote on our grandkids together. We cared for our church families and now we will care for each other.

And we will pray the Lord uses our deep friendship to deepen His image in each of us…as together we praise the God who makes “unrealistic” prayers come true.
I pray my story has encouraged you to embrace the message of this song by Passion: “There’s Nothing that Our God Can’t Do.”