Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rick Warren Interview

People ask me, What is the purpose of life? And I respond: In a nutshell, life is preparation for eternity. We were not made to last forever, and God wants us to be with Him in Heaven. One day my heart is going to stop, and that will be the end of my body but not the end of me. I may live 60 to 100 years on earth, but I am going to spend trillions of years in eternity. This is the warm-up act - the dress rehearsal. God wants us to practice on earth what we will do forever in eternity.

We were made by God and for God, and until you figure that out, life isn't going to make sense. Life is a series of problems: Either you are in one now, you're just coming out of one, or you're getting ready to go into another one. The reason for this is that God is more interested in your character than your comfort. God is more interested in making your life holy than He is in making your life happy. We can be reasonably happy here on earth, but that's not the goal of life. The goal is to grow in character, in Christ likeness.

This past year has been the greatest year of my life but also the toughest, with my wife, Kay, getting cancer. I used to think that life was hills and valleys - you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don't believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it's kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for.

You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you're going into self-centeredness,"which is my problem, my issues, my pain." But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others. We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundreds of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her. It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, drawn her closer to Him and to people.

You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life. Actually, sometimes learning to deal with the good is harder. For instance, this past year, all of a sudden, when the book sold 15 million copies, it made me instantly very wealthy. It also brought a lot of notoriety that I had never had to deal with before. I don't think God gives you money or notoriety for your own ego or for you to live a life of ease. So I began to ask God what He wanted me to do with this money, notoriety and influence. He gave me two different passages that helped me decide what to do, II Corinthians 9 and Psalm 72.

First, in spite of all the money coming in, we would not change our lifestyle one bit. We made no major purchases.

Second, about midway through last year, I stopped taking a salary from the church.

Third, we set up foundations to fund an initiative we call The Peace Plan to plant churches, equip leaders, assist the poor, care for the sick, and educate the next generation.

Fourth, I added up all that the church had paid me in the 24 years since I started the church, and I gave it all back. It was liberating to be able to serve God for free.

We need to ask ourselves: Am I going to live for possessions? Popularity? Am I going to be driven by pressures? Guilt? Bitterness? Materialism? Or am I going to be driven by God's purposes (for my life)? When I get up in the morning, I sit on the side of my bed and say, God, if I don't get anything else done today, I want to know You more and love You better. God didn't put me on earth just to fulfill a to-do list. He's more interested in what I am than what I do. That's why we're called human beings, not human doings.

Happy moments, PRAISE GOD.
Difficult moments, SEEK GOD.
Quiet moments, WORSHIP GOD.
Painful moments, TRUST GOD.
Every moment, THANK GOD.

A Prayer for Today: January 29, 2009

Heavenly Father,

I marvel at the beauty outside of my windows. Beautiful snow drapes and covers everything in its path. The stillness is deafening. I am reminded that we are to listen ever-carefully for the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit. And as the Holy Spirit speaks, we are to obey. And with that obedience will come blessings. Thank You for the beauty of Your Creation and the power of Your Word.

Cleanse us of our transgressions, Father. We come, repentant for anything we have said, done or thought that was displeasing to You. We are grateful for the blood that was shed for each of us on Calvary. Without it, where would we be? Prompt our spirits to recognize and acknowledge areas of sin in our lives that we might not even be aware of at this time. We want pure hearts, Lord, so that nothing stands in the way of our prayers and praises to You.

As each of us wages battles on many different fronts, our lives are threatened. Psalm 39 reminds us of the shortness of this life when compared to eternal life. Help us to focus not on the possible shortening of our lives here on earth, rather let us focus on the unending life we are promised as Your children.

Psalm 39: 4-5

“LORD, make me to know my end,
And what is the measure of my days,
That I may know how frail I am. Indeed,
You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah

We praise You, Father, for the many answers You bring to our humble petitions. Grant safe travel through this treacherous weather for our loved ones and ourselves. Lord, help me as I face making difficult treatment decisions, guide me and direct me, Lord. Give us Your peace, so that we can be reassured that our human minds are making the correct choices.

Father, let the peace of God rule in our hearts, to which also we were called in one body; and let us be thankful. (Colossians 3:15)

In Your Precious and Priceless Name I pray, Amen.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Woman with an Issue of Blood

I have clung to the passage of Scripture in Mark 5 about the lady with the issue of blood. Jesus saw her in all of her suffering and healed her after being ill for 12 years. For months now, I have reminded the Lord that this is my twelfth year of dealing with an issue of my blood (leukemia). His Word tells us that He is no respecter of people -- what He did for this woman, He is able and willing to do for me.

My heart has always been bent toward this woman's story. She had spent all that she had and had suffered at the hands of her day's modern medicine. A story much like my own. Often treatments have made me worse, instead of better. And if anyone has experienced a lengthy cancer battle, you are well aware of the financial demands.

The final assessment of the situation by Jesus is revealing. He lovingly tells this woman, "Daughter, your faith has made you well." Today, I have a new prayer request for my trusted prayer partners. Please pray for God to increase my faith. This appeared to be the critical key to unlocking this woman's healing.

With God all things are possible .....

Mark 5
Now a certain woman had an issue of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.” Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction. And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?” But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’” And He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth. And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”

Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Being the snow aficionado that I am, I had to venture outside into our overnight snowfall. Most of the area is blanketed in 10 to 13 inches of snow. It was a beautiful, peaceful stroll. My reflections of the walk are preserved in these photographs.
Photographs Copyright Stacie

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Who Needs Insurance?

Who needs insurance when we serve a Loving, Providing God? Many of you have been following my insurance battles over the past couple of weeks. They continued to deny coverage for Neupogen injections that would increase my infection-fighting neutrophils. They were also balking at paying for my monthly immunoglobulin (IVIg) treatment. Yesterday, I had to go for labwork. My nurse called this afternoon. My neutrophils had increased and I am no longer considered neutropenic! And my IgG level was high enough to not require the IVIg treatments on Thursday! Kiss those treatment good-bye! God took care of me and answered our prayers. Thank You, Lord.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Update: January 26, 2009

My insurance battles continue. Most of you know that I have been neutropenic with fevers and infections for almost two weeks and the insurance has refused to pay for the Neupogen that I need. We moved up my IVIG treatment, with hopes, it would provide me with extra protection against infection while I am neutropenic. I was to receive it tomorrow.

Now, the insurance wants labs drawn to verify how low my count is -- despite my two doctors' recommendations that I need these treatments. I had begun all of my premedications today for tomorrow's infusion that has now been cancelled. Therefore, the premedications that can cause infections will have to be repeated twice due to this insurance demand.

I just returned from the lab draw and I have a temperature. Can you believe the arrogance of the insurance industry to think that they know far better than my physicians what my body requires?

So, here I sit. The earliest that I can receive IVIG is Thursday (if the insurance "gods" deem that my blood count is worthy of the treatment). I am without natural defenses and now the defenses that modern medicine could afford me have been taken away by an insurance carrier who takes thousands of dollars a year in premiums from my family. Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield is not a friend to the cancer patient.

For those who were going to pray for me tomorrow during the treatment, please delay your prayers. I will update you when I will be receiving it

Saturday, January 24, 2009

An Update: January 24, 2009

Thank you for your ongoing prayers. My temperature remains slightly elevated above my normal, however, it is lower than last week. I remain neutropenic (lack of white cells that fight serious infections) and the insurance continues to balk at paying for the $500 per day injections of Neupogen that two of my doctors say that I need. I am trusting that God knows best and He will keep that door closed, if He knows that Neupogen would be too risky for me to take.

Septicemia (infection in bloodstreams) remains the biggest threat to me while neutropenic and otherwise immunocompromised. Please pray a special hedge of protection surround me and protect me from infections. My doctor is going to have me continue with two powerful antibiotics during this period of neutropenia. However, the risk of all of those antibiotics is that I could develop another serious fungal infection. In true form of the saga of leukemia, we treat one problem and another complication emerges. An antifungal was added to my neutropenic cocktail on Friday to help prevent this concern.

It was decided to move up my IVIg infusion to this Tuesday in an effort to provide additional infection protection. In order to take that treatment, I must be premedicated with high-dose steroids which can cause fungal infections. My head spins and my mind wanders when we try to coordinate complicated care with all of its side effects and recipes for disaster. I am grateful for a God who is listening and orchestrating my grand plan called life.

Please pray for this blood-based treatment to be pure and free of all infection risks and that the infusion will proceed without risks and complications. I will receive it on Tuesday from 8:30-5:00.

You are appreciated.

Such is My Life

At times I do not feel as though I accomplish much but research
about leukemia and side effects and treatment options on my laptop. Much of the rest of my time is occupied, hooked up to IVs of immunoglobulins, antibiotics, steroids, antifungals, monoclonal antibodies or chemotherapy. This clip art made me smile as it personifies me in so many ways. At times, I ponder if the knowledge dripping into my mind from my research is doing more good for myself than than the toxic poisons dripping into my veins from the IV infusion? Knowledge has been empowering to me as a cancer patient. Second only to the Lord's intervention on my behalf, throughout this battle, I believe that the research and learning I have absorbed have contributed immensely to my survival. I marvel at patients who do not even know the names of their medications. It is true, we are all wired differently and some patients prefer to remain in the dark about their prognosis and protocols. Yet, it is my humble opinion that by not educating oneself about a disease, risks, side effects, treatments, and other integral components of the disease process, the disease takes control and the patient will falter. Health challenges will emerge the victor, wielding the power, if the sufferer fails to empower herself and lift the blinders of fear, pessimism, and lack of knowledge.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Heartfelt Note of Gratitude

Many of you have received e-mail prayer alerts for me. A faithful friend, Tina (aka Tmuffins to all of you) has maintained this list of family and friends and has alerted them whenever I need extra prayer. I believe Tina has filled this vital role for me for most of the twelve years that I have battled leukemia.

The e-mail list she maintains has survived many computer crashes through the years. Yet, she has remained diligent to recover lost data and continue the chain of prayers on my behalf.

Tina is the mother of five children and has plenty to fill her life and hours. The sacrifices that she has made to send out prayer e-alerts for me are ones I can never repay. Thank you, friend.

A Prayer for Today: January 21, 2009

Abba Father,

I am grateful that You are our God – personal and real to each of us. I praise You for Who You are. Remind us to stop and praise You daily. In the midst of great needs and petitions, our hearts and minds need to retain praises to our Father on the tips of our tongues.

I pray Your mighty Hand of protection and influence over our nation and its leaders. Uphold our soldiers, far from home, on a mission to preserve our freedoms and to keep life in America safe and free from terrorist attacks. I pray that if any leader of a city, state, or a national leader strays from the teachings of the Almighty, that You will impress upon his or her heart the first Psalm:

1 Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.

Your Word promises us that when we seek You, we will find You. Today, we come seeking You and Your power to heal, sustain, forgive, strengthen, and restore families. As the Great Physician, I thank You for seeing the many needs that exist in my family and friends. They are numerous and daunting to us, but You are the God of the impossible and we believe that each situation will be touched by Your hand.

You are amazing and awesome. We rejoice at the goodness of our Lord and Savior. Where would we be without you, Abba Father? Thank You for that beloved name, Abba. I treasure the knowledge that You are as near and loving as many of our earthly fathers have been to us. And for those who did not have the blessing of a loving fatherly relationship, they can rejoice, knowing that You are their Daddy.

In Jesus’ Most Precious Name I pray, Amen.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Our Life Challenge

Whenever you have the opportunity,
do all the good you can,
by whatever means you can,
in all the ways you can,
in all the places you can,
at all the times you can,
to all the people you can,
as long as ever you can.

--John Wesley

Rainbow Sunset

Availability: More Vital than Ability

Many Christians make themselves available to hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Through prayer and God’s Word, daily marching orders are relayed to the believer’s heart and spirit. “Lord, here I am. Use me. Send me.” How many times have you prayed these prayers? In our spirit, we must be available to be of value to a hurting, lost world. The lost are asking, seeking and knocking. Are we available to answer the door to their calls?

In this day and age of hectic chaos, many believers are spiritually willing to be available to be God’s hands and mouth. Nevertheless, the day’s events and busyness often times block that availability. The best of intentions are often intercepted by lives being over committed and over-stressed. As believers, we must sift through the temporal tactics of this world that block and shield us from chasing our Commission to spread the Gospel. Sifting is often times painful. Let’s begin that process.

Ask yourself if any of these life issues are demanding too much time and attention from you. Career? Pursuit of education or wealth? Television or Internet? Friendships? Caring for Belongings (home, car, clothing)? Church events?

CHURCH EVENTS? Yes, even church events can distract us from the specific, God-breathed plan and purpose He has for each one of our lives. Sit down. Take a deep breath. Look inward. Search your heart. Pray. Search Scriptures. God will reveal to each of us what our job description is and how we are to succeed at our tasks, if we will only ask.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Thank You for Your Prayers: Update

I am home. :-)

I continue with a higher temperature today. That is concerning. My day started at 7:30 this morning and I arrived back home around 6:00 PM. Thank you for upholding me in prayer.

The desensitization to Cipro went well (at least one thing did today!) I didn't have any allergic reactions and now have 2 full doses in along with the Biaxin. If the cultures grow out an organism by Wednesday that is not sensitive to these two drugs, I will have to return and be re-desensitized to another antibiotic.

My Mom watched the sinus puncture and I believe she wished she had not seen this procedure. She said I yelled as they punctured through the bone. :-) Guess I am a chicken! :-) I had some bleeding since my platelets are a bit low but alot of pressure stopped it.

I remain severely neutropenic (absence of Neutrophils that fight infection). Anthem Blue Cross said that Neupogen injections that I need (to increase Neutrophils) is only covered when neutropenia is caused by chemotherapy. Call me stupid, but I didn't know there was a difference between neutropenia from leukemia or neutropenia from chemotherapy - either way, I have an ANC of 800. I wonder if Anthem considers what a stay in ICU is going to cost if I don't beat this infection back?

I am trusting that God knows best and if the door is closed on these injections, I will have to trust Him and not my own logic. The doctor's office is going to call Anthem in the morning, so if approval is granted, then I will go back each day for an injection.

The larger picture is that we are going to have to locate and decide upon some type of treatment as it is obvious that my bone marros is failing from the 98 percent leukemia in the marrow. That is evidenced by declining Red Blood Cells, platelets, and Neutrophils. At Ohio State, when I questioned the specialist to tell me if he thought I could survive anymore chemotherapy, he stated that it would be difficult. If you have time to add a prayer for divine direction and wisdom for me, I will be most grateful.

Thank you, all, for praying and for your words of encouragement. We are so blessed to all have each others' prayers and support. When I am weak, He is strong. And when I am weak, I can sense the power of your prayers holding me up when my strength is exhausted.

Happy 25th Birthday, Twinnies!

Twenty-five years ago today, our first-born, beautiful twin daughters were born. They arrived 8 weeks premature and were very tiny. They fought diligently to survive. As young (20) and naive as I was when they were born, I promptly determined that the Neonatal Intensive Care Nurses were not going to be their main caregivers. We insisted on learning how to unhook their monitors to bathe them, change them, and love them. I was able to pump my milk for them for the 6 weeks we had them in the hospital and for several months afterwards. We taped a photo of my husband and me inside each one of their incubators (as if they would notice)!

The Neonatal ICU nurses told us they had never had more devoted parents who managed most of the daily tasks of babies hooked up to so many tubes and machines. They decided to produce a slide production (long before the age of digital cameras and DVD's) of my husband and I caring for them through the course of a day. A photographer came and took the photos and then they prepared a class based around those slides. Somehow, that helped us to cope and to continue our 24 hour vigils at the hospital with them.

I have flashbacks to different moments of their early days. I recall in particular one night when our younger twin was gravely ill. My husband and I were alone with them in the hospital and the doctors told us that if she did not improve by morning, that they were going to have to air ambulance her to a hospital 5 hours away with my husband. All we had was our little family unit of four and to think of it being fractured into two parts, was terrifying to me.

I didn't know much about God or praying at that time in my life, but I realized at their birth, that I had to depend upon a Powerful God to save my precious baby girls. I prayed through that night and by morning, she had improved and the transfer to another hospital was cancelled. I had seen the Hand of Almighty God hear my prayers and answer them. Daily, He became more and more real to me and I am thankful He has never forsaken me since.

These tiny baby girls were not given exceptional prognosis - we were told that most likely they would be learning disabled. We refused to accept that report of man and trusted and asked God to intervene and to give them life and bright minds. We worked with them all the time, teaching and talking, reading and singing. When they went to kindergarten, they had to take an "entrance exam". This test had 100 questions and each one only missed one question. Guess what the identical question was that they missed? WHAT IS YOUR ADDRESS? We had only moved in our new home the week before and hadn't gotten around to that little detail. They were on their way to great success.

Today, the girls are both married. Our older twin has an earned an Associates and Bachelors degrees and is now pursuing her Nurse Practitioner Masters degree. Currently, she is a Cardiac Care nurse at a heart hospital. Our younger twin also has earned an Associates and Bachelors Degree and is a Registered Dietitian. She is pursuing a Masters Degree in Dietetics, which she should complete in August and begin work on her doctorate. I believe our older twin will also pursue a doctorate in the near future. I say this with pride, but not in boasting. I share this to encourage other parents who have been told negative outlooks for their children. God is able to do the impossible. I have witnessed it first-hand through these two little girls.

I love you, girls. You are two of my most treasured possessions on earth (and you can guess who my other treasured possessions are)! You inspire me. You challenge me to live another year so that I don't miss one thrilling moment of watching you grow and succeed as beautiful young women. Never forget what miracles have been performed in your lives. May He bless you and keep you and may His face shine upon you, all the days of your lives.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Request for Prayer: January 18, 2009

I treasure your continued prayers. I feel worse than I did on Friday. A rare gram positive organism grew out on the sinus culture. The Biaxin I am taking offers good gram positive protection. Since I have worsened and not improved on Biaxin, it is speculated that I could have a gram negative organism present as well (most dangerous kind).

Tomorrow morning I will go to my family doctor's office for a stat CBC to see if I remain neutropenic. Then I will go to the ENT specialist who will have to perform the sinus puncture procedure to obtain more material for culturing. This is the painful procedure that is done without anesthesia and they puncture through the bone into the sinus cavity then irrigate the sinuses. I dread it with all of my heart.

When I finish with that, the plan is to go to the oncologists' office and if I am neutropenic, I will begin daily injections of Neupogen. After we wait to see if I don't react to those injections, then they will begin desensitizing me to Cipro. It is going to be a long, difficult day.

Please keep me in your continued prayers. I appreciate all of you who are faithful to pray for me.

In Memory of The World's Best Dog

Two years ago today, we lost our family's beloved 12 year old Golden Retriever. Our family raised her from a puppy of 5 weeks old. She was a vital part of our lives. We even took her on vacation with us (in a car and she weighed over 100 pounds)! But that depicts how much we loved her and how much she loved us. Many times when I was sick, she would lay by my side and not leave me. She was the most loving, gentle giant of a dog that I ever knew. When we lost her to lymphoma, a giant hole was left in our hearts. She had a funeral and burial fitting for a human being. Even today, after two years of life without her, we mourn her not being
a part of our lives. We still cry at times when we reminisce about her. We still laugh at the ways we would dress her up and she tolerated it so well.
To the end, she was gentle and loving, even when she was so sick.
Lucy Mae, we will love you forever.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Covered Bridge

Picturesque lady
Adorned in the beauty of the seasons
Standing sturdy through decades
Of traffic rattling boards and beams
And she determines to forge forward.

Stalwart lady
Adorned in winter whites
Draped and coated in snowfalls;
Wrapped in winter azure skies
Icy springs swirl beneath.

Resilient lady
Embellished by spring’s naissance of colors
Red buds and dogwoods erupt
Cloaking and covering rooftops
Trumpeting daffodils escort stony roads.

Antiquated lady
Adorned in lush summer greenness
Grassy carpet unfurls along side
Wood weathered by intense heat
And sunbeams sparkle intense.

Venerable lady
Enshrouded in autumn shades
Maple leaves and rusty weeds
Litter the lady’s landscape
Color punctuates each portrait.

Picturesque lady
Adorned in the beauty of the seasons
Enduring for decades of time
Awe-inspiring wonderment
Panoramic backdrop of times gone by.

Written by Stacie

London Bridge is Falling Down ....

While this isn't London Bridge falling down, I have been photographing
this covered bridge as it was disassembled, moved, and reconstructed.
Photographs copyright Stacie

Words of Wisdom

From Dr. Terry Hamblin's Blog:

Don’t forget in the darkness what you learned in the light.

When you start worrying about the absence of God, perhaps he is thinking about the absence of you.

If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

Lord may my heart be broken by what breaks your heart.

There is no future in relying on fate.

Educate without the Bible: you end up with clever devils.

Children once wanted to be doctors or lawyers when they grew up, or at least firemen and engine drivers: now, they just want to be famous.

Snow Covered Bridges

Photo copyright Stacie

Request for Prayer: January 17, 2009

Please uphold me in prayer. I am battling yet another infection. We are awaiting culture reports and fungal stain reports so that a plan of attack can be formulated. I began one oral and one topical antibiotic last night. I am trying to avoid the hospital at all costs. I may have to be desensitized at the IV infusion center on Monday to other drugs. Please pray that the infection will not spread, that I will not have any drug reactions, and that my neutrophils (cells that fight infection) increase as I am neutropenic (dangerously low levels of neutrophils). I also may have to consider daily injections of Neupogen (a drug that forces the bone marrow to release more neutrophils). I hope to avoid Neupogen as it causes intense bone pain from the marrow being prompted to respond.

Winter Chill

Photo copyright Stacie

Thursday, January 15, 2009

This is My Hope!

The lyrics of this new Jeremy Camp song move and touch my heart. They describe my Hope for my future in the most perfect words. I admire this young artist's work. His young wife died of cancer only months after they married. I saw him in concert and recall him telling of the night she died and how he and her family began worshipping God and singing when she took her last breath. She wanted her death to impact others for Christ and it is through Jeremy Camp's powerful music.

What more could any of us ask of any more importance than for our deaths to impact others for Christ? That is my prayer.

Take a moment to listen to this song.

Winter Covered Bridge Photos

Photographs copyright Stacie

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Prayer for Today: January 14, 2009

Precious Father,

We are forever grateful for the love and mercy that you offer to each of us. We are grateful that one day we will live in the house of the Lord forever. We praise You for not allowing us to lose heart through difficult times. Thank You for the strength that You give to us when we are weak.

As Psalm 25 states: “Bring me out of my distress. Look on my afflictions and my pain; and forgive all my sins.” Thank You for being our Hope, Healer, and Savior.

Holy Spirit, quicken our hearts when they are tempted to stray from our Father. Forgive us for our mistakes and sinful natures. Our hearts grieve when we fall short of the glory of God and disappoint You, Lord. Through Jesus’ precious blood, give us clean hands and pure hearts.

Hear us speedily, when we pray, Father. We are a needy people, seeking all that You have planned for each of us. I praise You for healing colds and viruses in our family and protecting me from these. I ask Your hand to protect my loved ones and me as we travel through difficult winter weather. Grant healing to each body who is in need of a touch that only You can provide. Tonight, I ask a special prayer for a dear friend who lost her job today. You are her Provider. I believe that You have something bigger and better for her. Meet each need that she might have, no matter how large or small. I know there are other needs, Lord, and I know that You remember them all far better than me. Lastly, I ask divine intervention in the lives of my family and save each heart that does not know You or serve You.

The weather is cold, Lord. Lastly, my heart is drawn to pray for those people who are homeless and cold tonight. We are grateful for our homes, heat, and health. Prompt givers to donate to agencies that are caring for the homeless, so that all of their needs will be met. Beyond the hope of a warm bed and meal, draw their hearts toward You.

In Jesus’ Priceless Name, I pray, Amen.

Snowfall: January 14, 2009

Photographs copyright Stacie

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Don't Look at the Storms Around You

"But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"(Matthew 14:30-31)

This passage of Scripture is one my personal favorites. It is abounding with pertinent, timely lessons for each of us. Life is replete with challenges and difficult moments, some that even threaten the very breath in our lungs. How we choose to face those challenges – whether with faith and no fear or with doubt and fear – determines if we will emerge victorious or defeated.

The first thing I note in this passage from Matthew 14 is that before Jesus walked on the water, He spent time alone in prayer. This illustrates that before we begin to achieve or attempt something great or miraculous, that we need to be spending time in prayer, alone with our Father. Nothing else will equip or empower us to face the challenges of today or tomorrow.

The next remarkable observation that I perceive in this passage is that Jesus’ own disciples did not recognize Him. They thought He was a ghost walking on the water. Distractions of this world will quickly take our focus off of our Heavenly Father and will prevent us from recognizing the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. How many times have we observed a powerful God-breathed moment in someone’s life and he does not even recognize it was God at work? It was no different for the disciples, they did not recognize their Savior and Leader working and walking in their lives.

Their obvious fear of the apparent “ghost” and the stormy seas was recognized and reprimanded by their Savior. When I read passages of Scripture, where Christ Himself speaks, I LISTEN. You have heard the dated saying, “Straight out of the horse’s mouth?” Well, passages such as this are straight out of the Savior’s mouth. Fear has no place in the life of the Christian. Fear blocks faith. Fear interferes and intercepts our humble efforts to pray faith-filled prayers. I am reassured by the events of this passage. I will be forgiven when I stumble and allow fear to taint my thoughts and words. After all, these were the Lord’s Chosen Disciples and they stumbled and feared.

When Peter was full of faith, seeking to imitate His Master, he pursued Him on the waging waves when commanded. He walked miraculously on the rolling waves. His eyes were on Christ. He was an imitator of Christ. The stormy waters about Him mattered little, as he was focused, faith-filled and determined.

However, the very moment that Peter “saw that the wind was boisterous”, he was “afraid”. Peter made several spiritual miss-steps. He allowed his eyes to focus on the natural versus the spiritual. He allowed fear to enter into his heart and mind. And the result was Peter began to fail at his miraculous accomplishment of walking on water.

Again, a vital lesson emerges. Just as Peter began to drown in the tempest seas, he cried out to the One Who could save him. Jesus, Our Savior, able to save the physical body and the spiritual soul did not leave or forsake Peter, despite his failings as a man. “Immediately” Jesus rescued Peter.

Christ then questioned Peter about his lack of faith and doubt. Are we any different? Are our life circumstances unlike this scene on the stormy seas? No. Jesus is looking down at our lives. He sees our mistakes and misgivings. He knows when we fear and when we doubt. And from His Heavenly home, He muses, “Why does my child keep doubting and fearing?” He is well aware of what our answers would be to that rhetorical question. It is imperative for each of us to take the time each day to purge our lives of doubt and fear. Just as with Peter, when we confess fear and doubt, God will forgive and in turn, we will be able to achieve the impossible with our humble, human lives.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cancer Conqueror

Treatment choices lurking and taking
Cancer, robbing and forsaking
Invading every cell and thought
Lurking in blood counts in the making.

Infectious threats invading and raiding
Life is faltering and fading
Germs too vigorous to be fought
Cancer cells are masquerading.

Jesus, Savior healing and mending
Miracles, He is ever sending
My only Hope He has brought
Leukemia draws to an ending.

Copyright Stacie

Quotes for Reflection

"I would not give one moment of Heaven for all the joys and riches of this world, even if it lasted for thousands and thousands of years."
--Martin Luther

"A sense of Deity is inscribed on every heart."
--John Calvin

"What I believe about God is the most important thing about me."
--A.W. Tozer

"God sends no one away empty except those who are full of themselves."
--D.L. Moody

"The Lord does not shine upon us, except when we take His Word as our light."
--John Calvin

"No man is poor who had a Godly mother."
--Abraham Lincoln

"If you want to help other people, you have got to make up your mind to write things that some men will condemn."
--Thomas Merton

"Though we travel the world over to find beautiful, we must carry it with us or we had it not."
--Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The fact that Jesus Christ is to come again is not a reason for star gazing, but for working in the power of the Holy Ghost."
--C.H. Spurgeon

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Go When You're Ready

This devotional reminds us of important facts. I read and reread this as an encouragement to my spirit. The source for this devotional is

"With long life will I satisfy [you], and shew [you] my salvation."(Psalm 91:16)

Did you know that it's not God's will for you or anyone to die young? His will for you is to live the full number of your days. You ought to live 70 or 80 years, and if you are not satisfied, live a while longer! The Bible says that when Abraham died, he died at a good old age, full of years. That's the way it ought to be with all of us. Some believers don't realize that and they've gotten themselves in a mess. When they get sick instead of just believing for healing, they start wondering if it's God's will for them to die. "Maybe He's ready to call me home," they think. Don't ever entertain thoughts like that. If God has His way, He won't call you home until you're good and ready to come.

The Apostle Paul understood that. In 2 Timothy 4:6-7, he said, "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith." Paul didn't die until he and Jesus were ready for him to go. Regardless of your age, if the devil is telling you God isn't going to heal you because it's time for you to go home, he is lying to you. God promises in Psalm 91:16 that if you are living under the shadow of the most High, He will satisfy you with long life. (That means that you are abiding in Him as Jesus taught in John 15.) If you're not satisfied that you have finished your course yet on this earth, it's not time for you to die. So ignore the devil and keep right on living. Resist sickness and disease in the Name of Jesus. Stand on God's promise! Then, when you're ready to go on to heaven, go! But go satisfied, healed, and ready! Go in victory shouting the words of that old joy-filled song--"Heaven is near and I can't stay here. Good-bye world, good-bye."

Icy Crystal Prisms

Crystal prisms reflect
Winter haze of moonlight
Dripping, dripping from limbs and lights,
Icicles, short lived.

Crystal prisms refract
Winter rays of sunshine
Melting, melting from limbs and lights,
Icicles, short lived.

Copyright Stacie

Think Spring!

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Day of Prayer

We have a family on one of my online support groups that is battling cancer. The father (Loren)has leukemia and now lung cancer. The mother (Brenda) has kidney cancer. They have two daughters (Jessica and Fallon).

Our online group has designated this Sunday as a day of prayer and fasting for them. Please join me in remembering their difficult situations and lifting these needs to our Father. I cannot imagine the burdens they are shouldering right now. I pray the Lord will lighten their load, heal their bodies, and grant freedom from pain and encouragement for their hearts.

Thank you in advance for your prayers.

Happy Birthday Lil Man!

Time has truly flown by as I watch our first grandchild grow and grow. Today, Lil Man celebrates four months of life with us. It is astounding to watch him make efforts to speak, sit, roll over, and to witness a very Lil Man personality evolving. It seems as though he was only born and we stood, amazed, at the wonder of new life in our family.

He continues to steal my heart. Everyday I think that I cannot possibly love him anymore than the previous day, yet I do. He spurs me on and pushes my physical body to accomplish tasks I never though possible. He makes me laugh and smile on days when the pain makes me want to cry and shout. He makes me fight for more life because I know that he needs me (or at least I tell myself that)!

Happy Birthday, Lil Man. May God bless you with many more decades of life and a heart that loves Him dearly.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

CCC: Three Hundred

Words have created sentences. Sentences have formed paragraphs. And three hundred articles later, my Blog has been born and is maturing with material. Writing is therapeutic for me and it allows me a distraction from pain and sickness. My emotions and physical challenges diminish as I reflect and write. Writing allows a place to escape to for me.

These written words are formatting a legacy for my family. As long as the Internet exists, my family will have a place to visit me after I die, written words in which I will remain very much alive. They won't have to search through journals, scrapbooks, and boxes of keepsakes to located fragments of my life left on paper. I have worked diligently to post many of my life stories, published works, prayers from my heart, and reflections of my walk with the Lord on this Blog.

I have been forthright and open and bared my heart and soul in these written words. Sometimes it is easier for me to document my battles and my concerns with the written word than the spoken word. And, after all, the written word lives on while the spoken word is fleeting and momentary. I pray that each word that I write will inspire someone or cause a reader to pause and reflect.

Life is full and hectic. For most people, pausing to reflect on death or dying or life eternal is shuffled to the bottom of their "to do" lists. For me, reflecting on death and dying and my eternal life with my Savior are paramount to everyday. Death has knocked at my door and rang my doorbell for a long while. Fortunately, I have not answered when Death has knocked and I have a Savior Who has faithfully sustained me through times that medical minds never anticipated life being able to emerge. I hope that through reading this Blog, each man, woman, or child will pause long enough to realize the value of today, the threat of death on any tomorrow, and the hope of eternal life for those who have accepted Christ.

written and permanent.....
beckoning to be read and reflected upon .......
promising a life eternal for those who read and listen and believe.......
God's eternal Words more powerful; my heartfelt words more humble......
each with a sole purpose......
to enlighten each reader to the wonder and beauty of
God's Plan for them.

Copyright Stacie

Request for Prayer: January 8, 2009

My doctor's nurse called me today. My T-Cell counts are very low. The last time they were this low, is when I ended up with a systemic fungal infection and drug resistant UTI. I was in ICU and spent 6 weeks receiving IV antibiotics and antifungals. I truly do not want to return to that land again. Please pray for these counts to improve and for God to protect me from infections. If I allow my mind to dwell on these counts for a moment, it is strikingly frightful. I know it is equivalent to an army waiting to be ambushed and discovering they have no ammunition to defend themselves. We live in a world roaming with dangerous bacteria, viruses, and fungi. And I sit here, hoping and praying that they do not strike my body that remains undefended by the normal cells equipped to battle infections. People with AIDS who battle serious infections, normally have T-Cell counts around 200. Mine were 202.

Also, Lil Man has his first cold. It broke my heart to see him so congested and miserable. Please say a prayer for him to recover quickly and to be able to rest tonight.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Justice, Mercy and Humility

“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

I love the straight-forward wording and guidance of the Bible. Micah 6:8 poses the hypothetical question: “And what does the Lord require of you?” Let us look at the three requirements that Micah addresses in this passage of Scripture. Obviously, there are other acts and heart conditions that the Lord seeks of His followers, but these are three that are straightforwardly addressed in this passage.


When most of us consider acting justly, we might think of being fair and doing what is morally right in our interactions with our fellow people. When compared to our God, who is righteous and just in His nature and all His dealings, our righteousness does appear nothing less than a filthy rag. God is always righteous. I pray that the Holy Spirit will prompt me to live a life of justice – obeying God’s laws as well as the laws of man.


I am amazed at the mercy my Father has extended to me. I was a lost, miserable individual with a heart rotting with traits such as pride, selfishness, and jealousy. When I committed my life to Christ and accepted His forgiveness, my heart was purified and my life was changed. He reached down and extended His mercy to a suffering, lost child. And just as God loved me and extended His mercy to me, I must remember to extend that same mercy to others who hurt me and fail me. His mercy helps me to turn the other cheek and to walk away when I am hurt. His mercy has taught me to be able to forgive in circumstances that I never thought I could be forgiving. His mercy prompts me to help others, even when I am certain that they will give nothing in return.


Are we living a life without pretensions? Or do we view ourselves higher and better than our fellow man? Are we respectful of the homeless person and perceive him as the very same creation that we were created to be? When we are humble and walking in humility, we are respectful of every other human being we encounter. We respect others, despite their differences from us. Job tells us that humility “makes us patient under trials”. Christ set awesome examples of humility for us. His compassion never failed as hurting, possessed, dying, sick, and other “lesser” people were brought to Him. He was born in a lowly stable among the animals. I can think of no earthly kings who exemplify such humility and respect for their fellow man. Isn’t it amazing that the less we think of ourselves and our status, the more status we attain in the eyes of our Father?

Winter Ice

I liked this photo that I took of a winter icicle
hanging on in the darkness of night.

A Prayer for Today: January 7, 2009


Thank You for the gift of a new year. We rejoice that we have another year ahead of us in which we can praise You, serve You, and love You with all of our hearts, souls, and minds. We are grateful that we can begin a new year with new plans and purpose. Help us to resolve to reserve first place in our lives for You Alone. You are worthy of our whole hearts. Let our dedication be to You; our hope in You; and our lives lived for You in 2009.

As we step into this New Year, help us to spend more time and energy focused on You and on the needs of others rather than focusing on ourselves. Forgive us when doubt and worry and allow fear to dominate our thoughts and lives. Forgive us for failing to share Your love to others who are seeking a relationship with You. We are amazed at Your mercy and the forgiveness that You extend to us over and over when we fail You.

Thank You, Father for hearing our prayers and for meeting the many needs that exist in our lives. We ask for Your continued protection, healing, forgiveness, and help throughout the upcoming year. Nothing is impossible for those who believe, so we are believing and trusting in You, Precious Lord.

We praise You for your ever-listening ear and the compassionate heart that You have for each of Your children. We stand in awe of You, Lord.

In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

This is one of my favorite poems that expounds on the beauty of winter.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost (1923)

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound's the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

The Rapture

I recently read this post on another website. I do not know the author. The information is timely and relevant to the world in which we live. Signs of the end times are all about us and I anticipate that our generation could very well live to experience the Rapture. Should any of us be left behind to endure the 7 years of Tribulation, this article is specific in what should be done.

If we are saved and secure in our salvation, living lives pleasing and obedient to God, then we shall be taken out of this world and raptured to the doorstep of our Father. We will escape the sheer terror of the 7 Year Tribulation. Don't wait too long.

What to Do if You Miss the Rapture

"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede them who are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." 1 Thessalonian s 4:15-18

Amazing words from the Word of God. But what do they mean? This passage foretells an amazing event we have come to call the Rapture of the Church. It is the time when God will take all living, believing Christians out of the Earth instantaneously:

"Behold, I show you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we all shall be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye..." 1 Corinthians 15:51

When will this amazing event take place? It will take place at the onset of a terrible 7-year period of time the Bible calls the Tribulation. During those gruesome days, over half the population of the world will die amidst wars, natural catastrophes, plagues, as the result of economic manipulation, and especially at the nefarious hand of an evil world ruler known in the Bible as the Antichrist. Do you believe in Jesus Christ?

However if you are not a Christian, the answer for you is "Sadly, yes!" Sadly, because if you do not move quickly and come to believe in Jesus as Savior before the Rapture, you will be left behind after the Rapture to take your chances with the Antichrist and the world of his oppression. Your chances of survival will be less that 50/50, and most of those who will survive will be forced to join the new Satanic world economic system. But beware, the Bible says that joining that economic system (called the Mark of the Beast) will involve aligning yourself with the Antichrist, which will erase any chance you have to come to salvation.

But there is hope! Now, before the Rapture, you can believe on Jesus and become a Child of God. And even after the Rapture, you will have an opportunity to become a Tribulation Saint, enduring plagues and persecution, and probably being beheaded for the testimony of Christ.
A list of things you should do if you are left behind after the church has been raptured up into the heavens with Jesus.

Your natural reaction once you realize what has just occurred is to panic. But to do so is absolutely useless now. If you had wanted to get right with God before the rapture, you could have, but you chose to wait. Now your only chance is to stay on this earth and to endure to the end of the Tribulation. "But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." - Matthew 24:13


The Great Tribulation is a seven year period starting from the time of the rapture until Jesus' second coming. Also know as "the time of Jacob's (Israel's) trouble" (Jeremiah 30:7) and "Daniel's Seventieth Week" (Daniel 9), this period will be unparalleled in trouble and horror.

Soon after the Antichrist becomes the leader of the European Community (the revived Roman Empire [i.e. the Jews]), Bibles will be confiscated and owning a Bible will be tantamount to treason. The Bible, however, will be your most valuable possession during the Tribulation.

IV. READ THE BIBLE LIKE YOU HAVE NEVER READ IT BEFORE IN YOUR LIFE Since all of your Bibles may be confiscated, even if you are careful, it is imperative that you read the word until you memorize whole passages and can quote them. It is especially important to read Daniel, Luke 21, Matthew 24, Revelation, and Amos, for these books describe the events you can expect to unfold before you.

Pray until the power of God comes strongly upon you - pray and pray and pray. Only by reading the word and praying will you gain the spiritual strength to be able to withstand the torture you may have to endure for the sake of Jesus.

VI. DO NOT TAKE THE MARK AT ANY COST - EVEN IF IT MEANS YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES DIE AS MARTYRS After the Antichrist becomes the leader of the European Community, he will institute a world economic system, designed so that you cannot buy, sell, or eat unless you take his mark or the number of his name. Money will be useless. "And he causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666" - Revelation 13:16-18. The Antichrist will implement the greatest slaughter in all of humanity. Think of the various ways people have been tortured and killed in the past, such as the Holocaust. You cannot even imagine the horror that will take place under the Antichrist's rule; it will be much worse than anything in history (Matt 24:21) "...I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And a white robe was given to each of them: and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of the fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed." Revelation 6:9, 11. His targets will be Jews and Christians who do not worship his image or take the mark on their forehead or right hand/ "...And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on the hands." - Revelation 20:4. He will use every form of torture and humiliation in order to force you to renounce Jesus. Nor will he hesitate to use your loved ones against you, even your children, torturing and killing them in front of you so that you will be tempted to take the mark. If you take the mark or worship the Antichrist or his image, however, you will be consigned to the second death, which is the Lake of Fire. You cannot be redeemed. It is better to endure torture for a short while and gain eternal life than [sic] to endure eternal torment in the Lake of Fire. "...If anyone worships the Beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of his indignation. An [sic] he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb." -Revelation 14:9-10

VII. SET A PLAN IN MOTION FOR SURVIVAL Although you may not be able to hide from the Antichrist's government until the end of the Tribulation, all of the time you gain in hiding is important for your spiritual growth and strengthening, since only those who are extremely strong in Jesus can suffer and die for his sake. The first thing to do is move out of the city and into a rural or mountainous area, for the Antichrist's control will come last to the least populated areas. Take a good radio or TV with you so that you can stay attuned to events and discern the time schedule of the Tribulation. Store water and food, because you will not be able to purchase anything without the mark. Water in lakes and streams will be polluted by radioactive waste from nuclear warfare and will eventually turn into blood. Bring different types of clothing for all seasons, as well as flashlights, batteries, generators, and First Aid supplies. In short, learn how to survive and live off the land as the pioneers did.

VIII. TRUST NO ONE There will be secret agents everywhere, spying for the Antichrist's government. Be on the lookout.

IX. WATCH FOR THE ANTICHRIST It is important to realize who the Antichrist is and what he is up to, for he will deceive many into thinking that he is a great world leader who will bring peace and prosperity to a world hungry for it. We can infer from Daniel 11 certain characteristics of this man. Popular during the first three and a half years of the Tribulation, he will dominate the airwaves. He will be physically appealing, highly intelligent, with Christ-like charisma and personality. An international politician, military tactician and economic expert, his word will be peace; he will make a treaty with the Jews, which he will break after three and a half years. He will have such supernatural power that a mortal wound to his head will be healed. Even the very elect will be deceived. If you do not pray and read the Bible, you too will be deceived. The Antichrist will have a companion, the False Prophet , who will make an image in the likeness of the Antichrist and cause it to speak. All who refuse to worship the image will be killed. The final three and a half years will be absolutely insane, with demonic spirits everywhere.

X. DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE! The seven years of Tribulation will end with the triumphant return of Jesus. The Antichrist will be defeated. Be steadfast and endure, and you will be rewarded greatly in Heaven. Start reading the bible and praying fervently now. The salvation of your soul depends upon it. Determine that, come what may, you will not take the mark or worship the Antichrist. You still have a chance to be saved or remain saved, but this time you will have to be "faithful unto death." May God find you ready in the hour of His glorious return!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy 46th Anniversary, Dad and Mom

Marriage is a covenant before God ... not an agreement to be taken lightly or to be dissolved by man.

Today my parents celebrate their 46th wedding anniversary. It is reassuring and encouraging as a child, to witness the long marriage of my parents. In an era of divorce and short-lived marriages, their example paves the way for the rest of us to remain devoted and dedicated to our spouses and to our marriage covenant.

Marriage will always have its ups and downs. My husband always says if someone says that they never fight with their spouse, that they probably are not telling the truth! People disagree. Knowing how to resolve differences, how to treat each other with respect, and how to ask God for His help and guidance in a marriage will make the difference in sustaining a marriage for decades.

I have thought of the example established for our three daughters and their spouses. Their maternal grandparents celebrated their 46th Anniversary today. Their paternal grandparents celebrated their 40th Anniversary before their Paternal Grandfather passed away. And this year, my husband and I will celebrate our 27th Anniversary. A long heritage of lasting marriages has been left for our daughters and grandchildren. I pray they will always think on these examples when trying times cross their paths.

Happy Anniversary, Dad and Mom. Thanks for the legacy you are leaving to all of us.

Request for Prayer: January 5, 2009

As we plan the last wedding of our three daughters, I was reminded today that I have spent the last few Aprils in Intensive Care. Guess for what month the wedding is being planned? You guessed it ..... April. Therefore, I wanted to ask my faithful prayer partners to agree with me in prayer that I will be well and strong for this special event. (And a prayer for a beautiful, sunny April day would be appreciated as well!)

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Fashion for Lil Men

Having been the mother of three daughters, I reveled in children's shops flowing with ruffles and every shade of pink imaginable. Whenever we needed a special occasion outfit, options were so numerous that my head would spin. Easter dresses popped up each spring with pastel colors of the rainbow. Christmas dresses, rich in velvet and satins, stacked on store racks, beckoned my motherly shopping instincts.

Now I am the Grandmother of a little grandson. I have determined that retailers discriminate against these little men. My daughter, husband and I all shopped furiously this past Christmas in search of a special Christmas suit with a bow tie for Lil Man. We searched at more stores than I can list. No Christmas tie to be found. And during these searches, we became acutely aware that retail purchasers and children's designers have been focusing their energies and purchases on the little girls.

Since I have become known as the next Anne Geddes of baby photography with all of my photo shoots of Lil Man, I am always on the prowl for props for these photo shoots. Yesterday, I was shopping in search of Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day props. Three children's shops revealed hats, sunglasses, outfits, and accessories for little girls for these holidays. Little boys were once again left out with only the occasional bib that would have to suffice for their holiday celebrations. Granted, most older boys are not too delighted to be dressed up for Valentine's Day, but for now, our Lil Man delights in his Grammy's photo shoots of him on all special occasions.

We are going to boycott these shops until they come to the aid of Grammies of Lil Men!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Give Me Your Eyes, Lord

Brandon Heath's song Give Me Your Eyes has eye-opening lyrics. I desire for the chorus to be one of my continuing goals for 2009:

Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach
Give me your heart for the once forgotten

My heart has always had a deep longing for the broken hearted and down-and-out souls wandering across my life's pathways. For years, I have been involved in inner-city ministry through our local church and then at an inner-city ministry for children and their families. If for one moment, we can pause when we see the dirty, puzzled homeless person and realize that he or she is a creation of the Almighty, our hearts should be drawn to them. Because the hurting soul has filth on his face, no shoes, and ragged clothes does not mean that his life is of any less value to God than the banker or the billionaire. Stop and think about it. Just because the inner-city child has head lice and filth under every fingernail, does not mean that she should be any less loved than the daughter dressed in designer duds. The hungry, smelly little boy, who steals food for survival is simply hungry, fighting for survival in a way he has resolved to live.

I remember the years I worked at the inner-city ministry. They were life-changing for me. I will never think of myself one bit better than any other soul walking the face of this earth. I learned the stories and heartaches behind the dirty faces and stealing hands. I learned to see them as God's eyes perceived them. I could see the beauty in the drug dealing mother's face as she tried to provide for her family, albeit via very dangerous, illegal means. I perceived the future that the lost, homeless teenage mother could have through Christ. And I could be this visionary only through the Holy Spirit's guidance and enlightenment.

And once we pray for that enlightenment and can see the hurting, lost people with God's eyes, then we must pursue another step. We must seek and ask Him to give us His love for them. Like it or not, that is exactly what He is calling us to do. Love the lost. Love the dirtiest, foulest, and most hopeless appearing individual walking the face of the earth. Except for the grace of God, that could be you or me. God's love is a prescription for pain. By extending Christ's love to those less fortunate, their eyes regain a sparkle and the purpose for their life can be illuminated.

Many days, I encountered children and families, who from my vantage point, did appear hopeless and far beyond the reach of what I could do for them. Yet, I would pause and remind myself that with God "all things are possible" ...... every life, no matter how broken, beaten or battered has the potential for restoration. Not by my works, but through the power of Almighty God.

Let us vow to never walk by a hopeless man, woman, or child again. May we always offer a smile or a word of encouragement. May we take the warm gloves off of our hands or the hat off of our head and give it to someone homeless on a cold day. May we offer a prayer for each life as our eyes witness heartache. May we strive to be God's hands in 2009 like never before in our lives.

The inner-city ministry, at which I served and I miss deeply since having to resign due to my health, uses donations wisely and conservatively. If you have hope for the brokenhearted and would like to support their work, please send your donation to:

14th and Chestnut Community Center
1403 Chestnut Street
Terre Haute, IN 47807

Thursday, January 1, 2009

So Much for My New Year's Resolutions

One Resolution
by Dr Jeremiah

"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

Today is the day when most people make up a list of New Year's resolutions - and splurge in anticipation of the rigors of the coming year. If the goal is to lose weight, they enjoy a final dessert. If the goal is to stop buying on credit, they make one final purchase using their plastic. And if the goal is to begin having a morning quiet time, they sleep in one last day.

Research shows that most New Year's resolutions are not kept in spite of our best intentions. Perhaps a better way to approach the New Year would be to have one goal: to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). That means keeping short accounts when it comes to sin and listening for His guidance and appropriating His strength every day. It is likely that after a year of walking with the Spirit, much more change will have occurred than by trying to keep the most noble of human resolutions. Begin the New Year with the objective to live a Spirit-filled life-and see what will be accomplished in and through your life in the coming year.

One goal achieved by the power of the Spirit would be better than a multitude of unfulfilled good intentions.

He who has the Holy Spirit in his heart and the Scriptures in his hands has all he needs.
--Alexander MacLaren

A New Year's Prayer for 2009

Dear Father,

The clock is ticking and a New Year has arrived. I rejoice that I am alive and able to celebrate the turn of another calendar page. The world in 2008 has been in great upheaval and turmoil, yet in the midst of the madness, I have remained grounded in Your Word. I thank You that we do not have to let our hearts be troubled when the world in which we live becomes shaky and unstable. For I know and celebrate that we are building our lives on the unshakable Rock, Jesus Christ.

Thank You for Your ever-listening ear and Your patience with us. I will seek to praise You more in 2009 and ask for less. Thank You for increasing our faith as we face difficulties and challenges. I praise You for the strength to defeat the spirit of discouragement and aggravation in our lives, when they raise their ugly heads. And we are most grateful that You are the Prince of Peace. Forgive us when we fail You and make choices that are disappointing to You.

Holy Spirit, I ask that You will be alive and active in 2009 in our lives, like never before. Convict our hearts when we begin to stray from You. Alert our spirits when we are being called to tell someone about our Father’s love for them. Increase our boldness and willingness to share the Good News with a hurting world. I believe that You alone will be able to keep our hearts pure, not scarred and stained by sin, unforgiveness, strife, doubt and fear.

As 2008 has drawn to a close, let us be reminded of these words from Isaiah 43:18-19:

“Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

Lord, we will strive to forget the former things of the past year – the heartaches and heartbreaks, the sickness and disease, the pain and pressures. We are looking to You to begin a new work in each of us, beginning this very first day of 2009. If Your Word tells us that you can even make rivers in the desert, we are certain that our concerns are equally possible for You to cure and correct.

We love You, Father. We praise Your Holy, Almighty Name. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

My 2009 New Year's Resolutions

To not die before I see all of my loved ones serving the Lord.

Somehow figure a way to be more involved with hands-on ministry/church, despite my time quarantined at home and inability to be around crowds.

Dedicate more time to Bible study and prayer.

Believe without doubt no matter how dire the circumstances that I face.

Dedicate more time to my writing. Try to finish my manuscript and live to see it published.

Stay out of the hospital and see health improvements.

Get in better shape - workout in gym at least 5 days a week. :-(

Eat only whole foods. No garbage in this engine that I am trying to fine tune.

Remain positive and at peace despite the turmoil in my body, in my life, and in this world in which we live.

Spend more time with my art projects and photography - attend some workshops to improve my skills.

Strive for a stress-free and strife-free life.