Monday, August 31, 2015

Book Review: It Is Well With My Soul, Meditations for Those Living with Illness, Pain, and the Challenges of Aging

"We are never too old or too young to change, never too far for God’s hand of mercy to reach us, and never beyond the hope of God’s redeeming love."
Shelly Beach wrote the above statement in Section Six of this book, It Is Well With My Soul,  Meditations for Those Living with Illness, Pain, and the Challenges of Aging.
She illustrates this truth beautifully with her openness in telling her own story and ones of many others throughout this inspiring book.  Full of real human life struggles and emotions, the book applies God's Word in practical helpful ways to bring hope and healing to hurting hearts.  As a Stage IV Lung cancer survivor, I found this book greatly beneficial.
(I was provided an electronic copy of this book by the publisher for honest review.)
It Is Well with My Soul:

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Silver Linings

...focusing on Yeshua, the initiator and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, disregarding its shame; and He has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2 TLV)

Upon looking back at the last four years now of being a lung cancer survivor, I observe there are often silver linings in the midst of pain.  For the first year, I wanted my life back just as it had been before cancer-without the loss & grief that critical illness brought into my life.  But looking now at who I am today, I realize I like myself much better than I used to!  
When you are given a 16% chance of survival, there isn't much time for pretense any more.  Just simple living with real raw feelings & relationships that are truly meaningful in life.  No wasted efforts spent on things that are not enjoyable or important- only time pursuing what really matters to me in life and gratitude everyday for the big and small pleasures that come.  
I have many imperfections, just as before cancer, but am better able now to let GRACE do its work within me and not strive in my own vain efforts....
Not I, but CHRIST is the author & finisher in my life!
I think Milton expresses it well in the words below:

I see ye visibly, and now believe
That he, the Supreme Good, to whom all things ill
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Would send a glistering guardian, if need were
To keep my life and honour unassailed.
Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
I did not err; there does a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.

~John Milton

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Living ln Difficult Times

I have, at times, found myself not really living life
but just waiting
for the next big thing to come.... 
The problem with that was I missed out.
Inspiration and connection with God,
each other, 
is often found when & where we least expect it.  
If you find yourself in 'waiting mode' today,
begin to look for what is already there within or around you.  
Perhaps there is more than you have ever thought existed
Maybe you just need new eyes!
   Eyes to see:
   Beauty in the midst of pain
   Hope in a time of despair
   Calm in the throes of chaos
   Creativity while beside a pool of boredom
   A spark of light where you thought none existed!

For thou wilt light my candle: the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. (Psalms 18:28 KJV)

Lord, let our eyes see what you have for us at this very moment.  
Open our hearts to receive the fullness of life that is your gift 
available to us at all times!


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Together We Stand

~** Intertwining Roots -- The Redwoods **~ 
-(Author Unknown )

Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7-8) 

You probably know that the giant redwood trees grow only on the West coast of America. No place else on this earth.....
The strength and size of those trees are stunning. They are giants... standing so close together that their branches seem to filter the sun right out of the day, and their towering tops brush the clouds from the sky. 
If that seems too poetic ... go stand there yourself. The majesty of it all demands talk in whispers between the long moments of silent staring. 
And in your heart you keep repeating, "Only God..." 
Most of the trees have burn and char scars, recalling difficulties past.
Some even have huge caverns carved out of their middles by gutting fires 
... so big that two or three people can stand inside ... but they still grow, so full of life they can't be killed. 
And that makes all the scars seem unimportant....
It's as if one day God said, "I think I'll build a tree. Who cares if it takes 500 years or a thousand or whatever. I just want a tree. 
Who's counting?" Don't you suppose that He has some of the same patience with your growth? Character takes time ... and scars. But God keeps going for the ultimate and that's part of what He meant when He said, "And he shall be like a tree." 
So what's the secret of the redwood? How can it last so long and endure so much? Unlike the palm tree whose tap root goes down into the ground as deep as the tree is tall (30 feet up... 30 feet down), the redwood has no tap root at all. That's why you never see a redwood standing alone. 
They are always in clusters ... in groups called groves. The might of the tree is not in itself. Here is its strength ...for every foot in height it grows up, the redwood tree sends its roots, not down, but three times that distance ...OUT!
That's right... OUT! 
If the tree is 300 feet tall, its roots go 900 feet out ... intertwining with all the groping roots from the other redwoods in the grove. By the time a few hundred years go by, those fellow-shipping roots are so woven with one another, there is no way a tree could fall down. It is held up by the strength of its brothers and sisters. 

So how long will you grow? How tall will you be? What trials will be yours? Who's counting? I just heard God say, "I think I'll build a tree...and he shall not stand alone." What a beautiful picture of the church. Alone we are vulnerable and can easily fall, but together, our lives woven and intertwined and through time strengthen each other and support each other. So together we stand, scars and all, bound by the love of the Savior. 

I {Jesus} am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me because of their testimony. My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father--that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me. (John 17:20-21 NLT) 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

You Are Beautiful!

Listen — read the covers of magazines and you’d think romance is a function of cleavage and plastic surgeon noses and spray tans.
Read the glossy covers and you’d think love is a function of waist size and heel height and bare flesh flaunted for every gawking eye. Read everything in the check out line and they check you out of reality. That’s what the media is selling: X-rated Beauty. Romance Porn.
That’s the thing about the check-out line: The media’s fuelled by changing the definition of beauty, romance, and love from what is true to what is trendy.
Media tries to define you with likes as a measure of yourloveability.
Media votes you on or votes you off, as if a woman’s worth is a popularity contest instead of being permanently won by function of being made in the image and likeness of God.
Be defined by Real Love — or you’ll go looking for love in the pages of some cheap novel of romance porn, some plot line that is artificially augmented and harlequin liposuctioned, you’ll go looking for love under the warmth of some guy’s hands, you’ll go looking for love in the size of your jeans.
Listen for the small voice who is Love who cups your face close and names you Beloved, listen to “hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.”
Listen to the Voice who says, “I love you so much that when the wolves come to devour your real identity — I become a lamb Myself. I sacrifice Myself for you, so you never have to sacrifice yourself to the gods of this world.
Listen to the Voice who says, “I am the Shepherd that when the wolf comes to consume you with lies, I would rather lose my life, than let you lose your value.”
Listen to the Voice who says, “I will never drive you to photo-shop expectations or to the dangerous cliff of conditional love —- because I’m never the One driving you, I’m gently leading you. I lead you, no matter where you are,I am with you, leading you.”
Listen to the Voice who assures: “I am making your good decisions work for good — and I am working your bad decisions into the best loving plan for your ultimate good.”
Listen to His Voice: God is turning everything around to turn you into the beauty He knows you are.
The world will say they will love you if you are beautiful —- but the truth is you are beautiful because you are loved.

Because I love you. Because He who is Love loves you unconditionally.
Please hear me, Girl: The world has enough women who know how to do their hair. It needs women who know how to do hard and holy things.
The world has enough women who live a masked insecurity. It needs more women who live a brave vulnerability.
The world has enough women who are trying to do it all — spending everything they’ve got to be found in the crowd. It needs more who are doing the only thing that is necessary — spending time at His feet, being found and known by Him.
Look at the bent woman ahead of us in the check-out, her gnarled and arthritic hand counting out the potatoes she’ll bake tonight for the old man leaning against the cart. That is the quietest reality that hushes all the media voices: We need more women who would rather be beautifully sacrificial than perfectly artificial.
Don’t let Hollywood define it; let the pages of Truth define it:Romance is a long sacrifice.
Say that quiet to yourself at the mirror, over the stove, over the toilet bowls, and let your soul feel the caress of God who knows: Romance is a long sacrifice.
And then it will happen to you, like it happens to all the women who are soul beautiful and loved:
For a beautiful countenance — count blessings.
For beautiful lips — only speak words that make souls stronger.
To carry yourself with poise — carry each other’s burden.
For the most beautiful shape — simply live with one hand receiving all as gift, and other hand giving away the gifts. You becoming the shape of a gift —
Becoming the shape of a Cross.

Go ahead, Girl, run your hands wild through your hair and smile unashamed and be at peace in the fullness of you and pour your beauty out like an alabaster perfume:
Beauty doesn’t live in your skin
Beauty lives in the lining of your heart.