Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Day 372 Grumpy Gus

I woke this morning at 3:30am.  Wide awake!  I thought probably that God had something specific to communicate with me about.  The Bible is full of references to "three in the afternoon"  so that has to be an important time of day but nothing about "three in the morning".  Well, I got nothing.  No connection.  No word.  I should have remembered that when He does give me a word, it is always unexpected and a huge surprise.  So, by 4:30, I gave up and fixed  coffee and some breakfast.  No study, I dressed and went to the grocery store and got my shopping out of the way.  Back home, I thought maybe a nap.  Not to be.  Between Chipper bathing his bed and Crystal snoring and the fridge running, I gave up again.  I decided while I was still dressed in street clothes to go ahead and ship some paintings so that is now out of the way as well.

The results are that I'm foggy headed and more than a little grumpy.  I'm going to have to pray my way out of this and, thank You God,  I know that I can.  I hate to have another cup of coffee.  I usually stick to just one but today may have to be an exception.  So, coffee first so I don't fall asleep while I'm praying, then into painting clothes and back into the studio.   If you are creative, and everyone is, I want to share a prayer from Marianne Williamson for creativity.  I read it every morning when I go into the studio before I start painting and it just seems to get my work off to the best start.

Dear God,
I dedicate this work to you.
Imprint Your mind upon it.
Fly with it unto the heavens.
Use it to shower Your love onto the world.
Thank You for Your faith in me that such a glorious mission has been placed in my hands.

If you log onto Facebook today, please go to the page for Sparkle on Sadie.  She's an 8 year old girl from Magnolia that we've prayed for before.  She was diagnosed with brain cancer this past December.  She spent time at St. Jude's and is back home now to finish her treatment.  Her Mom wrote yesterday asking for big prayers for Sadie's blood count to come up.  I'm sure the radiation and chemo have effected her count and it makes her so susceptible to other illnesses and harder to fight the cancer.  So, please include Sadie in your prayers today.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Please forgive me for grumbling over a little lost sleep.  Thank You for putting it into perspective for me.  In the long run, it is such a little thing, so small not even to be counted.
Lord, I thank You for the privilege to pray for others, especially children, fighting this hated enemy.  I ask that Your healing Spirit move mightily within Sadie today, strengthening her for the battle ahead.  She has shown herself to be such a courageous warrior.  Let her finish this and emerge as a shining example of Your love and mercy. 
In the name of Jesus Christ, the name above pain, the name above cancer, the name above all names.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Day 371 Understanding God

First of all, let me say that I believe that all the study in the world will not make clear everything about God.

"As you do not know the path of the wind - so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things."  Ecclesiastes 11:5

But it seems to me that, like in Genesis with Joseph, what we sometimes see as evil or a disaster, God can turn around for good.

This weekend, Cowboy Church and FAITH Foundation had a Rodeo Playday planned for the kiddos for yesterday, Sunday.  Lots and lots of work went into it from raising funds for the awards to the advertising, gathering items for a silent auction, food and refreshments, etc.  It grew from a small event to much more than anyone envisioned.  FAITH Foundation, and I hope I'm telling this correctly, was started by a lady named Wendy who we've prayed for before.  She has an incurable form of cancer that is currently in remission.  The focus of her foundation is to raise funds to help warriors fighting childhood cancer.  Everything was in place but on Saturday, it looked like the Lord had decided to bring about a second Flood.  Pastor called me about 6pm to say that the arena where the playday was to be held was so muddy that it would have to be canceled.

I could hear the exhaustion and disappointment in Pastor RO's voice.  All I could think was that there is a reason.  God will take this disappointment and turn it for good.  We may not understand it now but in time it will be revealed.  Sure enough, at Church yesterday, it was announced that the Playday has been rescheduled for June 1st, a Saturday, which means that members of other churches will be able to participate.  The next day, June 2nd, as it turns out is National Cancer Survivor Day.  How great to be better able to tie the Playday with the fight against cancer and the recognizing those who have won the battle.

I feel that this same understanding of taking evil and turning it for good is present in every cancer diagnosis as well.  I know that my diagnosis gave me an opportunity to grow in my faith and trust in the Lord way more than I ever would have otherwise.  And I am grateful.  Still, every day there are those whose journey has ended and our friend, Ray, that we have prayed for passed away this morning.  I ask special prayers for his wife, Bernice, and his daughter, Bea.  They have been in the midst of the battle with him all the way and it's been a long and tough journey for them as well.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
We may not always understand Your ways but we know that, in the end, there is only good and a reward for those that love You.  We ask that You wrap Bernice and Bea in Your loving arms as they mourn the departure of their husband and father. 
Father, we are thanking You in advance for the success of the rescheduled Playday.  We know that it is a chance to bring greater awareness to the fight against childhood cancer and, more than anything, a chance to minister to some who might never hear Your word if they had not made the choice to attend. 
Thank You for all You do for us every day.  We are so grateful to be counted as one of Your children and so grateful for the opportunity to serve You.
These things we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the one true Messiah.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 368 Just A Little Bit of Prayer

There is a song in the old Mary Poppins movie about a little bit of sugar helping the medicine go down.  I have found that just a little bit of prayer helps it go down even easier. 

A couple of weeks back, I was going to have a meeting with someone that I just don't usually enjoy spending time with.  I was dreading it and knew that I couldn't put if off any longer.  As I started into the garage to get into the car to leave, I stopped, closed my eyes, lifted my hand heavenward and quickly asked God to bless the meeting and to let me enjoy the time.  That was all.  Just a few short words and He answered in a huge way.  I enjoyed all the time at the meeting and I think we were both blessed by our time together.       Thank You Father.

I am amazed at how often I forget to stop and pray.  That is, after all, how I communicate with my Creator but sometimes I just don't.  Sure, I utter quick prayers of thanksgiving throughout the day but still I often forget that I don't have to handle every situation by myself.  At times, I could just smack myself on the forehead, not to say I could have had a V8, but to say I could have prayed and a situation would have probably turned out much differently. 

However it is done, whether a few quickly uttered words or a longer more intense communication, I know that my Father hears me and answers me and loves me for my trust in Him and for my turning to him for help in everything. 

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Thank You for being there for me to turn to in every need.  Thank You for showing me over and over that You hear me and for answering when I call.  The answer may not always be what I want but I know on some level that it is Your will and it is the answer I need at that time.
You are such a good and gracious God, the Creator of all things.  I love You, I honor You, I worship You.   And I thank You for being there for me.
In Jesus' loving name,

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Day 366 Year 2, Day 1

So, here I am starting off my second year of writing this journal and sharing my thoughts through this journey.  To date, there have been over 7600 pages read and some of my most faithful readers are in Germany and Russia.  I am grateful and encouraged to continue to write as my journey has come to include a study of the Bible unlike any I've done before.  I have come to realize that I have to know and understand the Old Testament before I can truly know and understand the New Testament. 

I did not sleep well last night and woke very early this morning so I moved from the bed to the couch with a blanket and my Bible and Chipper.  My golden retriever, Chipper, has been with me for over 14 years and it is getting more and more difficult every day for him to get up and to lay down.  He often stumbles and falls but, no matter how difficult or how painful, he makes every step I make.  When I am at the computer, he's at my side.  When I'm in the studio, he's at my side.  When I go to bed, he's at my side.  When I'm at the table, he's under my feet.  When I'm on the couch, he's under my feet.  Now, I also have a little alpha cat in my household and she likes me when it's cold and she really really likes me when she can see the bottom of her food bowl.  But my Chipper...... well, he worships me.   Worship from Chipper is unconditional and will never end as long as he draws a breath.  If I scold him for something, he still worships me.  If I leave him behind, he still worships me.  He is a shining example of what the word worship should mean.

As I was reading in Exodus this morning, I realized something for the first time.  I guess I always thought that God led the Israelites out of Egypt simply because of the covenants He had made with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob to give them Canaan.  But in reading more closely this morning, I came to understand that He led them out of Egypt so that they could worship Him.  Their worship of God was distasteful to the Egyptians.  And when Pharoah finally offered to let the men go alone to worship,  God said no.  He wanted to be worshiped by entire families.   The lesson I learned is that God wants to be worshiped.  He created us to worship Him.  And He wants to be worshiped by not just one member of a family but by His families.  And we should worship Him unconditionally.  We should worship Him with the same fervor when we're down in the desert as when we're up on the mountain.  We should worship Him with the same fervor when we're fighting cancer as when we're enjoying perfect health.  He wants to be worshiped in word and in deed and in prose and in song.

"Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of His Holiness."  Psalm 29:1-3

"Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful song."  Psalm 100:1-3

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
I thank You for the honor of being counted one of Your children.  I love You, I praise You and I honor You because You are worthy.
Thank You for Your word and the instruction it gives me daily to live a better and more fulfilled life.  I just couldn't have made it through this last year without You.  The healing of my body may have come regardless but the healing of my soul and spirit is only through You and Your word.
I ask today that You heap that same healing on every person out there fighting cancer so that they can come out of the fire a better person, a stronger person and one that loves, honors, and worships You as never before.
In Jesus' loving name.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Day 365 365 Days!

Today, April 23rd, is the one year anniversary of the day when I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer.  I'm not celebrating it for sure because it made me part of a club that absolutely no one wants to belong to.  But, in a way, it is almost more important than the day I was declared cancer free and that was February 21st of this year. 

I have to think a bit on why I make that statement but here it is.  Not to plagarize Maya Angelou, but I "wouldn't take nothing for my journey".  No, I certainly don't want to repeat it but April 23rd started me on an unforgettable journey that is far from over.  It has been a journey primarily of discovery.  I've discovered strength in my determination to "do it all myself".   Not that I didn't want and occasionally accept and appreciate help from others during the worst days, but I was determined not to become an invalid and give in to the sickness I was dealing with.   I've discovered a new faith in God as He guided me through those bad days.  I discovered a new love for the Bible as I studied His word and looked for the messages that are there for me to find ..... for myself.  I began to honor the gift that my body and my health are in a new way that I had not before.

In short, I'm a changed person.  I believe I'm a better person.  Sad that it took something like cancer to make the difference in me that it has.  I would bet that most people who have dealt with cancer will have the same response that I have.   Nothing they would want to do again, but it has had a profoundly positive effect on their life.  We have learned that what the enemy has hidden in darkness, God has exposed.  God has taken evil and used it for good and He delivered us for a good purpose.  What an awesome God we serve.

"But we also rejoice in our sufferings because we know that suffering produces perserverance; persevernce produces 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."  Romans 5:3-5

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
I thank You for Your trust in me that You gave me this journey to embark upon and that You used it for my growth in faith and trust and love for You.  In the end. all the bad days were worth the good days to come and I am grateful.  I have learned and know for certain now that wherever there is a dark cloud, that You are in that cloud and will bring the sunshine through in the end. 
I give You all the praise, honor and glory for these amazing changes in my life.
I love You, Lord.  I love You.
In Jesus' precious name, the name above all names.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Day 364 A New Week, A New Revelation

If you follow this journal, you know that I hit a speedbump last Wednesday.  It took up most of the day plus time to whine and feel sorry for myself.  Fortunately it only lasted that one day and I was back on track.  My verse for last week was 2 Chronicles 32:21.

"In everything that he undertook....,he sought God and worked wholeheartedly.  And so he prospered."

And that is exactly what I did.  I can't tell you how many paintings I worked on and finished.  They're mostly dry so I'll start packing them up today to ship out to galleries.  The entire week was amazingly productive and I'm so grateful.

This week is already off to a good start.  First of all, I'm just going to do what I know to do for my health and I'm not going to worry about cancer or liver enzymes or anything like that.  Secondly, in church yesterday we talked about Jehovah Rapha and El Shadai, other names for God.  This morning I was reading in Romans and saw this.

"...the God who gives endurance and encouragement."     Romans 15:5

"....the God of hope."      Romans 15:13

It was a poignant reminder that He truly is my everything.   Not only is He the God who heals, and who provides, and who comforts but here it says He give hope and strength and the endurance needed to finish what needs to be finished.   So I know with Him on my side, as long as I work wholeheartedly, I will finish the work and be rewarded.  He does His part as long as I do mine.

My verse for this week reminds me that God does what He says He'll do and I should not doubt.

"God is not a man, that He should lie....Has He said and will He not do?  Or has He spoken and will He not make it good?"       Numbers 23:19 NKJ

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Thank You for this gorgeous day in which to enjoy and glorify the earth you created.  Thank You for this journey that has taught me so much, mostly to rely on You and others and that, even though I must do my part, it is only through You that the healing, the work, is completed.
Lord, thank You for Your word and the reassurance that Your word is good and that You do what You say You'll do. 
I just humble myself in loving gratitude for all You've done for me and for all You're going to do for me.
In Jesus' redeeming name.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Day 361 What's New?

It seems sometimes like there is nothing new in the world.  Go back 4000+ years to almost the beginning of mankind in the book of Genesis and there is Abraham with his family.  His first son, Ishmael, that he had with a maidservant and who was abolished after Abraham's son Isaac was born, had twelve sons who became the twelve Arab states.  Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau.  Jacob had twelve sons who became the twelve tribes of Israel.  Esau became the head of the Edomites.  They have all been engaged in battle of one sort or another against each other since that time.

So, today we see that two young men, supposed of muslim faith and therefore descendents of Ishmael, are the two that struck the blow against us on Monday in Boston.  Is it so difficult to believe that such evil and brutality continues from that time to today?  I guess here in our sort of protected environment, it is hard to believe.   However, since 2001, our environment hasn't been so protected.

As the Israelites turned from God over and over throughout the Old Testament, they were attacked and defeated and every time they turned back to Him, He accepted them, loved them and protected them.  There is so much to learn from the Bible about the history of the world that is still relevant to what is happening globally today.  It is a history book and it's a personal guide to how to live and how not to live.  I've heard it referred to as Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth.  That is exactly what it is. 

I go to the Bible daily and it never fails to reveal to me exactly what I need to get through the day, to get through the disappointments of a diagnosis, to look forward to what I know is going to be another day in which to praise the Lord..... another day in which to slow down and just love Him.

Today I am asking for prayer for our friend Gracie who follows this journal and prays with us daily.  She has been in lots of pain for quite a long time and has a doctor's appointment today that she's nervous about. 

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
We come to you today as a group asking for discernment in the doctors that Gracie is seeing today and for a diagnosis with healing in its description.  Just please wrap her in the comfort of Your loving arms so that she knows that You are with her every step of the way.  She loves You, Father, as I do and happily counts herself as one of Your children.  Love her, bless her, heal her. 
These things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, the name above pain.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Day 360 Down and Back Up

I walked out of the Dr's office yesterday with my chin on the ground.   Not only did the liver enzyme count not go down from last month, but my cholesterol doubled from what it was before chemo.  I went home, promptly put on my pajamas and curled up on the couch, whining and feeling sorry for myself. 

After all, I do everything I should.  I do my best to eat a diet that is low fat, mainly plant based, highly nutritious, antiangiogenesis so that almost everything I eat is geared to inhibiting the growth of blood vessels that feed cancer cells.  Since the liver came into the picture as a problem, I've been careful with how much protein I eat, no alcohol, lots of water, fruit, etc.  I get plenty of rest.  I exercise, not as much as I should, but still I exercise.  How much damage can six months of chemo do, for goodness sake? 

Okay, I couldn't let it last too long so after a couple of hours dripping with self pity, I forcibly turned that faucet off and went on about the evening.  Then...........this morning............  God is so good to me that it made me cry.  I am just sometimes so overwhelmed at how He communicates with me.  It seems round about but still it's direct and it's so obvious.  It isn't a booming voice from the heavens but it might as well be.

Last night, after all that went on, I had a hard time falling asleep.  Rather than watch mind numbing tv or read something I couldn't concentrate on, I decided to put on my ear phones and listen to a cd after I got into bed.  The top drawer on my night stand is a jumble of mostly out of date prescription bottles of meds I didn't take and all sorts of cd's.  My hand fell on one of the cd's, Secrets of the Vine for Women.  It is by the wife of Bruce Wilkinson who wrote Secrets of the Vine and The Prayer of Jabez.  Years ago we did a study at church on Secrets but I had forgotten most of it.  It is based on John 15 when Jesus tells His followers that He is the vine and they are the branches.  He correlates the pruning of grapevines to produce more grapes to going through troubles in our lives better enabling us to serve Him.  It was just what I needed, but He wasn't through with me yet.

This morning, I decided to go back and reread John 15.  My Bible is a study Bible and when I was getting to John 15, the pages fell open to a study page titled Jesus, Your Comfort.  I didn't read the whole page but my eyes went straight to two scriptures to look up.  The first was Proverbs 29:25.

"...but whoever trusts in the Lord will be kept safe."

The second scripture was in Habakuk.  When I turned to it, there was another study page across from it and again the title jumped out at me.   Trusting When Tested.  I didn't read the page.  I didn't need to.  I got what He was telling me.  Trust Him, no matter what.  Here is the scripture He led me to.

"Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the stalls
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God, my Savior.
The Sovereign Lord is my strength,
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
He enables me to go on the heights."
What an awesome God I serve and what a privilege it is to serve Him.  How joyful I am to be counted as one of His own. 
Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
I thank You this morning for counting me as one of Your own and for showing me in such a clear and profound way how much You love me, how You take time to teach me and Your patience in allowing me to find my own way.  Even though the way is bumpy at times, Father, I trust in You.  You are my comfort, my everything.
Father, I thank You for Your Word and for instilling in me the desire to know more about it, to understand it and to love it.  I ask that for each of Your children fighting the enemy, that You guide them to the pages and words that will reassure them that You are with them, in the battle and out of the battle.
I love You Lord.  It's all You.  All You.
These things I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the name above all names.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Day 359 Deliverance

Oddly enough, throughout this entire journey, I never thought "Why Me?" about having colon cancer or about the surgery or about the chemo.  What I did think was "Why Me?" when it came to blood tests showing cancer markers going down and a pet scan that showed no new cancer activity in my body and now another trip today to the gastro to review last week's bloodwork that I am sure will show that my liver enzymes are closer to normal than they were last month.  

Why me?  Why am I delivered from this awful affliction?  Is it because I study about the lifestyle that I should follow to inhibit the growth of new cancer in my body?  Is it because I try to eat antiangiogenesis foods at every meal?  Is it because I have a profession that I love and that fulfills me and makes me incredibly happy?  Is it because I get the proper rest, although not enough exercise.  (Note to self:  gotta work on that more, Jo).   Is it because I love the Lord and make Him the center of my life?  Maybe yes to all these things. 

"In everything that he undertook....., he sought God and worked wholeheartedly.  And so he prospered."        2 Chronicles 32:21

Lately I have been taking a scripture that is meaningful to me and making it my scripture for the week, repeating it and meditating on it.  I also personalize so that this one now states:
In everything that I undertake, I seek God and work wholeheartedly.  And so I prosper.   For me, prospering means more than financial.  It means good health, love and happiness.  It's so amazing how reciting "work wholeheartedly"  has taken me back into the studio where I've been so prelific that there is no room for me to paint another thing until some of the paintings dry so I can move them out, ship them on and start on new ones. 

I just feel like I've been delivered.  I've been delivered from cancer.  I've been delivered from hepatitis.  I've been delivered from the fatigue and lethargy that plagued me last week.

"For You have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling that I may walk before God in the light of life."          Psalm 56:13

"The Lord said, Surely I will deliver you for a good purpose."    Jeremiah 15:11

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Thank You for delivering me.  Thank You for delivering me for a good purpose.  Open my mind and heart to understand that purpose and keep my feet from stumbling on the path You have set out for me to follow so that I may walk before You in the light of life.
Father, I ask that same deliverance for each of my friends in this terrible battle with the enemy, cancer.  You that know it is a life changing event and that they will testify to Your greatness in their healing.
Use them as You use me to help others, to inspire them to take better care of their bodies, to share their experience and to learn to love You more and lean on You more each day.
In Jesus' healing name,

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Day 358 I Just Don't Know..........

I am at a loss this morning about what to write.  I want to say something about the tragedy in Boston yesterday but what can I say?  I remember a catch phrase from an old radio show, maybe the Green Lantern or something similar, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of man?"  I can't imagine what evil, what anger, what unforgiveness, what frustration someone must be feeling to make them want to express it by killing and injuring so many innocent people.  What on earth do they think it might accomplish?  I just don't know. 

Here is what I do know.  That sort of anger and resentment is like cancer.  Unforgiveness is like cancer.  It destroys from within.  Sometimes it quietly grows with very little evidence until it has reached a point where it explodes and then it's just too late to do anything about it.   I also know that the person who did this doesn't know God, doesn't know that no matter what, God loves him, and that God is truly everything.

In my reading this morning, I read that He is my rock.  He is my refuge.  He is my shield.  He is my savior.  He is my promiser.  It says in Hebrews 11:8 that:

"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going."

Abraham didn't know where he was going.  A writer commented that he leaned not so much on the promises as on the promiser.  I guess, at this point, that is what we have to learn from this.  That no matter how bad things get, no matter how the cancer might have spread, no matter how prevalent evil might be, no matter how many of God's promises we stand on to take us through, it is, in the end, the Promiser that we have to lean on.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
We acknowledge today that it is You and only You that we lean on to take us through this tragedy, through cancer, through the loss, the disappointment, the pain and the sorrow.  We know that only through Your love can we handle all that comes at us in this lifetime.
Father, we ask that you wrap your comforting and healing arms around the people of Boston today and around everyone affected by the tragedy that took place there.  We know that regardless of what happens, You are still on the throne and we worship You.
In Jesus' name, the name above all names.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Day 357 So Much to Share............

I almost skipped my study time this morning to get to the computer because I have so much to share.  So glad I didn't because God gave me more conversation on what I want to write about.  But first this...   

Saturday was an art show at Papershell.  DeDe and Julie, wife and daughter of my friend Frank who we've prayed for many times, came to see me.  It's been too long since I've seen them and it was a wonderful reunion.  They reported Frank is doing well but can't seem to get his weight back up.  145 lbs. is not acceptable for a tall man like him.  Another artist friend that I also had not seen in a while told me that she followed this journal and because of it went for a colonoscopy.  Praise God.  I just feel like if I can help more people make the decision to go be checked, then this journey wasn't for nothing. 

Yesterday at church, I saw my friend Lisa who is winning the war against multiple myeloma and I saw "the other Jo" who is still fighting and winning against lung cancer.   God is so good to keep us in touch so we can celebrate every little bit of progress the other one makes. 

Now, for the rest of the story.  In church yesterday, the woman in front of me had on a Texas Cowboy Church tee shirt.  On the back was written, "Never Give Up, Never Back Down, Never Give In."  Then Pastor RO concluded a series on the prayer of Jabez, urging us to pray it daily.  I opened my Bible, which is full of little notes with a scripture written here and there, and I found I had written Luke 18:2-5 on a piece of paper so I quickly turned to it and read.  It was the parable of the persistent widow.  Yay.  I love her!  She had a complaint and asked the judge for justice for her against her adversary.  She went every day asking the same thing until finally he said that he would see that she got justice so that she wouldn't just wear him out.  Why?  Because she wouldn't give up.  I'm not suggesting that we might wear out God with our persistence, but I am saying I believe persistence in our prayer requests works. 

"And will not God bring about justice for His chosen ones who cry out to Him day and night?"  Luke 18:7

This this morning I was back reading in the Old Testament.  I came to Hezekiah, King of Judah.  Finally a good King who honored God and whom God honored back.

"Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or discouraged."  2 Chronicles 32:7

Then the study guide on King Hezekiah referred back to Deuteronomy 20:4.

"For the Lord, your God, is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory."

How awesome that He would direct me to His words of courage and to remind me to continue to pray day and night and to never give up or give in.  And how grateful I am to be able to share those words here. 

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
You are the God who heals.  You heal in so many ways.  You heal supernaturally and You heal through worldly ways and You heal with Your word.  Thank You for your words of encouragement reminding us to be courageous because we are not alone, that You are with us in our battles.  And thank You for reminding us to never give up like the persistent widow didn't give up, to pray day and night, knowing that You hear our prayers.
Father, I ask today that You give our friend, Frank, the taste and desire to eat so that he can regain some weight and strength to continue the battle he is in.  I thank You Father for all you're doing for Lisa as she prepares for the stem cell transplant just a few weeks from now.  I thank You Father for healing Jo from lung cancer again.  She is more persistent in her prayers than the cancer will ever be.
I thank You, Father, for granting me this little journal that speaks to so many and for every inroad it helps to make in encouraging people to have a colonoscopy and hopefully avoid the journey that I've been on.
All these things I pray in the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Day 354 More Blood

I spent yesterday on the couch again and I feel pretty good today.  Seems that I can have two days up and then one day down to recuperate and then two days up again.  Actually, that's okay I guess.  My goal now is to get it to three days up and one down and then no days down. 

Today, it's back for more bloodwork.  I should have done it last week but forgot.  How about that?  I'm feeling pretty liberated that I'm not tied to the calendar and so worried about the outcome that I run ahead of schedule for tests.  This bloodwork is to recheck the liver enzymes and I know that they are continuing to go down the further I get away from the end of chemo.   I'll meet with the gastro next week to verify what I already know now. 

I spoke yesterday with the surgeon who placed the port for chemo about having it removed.  It requires out patient surgery and anesthesia.  When I meet with the gastro next week, I think he will probably schedule my next colonoscopy which also requires anesthesia so I'll have to decide which comes first.  Probably the colonoscopy.  The port isn't doing anything, just making a weird lump on my chest with what looks like an extra vein running up the side of my neck to the carotid.  No vanity left after all of this. 

"My daughter, forget not my law; but let your heart keep my commandments.  For length of days, and long life, and peace shall they add to you."    Proverbs 3:1,2

I have meditated on this verse quite a bit over the past few weeks.  First of all, it was pointed out to me that since "long life" is written separate from "length of days", it means more time in the day to do what needs to be done.  I loved that and repeated the verse over and over again.  Then this morning, my eyes seemed to skip past "length of days and long life" and focus on the word "peace".  It was almost as if I had never seen it in the verse even though I stated it every time I repeated the verse.  For someone who has gone through or is currently fighting cancer, "peace" is something they feel like they will never experience again.  I am here to testify that they can and will and I wish it for all of my friends in this battle. 

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Today Father I am asking for peace for all of my friends in the battle with the enemy.  I ask in Jesus name that you open their minds and hearts to the healing that is in Your word and the peace that comes with knowing You are there with them every step of the way.
I ask special peace for both Ruth and Jo who are fighting the reoccurence of lung cancer.  In each case the tumor has not grown and the doctors are taking a wait and see stance.  Let that time be a time of supernatural healing for both of them so that between now and their next exam, every sign of cancer will be eradicated from their bodies. 
These things I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, the name above cancer, the name above all names.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Day 352 Remembering

I woke this morning unrefreshed and too fatigued to read so I went to the couch to watch Christian tv to start my morning time with God.  Beth Moore spoke about moving from a home she had been in for many years and remembering...........  I've already forgotten the message.  Yikes, I really don't remember what it was but the word remember stayed with me.  Sorry, Beth. 

I remembered how a few short weeks ago we celebrated Easter.  We remembered Christ's miraculous birth, inspiring life and ministry, the torturous death He suffered and the glory of His resurrection.  For a short period, He was first and foremost in our thoughts as we remembered.  Then Easter was over, the baskets and eggs disappeared and we went back to our everyday lives and, somehow, forgot to remember.  It shouldn't, but I find that I have to remind myself sometimes to keep Christ first in my life and sometimes I have to work at remembering the miracle that He is.  I can call it to mind whenever I want and maybe that remembering is a miracle in itself.  I have to know Him, really know Him, to be able to remember that Easter experience over and over and over....and I do.

"Though you have not seen Him, you love Him and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with an expressible and glorious joy."            1 Peter 1:8

I thank God for the inspiration that the Bible is and the reminders that I get from daily devotionals and from those who share the Word on TV as well as from my own Church.  I am so grateful for every source that comes my way every day so that I can remember..............

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Forgive me for sometimes letting my remembrance of You slip to the back of my mind.  Thank You, Father, for the daily inspirations that You send me through so many sources to remind me that You are my Saviour, You are my Healer, You are my Rescuer in all things and that it is all You, Lord, that makes this journey worthwhile.  Even though I haven't seen You and don't see You now, I remember and I believe and I love and honor You.
Thank You, Father, for counting me one of Your children.  I love You and bless You.
In Jesus' precious name,

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Day 351 Unconditional Love

I often hear the phrase "unconditional love" used, especially in reference to the love a parent has for a child.  I hear it used in reference to God's love for us, His children.  What I don't hear often is the term "unconditional love" used in reference to our love for God. 

I was thinking back this morning on my journey which is soon to reach the one year mark.  I was first diagnosed on April 23rd of last year and started this journal then.  One thing that I know for certain that I have learned through this is an unconditional for God and the Blessed Savior that I serve.  I loved Him through the diagnosis.  I loved Him through the surgery.  I loved Him through the chemotherapy treatments.  I loved Him when tests showed that the cancer may have spread.  I loved Him when the tests showed that I was free of cancer.  I loved Him when tests showed that I did not have a chemo induced hepatitis.  I loved Him when I had only enough energy to paint for two or three hours a week.  No matter what, I loved Him.

He loved me throughout this journey as well.  He loved me when I complained and He loved me when I cried and He loved me when I felt like I couldn't complete treatment and He loved me when I was ready to die because I just couldn't stand being so weak and so sick any longer.  No matter what I did, He loved me.  And no matter what I went through, I loved Him back.  My prayer for my friends and loved ones are that they can be secure in the knowledge that they are loved unconditionally and feel the absolute joy of returning that love ... unconditionally.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
Thank You for loving me unconditionally.  I am so blessed and so grateful.  Sometimes my heart is so full that I feel overwhelmed.  You told me recently to "slow down and just love You" and I do.  I love You unconditionally, no matter what.  I know that I can handle anything with You beside me. 
Father, I ask that same joyful feeling reach everyone of Your children today fighting the enemy, cancer.  Let them know that in the midst of possibly the worst time of their lives, they can still know the happiness of feeling Your love for them and returning that love in the same way.
Thank You, Father.  Thank You.  It's all You.
These things I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, the one true Messiah.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Day 350 Who's On First?

"Who's on first?" sounds like I'm referring back to an old comedy skit or talking about an Astro's game.  I'm not.  One of the devotionals I read this morning reminded me how important it is to go to the Bible first when we are dealing with a situation.....with any situation.   I think, in the past, it has always been my tendency to try to handle everything myself.  I am a "do it myself" type of person and that can be good and can be not so good.  In the past, the Bible has been a last resort and not the first resort.  How much I've learned on this journey.  I know there is always an answer in the Bible.  Whether it's the answer I want might be another thing, but there is an answer there.  Whether the Bible is the first resort or the last resort, the answer remains the same so why not just go directly to the source first.  Yay.  Lesson learned.

I spent a three day weekend on the road with my precious daughter and son-in-law to go to a wedding in Arkansas.  It was a great time as we visited with my neice, her husband and her children, one of which will be going on a mission trip this summer to Nicaragua.  It's so wonderful to sit down at a table in a restaurant and know that everyone at the table with you loves the Lord as you do.  No talk of cancer or chemo.  As a matter of fact, I'm not sure the "c" word ever even came up the entire trip.  What a relief.  I am just so blessed. 

On Saturday, my son-in-law and I were talking about the current issue with North Korea and South Korea.  I began to wonder about religion in those two countries and opened google to search out what I could find.  South Korea has a large Christian following.  In North Korea, the political leader is God and the citizens are taught that they have a physical life and a political life and at the end of the physical life, the political life continues.  Anyone following a religion that worships anyone or anything other than the leader may be and is often executed publicly and in some truly gruesome ways. 

I am so grateful to be able to journal here most days and express my love for God and to share it with others.  It's hard to imagine a situation where my life might be threatened for doing that.  It is hard to imagine in this day and age that Christians are still being persecuted and murdered as they were as far back as the first century for simply believing in God.  We think civilization has come so far since the days of Jesus and His apostles.  In reality, in many ways, it has not.  How sad. 

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
You are the God who heals.  We ask today that as You heal bodies fighting the effects of the enemy, cancer, that You also reach out and heal the hearts and souls of mankind.  Help us, Lord, to do whatever it is that we can to help others fighting enemies that are so terrible that we can't even imagine the horrors they are dealing with every day.  We know that cancer isn't the only enemy.
Teach us, Father, to turn to You first in every situation.  Help us to grow in the knowledge of Your word so that the answer that we are searching for is always right at hand.
Thank You, Lord, for healing us, for teaching us, for loving us.  We love You too.
In the name of Jesus Christ, the one true Messiah.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Day 347 Am I Not Through With Chemo Yet?

So, last week I didn't feel well.  I attributed it to allergies even though I had no symptoms other than fatigue.  I spent all day Easter Sunday on the couch and then on Monday I was like the little energizer bunny and the same on Tuesday.  I did more painting in those two days than probably in the last two months.  Yesterday, my energy level started waning around 10am and by 3pm, my day was done.  Back to the couch. 

Still draggy this morning.  I wonder again if it's allergies or if it's the last dregs of chemo still getting out of my system or if I need to do less on "feel good" days.   It's a little over three months since my last chemo treatment.  The nausea is all gone.  The neuropathy, which didn't appear until I was almost done with chemo, is strong and makes doing lots of things with my hands almost impossible but at least I have no pain or burning with it like some....only numbness.  No more hair falling out but the hair I lost doesn't seem to be coming back in.  I tried to fix my hair last week the way I've worn it for years - over to the right with bangs - and it was pitiful with bare spots showing through.  So, back to my slicked back gangster look.  The upside is that I can dry it in a minute. 

I just didn't feel like study this morning.  Thank goodness there is always Christian tv.  When I don't have the energy for anything else, I can turn on the tv and just let God's word flow out to me.  No exertion on my part.  Just lay there and absorb whatever it is that He wants me to hear.  I always receive from any of the shows I watch.  This morning it was TD Jakes and then Joyce Meyer.  Talk about a double whammy!

"Be attentive to my words....for they are life to those who find them and healing to all their flesh."
Proverbs 4:20-22

I'm leaving early in the morning for a long road trip to Arkansas to visit precious family and attend the wedding of my great-nephew.  That's a long drive but I'm looking forward to time with my daughter and son-in-law on the way there and back.  So, no journaling tomorrow but I'll be back on Monday.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
I thank You for the miraculous recovery I've made so far from the side effects of the chemo.  Help me to count it as a friend because, through it, You gave me healing from cancer.  I thank You for the good days when I feel like studying Your word and the creative energy to work for the two of us.  I thank You for the not so good days when I can just listen and hear Your word from others.  Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path and I am grateful.
Lord, I know that today so many are enduring the debilitating effects of chemotherapy to rid their body of the enemy, cancer.   I ask that You touch each one of them, giving them the strength and endurance to see Your face and feel Your love as they travel this journey.  It isn't easy but, in the end, if they will stay the course, they will emerge with a greater faith and love for You.  That, after all, is why we are here.
These things I pray, Precious Lord, in the name of Your Son, the one true Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Day 346 Between Two Worlds

Today I'm talking about food..........again.   It is a struggle every day for me to balance what is good for me and what I need to be eating with what tastes really good.   Like most everyone, I love sweets, fried things, and rich gravies and sauces.  Moderation doesn't seem to exist in my culinary world so I have to work harder than some on making what is good for me nutritionally taste as good as those things that aren't.

I have written often about trying to focus on antiangiogenesis foods.  www.eattodefeatcancer.com
They are foods that inhibit the growth of blood vessels that feed cancer cells.  That is a simple layman's term for a more complicated theory but it is one that is gaining more and more support all the time.

Last week I was thinking about the Spanish Slaw that Lubys used to serve when they were open here in town.  Sadly, they closed years ago but of all the things they served, that one has stayed in my mind.  As I try to incorporate more raw veggies into my diet, this seemed like a delicious way to do it.  So I went on google and there was the recipe for it.  Yummo.  I am sharing it with you here with a few changes to make it more AA.  Hope you enjoy.

                                                            Spanish Slaw

1 medium head of green cabbage, chopped
1 cup thinly sliced dill pickles
1 cup chopped red, green or yellow peppers
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup sliced green onions
*Any other veggies that you enjoy such as broccoli, cauliflower, jicama, zucchini
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup dill pickle juice
1/4 cup vinegar
1 individual packet of stevia
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Combine  all ingredients from water through pepper and pour over mixed veggies.  Refrigerate for at least two hours, stirring often.  The longer this sits, the better it is.  If you like your slaw a little sweeter, add a second packet of stevia.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
I thank You today for the wonderful foods You have given us to nourish our bodies and I thank You for the constantly increasing knowledge of healing that comes eating those foods, especially in their natural state.
Father, I ask that You bless those foods to the healing and nourishment of our bodies as we honor the gift from You that our bodies are by giving them the care that they deserve. 
Thank You Father for all You do for us every minute of every day.
In humble gratitude and in the name of the one true Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Day 345 Why Me?

No, I'm not wondering why I had cancer.   I'm wondering why I was healed of cancer when other people are not so fortunate.  When I was reading yesterday, I read about a young man named Eutychus that fell asleep while Paul was preaching and fell from a third story window and died.  Paul went out, laid down on top of him and brought him back to life.  But then this morning I read at the end of Paul's second letter to Timothy that "I left Trophimus sick in Miletus."   Why didn't Paul just heal him too so he could have traveled with Paul?  He could have.  Was he selective in whom he healed?

So, is my healing solely from God?  If it were, then that would mean that He heals selectively and I don't believe that.  Is my faith greater than others that I was healed and they aren't?  I don't think so.  Is it because I have tried harder than others to do whatever I can to be healed?  Maybe.   I think He has given each of us a share in the responsibility of the healing, whether it be by faith, belief, or other avenues.

Years ago, Dr. Bernie Siegel wrote about supernatural and miraculous healings he had witnessed among cancer patients he had treated.  He said that some patients want more than anything and will do anything to be healed.  Some patients only want to be healed if medicine can heal them so that they don't have to exert much effort on their own and some actually on some level don't want to be healed at all.   I, for one, wanted that healing.  Mine did not come through a supernatural stroke of God's hand even though many are healed that way but through a long and arduous series of treatments inspired by God and developed by man.  On top of that, I have worked hard to study and discern everything that I can about what I might do to help myself in the healing.  And I have worked hard to put into practice the information that I've discovered.  

I wonder now if I had been healed instantly, supernaturally, would I have learned all I've learned?  Would I have drawn as close to God as I have?  Would I have studied and developed a new understanding and love for the Savior who gave His all for me?   Or would I have simply been grateful and then returned to the way I was before the diagnosis?   Who knows?  What I do know is that I am at the best place in my life that I could ever imagine.  I'm not rich.  I'm not perfectly healthy.  I'm not young.  And it doesn't matter because my life is blessed every day in every way.  What a great and loving God I serve.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
There is so much I don't understand and that is okay.  I know that You will reveal to me whatever it is I need to know when the time is right.  I thank You for my healing that I know is from You, even though it came through the medicines of man.   You are the Great Physician and I give You all the praise, honor and glory.  I thank You for this journey of discovery that You have placed me on.  I will continue to move forward, never looking back with regret as I know that only Your good is in my future.  I love You, Father.  I love You.
Please let Your healing spirit be revealed in Your daughter, Jo, as she goes for a scan today.  Let it reveal that Your healing was complete and that she never has to face the enemy again.
These things I ask in the name of the risen Christ, Jesus.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Day 344 A New Beginning

I'm not sure why I chose this for the title of today's post except that I am feeling like today is a new beginning.  Fortunately, I have had many of them and look forward to many more.

After the storm that blew through here last evening, the sun is shining and birds are singing and everything seems to feel fresh and new.   I have not been feeling well the past week and I think it is allergies but today, I feel fresh and renewed.  House cleaning which I always put off as long as possible was done over the weekend and my home feels fresh and new.  Today is the first day of a new month and everything just feels fresh and new.

I shipped a painting to my gallery in San Antonio on Thursday that I titled New Beginning.  I often use that phrase to describe the horizon that is so prevalent in most of my paintings.  The horizon itself to me always represents hope and a new beginning.  www.texasgalgallery.com

Last night I watched the final episode of The Bible on TV.  I wondered how Jesus felt after His resurrection.  He must have felt relief that the worst part of His earthly life was behind Him, that He would be returning soon to His Father and that it all represented a new beginning for Him too.

It just makes me feel like taking a deep breath, feeling the excitement of starting over with a new day, a new life almost and a determination to be the best that I can be today for my God, and just sinking into the peace and joy of His love that is surrounding me.  How awesome it would be if I could start every day with that feeling of excitement of a new beginning.  May it be so.

Precious Lord, Jehovah Rapha,
I thank You for this feeling today of a New Beginning.  It is all from You, Father.  I leave the worries of cancer behind me today.  It is a new beginning of being the best I can be, of living the life You want for me, of being kind and loving and creative and excited and just looking forward to the good that You have in store for me. 
Bless each of my friends out there today dealing with cancer and fill them with the joy and happiness that this new day, this new beginning has in store for them.
These things I pray in the name of the risen Christ, Jesus.