Saturday, October 27, 2012

Day 27 Rest

Every now and then it is important to take a real Sabbath rest.  By that I mean to literally get away from everyone and everything.  Yes go for a drive.  Go for a long walk.  If you can go for an over nite trip.  It is important to get away from the pressures of the daily grind.  This enables your mind and body to be more in tune to the Spirit speaking.  You are then able to hear Him more clearly and be more productive.

"But the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you." Exodus 20:10

"You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but on the seventh day you must stop working. This gives your ox and your donkey a chance to rest. It also allows your slaves and the foreigners living among you to be refreshed." Exodus 23:12

Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 26 A Story to Tell

The Woman at the Well
Questions about John Chapter 4
1.    Why did Jesus go to Samaria?
2.    What time of day was it?
3.    What do you picture at the well?
4.    What do we know about the Samaritans’?
5.     Why would a woman go to the well in the heat of the day?
6.    What does Jesus ask her for?
·     Will you give me a drink vs. 7
·        He breaks the cultural norm
·        Jesus declares who He is
7.     What truth was spoken in love that confronted the woman?
·        Go and call your husband
·        Jesus goes on to offer her salvation – explains the living water – gift of eternal water.
8.     Who does Jesus declare himself to be? Vs 26
9.    How does this conversation come to an end?
·        The disciples return from buying food.
10.                        When the women leaves what does she go and say?
11.  Many people in the Samaratin town believed in Jesus. Why?
·        The woman’s testimony – OUR VERY WORDS carry weight – the Gospel
·        Roman’s 10:17 “So faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
Her story was powerful!
Your story is powerful!

Tonight I will be sharing my story.  Would you mind covering me with your prayers?  I appreciate the opportunity to share - declaring His goodness in my life.  I am humbled, honored and  moved with conviction to speak passionately about the radical change Jesus has made in my life.  I am unashamed. Glory to Him alone.

Speaking at Calvary Chapel Buhl Women's retreat in Chalis, Idaho.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day 25 A Season of Harvest

Yesterday was combine day.  The grain was ready to thrash.  It was a huge answer to prayer.  We have been in a bit of a pickle.  This is just one piece of the puzzle that needed to fall into place.  It's going to snow. The cows are stuck in the coral.  The fences are torn down to the pasture.  The new coral is still being built.  The fences are still being built.  Soon the cows will move to the new corral and then out into the pasture and onto the corn stalks.  It is a season filled with constant change.  It is harvest time. Now the corn is gone.  The golden kernels filled the hopper of the combine and emptied out the spout into the grain cart.  It was simply fascinating to watch.  Dustin and I rode in the combine.  Watching the green nose ride perpendicular to the sod.  Carefully picking up corn stalks as it moved down each row.  The process from here to now has taken a long time.  A lot of sweat, back breaking corrugate row digging, hand weed pulling and countless prayers to heaven.  It is finished. I will get the yields later today. 

For a crop to yield a good harvest the soil must be prepared.  This process of soil preparation in order to plant takes much more than I thought was necessary.  The ground needs to be tilled, disced and often plowed.  We often check soil samples to ensure what fertilizers needs to be applied.  Sometimes we are blessed with compost or manure.  The ground is ready for seed.  Then it is roller harrowed down. Now it is corrugated.  Then the watering begins.  Now we watch for bugs, weeds and growth.  Soon it is time to cultivate.  In due time the stalks grow tall and tassel.  The ears form and kernels develop.  The weather turns cold and dry and the corn plant dries up.  Finally it is harvest.

I am reminded of seasons in my faith journey when it seems like their is just no fruit.  No harvest.  It takes time.  The farmer has faith and patience.  Sometimes the best work is done in secret.  Naked to the human eye.  I have discovered this spiritual truth: God is able to do His best work in the compost of my life

That means the hard stuff that I don't really want to face.  The ugly stuff.  It's during this time when the seed gets buried in the ground and we wait.  Hoping that it will germinate and turn into a corn plant.  How can something so small get so big and transform into something that produces a hundred times what was planted?  This my friends is kingdom multiplication.  Jesus changes lives.  He makes something grow out of the dirt and makes it beautiful.  Harvesting fruit takes time and patience, even when dealing with souls.

"Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See [how] the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain." James 5:17

It is worth the wait.  I must stay focused at the work to be done.  Don't grow weary.  Keep doing good. 

"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you [such] blessing That [there will] not [be room] enough [to receive it]." Malachi 3:10

The windows have opened and the blessing pours down.  Our barns our full.  The harvest is complete.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day 24 Home Sweet Home

A place to nest.

Where your heart is.

A safe place.

Home sweet home.

Home is a place I can call my own.  It's where my family is.  I spend much of my time here. Cleaning mostly.  Trying to keep the clutter at bay and somewhat under control.  I enjoy being in the kitchen making food for the family God gave me.  I love to try new recipes.  I enjoy making them, not sure if they enjoy eating all I try to make.  The sound of clothes tumbling in the dryer fills the house.  I often light an apple scented candle (it's my favorite) as I make my to-do list for the day,  The dogs curl up on their dog beds, close to the warmth of a crackling fire.  There are stacks of mail piled on my office desk and laundry in need of folding on my bedroom floor.  Tractor toys line the great room wall, ready to plow, plant and harvest.

 We have the typical morning banters of Moms versus Children.  Where are my shoes?  Brush your teeth! The yellow school bus arrives in the dark. After my chores of feeding dogs, watering chickens and feeding the horse I return inside.  Then the quiet fills the house. At my house I like to sit in the brown leather recliner.  I read and journal with Abba in the mornings.  I sip my tea and crack the blinds a bit to catch the morning glory arise.  The sunrise over the farm land reminds me this is home.  Where our family works, lives and plays.  It is our livelihood. It hasn't always been this way.  I didn't grow up with cows in the pasture or corn in my backyard.  No my home was in a suburban neighborhood with sidewalks and cold-a-sacks. Now my house is the only one on the south side of the road consisting of a mile long.  Everyone here is my neighbor.  I used to drive down the street, now it is called a road and their are no sidewalks, just ditches. 

I wonder sometimes how I have adapted to my life here in the country.  Home is where your heart is.  This is where I was made to be.  I always wanted to live in an open space, maybe the mountains or rolling hills.  I wanted horses.  I had some romantic idea of a blissful life in the country.  Boy was I wrong!  It's hard work being a farmer/rancher.  I blame this ideology on classic TV shows like Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables.  Truth be told this life isn't really anything like the TV shows.  But it is my home now.  I embrace it now and sense a deep fulfillment in my soul of being here.  Partnering with my husband as first generation farmers.  In a sense it is a bit romantic and adventurous.  We have made many mistakes, but we have learned together.  This journey we embarked upon to create a life for our family has given us great blessings.  We truly are living out our calling in the land of the living.  This is our home sweet home.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day 23 Sharing My Faith Story

I'm just doing what Jesus told me to do.  Like the disciples untying  a donkey.  It doesn't make sense but this is what God said to do.  Many people ask, what are you doing? I'm just following instructions and being obedient to what Christ asked me to do.

I can't share about this past year without talking about my personal relationship with Christ.  I don't know why God choose me to get cancer. I do know that it has deepened my faith and my relationships to those I am closest to.

Psalm 73:28  I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge and I will tell of all His works.

I vowed at the beginning of this journey to not waste my cancer. So it would not be right for me to take this opportunity to give you an opportunity to accept the free gift of salvation.  So that you too can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  God's love is so big, so crazy, so consuming.  He desires a relationship with you.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

John 3:3  I tell you the truth no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.

John 14:6  I am the way the truth and the life. No noe comes to the Father except through me.

Romans 10:9-11  That is if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

Revelation 3:20  Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.

Pray with me:

Please let me know if you prayed this for the first time!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Day 22 Be Thankful

Life is messy.  Stuff happens.  Words are spoken that you can't take back.  Circumstances are UN-controllable.  Here is a definition I like for thanksgiving:  Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives -- thanksgiving is the manifestation of our yes to His grace.  It's choosing the have a thankful heart and live in a way that reflects gratitude regardless of circumstances -- yes, even cancer!

1 Thessalonians 5:16  Be joyful always. Pray continually.  Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

I'm still learning this.  But the crazy thing is this: discovering joy and the freedom that comes from having a thankful heart is changing me.  I am learning to not complain and to recognize the things I can not change.  All means all.  All the time we are to be thankful -- you can fill in the blank...

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day 21 Renew Strength & Grow Stronger

This last year has been like having a sabbatical.  All of my so called "normal" every-day chores were just impossible for me to accomplish.  I had to learn to let go of my to-do's and hang onto God in a brand new way.  I did a lot of waiting.  I did a lot of counting.  I counted days.  My days consisted of waiting till the next treatment or lab results...waiting.

Isaiah 40:29  God gives strength to the weary and he increases the power of the weak.

12 rounds of chemotherapy later I have learned what it means to wait on the Lord.  Through it all I discovered I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).  It's not about me, but about Christ in me, that's how I made it through...daily...moment by moment.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day 20 Wrestle

I have learned it's okay to ask the hard questions.  Why me? Why now?  One must come to a place in their own personal spiritual journey and accept the sovereignty of God.  He is good -- all the time.

Ask God  questions like, Isaiah 40:27 Why do you say O Jacob and complain, O Israel, my ways are hidden from the Lord, my cause is disregarded by my God.?  Another words, ahhh God it's me..don't you see me?  Well don't you see that I have a life going on right now, a son to take care of, chores, friends and family...I'm busy!  They say it's cancer God...Don't you see my pain?

"The only ones we can rest in God are the ones who have wrestled with God...I will not let go until you bless me...There is no tighter embrace than the grip of the wrestle." Ann Voskamp

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day 19 Trials

Trials are an opportunity to prove the faithfulness of God in our lives.  Cancer has been the hardest thing I've had to face in my life.  I've heard it said that God won't give us more than we can handle.  I don't believe this anymore.  I think He gives us more so that we can reflect Him and His power to others.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Praise be to God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God.

Ephesians 3:20 To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us.

This gives us the opportunity to share with others the power given to us by Christ.  It doesn't make sense to those of the world.  A believer has the ability to rise above their cicumstances and even display joy and peace.  This is only possible when an investment in the Kingdom has been made.  By this I am reffering to spending time in the Word.

Psalm 1:1-3 "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.  He shall be a like tree planted by rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season.  Whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper."   

Picture the tree, standing tall next to the river.  It's roots go down deep, tapping into a vast water resource for nourishment.  When the wind blows it is not moved.  When storms pass by it's leaves do not wither.  In the right season it bears fruit.  This is a picture of a believer.  During the good and bad times growth is going on beneath the surface.  The roots of a believer are sinking deeper into the Word.  The Living Water quenches all thirst. Now the storm begins.  The believer is unmoved and stands strong.  More amazing than just being able to stand is the demeanor of the believer.  They have an unexplainable joy lifting them above circumstances.    This joy is a fruit. This peace is a fruit.

Good berean's know all about God's character and are able to let His overwhelming glory override the pain of their circumstances.  True happiness is controlled by your allegiance.  Having an allegiance to Christ gives you the golden ticket to true happiness despite the presence or absence of storms in your life.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day 18 Laugh

Laugh.  Yes learn to laugh at yourself.  Laugh at life.  Live to enjoy each moment.

So Cal look at baseball game

Dustin always  makes me laugh!
Kisses from the Lab!
Having a squirt gun fight

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Day 17 How to Answer the Question of Why

Do you have unanswered prayers?  Do you ask why to God?  I have and I still do.  There is no problem in asking the why questions.  We may never totally understand or even get an answer this side of heaven.  The one thing I have learned is the answer to all the whys lies totally upon Jesus Christ.   I know this sounds rather obvious to most of us.  The reality is it is true and I will prove it. When we can't see through the fog, the pain and frustrations we must trust in His abundant love for us.  I have spent many hours sitting with my Bible open, pen in hand and journal laid upon my lap.  Searching and reading and re-reading the words over and over.  Trying to find answers to my deepest hurts.  The hurts that keep you awake at night.  The pain that suffocates your ability to put one foot in front of the other.  The constant nagging of circumstances.  Yes I have been there.  We have an amazing story in the Bible about real people who experienced unanswered prayers, long nights and family drama.  I am referring to Lazarus, Mary and Martha.

Read John 11

After reading this passage of scripture I have many more questions rather than answers.  Why did Jesus wait so long to go to this family?  Why did Martha run out of the house and meet Jesus, while Mary sat inside?  Ultimately we learn from this story that Jesus' ways are just plain different than our ways.  He ultimately had a purpose for everyone involved to see how His ways work best.  To the disciples who didn't want to travel back to Judea, for fear of being stoned to death to raising a man from the grave.  Jesus had a plan.  It was a great plan.  His timing is always best.  It did not seem like it to this town and certainly not to Martha and Mary.  Why would Jesus let their brother die?  Jesus loved Lazarus.  Even Jesus was moved to weep over his death.  Yet He was here on earth to do the will of the Father who sent Him.  The purpose of Lazarus death was to prove to those questioning His authority that Jesus Christ had power even over death! So that they would believe in the resurrection power of Christ.  One of the great "I Am" statements in the book of John is penned in the twenty-fifth verse. 

"Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live." And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?" John 11:25-26

I am sure the 4 days leading up to Jesus arrival were filled with why questions and no answers.  For both Mary and Martha say to Jesus when he does arrive, if only you had been here. What Mary and Martha did not know during the previous four days is that Jesus was there.  He was waiting for the perfect time to arrive to make a case and display His power.  When I am tempted to dwell on the why questions I must force myself to focus on the character of Jesus.  To know His heart and accept His will.  He is all about love and wanting what is best for me.  That doesn't mean it turns out the way I think it should.  I am forced over and over to to catch myself in this why game, then I stop myself and remember Jesus words to the Father:

 "And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said [this], that they may believe that You sent Me." John 11:42

Jesus does things according to what the Father wants.  The words of my why questions fade.  I realize Jesus lives to intercede on my behalf to the Father. (See Hebrew 7:25) I want His will.  Lazarus was in the grave four days, yet he lived again.  I'd say that is a huge answer to a why.  So others would believe in Jesus.  So maybe when some of my whys don't turn out the way I think or they just take too long, it's because God wants others to believe Him through my "death."  I say "death" not meaning in a literal sense but just plug in whatever circumstance you are questioning. Others see my life and have opportunity of their own to draw closer to the Father or turn away.  I hope and pray that through the experiences I have been through others are encouraged to draw closer to the Father.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day 16 Conquering Perfectionism

Why do I have such a desire to be perfect at everything I do?  Why do I stress and sweat over all the details?  I want my projects to reflect a job well done.  I want things to just look right.  I guess it's not all that bad wanting to be perfect.  After all Jesus said be perfect.

 "Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." Matthew 5:48

It's not so bad to want to be perfect, it's how I go about it.  What are my underlying motives and how am I actually going to accomplish this perfectionism in my life?  It will cost me time, energy and possibly relationships.

I have had to give up on this notion to be perfect.  To be superwoman and do it all, perfectly.  A wise friend told me once that God desires excellency from his children, so seek Him and do a few things excellently instead of all the above with mediocrity. I like this advice.  My friend is a wise woman!  So I have learned to pick a few things to be involved in outside of the home and I do them well.  I have to constantly evaluate the new projects that come across my path.  I have to weigh them out and see if they meet my criteria for participating.  I have had to say no to some really good things.  I also have had to step down from things I was involved in.  God has showed me in His Word what is good for me in this season of life.  What a good balance of activities is verses stressing myself out trying to manage my level of perfectionism.  It's just so hard for me to say no, when there are so many good things to be involved in.  I am slowly learning this lesson. Saying no to an activity can cause disappointment with friends and include social pressures.  I can honestly say deep in my heart this has happened to me and over time I was really thankful I listed to the Lord.  He knew what I could handle and what was too much.  I know myself, I want to give 100%.  I just tend to spread myself out too thin and wear myself out.

I have one of those decisions to make before me now.  I need to step down from something that is dear to my passions as a plant lover, yet God has been clear, it is time to move on.  I also have a ministry opportunity knocking on my door to serve and lead children.  Both of these weigh heavy on my heart.  I know God will be clear.  I have to listen to His voice.  I know that my desire to do it all and be all clouds His ability to work through me.  I get too busy and forget I am a reflection of Christ - the perfect one.  I am to represent Him the spotless lamb, the holy righteous one, the hope of glory to a world around me.  If I am too busy trying to be perfect for me, then I will miss being perfect for Him and others will miss it too.

Read other posts from the 31 Days Challenge here.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day 15: Be Prepared

I am sure this motto if a familiar saying, "Always be prepared."  It was a Girl Scout phrase that has just stuck with me.  It applies to many avenues of life.  It can be applied to many different situations. For me being prepared is a heart issue.  Who knows what the day will hold let alone the entire week.  The bast way I have found to be prepared is to prepare in Him.  This way I am covered.  It may sound a bit strange, but believe me I can tell the difference in days that I spent some good quality time on my knees, praying and reading the my Bible.  I also know the difference between days that I hurried along my quiet time.  It doesn't pay to force it or even to just do it and cross it off the list.  To truly prepare means I must be invested in what I am doing for that moment.  To be fully engaged in it and a participant in it.  Not just a bystander or a passer-by.  Carving out alone time can be so stressful in itself, but the rewards are so worth it.  I find that when I am prepared for the day ahead I am more relaxed, more aware to His presence with me and eager to give to others.

You can't give away what you don't have.  I try to pray two specific scriptures every morning for myself and my family.  They are the Armor of God and the Fruit of the Spirit.

Ephesians 6:11-18

 "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual [hosts] of wickedness in the heavenly [places]. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints."

Galatians 5:22-23
" But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law."

Now I can truly begin my day, knowing I am prepared for battle with the armor on.  I am fueled up to give out the fruits of the Spirit to those in need.  I know that the day before me hold countless times the enemy will throw darts, my faith will be challenged and my trust questioned.  I know that there will be people I will need patience for and self control to bite my tongue. Enjoying communion with God is supposed to be a continual affair--not just in the morning when I begin my day.  I know when I do that it helps me to be mindful of His presence through out my day.  It encourages me and keeps me going.  That is why I try my best to always be prepared.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 14 Extravagant Love

Spend some time pondering His amazing, relentless and jealous love today...

"And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you."
 Deuteronomy 7:13

""For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." 
John 3:16

"The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet [you] with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." 
Romans 5:8

"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? [Shall] tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." 
Romans 8:35;39

He is Jealous - Kim Walker

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day 13 Bring Beauty In

It is important to make your house a home.  I learned this during my days at home resting.  Simple things like flowers form the garden, road side wild-flowers and nature items can help make a beautiful arrangement.  It's bringing a piece of the outdoors in.  Bringing the beauty indoors brings light, love and happiness to a room. These things make a person feel loved and cherished. The best part is these ideas don't cost any money. My favorite item to bring from outside are sunflowers.  I would go out and cut several handfuls of them and trim off the leaves.  Then I would place then in a vase or a large canning mason jar. If I was feeling fancy I might even find some raffia and tie it around the vase or jar.

Beauty is everywhere.  Focusing on beauty around us points to creation, which leads us to our Creator.  Pondering our Creator is a great way to celebrate beauty.  He created it all.  It is here to declare his presence and glory.  We stand amazed at what His hands have made.  So much of what He made is naked to the human eye.  But what we can see is often hard to comprehend.  The details of His work remind us of His love and care for all.

"For since the creation of the world His invisible [attributes] are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse." Romans 1:20

"For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God". Romans 8:19

So we wait just like creation for the return of Christ.  The true Beauty Maker. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Day 12 Courage

It takes courage to fight.  It takes courage to face uncertainty.  It takes courage to do the right thing.  It takes courage to be authentic. Courage is hard, but not impossible.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is in Joshua chapter 1.  It says, ""Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the LORD your God [is] with you wherever you go."Joshua 1:9  I love this verse for several reasons.  It reminds me that it is a commandment from God to be strong and be courageous; for He will be with me always.  That is a great reminder!  I also love that it addresses my feelings.  My feelings can often cloud my vision and direction I may be traveling.  Whenever I read the words do not be afraid, God is addressing my underlying fears.  I may not show fear, but deep down I am scared to death.  When I had to start chemotherapy I was scared to death.  I may not have showed it but I was.  I did not know what my body was going to do in response to the drugs in my system.  This fear escalated when I had an allergic reaction on the 9th round of chemo.  You can read more about that is my post here Waters Rising.  Now that I am on the other side of that incident I can honestly say that took some courage to face.  I could not have done it with out these words of Joshua 1:9.  Did you know that in the Bible the phrase, "do not be afraid" occurs 50 times? I must not be the only one who struggles with fear! 

Having courage equips you to fight, face uncertainty, do the right thing and be authentic.  It is from God and not of man. We were made to be courageous.

I like this clip from the move "Courageous."  This is talking about Fathers and their God given responsibility.  I like the resolution factor.  I like that it takes courage to agree to a resolution.  It's making a commitment to be courageous.  For that I am a huge fan.  After facing cancer, I have vowed to myself and my family to be courageous.  I can face anything after facing that.  The best part is I know I won't be alone.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day 11 Blessed to Bless

It can all be summed up quite simply:  Die to self, period.  If it were only that easy to follow and practice moment by moment.  The real secret isn't found in a magic formula or a twelve step program.  It really isn't about reading books by well known authors.  Yet they do help shed light on the TRUTH of the WORD.  This is this gold nugget.  The cherry on top of the ice cream sundae.  More of Him and less of me.  This can only happen when I am willing to obey His Word.  Everything around me is affected by my ability to deny self and put others first.  My relationships will improve as I become more like Him. When I remember to put others first and forget my needs.  So simple, yet so hard to actually do.

It's easy to get pre-occupied with self.  I have so many tasks at hand.  I have so many things just for me.  Our culture is engulfed with the mantra of me first, take care of number one and push others away to be superior at all cost.  This notion of entitlement and deserve has been birthed out a long coming twisted way of stinky thinking.  We have now created a society of narcissist individuals all competing for attention.  I have to admit I enjoy watching shows like American Idol, or Britain's Got Talent or some other reality star search show.  The sad truth is everyone is super insecure and empty on the inside.  Yet on the outside we are rich, maybe famous and beautiful.  At least that is what we portray on Facebook and to the world we hope is looking. What good does this do?  None.

We must not be self-absorbed but other-absorbed.  We were created in Christ Jesus to do good works.  These good works aren't for our own benefit.  They are to benefit others.  We have been given much so we can give much.  We are blessed in order to bless others. 

Berry Pie for a friend!

During my chemotherapy I felt like others were paying closer attention to me.  I guess for good reason.  They were genuinely concerned.  I also think they were wondering how I would react to the treatments, what my attitude would be and what I was thinking.  I guess that is really why I started to write in the first place.  I wanted others to know about my journey.  In the midst of very difficult circumstances I remained strong in the Lord and tried my best to put my family first.  It wasn't easy.  Grace covered the mistakes.  I do remember taking the time to still serve others.  It feel good to forget my own problems and think of anothers needs.  It really does give you strength and encouragement for your Spirit to continue fighting.  So many people did amazing things for myself and my family.  Kindness doesn't even begin to describe it!  When you have been on the receiving end of being blessed it fills you up to overflowing.  The next step is to bless others. 

Do something kind for another person next time you are feeling self-absorbed.  I can almost grantee it will encourage your Spirit and help you to see others and yourself in a different light.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 10 A Clean Cup

There is nothing like spending the day cleaning house.  It was time for a good deep cleaning all over. I lost track of how many loads of laundry.  All the bedding was washed, the floors washed and waxed and three dogs took a bath.  I opened up all the windows in the house to let in the fresh fall air.  I lit a yummy apple scented candle and cranked up the praise tunes.  The hum of the dryer is still running as I type.  I feel great after a long hard day cleaning away the dust, dog hair and clutter.  It makes me think of Jesus own words to the Pharasees.  They were good at keeping the outside clean, but the inside (like my house) was a mess.

 "What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish, and then the outside will become clean, too." Matthew 23:25-26

This reminds me of another lesson I have learned in my journey battling cancer.  It is really important to take a personal inventory.  What I mean by this is every so often do a self-examination of your heart, the inside of your heart: the cup.  Jesus was pointing out that the Pharisees knew all the right words to say and even how to act.  Most of the time they even fooled themselves and everyone around them.  God can not be fooled.  He knows your heart.  You may even wonder why then do I need to take inventory?  Good question.  David is a good example of a man who desired to follow God's laws.  He inquired of the Lord to show him what iniquity was hidden in his heart.  Psalm 139 is a great example of a willing heart to be examined and shown any sin.  The Pharisees didn't even want to look at the inside of their hearts.  This is a dangerous place to be.  To pretend everything is fine on the outside while deep inside you are a wreck.  The solution is easier than you think.  All it requires is a heart willing to acknowledge sin and then repent.  When you start reading the Word more and more it reveals truth and lies hidden in your heart.  Sometimes before you even go to the Word you know in your conscious that you did something wrong or you had motives that were wrong.  That is the beauty of having the Holy Spirit to guide us along on our faith journey. 

So today as I was cleaning away, I took inventory in my heart.  I had to ask for forgiveness and clean up the inside of my heart.  It was a beautiful thing.  Now I have a clean cup.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day 9 It's All Small Stuff

I've heard it said many times, "Don't sweat the small stuff!"  Truth is all of it's small stuff.  It's the little things that add up into mountains.  I am continuing to learn that all these things that consume my time really don't matter.  It's not a big deal if I vaccum today or tomorrow.  The laundry will eventually get washed, folded and put away.  The dishes will get clean and stored in the cupboards.  Bills will get paid, maybe not on time, but I will pay them. I'm not saying the throw in the white towel and surrender to all domesticated work.  By no means, the world would come to a halt!  I'm just saying that maybe it's good to relax and not sweat it.  Yes these are my to-dos but really does it matter that the fridge is cleaned out every other Tuesday morning and laundry is only done on Fridays?  These insane pressures I put upon myself to be or to look like super-woman to others are just plain silly.  It really is small stuff.  What is important is that I love those around me and pay attention to their needs.  When I do this, these small things become my way of showing love and don't stress me out. I want to serve them by doing the small things.  This is my faith expressing itself in love.  There is no sense in worry or over-planing.  God is in control and He directs my steps. 

"Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow has enough trouble of it's own." 
Matthew 6:34

Maybe I should have an outlook more like my dogs...they don't worry about anything!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Day 8 Login to the Logos

Short and sweet today...

In order to survive any day, regardless of health, wealth and any others uncontrollable circumstances one must log-in to the Word, the Logos.  It doesn't have to be a set time everyday as long as you do it. For me mornings work best.  Some days I rise early before the rest of the house and sun.  Other days I wait till everyone is away.  The point is to spend time in the Word; reading it, studying it, pondering it, memorizing it, cherishing it, etc. Unexplainable things will occur in your life as a result of this holy discipline, I promise.  The eternal rewards are unmeasurable, the earthly benefits are priceless.

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. Psalm 119:105

I have hidden your Word in my heart, so that I may not sin against you. Psalm 119:11

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Day 7 Letting Others In

This is probably one of the hardest lessons that I had to learn in my journey of cancer.  Before cancer was a household world in my family I was always the one helping others out.  I would respond to the email and sign up to bring a meal to a family in need.  I would go clean friends house or visit an elderly neighbor.  Now the tables had been turned.  It was up to me to ask for help.  I know I needed it, I just had a hard time admitting it.  So hard.  So beautiful.  It is a truly humbling experience to be served by the body of Christ.  I can't even count all the times food was delivered to my doorstep.  Several days I would come home to find that my entire house had been cleaned.  Other times I would just have friends stop by to help with my son or just to visit.  It truly was overwhelming the love and support my family received.  My mailbox was chalk full of encouraging love notes.  Friends called and left me messages or talked on the phone with me to pass the time.  It was so encouraging to my Spirit.

You can miss the greater good out of receiving from others if you aren't truly humble and unwilling in your heart to receive.  One must be willing to ask for help.  This means you must be willing to let other in to your world and let them help.  this is so hard to actually do.  I have to say our family had some growing pains in this department.  Overall we learned together what it means to serve others and to be served by others.  This friends is true religion.  True community of faithful believers expressing themselves in love.  In the simple act of kindness represented in a meal, a card or a phone call.  I can not stress enough the importance of recognizing in yourself when you need to ask for help.  Don't be embarrassed or shy.  Who am I to prevent others in the body to do good works?  He has prepared them in advance for us all to do.  I don't want to get in the way of God working in another believers life because I am too proud to ask and receive help.

"The only things that counts is faith expressing itself in love." Galatians 5:6
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Day 6 Lessons in Waiting Part 3 = Attitude

When presented with hard circumstances you have a choice on what your attitude is going to be.  In waiting I have learned that attitude is everything.  You never know just how long the wait may be, so one must prepare for the long haul.  Attitude effects you physically, emotionally and spiritually.  If this is not kept in control it will snowball out of control and wreck your life. It's true it takes more muscles in your face to frown than to smile.  Choosing to have a positive attitude isn't always easy as pie.  I admit I had my moments, and I still do.  Complaining doesn't change the situation it just highlights the facts. 

Attitude is everything.

"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" Philippians 2:5

"Do everything without complaining or arguing." Philippians 2:14

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 5 Lessons in Waiting Part 2 = Strength

Sometimes you have to do things you don't want to do.  Sometimes you don't have a choice in the matter.  Sometimes you don't have the strength to do the things you have to get done.  This is where waiting on the Lord equips a believer in Christ with super natural strength. It's the epi power of the Holy Spirit coming upon you and filling you with His strength. 

This epi power is a form of the gift of the Spirit -- it is free to receive.  In my experience it comes with time spent waiting on the Lord.  One may never know the time and hour of when the Holy Spirit will manifest itself in an epi filling.  He is always willing, I think that the question is are we willing to receive it?  So I risk saying that it comes with a price tag.  Not one that costs real money or that can be bought off by bribing God in some twisted fashion  But in a way, it takes the hard work of an honest heart to commit themselves to His ways, being patient and waiting.  It requires the self-discipline of waiting on the Lord.  To wait on the Lord for me means, to put what little human effort and strength I can muster into believing an answer or breakthrough will occur.  Sometimes it's a prayer that needs an answer.  Sometimes it's just strength to take another step or another breath to move forward.  In this act of believing our hope is refreshed and our learned ability to trust God with our lives is strengthened.  Even though we may continue to stumble and fall He fills us up (epi) to overflowing. This equips me to grow stronger and stronger in Him.  I am capable of facing the giants because he is able to do exceedingly more than I can imagine.

"He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary. And the young may stumble and fall.  But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary and walk an not faint." Isaiah 40:29-31

I was able to do things in my body that just did not seem possible.  I felt like dying.  Chemo drugs bring you to the doorstep of death with out letting you actually die, you only feel like it.  Getting out of bed was a chore.  Eating was a mountain I couldn't climb.  You get the point.  Not only did this filling empower me but it gave me the courage to face another day of uncertainty.  This was a huge lesson in waiting and an even bigger lesson in the growth of my faith.

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

"Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, wait I say on the Lord." Psalm 27:14

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 4: Lessons in Waiting Part 1 = Hope

Hope is one of those things you either have or don't. You can't see it or touch it.  It's a belief you have deep in your heart.  Its roots are tied to faith.  For without faith one can't believe there is a God.  Without a God why would you need hope?  God is Hope.  In Him hope is secure. By waiting I have discovered that there are many layers of hope.  I was given the opportunity to wait, well not exactly.  I didn't really have a choice.  It was forced rest that required me to wait patiently on God to intervene in a mighty way a multitude of times.

Layer One
Hope has this uncanny ability to well up within us and draw us to a new level of inner peace.  It's this inner peace that comes in the form of a gift.  It takes us up and over our circumstances and lets us soar in the midst of adversity.  Others may look in wonder and scratch their heads in amazement at our calm demeanor.  What they don't understand is that this first layer of hope rests in our faith, which rests upon Christ alone.

"Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" 1 Peter 1:3

Layer Two
Now once we have established our hope is based upon personal faith we can move into truly owning it.  This requires some spiritual muscle flexing. When you can't use words to explain what you believe in your heart you say to yourself or to someone, "I just know that I know that I know."  That's it.  Simple.  Straight and to the point.  It has moved the twelve inches from head to heart.  This is where the battle begins.  Hope is constantly under attack in the brain. This is why we must be in tune to the Word.

"But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." 1 Thessalonians 5:8

Hope must be worn as a helmet to shield our minds from the lies the enemy sends.  We know from the Word that our Hope is in a future prepared for us...waiting.  There it is.  The Hope of glory is waiting for us to arrive in heaven.  (Colossians 1:27)

Layer Three
Hope breeds encouragement to our spirits.  The exact opposite is what tends to happen when our hope is deflated.  We become discouraged and possibly apathetic to our situation.  Through my journey of chemotherapy treatments and doctor appointments I had many set backs.  Several times appointments to receive treatments did not pan out.  I had to arrive at a certain time to get a blood draw. Then wait the 45 minutes for lab results.  Then wait around some more for Doctors to give the pharmacy and nurses their orders.  Some days I was told to go home, other days the machines were broken and no tests could be taken.

"And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.  No only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:2-5

It is the Holy Spirit who places this seed, this gift of Hope with in us.  It's a promise we get to carry around with us while we wait with great anticipation.

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

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope."  Psalm 130:5

"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Romans 15:13

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day 3: Simplicity Counts

Today I will be writing about a holy discipline that is still in progress in my own life.  I would call it under construction and possibly on the chopping block for demolition may be more like it.  I am constantly re-evaluating my "simplicity" level.  It is a lifestyle choice to live simply or to simplify ones life.  I love how Charles Swindoll writes in his book, Intimacy with the Almighty, he states, "To reorder one's own world, the need to simplify is imperative.  Otherwise, we will find ourselves unable to rest within, unable to enter the deep, silent recesses of our hearts, where God's best messages are communicated.  And if we live very long in that condition, our hearts grow cold toward Christ and we become objects of seduction in a wayward world.  What perils await us in that condition!" I have found this to be so true and God's word backs this up. 

"God made us plain and simple; but we have made ourselves very complicated" Ecclesiastes 7:29 TEV

Embracing the discipline of simplicity is a lifelong commitment one makes to self.  In a world of constant and instant demands firing at us, being armed and ready for battle is crucial to winning the war.  For some reason my life had spun out of control before cancer was even in the picture.  I said before cancer.  Yep.  I was super woman. I put on the act like I was Mary, but in reality I was Martha...busy, busy, busy. I did it all.

Weekly Beth Moore Bible Study
  Baked cookies for the bake sale
    Served in the nursery at church
      Delivered meals to the hungry
        Scrap-booked on rainy days
          Canned veggies from my garden
            Sang in the choir
              Volunteered in my sons classroom
                Kept house
                  Farmers wife
                    And the list goes on...

When we allow ourselves to be so busy with life's demands we become cold and jaded to the very heart of God.  I saw the warning flags, but I chose to ignore them.  I didn't want to slow down.  God had other plans.  I am not saying that he gave me cancer so that I would simply slow that's not the point here.  I just know that part of my out of control busy crazy life effected my health.  I wasn't taken care of me.  I was so busy serving and being in leadership roles that I wasn't truly hearing His voice.  You see I was more concerned about my Martha Stewart pie photos on Facebook than the family I was bringing the pie to.  I was more concerned about how I looked arriving to school and impressing the other Moms.  You get the point.  When we allow our schedules to become so cluttered with things to do - even good things - we often miss the point of why.  This was me.  So I began a journey to find simplicity.  I began to weed out some of the jobs I had taken on.  I began to look introspectively at my to do list.  I began to make some changes.  I am so grateful I did.  As I began to say no to more things, God began to speak more clearly to me.  I could hear that still small voice affirming the things I was spending my time on.  He kept speaking over and over...I need you to say no to some really good things, so you can say yes to one big thing later.

Later arrived on May 13, 2011 in the form of you have cancer...and the sound of bombs dropping and exploding around me was heard.  I have learned that embracing simplicity allows for the storms of life to blow on by.  Yes they are rocky and turbulent for a period of time, but eventually the storm moves on.  During surgery, recovery and chemotherapy life went on.  My husband still went to work, my son still went to school.  Bills got paid, grocery shopping was done and my house was cleaned.  Maybe it all didn't happen the way I wanted or planed but we all survived.  I choose to not stress out and do it all.  I choose to be simple.   Today I have to remind myself to keep it simple sister or KISS.  I can sense in my Spriti when I am taking on too many tasks.  I have caught myself many times.  The key to overcoming this is to be honest with yourself.  Know your limits.  Seek wisdom from above.  Keep your personal life simple and the discipline of simplicity will radically change your intimacy level with Christ.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding.  But in all your ways acknowledge the Lord and he will direct your path. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones." Proverbs 3:5-8 NKJV


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