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.