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.

The Tie that Binds

Posted by admin on February 13, 2012 under Encouraging Words | Read the First Comment

Bob and Lela 2010

We did not have a Cinderella courtship. 

As a college freshman in the hippie era, I ogled all the boys with long hair.  But Bob, fresh from military service, still wore his blond crew cut “high and tight.”  I was 17; he was 24.  He had a Southern accent and befriended everyone.  It was embarrassing.

Before our engagement, he broke my heart twice.  Once as we argued in the car I forgot the campus curfew (11 p.m. for girls only).  No doubt  my scandalized friends thought we were busy “parking” in the fogged-up Rambler; one of them materialized at the window screeching, “You’re in big trouble!”

Whenever I am really determined in prayer,  I kneel.  As an eight-year-old I kneeled down to ask Jesus to forgive my sins and make me His child.  Before college  I kneeled down to pray for a husband who was a preacher.  

On a Baptist campus overrun with would-be reverends toting family-sized Bibles, that seemed a reasonable request.  But I had been dating only redheads, so the prospects were limited.

Nevertheless, by God’s providence, my future husband and I enrolled in two or three classes together and met on the church bus.  Our first date was the evening service.  By the end of the day I knew he was “the one.”  I knew this because I clearly heard God say these three words in my head, “He’s the one.” 

I never heard God speak in my head before, but I had the audacity to shoot back, “You’re kidding!”

He wasn’t kidding, and I have been married nearly 43 years to prove it!   God picked the very best husband I could ever have. 

I was a Cinderella girl, for sure, growing up without parents.  Prince Charming and I hauled a load of emotional baggage to the marriage.  But “love covers a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8).  Love,  God Himself, made us one flesh and one in spirit.  We made a lifelong commitment not just to each other but to the King of the Universe.       

We loved each other when the only way to communicate was the MARS line on a Navy ship:  “I love you, OVER.” 

We loved each other when we stomped into a Christian marriage counselor’s office, angry and depressed but never giving up. 

We loved each other when we prayed earnestly that our kids would not self-destruct on the voyage to maturity. 

We loved each other when the surgeon gazed compassionately at me and uttered words I never wanted to hear: “You have cancer.”

I understand why some folks draw up prenuptial agreements–they fear love will die.  This is only too likely, considering our sin nature. Ruth Bell Graham, the wife of evangelist Billy Graham, was once asked if she ever considered divorce.  “Divorce, no,” she replied.  “Murder, yes!”  To love selflessly through all circumstances is humanly impossible.  We cannot expect anyone to meet every need.  Only in God do we find an inexhaustible fountain of love and forgiveness. 

In Christ, we can be angry and sin not.  We can speak the truth in love.   We can seek wise counsel.  We can respect each other’s boundaries and encourage each other’s gifts.  We can forgive as the Lord forgives us.  

Jesus knows what it is like to be ignored, rejected, abandoned, and betrayed by those He loves.   He endured the unfaithfulness of men to show the forgiveness of God.  He gave up everything to say, “I love you.” 

My husband and I look at each other’s gray heads and thank God daily for our marriage, imperfect as it is.  We know that some day one of us will be called first to Heaven, and no MARS line or Internet will connect us anymore.  But the love of God is the tie that binds, a link that cannot be broken.  In that far country every love that is of God will be perfected and pure.   We will always be in Love.  As C. S. Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce, we will no longer be motivated by any need-love but will love truly, as we are loved by God.

When I was growing up, no one ever said, “I love you.”  Now my husband and I say it over and over every day: “I love you.”  It costs nothing and  it costs everything.  But it keeps the heart soft.  

John admonishes us, “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God . . . For the person who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”  (I John 4:7,20 HCSB)

Thank You, Heavenly Father, for loving me so much.  Thank You for the special people You have given me to love. Give me a heart of compassion toward my husband, my family, and  my friends.  Fill me with Your Spirit, so that Your love flows through me, not for my glory but for the glory of Your name.  Amen.

This is the love of God–that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8)

A song of Love  

      1. The Cross On Jesus' Back
 *

*http://www.soulshepherding.org/articles/spiritual-growth/the-cross-sang-in-lelas-soul/

Praying for 50

Posted by admin on May 31, 2011 under Encouraging Words | Be the First to Comment

We did not have a Cinderella courtship. 

 As a college freshman in the hippie era, I ogled all the boys with long hair.  But Bob, fresh from the military, still wore his blond crew cut “high and tight.”  I was 17;  he was 24.  He had a Southern accent and befriended everyone.  It was embarrassing.

Before our engagement, he broke my heart twice.  Once as we argued in the car I forgot the campus curfew (11 p.m. for girls only).  No doubt  my scandalized friends thought we were busy “parking” in the fogged-up Rambler; one of them materialized at the window screeching, “You’re in big trouble!”

Whenever I have really been determined in prayer,  I kneeled down.   As an eight-year-old I kneeled down to ask Jesus to forgive my sins and make me His child.  Before college  I kneeled down to pray for a husband who would be a preacher.  

On a Baptist campus overrun with would-be reverends toting family-sized Bibles, that seemed a reasonable request.  But I had been dating only redheads, so the prospects were limited.

Nevertheless, by God’s providence, my future husband and I enrolled in two or three classes together and met on the church bus.  Our first date was the evening service.  By the end of the day I knew he was “the one.”  I knew this because I clearly heard God say three words in my head, “He’s the one.” 

I’d never heard God speak in my head before, but I had the audacity to shoot back, “You’re kidding!”

He wasn’t kidding, and I have been married nearly 43 years to prove it!   God picked the very best husband for me I could ever have. 

I had been a Cinderella girl for sure, growing up without parents.  Prince Charming and I hauled a load of emotional baggage to the marriage.  But “love covers a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8).  Love,  God Himself, made us one flesh and one in spirit.  We made a lifelong commitment not just to each other but to the King of the Universe.       

We loved each other when the only way to communicate was  the MARS line on a Navy ship:  “I love you, OVER.” 

We loved each other when we stomped into a Christian marriage counselor’s office, angry and depressed but never giving up. 

We loved each other when we prayed earnestly that our kids would not self-destruct on the voyage to maturity. 

We loved each other when the surgeon gazed compassionately at me and uttered words I never wanted to hear: “You have cancer.”

I understand why some folks draw up prenuptial agreements–they fear that love will die.  This is a reasonable fear, considering our sinful natures. Ruth Bell Graham, the wife of evangelist Billy Graham, was once asked if she had ever considered divorce.  “Divorce, no,” she replied.  “Murder, yes!”  It is not easy to love selflessly–it is humanly impossible.  Indeed, we cannot expect any other human to meet all our needs.  Only in the Lord do we find an inexhaustible fountain of love and forgiveness. 

In Christ,  we can be angry and sin not.  We can speak the truth in love.   We  can seek wise counsel.  We can respect each other’s boundaries and encourage each other’s gifts.  We can forgive as the Lord forgives us.  Jesus knows what it is like to be ignored,  rejected, abandoned, and betrayed by those He loves.   He endured the unfaithfulness of men to show the forgiveness of God.  He gave up everything to say, “I love you.” 

My husband and I look at each other’s graying heads and thank God daily for our marriage, imperfect as it is.  We know that some day one of us will be called first to Heaven, and no MARS line or Internet will connect us any more.  But the love of God is the tie that binds us, a link that cannot be broken.   In that far country every love that is of God will be perfected and pure.   We will always be in Love.  As C. S. Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce, we will no longer be motivated by any need-love but will love truly, as we are loved by God.

When I was growing up, no one ever said, “I love you.”  Now my husband and I say it over and over every day: “I love you.”  It costs nothing yet costs everything.  But it keeps the heart soft.  

John admonishes us, “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God . . . For the person who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”  (I John 4:7a,20b HCSB)

Thank You, Heavenly Father,  for those You have given me to love. Give me a tender heart toward my husband,  family and friends to let Your love flow through me.  In loving them, may I learn to love You more and more, as You deserve.  Not for my glory but for the glory of Your name, Lord Jesus.  Amen.

This is the love of God–that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! (Romans 5:8)

A song of Love  

      1. The Cross On Jesus' Back