Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Day 475 Blue Dogs

For many of us, when we hear or see the words, Blue Dog, our thoughts go straight to artist George Rodrigue.  His paintings of Blue Dogs and Cajuns are collected worldwide.  George's wife Wendy posts daily in her Musings of an Artist's Wife and on her website, www.WendyRodgrique.com  about the life of an artist.  If you're not familiar with George's work, you can see it at www.georgerodrigue.com .

Yesterday, my friend, Darlene, sent me Wendy's latest post.  I knew that George had spent last summer in Houston for medical treatment at the same time I was going through mine.   I didn't know for sure but assumed it was for cancer.  It seems my mind most often goes in that direction now days. 

For the first time, Wendy posted about the experience and her words were so poignant and so accurately descriptive, that I just feel compelled to reprint here.

Summer 2013 also has its challenges. We paint a rosy picture on facebook and in photographs, but anyone who knows such health concerns understands that there's no quick or guaranteed fix. Remission, we learned, means living with cancer, even after successful treatment. It means ongoing tests, occasional setbacks, and unpredictable side effects.
Anyone who has dealt with this enemy can quickly identify with what she is writing about.  Even a report of "Cancer Free" does not release a warrior from the battle.   It is ongoing for the rest of their lives.
For the last few months I've been dealing with pain in my shoulders, mainly my left shoulder.  I waited as long as I could to give it a chance to heal itself but finally gave in and am headed to an orthopod on Friday.   Bone cancer?  Yes, that thought crossed my mind.  Since the pain is in both shoulders, I'm believing its just geriatric but there is still that kernel of doubt that lingers.   The job is to not give that kernel life so that it grows and takes over my quality of life.  
This past weekend I visited my cousin and his wife in the hill country.  As we were sitting deep in conversation one day, I remember telling them that I love my life.  It surprised me when those words came out.   I used to say that all the time but I I haven't since April 23, 2012.   Overcoming colon cancer and then the depression that nursing my best friend, my 14 year old Golden, Chipper, who was my nurse through chemo, and then having to have him put to sleep, brought about.....I thought I would never utter those words again.   But I did.   I was excited to realize that I once again am in love with my life.  I am so grateful for my creativity and my life as an artist, a mother, a grandmother and, most importantly, a child of the Most High.
Thank You, Father.   Thank You.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Day 470 Survivor's Kitchen

In the last few years, I have come to love the flavors of India and that part of the world.  Amazingly enough, most of the spices used in that cooking are very similar to those used in Mexican foods which are a staple here in Texas.   When I open my pantry, I'm not sure whether I'm smelling Mexican or Indian but either way I love the smell.

Going back to the list of foods that are considered to be antiangiogenesis - foods that starve the blood vessels that feed cancer cells -  I am constantly looking for recipes that include several at the same time.   I recently tried a recipe by Aarti Sequeira from the Food Network and it is a winner.   There is such an explosion of flavor when I put a forkful in my mouth that it surprises me every time.   Delicious.   Here it is.   Please try it.  Also, this is a large dish for someone cooking for just one so I can attest it freezes well and does not lose any of its flavor in the thawing and reheating process.

Lebanese Lentils, Rice and Caramelized Onions
1 cup brown or green lentils, sorted and rinsed (AA)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (AA)
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. cracked black peppercorns
3 medium red onions, thinly sliced (AA)
Kosher salt
3/4 cup basmati rice
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 1-inch piece cinnamon stick (AA)
1/2 tsp. cayenne
2 tbsp. pinenuts (AA)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice (AA)
Greek yogurt, for serving, optional (AA)
Throw the lentils into a medium saucepan.  Fill with enough cold water to cover the lentils by about an inch.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then turn down to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes.  Drain and set aside.
As the lentils cook, put a skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil.  Allow the oil to warm and then drop in the cumin seeds and cracked peppercorns and cook, shaking the pan until the cumin seeds darken a little, about 1 minute.
Add the onions, sprinkle with a dash of salt and cook until they turn dark caramel brown, stirring often.  This will take about 15 minutes.  (Took longer for me)  Splash the onions with a little water if they stick to the bottom of the pan.  You'll know they're done both by their deep chestnut color and by the slight crispiness developing on some of the onions.
Using a slotted spoon or spatula, remove about half of the onions to a paper towel-lined plate, these are for garnish later.  Into the remaining onions, sprinkle in the ground cumin, cayenne and then add the cinnamon stick, saute about 1 minute.  (Oh my goodness, the aroma at this point is mouthwatering)
Add rice and cook, stirring gently until some of the rice grains start to brown.  Quickly add the cooked lentils, 3 cups water and 1 1/2 tsp salt, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook 30 minutes.  (Only needed about 17 minutes to the perfect consistency when I made so check frequently)
The water should be completely evaporated and rice should be tender.  Turn off the heat, keep the lid on, and allow the rice to steam undisturbed for about 5 minutes.  In the meantime, toast the pinenuts and used for topping along with reserved onions, a squeeze of lemon juice and dollop of yogurt.
I did not have the pinenuts on hand and did not use either the lemon juice or yogurt.   However, there is a little heat from the cayenne and next time, I'll make the Indian yogurt condiment, Raita,  to accompany.  Also, I used only two onions and mixed all of them into the dish rather than reserving some to use as a topping.   I am thinking that I also want to try this as a filling for a Mexican tamale.  Yummmmmm Yummmmm...........   Hope you'll try and let me know if you like this as much as I do.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
I know that You have incorporated healing into the foods You created to feed, satisfy and nourish us.  That You for the research that is revealing more and more of the intelligent design You incorporated into every aspect of this world that You spoke into existence.
Father, we thank You for the supernatural healings that You make part of our lives as well.  We ask today that You touch the life of every person fighting the enemy cancer.  Guide us to the right foods, the right exercise, the right lifestyle that will fight that enemy and enhance our quality of life.
Remind us daily, Father, that the best quality of life is in knowing and loving You.
Thank You Father.  Thank You.
These things we ask in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Day 469 No Need to Panic

In November, two years ago, I began to have sore throats and sinus infections over and over.   It seemed I was barely over one when another one would start.  In January, I started with an allergist thinking it was just allergies and he would give me the allergy tests and discover I had a huge allergy to something environmental and give me a shot and I would be done and start to feel better soon.  When the allergist told me there was no allergy and no magic potion to start making me feel better, I burst into tears in his office.   I had felt so poorly for months.  Surely someone could do something.

By March, nothing was showing up as a physical problem and I went to a new doctor for my well woman exam.   Fortunately, that young doctor was horrified that I had not had a colonoscopy and insisited I schedule one immediately.   Thank you, Dr. Heaps.   That colonoscopy saved my life.  The sore throats were not a symptom of colon cancer but they were a symptom that my immune system was working over time, trying to kill the cancer that was growing in my body rather than fighting the sore throats and sinus infections.

Last week, after spending more time outside than usual, I started to have a sore throat again.  This was the first one in almost two years.  It was only on the right side but went up into my ear.  By the third day, I started to worry.  I guess, no matter what, I will forever wonder if every pain or twinge or not great day is a symptom of the enemy trying to gain a foothold again and destroy my life.   So, what did I do?   Pray?  I should have but instead I just pushed it to the back of my mind.   I sort of felt that praying about it would be acknowledging it and giving it some power that I didn't want it to have.  I suppose on some level I was praying, just not going down on my knees asking that the sore throat not be a return of cancer.  But He knew.

"Now my daughter, do not be afraid; I will do for you all that you ask........"   Ruth 3:11

I am amazed every day how God shows up in my life.   I shouldn't be surprised but I continue to be, as He reminds what an great and amazing God I serve.   I am so blessed to be counted one of His children and I give Him all the praise, honor and glory.    My God is an awesome God.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
I thank You for loving me and for healing me and for protecting me and for blessing me.  I thank You for showing Your greatness every day in my life.   It is all You, Father.   It is all You.
Father, today I pray again for our friend Tony's blood counts to come up.   He has missed two rounds of chemo because his body was not strong enough to handle the onslaught of the poison meant to destroy the cancer cells invading his body.   He will be tested again Friday and, in Jesus' name, let the blood numbers soar so that this enemy in his life can be killed.
I ask strenth for every one out there fighting the same enemy.  Special blessings for friends Lisa, and Jo and Marti and Bryce and Frank.   Love them, bless them, heal them.
These things I pray in the precious name of Jesus Christ, the name above all names.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Day 464 Small Victories

This morning I was reviewing the Book of Joshua.   After Moses' death, Joshua was appointed to lead the Israelites across the Jordan to take possession of the Promised Land.   God told them that, if they would be obedient,  He would guide them in victory.   Their first battle, Jericho, He fought for them.  All the Israelites had to do was walk around the walls of the city every day for six days and on the seventh day, walk around seven times, blow their horns and shout and the walls would come down.  And it happened just like that.   Then the humanity of the Israelites took over and disobedience came into play.   The result is that the army of God's chosen people was routed at the tiny defenseless town of Ai. 

What an incredible lesson God gives us in the telling of these events.   He is there to go into battle with us against the enemy every time.   We can't expect the defeat to be as easy as that of Jericho was but we can always have a victory of some sort in every battle ....... as long as we're obedient.  It is only when we turn our backs on God that defeat is inevitable.

I had cancer.   I am healed.   There is a victory in the healing, certainly.   But the greater victory is in a better, a closer, a more trusting and loving relationship with God, with Jesus, than I ever had before.
There is a victory in knowing that God wants me to take care of myself and eat the right foods and that I can do that.

"Bless the Lord, O my soul....who satisfies your mouth with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle."    Psalm 103:2-5

Good food, exercise, study, service, doing our part to be the best, strongest, healthiest we can be in order to better serve Him.   He honors that.   That is when He goes into battle with us.  And what a comfort it is to know that, in the words of my friend Lisa, "Either way, we win."  

We don't have to start big.  We can start with small victories.   My small victories for today are going to be...........1. Cook a new healthy dish made with only cancer fighting foods. 2. Exercise this morning to get my heart rate up.  3. Walk this evening to strengthen my bones.  4. Extra prayer time to thank God for all He has done for me so far and for all the good plans that He has in store for me.   So, those are mine.   What are your small victories going to be today?

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Thank You for going into battle with us against the enemy, cancer.   Thank You for every new discovery and development to battle that hated destroyer.  Thank You for every victory, no matter how large or how small, that we have today as we strive to do Your will, to love and honor You and to be the best for You that we can be.
You are a good and loving God, a healing God and a forgiving God.  Thank You for showing us how to live, for giving us victories every day and for forgiving us when we fall back into the old harmful ways of our lives before cancer.   Thank You for the knowledge that there is a better way and for showing us that way.
We love You, Lord.   We love You.
We pray and give thanks in the precious name of Your Son and our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Day 463 A Big Responsibility

I had lunch yesterday with some friends I had not seen in a while.   My friend Lauren was sitting across from me and she looked at me intently and said, "You know, Jo, you're my only survivor."   I remembered then that she had seen a daughter and a best friend through horrible struggles with cancers that they had both succumbed to.   In both cases it was a lengthy and painful fight.  Her daughter Mandy was young, in her 20's and just starting life.   Elaine was full of life and fun and the type of person that everyone was always happy when she walked into a room.

I hate cancer.   I hate it.  And my response to Lauren was that if I was her only survivor, it was now my responsibility to see that I remained a survivor so that she wouldn't have to deal with another loss to cancer.   That's a pretty big responsibility but sometimes we do things for others that we won't do for ourselves.   I know that's an extreme example but attitude is so important in defeating this enemy.   So, I have given myself several long term goals that I'm working toward.   I don't want to ever get to the point where I quit looking toward a productive future.

First of all, is my study of the Bible.   Every time I read God's word, something new is revealed to me and I have this huge "ah ha!" moment.  How can I express or defend my beliefs if I don't truly understand the whys and wherefores of what I believe.   So, I have goals there.   Secondly is my art.   I have just taken on a new gallery and I am painting daily to make sure that all four of my galleries have inventory as well as trying to get paintings started now for the Christmas season.   To see my work, go to www.texasgalgallery.com

I have grieved terribly over my precious Chipper Dale who passed a few weeks back.  I still cry every day and I know that isn't good for me.  Grief and depression can have a negative effect on the immune system and I don't want to do anything that might give cancer a second chance.   So I have decided that the best way to fill the empty spot in my heart is with another dog.   It will, of course, be a rescue and I'm combing local websites now to see which one seems to need me the most. 

Through all of this, I've stripped the wallpaper in both bathrooms.........I should say the three layers of wallpaper in both bathrooms.   An old house can really be a pain sometimes.  I've filled in the holes, and have two coats of kilz in one bath waiting for enough time to start with paint.   Then I have plans to repaint the living room.   Busy.   Busy.   I'm too darned busy to ever be sick and debilitated again. 

So, what's your plan?  Do you have goals for the future?   Future goals that you're going to make happen yourself and not expect God or someone else to accomplish for you?  If you don't, start today.  Silly, crazy, improbable plans..........it doesn't matter.   Set out projects for yourself and start to work on them.   God will honor your tenacity, your life will be fuller and maybe, for just a little while, you'll forget that cancer ever existed.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
We thank You that even with and after cancer we can be productive.   We thank You for the love and care You show us each day.   What a great and glorious God you are and how grateful we are to serve you.
Thank You for the amazing progess that our friend Lisa has made in her victory over multiple myeloma.   She is months ahead of schedule in her recovery and gives You all the praise, honor and glory.
Father, we ask again for the strengthening of Tony's system so that he can start his next round of chemo.   He has already delayed one week because of low counts.   You can raise them Lord so that this precious active teenager can get on with his healing and put cancer behind him.
We thank You Father that Bryce is feeling well enough to start his next in hospital round of treatment. 
We love You and give thanks for the faith and stamina that you are giving each of these warriors daily as they fight the enemy.   Give them the victory of total healing.
These things we ask in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 461 Survivor's Kitchen

God wants us to be healthy.   There is no doubt in my mind that there is healing in His food.   It is only the chemical alterations man has introduced in the name of profits that effect how our bodies react to the foods He gave us.   Since being diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer last year, I have searched out what people much smarter than me have to say about the right foods to eat.   It has been proven over and over that eating certain foods help protect the body from certain cancers.   I try to include foods in every meal from the list on www.eattodefeatcancer.com

One of the latest foods that is believed to be beneficial in so many ways is kale.   Now, I enjoy greens like cabbage and collards and mustards but kale just doesn't do it.   Regardless, I've cooked it many different ways to the point that just seeing a word with the letter "k" in it almost activates my gag reflex.   Slight exaggeration but pretty close to the truth.   I did find a recipe this weekend that I worked over a little and I think I can say I really liked it.  So I am going to share it with you here.

Kale and Wild Rice Salad
1 container fresh baby kale, rinsed and the stems pinched off
2 cups cooked, seasoned and cooled wild rice (I bought a mix of wild and brown rice)
1 cup dried cranberries or raisins
1/2 cup walnuts chopped ( I might toast them a little next time)
1/2 cup thinly sliced fennel (if you don't like fennel, substitute celery)
1/2 thinly sliced red onion
1/2 thinly sliced red pepper
fresh parsley to taste, chopped
Mix together a dressing of:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp. dijon mustard
Put the dressing ingredients in a jar and shake to mix, then pour over the salad and refrigerate.  The kale doesn't easily wilt so it'll last quite a while in the fridge.  I think next time I make this, I am going to add some bleu cheese crumbles.  Really tasty.  I was thinking about substituting some quinoa for the wild rice too.  That's a miracle grain that is a complete protein so it would make this a main dish instead of just a side dish.
I have been experimenting with Mediterranean and Middle East foods lately as well in order to get more of the Antiangiogenesis herbs and spices into my diet.   Another reason I'm fascinated with these dishes is that they are derived from foods that Jesus might have eaten as He traveled that area.   I'll share more soon.   Just watch for the Survivor's Kitchen heading.
Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
You are the God who heals and You have placed healing in every natural food that You gave us.  As the manna sustained Your children in the desert for forty years, today's foods will sustain and help heal us.
Lord, we thank You for the healing that is taking place all over the world as cancers are being defeated more and more.  Guide us to the foods that will help fortify our bodies, strengthen our immune systems and assist the doctors in the process of destroying every cancer cell in our bodies.
We are asking special healing mercies today for our young friend, Tony.  His platelets have not recovered enough for his family to take their vacation and may delay his next chemo treatment.  Please step in, Father, and shore up his blood so he can continue on his journey of healing.
We thank You for another glorious day on this beautiful earth that you breathed into existence.
Thank You.
In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Day 460 Blessings

I recently finished a study of the first five books of the Bible written by Moses.  Throughout the writings, one of the main themes was the giving of the law and the importance of obedience.  Laws....lots and lots of laws. 

This morning I was turning to John when a highlighted section in Luke stopped me. 

"Jesus replied, "And are you experts in the law, woe to you because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them."  Luke 11:46

Jesus wasn't disavowing the laws, but was scolding the Pharisees because they were so involved in seeing that everyone obeyed the law that they neglected their love of God.   David says so beautifully in Psalm 103:1,

"Bless the Lord, O my soul."

In today's world, we don't need the Pharisees to burden us to the point of forgetting God.  We often do it to ourselves.  We let our lives become so busy there just isn't time to love God.  One of the few times that I heard directly from God, it was regarding just this thing.

I've written about this before but it bears repeating here.   A few months back, I was at the computer and opened a message from Tom Leding.  He had mentioned a scripture which I don't even remember now, but I had stopped to look it up in the Bible.   When I came to the word "love", God flashed these words into my mind in a way I can only describe as a neon sign.

"Slow down and just love me."

I share this again today because I think he is reminding me and everyone  to do just that.  He loves us so much and wants so much for us.  And in return He asks in so many ways for us not to edge Him out but to keep Him at the forefront.  After all, that's where He keeps us.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Thank You for Your word which is sent to us in so many different ways.   Thank You for the gentle reminder that in our lives and loves, You are first. 
Lord, I ask special healing mercies today for young Sadie.  We have prayed for her so often and her mother reports that the brain turmors are not being affected by the chemo and Sadie is having a hard time talking.   Lord, please just wrap Sadie and her family in Your loving arms as you comfort them and let them know that You are there with them every step of the way.   Let Sadie be an example of Your grace and mercy and let the chemo destroy every cancer cell that remains in her body.
We are praying and asking these things in the name of Jesus Christ who healed every sick person that was ever brought before him.
Thank You Father.  Thank You.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 456 Who Prayed For You?

I feel strongly and write often that it is an honor to pray for someone.    Not just a quick blessing spoken in passing, but a strong heartfelt prayer that sends love and healing and affirms the best for the person being prayed for.    I often think about homeless people that I see on the street or criminals in the news and I wonder if anyone has ever prayed for them.   Has anyone ever loved them enough to take the time to go down on their knees to ask for healing or for protection or just for love for them?  If someone had, they might not be homeless or might not be committing crimes or might not be displaying a countenance of such anger and hatred that it affects everyone who passes them.

Prayer is powerful.   I know that I don't spend enough time in prayer.   When I do, it's amazingly fulfilling but often I find my time frittered away on less important things and then don't take the time I should to pray. Oh my gosh,  I am so glad I just wrote that!   Thank You Father.   That was a message to myself that I need to write More Prayer Time on my short list of goals that I keep by my computer and read periodically throughout the day.  Thank You again, Father.

Now, I know that your Mother probably has prayed for you and your Grandmother has prayed for you and your Father and Grandfather have both probably prayed for you and maybe a spouse, if you're lucky enough to have a praying one.   But did you know that Jesus prayed for you?  Well, he did.  I have read the following passage many times but when I read it yesterday, all of a sudden the words stood out in huge bright type to me.

"I pray also for all those who will believe in me through their(the apostle's) message."  John 16:20

I realized that if you are a believer, which I so happily and gratefully am, then Jesus prayed for you and He prayed for me.  His prayer was for anyone in the future who would come to believe in Him.  I am so grateful for all the prayers that were prayed for me during my illness and healing, and all the times my Mother prayed for me throughout my entire life, but none can compare to having Jesus include me in a prayer.   It sounds impossible yet that is exactly what He did when He prayed that prayer.   It makes me realize how very special and  blessed we are to be considered one of His own.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Thank You for Your Son and for the miracle of prayer, the communion that we can have with You any time of the day or night and at any place.  Thank You, Lord, for each prayer offered on our behalf.  Thank You most of all for the prayer of Jesus on the behalf of everyone of us who believes His word.  His prayer is a gift of love that transcends all.
Father, today we thank You for answered prayer.   Our friend Lisa is home and her immune system is coming back and soon she will be able to return to a normal life.  For her, normal is loving You and proclaiming Your mercy that You have brought her through and defeated the multiple myeloma that was trying to destroy her body.  We give You all the praise, honor and glory and thank You for every victory over the enemy, cancer. 
Thank You, Father, thank You.
In the precious name of Jesus Christ, Your Son and our Lord and Savior,

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 455 Too Blessed to Complain

One of the writers of a daily devotional I read said that he recently saw these words on a bumper sticker.   "Too Blessed To Complain."   I realized that may not be how I sometimes feel but it is exactly how I am.   And when I am feeling not that blessed, God never fails to remind me that I am.

For the past week or more, I have been mourning the loss of my Golden, Chipper, and the end of an incredible fourteen year relationship of unconditional love.   Then yesterday, FedX rang my doorbell and it was a package from artist friends, Mikki Senkarik and Jack White.

An incredible painting of my boy.   You can just imagine how I felt when I opened the package.  Of course, I burst into tears all over again but this time with joy and gratitude.   It was God reminding me how blessed I am.   Not only are Mikki and Jack amazingly successful artists, but incredibly generous friends.  They mentor many artists and, as you can see, graciously share their talent.   In Psalms, it says that "God heals the brokenhearted and binds their wounds."   I am so grateful that He used my friends to help me with this healing. 

In addition to all their other accomplishments,  Mikki's paintings and Jack's paintings and the many books Jack has written, they are both cancer survivors.   Mikki beat cancer when she was a very young woman and shortly after I met them, Jack found out he had a cancer that had spread.   They have both won their fight against the enemy and are such good examples of how we should live after the storm.   I see daily how important it is for me to continue doing what I love to do, to have goals to work toward and, as I check off the ones I've accomplished, to look for new ones.   God gives me a purpose in my life and it may change from day to day, but as long as it is there, then I will continue to thrive and to be blessed.

If you have a pet you would love to have Mikki memorialize as she did Chipper, you can go to her website at www.senkarik.com.  In addition, you can watch the process of creating this painting soon at www.mikkisenkarik.wordpress.com

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Thank You for the miracle that is friendship.   Thank You for the friendship of Mikki and Jack and for their continued healing as they share their talent and knowledge and help others in their journey.
Lord, we ask special blessings today for our young friends, Tony and Bryce.   They have both defied all odds but need more prayers.   Tony, who has endured so many rounds of chemo, needs his numbers up so that he can take a fun vacation as a strong and healthy 16 year old.   Five year old Bryce is not feeling well after his most recent chemo and is complaining of chest pains.   We ask Your healing mercy on both of these precious children so that they can continue to inspire others with the strength you have given them to defeat cancer.
Thank You Lord for loving us and for healing us and for protecting us.   We are so blessed and grateful to be Your children. 
We love You, Father.   We love You.
In the name of our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 453 A Lesson Learned

I have been offline for a while. 
Last week, when I got home from church, I noticed that my Chipper had hardly moved since I left a few hours earlier.   At fourteen, he was way past the life expectancy for a Golden Retriever and was having severe problems with his hips.  He was much too heavy for me to pick up but we had learned how to make things work.  Our daily routine had become one of his barking when he wanted to get up and my pushing his hips into position with my foot.  Then as he started to get up, I would slip my foot under his tummy and help him up to the point where he could go on his own. 

Chipper has been with me since I first fell in love with him as a six week old puppy.  In all that time, first as a real estate broker and then as an artist,  I worked primarily from home so he has been with me 24/7.   When we were in the old three story house in Richmond, we fought bats together for over a year.   He co-authored my real estate newsletter, The Chipper Gazette.   He took every step I took, even when it meant a struggle to get up to follow me from the bed to the couch to the studio to the computer to the kitchen.   He was there for me.

Then came last Sunday.   I managed to get him up once to go outside and eat and potty and that was it.  He didn't get up again.   I knew what was coming.   I spent the night next to him and the next morning managed to scoot him onto a quilt.   My son in law came and helped me get him into the car and to the vet.   They confirmed what I knew, that it was time to say goodbye to my friend, my other child that I loved so very much. 
It's been a week now.   I've cried too many tears.   I've been inconsolable.   My family took me to a concert Friday night and that was nice but as soon as I got home, I began to miss Chipper all over again.   For a week, I haven't studied the Word and I've hardly even spent any time in prayer.   I wasn't angry, I just didn't have the energy to do much other than to grieve my loss.   My heart was broken.   I just kept seeing him lying there so helpless looking to me to make things better and I couldn't and I just kept seeing him shaking in fear as he was wheeled into the vet's office as if he knew what was coming.   And I kept seeing him lying there after as I buried my face in his fur just searching for that last sweet sandy smell of him that I didn't want to let go of. 
Finally after realizing that I had to get past this, I began to put my focus elsewhere.   I started to make myself see how every time I let him out the back door that I would lean over and kiss his face and tell him how much I loved him.   I started to focus on all the times I would lay down next to him on the floor to just pull his old body up close and feel his warmth.  I started to focus on all the times, when he would look me in the eye, I would ask him if he had any idea how much I loved him.   Every time, I do that, the tears dry and a smile comes to my face.  He knew.
So, this morning it was time to leave the sadness behind.   My lesson learned?  It is that my life is determined by where I put my focus.   I probably knew that and could speak of it but not as clearly as now.  It is like a flipping a switch, going from sad to glad.  So sad that I only have his memory but so glad that I had him in my life for 14 years and so glad that he knew how much I loved him and still do.
And the Lord?    Well, He sent me two messages this morning.   The first was this in Isaiah.
"Therefore will the Lord wait, that He may be gracious unto you...."       Isaiah 30:18
He knew what I was going through and He was gracious in His patience and confident that I would make my way back.   Then somehow I went from Isaiah to Hebrews.
"Therefore strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees.  Make level paths for your feet."
Hebrews 12:12
He was telling me that it is my responsibility to get back to normal.   No one is going to do it for me.  So, back I am.   Not totally back to normal, but well on my way to leaving the sadness behind and changing the focus to gratitude for 14 wonderful years where I was loved unconditionally, every day, here on earth.  
Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Thank You for waiting on me, allowing me to deal with that overwhelming sadness and for Your confidence that I would strengthen myself and straighten my path....the path that leads directly back to you. 
Father, there are so many suffering today as they fight the enemy, cancer.   I ask special healing blessings for our young friends, Tony and Bryce, as they travel through round after round of chemo and radiation.   Give them the strength to weather the blows that are dealt them in order to kill the cancer cells.   I ask also for strength for our friend Marti as she goes through another round of chemo in hospital.   She has been through so much and has never faltered in her love and honor for You.  Reward her, Lord, with a complete healing this time so that the cancer will be so completely destoryed that it will never return.
These things we pray in the name of our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 443 Taking Direction

Did you know that there are over 30,000 verses in the Bible?   That's a lot of verses.  That's a lot of teaching.   Where to start?   What to learn?  Which is most important? 

As I come across verses that seem to speak to me, I write them down.  I write some on index cards and have them on my desk and on my night stand.  I sometimes have them in my purse and have taken them with me to art shows.  There are some jotted down on my calendar and on the side and back of my "to do" list.  I have some jotted on the corners of used envelopes and even in the margins of books I'm reading.    I have a small journal where I keep most of them and that book is getting fuller and fuller.  This morning I was reading through the ones in my journal and, trust me, that is like taking a fuel injected vitamin pack first thing in the morning.   It just seems to feed every single need I have, line after line after line.   After I read a few pages in my journal, I went to the Bible to begin study there.  Now, if there are in fact over 30,000 verses in the Bible and maybe forty or fifty in my journal and if, out of all those verses, I come across the same verse twice in a twenty minute time span, don't you think that the Lord is telling me that I need to do something with that verse, to use it somehow?   I do.  So, here it is.

"Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear My voice behind you saying, 'This is the way; walk in it.'"   Isaiah 30:21

When I was my sickest during chemo, I found that verse and it brought me great comfort and I think God wants someone else to see it today knowing that it will bring that same comfort to them.   When we're at a crossroad, if we will just listen for His voice, we'll hear it.  We don't need to worry about which direction to take because His voice will automatically take us in the direction we're supposed to go. 

After my second chemo treatment last year, I knew that the oncologist that was treating me was not who I was supposed to be with.  I had felt a discomfort about him before but didn't realize that I could just fire him.  Then the prompting, God's voice, became stronger and stronger until I knew that He was leading me in a different direction.  If I had stayed with the first oncologist, I know now I would have never finished treatment.  When Dr. Popatia, my new oncologist said, "Thank God you came to me",  it was a confirmation that His voice had taken me where I was supposed to go. 

One of the greatest things about being a child of God is that our path is pretty much laid out for us.  And if we don't see it clearly enough, we simply have to ask His will be done and then just sit back for an amazing ride.   That ride might be a little bumpy at times and even a little scary at other times,  and sometimes it might be way more than a little scary, but knowing that He's right there behind us is still all the direction we need. 

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Thank You for Your voice behind us, guiding and directing us so that we know that we're going in the direction you intended for us.  Give us the strength and fortitude today to recognize and avoid the detours that are intended to take us in the wrong direction as we listen for Your voice every step of our journey.
Lord, we thank You for the journey we are on.   Maybe not a journey we would have chosen for ourselves but we know that You have a purpose for it and we love You and trust You to use our journey for only good and we are grateful.
In Jesus' precious name.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day 442 Inspired

No matter how many wonderful friends I have, no matter how great my family is, no matter that I have been healed of a horrible disease, no matter that I am a beloved child of the Most High....some mornings I just wake up in a deep blue funk.  No particular reason, it is just there hovering over my head.   Today was one of those mornings.  Then I finally got to the computer and in the process of my morning online routine, I got to Facebook.

I know... it's hard to imagine receiving inspiration through Facebook but there it was.   In the midst of all the silly jokes and sometimes snarky comments and banal postings and unbelievable fat and sugar laden recipes, there was just what I needed to read.   And if you know me you know who I give the credit for that to.  God just always seems to put in front of my face what I need right when I need it most.

First, there was a thank you from Wendy Jordan for all the birthday wishes and her gratitude to God for another birthday after having been healed of cancer twice.  Wendy's dream and mission is a foundation to benefit children with cancer and she is on her way to seeing that dream come true.  At the end of her post, she wrote"

"God didn't give me cancer.   He only redirected my journey."

Talk about taking lemons and making lemonade.  Wendy is doing it.   Then I came to a post from the CancerForward Foundation which is for cancer warriors and victors.  There was a link to a story from Karin Diamond that is so amazing.   I hope you'll take the time to click on this link and read it.  It is titled:  Cancer is not all I have.  It proves that we are not defined by this disease.


Lastly, but certainly not least, was a post shared by friend Lisa who has had her stem cell transplant and is in sort of quarantine waiting for her immune system to come back to full force.  It is from a lady named Marti whose journey started with a tiny melanoma and has turned into a huge fight for her life.  You can follow her at Marti's Melanoma Journey on Facebook.

Three women who have looked the devil in the face, have not been defeated and are still fighting.  Please stop for a few minutes today and join me in sending them prayers of strength and love and healing.

Father God, Jehovah Rapha,
We are praying this morning for three amazing women who are in a battle for their lives here on earth.  We thank You that Your healing Spirit is moving mightily within them right now as they face each day wondering when the enemy will appear again and what form it is going to take.  Guide the medical staff working with each one of them to the cure that will destroy every cancer cell in their body so completely that they can never return. 
Love them, bless them, heal them, comfort them, strengthen them.  Let this journey be one of total recovery and one from which they can proclaim Your goodness and Your grace.
These things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, the name above cancer, the name above all names.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Day 440 Wish I'd Said That

When I was first diagnosed with cancer in April of 2012, I began to write this journal, in part to document my journey, but also as a platform from which I and anyone who reads it can stop and pray, become a part of a corporate prayer for others on a similar journey.   At my church's Wednesday night Bible Study, we always end with a corporate prayer for individuals needing help from God and the results are astounding. 

I've written often about the phrase at the end of Job when, after having lost everything and suffered unspeakable pain and sorrow, only "after he prayed for his friends" did God restore back to him everything he had lost and even twice as much as  had lost.   It is such a profound message of the importance of praying for others.

This morning when I opened my computer, the topic of today's devotional in the Daily Word was praying for others.   As I read through, I was moved by the beauty of the author's words and I want to share them here with you.

"In praying for others, I give them a personal and powerful gift - an expression of my faith in them, in the spirit of God within them, and in the enduring power of prayer."

Isn't that an amazing description of truth?   I wish I had said that.  The Bible speaks over and over of giving first and then receiving.   Most of the time, we think in terms of giving tithe, or talent, or time and the blessings that are received in return.   Now, as I think more about this, giving of our prayers for others not only blesses them but blesses us in return.   God said it in Job.   Only when Job had prayed for his friends did his blessings come. 

When I first started to write this journal, often readers would share names of friends and family who are fighting the enemy, cancer, asking us to pray for them.   I encourage you to continue that.  I, along with everyone who follows this journal, am honored and blessed in return to share the gift of praying for these brave warriors. 

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Thank You for the privilege of praying for others.   Let these prayers carry Your healing word and healing power to each of them.  Let our prayers instill in everyone we pray for the miracle of Your spirit moving mightily within  them.   Bless, Lord, each one who stops today to pray for these warriors and let our prayers shore them up in the battle they are fighting against cancer. 
Father, we ask special healing for Wylie who is fighting stage 4 lung cancer.   We know the miracle you performed in Frank and we are believing for the same miracle for Wylie. 
We thank You this morning for the huge progress in healing made by our friends Lisa and Bryce and Tony.  Father, we give You all the praise, honor, and glory for each step forward they are able to take, no matter how small it might seem at the time. 
Thank You for loving us.  Thank You for being our God, our one true God who never leaves or forsakes us.
We pray these things in the name of Your son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Day 438 He Did It Again!

Yes, the Lord is up to His old tricks......again............hiding His hand in the guise of coincidence and I love it.   I wrote a week or so back about being in a crowded restaurant and God putting a precious lady at my table who had just defeated cancer and who loved the Lord as I do and what a wonderful mealtime we spent just sharing.

This time it was at Walmart of all places.  Friday, I stopped to pick up some dog and cat food and decided while I was there to pick up a few things for myself.  As I came around a corner into the produce section,  a lady was standing there like she was waiting for someone and when she saw me a huge smile of greeting came across her face.   I tried to remember if I knew her but realized quickly I had never seen her before.

She pushed her cart next to mine and picked up a clear plastic container out of it and held it up to show me.
"I don't know why but I just feel like I'm supposed to be touting this," she said.  "It's baby kale."   
If you have followed my journal, you know that I feel very strongly about eating antiangiogenesis foods every day.   They are foods that inhibit the growth of those specific blood vessels that feed cancer cells.  One of the foods that shows huge promise is kale but for the life of me, I just can't stand cooking or eating that tough curly stuff that looks like it should be decoration on a day old deli tray. 
"It's delicious," she went on to tell me.   "It's young and tender and cooks quickly and I even eat it raw in salads."
Then she took me down to where it was on display,  picked up a container out of the refrigerated case and handed to me and I thanked her and she went on her way.

Don't you just love it when God shows up and shows out?   He has repeatedly used strangers to impact me in so many different ways.  There is no doubt in my mind that He placed that woman there and that she was waiting just for me so that she could encourage my eating the right foods to continue to heal my body and to honor God.   She acted like she was waiting for me and her smile told me she was waiting for me  and that she was so pleased when I came around that corner.   She may not have been aware that she was waiting for me but God knew and I knew.   He is so amazing and I am grateful

So, my lunch today was a big salad.   It had baby kale(AA), carrots(AA), red peppers(AA), cilantro(AA), and the dark meat(AA) of a rotisserie chicken.  To find out more about antiangiogenesis foods, go to www.eattodefeatcancer.org .

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
You are so great and gracious as You guide us in how to eat and how to work and how to rest and how to live.  We acknowledge that our bodies are a redeemed territory and a gift from You and it is our responsibility to do whatever we can to care for them so that we stay strong and healthy in order to better serve You.
We praise You today Father for the good pathology report for young Tony showing no cancer cells in his appendix or the mass taken with the appendix.  Strengthen him as he is on another week long in hospital round of chemo.  We praise You today for strengthening our precious friend Lisa so that she has been able to leave the quarantine of the hospital.  She is still in a sort of quarantine in a sanitized apartment but we're so grateful that she is enlarging her territory as she improves.
You are such an awesome God and we love You so much and we give You all the praise, honor and glory for every new day that we have here on this amazing earth that You breathed into existence.
We pray these things in the beloved name of Jesus Christ, our blessed Healer.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Day 436 Silence is Golden

I have no idea why this phrase jumped into my mind this morning except that God put it there and wanted me to think about it and pushed me to the computer immediately to write about it.  It must be important so here goes.   Selah.  

Silence is golden.   If silence is  golden, then it must be valuable.  If it's golden, then it must be rare.   Hmmmm.   I would guess that when most people hear that phrase Silence is Golden, they think it means to keep our mouths shut so that we don't insert a foot.  Don't say the wrong thing.  Just hush.   Out of curiosity I did a word search and, in the Bible, silence is used most often as a verb as in "He silenced them."   Often that meant not just quieting a problem but eliminating it.  Yikes!  I didn't think that was where I was supposed to go with this, so my mind continued to ponder the phrase Silence is Golden.   I went to the dictionary and there the first definition of silence was absense of noise and the second was stillness.

So often today it seems that there isn't even just a few minutes in our day where there is silence, stillness.  Friends, family, coworkers, cell phones and texts, music and the worst culprit of all, the television, eliminate just about any quiet or still time in our lives.  We almost have to schedule a time for silence and stillness.  And that time is so important.  Not just to our mental health for a time to power down, but how can we truly connect in prayer with our Creator, our Savior, if the tv is blasting or if the little ding is going off on the cell phone indicating another text that we feel we must respond to immediately?  How often have we stopped in the middle of prayer to see who was on the other end of that text?

When Jesus needed a time to connect with His Father, He went away from everyone to find that quiet stillness.  With no interruptions from the outside, He was able to pray and to converse and to interact with God.  He was able to express what He was going through and to hear back from God.   Sometimes I'm so amazed that God can even get through to me because of everything going on and I live alone and work from home.  It must be a hundred times more difficult for those with a growing family and a public workplace.

Years ago, I read a book titled The Artist Way by Julia Cameron.   It was sort of a twelve step program designed to help an artist get past a creative block.   One of the steps was to eliminate all reading for a week to sort of free up the mind, clean it out so that there was room for inspiration to enter.   At that time, computers were for work and not entertainment.  There were only a few tv stations, limited cell phone use and no ipods or ipads.   If The Artist Way was updated, I think the author would suggest that we wean ourselves off some sort of technology for a week instead of reading.   Imagine the amount of time we could free up if we just turned off the television for a week.   Too much?   Imagine turning it off for just one single day.  Imagine the silence that would follow once we hit the power button to darken the screen and quiet the sound.   Just thinking about it, I can almost take a deeper breath and feel my nerves start to power down too.

With the tv off and the cell phone off, imagine the feeling you would get of immediately being surrounded by something else.  Just close your eyes and feel that little quickening in your spirit as you begin to feel God's presence.   Take a few deep breaths and settle back into His arms as you open your heart and mind to the Holy Spirit moving within you and the warmth of boundless love circling you.   Shhhhhhhh...........  Don't speak.   Just feel.  Silence is golden.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
You know the silence and quiet and stillness that we need each day to make an intentional and closer connection with You.  Help us to recognize how and when we can bring that stillness into our lives more and more often so that we know better what it is to feel Your love and comfort surrounding us.  Teach us how to listen for Your word and direction in that stillness.  Bless us.   Love us.  Teach us.  Show us.  Help us to come closer to You in everything that we do.   We know, Father, that we can talk with You at any time no matter what is going on in our lives but we're looking for that special quality time with You, that time when it is just the two of us.  Let today be a starting point for that special time. 
Thank You, Father.   Thank You.
In Jesus' name we pray, the name of our precious Lord and Savior.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Day 434 Looking To The Future

Did you know that the entire Bible is looking toward the future?  No matter how far back you go, everything in it points to the future.  At times, past events may be retold in order to impress on us what not to do and how to plan and conduct our future, but everything is geared toward the future.

Read the entire 53rd chapter of Isaiah.    If you study the Old Testament carefully, you will see that over and over the sriptures are pointing toward a future Messiah that can only be Jesus.

"But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed."   Isaiah 53:5

In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of His future, of His death and the resurrection that is to come.   His disciples teach of His future return.  Lessons are given that tell us how to let go of whatever is holding us back in the present so that we can go into the future with the confidence of eternal life with that one true Messiah.  Even Revelation, that many consider the end, is only pointing to the future.

"I am coming soon.  Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.  He who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God..."  Revelation 3:11.12

I know well that in the midst of the battle against cancer, in the midst of pain and nausea from the chemo, it is often difficult to look to the future.   And it isn't just cancer warriors who get bogged down in the "right now" but people suffering from a whole variety of circumstances.   But if we study His word continually as God commands us, we can be refreshed and reassured in the knowledge that we have a future.  We are given a platform from which to proclaim His goodness and we are given an assurance of a future life free of pain and nausea and secure in His loving arms.  How blessed we are to be counted as one of his beloved children.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Thank You for giving each one of us a future that we can look forward to.   It is only through the study of Your word that we can impress upon our spirit that today is only temporary but the joy of life with you is everlasting.
Thank You for giving every person fighting the enemy cancer a glimpse into their future, one free of pain and sorrow and an eternal future spent loving and being loved by You.
Thank You Father.  Thank You.
These things we pray in the name of our precious Lord and Savior, the one true Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Day 432 First and Foremost

The first commandment that God gave Moses simply said, "You shall have no other Gods before me."   The first four commandments that were given address our relationship with God and the remaining six tell us how to live with our fellow humans here on earth. 

I've thought often what a simple commandment that is.   Have no other Gods before me.  Simple and short and sweet but probably the one that is the most difficult for us to follow.   We have a tendency to make gods of so many things............money, food, possessions, play, sports and sports figures, celebrities, even our work.   God, however, impressed upon us, not once but twice, how important this commandment is. 

In Deuteronomy 6:5, Moses tells the children of Israel:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."

In the 22nd chapter of Matthew, a Pharisee asks Jesus which is the most important commandment and He says:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind."

He goes on to say that this is the first and the greatest, the first and foremost,  of all the Commandments.  So, the big question is.... how do we do what we're told to do, how do we keep God first and foremost in our lives?  Moses gives the most practical instruction in how to accomplish this.  He tells us to talk and think about God and His commandments all the time, "when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."

The next question is how do we talk and think about God all the time?   We can do that when we take the time to study His word.  When we take the time to study we learn and the excitement of learning makes us want to know more and as we begin to know more we want to share that knowledge with others and thus the thoughts and the conversations begin.  But first and foremost, we have to study.  Try it.   It's addictive.   It's better than any movie, more delicious than any candy and more satisfying than closing the biggest deal and quickly we are able to recognize what should be and what is quickly becoming first and foremost in our life.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Thank You for Your word, the Holy Bible.  We know that there have been many translations and over hundreds of years human hands have touched and revised it but through it all, the message has remained the same.  That we are to love You with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our strength and with all our mind.   And we do. 
We thank You for the promises You made.  We know that You are the same yesterday, today and forever and that we can stand on those promises.  We know that no matter what comes to pass, that You are there with us.
Lord, we thank You for the healing that is taking place today in Your children, Lisa, Tony, Ruth, Frank, Bryce, Sadie, Simon and so many more who are fighting the enemy, cancer.  Give them the strength, fortitude, and knowledge of Your word to use in that battle.
We love You, Lord.  We give you all the praise, honor, and glory.
These things we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the one true Messiah who came to save us and will assuredly come again.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Day 429 No Coincidences

I have written often that there are no coincidences, that a coincidence is just God's way of staying anonymous.   He was so present in the coincidence that happened to me today and I'm excited to tell you about it.

First of all, it's summer time in Texas.  Whew.......   I had errands to run and a little after noon my stomach started to growl.  I decided to stop at Firehouse Subs for a quick lunch because I had never been there before but also because it's located sort on the backside of a shopping center so I thought it probably wouldn't be crowded.   Not so.   It was packed and after I made my order and paid, there were no empty tables.   I saw a woman sitting alone at a table obviously waiting for a to go order so I asked if I might sit at the table with her.  She smiled, said yes and shortly after picked up her order and left.  Right behind her a woman walked up to the table with the same request I had just made, so I asked her to have a seat.  Coincidentally, we had ordered the same thing and our orders came out right behind each other so we started up a casual conversation while we ate.

As we began to learn more about each other, we began to ask questions.  She asked if I did art shows and I said yes, that I had until last year when I was diagnosed with colon cancer.  She stopped and looked at me with a stunned expression on her face.  Then she shared with me that she had just finished treatment for rectal cancer and that God keeps putting people in her life who have cancer or have been healed of cancer.  It happens over and over.

As you can imagine, we began to share our experiences.  The conversation quickly turned to our faith, our love for Jesus and the miracles He has performed in our life.  We walked outside and, in the heat, continued to share our praise and wonder for the goodness of God.  In the end, we exchanged cards and intend to stay in touch with each other.   And so, I've made a new friend, a precious Christian woman who understands what I've been through and that I can understand what she's been through.  She shared this important scripture with me that I want to share with you.

" Affliction shall not rise up the second time."  Nahum 1:9

That is her prayer, that once we are done with cancer, we're done with it.... physically.   I don't think anyone who has been through cancer will ever be done with it psychologically.  Any time you have an illness where your life is threatened by a disease and where you have to become sicker in order to become better, the memory of the journey remains a part of your life forever.   But the good part, and there is a good part,  of it is that your relationship with Jesus and His healing mercies remain an even greater part of your life.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
I know that what I had today was a blessed encounter that You arranged and I thank You.  How awesome You are to put the two of us together so that we might praise You and share the wonder of Your greatness.  I serve an amazing God and, for You, nothing is impossible.
I ask today, Father, that You continue to guide the medical community in developing cures for cancer that will no longer involve chemo and radiation.  You would never let an affliction come on Your children without there being a way to eradicate it. 
Thank You for the testimonies of all those who have been cured of cancer medically and for all those who have been cured supernaturally.  Let those of us who have had cancer use it as a platform from which to proclaim Your glory.   Let each warrior and survivor feel your healing Spirit moving mightily within them right now so they are healed so completely that the affliction of cancer does not return a second time.  Thank You for everything, Father.  Thank You.
In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the name above pain, the name above cancer, the name above all names.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Day 428 New Hope

For cancer survivors and for those still fighting cancer, it seems like every day there is a new hope on the horizon.  Tonight, Livestrong in Austin will be offering a free seminar on the importance of exercise in combating cancer.  It's too late to go back and add exercise to your lifestyle before cancer and, for me at least, it was impossible to exercise while going through treatment, but it's never too late to add the right exercise to your lifestyle now.  You can live stream this seminar on your computer tonight or see it later on their blog.  I've signed up for it and you can too at www.livestrong.org .

I heard this morning about a new drug being developed that will block the pathway of cancer cells so that healthy cells won't have to be damaged the way they are now with chemo and radiation.  As my friend Lisa lies in isolation with her mouth full of ulcers and lesions in her throat from the chemo, fighting a spiking fever and nausea while trying to rebuild her immune system, the thought of no chemo is truly a gift from God.

Eat to Defeat Cancer is a website I have long touted and it is based on the study of certain foods that starve the blood vessels that feed cancer cells thus inhibiting their growth.  I try to incorporate at least one and, most of the time, even more of these foods into every meal I eat.  To learn which foods, check out www.eattodefeatcancer.org .   The hope is that as more is learned about these everyday super foods, incorporating them into a daily diet can prevent cancer cells from growing in our bodies. 

Hope is such an important thing.  We can hope that exercise will help prevent cancer.   We can hope that new drugs will help kill cancer.   We can hope that eating the right foods will help starve cancer.   But the real hope isn't in exercise, drugs, or food.  The real hope is in God.  We are told over and over again in the Bible to put our hope in the Lord.  Three different times in Psalms, David writes:

"Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God."

You know how important the number three is and when something like this is repeated three times, it is the same as a gillion exclamation points.  Believe it!  No matter what is happening in your life, there is hope in God.  No matter the medical reports, there is hope in God.   No matter the dispair and desolation, there is hope in God.  Don't know where to find it?  Pick up your Bible.  Don't know where to look?  Start with Psalms and Proverbs.   God knows your every need and He'll guide you to the words you need to hear.  He loves you and wants the best for you but you have to seek Him and know that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.  He is a great and wonderful God.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
You are the God who heals.  You heal hearts and You heal spirits and You heal bodies.  You know our every need.   I ask today that You show each of Your children exactly where their hope is.   It's in You, Lord.   In You.
Father, we thank You for Your healing Spirit which is moving mightily within each of our friends dealing with the enemy, cancer, today.   We ask that You touch Lisa and David, a young father just diagnosed with brain cancer, and Sadie whose scans are showing growth where the brain tumors were removed and Tony who is off to camp with other teenage cancer patients while waiting on a pathology report on the new mass taken from his abdomen and Bryce who is just finishing another round of chemo and enjoying his time off.
Thank You, Father, for everything You do on behalf of these precious ones and their loved ones who are suffering along with them.   Bless them, love them, heal them.
In Jesus' healing name we pray.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Day 427 Obedience

Over the years, God would put a stirring in my soul to do something.   Even though I wasn't always sure where that stirring came from in my early Christian life, I was obedient.   It never failed to be the right thing for me to do.  This morning in my study time, twice I came across these verses in the 8th chapter of Romans.

"No, in all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 8: 37-39

So, it seems that God wants me to share these verses with someone in particular today.  If that is so, then He will make sure that someone reads today's post and receives His words and His comfort.  We serve such an amazing God and He knows our every need.   We are so blessed that we have Him to turn to whenever we need to feel His giant loving arms wrapped around us, our shield and our protector.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Thank You for being there for us in every single step we take.  Thank You for caring for us and shielding and protecting us.  Thank You for allowing us to be used by You to share your comfort with others.  Thank You, Jesus.  Thank You.
We thank You again today for the protection that You are for our friends fighting the enemy, cancer.  We thank You for giving them authority over all the powers of the enemy.  We know that Your healing is taking place inside of each of them right now.  Help us to be stronger in our faith as we face the day and help us to stay focused on You, the true source of all healing.
We pray these things in the name of our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Day 426 Just Passing Through

Yesterday was my daughter Melanie's birthday and we celebrated with dinner out and then back to her home for cake and presents.  My son-in-law, John,  is a musician.  He sings, plays the guitar and writes some amazing songs.  My grandson is learning to play the guitar and all in all, it's a musical family. 

So, at the table, John played a Willie Nelson song that is a cover of a ColdPlay song which I had never heard.   I shared another  of Willie's songs, one that he had never heard.   It was one that Willie recorded with Sheryl Crowe called "Come On Up To The House".    I play it over and over and in my mind, "the house" in this song is a metaphor for God.  The refrain says:

This world is not my home.
I'm just passing through.
It tells us to quit whining because that does no good.  Just come on up to the house.  Just take our worries to God. 
For those of us who have faced some life challenging events, we know this home is temporary.  At the same time, this life being temporary does not require less of us.  It requires more.  Have you ever stayed in temporary housing for a few days or a few weeks waiting for a more permanent move?  There probably wasn't a feeling of responsibility for that place.   For us as Christians, we have to honor this life and this place we are given, even though it is temporary, because it is where we have the opportunity to come to know Jesus better and to know ourselves better.  It is where we learn to love Him more and to show that love as the guiding light of our life.  It is where we learn to care for this earth, for our loved ones and for our friends and neighbors.   It is an opportunity to do good for others and, in a way, it is a proving ground for our next life. 
Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
I am so grateful Father for this life experience You have given me.   I hope to prove myself worthy of all You sacrificed for me.   I can't make this walk alone and I know that You are right alongside of me.  Thank You for being there for all of us all the time and for never abandoning us.  Help us today to honor You by living the best life that we can. 
Father, I am offering a special prayer today for our friend Lisa.  Her immune system is gone right now and she is in isolation and has spiked a fever.  We ask that Your healing touch energize every med she is given to fight the infection, to fight the multiple myeloma and to cure her completely.  She is such a passionate warrior for You.  Keep her safe and protected and let her feel Your presence today as You surround her with Your love.
I ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ, the name above all names.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Day 425 Walking A Tightrope

First of all, let me say that I DO NOT LIKE HEIGHTS!   Every time this week the promo came on TV for Nik Wallenda's walk across the Grand Canyon, I had to switch stations.  I simply couldn't watch it.  About five minutes into the walk, my cousin Bobby called me and told me that Nik was talking with Jesus the whole time he was walking.   So, with nerves stretched and my heart pounding, I had to watch.

Jesse Turner who spoke at church yesterday used the circus and a tightrope walker as a metaphor for a day in the life of a Christian.  He mentioned several times to be sure that "you know that you know that you know that you know" who your Savior is and where your salvation lies.  Nik Wallenda exhibited that yesterday. 

"I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With Him at my right hand I will not be shaken."
Psalm 16:8

Nik was focused.  He tried to talk during the walk and quickly found out that in order to make it across the Grand Canyon, 1500 feet up in the air with no safety net, he had to be focused and his focus was on Jesus.  The words of praise that came from his mouth were beautiful and inspiring.  The Bible says that God inhabits the praise of His children.  He was there next to Nik.  Nik knew that he knew that he knew that he knew that he knew that Jesus was his Savior.  He knew that Jesus was his safety net.  He displayed a peace that passes all understanding for most of us who simply cannot comprehend  how or why a human being would attempt such a feat. 

What an incredible platform from which to share his love of Jesus and his total trust in Him.  Milllions watched Nik accomplish the seemingly impossible while keeping his eyes on Jesus.  So, I wonder what your seemingly impossible feat to accomplish today is and will you keep your eyes focused on Jesus?   I'm going to do my best to follow Nik's example and through everything today I will tell Him how much I love Him and how He is my everything.  He has proven over and over that He will see us through if we just ask and He will do it again for us today. 

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Thank You for bringing Nik safely across the Grand Canyon last night.  That You for the example he is that with You, anything is possible.  Thank You for keeping the tightrope of life steady for us today and the winds light.  We can only make it across with our eyes focused on You.
Lord, thank You for bringing our young friend Tony through his surgery safely on Friday.  The doctors successfully removed the diseased appendix along with a small mass that was growing where his cancerous kidney used to be and it was sent to pathology.  We are asking, in Your name, Jesus, for a good report.   We are asking in Your name that the mass is nothing to even be concerned about.  Only You can do that Lord.
We thank You for bringing healing to this nation Lord.  Cancer is so much more prevalent today than ever before.  We ask You to heal our bodies and to heal our spirits.  Show us how to live for you, honoring You with everything we do. 
We love You, Jesus.  We love You and give You all the praise, honor and glory.
In Jesus' precious name.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Day 421 What If?

I think about and write often about the "ifs" in the Bible.    Did you know that the word "if" appears almost 1600 times?   That's a lot of "ifs".   This morning I heard the phrase "what if" and it set off a light bulb in my head.  Important questions to ask myself, not just today but every day.

What if I put more trust in God?   What would happen if I could just let go of my anxieties and turned them over to Him?  He promised that He would take on all our cares if we could just do that.

What if I spend just an extra five minutes on my knees in prayer every day?   Jesus prayed all night.  One time he went away to pray and fast for 40 days.  What would happen if I just took that extra time to be with Him,  just the two of us?  I think it would be a much closer relationship.

What if I take the time today to exercise my body so that I was in the best shape I could be in?  Probably I would be better able to serve Him.  That in itself is it's own reward. 

What if I make the right choices today in the foods I eat?  There is certainly a reward in that.  Not just feeling better at the time but long reaching benefits allowing me to still better serve Him.

What if I let go today of any anger and unforgiveness in my heart?  What would happen?  It would certainly make room for more love and joy and it would allow God to forgive me.  He tells us that we have to forgive in order to be forgiven.

What if you take a few minutes today to think about your own what ifs?  Try it.  Just put what if in front of anything that you've been dealing with and turn it over to Him.  He says that His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  It only becomes light when you give it away and He's there to receive it whenever you're ready.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
I know so many people that read and pray along with me are going through huge issues.  I ask that You open their minds and hearts to the release, the relief and the lightness that can only come from You if they will just turn their burdens over to You.
Father, I surrender every one of your warriors fighting the enemy today to you and I ask in the name of Jesus Christ that You make their yoke easy and their burden light.  For Lisa who has had her entire immune system destroyed so that healthy stem cells can be implanted to kill the multiple myeloma in her blood, I ask that you ease the pain and the nausea and give her complete healing.
For Tony who will have his appendix out tomorrow so that he can restart chemo, I ask that the surgery go quickly and that recovery is complete so that he can resume treatment to completely destroy every cancer cell in his body.
For Bryce, Lord I just ask that you ease the nausea that he is fighting from the chemo.  He just celebrated his fifth birthday and we want him here for at least another eighty or ninety birthdays. 
We surrender the healing of these precious ones to You, Lord.  You are the God who heals.  Let them be shining examples of Your love and mercy.
We pray these things in the name of Jesus Christ, the one true Messiah.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Day 419 Do You Have Your Rewards Card?

It seems like every time I purchase something now days, the checker asks for a rewards card so that I can receive either an instant benefit or a benefit at a future date.  I have reached that point in the Bible and I'm excited. 

I've been studying the Old Testament lately and have worked my way slowly and meticulously through Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers.  So far, God has led His children through the desert and given them law after law after law to follow with the threat of some dire punishments if the laws are not followed.  Finally, in Deuteronomy, He starts to lay out the rewards for obeying Him.  Thank You Lord.  And there are amazing rewards.

He promises prosperity and good health and long life and all those things we long for but... it seems each reward is preceded by an "if" of some sort.   The rewards come with a requirement.  Some action has to be taken first. As Pastor RO often says, with God, it's like a checker game.  You move and then He moves.   With a rewards card, you have to make the first move and that is a purchase.  With God, we have to make the first move and that is to show our love and obedience and then we can expect the rewards from Him.

Does obeying Him and being rewarded mean that we will never have financial problems or that severe illnesses will never strike?   No and no.   What it does mean is that regardless what happens, we have an assurance that we are not alone and that He is there with us no matter what we're going through, and that He will never leave us.  It means that in the midst of illness, we know that He is working on our behalf to bring about a cure.   It means that even though we don't have all the material things we want, we are still rich beyond imagination. 

Obedience, in a way, simply means doing the right thing.   Sometimes, doing the right thing is not easy but as the old saying goes, it is it's own reward.  God has instilled that sense in us that if we do things His way, knowing what is right to do, there will be a great release of pain and anxiety and a huge sense of relief and reward.   There is no big secret to His reward.  It's all there in the Bible.   Just pick it up and read.   You'll be excited and encouraged and reassured that He is real and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him.  Thank You God.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
You have made Your plan for us so plain and easy to understand.  We just need to love and trust You and open ourselves to Your guidance and then follow.  And we do.
We thank You for the miracles that are taking place every day as You guide the medical community closer and closer to totally defeating the enemy cancer. 
We thank You for the healing Spirit moving mightily within our friends Lisa and Tony and Bryce and Sadie and Frank.  Strengthen them Father to fight this huge battle here and give them stamina to overcome so that they may be witness to Your goodness and grace.
These things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Day 418 Do What You Can

This morning I was exercising along with Faithful Workouts on the NRB Channel.  The leader kept saying, "If you can't do this, then just do what you can."    Some of the exercises were a little hard for me so I did what I could and when I couldn't do something, I just substituted a movement that I could do.

I was thinking then.... that is the same thing God asks of us.   If you can't spend hours in studying His word every day, that's okay.   Just do what you can.  Maybe it's only 15 minutes or maybe it's only a chapter a day, at least you're trying.  I think that once you are in the Word, there is so much to learn that you will quickly grow hungry for more and find time for more. 

What if you have difficulty finding long periods of time to spend in prayer and then waiting for an answer?  God wants us to do what we can.  One of the most profound words I ever had from Him was when I was in front of the computer, reading a message that had a scripture in it.  My Bible was on the table so I stopped to look up the scripture and when I reached the word "love" in the verse, God just flashed His message into my mind.  "Slow down and just love Me."   That didn't come after long prayer and meditation but in the midst of seeking Him in a quick and hurried way.  He knows what you can do and He loves you and blesses you for every effort you put forth to do more.

What about doing for others?  Few people have time for volunteering so what else can you do?  How about a special donation to support a group that does for others what you can't?  How about cleaning out your closet and donating those things you haven't worn for ages to someone that can use them now?   What about a garage sale to get rid of the junk in your garage and earmark those funds for God?  Or maybe donate an old piece of furniture to someone like Salvation Army that will put homeless people to work to rehab it for resale?

Just ask.  God is so good to respond.   If you can't do one thing for Him, you can surely do another.  If you ask, he'll provide the answer. 

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Thank You for showing us what we can do when we're in the midst of can't do.  Show us what we can do for others and by doing for them, do more for You.
Lord, we thank You for the healing that is taking place now in those precious cancer fighters that we prayed for alst week.   Bryce celebrated his fifth birthday and is doing better every day with scans showing huge improvement.  Tony is finally able to eat, will have surgery this week to remove his appendix so he can restart chemo.  Sadie is doing better and our friend Lisa is in the midst of massive chemo treatments getting ready for stem cell implant.  Lord, we just ask that You continue to give them the stamina to fight off the enemy and to defeat this enemy so profoundly that it becomes nothing more than a distant memory.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ, the one true Messiah.