Miracles do not expire …

When I wrote my book, Asking What: No More Whys,10341610_796015433751071_4934119075792289721_n I really thought I had discovered how best to handle tough life experiences. Let me begin the way I tend to begin, “Did I tell you I was angry, yet again?” As another challenge came into my life, I began to question so many things, but in the process, another lesson … about what God will do! In the past year I have done some much needed Bible Studies either through my church or through Women’s Bible Café, an online ministry led by Christine Abraham at http://womensbiblecafe  ©. As I saw the topic patterns develop and as my health took another change, I could see God was teaching me another aspect of His love. Here are just some of the recent studies: Beth Moore’s Believing God (online study), Beth Moore’s Esther (with my church), Breaking Free (with my church), Beth Moore’s The Armor of God (online study) and the current online study of Joseph: The Journey to Forgiveness (Melissa Spoelstra). Miracles are in every story God gives us when we look for them, it is the same way with the miracles in our personal lives. God gave me a health miracle twenty-three years ago which I wrote about in my book. Last Christmas (2014) I received a “miracle”, I awoke with a new breast! I was immediately filled with fear, the doubt and anger came later. After 180cc’s of fluid was pulled off on December 31, I had that feeling that something had changed, but I also thought it meant the cancer God took from me so very long ago had returned. So I began my study with the miracle that I associated with for myself, the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:43-50). Jesus told her it was done — go live the life I have for you. Then I looked at Lazarus (John 11:43) whose miracle was one to teach people about faith, because we know he did experience a second physical death. After nine months of needle aspirations (each ranging in 60 to 120cc’s of fluid being pulled off) followed by surgical placement of drains for two months, I had decided or listened to the Deceiver enough to return to the place where anger takes me, rapidly. The only effective way to challenge what Satan is saying is to dig into God’s Word, and I am so there now. I use two approaches which can be found on Pinterest© (http://Pinterest ), the S.O.A.P. method and the approach learned in the Armor of God study, P.R.A.Y.SOAP Example

I found so many answers in my use of these tools, my notebook filling rapidly. The first miracle God told me to look at was for the purpose of teaching me that healing can come in stages, healing is a process (Blind Man at Bethsaida, Mark 8:22)Process Healing. “I see stick people” was the first step of finding the answer to “What has happened to my miracle?” I had become stuck in the stick people mode, which was a move backwards for me. I had used a wonderful doctor who is also a servant of God, and we prayed together almost every month over that needle process. When I had to go to the placement of drains, I just knew my miracle was gone. This is not true, the man with the withered hand (Luke 6:6), the man by the pool at Bethesada, who got us and walked off after his miracle (John 5:5-9) — none of those miracles were on a timeline of expiration or best used by date. So I started my search so that I could go into a second Double Mastectomy confident that what ever it was, it was not the cancer God took care of so many years ago. Every journey is different, every outcome is different, my reaction to the process is only consistent in one way — ANGER. Joe, my husband and Christian of 12 years, was part of my lesson this time because he was not my husband 23 years ago, so I also had to be aware of the setting God was using. I am proof that miracles do not expire, none of this was cancer. I can not be reconstructed this time, but maybe looking this way is an add-on lesson to expand my understanding of what God is doing for me. I even thought God was moving me from the church family from whom I get so much love and strength. I quickly learned, be still and know …. It is where God wants us. I learned I could not run, unless I was running to God. I am still dealing with the new surge of anger about all of this, but these things I know because I asked “What?” Being in my personal dungeon like the dungeon the king placed Joseph in (Genesis 39:19-23) was for the same reason, to be still and know that God is in the midst of the events. First the people, I discovered a relationship with my cousin that I never knew was there, what a blessing. My cousin called me and prayed for me on those days that I just felt so defeated, and I felt love in place of that defeat. Secondly, the women who pray so faithfully, earnestly and in love at the Women’s Bible Café, I felt the prayers and I felt the sincerity and love. What I was over looking is third, Joe, who was on the sidelines 23 years ago and this time he is in the battle with love and prayer. His strong arms help me out of bed, his love helps me get the compression bandage on – and he loves me, deeply. The fourth thing I noticed was how God had changed the people He used to love me, new friends, who have just called at the time I most needed to feel God’s presence. From people who have come into my life at the camp, high school friends, church of origin friends, and all the way to professionals who can now choose to love me as a person. My prayer journal and prayer box look different now, my use of scripture to pray has made my prayer life important and specific, and my confidence in the Lord continues to grow, just as God had promised (Luke 11:9-13). The last thing I need to share is how the players in my life have changed. My daughter who lives near me has not blinked, where before she threw her hands on her hips and declared I was not the mother who had raised her, oh the love she has shared with me. Then there is my cousin who, like me has lost her parents and has life scars that are visible, but she loves me deeply, I just never realized it. The Women’s Bible Cafe© where women pray, women believe and women are confident in God as they too go through health problems, family challenges and are women, who like me are looking into their relationship with God and trying to grow a faith based on the Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-17)Ammor of God Wall Chart, God’s truth and the strength to walk in the shelter of God’s hands. The big lesson, I need to depend on God and stop trying to get on the wings of the eagle (Isaiah 40:31) without God securing me on its wings. No, not as angry as I was three weeks ago; yes, growing in my relationship with God — the God who loves me.


Can we talk …….. at all!

The art of speaking with one another, we just do not do it well anymore, not that we did it with such style and grace previously.  Listening to the current events in the nation leads me to think all we do is fight, argue, bully and kill each other.  Not much going on in today’s world that makes us want to engage other people in conversation – I know I fear getting out in public more because if I do speak and someone takes it as an offense, then what will the outcome be, probably not what I expect.

I use to find such enjoyment in going to the movies, I loved watching great movies on the “big screen”, and it is the one time I mindlessly enjoy popcorn; it is a must for the theater.  As of last Thursday night, July 23rd, I have no desire to be in a darkened theater if someone is angry at the world and is there with a hidden legal handgun and repeats what happened in Lafayette Louisiana.  That was for me, the undoing of another place I considered to be safe.  I will still attend my worship services with fellow believers, but the senseless tragedy in South Carolina is robbing me of peace in my surroundings.  What I have concluded is that we, as humans who have the ability to reason, verbalize and choose our behavior; we are becoming incapable or unwilling to use that God given ability.  Yes, we all have free will given to us by God, the right to pursue happiness given to us constitutionally and because of the freedom of speech which gives me the ability to blog and pen a book, it has all changed for me – and I do not think I am alone in that perception. Just as the Ten Commandments were ordered to be taken down in Oklahoma, I feel my individuality is under attack and being taken down.  As my children and grandchildren go to the beach, I worry about their safety and simultaneously place them and their safety in the hands of my God and Savior.  When choosing my word for the year, perseverance was the one I found that appeared to meet my needs scripturally and spiritually. In 2 Peter 1:5-7 of the New King James Version of the Bible I found these words that would lead me to my goal of inner peace and strength to persevere.  Peter writes: “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.” As I review the road to perseverance I am checking off my mental ‘to do’ list that will take me on my journey as well as a framework for checking off my progress.  Proverbs 31:10-31 instructs me on how to become virtuous as a woman (always a work in progress), then I started searching for knowledge, not book knowledge but knowledge about the character of God so that I capture growth in faith and perseverance, I embarked on a journey of studying God’s Word. After starting and stopping on daily study on my own, God provided the opportunity to participate in organized and topic focused study through a small women’s group at my church on Friday night and through the Women’s Bible Café (www.womensbiblecafe.com) online. I am learning so much about God, my own faith and gaining an understanding of the scripture that was lacking in my life.  The self-control  in the above list is where I find myself at this time in my life due to my awareness of the violence; hatred and anger are in the world, outside of my safe place to fall which is on God, and out of my control.  I repeat the scripture “Be anxious for nothing …” (Philippians 4:6), and that calms me but I still am concerned over how to stop this downward spiral that is happening around me.  In trying to simplify the problem, communication is the key, or the missing link, which is totally based on my perspective of the day.  Advancing on my goal to grow in the areas found in 2 Peter as mentioned above, our ability to talk by social media or on media, texting or email – we do not communicate thus we do not do well in social interactions.  The lack of open feedback, challenges to our interpretation of actions and events and the inability to cope with our emotions leads us to where we are today. We are a people who are civilized but do not practice civility, or the love that is the goal of walking by faith in the Lord.  Closing with a scripture, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). This is just one solution to the lack of caring about one another, speak only wholesome talk and build one another up not tear them down because of their personal beliefs.  Be available to speak those encouraging words, when it is an observation that a person is isolating and withdrawing – speak an encouraging word, extend a willingness to listen in hopes that this will be an exchange of thoughts so an opportunity for enhancing a person’s ability to cope or just being a sounding board of acceptance.  Even if we disagree, we do not have to say we disagree immediately – give an answer of “I hear what you are saying and I need to think about that” which tells them you honor their opinion at least enough to think about it and end with something encouraging.  Determine to not be a catalyst of anger, bitterness and resentment.  I am not there all the time, especially since anger has been both my strength and my lesser strength that has helped me to cope.  But I have learned to not act on my anger; my anger is my problem, and not something to take out on other people or to act out publicly in a violent manner. I have to give that to God, He loves me unconditionally.

Facing Life’s Giants … Using David’s Pattern …

Living in this small community has such benefits, one of which is a small country church.  A place of worship that is loving, growing, learning and building the character of its members.  The great part to me is the Bible Study we do on Sunday and Wednesday nights.  It is great simply because of its structured approach to learning.  Our pastor, Johnny Miller, will lead one week and the next week one of our deacons, Earl Dugas, leads the next week.  Their approaches are different and this makes those of us who are participating are the ones who benefit from this approach.  We also have the uniqueness in that we, the congregation, the assembled believers and yes, the students are encouraged to share how we see the scripture selection as we move verse to verse.  The openness of communication allows us to not only learn the foundation of the truths that have been before us for years while allowing the new view or understanding through the interpretation and growth of life’s experiences.  The referenced reading is 1 Samuel: 17, the Bible story that all children hear early in life, even if they are not in church, the victory of the shepherd boy over the giant.  But there is more to that story, more to the ritual of preparing for war/battle/conflict, the choice of the weapons we use and the motives or desires behind our actions.  Stepping into my professional training, the sociologist, the behaviorist in me has a new understanding of the story that is often called a Children’s Bible Story; this child of God needed a new understanding of the battle that changed the life completely of the shepherd boy.  Beginning with verses  4 -11 describes the giant, the Philistine warrior and the force he represented.  Tall, powerful, skilled, well-armed, a seasoned victor – he knew his ability and strength, and an idol of his fellow soldiers.  So what about our giants, the giants we face in our daily walk.  My giants have traveled with me a very long time because I gave them breath and I was so small in comparison to the giants of fear, anger, self-doubt, a weak spirit and Cancer.   There are probably a lot more, but I chose to identify five, one for each of the smooth stones that David chose to place in his pouch (1 Samuel 17:40)


The artist’s interpretation [David and Goliath, a colourlithograph by Osmar Schindler (c. 1888)] of the overwhelming size of the giant, Goliath, over that of his challenger, David, is a symbolic representation of how we as humans often feel when facing the trials and tests that come as we journey through this life.  I can only speak from my own personal journey of faith, and yes, the giants in my life have been astonishingly strong in their ability to invade, control and paralyze my ability to live the life God had planned for me to live.  Fear froze me in a negative path of “what ifs” and kept me from pursuing the things that would serve to worship God and bless others once I reached a certain measure of growing through the test to a level of faith that would surpass the fear, anytime that giant returned.

Once I learned to challenge the unrealistic components of my fear, the giant was no longer so powerful – just a stone’s throw to defeat each time it would return.  Anger, one of the stones that seemed extremely weighty in my life, became the next giant I was to battle.  Once I knew I was angry and that it was not a sin to experience that emotion, I could manage its power over my life.  David, the youngest of Jesse’s son, fair to look at, but of small stature in comparison to Goliath and his contrasting size and weaponry, helped me to understand the giant is only a giant if I see myself as small and ill-equipped.  So one by one I visited those five stones over the next few days before our small Wednesday night group would meet again.  My stones were becoming smooth because of the acknowledgement of them in my life and because I named them and gave them to God, because God is the only controller of my life.  The fear, anger, self-doubt, a weak spirit and Cancer each had to be faced.  Facing those things that hinder the maturing of faith in life have to be acknowledged, challenged and defeated.  Those five stones bullied me much like Goliath bullied the soldiers of Israel every day – come and fight me, for I will win. In verse 10, the giant would present his challenge “I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together”.   The giant knew the power he had over the armies, simply by daunting them with the task of fighting one on one, sure of his size and ability.  That is how much power I was surrendering my own power given by God to the giants in my life.  They seemed very large, very sure of my weakness, I was sure of my weakness – thus the stones self-doubt and weak spirit.  Cancer is huge, there is no doubt of that, it claims lives daily but there are those times the giant loses.  Prayer, personal bible study and exercising faith through prayer and trust in a God who is greater and able to do “… super abundantly able to do above all we dare ask, think, hope and desire …” (Eph. 3:20, Amplified Bible) became my weapons for battle.  But that is only three stones, and David took five stones into battle, and so do I, daily.  It is those three stones plus two more – the first stone being the love of the people who God has placed in my life, and the fifth stone being God working through the doctors and their skills to defeat the giant.  There is more to this David and Goliath story, but that comes later.  Join me next week as I move to the rest of the story.

Limiting God’s Plans ….

In 1985 when I first encountered the idea of writing my book, Asking What: No More Whys (www.westbowpress.com), I thought I understood the need to write. If I had written my story, it would have been simply focused on labels and violence, because there was a story there, just not the Christian maturity required to understand what the message needed to be in context. Then following my journey through cancer, once again I thought I understood the purpose of writing my story, a second journey that led to another personal victory, I had moved from the milk of God’s Word, to a puree of meat. My journey had to be more, a clearer or deeper understanding, and I just did not know the lessons from each of those life experiences. Once I changed my question from “why” to “what” along with the journal of my emotions and feelings, I was able to digest more of God’s message to me. The reason I am sharing this is because of responses I have had from those who have read about the seven chapters of my life, and what message they received. My repeated statements of “Did I tell you I was angry?” appears to be the message that is resonating with my readers. To know that none of us are alone in our anger and the management of our approach to anger has been astounding. Over and over it has been women who have shared with me their acknowledgement and ownership of anger and what to do next. We really know we are angry, we just need to unearth the deep roots of it and find ways to understand and manage our response. It is not easy, I wish I could wave some all-knowing wand and provide answers to those who have called or asked me what next, what do we do once we acknowledge the feelings of anger. What I do know is that I choked down, stuffed or internalized my anger which left me in an emotional prison. When we internalize emotions, it can harm us, in very noticeable ways, but also in silent ways. For me it was the furniture I moved the release the anger. I was aware that my anger hurt me physically and thought that was acceptable, but it was not and is not acceptable. Of course the mental tapes were in control, rolling all the time and I did not realize what was happening. First it was the migraines, then it became cancer, but I needed to know and believe that I was good, in whatever “state” I found myself in at any given moment in time. Not that anger led me to cancer, but once cancer changed my physical image, I had to learn to be more honest about who I had become, about being loved because I was me, and then turn off the tapes, the built-in expectations of not only my behavior but of my expectations of others. It comes in baby steps, just as Christianity grows or matures, so does our self-imposed expectations of ourselves and the expectations we project on to others. It is like the unmade bed that controls our thoughts of the day, or the unwashed dishes … whatever it is! Others have conditioned us to not feel or react in our anger, but we still need to find healthy ways to manage or work through what we feel, what we think and what we expect of ourselves. Well-intentions of others can lead us to frustration and more stuffed anger, because we question what we know. No person has the right to tell us to not feel or experience what we are feeling. Words are difficult to come by, communication is so difficult, we just can’t find the right words, nor can those who mean well, or who may have our best interests at heart. Women who have shared with me have faced some very tough battles, and are still struggling today with anger that has been their life long companion. Although it sounds so simple, even too simple according to our mental tapes, start your journey of self-discovery with keeping a journal every day. Ask yourself “what am I feeling?”, “what am I expecting of myself or of others that has led to emotional disappointment?”, phrase it anyway that works for you, these are just samples of what I ask myself. Although my writing was written to help with one’s approach to cancer, it is the thread of anger that is resonating with readers. God will use or best efforts to accomplish what He wants, not what we plan with our efforts. I have to stop limiting God, He is much greater than my ability to comprehend the breadth and depth of His work, His purpose, and His intentions for the world He created and has dominion over.

This week has led me to some new insights, because people have called me and their questions have led me to explore how I deal with anger, what the mental process is for me, so that I have clarity to respond to others. It was a complete stranger who revealed to me through simple conversation that we struggle with communication and understanding. We were just sharing while our vehicles were being serviced, and found ourselves discussing the complacency of today’s Christians that have led us to the “mess” our society has found itself in. There is violence on so many levels, discord and confusion in our homes, communities, nation and the world. “Mrs. Dorothea” and I may never meet again, but we found ourselves in agreement about one thing. It is that we need to grow up, mature as Christians and help each other grow in the process. Anger is so much of a part of what is happening in our world today; intense and destructive anger about events often fueled by greed, power, pride and/or self-serving expectations that have led us to be in so much societal turmoil. We agreed that what is lacking is maturity as Christians, how we make things “acceptable” by wording it so that our consciences leave us alone, remain quiet or hushed and subdued. Making things, events and situations acceptable does not make them right. Making our anger “manageable” is not making us whole – but as each of us examine ourselves, accept and acknowledge who we are and act according to God’s Will, we will find that our frustrations, our expectations and our emotional well-being will mature and inspire us to “fix” our roles in our homes, communities, nation and world. It starts with one, and as Dorothea and I hugged as we parted, I knew God had set her in my path, even if only briefly, to teach me yet another truth.

On Being Temperant

While at our camp on Lake Fork, I was reading my devotional and listening to the sound of the gentle, soothing rain on the roof of our RV, my home away from reality. Reading Joyce Meyer’s New Day New You, I was so moved by her use of 1 Peter 5:8 and the focus on finding balance in our emotions and responses to others. Quoting Meyers : “On one hand, we must not be harsh and hard. But on the other hand, we must not be weak and excessively soft. ….we must not be so mild … that we become doormats ….”. I struggled in the doormat mode of operation for so many years, because I thought it was the best way to live my Christianity. Then a wise minister, Rev. John S Harris, counseled me on holding others accountable and responsible, rather than ‘swallow’ the abusive actions of others, I needed to value who I am as a unique creature in God. It changed my life course as I began to honor myself as a single parent and held those around me to a standard that respected me and became more able to not accept labels, exploitation and hurt. Things could only hurt me if I accepted the words and actions as a genuine assessment of who I am. I pursued my bachelor’s degree and later my masters’. I learned to love and respect myself, even in my brokeness, and live in the love God has for me. It changed my relationship with my daughters and then in adult relationships and eventually in marriage again. I faced cancer and other health challanges through a balanced life and it changed how the focus of how Asking What: No More Why’s would be written. I am more aware of my emotional responses to others, and practice the thank yous to God in every situation, after 48 – 72 hours of course, because God has the lesson on the way to my life. I continue to experience anger, but I do a self check to discover the true emotion behind the anger. I had my first horrendous migraine last week, and knew that within me, I was angry and started the discovery effort to identify the real impetus that led me to choose anger rather than own my true emotion and deal with it. It is only then can I receive the lesson that comes with the blessing and live in a true balance within.IMG_20120705_133933