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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Taking a Break

 Many of you know by now that I have encountered my first "cold" while undergoing chemotherapy.  It's been a normal head cold as far as colds go.  It's been the typical aches and pains affiliated with being under the weather.  It has been since last Wednesday that I started with a sore throat and progressed to a stuffy nose and cough.  Fortunately I have started an antibiotic protocol that seems to be keeping the cold from getting worse.  Lot's of tea, orange juice and water have helped flush this cold out.

In the mean time I have logged much time on the couch. I'm very thankful for many of your prayers and words of encouragement.  I am not certain how having this cold will effect my scheduled chemo treatment this Wednesday.  Of course I have to see what my lab results say...low platelets are plaguing me.  Whenever company is scheduled to be here with my family my chemo has been postponed one week.  This has happened four times now.  I have 4 rounds of chemo left and then I will be done!

Off to the hospital here shortly to get my labs done and await chemo treatment today.  Like I mentioned above I have done a lot of just "resting" or sitting around waiting for time to pass.  It has been good. Yesterday I was given   a prayer quilt from the Castleford Ladies Baptist group.  It is so perfect! I will post some photos today after chemo with the quilt.  Receiving this quilt is such a blessing.  It reminds me how many people are praying for me during this time.  It also is a reminder of the love Christ has for me and that He will never leave me or forsake me.  Making a quilt is a labor of love and many hands worked diligently to present this gift to me.  I am overwhelmed by the love of the body.  I cherish even the thought of some of these ladies working on this quilt for me...so precious to the Father.  This is real faith in action. Yesterday I read this short devotional from a new favorite of mine, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

Let me infuse my peace into your innermost being.  As you sit quietly in the Light of My Presence, you can sense Peace growing within you.  This is not something that you accomplish through self-discipline and will-power; it is opening yourself to receive My blessing.


In this age of Independence, people find its hard to acknowledge their neediness.  However, I have taken you along a path that has highlighted your need for Me: placing you in situations where your strengths were irrelevant and your weaknesses were glaringly evident.  Through the aridity of those desert marches, I have drawn you closer and closer to Myself.  You have discovered flowers of Peace blossoming in the most desolate places.  You have learned to thank Me for the hard time and difficult journeys, trusting that through them I accomplish My best work.  You have realized that needing Me is the key to knowing Me intimately, which is the gift above all gifts.

This entry in her devotional was so encouraging to me along this journey I am on.  Sitting quietly is hard to do.  I have so many distractions screaming for my attention.  Yet I have chosen the better way, the hard way, the eucheristeo way. In my recognition of my neediness He meets me.  This is where the power for right living becomes possible.  I am able to put one foot in front of the other and continue the good fight.  I can find strength in Him alone. I rest in the shelter of the Almighty and find peace.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Real Thanksgiving


Merriam Webster defines thanksgiving as, “the act of giving thanks” or “an expression of gratitude.”  Middle English eukarist, from Anglo-French eukariste, from Late Latin eucharistia, from Greek, Eucharist, gratitude, from eucharistos grateful, from eu- + charizesthai to show favor, from charis favor, grace, gratitude; akin to Greek chairein to rejoice .   Eucharisteo in the Christian faith is known as the Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper.  It is the great table of Thanksgiving.  The Eucharist is the heart and soul of the believer’s life.  Without the actual death and resurrection of Jesus Christ it is nothing more than a symbolic religious ritual.  The table holds two elements to the believer; the first being the bread representing Christ’s body. The very substance to life: bread.  The second is the wine or cup representing Christ’s blood. The blood poured out for my sins and the sins of the world.  We eat and drink, swallowing down our thankfulness for the price paid by God’s only son: Christ Jesus.
I’ve been reading a book called, “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp.  In her book she dives into the hidden treasures found in un-wrapping the gift of Eurcharisteo.  Her faith journey is similar to mine. Questions about this Christ life, faith, injustices, marriage, kids; yet our paths maybe different the desire to see God, know Him, to embrace His goodness in the midst of this “life” is the same.  I often have wondered if anyone else on this planet thinks like me.  Is anyone else willing to ask the hard questions and actually go on this crazy quest to find the answers and then talk about the journey?  To discover how to unlock the treasure chest of this abundant life is a journey worth taking.  This book has stirred my faith, getting right at the heart of my ingratitude, discontentment and lack of zeal to live fully in Christ. The Word has a way of piercing through the clutter.  Her poetic way with words on the page with pen stabbing deep pierces my soul.  The faith journey can always go deeper.  Christ always has more for us, but we must learn it.  Paul refers to this when he states, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:12-13) Ann Voskamp lays out how our faith must reflect thankfulness, “we can only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks.”  Just like the one leper out of ten who returned to say thank you.  Jesus’ response in Luke 17:17-19, “your faith has healed you.”  Voskamp explains how when we choose to be thankful for what Christ has done our very salvation is being worked out. Going the extra mile, “Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our yes: to His grace.”  She goes on to say, “The act of sacrificing thank offerings to God, even for the bread and cup of cost, for cancer and crucifixion – this prepares the way for God to show us His fullest salvation from bitter, angry, resentful lives and from sin that estranges us from Him.”  So I ponder.  Yes I can thank him for the communion table and for cancer (and yes it hurts); for His death on a tree and for all my sins and the sins of this world.
So the next question one must ask is how then do you have the ability to really thank God for something like cancer?  Because it’s cancer and it’s literally killing me from the inside out and the chemo is poison running in my veins.  Psalm 50:23 sheds some light to my dark question, “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” The hard part comes in everyday living.  I want to be happy, content, and even joyful.  I like Paul, am learning thankfulness in all circumstances (cancer?).  Voskamp gives us a dare – a dare to list, to name gifts that are before our very eyes.  Every perfect gift comes from the Father.  These gifts describe his love in the beauty around us amongst the depravity and chaos in this world.  But one must choose the hard Eucharisteo way.  So I begin recording and naming the gifts.  Is this not the first job of Adam in the perfect garden? Naming…when something has a name it has meaning, identity and therefore we can assign credit to the Creator for making it.  So I have begun the list of one thousand gifts.  I struggle to see the “God glory” around my chaos of dogs, cats, cows, boots, coats, Lego’s, Hot Wheels, laundry, bills…but I discover what Voskamp has discovered: pure charis – joy! Joy comes in the naming.  Naming is the way to abundant living in Christ, to always be thankful.  “Deep chara joy is only found at the table of Eucharisteo – the table of thanksgiving. “
And so I list:
1.   Kittens purring
2.    Stars in the sky
3.   Fresh eggs from the coop
4.   Red sun rising
5.   Clean sheets on the bed
1 Corinthians 11:26 says, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”  Voskamp continues, “Like every day. Whenever we eat.  Eucharisteo – whenever: now, joy.   Wherever: here.” 
6.   Dog tail thumping on the wood floor
7.   Laughter
8.   Feather pillows
9.   Silence in the early morning
10.   Holding hands for prayer
The list goes on like my faith journey.  I embrace Eucharisteo intentionally with eyes only God can give.  I have reason to be thankful and I see it clearly now.  It’s all around me.  His love envelopes my world. How did I not see it before? This I can name: real thanksgiving.
11.   Real Thanksgiving
If you want to learn more about Ann Voskamp visit her blog at: www.aholyexpereince.com or www.onethousandgifts.com

Also, check out the posting of this devotional on Stonecroft's website: To Inspire You

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Endurance


 Please read Hebrews Chapter 12

 "For the Lord disciplines those he loves...God's discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness." Hebrews 12: 6;10

I am super happy to report that round eight of chemo is complete!  Only four more treatments left and I will be done!  This is very good news.  The end it almost here.  I am so very ready to be done with this!  I just need a bit more endurance to finish this leg of the race.  This is what I have been pondering the last few days: endurance.  Finding strength to push through the nausea, aches & pains one more moment at a time. It's been said that God won't give us too much to handle.  I have to disagree with this statement.  He always gives us too much to handle.  It's during these moments when life seems to heavy to bear, which direction to turn or how a situation can look so bad turn around, that His strength wells up within us to overcome.  The faithful before us (prophets) are examples to this principle.  Their weakness was turned to strength. (Hebrews 11:34)

What is divine discipline?  Is it cancer? Is it chemotherapy for my physical body as well as my spiritual heart? Is it this road I am traveling on?  The Word says that God's discipline is always good.  So then cancer is good? A gift. It's painful now while it is happening to me day to day.  My physical flesh struggles to overcome chemical poison and my mind reals to capture my thoughts and make them obedient to Him alone, not wanting to believe the lies and tricks being played out before me.  There will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. (Hebrews 12:11) What is a peaceful harvest of right living?  What does this look like? How do I know if I am trained? More pondering is necessary.  I sip more of my tea and just sit.  Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)  The only sound is the dishwasher humming and a dog snoring loud by my side.  When is the afterward?  Is it when I am done with chemotherapy? Is it when I am given those glorious words: remission. Is it time? But wait, time is irrelevant to Almighty Sovereign God.  He is time. So how do I reach this peaceful state?  Is it heaven? Maybe that's it and I can't achieve this righteous peace because it isn't meant for this side of glory.  I will continue to ponder.  Yes I will store up my treasures in heaven and these nuggets of truth in my heart. Let more barns be filled with blessings. (Malachi 3:10) I type the words on the computer screen and more blessings appear.  My cup runs over.  My jars of tears are many. (Psalm 56:8) Some are tears of pain and sorrow but these days they are joyful drops from heaven.  I wonder if someday I will get a tour in heaven of these storehouses. The tear jar room and the scrolls of remembrance (Malachi 3:16) for all the times I have prayed with so many of my sweet sisters and God recorded the act.  Are there rooms filled with these items waiting for me? Maybe this is part of the righteous peace; the hope tucked away inside of my heart.  The hope of glory. (Colossians 1:27)  This is producing in me the joy of the Lord, which is my strength.  God literally comes and fills my cup with all joy and peace as I trust in Him so that I bubble over with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Nehemiah 8:10 and Romans 15:13)  He delights in giving and in my pleasure of receiving; they flow together in perfect harmony.  It's just so hard.  Jesus said it wouldn't be trouble free. (Matthew 6:34)


Farmers have great endurance: faith.  In the spring they work the ground and prepare it for seeds. The ground is fertilized and the seeds go down under the soil.  The waiting begins.  This is when a tiny corn seed figures out which direction is up towards the sun and a tiny shoot emerges out of clumps of soil.  The roots shoot down in search of water and nutrients and leaves open drinking in the sunlight.  It takes time for the stalk to develop. Along the way tassels develop in preparation for the silks to appear for pollination.  The whole process is actually very complex. It all evolves from one tiny seed, amazing! Soon an ear of corn emerges and the corn kernels continue to mature.  The average number of days  to maturity for corn is 125 days (about 4 months) with some hybrid varieties being shorter in the number of days.  I say all of this because we have grown grain corn this year on our farm.  We are eagerly waiting for the harvest.  The moisture level in the corn husk has to be around 14%  in order to combine and haul.  This is where I have made the connection to having endurance to finish out my chemo to growing corn.  It takes patience as a farmer to watch each individual step as the corn grows.  In the end the farmer is waiting for his harvest. The sound of the combine chopping and the trucks leaving with bushels of corn.  For me I am waiting for this harvest of righteousness.  Both require endurance. 


We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. Colossians 1:11-12

For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.  So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.  James 1:3-4





























Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Crazy Joy

"Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."  1 Thessalonians 5:16-17

It's Tuesday night and I am preparing myself for round eight of chemo.  It all depends on my lab results tomorrow morning for a green light for chemo.  I really want to get it done and mark treatment eight off the list.  Yet another week of rest would be nice.  If only my human brain could comprehend the ways of the Lord!  So I will wait for the lab results tomorrow morning and see if my WBC, RBC and platelets are in good working order.  I will send out txt to those of you on the list.  If you want to be added to the list let me know.  Thank you so much for your encouragement and never ending prayers on my behalf.  I can't express in words how your prayers have kept me going and held me close to Jesus.  I am truly thankful - even now facing my 8th treatment of chemo.  It's crazy but the joy I have found in this waiting is supernatural. Apparently this is God's will for my life and I embrace it with joy.  Crazy I know. 


Monday, November 7, 2011

What is certain?

"Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."  Hebrews 11:1  Faith is the only thing that is certain in this life.  Without it, it is impossible to please God.  The Father of faith, Abraham was credited as righteous because he believed, because his faith was unshakable.   He was able to put his faith into action by leaving Hebron and heading out into the great unknown.  He was able to trust God for a child even in his old age and he was able to offer his son Issac as a sacrifice.  This all happened as a result of his faith. Faith proceeded his works.  Faith comes before the blessing of obedience.  Romans 5: 2-5 says, "we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love onto our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Hope.  That is what I cling to.  My faith is being challenged and I am forced to believe just like Abraham, not knowing what really lies ahead but trusting in my faith in a good and loving God. He speaks through his Word, through songs, through prayer, through dreams and yes I have a choice.  I can choose the high road that is wide open or I can choose the narrow less traveled road, filled with twists, turns, valleys and mountains.  It is Monday and I wait for Wednesday to come like a child counting the days till Christmas.  Part of me is giddy with excitement and anticipation, the other part of me wants to stop time and pretend I don't have cancer.  Wednesday I will go in for my usual lab draw and see where my blood chemistry levels are at in order to receive chemo treatment.  So I hope, waiting in great expectation for a miracle.  My blood work has not been favorable post two weeks of chemo.  The last two treatments have gone three weeks apart.  So am am pushing back my minds thoughts that it won't be good and clinging with all belief (hope) that it will be good.  I think Paul calls this part perseverance.  So through my waiting, my very core character is being reformed and I am building bricks of faith that bring me hope.  His love is being poured out in so many tangible ways in the midst of my rebuilding of character. Amazingly they strike deep at the core of my character -- all the things I don't like, the "old man" are being pealed away like layers of an onion.  It's the fruit I have been waiting for in this season of rest.  Fruit can only come when the tree has been well watered, pruned and fertilized.  It also doesn't just appear on the branches.  It takes time.  There it is again: waiting, patience.  It has to be the right season for the fruit to be ripe and ready.  Even Abraham had to wait through the seasons for God's promise.  The fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).  I may be seriously onto something here.  I have cracked another code of the Spirit filled abundant life.  I choose to believe against all hope.  Because my hope is in Christ, I can believe the impossible.  I can enjoy the fruit, even now. 

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful." Hebrews 10:23
Ripe peaches on the tree