The Lesson I Learned from a C-5 Cargo Plane

Raise your hand if you have never been in the military, but you have flown in a C-5 cargo plane?

I’m guessing I may be the only one wildly waving my arm.

“C-5 Galaxy” by Chad Horwedel is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Perhaps at an air show, some of you have had the pleasure of walking around inside the cargo section of the largest U.S. military transport. According to airforce-technology.com, the C-5 can carry two Abrams tanks; one tank and two Bradley fighting vehicles; 10 LAV light armored vehicles; or six Apache helicopters. (Popular Mechanics adds that almost 25 million ping-pong balls also could fit inside!)

In the summer of 1973, my father was a civilian personnel officer stationed at Bitburg AFB (Germany). As long as I was his dependent, I could have free stand-by flights between our homes.  I had flown commercial to Germany and was not at all concerned that the only return flight was on military transport.

Perfect example of ignorance is bliss.

The C-5 seating area had absolutely no windows and conversation with seat mates proved impossible over the engines’ roar.  Each passenger was handed three items: a motion sickness pill, ear plugs and a heavy blanket. Drinking water was available in a bucket, along with a metal dipper and paper cups. We were told bag lunches would be provided if the flight wasn’t too turbulent.

“C-5_4” by marksontok is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I was woefully unprepared for how austere this 13-hour flight was going to be, although my first clue should have come when I was in the boarding line and a young airmen behind me inquired, “Miss, would you like some help?”

I turned and gave him a sweet smile and a quick “no, thank you.” After all, I was an independent 19-year-old college senior who, of course, could take care of herself.

And then I got to the cargo entrance and saw the narrow, vertical ladder.

It went straight up through the belly of the cargo area and into a small opening.

I quickly searched for the kind airman, told him I’d reconsidered, handed over my belongings, and slowly began ascending the steep ladder. I doubt the airman recalled his good deed from that day, but I have never forgotten it…and the lesson it’s still teaching me 48 years later:

Photo by Linda DuBose from FreeImages

I’m inclined to hang on to baggage.

Sometimes I lug around negative emotions which steal my peace. (What, me worry?) Other times I hold on to unhealthy habits which stifle my spiritual growth. (Perfectionism, anyone?)

How about you? What’s weighing you down today? Fear of the unknown or even of what is known? Concern for  friend or family member? Maybe  a physical burden which gives way to an emotional or mental weight?

Psalm 68:19 has good news for all of us baggage carriers:
Praise be to the LORD, the God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.

And Jesus offers a wonderful solution for our predicaments:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Put My yoke on your shoulders–it might appear heavy at first,
but it is perfectly fitted to your curves.
Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.
When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest.
For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
–Matthew 11:28-30 The Voice Bible

What baggage are you holding on to as you face a steep climb of circumstances? I recommend you do what I continually have to do… swallow your pride and hand your burdens to Jesus. (He’s even better than a really kind airman.)
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Don’t miss  the music video  by Austin French–it’s only about 3 minutes and will help you experience “Rest for Your Soul.” (Be sure to open in your browser.)

 

How to Love Yourself as Your Neighbor

For most of the past four decades I’ve been a caregiver for family members who were either physically or mentally unwell. I’ve had a relative with dementia living in our home for years, and I’ve made biweekly seven-hour car trips for months to be with another one undergoing chemo. I’ve been so physically fatigued I had to literally crawl up the stairs, and I’ve been so emotionally drained I’ve spent hundreds of dollars to pour out my woes to a counselor.

I’ve nursed my wonderful husband through replacements of three knees (yes, three!) and two shoulders. Thankfully, he is progressing well after his most recent bionic joint and now can drive, dress himself and even comb the back of his hair with his left hand!

Caregiving is incredibly hard. I get it.

But I also know we make helping others even harder when we fail to take good care of ourselves. Even if you’re not a caregiver, you probably have many people in your life counting on your aid. So don’t forget one of the two most important commandments:  “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-39).

Don’t miss those last two words: “as yourself.” The Bible doesn’t just say to “love your neighbor”–it says that loving them starts with loving ourselves.

It is not selfish to do something refreshing, rejuvenating, or relaxing for yourself.  Your “emotional tank” doesn’t come with a loud, flashing warning when it’s getting low. Instead, you have to pay attention to the telltale signs in your life.

Credit Unsplash

And when that figurative tank does need refilling, I recommend three sources of emotional replenishment: From yourself, from others, and supernaturally from God.

  • Make your own deposits by finding ways to “be good to yourself.” Watch a funny movie, enjoy a massage, go fishing, get a pedicure, take a walk, hit a bucket of balls, or catch a nap. What rejuvenates me may not do the same for you, but you can figure out what makes you feel better. (Don’t settle for the temporary fixes of alcohol or drugs because they will quickly drain your peace as soon as they wear off.) If you can’t leave your family member alone, this is the time to call in one of those offers of help others have made. Do something to lift your spirits so afterward you can once again lift someone else’s.
  • Ask your friends and family to do things for you and with you that will enrich your emotional well-being. People cannot read your mind, so clearly tell them a specific way to make a deposit in your tank. If you don’t think you have friends who can improve your life, then ask God to provide the needed person. The Apostle Paul described how God once sent someone to encourage him at just the right time.

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

  • And  finally, spend time with God, asking Him to pour into you His supernatural hope, love, strength, and, yes, even peace as you take care of someone else.

The LORD gives his people strength.
The LORD blesses them with peace
. Psalm 29:11

The most loving thing you may do for your loved one today is to be good to yourself. Love yourself so you can truly love your “neighbor.”

Adapted from Peace in the Face of Cancer ©Lynn Eib 2017
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Make sure to open in your browser to hear the music video “Rest for Your Soul” by Austin French.

Turning 70 and Celebrating One Year as a Survivor: My Oncologist Has Cancer (Part 6)

Today Dr. Marc Hirsh, my oncologist, my brother in faith and my dear friend, turns 70. I know others who have recently, or will soon, reach this milestone, but none I’m celebrating more than this guy.

An early celebration with staff and a chocolate cake.

That’s because shortly after his birthday last year, Marc was diagnosed with a rare atypical carcinoid tumor of the thymus gland. The 12cm mass behind his heart had caused inflammation of the heart lining, collapsed one lung, difficulty breathing, and terrible pain. It seemed there would be no more birthday celebrations for this man who had dedicated his life to trying to help cancer patients, including me, enjoy more time.

“When I was diagnosed, I honestly thought there was a good chance I was going to die soon,” Marc explained as we chatted on the phone this week. “Some of the doctors at (Johns) Hopkins and other places were pretty pessimistic too, but I’m still here.”

Marc will celebrate seven decades of living by going tent-camping for a few days with his younger daughter and his 7-year-old grandson.

“It is tiring, but I like it,” he explained. (His wife Elizabeth says she now prefers the comfort of her bed over a sleeping bag on the ground and only will be joining the trio during daytime!)

When I asked Marc if he also was celebrating one year as a cancer survivor, he quickly answered.

“Definitely. I’m grateful to feel as good as I do and to be able to do things a year later,” he said. In addition to multiple camping outings, he plans to kayak, paddle board and take out his pontoon boat soon.

However, like many cancer survivors he’s having to get used to a “new normal.”

“I’m adjusting to my new reality–without my practice and without Jake,”  Marc said. (His illness forced the immediate closure of his 31-year-old oncology-hematology practice in Hanover, PA, and a few months later, his beloved rescue dog, Jake–who went to the office with him every day– had to be put down.)

“I feel like in the past year I went from age 50 to age 70,” Marc explained. “I don’t have the strength and stamina I did before. I feel old and I never felt old–it’s something I don’t like.”

But Marc is thankful for some aspects of this new life.

“I’m getting to do a lot of things I enjoy, but never had time for,” he said. “I’m relearning a lot of classical (piano) music, reading a lot and doing sports with my grandson.”  (Before his two granddaughters returned to their West Coast home, they enjoyed music and science lessons with him, as well as some serious Lego building!)

“I’m adjusting to my new reality and I look forward to future events,” Marc said. “Elizabeth and I are really enjoying each other and I’m getting a lot of satisfaction from my marriage. I feel like I’m in a good place spiritually. I have good faith and I don’t have many moments of fear.”

And this birthday has been especially sweet because of all the cards he’s been receiving from friends, patients and colleagues.

“It’s crazy how many birthday cards I’ve gotten,” he said. “It’s really beautiful that so many people care about me. A lot have handwritten notes thanking me for things I’ve done. I’m really grateful and humbled by all of them.

LifeHopeandTruth.com

“I was flooded with cards when I was first diagnosed and to know that people still think about me a year later is really heartwarming,” he added.

When I asked Marc what was especially encouraging to him these days, he said “I seem to be feeling a deeper sense of God and love that is almost inexpressible. It seems to be welling up inside of me and I really feel more loving.”

Marc, here’s to many more birthdays filled with God’s love and ours for you, too.
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Don’t miss the music video below, “The Love of God”  by Marc and Elizabeth’s favorite Christian artist, Rich Mullins.

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting for something?

Ring the bells again!

The last time I set these bells on the arm of my husband’s La-Z-Boy recliner was January 2017 after his bilateral knee replacement. Well, today he gets a shoulder replaced. So once again I want him to be able to summon me day and night–hence TWO bells. The smaller one is for routine needs and the larger bell for more urgent requests.

When I posted a similar bell photo four years ago, there was much concern among readers that I might not hear these bells, so just to ease everyone’s minds, for this rehab I have added two maracas–he can shake one for routine desires and both for bigger needs. The shaking can double as therapy too. (I guess you can tell this is not my first rodeo!) Today’s surgery brings the replacement tally to two shoulders and three knees (if you count the one that got infected and had to be re-replaced!)

And it also ushers in the waiting.

Me, dropping my partner of 47 years at the surgicenter entrance and heading home to wait because of COVID-19 protocols. Me, with my cell phone in my pocket waiting for the surgeon to inform me that the procedure is finished. Me, waiting for my husband to emerge from anesthesia fog and FaceTime with me tonight. Me, waiting tomorrow for the word from a nurse than I can  bring my bionic guy home.

And then more waiting. For muscles and nerves to heal from surgery trauma. For range of motion to improve. For strength to return. For life to feel normal again.

For what are you waiting these days?

For your body to heal?

For your marriage to be revived?

For the pain to subside?

For a loved one to trust in Jesus?

For wisdom to deal with a rude co-worker?

For patience in finding a new job?

I’m pretty sure there’s some prayer of longing on your heart today. And I’m also willing to bet that like me, you’re not a fan of the waiting. When I’m waiting, my mind often travels to not-so-good places. I begin to doubt, then worry and sometimes even fear.

The Bible is full of stories about waiting as God doesn’t seem averse to letting people wait for His promises. Scripture tells of God-loving people waiting… waiting in the desert,  waiting in the belly of a large fish,  waiting for a child, waiting for a prodigal, waiting in prison,  waiting for healing,  waiting for a Messiah. The Psalms are full of their heart cries for deliverance.

So as I wait, I choose to fix my wandering mind on their prayers.

Wait patiently for the Lord.
    Be brave and courageous.
    Yes, wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits,
and in His word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5

Image from LifeHopeandTruth.com

Let all that I am wait quietly before God,
for my hope is in Him. Psalm 62:5

We wait in hope for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in His holy name,
May your unfailing love be with us, LORD,
even as we put our hope in You. Psalm 33:20-22

My friend, I’m waiting in expectant hope with you for God’s answer to your prayers. I know He will be faithful.
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P.S. Yesterday as I was writing this blog, my husband walked by the living room and noticed the bells were out. I explained how I had included two maracas for his added ability to summon me, but I must say, for some reason he did not seem impressed! :-)+++++++++++++
Be sure to open in your browser to hear the music video “The Waiting” by Jamie Grace.

 

 

 

 

 

 

God Cannot be Surprised

 

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

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

I don’t know if some bad news has taken you by surprise, but I guarantee it has not caught God off-guard.

He is all-knowing.
He is all-seeing.
He is all-powerful.
He is in control of ­every­thing.
He knows what you need and when you need it.

You may feel unprepared for what you’re facing, but God is prepared. And He is preparing things for you—good things—things you haven’t even thought of.

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

1 Corinthians 2:9

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

“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.”

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

Authors Henry and Richard Blackaby in their devotional Experiencing God Day by Day explain God’s promise this way:

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

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

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

My friend, God knows exactly what you and I need to  get through today.

It’s okay if you feel disbelief or shock or unprepared for whatever’s next. Perhaps you would like to pray Psalm 25:5: Lead me by Your truth and teach me, for You are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in You.
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Be sure to open in your browser to hear the beautiful song “Christ Be All Around Me” by All Sons & Daughters.

5 Ways to Strengthen Your Funny Bone

 

Image by Andrea Barstow from Pixabay

There’s nothing funny about cancer. But after my diagnosis in 1990, I figured laughter could be good medicine for our family.

Upon learning that my chemo pill actually was a worming medicine designed to kill intestinal parasites in sheep and dogs, I would pop one in my mouth and start barking and chasing my squealing daughters around the house. My husband mentioned to our friends that I had been de-wormed and he was thinking of getting me a rabies shot too. The pills were expensive and he often suggested we call our cat’s vet to try and get them cheaper. (A regular comedian, huh?)

My support groups had a reputation for lots of laughing. And every time we laughed together, it reminded us we still were alive . . . and that always was worth celebrating!

Image by Andrea Barstow from Pixabay

If you don’t have a laughing support group (or a comedian husband!),  Dave Dravecky’s Outreach of Hope (now https://www.endurance.org)  years ago published five suggestions to “strengthen your funny bone:”

  1. Start your own comedy collection of jokes and cartoons. Do an Internet search for “clean jokes” and you’ll find some good laughs. Post them at your desk or on your fridge so you can remind yourself to smile. (Do you know how to make Michigan cookies? Put them in a bowl and beat them for three hours!–OK maybe that’s only funny if you’re a Buckeye like me!)
  2. Get your groceries and get a chuckle by reading some of the tabloid headlines while standing in line. (I just read about aliens with anorexia and manure as a miracle cure for arthritis! Of course, when I purchase these magazines they are business expenses because I share the stories in my laughter talk  🙂 )
  3. Browse greeting-card racks and enjoy reading funny cards. You can even buy one to brighten someone’s day! (One day at work I received a card which read: “I bet I can still float your boat…even if I don’t have both oars in the water!” It was from my wonderful husband to cheer me up.)
  4. Become a humorous people groupie by hanging out with funny people. (You know who you are…you’re either a funny friend or you need one!)
  5. Make the most of embarrassing moments. (Did I tell you about the time a pair of my underwear dropped out of my jeans’ pant leg onto the floor of a Christian bookstore?……….Never mind.)

Pastor Rick Warren

In his NY Times bestseller, The Purpose-Driven Life, Rick Warren writes that our first purpose in life is to please God. Or as Warren puts it, “The smile of God is the goal of your life.”

No matter what you’ve gone through or what still lies ahead—whether you have no cancer, a little cancer or a lot of cancer; whether your trial disappears, grows more intense or perhaps never leaves—will you choose choose to please God and bring a smile to His face? It is your choice.

I have a blessing for you from Numbers 6:24-26 today:

May the Lord bless you  and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you His favor
and give you His peace.
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Be sure to open in your browser to hear “The Blessing” from Bethel Music. You may even want to close your eyes and hear this as a prayer for you.

 

Heard any insensitive remarks lately?

 

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

“My neighbor has what you have—he’s in so much pain.”

“I thought you’d be over this grieving by now.”

Heard any such insensitive (dare I say “stupid”) remarks?  I think I’ve heard them all and then some.

I remember bumping into a church friend at the grocery store shortly after I my cancer diagnosis in 1990. She apologized for not being in touch with me.

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

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

Ken ready for the annual Ride For Roswell Cancer Center fundraiser.

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

Someone started quoting scripture to my western New York friend Ken just moments after he was given the devastating news of tongue cancer requiring life-altering surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.

“I only heard the first few words and wanted to scream at my friend, ‘Stop! Just stop!’” Ken still recalls 19 cancer-free years later.

First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt

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

I like the advice attributed to first lady Eleanor Roosevelt: “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”

Do you think my friend at the grocery store saw me standing by the romaine lettuce and thought, “I’ll walk over to Lynn and say something that will make her feel really bad?”

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

Think about the last  life-struggle conversation you had with someone that left you feeling worse instead of better. Ask yourself whether you think that was the person’s intention. If yes, I recommend you speak with someone who can help you establish healthy boundaries with a spiteful person!

But if you answered no, then ignore that person’s words and just hear his or her heart for you.

Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

We always want people to give us the benefit of the doubt or cut us some slack, but we have to admit, it’s not always easy to do the same for others—especially when our world has been rocked by a life-altering event. Our emotions are fragile, our bodies are hurting, and our spirits can be wounded easily. That makes it hard to be patient with well-meaning but insensitive folks.

So if you want to find peace in the face of life’s difficulties, use your head to handle yourself and your heart to handle others. And most of all, keep both your heart and mind open to receive the Lord’s perfect peace.

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

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Be sure to open in your browser to hear the music video “Perfect Peace” by Laura Story

Who or What are You Missing Today?

 

My parents’ 50th anniversary in 2002

My Dad would have turned 96 today if he hadn’t passed away in 2011. I can still recall my last phone conversation with him after the hospice nurse called to say his time was short. We lived several hours away and even though we left as soon as we could, we did not get there in time.

Meanwhile, my Mother–recovering from cancer surgery in an out-of-town hospital–was transported by ambulance back to their assisted living facility, but also arrived too late. Exactly three years and three weeks later, she died too.

Many years have passed, but I still miss them terribly.  And deep down, we’re all grieving some kind of loss aren’t we? Whether it’s been days or decades since we got the bad news, we all mourn something ripped from our grasp: health, marriage, finances, friendship, dreams, and so much more.

Whatever you’ve lost, I pray that my friend David’s story will encourage your weary heart today–or perhaps you’ll share it with someone else who needs uplifting.

David[1]has faced the incomprehensible twice with his family. The first time was when his youngest son Kevin died of AIDS. The second was a few years later when his middle son Alan committed suicide.

“These past months have been like a dream gone bad,” David says. “My feelings have ranged from shock and disbelief to pain, anger and guilt.”

David, a man of great faith who is a respected Bible teacher, is at a loss to understand how and why 49-year-old Alan could do the unthinkable, leaving behind his wife and three children.

Image by Liz Masoner from Pixabay

“Alan was a handsome, intelligent, free-spirited, fun-loving guy; a prankster with an extraordinary sense of humor who could make even the most orthodox double over in laughter in a heartbeat,” David says. “Alan was high voltage, fearless and loved living life on the edge. He was into dirt bikes, hunting, catching rattlesnakes and sky-diving.”

But in recent years Alan became addicted to prescription painkillers from several injuries and surgeries, David says. And on a cold winter day he left his Michigan home in deep despair and disappeared into some nearby woods where he took his own life.

The days since Alan’s death “have been most challenging to say the least,” David says. “Sudden waves of grief come rushing in from out of nowhere, twisting our souls with all kinds of emotional contortions,” David says.

And yet even as their world has been terribly shaken again, David and his wife are finding God’s supernatural strength is seeing them through.

“When we find ourselves in the deepest of despair, still underneath us are His everlasting arms,” David explains. “As believers we are not immune to the tragedies of life—even when everything around us seems to collapse, we never can be brought so low as to be beyond the reach of the Father’s everlasting arms.”

The eternal God is your refuge and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:27

My friend, whatever loss you are grieving today–please remember you never can be brought so low as to be beyond the reach of the Father’s everlasting arms.  Let Him safely hold you today.

Excerpted from When GOD & Grief Meet © 2009 by Lynn Eib.
[1] Names and a few details of David’s story have been changed to protect his family’s privacy. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Open in your browser to hear the music video “All Who are Thirsty” Copyright Vineyard Worship featuring Benton Brown.

Never Lose Hope

 

If you’re like me and enjoy hearing stories about people who weren’t “supposed to be here,” please meet my friend, Nancy, a long-time survivor of incurable liver cancer.

Nancy and Tom, her husband of 60 years.

In 2005 Nancy was told she had a “very aggressive” liver cancer and there was nothing anyone could do for her.

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

But about two weeks later, she got a call from another physician who said she had been misdiagnosed. Indeed it was a rare, untreatable liver cancer, but a slow-growing one.

With that good news, Nancy figured the hard part of her cancer journey was over, but she was wrong. One of her doctors suggested a new, oral chemotherapy to perhaps slow the cancer’s growth. Unfortunately, a drug side effect 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 18 months.

Image by imagii from Pixabay

“I felt terribly alone even in a roomful of people,” she recalls. “It was the most horrible feeling I ever had–it was worse than being told I had cancer or that I was going to die.”

Now 15 years later, Nancy’s oncologist says that her cancer, “one of the rarest of the rarest,” has “dried up” half her liver, but is not immediately life-threatening .

So why am I telling you this story in a blog about encouragement for the weary? Because Nancy got through her depression and I want you to know that you and your loved ones can survive whatever darkness might rear its ugly head in your lives.

“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.”

Psalm 30:2-3
 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help and you restored my health.
You brought me up from the grave, O LORD.
You kept me from falling into the pit of death.

“I lived on Psalm 30 for all those months,” Nancy recalls. “I have it memorized.”

Since the pandemic hit in 2020 along with some worries for family members, she acknowledges battling depression again and once more turning to pray Psalm 30.

“(The depression) is better than it was and I just know prayer is going to bring me out of it again,” says Nancy, who also sees her family physician, a psychiatrist and a counselor.

Image by ShonEjai from Pixabay

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

Psalm 30:11-12
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,

that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever! 

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Be sure to open this blog in your browser to hear the music video “Worn” by Tenth Avenue North.

The Truth about Shadows

 

Sunset shadows as grandpa fishes with our granddaughters.

In grade-school science, you probably learned that a shadow is caused by the absence of light when an opaque (not see-through) object has absorbed the light. And that shadows fall opposite their light source.

That’s why your shadow is in front of you if the sun is behind you and vice versa. The way you’re facing determines whether or not you can see your shadow.

I know this is a simple scientific fact, but it is a profound spiritual truth for facing tough times: You have to keep facing the light in order not to so easily see life’s troubling shadows.

Are you old enough to remember in 1998 when the Galaxy IV communications satellite malfunctioned and rotated out of position, turning away from the earth? In an instant millions of pagers went silent, TV and radio stations couldn’t transmit, and even some gas pumps couldn’t accept credit cards. It all happened because just one satellite in the heavens turned the wrong way and couldn’t communicate with earth.

Perhaps your circumstances have gotten you out of position spiritually. You can’t figure out how a loving God would allow this situation in your life or your loved one’s. Maybe you even feel at times as if your prayers have not been heard. I hope you will check to see which way you are facing so you truly can communicate with the Lord–pouring out your heart to the One who hears, who understands, and who has the power to respond.

Once you’re facing the right direction, you also can choose to live under a different shadow. Now I know it sounds strange that you could find light by being under a shadow, but it’s true.

The shadow I want you to move under—or stay under if you’re already there—is a much, much bigger shadow than the pall cast by any of life’s struggles. It’s a safe, secure, protective shadow. There’s no other shadow that can eclipse this one. And underneath it, we’re not in the dark; we’re supernaturally in the light.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1

The shadow of the Almighty.

I love that word picture. Can you see yourself with a dark cloud of pain–physical, emotional, mental or spiritual–over your head, moving under the huge shadow of God Himself? Standing underneath His shadow, you can barely even see the little shadow-speck of the difficulties you’re facing.

He has hidden me in the shadow of his hand. Isaiah 49:2

Image by Franck Barske from Pixabay

Have you ever put your arms around a child during a storm and drawn them close to you as protection from the rain and the noise? Have you ever seen a mother hen spread her wings and gather her little chicks to safety as danger approached? Those are images the Bible gives of God’s love and care for us.

How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter
in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:7

May I pray for you today? Almighty God, please help my friend to live not under the shadow of a pandemic, or an illness or of any of  life’s tough circumstances, but instead under Your protective shadow. And there, let my friend feel your unfailing love and find rest. Amen.

Excerpted from Finding the Light in Cancer’s Shadow ©2006 by Lynn Eib. All rights reserved.
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Make sure to open this blog in your browser to hear the music video, “Savior’s Shadow” by Blake Shelton.