Faith increased by a green light

I would love to have the faith of the centurion from Luke 7:1-10. Oh to have Jesus say “I have not found such great faith even in …” to me. But, far too often I fall in the “I do believe, help my overcome my unbelief” category from Mark 9:24. There has been a direct correlation between my faith and my prayers.

Since I have declared 2016 the year for getting serious about prayer, I have been praying for things, big and small and what feels like all the time. God is answering! Some prayers have been serious and some and been said almost without thinking. Here are just two that I hope will encourage you and make you smile.

green light

 

First, I like most moms find getting out the door to school difficult especially on a Monday. One particular Monday morning, we were a good ten minutes late walking out the door. I was stressed and my oldest was frustrated and concerned that we were going to be late for school, after all he had been waiting for me to finish getting ready. We came up on the light that usually only lets three cars through at a time. We were about the sixteenth car in line. Without even thinking, I said what I thought was to myself, “Lord, it sure would be nice if that light stayed green.” God was listening even to my inner thoughts. When I called out to him. He heard and He blessed. The light stayed green! Prayer points were learned that day.

  • God is listening all the time, even when we think we are talking to ourselves. Psalm 139:4 states, “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD.” This is comforting and scary all at the same time.
  • God answers. The God who is concerned about the big details of my life is also in the small ones. Read these words from various verses of Psalm 65. “O you who hear prayer…You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas, who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength, who stilled the roaring of the seas , the roaring of the waves, and the turmoil of the nations..You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly…you soften it with showers and bless its crops.” These verses show God’s power and his compassion. Read the entire Psalm if you need to be reminded of God’s goodness.
  • God is the giver of good gifts. James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” He gives us the good stuff, even green lights.
  • I can trust Him. This answer to my prayer was huge! I felt like if I could trust him to overhear my thoughts of how good a green light was then I could trust him to hear the thousands of prayers I have prayed to be cured from cancer. “To you O LORD, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God…No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame,” Psalm 25:1-2. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 He knows the future and I can trust him with it, no matter what it holds. He’s already aware and He will be right there with me all the way.

I believe that God gave me the green light experience because he knew what the very next week would hold. As I met with the doctor she ended our conversation with “I’ll see you in a month, but if any bump pops up call me the same day you see it and we’ll get you in to see me.” Not extremely comforting words to hear.

Well you guessed it, a bump popped up just three days later. The emotional roller coaster ride began. I called the office and went in. After the examination she said, “we’ll know in two days if this is nothing or if we need to biopsy it. I am hopeful that it is nothing.” I remember thinking, “Me too.” Hayden and I began praying. Peace came. During our devotional time that evening, Hayden asked the kids to share some prayers that they thought they had seen God answer. Coleman was quick to say that God had answered prayers for good health. Without knowing anything about the spot, Coleman closed our devotional time in pray asking God to continue to give us good health. And he has, the spot faded away. It was just part of the healing process for my skin. The doctor will continue to watch my skin closely, but God has granted me favor thus far and I am so grateful. He has heard my prayers and he has blessed. I hope I will proclaim his goodness no matter what happens in my life, but it sure is easier when He answers the prayers exactly how I want them to be answered. God is good no matter what, but I thank him for green lights and no cancer and everything in between.

 

Picture from http://www.freefoto.com/download/21-33-67/Green-Traffic-Lights
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New Year!

I love beginning a New Year. I love buying a new calendar and filling in the slots with all the activities. I love setting goals and budgets. I like checking the list off. Last year my goals were simple. 1. Meet with God daily. 2. Write daily.

Goal number two, I think I met, but only if grocery lists and thank you cards count. I definitely wrote more if for no other reason except to share the cancer journey with others.Goal number one was met. They were not all exactly how I had hoped. Not every meeting was awe inspiring, yet every time I asked him to meet with me he showed up.

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8

Many of my prayer times were confessional in nature. Sin is a big problem in my life and in the world. Last night as my oldest children and I watched the last five minutes of the New Year’s Eve special a commercial came on that highlighted a few of the top searched items for the year 2015. Each question came with stirring pictures. One of the questions asked, How can I help refugees? The powerful pictures stirred you to want to get involved. Others included topics on same sex marriage and transgender issues. One even asked what color is this dress? The picture showed three different colors of the same dress. Each one highlighted the sinfulness of our world. Whether violence or immorality, greed or indifference. The commercial was a call to prayer for me. So after the ball dropped that is what we did PRAY.

In 2016, my focus will be praying. Hurting people are all around us desperately in need of love, kindness and mercy. Will join me in condemning less and loving more this year? Will you commit to pray for those in need?

“because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” James 2:13

Will you join me in praying with perseverance? How can I pray for you in 2016?

Father, show us who you are. Help us be completely yours in 2016. No reserve, No regrets, No retreats. Lord, help us honor you more than anything or anyone else. No one and no thing takes a greater priority than you. Help us be abundantly yours. In Christ’s most holy name and by his power. Amen.

As always I encourage you to read through your Bible this year. Google search reading plans. If you are looking for a new devotional book for the days when you wake up late. Check out Twila Belk’s Raindrops from Heaven. The entries I read last year were awe inspiring and thought provoking.

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Merry Christmas!

imageI pray that each and everyone is waking to a home full of love, joy and peace. But, whether or not everything has gone perfectly as you dreamed it would, take a moment and be in awe “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be on his shoulders. And he shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace….Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” Isaiah 9:6 with Philippians 2:9-11.

I pray your Christmas will be blessed and that you will make time to sit with the Savior, whose birth we celebrate today. May God’s love overwhelm you today.

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Hope Continued

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Hope is a powerful thing and I was in desperate need of it last week. Chemotherapy treatments followed by two a day radiation treatments had taken its toll and last Tuesday I was done. I entered into the Cancer Wellness program drained, but I didn’t share it. I just wanted to move forward and get enrolled and start the program. As I listened to when the classes were I realized that due to doctor’s appointments and commitments with the kids that I was unwilling to give up I would miss the first three weeks of the class. I finally was able to convince the nurse that I would be back in January when I could fully complete the twelve week course. I walked through the parking lot and got into my van and broke down. I cried and I cried out to God. “Cancer stinks and I’m tired of it!” I was battle weary. After ten minutes of sobbing and talking, with a little yelling, to God (not at God because there is a huge difference) I felt good enough to drive home.

Later that afternoon, the doctor asked, “how are you?” I responded, “tired and emotionally spent.” Because I believe in answering that question honestly. Normally my answer is “good” because that is how I am. She responded, “Tell me about it.” What a lovely phrase. She did not try to read too much into my response. She allowed me to share. It was the perfect person to share with as well because she knew more about my cancer than I did. As she told me that they are treating with the “intent to cure” I has offered hope. Hope from someone who knew more, had seen more and could offer more than just empty words. Hope is powerful.

I shared earlier in a blog that the God of all comfort wants to use our struggles to comfort others. Have you experienced a difficulty, loss or tragedy that God wants to use to benefit someone else? Don’t bottle it up as we are all tempted to do. There is healing in sharing the hard stuff not only for the hearer of your words, but also for you.

I don’t know how God brings beauty from ashes, but he does. By Wednesday my entire frame of mind was back where it needed to be. My focus returned to Jesus. That obviously doesn’t mean sleep comes easy for me or that I don’t wonder “what if?” fifty times a day. But the hope of God offered through another spoke volumes to me.

So I’ll repeat Romans 15:13 because maybe you need to hear it again or maybe you know someone who does. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Allow God to speak truth to you today.

  1. He is the God of HOPE!
  2. He can fill you with ALL JOY and PEACE.
  3. You must TRUST in him to experience joy and peace.
  4. He wants you to OVERFLOW with HOPE through the power of the Holy Spirit.

There is power in his word. If you need answers, hope or good advice seek God’s Word. He’ll meet you there. If you need comfort, start with the Psalms. If you need to know more about who Jesus is go to the the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke or John). Questions about science and how it fits with God’s word read Job and Genesis. Worry or lacking joy read Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Get into the Bible answers await.

I’m praying that you’ll be Abundantly His!

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Continuing with Hope

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

Reread those verses. What do you notice?

  • The God of ALL comfort
  • Comforts us in ALL our troubles
  • SO THAT we can comfort others
  • CHRIST’S SUFFERINGS flow over into our lives
  • CHRIST’S COMFORT OVERFLOWS

At times it is easy to list the sufferings, our own sufferings that is. But how often do we spend time listing the sufferings of others? The despair of darkness is sitting over this world and yet the Light is still here. Unfortunately too many with the Light are too caught up in the culture, the demise of society, politics, sports, and a variety of other things. Too often our focus keeps us from making an eternal difference in this dark world. Some are too scared of the culture to make a difference. Many are too concerned about our own sufferings and not concerned about the comfort that has been received going out to those who truly need it. Some have even chosen to forsake the fellowship of believers for a little extra sleep and yard work. Christian it is time for believers to re-focus on Christ. Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith let us live in a way that is worthy of him and let us move forward with what he is calling us to do.

Satan lies to believers all the time. His goal is to make us ineffective in this world because he can’t keep us in his grip forever. Our salvation is sealed by God and the Holy Spirit is God’s deposit on us. Oh that we will finish well. Christians we have what the world desperately needs. We have hope! Paul goes on to write in verse 7, “And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” My hope is that as you have been given you will also give: generously without reserve. The power of the Holy Spirit is in you. Who is God calling you to share the gospel with today? Who is God asking you to pray for today? Who are you going to offer comfort to today?

I read a banner this week and it resonates well with me. I pray it will inspire you today to obey God and do big and small things for Him and His Kingdom.

Nothing is more important than today

We are not guaranteed tomorrow so let’s make much of Jesus today!

Be Abundantly His!

 

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Great Conversations

Recently, a woman that I greatly love and respect, spent some time in the ER for chest pains. She prayed that the Lord would give her good conversations and that no mistakes would be made. Over the course of her few hours there she saw ten medical professionals. (I only saw three when I went to the ER.) Why did so many stop by? Was her case that difficult? No. The answer was simple she offered hope to a few people who needed it.

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She encouraged one who was having her first day back after a leave of absence to stay home with her son who has leukemia. She encouraged another who’s wife has just been diagnosed with breast cancer. She praised those who did good work at their jobs. Over and over the Lord used her to speak life to those who desperately needed encouragement.

Her chest pains were caused by anxiety over the upcoming holiday and the fact that some family members needed her help. Her anxiety eased once she realized that her heart was fine and because her focus switched from self to others. God used her that day because she desired to please him in a difficult situation.

What about you? Do you offer hope in difficult situations? Or do you grumble and complain? If you are a believer in Christ then you have the hope the world so desperately needs. Will you share it?

Romans 5:1-8 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possible dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

 

 

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Radiation Begins

The final leg of treatment began yesterday. Someone asked me what radiation was like and an image of the sick bay from Star Trek popped into my mind. Now let me be honest, I’ve only watched Star Trek once and I’m not even sure the episode showed a sick bay. The radiation room has a large piece of equipment in it that moves around the flat metal bed that I am laying on. That bed also moves allowing the technicians to line me up so that I may receive just the right amount of radiation to the exact spot that it is needed. I will admit I got a little motion sick during the first trial run. It took three days to get completely set up because they are so careful to make sure that every detail is perfect. The machine itself is large like a CT or MRI, but it is open instead of doughnut shaped. It has a single arm that moves above me. They add a thick glass square, like a lens to a camera, that is personalized for each patient. The lights are dimmed to help me relax and to help the technicians see the numbers to ensure proper alignment. Everything is checked by 2 or 3 people at each step. The technicians leave and radiation begins. Through a speaker one technician will ask me to “take a deep breath and hold it.” Then a low hum begins and radiation occurs. Then he or she will say “you can breathe” and the machine moves and we do it again. I receive radiation from two angles. The treatment takes about 10 minutes.

When I had radiation (November 2014-January 2015) I was an emotional mess. It was the end of a long journey. I could only wonder if it was working and the question of what will I do when this is all over kept playing over and over in my mind. This time I see radiation as a necessary step that will help lengthen my life. They are being very aggressive with trying to get all of the cancer. I believe that God is the only one who can do that. I believe that God will choose to give me the length of life he wants me to have. He and He alone gives me my life, breath, and very being. He is the one who determines my steps and my story. I refuse to waste any of this journey. I pray he will allow me to see my kids grow into adults. I pray he will allow me to do it cancer free instead of battling every day. Grace (my almost 11 year old) and I were talking the other day. She has a field trip coming up to Old Salem. I had originally signed up to go and then had to back out due to radiation treatments. Grace told me that her fourth grade field trip was her favorite because we got to go together and it was during the few good months between cancer treatments. Oh how I pray for good decades after this final radiation. May the Lord receive all the glory for what He grants.

Please pray for: healing, strength, rest and good health for our entire family. We are doing well, but we are also tired from the cancer treatment journey. Pray that there will be no ill side effects or complications from radiation and that it will eradicate any cancer cells that are still in my body. Finally, pray that we will have a cancer free Christmas and that I will feel up to attending the musicals, family gatherings and other activities. I so want to be a part of everything this year.

Each day is a gift that God gives us to be Abundantly His! Enjoy it!

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Thankful…so very grateful.

I am full and overflowing with thankfulness to the Lord today. The doctors said that my PET SCAN was “clear and normal”. No cancer was showing on the scan. That is the best news a cancer patient can hear. I am so grateful to the Lord for His provision and His loving kindness that He has poured out on me and my family. I am having a hard time believing it quite frankly. The Lord has been gracious through this whole process. I am amazed at his love.

Read Psalm 118 when you get a chance. I have read these verses over and over during the last five months. I’m including the verses that have blessed me the most. I pray they will bless you and help you deal with whatever you are going through.

Psalm 118:1-9″Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let Israel say “His love endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron say; “His love endures forever.” Let those who fear the LORD say; “His love endures forever. In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The LORD is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is  better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.”

Psalm 118:17-18 “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done. The LORD has chastened me severely but he has not given me over to death.”

Psalm 118:28-29 “You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

I pray he will forgive me when I fail Him. I praise Him for his love and for second chances to live for him. I pray I will not waste a single moment that He gives.

Thank you for your prayers and please continue to keep us in your prayers. Most likely, I will have radiation treatments later this month, but will hopefully finish those before Christmas. I am looking forward to closing this chapter on cancer and moving forward to serve the Lord in whatever way possible. Thanks for celebrating His enduring love with me today.

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Waiting is the hardest part of life right now

Chemo is finished. Praise the Lord!

Emily and Granddaddy

Me and my dad at the final chemo session!

The doctors agree that it seems to have worked well. Tomorrow’s scan will tell us for sure, but we will have to wait until Monday to hear the results. WAITING! ICK!

God’s word on waiting (emphasis is mine)

Psalm 25:4-5 “Make me know Your ways, O LORD, Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me; For you are the God of my salvation; For You I wait all day.”

Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.”

Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.”

Romans 8:23-25 “And not only this but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”

Titus 2:11-14 “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

Even God Waits…

Isaiah 30:18 “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you. And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice How blessed are all those who long for Him.”

So, I am waiting for test results. But as I wait there is much to do: write, clean the house, shop for Christmas presents and more, but maybe God wants more for me. He wants me as I wait. He waits with me. In relationship he desires for me to sit at his feet and be still for a bit. He wants me to enjoy Him, to love Him, to worship Him. Even in the stillness of waiting or the busyness of it God wants me to want more of Him.

How about you? What are you waiting to see God do?

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Praying, Waiting, Wondering and Praying Some More

The title captures my week. I was told to get lots of rest in order to be able to have my final chemo treatment which is scheduled for tomorrow (October 19). My body needs to build up white and red blood cells. I’ve napped more, gone to bed earlier and even slept in until 7:30 one morning and yet during the middle of the night I wake and the wondering begins. Wondering thankfully that has not turned in to worrying, but instead some beautiful Bible study times where God has been teaching me about reverence and love. More on that perhaps another time.

Challenge Accepted

Right now, I am wondering how many of you accepted my challenge from last week. Did you seize the opportunity to share your faith this week? “I tried” is not an acceptable answer. Either I shared my faith or I didn’t. I had the opportunity to share with one person the complete gospel. Others, some believers and some not, received a verse of encouragement. There was only time to ask the worker at Panera, “how can I pray for you today?” But, the point of the challenge was not to see how many we could share the gospel with even though I asked you to share with three. The purpose was to get us sharing. Those of you who participated, how did you get through the nervousness as God brought you opportunities to share? Was the Holy Spirit really clear on who you should share with or was there more of a blanket “share with everyone” feeling you had? Will you share again this week?

The definition of wondering via google is two fold; “desire or be curious about something” and “feel admiration or amazement; marvel”. That captures my wondering because it has been both of these definitions at times this week. I marveled at God and the work he is doing through my children. Oh that the Lord would protect them. I am amazed at God’s forgiveness for all the times I have failed him. His forgiveness is complete and it is fully offered. I John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It is complete cleansing from ALL unrighteousness. God does not clean like I clean. PRAISE HIM!!! God gets into all the little cracks and cleans thoroughly. Even the areas that I think are clean get scrubbed and polished at times. Marvel at his forgiveness. Pray and receive it if needed.

I’ve also wondered a lot this week if the chemo was going to kill all of the cancer or not. I will probably always wonder if cancer is setting up shop in my body. That’s alright as long as the wondering doesn’t seep over to worrying. Either kind of wondering almost always leads to more praying of which we cannot do enough. Spend a little time wondering then seek the Lord in prayer. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Be Abundantly His and have a great week.

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