Another Unique Story
This week it’s the unique story of
Throughout the month of October, I am printing stories shared by friends who have experienced a journey with cancer. It is extremely important that we recognize these brave women who have endured or are continuing a voyage they never expected to travel. This week I would like for you to meet a lovely friend that I have known since coming to Pittsburgh almost 38 years ago, Patty Trax. Patty’s family and ours have spent time at their camp, picked pumpkins in their patch, taken trips to Virginia to visit relatives, attended kids’ graduations and weddings and although our lives have weaved and changed throughout the years, we remain good friends.
I asked Patty if she would share her story with my readers and she graciously agreed. May you be blessed, and God be honored through her words and experiences. Patty begins:
I looked at my ringing cell phone. Waiting for this particular call and recognizing the number, I went into my bedroom to answer. My husband was in the living room and heard the conversation and as I walked out of the bedroom, he hugged me as I cried. That was just a year ago in October of 2018 when I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. My husband called our kids and that’s when it hit me this diagnosis is real, and I suddenly became numb.
The next morning, I called our pastor and asked to be put on the prayer list and was overwhelmed with the response. Phone calls, cards of encouragement and even beautiful sheet music from a friend was received.
Before my surgery pre-testing was required which revealed a complete hysterectomy was needed to remove a tumor. Believe it or not, the procedure was outpatient surgery and I returned home later that day to begin my recovery. Our church supplied meals and friends continued with numerous phone calls which made each day seem better and brighter.
After three weeks of recovering it was time for radiation treatments. I was nervous, of course, but knew people were praying. In my kitchen I have a metal art piece that reads with the scripture “Don’t worry about anything instead pray about everything.” Philippians 4:6. This Bible verse took on additional meaning now I was the patient (a totally new role for me). Once I totally surrendered 100% of my worries and anxieties to Jesus, I was at peace with whatever our Lord allowed in my life. All the glory goes to God because I experienced peace like never before and knew I was safely being held in His arms. This feeling ignited my love for Jesus as I began to pray God would use me to walk beside others with illnesses and/or a diagnosis of cancer.
I work in a retail farm market where I see and communicate with hundreds of customers daily. When talking with them I always extend “feelers” in those few minutes of conversation and soon they are telling me about their illness or heavy burdens. I always remember to ask their names and offer to put them on my prayer list.
Needless to say, I usually go home from work with my pockets full of individuals’ names needing prayer. I am positive this is how God is using me during this season of my life. Ironically, I wouldn’t change a thing. Although I didn’t ask for cancer, it made me a better person and I want others to know there is always hope.
So that’s my story! If you have Jesus, you have it all!
Walking Through the Valley of the Shadow of Cancer
with Jesus by my side
Thought for the Day: “Although I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil for thou art with me. Thy rod and staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23
It’s been sixteen years since I heard those words, “I have some good news and some bad news,” coming from the lips of my PCP following the results of a biopsy. The good news, the diagnosis wasn’t as bad as it could be, but the bad news delivered that day, I had breast cancer. And my comfortable, uneventful, blessed life started to rock and roll.
Looking back on that initial diagnosis and the protocol treatment directed by my oncologist, I discovered the blueprint for my entire life had not been shared with me by Almighty God. I was met by so many ups and downs it was hard to keep up. Ever been on a ride at an amusement park when suddenly you desperately wanted the operator to stop because this ride wasn’t what you bargained for, but it wasn’t faintly possible? That’s one of the feelings that surges through your body when news of this nature makes it to your brain!
There have been so many lessons wrapped in this cancer package that have made me a better person:
• Through my experiences I have a good idea what thoughts run through the mind and heart of one diagnosed with breast cancer or any cancer for that matter. Therefore, I can be a source to share doubts, fears and concerns.
• Your attitude is 90% of your success rate of a positive outcome (that was quoted by my surgeon).
• Life isn’t to be lived lethargically. Make the most of each and every day because we didn’t arrive on this earth with a toe tag indicating when we would be leaving this body behind. Erma Bombeck, a comedian who wrote many books and passed away as a result of cancer, made the statement once about not wanting the windows down in the car because her hair would be blown by the wind and the style messed up. She later commented if she had it to do over again she’d let it blow! That meant the world to me after being diagnosed with breast cancer. I have windows down in the car more often, let the house go without continually dusting and wiping up floors (I even hired someone to help with those items) and before my husband retired I went on more business trips with him. In other words, I started living each day to the fullest!
• Cancer cannot rob you of joy. It can make you miserable, can take your mind to dark places of depression, but only if you allow it to control your mental and emotional capacities. I was told during my 33 radiation treatments I would get tired a little quicker. At the time I was riding my bike six miles a day. I was determined those radiation treatments would not rob me of riding my bike. Towards the end of the six weeks of radiation my legs felt awfully heavy, but I rode my bike to the end of treatment!
• Scripture is powerful. A friend sent to me a verse from Isaiah 43 that spoke of “though I walk through the fire I will not be burned” which meant the world to me. Each day when the radiation machine began to run and I was left alone in that room, I prayed that God would lay His hand over my body so I would not be burned (radiation will often irritate skin as experienced by sunburns). That was in answer to a situation explained by my doctors beforehand. If my skin received burns from the radiation and the need to stop treatments occurred, it would necessitate beginning the series of 33 all over again. I’m blonde and blue-eyed, folks. Those chances of burning were higher for me than for others of different skin tones. But each morning I prayed for the Lord to come to me as He did in the fiery furnace of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and lay His hand on me. My skin was a bit irritated, but “we” made it through…me and my Lord!
• Use the disease to witness of God’s goodness. I grew closer to God through my experiences. I learned to lean on Him because there was nothing I could do to make this disease disappear. I had to walk the journey and look for the blessings along the way…and there were many. My son bought a CD of WOW worship songs for me during this time. I would play those tunes all the way to treatment each day and back home again. I’d sing glory to God and even today when I hear those particular songs I’m back in the car riding to radiation. Tears get close to falling because I now know the goodness of the Lord and His healing power.
There are many other lessons I learned and continue to acknowledge through the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ in sparing my life. I am fully aware that cancer could arise in my body again, but the remission I have been blessed to enjoy for the past sixteen years has been amazing. I have written devotional books, run a ministry website, taught lessons and spoken at retreats. I have become a grandmother, walked alongside an aging mother, buried my dad, relished in being included in my adult children’s lives and enjoyed being retired with my best friend and husband of almost 40 years.
I don’t dress in pink from head to toe to stand out as a cancer survivor, but I don’t shy away from acknowledging the inclusion in this exclusive group. I’m more than a survivor, I’m a child of the King, a daughter of the Almighty Father and I pray my testimony will bring glory to Him.
God bless, my friends, and enjoy this month’s entries written by some great women who have their own stories to share.
On a hot day don't you desire to simply take off your shoes and place your feet in that clear, cool stream you happen to be walking past? I love the sound of water....the waves crashing by the ocean's shore, the trickling of a stream or the rain falling on a tin roof. Those are among my favorites. Why do you think most of us enjoy those sounds? Possibly because they are relaxing? I think so.
The 23rd Psalm states, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul." Seems water and rest go together, doesn't it? We all need a time out in life to relax, refresh and reboot. If we don't we become tired, irritable and our health and mental outlook take a hit.
Maybe we should listen to the Shepherd's words and be led by His voice. Could He be bidding you to come to the water, put your feet in and refresh your body and mind? When might I have time to find a body of water and put my feet in you ask if you are a busy mom or dad with jobs, babies, after school projects or sport practices, and the carpool....well, it's your week to drive and you need to think about dinner!
May I suggest something? Stop and pray. Yes, pray and ask God to order your day. It only takes a minute and while you're at it, take a deep breath. God wants you to have an abundant life, but we need to put Him at the top of the list instead of the bottom, or have you forgotten to put God on the list at all?
Have a great day....and if you don't have a stream close by, just fill a glass with water, remove your shoes and start pouring! If nothing else, you will find yourself laughing!
Photo courtesy of NGW from Hocking Hills State Park
During my devotional time I have begun reading Max Lucado's book, When God Whispers Your Name. It's a great book filled with lessons written by a master of the English language. Max Lucado expresses in word what most of us are thinking. To that end, today the entry was entitled, "Late Night Good News" and we all just LOVE last night news, right? Doom and gloom is the prevalent forecast topped with rain, floods or a possible hurricane. Anyway, the end of this selection was a dose of good sense and I am passing it along. If you wonder where God is and why hasn't He upset the current direction of today's society, don't think for one minute this stuff is flying under His radar. Our Lord is alive and well. As Max so eloquently expresses:
"The engineer has not abandoned the train. Nuclear war is no threat to God. Yo-yo economies don't intimidate the heavens. Immoral leaders have never derailed the plan.
God keeps his promise.
See for yourself. In the manger. He's there.
See for yourself. In the tomb. He's gone.
Max Lucado, copyright 1994, Word Publishing,
When God Whispers Your Name
Father God, may we continue to worship You and trust You are in complete control. From the moment of creation until the day You call us home, our El Roi, our Jehovah-shammah holds the whole wide world in Your hands. Amen!
Well, it's about 1:45 a.m. and I'm sitting at my computer unable to fall asleep. Maybe it has to do with catching a quick nap earlier this evening, but I think probably my lack of shut eye comes from an earlier conversation, or lack of one, with my mom.
As I have written before on this blog, mom is 97 and has increasing dementia. She lives in a nursing home six hours south of my home in Pittsburgh. When the initial decision was made where to move mom when she could no longer take care of herself in assisted living, the family chose to leave her in Virginia where I was raised and my siblings and their families are located. We also considered possible visits from church members along with extended family members.
Fast forward to four years later. Mom is still residing in a nursing home, she is totally blind, she is unable to walk or move around on her own and the dementia is slowly taking more of her memory. It's impossible to describe how this disease has slowly taken my mom and how hard I've tried to make this journey easier for her. I guess there is only so much you can do when you live six hours away and can only make monthly trips. Sitting in the nursing home now consists of basically watching her sleep until about 4 in the afternoon when she wakes up. At that point, we might have a better chance of a favorable visit.
I've commented often how my Mama can pray and I've video taped her doing so. Her communion with the Lord Jesus has not been erased by this disease. She might forget who I am, but she still knows Jesus. I pray that will be my legacy as well. The point of this blog is not to pile on sympathy, but to ask that you remember all those caregivers and family members who are dealing with loved ones living through various health conditions. God is mighty. God sees what is happening. God understands our pain and sorrow. He hears my mother's wailing and crying as a lost child not knowing where she is at times. I can't explain why this is happening, but I know from God's Word that weeping only lasts for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Mama's joy will come and she will forever leave behind the shackles of pain, blindness, immobility and confusion. What a day that will be! Until then, God grant us the ability to pray, to care, and to extend to our loved ones the help and assistance they need.
God bless, my friends....I think I'll head back to bed!
And My God Shall Supply All Your Need According To His Riches In Glory By Christ Jesus.
Life's little irritants...now that's a lesson in itself! Usually we think of irritants as a situation that occurs caused by another person. For instance, you have two items and go to the fast check out line at Giant Eagle. The sign posted near the checkout line reads, "Ten items or less" and the person in front of you has twenty items. You know this because you stood there and counted each one and you begin taking loud deep breaths and tapping your foot just in case the disobedient customer needs a signal that you aren't happy you have to wait.
My personal irritant of late happens to be a cowlick that has begun showing up in the back of my head! Yep, along with aching muscles and increasing wrinkles, now I have a cowlick? My hair stylist was told on my recent trip for a trim and she is implementing solutions; however, this troubling occurrence, daily needing my full attention, is all consuming. In fact, at a Pony League World Series game last week I took a break from watching the game to glance over the crowd at the heads of female attendees. You know, checking out to see if perhaps they had the same awful dilemma. It was like a game of "I Spy" and sure enough there were women with the same hair condition.
The next morning as I walked into the bathroom and started my daily procedure of covering over my cowlick, it was as if the Holy Spirit had enough. His audible voice seemed to be ringing in my head, "You know, Cookie, at least you have hair." And there it was. The incredible simple lesson overriding my first place, self-imposed race of desire. Suddenly all the women currently dealing with cancer or still in the throes of the after effects of chemo came rushing to the forefront of my mind. And I honestly felt very, very foolish.
Then, as if to enhance my personal lesson, the Holy Spirit continued to teach, "It's been 16 years since your adventure with breast cancer, Cookie. Sixteen years...with hair." It made my irritant seem extremely small in comparison and I thought, "Thank you, Lord, for you goodness and mercy and please forgive my selfish groanings. By the way, and not as an afterthought, thank you for the sixteen years I've been able to experience the joys given with my family."
Have a wonderful weekend, my friends. And if you encounter an irritant, just consider all the upsides and be thankful for what you have; especially if you're standing in the express aisle at the grocery store behind someone who has forgotten to look at the number of items sign! They just might be needing a smile or patience to get them through their day!
Blessings! It's not too early to begin to be thankful!
A sweet friend of mine sent this to me via Facebook today....what a beautiful song and message....a great way to start your week! Blessings!
An Atheist’s View on Life
I will live my life according to these beliefs
God does not exist
It is just foolish to think
That there is a God with a cosmic plan
That an all-powerful God brings purpose to the pain
And suffering in the world
Is a comforting thought, however
is only wishful thinking
People can do as they please without eternal consequences
The idea that
I am deserving of Hell
Because of sin
Is a lie meant to make me a slave to those in power
“The more you have, the happier you will be”
Our existence has no grand meaning or purpose
In a world with no God
There is freedom to be who I want to be
But with God
Everything is fine
It is ridiculous to think
I am lost and in need of saving
A Christian’s View on Life
(Read the above from bottom to top to see the difference)
I read a recent comment that we are all witnesses. Although I usually relate that term to sharing my faith in Jesus Christ to others, it has more to do with simply telling about something you have experienced. For instance, you're in a restaurant and are expressing your thoughts about what to order and someone at the next table overhears you and recommends a particular item that is tried and true. Or perhaps you are thinking about going to the movies and those you are with suggest one that is playing that is well worth the price. These individuals are giving witness to the subject at hand. It is much more than awkward proselytizing about religion, or images of courtroom witnesses.
Every believer in the Lord Jesus shares the privilege sharing through their personal witness of God's faithfulness and how He has aided through the storms of life and helped His children endure struggles. He's not a genie in a bottle, nor is He an instant gratification button you press through prayer when the clouds roll in. But He is the God who will walk every step of this journey with us and see us safely home. We are always to be ready to share our story of how we met and experience His goodness and mercy. That personal story is much better than the best meals served in restaurants and the greatest movie to hit the theaters....He is the greatest story every told!
"Jesus called out to them, 'Come, follow Me, and I will show you have to fish for people!' And they left their nets at once and followed Him." Mark 1:17-18 NLT
Do you realize how many times in scripture a story is told that centers around a character whose name is never revealed? Being in Women's Ministry, I use a lot of these women in my speaker material; the Shunammite woman who aided Elisha with her hospitality; the woman at the well who gave Jesus a drink of water and discovered living water; the widow who needed help with her debt following her husband's death and was unburdened when the little bit of oil she had left in a jar was multiplied, and on we could go. Each a very special woman that the Lord used to teach us a timeless lesson.
The reason I love the no names in the Bible is due to the fact we are all important to the Lord regardless of how many people know who we are. The important fact to remember is God knows us personally; He made us, He gifted us and He has a purpose for each one of us to fulfill. It doesn't matter how many people know our name, but it does matter the influence and message your life brings to others.
I simply wanted to remind you, if you are reading this short note, God loves you and you are very important to Him. God bless and have an awesome Sunday of worship!