A Tribute

Cancer. For such a small word, it sure does carry a lot of weight. A lot of fear. A lot of sorrow.

We all know that cancer doesn’t care who it touches or how it affects their lives or how much pain and destruction it leaves in its wake. It doesn’t care how old or young or rich or poor the person is. It doesn’t care how much life they still have to live.

Cancer overtook two friends of our family in the last two weeks. One was a man in his prime who won’t see his only grandson reach high school. The other was a boy who will never finish first grade. Neither one seems at all fair.

I don’t know what to say about either case, except that’s it hard to know what to say. There are times when the hurt and anger and injustice boil over and it’s easy to scream or cry or throw things. But there are other times when the void is so big that nothing will come out. Everything is so awful you can’t put it into words.

I hurt so much for their families, but any words that come to mind seem so flimsy I’m not even sure what to pray, let alone actually say out loud. God keeps reminding me of Romans 8:26 that says when we don’t know what to say, the Holy Spirit will intercede with wordless groans for us. I thank Him so much for that. This is definitely one of those times when I can only go to God and say, “My mind can’t wrap around the words to say to you, or to them. So will you just take it from me and give them whatever it is they need? Because you know exactly what they need and I don’t have a clue.”

And He reminds me that what I’m asking is exactly His specialty. No matter what we want to say or scream at Him, He’s big enough to take it … even the mean and ugly stuff. No matter how empty we are, He can fill the void like no one and nothing else. No matter what we need, His love and compassion are the perfect prescription.

It sounds like a pat answer that would have more of a Band-Aid effect than true healing. But that’s when He reminds me that He binds up the brokenhearted and heals their wounds (Psalm 147:3). And that His thoughts aren’t always the same as ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). And that, in the end, the insidious disease called cancer hasn’t really won after all. Our friends have won because now they’re whole and pain-free in heaven (Revelation 21:4).

And, as painful as things might be for those of us left behind, it’s hard to deny them a beautiful eternity. We’ll just look forward to seeing them again someday.

 

 

Beautiful Eternity

He [God] has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

 

The book of Ecclesiastes has thoughts and wisdom that I sometimes have trouble wrapping my mind around, but it also has certain verses that I can pluck out and cling to at certain times – and they’re exactly what I need to know.

Today’s verse is one of those for me. God made everything beautiful in its time – not my time or the world’s time, but in the time that God planned for it to be beautiful and perfect.

And I love the part about how God put eternity in our hearts. Isn’t that just a beautiful concept? God is eternal and wants us to be with Him – wants us to long to be with Him in eternity.

As happy as we might be or as perfect as things might seem, what we enjoy here on earth is barely a shadow of all the wonderful things God has for us in heaven someday. Of course, there’s also a flip side in life. As terrible or confusing or hard as things might seem, we can still hold to that same promise. Those things that hurt or that we don’t understand just help underscore the fact that God didn’t mean for us to spend eternity here. We’re travelers passing through, and someday we’ll look back and understand so much more than we do now.

That’s something I’m especially thankful for today.

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Also – be sure to come back on Wednesday, when I host my first guest blogger! Jodie Bailey will share about some things she’s learned lately in her writing journey. In the meantime, stop by Jodie’s website to learn a bit more about her and her writing.

 

Praying for Baby Annabelle

In case you haven’t noticed lately, us girls are wired differently from those guys in our lives. 🙂 And, although I’m not trying to say they never feel upset when they read about something terrible, I think my Mama’s heart is what keeps this story circling through my mind.

I’m involved with several online writing groups and have a few writing blogs that I visit regularly. The writing world is pretty small (especially when you’re focusing on the Christian market), so you can really get to know some people when your online paths cross continually.

One of those people for me is a mom and wife named Krista Phillips. We’ve never met, but have both been ‘regulars’ in some writing circles for a while. She is a funny, compassionate, faithful woman who I think would be a lot of fun as a “real world” friend. But she and her husband have an incredible load to bear these days because their baby girl has a heart condition. She’s less than a year old but has already had 2 or 3 surgeries. Last week the doctors recommended a heart transplant, so they’re praying through that decision.

I can’t imagine facing that kind of situation. My heart breaks for what they’re going through, but at the same time I’m encouraged because Krista is such an incredible example while walking down this path. I can only pray that I would have the same strength and faith if faced with their challenges. God is God, and He is in control.

I know they covet prayers and appreciate each and every one. If you want to learn more about Annabelle’s journey, visit Krista’s blog (but have your tissues handy!). Better yet, add their family to your prayers and let’s watch to see what wonderful things God will do through this tiny girl.

Thanks for reading.

 

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

Psalm 139:13-14

 

Diving in the Word

OK, we’ll start the year with confession time. For the most part, I’m a wimp about memorizing Scripture. Yes, I’ve memorized verses as part of Vacation Bible School or other things at church, but it’s usually been one of those “I need to do better at this” things in my life.

This year, I want that to change. Partly because I know what a good thing it will be for me in so many ways, and partly because I have some fun motivation to keep me going.

I’ve worked through lots of Beth Moore Bible studies and have been to several of her Living Proof Live conferences. I found myself at her blog over the weekend, for the first time in a while. Her blog followers are starting back with the Scripture Memory Team challenge, and that turned out to be the incentive I needed. Basically, you commit to learn a new Bible verse every 2 weeks during 2011. You choose something that’s meaningful to you at that point and post it on the Living Proof Ministries blog on the 1st and 15th of each month. At the end of the year, you should’ve memorized 24 new Scripture verses that personally applied to your life!

And here’s the most fun part. They actually keep track of who posts verses each time, and if you post a certain number of times by the end of 2011 you’re invited to a special Scripture Memory Team weekend in January 2012. How cool is that?! No charge for admission — you just bring your well-worn cards of memory verses from the year. Then you share at least 12 of your verses with another participant and just enjoy all being together. Sounds like a blast!

I checked back this morning, and the initial blog post kicking things off on Jan. 1 has more than 6,600 comments! Can you imagine? More than 6,000 women coming together and making the commitment to spend time memorizing Scripture this year. I just think it’s amazing.

So — if you’re interested and want more details, visit the Living Proof Ministries blog.

Here’s my first verse for the year:

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples (John 15:8, ESV).

And, yes, I typed that from memory! 🙂 I’m completely impressed by the length of passages some women challenge themselves to learn. I’ll work my way in that direction, but for now I’m just glad to be part of the excitement. Baby steps are better than none! Wanna join in?