A Gift of Great Value

Submitted by Melissa on Monday, December 26, 2011 - 23:04

A friend just sent me an email. I’m simply amazed at the richness of its content.

She wrote, “You are often in my thoughts and prayers, and I continually pray that God will…

  • Uplift you,

  • Give you peace beyond human understanding,

  • Give you the measure of His strength that you find yourself in need of every day; 

  • Perfect you in your weakest moments;

  • Guide you when you feel you have lost your way;

  • Soothe you with the Balm of Gilead when you are hurting;

  • Comfort you when you feel alone;

  • Nurture you when you are hungry and thirsty for Him to speak to you, and

  • Use you and the circumstances He has brought into your life to make a difference in the lives of others.”

In this season of giving gifts and spending time with loved ones, can you think of a better gift you can give to one whom you care about? Meaningful prayer with a God-ward focus. 

I’ve included this prayer in PDF format here. Perhaps you’d like to do what I did: print and post it, or put it in your prayer journal to use as you pray for those you love.

And maybe you can go one step further and follow my friend’s selfless example who not only prayed but also told me how she was praying.

No doubt this holiday season, there’s a heart that’s heavy, a family that’s needy, someone who needs some prayer and encouragement. Will you be the one to brighten their day?

Focus

Submitted by Melissa on Thursday, December 15, 2011 - 00:20

Above: At one of our recent outings, Bird Haven Greenhouse Conservatory.

Have you ever found yourself in an overwhelming set of circumstances? Today, instead of looking inward (focusing on self) or analyzing the outward (actions of others), let's aim our focus UPWARD (on God)!

Recently I found myself faced with a situation wherein I found myself almost overcome by the challenge. It's okay to be overwhelmed but NOT overcome, right?

As I was pondering things, I found myself looking inward and outward. But it wasn't until I looked upward that God gave peace to my heart. His strong character and measureless love are simply amazing.

Whatever situation you find yourself challenged by today, I hope you will take a moment to focus on one aspect of God's character. Right now I'm focusing on His love, and the hymn below communicates clearly how His love ministers to you and me no matter what trial this stage of life may bring.

Interestingly enough, this hymn, written by Horatius Bonar in 1861, was sung at the funeral of American president Ronald Reagan.

"O Love of God, How Strong and True"

O love of God, how strong and true!
Eternal, and yet ever new;
Uncomprehended and unbought,
Beyond all knowledge and all thought.

O love of God, how deep and great!
Far deeper than man’s deepest hate;
Self-fed, self-kindled, like the light,
Changeless, eternal, infinite.

O heavenly love, how precious still,
In days of weariness and ill,
In nights of pain and helplessness,
To heal, to comfort, and to bless!

O wide embracing, wondrous love!
We read thee in the sky above,
We read thee in the earth below,
In seas that swell, and streams that flow.

We read thee best in Him who came
To bear for us the cross of shame;
Sent by the Father from on high,
Our life to live, our death to die.

We read thy power to bless and save,
E’en in the darkness of the grave;
Still more in resurrection light,
We read the fullness of thy might.

O love of God, our shield and stay
Through all the perils of our way!
Eternal love, in thee we rest
Forever safe, forever blest.

My Father Planned it All

Submitted by Melissa on Thursday, December 1, 2011 - 01:45

 

beautiful river

These words ministered to my heart today in a special way, and I'm compelled to share them with you.

"My Father Planned it All"
by Harriett Pierson

What though the way be lonely
And dark the shadows fall,
I know where e’er it leadeth
My Father planned it all.

There may be sunshine tomorrow;
Shadows may break and flee.
‘Twill be the way He chooses--
My Father’s plan for me.

I sing through the shade and the sunshine;
I’ll trust Him whatever befall.
I sing for I cannot be silent;
My Father planned it all.

He guides my faltering footsteps
Along the weary way;
For well He knows the pathway
Will lead to endless day.

A day of light and gladness,
On which no shade will fall;
‘Tis this at last awaits me,
My Father planned it all.


No matter what we face, may our heart's attitude be that of the Psalmist who declared, "The Lord is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation" (Psalm 118:14).

 

www.stillinthestorm.com

Cancer

Submitted by Melissa on Saturday, November 19, 2011 - 22:04


A visit to the Pumpkin Farm this fall (Thanks, Dan, for taking the picture!)

Last week I pondered the events of this past year and decided to summarize them in the form of free verse. As I re-lived these life-changing experiences, the Lord continued to remind me of His grace which was sufficient every step of the way.

I am confident that whatever storm we may weather, His grace is enough to keep us still in the storm.

"My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness: most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me...for when I am weak, then am I strong" (II Cor. 12:9-10).


Cancer

Lump, doctor’s visit, ultrasound, mammogram, biopsy.
Wondering, waiting, praying.

Phone call, bad news, tears.
Talking, praying, researching. Crying, sleeping, waking.
Asking, learning, talking, thinking, sorting.

Meet surgeon, more tests.
Researching, deciding.

Surgery, recovery. Bad news, surgery again.
Pain, relief, recovery, physical therapy.

More tests, treatments.
Another lump, new surgeon, third surgery, recovery.

Chemotherapy, long naps, hair loss.
Immune treatments, exercise, sunshine, healthy diet.

Recovery, hair returning.
New normal.

Wait and See

Submitted by Melissa on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 16:52

Have you ever been asked a question that you want to answer but you're not exactly sure how to answer? Then you know exactly how I feel when I'm asked, “So, how are you doing, Melissa?” I totally appreciate the concern, but, to be honest, this one requires more than a simple, “Fine, thank you.”

I guess it depends on what you’re really asking. Most people are wondering, How is the cancer? That is: Is it growing? Is it under control? Has it spread? Did treatments work? The answer at this point is to wait and see.

As strange and simplistic as that may seem, the standard of care along with routine check-ups, is to do just that. Sure, I do a fair share of natural therapies to support my immune system, but even doing those, the need is to wait and see.

I’m reminded of friends, relatives, neighbors, acquaintances, readers who are facing their own set of challenges. Is there an area in your life that you don’t have the answers for either? A situation where you have to simply wait on God, trust Him, believe that He will fulfill His plan in His time? I would imagine the answer to be a resounding “yes” from people in all different walks of life.

Back to my best shot at the answer to your question: things are looking good at this point. My energy is returning. I’m enjoying life with my husband and children. I’m keeping up with all the follow-up appointments (or at least trying to). Most dramatically, my practical perspective on what’s important is being adjusted. I say “practical” because, sure, we know what’s important, but how easy is it to get bogged down by the busyness of our culture? So bogged down that we fail to spend meaningless moments with those we love. So enamored with our schedules and to-do lists that we forget to invest in the lives of those right in front of our faces?

Friends come to mind who have lost loved ones to cancer. One of the biggest lessons they learned on a practical level was, in their words, “to enjoy life and make the most of every day.” I seem to keep hearing that reiterated by cancer battlers and survivors.

What better way to enjoy life and make the most of every day than by 1)putting God first in all we do and 2)spending quality time with others. Kind of reminds me of Matthew 22:37-40.

So, for now the answer is wait and see. I’m filled with hope and encouragement, knowing that my God is bigger than any problem I’ll ever face. I’m convinced that He has a plan, He’s fulfilling it, and He is amazing! That means that whatever I’m waiting for, it’s got to be good.

Faith or Fear in the Storm?

Submitted by Melissa on Tuesday, August 23, 2011 - 18:24

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This last week, earth lost an amazing woman, but heaven gained a precious saint. The life and testimony of Amy Caldwell Bixby have been an encouragement to many, myself included.

I've been following her blog closely, ever since I was diagnosed with cancer last year. Although every cancer case is different, the reality of the possibility of dying from cancer is faced by every cancer patient. You just can't get around it.

However, what we focus on affects our outlook in a huge way. Amy’s focus on Christ throughout her trial was and will continue to be a challenge to me.

Just the other day, I was talking to a friend facing a cancer recurrence. She wants to celebrate her next birthday. Understandably so.

We discussed fear and faith. Fear debilitates. Faith strengthens.

Fear focuses on the circumstances. Faith looks to our all-powerful God.

God doesn't give us the spirit of fear (1Timothy 1:7), yet our human tendency is to doubt rather than trust.

Since I heard the news of Amy’s home going last Friday, her family has not been far from my mind. Nor has the song “Finally Home” by Don Wyrtzen.

When alarmed by the fury of the restless sea,
Towering waves before you roll,
At the end of doubt and peril is eternity,
Though fear and conflict seize your soul

But just think of stepping on shore, and finding it heaven,
Of touching a hand, and finding it God's,
Of breathing new air, and finding it celestial,
Of waking up in Glory, and finding it "Home."

When surrounded by the blackness of the darkest night,
Oh how lonely death can be!
At the end of this long tunnel is a shinning light,
For death is swallowed-up in Victory!

Just think of stepping on shore, and finding it heaven,
Of touching a hand, and finding it God's,
Of breathing new air, and finding it celestial,
Of waking up in Glory, and finding it "Home."

This song depicts a storm out at sea and expresses the feelings of the one in the boat during such a storm. Alarm. Fear. Conflict. Blackness. Loneliness.

These words accurately describe the emotions experienced not only by cancer patients but also their closest relatives and friends. Although not continually experienced, these feelings are faced at some or numerous points along the way.

But what a joy it is to know Christ! To have that inner peace and assurance of a relationship with Christ that will one day blossom into meeting Him face to face in glory--this is a treasure that no money here on earth can buy! He is the ultimate cure for our sin problem and He is the source of joy for all people, including cancer patients!

If you have put your faith in Christ as your personal Saviour, you can be confident that Heaven will be your home when you take your last breath on earth.

If you have not yet put your faith in Him, I urge you to examine the amazing Gospel of Christ and look to Him. Here are a few videos you can check out: 1)What Do I Have to Do to Be Saved?
2)Five Eternal Questions and
3)The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Or if you're a reader, look here. And don’t miss Amy’s blog entry The Valley of the Shadow of Death.

If you are dealing with cancer--whether at the beginning of the journey, in the middle, or hoping it's forever behind you--my heart goes out to you and your family. May God’s love surround you, His grace uphold you, and His peace fill your heart. And may He enable you not to focus on the storm but on His amazing character!

Thank you!

Submitted by Melissa on Thursday, August 18, 2011 - 14:29

I just want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who has donated through this website. I just ordered more supplements, per my doctor's recommendation, and paid through my PayPal account, thanks to your generosity! Every contribution means so much to Dan and me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!! Smile