The Big C, PD and Following Through

Posted by admin on March 27, 2014 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

274I hated P. E. (Physical Education) in high school.  I hated the baggy shorts and the goose-pimples on my cold, blue legs.  I ran with leaden feet, broad-jumped as if I were glued to the ground, and ducked when balls flew my way.  

Finally a senior, I signed up for some non-competitive, no-sweat P.E. classes:  Golf and Bowling.

But in Golf, I swung and missed, swung and missed.  When I finally made contact, the ball fluttered skyward, only to drop like a dead bird.

The instructor frowned and said, “You need to follow through.”

In Bowling,  I  probably set a record for consecutive gutter balls, but no one checked with Guinness.

The instructor grimaced and said, “You need to follow through.”

Unfortunately, I had never been taught to follow through.  I didn’t know how to get from A to Z in most things.  When I saw kids doing things I longed to do, I simply felt inadequate and left-out.  No one was there to encourage and cheer me on, so failure meant instant retreat.

In my life, things just seemed to happen–sad things, unpredictable, and frightening.  The only constant in my life was my fledgling faith in God.  At age eight, I opened my heart to the Lord.  I did my best to follow through–getting baptized (though I was afraid of drowning), praying, reading my Bible, going to youth group, and singing in the choir.

My self-image and situation did not improve, but somehow I knew that God my Father was taking care of me.  Even when my Nana died or my favorite uncle broke my heart with verbal abuse, I cried to the Lord and trusted Him to take care of me..

As an adult with that kind of history,  I have had to work hard to follow through, figure things out, stay organized, and keep my promises.  Breast cancer, the Big C, reduced my multi-tasking to nil.  I had nothing more to prove; I just concentrated on getting through another day of chemo, another day of radiation, and another sleepless night.  Chemo brain set in also, a fog of forgetfulness.  Difficulty concentrating,  difficulty staying organized, and trouble following through made life complicated and sometimes chaotic.

Now, five years down the road of remission, I am so much better.  But life still comes in and out of focus, depending on my anxiety level.   This past year or so was very stressful.  My husband was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and had to retire from a ministry we loved.  It was one of those “one thing after another” kind of years.  I wish I could forget it, but then I would also forget the Lord’s merciful and gracious answers to our prayers.  To sum it up, just as we were sliding over the edge, He caught us!

In all this, I hoped to follow through with a promise I made to my friends on line–to Journey through John, to send out some encouraging words from meditations on the Gospel. But I let myself get discouraged and overwhelmed.  My worship was riddled with worry, and my brain was shorted-out with stress.   I stopped writing and composing.  I went into survival mode once again.

The Lord, however, has a gentle way of nudging with comments and emails from family and friends, along with strangers who ask permission to produce Pilgrim’s Progress in their Christian schools.  My husband, in particular, told me I should start writing again, even if only one person is encouraged.  So despite the Big C and PD, I am not closing up shop.

After all we have been through, and in all that may come, let’s thank the Lord and encourage one another toward the finish line.  

“You will have suffering in this world,” Jesus said, “but take courage.  I have conquered the world.”  John 16:33b

 “Wait for the Lord; be courageous and let your heart be strong.  Wait for the Lord.”  Psalm 27:14

Thank You, Lord, for being Faithful and True.  Unlike me, You always follow through.  You haven’t given up on Your children.  You began a good work in us, and You promised to complete it.  Thank You, Lord.  Your will be done in me.  Amen.

Fly Away Home

Posted by admin on October 2, 2011 under Encouraging Words | Read the First Comment

Heart Aflame

Sunday morning silence blankets the room as I enter the skilled nursing unit.  A couple of seniors may be dozing, but the others are lined up at attention in wheelchairs and scooters.  I am always in a hurry to set up the microphone and start playing, but first, I slow down, walking through their ranks, greeting, shaking hands.  These are veterans of  World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.  Here are men who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, women who flew cargo planes or nursed the wounded.  A little respect please.  They won’t be here much longer.

Some Sundays I select just the right music.  (I’ll give the Holy Spirit credit for that.) “Some glad morning when this life is o’er,” I play and sing, “I’ll fly away.”  An old hymn my Nana loved.  “To my home on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away!” 

The veterans swell the chorus:  “I’ll fly away, O glory!  I’ll fly away, in the morning.  When I die, hallelujah, by and by, I’ll fly away!”  My husband the chaplain concludes the service with prayer.  I launch a reprise:  “I’ll fly away, O glory!”  No one wants to stop singing as, one by one, they wheel away, rejoicing with glorious hope.

The old songs say it best for the veterans.  No doubt some of them appreciate Bach and Handel.  They do their best to sing praise songs.  But “How Great Thou Art” is worship music to them, so I play their heart-songs for them. 

It’s astonishing what music does for us.  Researchers say singing stimulates our immune systems and overall function.  Children who study music do better in school. Those who take lessons as kids may avoid mental decline as they age.   God seems to have hard-wired the brain for music.

Indeed, our bodies are one-man bands!  The most amazing instrument of all,our voices, are built right in.  No matter what the quality, God says, “Make a joyful noise!”  Like a doting father, He commands us to clap, sing, dance and play our instruments in praise.  He deserves it, and we need to do it.  When we turn our eyes on Jesus, we escape our miserable self-focus.  Soon tears of  joy wash away our anxiety and fear.

We can’t hear Him with our ears, but perhaps our spirits sense what Zephaniah envisioned:  “The Lord your God is in your midst.  The Mighty One will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness.  He will quiet you with His love.  He will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zeph. 3:17) 

Several years ago I was conducting one of my children’s musicals Pilgrim’s Progress at church.   I had just been diagnosed with an invasive carcinoma (breast cancer).  My husband drove me straight from the hospital to dress rehearsal.  We marveled at God’s timing.  We were going to be with these wonderful children all weekend.  We would play, pray, sing, dance, and play instruments, declaring the truth and love of God to one another and the audience.  Monday would be time enough to prepare for surgery.

It was so much fun conducting that exuberant cast and band.  All unknowing, the children ministered to me through the very words and music I had written for them.  Supernatural peace and joy began to swaddle my pain.  The living, singing Word of God worked its way down into my hurting heart and blossomed in hope as I sang along.    

      1. Kids Sing Death

We’re moving along, won’t be here much longer. But Jesus has planned a glorious homecoming.  We’re going to be a choir of millions.  Just put me in the top right corner with the sopranos, Lord.  You have the lead. I’m ready to hear You sing! 

          A story of God’s faithfulness– 

                  How to know God–