30 and done…will I walk this way again? Only God knows

30 and done…will I walk this way again? Only God knows

The trees stand against the sky forming this silouette and the dark sky is melting into colors of grays, pinks, blues.  They say rain’s coming today as it has so many times this winter.  And there are new beginnings in this day.

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She smiles when I walk in the office as I have for thirty plus times. And she tells me I can go on back to my changing room. And I see this closed door straight ahead I have seen so many times–the radiation room.  The thickness of the door is ten inches or more wide and the sign flashes “In Use”.  And on the door is this gold sign–Caution. High Radiation Area.

Today’s the day–my last of thirty–the last radiation treatment.

img_4465She told me this year made 21 years of walking cancer free. And there’s this invisible thread she and I share of being breast cancer survivors.  Another friend and her card read, ‘We are sisters in Christ and now we also have a very special bond!’ And so many other women who have shared their stories. All of our walks were very different in many ways, but this thread–it’s more than the sharing of a cruel disease.

The answer on the health checklist changes not only for me, but for my children, my grandchildren, my siblings, my family. Yes, I have had cancer. Yes, someone in my family has had cancer.  There is this history now and this thread of family pulls us tighter, closer.

And writer Carolyn Larsen calls this thread, “God’s thread.”

 

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The machine starts the normal buzz and on this morning it seems to last longer and the noise–much louder.  And I hold back the tears of thirty plus times here–with treatments and tests. My radiation oncology nurses are waiting as the machine comes to a stop–clapping and they hand me some necessary paperwork and a certificate of completion with my name engraved in ink.  And it reads I have ‘completed the prescribed course of radiation therapy with the highest degree of courage, determination and good nature.’

And I am unworthy and it’s not me who deserves any of these accolades–it’s so many others–it’s the woman who waits every morning for her husband to finish radiation treatments so she can drive him to his chemo treatment–fifty miles away.  It’s the man who sits in his familiar wheelchair with his cane carefully placed in his lap and humbly allows the nurses to roll him back into the radiation room.  It’s the mamas and daddies who reach deep for another day of courage as they count down another chemo treatment for their child. And it’s the doctors and nurses who day after day see people as much more than patients–they see with their hearts and smile every single day when somedays it would be much easier to cry.

And it’s God’s thread that connects us all.

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Cancer–it will forever be a part of my story.  Will I walk this way again–only God knows.  But that is not a worry of today or tomorrow for me.  For the power of our thread is strengthened by prayers lifted in faith and love. And I have felt each prayer spoken on my behalf and there are no words to express my heart of gratitude.

And the sliding door–it opens a little wider.  Today is a beginning. Not a start-over, a new beginning.  There is a difference–a big difference. And God’s mercies are new every morning. And He is bigger, greater than any disease.  And He is good.

It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The Lord is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in Him. Lamentations 3:22-24 (KJV) 

 

The clock ticks 2019 and He’s still here

The clock ticks 2019 and He’s still here

A room full of toddlers in Sunday School class and they were trying their best to wait patiently.   Hovered around this plain brown box, they watched as a hole was cut into the top of the box.  And then a door was cut out of the front of the make-believe house.  They watched, their eyes sparkled like they were seeing the lights on a Christmas tree for the very first time.

Our lesson that Sabbath morning was about love and one sick man and his friends. The friends needed to get him to Jesus for healing.  He was too sick to walk and they couldn’t get through the front door, the room–filled with other people wanting to see Jesus so they carried their friend.  Carried him right up on the roof and lowered him down–down to Jesus.  _DSC0535.JPG

_DSC0102.JPGAnd it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them.And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus.  Luke 5:17-19. Good morning HIs Coming.jpgShe had made her way to the synagogue on this Sabbath Day–she was fighting the crippling–unable to stand straight.  And Jesus, He was there teaching and He saw her and He saw her pain.

And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, He called her to Him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And He laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God. Luke 13: 11-13. 

And there’s healing with one touch of His hands. SunsetsThere’s this place down the road–a place that helps folks and often times when doors are closed they will leave out non-perishable foods for those in need.  The doors had not yet opened and there sat a table full of loaves of bread–different kinds, different sizes.

While waiting in my car this young man seemed to appear out of nowhere and walked up to the table of bread.  After a few minutes of looking through the loaves he chose one.  Only one.  And he walked away.  Carrying only a small box, his one loaf of bread and God’s grace of one more day of hope and healing.

And on this day I stopped to give–only to receive.  _DSC0098 (2).JPGThese toddlers–each of them took turns lowering this make believe bed made out of an old paper bag and a brown yarn string. And once they lowered the bed and after the healing of Jesus, the children reached in and lifted the man out of the bed–right out of that paper box house and the children–they laughed and giggled with happy as they held the paper man.  And one of those gifts, none more than 5 years old said, ‘He’s better! He got to see Jesus!’

And the clock ticks 2019 and He’s still here, among us. Waiting. He’s right here–and His power–still present to heal.

All scriptures referenced are from the KJV Bible 

 

 

A time to dance

A time to dance

The calendar on my desk reads January 1 and it glares hard. There’s a new sign on a fresh coat of paint, “In everything give thanks” and the smoke is rising from the old brown trash barrel.

The words like the smoke irritated my eyes, caused me to lose my breath at times.  And as I read page after page I found a pattern in a time past, not so many years ago—a time when days led to weeks and sometimes even months.  The pen had inked negative in the pretty journals.  But we all know a pen has no ability to write alone.  That’s what happens when the heart dwells in hardness too long rather than being sheltered in grateful. And there was no better place for the journals than the fire.

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_DSC0113.JPGA few months after my Daddy crossed over into his heavenly home this lady said to me, ‘You’re a strong girl.  You’ll get over this.’

And at the time I wanted to scream at her–tell her strong had nothing to do with it and no I won’t get over it. But the words wouldn’t come and I just broke. Again. And knowing and loving this lady for years–honestly, she meant for her words to be of a comfort.  But me looking at the dark–I took them as just that–a dark hurt rather than being grateful for her love and concern.

The words we often speak to each other hurt and sometimes the negativity of sadness we choose for ourselves has an even greater power.  For if we focus our thoughts and words to reflect only on the weeds and thorns, we will miss the true beauty of the blessings of the most beautiful of flower gardens.

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_DSC0137.JPGIn five short days it will be another new year.  Time sure is spinning fast.

And life seems to be getting harder.  Sadness. Troubles. Sickness. Negativity on every corner. And make no mistake about it–giving thanks in everything is hard. But what blessings are we missing while dwelling on the negative?  What are we taking for granted when we should be thanking God…Every. Single. Day.

_DSC0135.JPGTalking with a dear friend a few days before Christmas and we stood together in the mire of deep tears as she asked me to pray for a loved one who was struggling with a sadness. She explained to me what had caused the hurt and then proceeded to tell me what she had shared with her loved one–about the letting go of her sadness while trusting in God’s plan….

‘In the third chapter of Ecclesiastes, she said. ‘God’s word speaks of seasons in our lives and the words are there, right there side by side–a time to mournand a time to dance.’

And she explained to her loved one there are times of great sadness but there is always Jesus with His hands outstretched–reaching, waiting. And then she ask her–‘Are you willing to take His hands and dance?’

And I stood there with chills. Grateful for His hands. Grateful for the dance.

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Ecclesiastes 3:4

Thou hast turned for me my mourning into dancing: thou hast put off my sackcloth, and girded me with gladness;  To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever. Psalm 30: 11-12

 

 

 

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. What is our gift to Jesus this Christmas morning?

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. What is our gift to Jesus this Christmas morning?

In the humble Mary and Joseph heard this baby’s first cry and this gift they had been given changed their entire being.  And the gift was not theirs alone.  God’s baby boy was a gift to all the world

For the heart of God loved and He gave.

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

And on the chill of this Christmas morning, two thousand plus years since the birth of Christ—the sky has this lavendar glow and the Son is rising in the eastern sky.  Just what is our gift to Jesus?  How are we giving to Him?

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Are we praising God as Mary and Elisabeth?

Are we willing to drop everything and hurry in haste to see Jesus as the Shepherds?

Are we following the light of Jesus as the Wise Men?

Are we serving in silence with love, deeds, devotion as Joseph?

Are we obeying God without question–with faith and trust as Mary?

Are we dedicating our lives to Christ in fasting and praying as Anna?

Are we allowing our eyes to see salvation in Jesus as Simeon?

Are we listening as Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, Elisabeth, the Wise Men, Simeon, Anna?

Are we being thankful as Simeon and Anna–telling others of the Savior?

How are we giving to Jesus?  What are our gifts to others in His name?

There came in my mailbox this yellow envelope from an unfamiliar address and inside were cards–many cards from students. And their teacher, she’s teaching them kindness by the giving of the simple gifts to others.  And these gifts will I forever cherish.

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Our most precious gifts aren’t wrapped in ribbons and bows, only in love. 

Thanking God for His many gifts this Christmas morning. 

Merry Christmas! 

 

 

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. Hold on. He is coming.

His Coming. Christmas Devotional.  Hold on. He is coming.

His face showed signs of worry. Could he walk another step, another mile? Will the donkey’s weak back and tired legs hold out until the end of this journey?

And precious Mary, precious Mary.  Her back ached. Swollen ankles. The pressure of the coming child.  Her baby. God’s Son.  One more day. Could she hold on one more day?

And Joseph, this caring, loving, devoted man walked on–blisters, feet worn.

He’s coming.  

One more day.  

Hold on.

Just one more day.  

Hold on. 

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Rahab, the prostitute, a woman in Jesus’ family tree. Her story–her assurance in her family’s safety was not determined by her faith in the red rope that swayed outside her window.  Her faith was not in the soldier’s promises. She held on to her only hope, the blessed hope–the one the red rope represented and that was God. 

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Joshua 2:11-13–And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath. Now therefore, I pray you, swear unto me by the Lord, since I have shewed you kindness, that ye will also shew kindness unto my father’s house, and give me a true token: And that ye will save alive my father, and my mother, and my brethren, and my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.

Joshua 2:18–Behold, when we come into the land, thou shalt bind this line of scarlet thread in the window which thou didst let us down by: and thou shalt bring thy father, and thy mother, and thy brethren, and all thy father’s household, home unto thee.

Joshua 2:21– And she said, According unto your words, so be it. And she sent them away, and they departed: and she bound the scarlet line in the window.

There are days when we will ask ourselves, can we make it another day? And why, why are we holding on? Will today have any good news? Will tomorrow come? Wars, riots, the hurting of children, women, men, cancer, broken hearts, sickness, pain, death……

Our livest can feel like a tornado spinning, taking us down into a deep, dark hole….when we can’t take another tragedy…another senseless death…another breaking news report….when troubles and sickness overwhelm our hearts, cloud our minds

HOLD ON.

THERE IS HOPE.  

Jeremiah 17:7—Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. 

John 14: 1-3–Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 

Hold on when your child is sick

Hold on when problems of this world leave your heart empty

Hold on when you are planning a funeral for a love one

Hold on when the medical reports confirm–cancer–heart attack–dementia–disease…

Hold on when someone you love walks away

Hold on when your child leaves for college

Hold on when you lose your job

Hold on when the refrigerator is bare and the paycheck never seems to be enough

Hold on

Hold on to Him

Hold on to the Blessed Hope 

Titus 2:13—Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ  

He is coming.

One more day. 

Hold on. 

How to be a gift this Christmas

Be kind 

Serve

Love 

All scriptures referenced are from the KJV Bible. 

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. Blessed are those who see hope.

His Coming. Christmas Devotional. Blessed are those who see hope.

Wonder if Mary wept when all she had to wrap her new baby in were rags or if Joseph apologized to Mary–to God…I’m sorry, there are no rooms.  This is the best we have for right now.

This humble beginning, it was all God’s plan.  This gentle arrival–it was never meant to be in a palace.  And honestly maybe Mary did cry some tears and Joseph said I’m sorry a few times.  But more than anything they kept seeing hope.  And hope laid in a manager full of straw wrapped in swaddling clothes.

For in thee, O Lord, do I hope: thou wilt hear, O Lord my God. Psalm 38:15

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And there was Simeon waiting on death–waiting on hope.  He saw the child come into the temple with his parents–the child Jesus and Simeon took the baby in his arms and thanked God for his eyes saw his own salvation–his hope.

And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death: before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.  And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law. Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. Luke 2:26-32

And she came running, an instant the scripture says to see the Christ child.  Immediate. Rapid. Quick. In a moment.  This elderly widow woman, a prophetess who spent her days at the temple fasting and praying–day and night.  Anna, she wasted no time giving thanks to the Lord just as Simeon did and she took her hope out into the streets of Jerusalem and shared the good news of forgiveness and redemption.

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38. 

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Thank you to photographer, Jill Miller Woodie for the use of this photo 

She tried but there was no stopping the flooding of the heart for this mama.  She signed her name and said, ‘I am so grateful you all are here.  This is the first time I have had to do this.  It’s been hard this year.’

And I watched as the ministry volunteer who was completing her paperwork reach right through the office window opening and wrap her arms around this mama’s neck.  And they cried hope together.

How can we be a gift this Christmas

Practice kindness in everything..everywhere

Consider giving to Wilkes Hope Ministry 

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

All scripture referenced is from the KJV Bible. 

 

 

 

 

His Coming. Christmas Devotional: The Heart

His Coming. Christmas Devotional: The Heart

That first heartbeat–the beauty of the sound. The pure awe of it.

I often think about when I saw my grandchildren’s heart for the first time through miraculous ultrasound photos.  Before the skin layers and muscles were fully developed–before they born.  These beautiful grandchildren, no bigger than a thumb, and hearts beating strong. God’s love. God’s little miracles. In His image. Wonderfully and fearfully made…..

Psalm 139:14, I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

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In the beginning God spoke, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Genesis 1:26

And it didn’t take long after God breathed life into the first man and woman that mankind broke His heart.

Genesis 5:6—And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at His heart.

But God…God found Noah.

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord–Genesis 5:8. 

And here’s this thing about the heart of God–He continues to give and forgive.

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He was a ruddy boy who grew to be a man–far less than perfect.  And God sought his heart and he sought God.

As Samuel was searching for the next king he became confused because God had passed over seven of Jesse’s sons. Seven sons. And God kept saying no. And Samuel ask Jesse, do you have any more children? Only the youngest he said. He is tending the sheep.

1 Samuel 16:12a—Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look at, 

1 Samuel 16:7–But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, and the Lord looketh on the heart.

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1 Samuel 16:12b–And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he.

This is he.

The young one.

The shepherd boy.

The psalmist.

The musician.

The writer.

The poet.

The future giant slayer.

The next king

A boy who grew to be the man after God’s own heart.

The man who would be named in the genealogy of Christ.

Matthew 1:1—The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

David, although he sinned and failed God many times, Paul tells us in the book of Acts, David was a man after God’s own heart. And the promise of God, His Son Jesus would come from David’s seed.

Acts 13:22-23—And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to who also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Savior, Jesus.

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These hearts of ours. There are no perfect ones. Some broken. Some no longer whole. Some with scars. Some with bruises. Some with holes.  And still beating because of God’s mercy and His grace.

The greatest gift our hearts will ever receive is the giving away of our hearts to Jesus. Christmas is not about the gifts wrapped under the tree, bought in a store. It’s about the gift of the heart and knowing we too can be a man or woman after God’s own heart.

Unwavering, no doubt His mother Mary held baby Jesus close. She embraced the heart of God.

How to be a gift this Christmas

Be a man or woman, boy or girl after God’s own heart 

All scripture referenced is from the KJV Bible