4 Anchors for a Tiny Sailboat

This is where I left you last Thursday, promising to give you an answer…

“What is fair anyway?”

Truth be told – the answer is: N O T H I N G.

“Life isn’t fair – get use to it.”

Don’t you hear your mother’s voice echoing in your head, as I do?

Someone will always get the bigger cookie first, the longest turn on the swing, the better card in the game.

Yet,

when we get the biggest cookie, the longest turn on the swing, or the winning card in the game – — do we still exclaim, “It’s not fair?”

Of course not.

Suddenly the path of the exclamation goes from “Why me?” to “Why not me!

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Why did I have to get cancer? I do not know…but, why not me?  I am not above the perils of this world.

Four anchors held me as my life, like a tiny sailboat, tossed violently in the stormy sea of a dark trial. 

One: Accept Support.

Hand in hand, we opened the door and stepped out into the brazen sunlight, neither knowing what lay ahead.” (p. 6 Towdah)

Do you have support? Do not try to go it alone.  Call on your closest loves in life and let them hold your hand.  My aunt, who battled against cancer for nearly 12 years, told me, “No matter what, always let people help you, for if you deny them the opportunity, you squash the Spirit working in them and you lose out on a blessing.”

Two:  Stick to the Plan.

With a battle, there is a plan – always.  And once a plan is in place, everything seems doable.  Stick to it and fight with everything you’ve got!

Medically: follow through with the treatment plan.

Spiritually: pray; “And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well;”

Three: Stay Vulnerable

“Without words, I drew close…Tears once again began to flow…Emotions gave way with an ever so gentle explosion of sighs and tears.”(p.34 Towdah)

Keep it real my friend. Embrace your humanness.

Four: Trust God.

There is a choice to make.  You can be swallowed up by fear or you can be cradled by trust. Seems a no-brainer to choose trust – I mean, who wants to be swallowed up! The next question then, is who do  you trust?  Entering the unknown territory of this trial, I put my trust in God as Joshua did.  Cancer, disease, sudden loss bring unknown territory and it is scary.

“Like a child, holding the father’s hand, I couldn’t bear it anymore and I turned with anxious asking, ‘Pick me up Daddy! I’m scared.’ ” (p. 30 Towdah)

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Accept support.  Stick to the plan.  Stay vulnerable.  Trust God.

 

 

WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?

Did you see the mother in the yellow dress rapping her son upside the head today on the social media?

Or maybe you saw the visions of police lining the Baltimore streets like a wall in their suits of armor and shields?

Screaming and running and ducking and smashing and chaos pushes the fear and the anger up, and up, and up to explosive levels.

Which side are  you on?

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Disdainful outcries rumble as family members and co-workers give their two cents on the horrible events of the day.

“What is happening to this country?” 

One thing is for sure: it is nothing new.

What happened in Baltimore has happened throughout all of history before; and I am NOT talking about racism.

I am talking about the human condition.

Take a moment to look back to the earliest days recorded in the time of Genesis; one brother against the other brother because of a dark heart full of uncontrolled anger….a “who-is-better-than-who” situation.

The result? Murder.

“Who-is-better-than-who” has been done a lot in history….resulting in wars and crime and divorce and all levels of arguments.  It is the condition of natural sin; otherwise known in religious circles as the “sinful nature.”  The human condition is sinful nature.

Will it ever change? Can it ever change?

To be honest…. not as long as we remain humans on this earth.

Lucky for us, however…there is a remedy.  And it begins with each one of us.  And it begins in the heart.  It takes a heart deciding to believe in Jesus Christ as the Savior; deciding to follow Jesus and His ways. Putting off the old and putting on the new – being transformed with a new vision of life and who we are in it.  The Scriptures instruct us:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2

“…put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds;  and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Eph. 4:22b & 23

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Eph. 4: 31 – 32

Yes, it begins with us.  It begins with being humble (us) and it begins with forgiveness (Jesus’ toward us).

The side to be on is Jesus’ side.

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In Christ, we can forgive. In Christ, we can love.

And we know because we are told, that The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1Peter 4:8

Pray and forgive; Pray and love….in our homes, in our workplace, in our communities.

It is not about race, or justice, or anger….or “who-is-better-than-who.”

It is always and forever will be about the heart.

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Total change for our human condition – the sinful nature – comes when Jesus returns to take up His own into heaven. Until then, we have to persevere and keep our hearts and minds focused on Jesus’ side.

So, dear friends, hold on and claim hope because, “hope does not disappoint.” Romans 5:5a.

The side to be on is Jesus’ side.

Give Hope: Dump an Omelet in the Trash!

The Holy Spirit works in amazing ways and sometimes

may call you to do the most unexpected thing!

Several months into my journey of treatments and surgeries related to my cancer, I found myself suffering and unable to eat for days – yes – days, not hours.  The phone rang  and then this happened:

” He said, ‘I just have to tell you…’ ”

“He said he heard the Holy Spirit prompt him to stop, not eat his omelet (which he had just labored to make), and throw it away……with confidence, this brother declared, ‘The Holy Spirit wanted me to share in your suffering today.’ ”

“I only share this with you to encourage you…to let you know the Holy Spirit is working and that you are prayed for.”  Excerpts from; Towdah, A Cancer Survivor’s Song of Hope — p. 110 – 111

End of phone call.

I was speechless.  I was stunned.  

I was filled with an immediate sense of the fullness of God himself!

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Intercessory prayer is powerful.  

The second way you can help ease the pain and suffering of a loved one this holiday season

is to pray for them.  

Deeply.

Pray for them deeply and with compassion.

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for the saints.”  Ephesians 6:18

Peer into the space your loved one occupies in his suffering and listen to how the Spirit directs you to pray.  You may not have to dump an omelet in the trash…yet, the Spirit may call you to do something else equally as stunning as is fitting to your loved one in need!

Deliver HOPE by telling the one who suffers that you are praying for them.  

Bless them with that moment of knowing they are loved immensely.

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Be the first to comment on my blog today and I will send you a free autographed copy of my book and  a letter of encouragement to your friend or loved one who is suffering this Christmas season.  Message me on FB with your address & details – just click on my name below:

Sheryl

Merry Christmas!

Be THAT One!

Do you know this very short story paraphrased from Luke 17:11 – 14?

Ten sick men called out to be healed.

Jesus healed them.

Ten men went on their way….

BUT,

One man came back praising God loudly,

threw himself at Jesus feet and began thanking Him.

One out of Nine.

Math is not my forte – yet even I know, one out of nine is not a good percentage.

I ask myself today…am I one of the nine or am I like the one?

Of course, I want to think I am like the one who came back; I want to be THAT one!  Yet, I know I often go through my days not thanking Jesus for even the very breath I breathe.  So as I ponder this Thanksgiving Day – the Federal holiday established in 1863 by President Lincoln – I fear I have come up short on my true list of thanksgivings to my LORD.

Authenticity that is full of heart….

it is what I desire in my offering of thanks to God today.  

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The one came back praising God loudly. Why loudly?  I think because he was overflowing with gratitude that could not be contained.

Rabbi, You are Awesome!  

Praise you for being the ultimate healer! Praise you for being mercy itself!

Bursting forth the thank-you’s came!

Thank you, Thank YOU, THANK YOUUUUU!!!!!!

It built up to a crescendo of music to the LORD’s ears.

Yes, I want to be THAT one!

The one came and threw himself at Jesus feet.  Can I even imagine?  It must have been in total bowing in honor to the power of Jesus; like from the old hymn – we at his feet may fall!

 All hail to Jesus the King, YOU are LORD of all!

Too dramatic?

When I consider who I am, next to who He is (?)…I think not. He is worthy! This is my prayer today:

Lord, forgive me for my feeble memory that fails to thank you for every moment of my life; every thing I have is from you and I am really thankful…help me in my weakness and cause me to be overflowing with authentic heartfelt appreciation for who you are and for all you do for me.  Remind me by the power of your Holy Spirit to turn back often and give you thanks – not only today, but every day you allow me life on earth.

May I be THAT one!

Praising your name, falling at your feet, and giving you deep heart thanksgiving.

Friend, Be THAT one with me…

and let’s increase the percentage of men who turn back to Jesus.

Thanksgiving Day is meant to be every day!

47 Things on Thursday: T.G.I.F

Do you gear up and quote the familiar saying?

T.G.I.F.

Well everyone knows the meaning:  Thank God it’s Friday!

 Exuberance.  Relief.  Anticipation.

All these feelings describe the end-of-the-week-mentality and thankfulness that there will be 2 days to enjoy, separated from the work week.

Too soon however, the dreaded MONDAY lurks around the corner bringing about the sobering reality, on Sunday night, that forces us to get organized and prepare for the work week ahead.  You know what I mean…yes?

Two years ago, Chemo Mondays were always a drag for me –  dreaded beyond dread.  After several weeks of the routine, the side effects were predictable.  My body would meld into the couch and I would almost become the very fabric of the structure upon which I lay.  Fighting with every ounce of energy I had to survive these treatments, I could barely move.

My heart longed for healing and restoration.  Both my needs and the needs of my family were mumbled somewhere in between my moans and groans.  Often the requests lay deep in the recesses of my heart as unsaid desires.

YET. The LORD sustained and answered because He

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and

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He cares because each of us are HIS. Those who love Him, we are HIS children.  And like a mother, deeply and instinctively drawn to the loving care of her child, so is the LORD God, drawn to care for each one of us, especially when we are down so low that we can only mumble and desire. He knows what we need.  He cares.

“As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you;” Isaiah 66:13a

Do you have a desire deep inside your heart that you have been too weak to utter?  Take comfort in knowing that the LORD knows; He knows what’s in our heart before we even speak it.  We do not need long and lengthy, perfectly articulated words.

“…for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”  Matthew 6:8b

Have you been so overwhelmed that your words are mumbled?  Do you think you are not heard?  Think again.  God hears and He is preparing to meet your needs on all levels in a way that will grow you, fill you, and strengthen your faith.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19

God’s riches are too abundant for us to comprehend.  Yet, when we submit ourselves to resting in the LORD to answer and care, we can have the same T.G.I.F. mentality:

Exuberance. Relief. Anticipation.

Picture it.  Assume it. Claim it.

WHY?

Because He is

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and He desires us to be exuberant over the fact that He is both willing and able to bless us and care for us.

He desires us to feel and know that relief that comes when we trust in Him.

and He desires us to anticipate with faith, that He will always and forever be our one and only source of true sustaining power.

T.G.I.F

I take liberty to re-define the quote:  Thank God it’s Forever!

“For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”  Psalm 100:5

We are not in for a two day hiatus — we are in for a lifetime of receiving God’s loving care….from here to eternity.

47 Things on Thursdays ———– I am not.

I defiantly kept my eyes closed as I slowly rolled over this morning.  Listening to the back door slam five or six times it was clear that my children had risen before me and were well on their way to doing the outdoor animal chores.  Desiring just five more minutes of quiet I slunk down deeper under the covers. Hiding?  Maybe.  I did not want to get up and face the demands and struggles of the day – whatever they might be.

In the quiet, I began to rehearse my woes and about number four, mid-woe, I decided to lift them up as a prayer to my God.  A long prayer ensued as one woeful concern seemed to trigger another.  What began as a few groaning needs for help turned into confessions and more requests.  A half hour later, I peeled back the down comforter and placed my feet on the floor with just one more thought and an audible sigh:

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I am not.

As I battled cancer, I was ever so impressed and awed by the number of people who prayed for me.  I envisioned the voices as lines directed up to God from three countries & seven states and I was overwhelmed with the size of that and thereby concluded that God is Humungous!

God’s Word tells us to, “pray without ceasing” (KJV) – “pray continually” (NIV) – “never stop praying” (NLT) 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  We are exhorted to give it up, speak our minds, and talk to Him without stopping!  I recall the many moments in my day when I am full to the brim with chatter from my children and I often exclaim, “Stop pestering me!” – “Can’t you be quiet for five minutes?” – “If you ask me one more time…I’m gonna explode(!)” – “Stop! I can’t hear three of you all at once!”  Like I said, I am not; I am not humungous.  I am small and limited and not at all as patient as my God.

I dressed and smoothed the comforter over my bed and imagined my prayer this morning being among several thousand others being said all at the same time. Again I concluded my God is Humungous!  He is an awesome Father who is bigger than my words can ever express or my mind could ever begin to picture. I caught myself singing a familiar children’s song – one I had taught my own children and many other children in Sunday School classes.

There is nothing my God cannot do! Paste and copy and check out the song.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q320dTesx1c

This may sound simplistic and maybe a bit childish to proclaim that my God is Humungous. Yet, I am a child; I am the daughter of this strong and mighty King.  As a created being, so are you. Like Paul, I urge you to pray without stopping.  My God can handle it.  He is “so big, there’s nothing my God cannot do.”  Gigantic woes, tiny woes, all your concerns…give ’em up and place them all at the feet of our King.  Not only are we told to pray, we are told, “this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessolonians 5:17).  Better yet, we are in God’s will to be talking to Him all the time!

Giving me a spring in my step, I descended the staircase humming and making-a-big-muscle with my bicep.  Yes sir!

towdah paintings 100 and there’s nothing He cannot do.  Perhaps now I can face the demands and struggles of the day.

I invite you to come back next Thursday and read about another of the 47 things I learned about God as I endured my battle with cancer: 2 down, 45 to go!

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What do ya’ do…?

What do ya’ do when there’s just nothing left? Down so low that you feel totally defeated. No strength. No understanding. No control. Stripped of all you thought you had?  Depleted and naked.

Twelve hours had passed and I held my still born baby girl in my arms.  Born too early, tiny, barely weighing enough to put pressure on my arms, this baby was silent.  I pressed my lips to her warm forehead and kissed her.  Tears streamed down my cheeks. Her name was Grace.  Staring at her features, cradling her head and uncurling her oh-so-small fingers, I said hello and goodbye in the same breath. The hopes I had for her were dashed; stripped of all I thought I had and frozen with lack of understanding…. I was certainly depleted. And yet, I had peace.

Years later, laying on an operating table awaiting a C-section, I was unconscious, yet aware that I was unable to breath.  The anesthesiologist had shut down my system for intubation, but things went wrong and now I heard rushing and yelling all around me.  I felt as if an elephant was on my chest.  I could not speak yet my mind was able to think and comprehend. I knew if I did not get to breath soon I might die. Undeniably I had no strength. No control. And yet, I prayed.

And again, more years later, I found myself on a stretcher in such pain that I did not care if I lived or died. Ravished already from radiation therapy and chemotherapy and surgery, my body was beaten.  My human-ness decided for a moment that I had had enough!  Stripped again of understanding, control, and even of care, I began to give up. Defeat in its fullness settled in; depleted and naked with nothing left.  And yet, I cried out in earnest, searching….

The peace; how did it come?  The prayer; to who?  The cry: searching for what?

The answer in all three cases was: Jesus.

Jesus is the giver of peace in circumstances where peace makes no sense; it comes as a gift from the Lord – just given (Philippians 4:7, John 14:27).

Jesus is the one who hears and answers prayers lifted up from depths of woe; He intercedes on our behalf (Romans 8: 27,34….thru 39 is all good).

Jesus was, and is, and always will be my only plea in my searching during moments of despair. Give me Jesus = give me HOPE.  With hope, I can go on (Psalm 62:1 & 2…..5 & 6).

Jesus is the HOPE of this world.  God gave Him to us in the form of a baby in the manger just as the angels proclaimed to the shepherds.

“But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger ” (Luke 2: 10 -12).

On a dark night, in a dim stable, Jesus entered the world.  A gift to us from God above; His son given to us….to live and then die. And he will return for us (Acts 1: 10 -11).  This is the HOPE; the invitation that one day we can be with Him in a place where there are no more tears, or pain.  This is the “good news” and  “great joy for all the people” that the Angels proclaimed.

So, what do ya’ do when there’s just nothing left? Down so low that you feel totally defeated. No strength. No understanding.No control. Stripped of all you thought you had?  Depleted and naked.

I suggest you ponder this gift of Jesus; consider Him and all He is.  Accept this gift of Jesus (John 3:16).

Pray and cry out!  And know that in the darkest of moments Jesus comes.  He comes with peace and comfort and hope.  I speak from my own experiences and know.

This world is broken.  We are broken.  Jesus is the only fix.