Monday, April 30, 2012

Thank you, Emmanuel!

Emmanuel -- The God who is with me. Several days ago, someone was talking about this Name of God, first prophesied in the Bible (Isa. 7:14) as the Savior who would come, and then fulfilled in Matthew 1:23. “God with Us!” Born in human flesh, walking on the earth with us!

Each of the names of God gives us a little more insight into the character and qualities of who He is. This name, Emmanuel (Or Immanuel), is perhaps the most personal and draws Him close to each of us individually. As I thought about this name this past week, I began to make a list of all the times He was with me. Somehow, I could just hear the whisper of His name as I wrote each of these down. My conclusion? He has always been there! Even in those times before He was my Savior, He was there, drawing me, calling after me, protecting me, knowing that one day, I would turn my face upward, and He would draw me out of the pit I had dug for myself.

Thank you, Lord, that

631. You were there with me when I was born, knew my name, knew my end from my beginning, and loved me.

632. You were there with me when I contracted spinal meningitis as a three month old baby, sparing my life so that one day, I would know that You loved me.

633. You were there, sending a pastor to sit by my father’s side - one he did not know, but changed the course of his life and mine, putting me on a path where I would find out that You loved me.

634. You were there, protecting me as a child, as I rode my tricycle into traffic and other dangerous places because, as a Father, you loved me.

635. You were there with me, as I held a dead sparrow in my little chubby hands, questioning all the why’s of death -- and you loved me!

636. You were there with me, as I innocently walked through streets in neighborhoods that were not safe, and you loved me!

637. You were there with me, the night my mom went Home to You, leaving a deeply grieving dad to care for five bewildered children, and you wept with us, and loved me.

638. You were there, in the closet with me, hiding from a relentless abuser, and you felt my pain, and you loved me.

639. You were there with me, when I knew I was a sinner and received your cleansing and promise of eternal life, and you welcomed me home and you loved me.

640. You were there, as I struggled with guilt and painful memories, secrets, and burdens I wasn’t meant to carry, and you constantly reminded me that you loved me.

641. You were there, sadly looking on as I walked away from you, thinking I could do life on my own, but still, you loved me.

642. You were there, with tears of joy as you watched me come back home to you, and you told me that still, as always, you forgave me and loved me.

643. You were there, the day I realized I was not a marred, useless, broken vessel, but rather, a princess of a King and dressed in beautiful, royal robes of white, and looked into my eyes, and told me you loved me.

644. You were there, the day I was diagnosed with cancer, orchestrating the whole scene to bring me the care I needed, and held me up and told me you loved me.

645. You were there, through the hardest days of chemo, surgery, and burning days of radiation, always holding me up, helping me take the next step, to do the next thing, and told me I could do it with your help, because you loved me.

646. You were there, saying “I can” when my heart cried, “I can’t,” and gave me strength while you whispered that you loved me.

You were always there! My Emmanuel! My God who is always with me and will never leave me, nor forsake me! Why would I doubt His presence in my tomorrows? Think today of the times He has been with you, make a list, and thank Him for being the God who is with us, always there, always yours, who will never forsake you!

Sometimes, we thank Him for what we see in our every moments of the day. But sometimes, we reflect on what we see in our rear view mirrors --- the places we were, the roads we traveled, the rivers we crossed and the mountains we climbed. And there, in the reflection of that rear view mirror, we see we were never alone. Emmanuel, My God who is with me, is there, and I see His image in it all. And so, my list of gratitudes are for these places in my life which made me stronger, and planted my feet steadfastly in a hope that will not disappoint. Joining a community of wonderful people who are also counting their gifts at:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Community -- Five Minute Friday

Five minute Friday

We bloggers write for five minutes flat on Fridays. We set a timer, throw caution to the winds and try to remember what it was like to just write without worrying if it’s just right or not. write for 5 minutes, no back-drafting, no editing –

This week's topic to write about for 5 minutes flat is COMMUNITY:


I am not one who seeks out community, groups of people, lots of friends, etc. I'm one whose first instinct is to run FROM these things. I'm a loner, a hermit, and I hide myself away. But I've learned the value of looking into someone's eyes and seeing love, trust, friendship, and yes, even the image of God Himself. I've learned to hug, embrace, smile, and risk turning myself inside out, and I have these (and more) to thank for that:

Marty, the one who calls me “Momma” and sees more in me than I will ever see.

Vanessa, the one who accepts me as I am, scars, scratches and dents and all.

Jackie, who hugs me every time she sees me, despite the pain she feels each time she is touched.

George, who always give me a Werther’s hard candy and says, “I love you best next to my dog!”

Ruthie, who always asks how I’m feeling and am I doing ok, and doesn’t take just “fine” for an answer.

Ron, whose eyes smile when he sits down behind me, always gently touching my hair to see if it will stay where it is put.

Liz, so full of grace and understanding, always sitting next to me in church, always a friend.

Dan, quiet, always a smile, always a problem solver, always a handshake, always a teacher.

Mike, who always has time for me, no matter what’s on my heart, no matter what he has to do, a keeper of confidences, someone who keeps his promise to pray.

Suzanne, quiet as a mouse, but always has a smile for you, no matter what, no matter where.

Peggy, a tender-hearted, do anything for you, down to earth, reality based, fun loving quilter.

Charlotte, shy, quiet, but as faithful as one can be, despite migraine headaches, always a sweet, kind word.

Lynn, so bubbly and full of smiles, always friendly with a hug and genuine concern.

George, quiet, but always there, always with a handshake and welcome.

MaryJane, a gifted encourager, a “walk beside you” type who sees God’s hand in everything.

Pastor Earl, whose only burden is to see his flock walk in God’s ways and understand His Word correctly.

Barry, a huge teddy bear with a huge tender heart for God.

There are others but I must . . . . STOP!

Visit all the others who are writing about community today at:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

To Be In Control -- On Your Heart Tuesday

Coincidence?? I think not! Over the past few days, I have had the privilege of “running into” several dear souls who have struggled hard to lay aside weights that hold them down, and I am humbled by their determination, faith, hope, and victories. I introduced you to Vanessa, a real hero and tremendous friend. Yesterday, I find out that my friend, Nacole, over at sixinthesticks will be sharing her story about the struggles she has had with anorexia. If ever there was a talented writer, she is one, and well worth your trip over there. You will not come away untouched. And again today, I find a new bloggy friend over here. Another dear one who seeks to be all that God would have her to be.

I mention these heros because I not only admire their victories and the strength they have shown in their battles, but I have also realized today that I have left this part out of my posts and my stories about myself. I’ve looked long and hard for reasons --- perhaps I don’t FEEL like I’m strong, that I’ve gained a true victory over things, and that if I DID shout praises of success, that I might shame myself in falling again. It all boils down to pride, putting forth a picture of myself that is better than it is, making you think I have it all together when I don’t. . .well, you get the picture. Strange that I would tell you about abuse, a hard childhood, mistakes I’ve made, etc. That was easy. It’s easy to talk about what OTHERS do to YOU, but when we have to talk about what WE do to OURSELVES, it’s a whole ‘nuther ballgame.

Food is my addiction. It has been as far back as I can remember. I scrounged for pennies and spare change and ran three blocks to Prescott’s corner store for penny candy. One day, as I drooled over the candy counter, another boy came in with a brown bag full of soda bottles. He handed them to the cashier, and she gave him a quarter! My jaw dropped and my eyes were wide as marbles!!! Remember those days when soda came in glass bottles, you paid an extra five cents deposit on the bottle, and then returned them to get your nickel back? Well. . .that was the day I went into business for myself. I went everywhere, checking gutters, garbage cans, around the parks. . . Anywhere people drank soda, you would find me looking for bottles. And every.single.bottle I found turned into a candy bar. This was my start in the world of addiction.

I was a skinny kid growing up. Always made fun of, always last in line because I was so tall, always picked last for kickball, always dressed in in hand-me-down, old clothing. I never had the stylish, cute hair-do’s that the other girls had. My only claim to fame in grade school was that I was the playground champion of jump rope! I have my older sister to thank for that.

I can’t remember if I was ever really hungry as a kid. But I do remember always wanting food, and especially sweets. My Mom died when I was eight, and everything began caving in after that. I felt myself becoming smaller and smaller in what was then my little world. I didn’t want to be seen or noticed. I would not answer questions in class, or give reports or participate in anything. I hid myself away. And the older I got, the more alone I wanted to be. Away from the endless teasing, from all the things I could not make right, from a relentless abuser and his threats, and later from a step mother who really did not care for me as a person. There was no place whatsoever in my life that could say I was in control. Even the kitchen was off limits and food was eaten only at meals, and often dished out on my plate. No choices, no yes please or no thank you --- I ate what put in front of me.

As I entered Junior High and High School, I continued scrounging for change. My one control, my secret, my one source of satisfaction. I’d clean my older brother’s room once a week and look for change on his dresser, in his dirty pants pockets, under his bed, etc. I would use this to buy an ice cream sandwich in the lunch line or a candy bar after school from the vending machine at the bus stop. Again, my grades suffered greatly because of my lack of participation in class. I refused to give reports, give an oral book report, or answer questions in class, even if I knew the answers. I was a day dreamer --- drifting off into dreams of a better life, running away, what if I had been born to different parents, maybe being an only child, etc. etc.

I lost myself in reading -- Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Elsie Dinsmore, Christian novels, biographies and missionary stories. When I read my first collection of Christian poetry, a book written by Ava Christianson, I perked up. I thought I could write like this. And I began to write and write and write. I lost myself in writing, but would always throw it all away for fear someone would find it and make fun of me.

Somehow, I stayed thin all the way through High School, therefore, no one knew of my obsession for food. Perhaps it was the exercise of walking 2 miles each day and vigorous Gym classes 4 days a week. So my secret was well kept and my habits continued as long as I could find change or babysit now and then.

I was in big trouble when I worked for a summer at the Montrose Bible Conference in Pennsylvania. I was in the kitchen as a helper there. That wasn’t too bad, as there were people around all the time watching, but I managed to get a good share there. But when they asked me to run the snack shop after the evening services each day, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! Junk food heaven! Soda, candy, chips, and hamburgers and hot dogs. I became addicted to Tab, the diet soda.

After High School, I left home, went to Bible School, and continued with the same habits, craving food 24/7. I never thought of it as an addiction. I thought everyone was like me. But when I left Bible School, found a job and a place of my own, I knew I had a problem. Now I had my own source of funds to buy whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. As the years went by, the scale went up, and I didn’t care. I became a drive up junkie, going through all the hamburger lines. This was also the time when all-you-can-eat breakfast bars were so popular, and believe me, they didn’t like seeing me walk through the door. It wasn’t long before I was well over 300 pounds, probably pushing 400.

It wasn’t until I was in my 30’s that I began to think that this was a problem. I’d go to bed at night thinking, “tomorrow I’ll start a diet.” It was always tomorrow. Every.single.night --- tomorrow. Once in a while, I would start with some fad diet of the times. I’ve been on them all. I would lose some. Gain some. Lose some. Gain some. I did manage to bring that top weight down quite a bit, but never really lost it all. . . . Until. . . .

In the mid 80’s, a group of ladies in my church got together and we formed a weight loss group to try to encourage each other in our efforts. This was good for me, as there was some accountability and . . . A weekly weigh-in. One day, after a morning service, someone asked me if I was losing weight. That was encouraging. . . Until I turned away, and heard one say to the other, “She will never make it!” Everything changed at that moment in my life. I knew right then that I WOULD make it, even if it killed me! And so began the worst time of my life as I began using laxatives, eating 600 calories or less each day, using a treadmill, taking my dog on long, long walks, and weighing myself about 3 times a day. The weight came off fast and furious, and I was sick. I was dizzy and felt faint all the time and lived on the toilet. But I told myself that I was now in control of my life, and thought this was a good thing.

Here I was, skinny once again, just like I was in High School. And I was as miserable as when I was fat. I looked in the mirror and saw myself ugly and fat. I bought a million new outfits, but none satisfied my desire to look good. There was not one mirror in the house that reflected anything below the neck. I didn’t want to see it.

My unhappiness took me from Florida to Virginia, and I was there for four years, hiding away on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Slowly, but surely, I put all that weight back on, telling myself I was happier eating than when I was skinny and miserable. And for ten more years, I ate myself into the darkest time of my life.

It was during this time that I found a lump in my breast. My past blogging tells the story of that journey. Since I had no insurance, and no way to pay for any type of treatment, I let it go, acting like the stoic that didn’t care about life, death, cancer, etc. When I finally did go for help, I weighed in at a whopping 367 pounds. I remember the day that my oncologist spelled out to me that my weight dictated a much higher dosage of chemo, that this would be hard on my heart, and that there were risks to all of this. Also, he told me that my cancer was hormone positive, meaning that it was fed by hormones, and fat produces hormones. He did not hound me then, in fact, never mentioned it during treatment, which I appreciated so much. During those 9 months of chemo, surgery, and radiation, I lost a little, but nothing significant.

Then one day, I got the lecture. I knew if I was going to have any kind of life and do my part to keep the cancer away, I HAD to make some decisions. I had already done a lot of soul searching during thos 9 months. I knew I was a control freak. Isn’t it great how the Lord attacks the one subtle area of our lives that keep us from being all we could be. Food wasn’t the problem --- it was my way of being in control of me and my whole life. I knew that I built walls with food. It gave me a way to keep people at a distance. It didn’t matter if no one liked me -- I had food. For some reason, I really believed no one liked me. When you receive a diagnosis of cancer, there is that feeling of being out of control, nothing you can do to change things, and your life is dependent on someone else making the right decisions. I felt that sense of panic of not being in control, that I could not choose the outcome, that I could not choose to eat or not eat to make it all better. . . And ultimately, what I didn’t want to admit but knew all the time. . . That only the Lord was in control Of my future and what would ultimately happen to me.

And so began the journey of weight loss -- at first, because I knew I would have to face a cranky oncologist with a scale, but later because I knew this would be the only thing I could do to help fight the recurrence of breast cancer.

Eating disorders are as different as each person who struggles with them. Each pain hidden in the heart is different. Some choose not eating, others over eat. Some hide their secret, others flaunt it. Some admit it, some live in denial. But all hurt. I’ve lived long enough and listened closely enough to see and hear the pain behind the masks of smiles and in the hollow laughter.

I am happy to say that for two years now, I’ve been able to control this and have lost 120 pounds now. I took a risk in sharing my heart with a few who love me without strings attached and who encourage me in so many ways. Someday soon, I just may buy a great big mirror --- one long enough to see all of me. I’m not there yet. But I have been willing to take a glance now and then at my reflection in a big window. That’s a start, right?

But ultimately, it is looking at my heart. It is what God sees, not this aging, sagging body. It’s about letting my eyes look up into His and know that He loves me, no matter what. It’s about finding forgiveness and grace without judgment or discrimination at the cross. It’s about new starts, new beginnings, new walks down old paths and good ways. It’s about becoming. . . Becoming a lady who can whisper grace to others just as He whispered His grace to me. It’s about holding out my hand and lifting up another hurting soul. It’s about walking out of darkness into the light of life.

Linking up with:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Showers of Blessings: Still Counting. . .

It’s been over a year now since I began this way of living ---- living in the moment, seeing in the moment, and recognizing each and every one of those moments contains a gift from God -- just for ME! Even after a year, I recognize very few of them. I get side tracked. I’m too busy fussing over something else. I’m easily distracted. And I miss life as He meant it to be for me. I don’t want my one big regret in life to be that I was in too much of a hurry to gather in my moments and live through them fully. And so today, I list just a small portion of those moments, thanking Him for these, wishing I had taken the time to see more:

615. Rain. Sometimes slow and steady, sometimes heavy, but still --- RAIN! I love the sound of rain dripping off the roof. We have needed rain for so long, and today was our day for WET. As I sat on my porch and listened to the sound I seem to love best, I thought about that song, what if blessings came like raindrops. . .???? How many do I not see? And if I did, would I be able to count them all?

616. Watching squirrels and birds alike catching droplets of water on the branches.

617. A beautiful reminder to hush into stillness the negative voice I hear speaking back at me in the mirror and rather, to listen to the whispers of grace.

618. Counting the myriad shades of green as Spring lets loose such an abundance of new growth.

619. A male cardinal gently feeding the love of his life the best he can find in the feeder.

620. Two extremely happy flycatchers taking up residence in my birdhouse.

621. Buster’s happy face and his willingness to do absolutely anything I ask if it will get him a fried pig’s ear. I melt every time I see the anticipation and longing in his face!

622. Being encouraged by this wonderful community of bloggers, and being able to pass on that same encouragement to others.

623. A pastor who is willing to open the Book of Hebrews weekly in our Bible Study and go slowly for people like me ----- like, word for word, one word at a time ---- and for the first time, I think I will understand it. I’ve shied away from Hebrews as a whole book study. But it’s time to pull up my big girl panties and grab a good hold of this book and learn it!

624. A homemade pizza (I even made the crust from scratch), with barbecue made from left over pork loin, pineapple, onions and cheese. I know, it’s not diet, but I needed . . . . Something good! And it was. And I’m thankful. No regrets.

625. A cheerful cashier at the grocery store, making it a tiny bit easier to spend so much more for such a little bit.

626. Learning to live peacefully with a loose lizard running through my house. I’m not sure the word “peaceful” is accurate. I did scream and jump on the chair when I saw it looking up at me right there at my feet! It’s HUGE! At least 8 inches long, black, shiney, and slimey looking. Where it came from is anyone’s guess, but it’s lightening fast and uncatchable. Any suggestions?????

627. The brave soul who knocked the wasp nest off my door. I was beginning to feel like I was being held hostage by all these creatures of nature.

628. Hearing whispers of grace in the beautiful song of the whipoorwill -- clear and sweet in the darkness of the night. I pray that I will sing like that when I find myself in the darkest of times -- singing all the songs I learned while walking in the light.

629. Cool, fresh, clean air with soft breezes after a period of much needed rain. Everything looks so clean and perky again.

630. Bloggy friends who are encouragers with their words, warriors of truth, and partners in prayer. I am honored to call them friends.

Linking up with all those who are also counting their gifts moment by moment:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Whispers of Grace

Yesterday, I was blog hopping and read the most beautiful post about listening to the whispers of Grace instead of all the negative voices that shout back at us from our mirrors. I don't know where I was, or I would direct you back there. The post ended in a question, asking what we were hearing today. And this is my response to that heart searching question:

Whispers of Grace

Grace opens closet doors and reaches far
As far as it must take to find me there,
Hiding, scared, and fearing all that hurts,
But Grace embraces, whispers words of care.

Grace sees the soiled dress, so ripped and frayed,
Stained, and far beyond a needle and a thread,
But Grace redresses me in robes of white,
And whispers, This is all you need instead.

Grace sees the dying embers of my dreams,
Ashes of the bridges I have burned,
But Grace with sweetest breath fans life anew
And turns all my mistakes to lessons learned.

Grace sees my feet, as I would start to stray,
Leaving paths that lead to good and right,
Grace picks me up, and points me in the way
And places in my hand a guiding light.

I listen to the voices in my soul
Not Good Enough is knocking at my door,
Unloved and Left Alone would stay too long,
But Grace, in whispers, says, I love you more.

Grace rebuilds the bridges I once burned,
Leading back to Him who loves me so,
How can such love be mine, I humbly cry,
Grace whispers, And how much, you’ll never know!

So loud the voices, chasing from behind!
Words that tear and rip my soul apart!
So quiet, soft, a whispered breath of Grace,
And all is calm again within my heart!

--Cora Eelman

Lord, show me where I can whisper a breath of Grace today!

Monday, April 16, 2012

She came into my life about a year ago, this breath of fresh air, bright and breezy, cheerful and loving. She was getting ready to (re)marry her true love in life, a guy from my church. We hit it off over dinner one night which was supposed to be a time of discussing building a website for his new CD and his music ministry. Instead, it was a time of sharing our life stories, where we had come from and where we had been brought to --- and we just clicked. Strange that this would happen! We are as different as night and day. The roads we traveled are from different ends of the world -- as far apart as any two roads could be. Here’s me, the goody-goody-two-shoes, raised in church, a Christian as long as she was old, and never knew anything about the streets, drugs, alchohol, abuse, etc. And there she is as low as a person can go. . . Never hearing about God and Jesus and what He did for her until one day someone told her she needed to be saved. Her response??? “Saved????? Saved from WHAT?????” I remember smiling but in awe of all of this. Was there ever a day that I did NOT know what being saved meant? I went to Sunday school from the cradle roll department on. And I’m looking into the bright eyes of one dear soul who had never heard, who was confused, hanging on to the last thread of life, crying out to God to somehow get her out of this hole. A God she never knew, didn’t know how to find Him, wondered if He was there, and would He even listen.
To follow her through her story left me awe struck. How these two came through the pits of Hell, rescued by God, picked up and dressed in robes of white, and now sitting here in a restaurant full of people telling me all this just left me with no words. And since then, we have been close friends. Vanessa has enriched my life, caused me to grow, to dig for answers to questions that I did not knew could be questions, to find reasons and a basis for my faith.

Yesterday was a glorious day as I was invited to share her day --- her fifth anniversary of being sober. Nothing better than a surprise party, a whole bunch of us churchy people, a whole bunch of other victors who are heros in my eyes, pizza and cake. But deep within me, the question came up: If this were me, would I have made it? Is there ANYTHING in my life that I have wanted and craved so badly but have given up for 5 years? I can hardly stick to a diet!

And so, the next thing on my list of gathered blessings is

606. Vanessa, and her victorious fight and celebration of sobriety.
607. Her friendship with me, though we are so different.
608. Her nonjudgmental ways of treating people around her.
609. Her willingness to walk with you through anything and everything.
610. Her honesty, risking asking the hard and deep questions.
611. Our dinners together, staying so long and late, being the last ones to leave.
612. Knowing every day is a struggle for her, but seeing her plug on through, clinging to Him for strength.
613. Learning that I was so privileged to hear the Gospel from childhood. Something I always took for granted.
614. Seeing that the Lord never gives up on someone, even though the world would just turn away.

Linking up the Ann VosKamp and so many others who are counting their gifts and sharing them each Monday. You can click on the banner here and find everyone who is doing this and read their beautiful lists:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

He Loves Me Still!

I really wanted to quit blogging, take my blog down, and leave this strange, wonderful world. But I couldn't! I've made some of the most wonderful friendships I've ever had here --- soul friends who are walking the same paths, striving for the same things, hurting deeply in the same ways, and rejoicing with the same songs. I weep when one leaves, as I feel that empty place they leave within my heart. All of you inspire me with the depths of your writing, the earnestness of your walk with the Lord, and the greatness of your desire to be the women (and men!) God wants to mold of you. I've been changed by all of this. Deeply changed. Recently, I've watched and listened to a struggling heart. I've prayed for peace, insight, and wisdom for this one. I've thanked Him for the victories, the smiles, and the light on this one's path. I'm amazed at the depth of her soul and her willingness to share it. My dear one, you know who you are, and this is for you:

He Loves Me Still

I bend, my strength is all but gone to stand against the wind.
A wind, relentless with intent that I should break,
And fall into the mire of guilt and shame.
My weakness cries it’s more than I can take.
More than this frailest form can cling and hold,
And roots I thought were deeper than the sea
Now ripping, losing hold within my heart,
And scattered at my feet, all splintered dreams of what I thought was me.

He sees me there, a spineless wreck, holding in these hands my fractured self.
I dare not look, my shame is pushing down this bent and broken child.
He knows where I’m most weak, and likely to be broken in the storm,
That storm that comes again, and still again, raging in the darkness strong and wild.
And yet, He loves me still, so much, He lifts His nail-scarred, loving hands
And cups my tear-stained face, then lifting mine to His,
What cost Him all and everything flows through this heart of mine -
Forgiveness! Can it be He loves me still, even after all of this?

Cora Eelman

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

My Third Anniversary!

April 10th is always a special day for me. A birthday of sorts --- a birthday I never really expected to be celebrating. It was April 10, 2009, that I finished my whole thing-a-ma-jig with the breast cancer treatments --- chemo, then surgery, then that awful radiation thing. April 10th, I walked out of that radiation room for the last time, burned to a crisp, happy it was over, but thinking that I would rather die than have to go through that again.
There was also that panic that balanced the seesaw of emotions --- wasn't there something else to do that would keep this nastiest of diseases away? Like maybe booster chemo treatments every so often? I wanted a list. Do's and don'ts. Not just, "You're done, girl -- go and find a life again!" I felt abandoned, like I had been kicked out to the street. Happy, but scared.
Thankful, but wanting more. Success, but no faith. Not in control, but wanting control over something. Up and down the seesaw goes.

But over the past few years, that seesaw has slowed down to almost a complete halt. I don't panic over ever ache and pain and lump of fat I find. I don't wonder if tomorrow it will all be changed. And all that scared me silly back then has become the "You can do it!" that I give to anyone else entering this
battle for the first time.

There is always a purpose in the mind of God when He brings us into these things. We may not see it in the darkness of those moments. We may think there is no way through, no answers, no comfort, no voice to lead us to where we should be. We worry, we cry, we make our lists of "what if's" and "what then's" and somehow we see a match being lit to all our dreams and expectatations of normal and nice. We create nightmare-material scenerios, tear-jerking, nose-blowing, stuff that would make five star movies for those who like to cry their way through a sad story. We could lay all of this out before the Lord, and you know what? He would just smile sadly and tell us how much time we have wasted ---- because none of it is in His plan.

Those of you going through this now are probably saying, "Yeah, it's ok for you to say these things when it's over and all is well for you. We don't know that yet." I understand. I'm looking at my life, my cancer journey, through the rear view mirror. I see the twists and turns in the road and now know where it was leading me. But I can tell you this, the same One who walked ahead of me and showed me my path is the same One who is walking ahead of YOU! Job once said so perfectly, "He knows the way that I take, and when He has tried me, I will come forth as gold." GOLD! That is what He sees for me. . . and for YOU!

Thank you, Lord, for grace. . . it's only by Your grace alone that I've been able to come this far, and because of this, it will only be by Your grace that I someday find my way Home!

Linking up with others who have something on their hearts today:

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Shadows of the Heart

The Shadows of the Heart

It couldn’t be true -- It just couldn’t!
There had to be some mistake. . .
Maybe someone else. . .
That’s it!
It wasn’t Him.
It was someone else!

All these people in my way!
Can’t they see I’m in a hurry?
I’ve got to get there. . .
I’ve got to know for sure. . .
It’s got to be someone else!
Oh God, let it be someone else!

Could it really be Him?
Are these people right?
Just a few days ago I stood here
Right here on this very street,
And hailed Him as my King!
My Messiah,
My Savior from this awful Roman rule.
Could this be Him today?
Please no!
Please let it be someone else!

There He is!
There’s the one they’re talking about!
I’ve got to see His face,
I’ve got to know fore sure!
Excuse me, sir, please let me through.
I’ve got to know if it is Him.
Are you sure? Absolutely sure?
The One that did the miracles,
The One that healed,
The One that fed so many,
And held children
On His knee?

It IS Him!
Oh, God, it is Jesus!
I’m not staying here to watch this!
I’ve been taken for a fool!
I believed in this Man,
I was so sure. . .
So so sure. . .
Oh, I’m such a fool!
I should have known it wasn’t real!

Well, He deserves what He’s getting. . .
King. . . What a joke!
He took us all for fools, didn’t He?
Kings don’t hang on crosses!
Kings don’t die before their coronation!
Kings are not prisoners!
Whose the greater fool -- Him or me?

Just look at this street full of people!
Look at the anger!
Look at the disappointment!
All I see is revenge. . .
And fear!
That’s it . . . Fear?

Where are the children?
They always play in the streets!
They were here just a few days ago,
Walking and singing Hosanna
To this One
We all called King!
Look. . . There they are!
They are hiding, afraid just like me.
They are hiding in the shadows. . .
Disappointed, unbelieving!

He never looked back. . .
He never saw the cross. . .
He never understood, even from the start!
No one knew his name. . .
Or knew from where he came. . .
He slipped into the shadows
Of his unbelieving heart!

--Cora Eelman

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Listening when He Calls

This morning, God spoke. . . And she listened. A complete surprise to me, as I never knew they were there --- this little family of wrens. Mom and dad were so artful and sneaky in their comings and goings from that tiny nest that I never found it. But there it is, deep within the honeysuckle growing on the fence, all secure in the tangles and twining of the vines, umbrella of tender, new leaves covering overhead.

But today was marked as the designated day to move, and so began the ruckus, the patient but persistent calling, and of course, the cries that spoke loudly of “I can’t do it!”

It started early, at the first hint of sunrise. I heard the noise and thought maybe a cat had found the nest. But there was Mom and Dad Wren, sitting on a branch a few feet away, calling and calling and calling. . . . .
And little ones standing on top of the honeysuckle, arguing back.

Every year, it’s the same story, the same argument, the same journey to the woods -- and every year, I hold my breath. The whole ruckus attracts preditors and they seem so vulnerable in these few moments. It’s their first flight, and that doesn’t always go so well. They don’t go high or with much speed, and they don’t go far before falling beak first into the sandy ground. So I watch . . . And hold my breath. . . And leave Buster inside.

The whole ordeal attracts an audience, it seems. The cardinals are singing away, cheering them on, and the fly-catchers sounds like a band of policemen blowing their whistles as they keep unwanted traffic away from the parade path of little wrens. So, for just a few moments, God looks down and smiles, for all is good!

Momma wren is persistant and does not take NO for an answer. The first one jumps, flaps like crazy, but lands only a few feet from the fence and starts crying like crazy. Nothing to fear, as mom and dad are down there within seconds. They nudge this fearful fledgling until he’s up again, this time a few feet higher and and few yards further. . . . And down again. . . Face in the sand.
I smile, as I’ve been there ----face down in the sand. Parents fly past the downed, shame-faced little guy and land on a tree branch and begin again --calling and calling and calling. Little one is so distressed, flapping wings with high-pitched cries of terror, and I just want to pick him up and run him to the woods. . . But I let him be. And. . . YES! He’s up again,
And makes it to the tree.

Meanwhile, wee ones 2 and 3 feel abandoned and make the jump, land on their face, and the process begins again until the 5 of them are on the branch of the tree. Believe me, these little ones were NOT happy campers. They were in a strange place, being made to do things they had never done, and were now hungry and tired with no food and no nest. Mom sensed the hunger part, flew straight to the feeder, grabbed the first thing she could and stuffed it down their throats. And just as they settled down. . . It began again.
Mom and Dad flew to the next tree and began calling. I wondered how far they had to go with all this and how long it would take. But within an hour, the last little one had made it to the edge of the woods, and all was silent. I wondered. . . Are they now on their own? All alone? I looked for them all day long, listened for their song, but heard nothing. But somehow I knew all was well, the cycle of wren life was going on, and Mom and Dad would be back to begin the whole process again before long.

And so my day begins. I pick myself up out of the sand, brush myself off, and flap my wings. . . . Again. Perhaps today I’ll fly and soar in the winds without falling flat on my beak!

Psalm 8:3-4
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
Joining up with so many others at On Your Heart Tuesdays. Check them all out -- such good reading!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Continuing the Counting of God's Gifts

To bend the knee and have to put it down,
To pick up thorns to weave a painful crown,
To cast aside a jewel for nails placed in my hand ---
His way is best, and better than I planned!"

To leave behind that which is not a cross,
To count as gain what seems a heavy loss,
To bear the scars of wounds from long ago --
His way is best, it’s all I need to know.

To choose to stay, to burn within the flame;
See! gold comes forth to glorify His name.
Unnoticed, cast aside are ashes cold --
Dreams I longed to keep but could not hold.

Tears that burn, but still I choose to sing;
Blistered feet yet still, I’m following --
Stepping in His footprints in the sand --
His way is best, and better than I planned.
-- Cora Eelman

"I remember the days of old,
I think about all Your deeds,
I meditate on the works of Your hands.
I stretch out my hands to You;
my soul thirsts for You like a parched land.
Let me hear of Your steadfast love in the morning,
for in You I put my trust.
Teach me the way I should go,
for to You I lift up my soul."
Psalm 143: 5,6,8

Continuing counting all the gifts God sends my way --- or at least those I take the time to see and notice:

592. Beautiful Spring days during a time when my air conditioner was not working.

593. Open windows, fresh air, singing birds.

594. Someone I could trust to evaluate busted air conditioner.

595. God’s provision for the replacement unit. Buster was the happiest as he was beginning to wonder --- his panting drove me nuts!

596. COOL air gently blowing through those vents!!!! I’m so spoiled.

597. Seeing everything turn green so quickly. With the weather so warm and sunny this month, the leaves couldn’t grow fast enough.

598. Becoming an eagle watcher. I’ve been hooked on watching the live cam from the Decorah, IA eagles nest. It’s been one miracle after another watching the revamping and renovation work done on the nest, then the laying of eggs, the sitting on the eggs through snow storms and rain, wind, etc. Then, the hatching of each of the three eggs. Just pure amazing!

599. The opportunity to share my story of God’s faithfulness through cancer with someone just beginning their journey.

600. Witnessing a baptism of four new believers in Christ. Such a thrill to hear their testimonies!

601. A friend telling me that she celebrates her 5th year of sobriety this month. Her story has always been one of awe inspiring strength to me. I’m so proud of her!

602. Great doctor visits with good reports and still losing weight. It’s slow, but steady. Weight Watchers works.

603. Pastor’s Bible study in Hebrews on Thursday nights. You know, I realized some time back that I have never studied the book of Hebrews as a whole. Yes, I have heard lots of sermons on passages here and there, but never a concentrated study as a book. I’ve always been scared of it, to tell you the truth. But as Pastor began with his introduction, laid out the theme and where we were going, I felt a little more sure of it all. I’m looking forward to this!

604. And our “Bible Institute” study on Monday nights is beginning Romans. Can’t wait for that, either.

605. Blooming wisteria! I’m telling you, I wish I could have a “scratch and sniff” thing here on this blog. This just has to be the scent of Heaven! The only trouble is, I can’t stick my nose in them as there must be a million bees in those blossoms! If only these blooms would last longer!!!!

Joining with so many others who continue to count their gifts: