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.

 

On the other side of despair ….

Because so many are talking about the depression that led Robin Williams to end his life, it could also be the reason the actor who shared the screen with him in Patch Adams (Philip Seymour Hoffman) chose to “accidentally” end his life through a drug overdose. I am moved to share my thoughts based on years of working with so many people struggling with depression, and I remembered the Book of Job. Not being able to imagine how devastating the illness/disease can be, read it anew. Job was released from God’s protection and was beset by the powers of Satan, and Satan uses what is available in this earthly world. Using the American Standard Version (ASV) of the King James Bible, I found strong examples of the types of “noise” that possibly troubled Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman and refused to release its grip on its prisoner. All that negative noise found in Job’s story is symbolic of what can be spinning and replaying inside one’s head. The “noise” refuses to be silenced much like what we find in Job 2:11-13 where we find the report of the words and behavior of Job’s friends, and we all have well-intentioned friends much like Job’s. They are described as coming to minister to Job “…So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him for they saw that his grief was very great (v.13).” I chuckled to myself when I thought of this in today’s words – Job threw a pity party and his friends actually came, but they came to see what he would do and found themselves learning about God. In Chapter 3 of Job we find that he was so greatly distressed (we call it depression, sad, having a bad day) that he cursed the day he was born. Job 3:24 is a conversation and intense prayer Job used to tell God just how bad it was when he said: “…and my groanings are poured out like water…” which often times is the sensation many who experience depression will report. On the other side of his despair, when Job refused to give in to the overwhelming despair and the pleadings of his well-intentioned friends, Job turned to the Lord and voiced praise despite the tempting of the negative voices when he said: “…he setteth up on high those that are low, and those that mourn are exalted to safety…” (Job 5:8-16, v. 11). Job knew his God would keep His word, abide by His law and His love for His children. So how low can a manic state of mind be? In Job 17: 1-2, Job describes it as “My spirit is consumed, my days are extinct, the grave is ready for me. Surely there are mockers with me …”, then continued by adding that “My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me … (Job 19:14-15)”. Even though Robin Williams had the ability to induce laughter in millions, entertain audiences with his brilliance and style, he still felt as if he were alone, like Job, and he could not find hope; without hope, all is lost. The deepest portion of Job’s depression is found in Chapter 30, verse 16 when he tells God that “…my soul is poured out with me, my day of affliction have taken hold upon me …”. Both Williams and Hoffman had success by society’s definition, family, and the ability to find help – which both had been in rehab for their addictions – their addictive behaviors led them to lose the ability to function and cope in a healthy manner, instead choosing a path of destruction as a way to end their emotional turmoil and pain. What I learned from reading the Book of Job anew came only because of my own faith journey that gave me a clearer understanding of his story. Job was released from God’s protection so that he would have a ministry to those who were watching his reactions and attitude; God never stopped loving Job. Job did plea with God, he questioned God but he never walked away from God or his commitment to God. What I would suggest is that as we process the losses we have had recently, would be to take the time to ponder on Job’s trials and tribulations which would serve to help us when we experience seasons of depression. Take into account all the things spoken by his wife, family and friends combined with Job’s own spoken despair and transpose that to what is locked, trapped in the brain of a person with depression that is not managed. The Book of Job does a great job of taking us through the thoughts and problems a person can experience during depression. In Chapter 6 of my book, “Asking What: No More Whys and Soaring on Eagles Wings over Labels, Cancer and Anger”, I provide a look at depression that comes with loss, not the heavy, overwhelming, encompassing depth of Manic Depression. God showed us through Job’s experiences how difficult the disease can be. I know that we have Christ to heal us, but so many of us experience that old cliché of “God will take care of you” or “God will not put more on you than you can bear” and cannot find our way out of it because they have become oversimplified, over-used phrases. Depression is crippling, difficult and unkind. I challenge you to read the Book of Job with different eyes of comprehension and understanding. And yes, I know God can and will heal and make us whole, just as He did for Job, who at the end of his life had seventeen times more than when his journey of affliction began. We are to learn from God’s words set before us; learn the lessons that strengthen our faith as we experience life’s problems, and yes, even the heckling of our friends. We can then face the experiences that will come with renewed hope and strength – strength that comes when we learn the “what” of life’s lessons. Job described the victory of allowing his hope to remain deeply rooted in God and is found in Chapter 23:10 as he reassured the negative forces in his life with these words: “But He knows they way that I take [He has concern for it, appreciates and pays attention to it]. When He has tried me, I shall come forth as refined gold [pure and luminous] (Amplified Version).”

Ministering for God is lifelong and beyond

Sometimes we forget that we are ALWAYS a witness for God. I have been thinking about my dad and remembering the last witnessing he did. It was the day of his funeral and although he was gone, his life’s story touched one of his descendants. My youngest uncle, Rev. Wiley E. Dorman, had spoken on the sounds in Charlie Leroy Dorman’s life. My dad was the sound technician (and a deacon) at First Baptist Church of Jacinto City, so sound was important to him, after all, the Dorman children all sang in the choir – just expected of us. My dad heard so many sounds, ones that go along with Ecclesiastes’ to everything there is a season. He heard the sounds of war, he served in those sounds; the sound of love in his heart, he fell in love with my mom; the sounds of family, he was the father of four children and I have no doubt we were noisy; the sound of music, the sound technician that he was but also my oldest brother played the oboe and the flute, the sounds of joy and celebration, the sounds of worship and the sounds that sin can bring into one’s life. Then the sounds became so heavy. Dad heard the sound of grief as he buried first Gregory (my brother) in 1985 and then he repeated the grief when Darlene (my only sister) died in 1995; then the sounds of renewal through the addition of grandchildren and the laughter that brings. There were many more sounds my uncle mentioned on that day, but the sound my dad did not hear was the sound of his great granddaughter making a profession of faith in Jesus Christ in the cemetery as my dad was laid to rest next to the love of his life, my mom. My Uncle Wiley shared with me this joyous event and that she was specific in that she wanted to be like the man described in the message brought that day. What a sound in heaven as the angels rejoiced! Even at 84, my dad was a witness. I have now seen mature men make commitments to Christ, men who were good men – but who knew good was not enough. My husband, Joe, made a profession of faith at age 60 – he is a good man but he knew he was a man without God. Young people who experience these events just get it – they realize down the road that people need Jesus Christ in their lives, directing their lives and that there is a Savior who needs to be proclaimed. I strive to touch lives in my daily walk never knowing who needs the ministry of what my life reflects. I do know we cannot ever stop reaching out or stop living our ministry through the gifts God has given us. I have been made acutely aware of the one person for whom Asking What: No More Whys had to be written. As Christians, we always think of sharing orally our personal testimony with someone, but people observe, listen and read and God uses our availability to accomplish HIS Will for us all. I discussed grief in Chapter 6 of my life’s story and how I have been tested throughout my life to grow my faith. We are never finished with “growing” our faith as I have been through another test and am acutely aware that my faith is still challenged by fear. Being aware of the fear in my life is a reminder that daily devotional time is a must, maintaining a journal about my emotional response to life is vital to maintaining peace and joy, and lastly that God’s work in our lives is never complete – NEVER!

Learning to let it go

When God has presented a lesson three times, I need to “learn”. First the test, then the lesson. While on our recent fishing trip, I hooked a big catfish, or it hooked me. After it secured itself around a stump, my husband and I struggled for 30 minutes to claim my bragging rights. It was not to be and I was finally ready to give it up. I told him to cut the line, that is the lesson. Two days later, there were two more hooked catfish that I never could pull up to the surface, so the battle again because I was still not so willing to ‘let it go’. The first of the two, I pulled for about 15 minutes, then let Joe cut the line. The next one, again headed for the stump and this time I knew, cut the line. That is a life lesson. Know when it is time to let something go. Children, grief, anger, emotional eating, relationships and labels that can hold one back from accomplishments. Eating is in the list for a reason. Although food sustains life, I eat for more than the purpose of sustaining life, so that is a dependency that needs to be “cut”.

When I let go of my girls, they found their way and did just fine with me on the sidelines of life. They were able to become what God needed them to be, they were never mine, they are God’s. There have been losses to death, employment and relationships. While carrying my grief and the weight of unhealthy relationships, I ran and grew weary, I could not climb on to the wings of the eagle God sent my way (Isaiah 40:31). I have been tethered to the things of life, secured to a dead stump. One has to learn to let go, because we are God’s. We can not be in control, and that is what led me to my anger, shame, disappointments, guilt, dependency on others and emotional eating. Specialty emotional eating, chocolate for anger and Mexican food for depression. So I am learning to let go of those unhealthy relationships, learning to forgive (still pulling on that line a little) and moving on. I know I have to cut the lines that keep me tied to things of this life: possessions, memories, people who do not need to be in my life and emotions that are my mountains.

I am a survivor of breast cancer and as God’s child, I have a ministry (1 Cor. 12:9) and I will be less valuable while clinging to the lines of earthly entanglements. I have to use my faith, the verb, and let go. All of this from a fish. It was just a fish, but Jesus used a fish to feed the multitude!