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Yet Again–Part 2: Giving Up Isn’t An Option!

Proverbs 24: 16

For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again,
         But the wicked stumble in time of calamity.

I finally managed to get Joey + Rory’s new album—oops I mean CD, HYMNS on my IPod that I use while I work out. If you don’t know Joey + Rory’s story, you might want to check out Rory’s blog, This Life I Live at http://thislifeilive.com.  Just be sure to have a few tissues handy.

As I listened to Joey’s beautiful voice this morning singing her favorite traditional hymns, I was inspired by her courage. But more than her courage, also by the fact she didn’t lose her faith during her battle with cancer, even when she knew she wouldn’t be winning the battle–here. But she’s won now because  Joey’s in the arms of her dear Savior and mine.

But the inspiration doesn’t end there. If you know anything about Joey + Rory, it’s how much Rory loved his bride. We were blessed to see them perform several times and the one thing I always noticed was the love that twinkled in Rory’s eyes whenever he looked at Joey.

So these days, Rory’s doing what he needs to do to get back up after losing his beloved bride. For him, giving up isn’t an option. He’s determined to honor God and Joey as he goes on with his life. Which should inspire all of us to do the same. We all fall down but staying down and giving up shouldn’t be an option when you’re a Christian.

Joey inspires still but so does Rory!

Anyway as I said in my last blog, Yet Again, I’m back on treatment for my brain tumors in spite of being told they were stable and shouldn’t cause any more problems.  This came right at the point where I was feeling stronger and healthier than I have in years. Even if I manage to avoid chemo, I know the steroids are going to knock me down again–for now.

But giving up isn’t an option.

Yes, I’ve fallen down once again but with God’s help I know I’ll get back up.

Now it’s YOUR TURN: Who inspires you and why? Doesn’t matter if the person is famous or only famous to you. Tell us what inspires you about them.

GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

YET AGAIN!

Philippians 4: 7

And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Did you notice the all-capital letter title? I’m not exactly yelling but…I’m definitely frustrated. Or at least I was for a little while this week. Once I tell you why, you’ll probably agree that my frustration is understandable. But Philippians 4:7 says God gives a peace that transcends all understanding.

And that’s where I am right now–in this moment. Not sure where I’ll be in the next but I’m praying to stay in the peace of God that transcends all understanding.

I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors 4 years ago this month. At the time, the doctor told me I would need 2 separate Gamma Knife surgeries and it would take a year to recover from them. In August 2012, I have my first Gamma Knife and then in October 2013 I had my second. So by all accounts my treatments should be finished by October 2014, right?

Wrong!

The problem is that my hearing keeps going wonky! Meaning sounds become so distorted that I can’t understand speech at all! Not a good thing. I lost all my hearing in my right ear after the Gamma Knife and started to lose my hearing in my left. But my wonderful doctors at Cleveland Clinic have worked really hard for that not to happen.

Since the 2nd Gamma Knife, I’ve had two rounds of chemotherapy and months and months of being on steroids. Not a good thing either but this past January I was told my tumors were stable. Finally! No more treatments and I wouldn’t need another MRI until the following January.

YAY! Right? Wrong!

This past Saturday, the wonky hearing came back. I’m now back under the doctor’s care, on steroids again and hoping to avoid a 3rd round of chemo. Along with that, I finally got to the lowest weight in almost 20 years! Another big YAY until I had sto start taking the steroids again. Now, I’m eating and eating and….you get my point.

If that wasn’t enough, we’ve had a bad week at our house with several other major upsets and I do mean major. So you can understand my frustration, right? But I choose not to live and wallow in that frustration. I have my moments but I refuse to get stuck in those moments.

So how do I do that? As the verse above says, Phillipians 4: 7 says it’s a peace that transcends understanding. What I can tell you is I’ve done a lot of talking with God this week. Yes, I’ve asked for healing and asked others to pray for that as well. But that’s only been the start of our talks. I’ve also told God I trust Him. I know He loves me whatever happens. And just telling Him how incredibly frustrating the situation is for me along with some old-fashioned praise and thanksgiving. Because after all things could be worse.

I’ve also spent time focusing on the Bible, specifically verses that talk about who I am in Christ. The comfort, support, and encouragement I get from the Bible keeps me focused on Jesus, not on my circumstances.

Finally, I’ve  made a point to spend time listening to and singing uplifiting music, both praise and traditional hymns. Both add to my joy and my peace. I haven’t been able to hear all the words but that’s OK, I could still sing along.

So that’s been my week, I pray yours was better.

Now it’s YOUR TURN: What’s something you do to stay in God’s peace and joy no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.

GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

Happiness

My very special guest writer today is Chad Young.

ChadYoung-colorheadshot

He’s a 14-year Cru (formerly Campus Crusades for Christ) staff member residing in Atlanta, Ga., with his wife Elizabeth and their children, Wyatt, Clark, Evelyn, and Josilynn. He’s also the author of Authenticity: Real Faith in a Phony, Superficial World.  His latest release is Wrestling with Faith, Love and Gators.

 

“Two Keys to Happiness” by Chad Young

What if someone told you that if you do two simple things today, you will be a happier person? Recently I read the first part of the book of Philippians, and I found two keys to happiness that we can apply to our lives today:

1) Be Thankful – The first thing Paul did was to thank God. He thanked God for the people in his life, the people he loved. He counted his blessings and thanked God for them in his prayers. “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Phil. 1:3-5, ESV)

2) Rest in God’s Sovereignty – Secondly, Paul acknowledged that God is in control. He’s at work in people’s lives. He never gives up on us, and this gives me hope because I know it means he will work out everything for my good. He will even use my trials and tragedies for my long-term benefit. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6, ESV)

 

Great advice! I agree with you, Chad! I’ve seen that in my own life as I struggle with the aftereffects of my brain tumors.

 

GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

Attitudes

My very special guest writer today is Chad Young.

ChadYoung-colorheadshot

He’s a 14-year Cru (formerly Campus Crusades for Christ) staff member residing in Atlanta, Ga., with his wife Elizabeth and their children, Wyatt, Clark, Evelyn, and Josilynn. He’s also the author of Authenticity: Real Faith in a Phony, Superficial World.  His latest release is Wrestling with Faith, Love and Gators.

 

“Having a Charitable Attitude” by Chad Young

We all know it’s a good thing to give generously when it comes to our finances, right? What we don’t talk about enough is the importance of having a charitable attitude. Many of us are quick to give money, but we’re not so quick to give generously through our words.

There are three ways we can have a charitable attitude today:

  1. Speak well of others. Recently as I was studying Philippians 1:12-18, I was amazed at how charitable the Apostle Paul was to his fellow believers. As he was talking about those who minister out of hypocrisy, he could have thrown them under the bus. Instead, he was thankful that the gospel was being spread despite their hearts.
  2. Encourage others. In this same passage (vv. 12-14), Paul encouraged the Philippians by reminding them God is in control. They were discouraged about his being in prison in Rome, and he shared with them how God was using this trial for good. How often do we need to be reminded that God is in control and that Romans 8:28 is true, that he works everything for our good?
  3. Have a thankful spirit. Paul thanked God for the Philippians, and he shared with them how thankful he was.

Real joy is found when we have a charitable attitude toward others, and most importantly, complete joy is found when we’re thankful to God.

To read more of Chad’s adventures, see his new book, Wrestling with Faith, Love and Gators.

WrestlingwithGatorsCover

Thanks so much, Chad!

GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

Another Voice Is Silenced…PRINCE

Luke 2: 49

“Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know

I had to be in my Father’s house?”

Another voice is silenced. The official results aren’t out yet, but there’s a very good chance Prince’s death was due to drugs. It’s so sad…but it also makes me angry. Another person who seems to be living the American Dream–money; fame; and success in their chosen field.

And yet so unhappy!

Why else let drugs take over your life to the point that they kill you? The rest of us think that if we had more money; more fame; or more success, then we’d be happy. But Prince and a long list of others who seemed to have “everything” we crave tells us that’s not the formula for happiness.

So if it’s not fame; money; and success, then what will give us peace and joy?

GOD! 

God is the answer. A relationship with our Creator will take away the pain that drive us to contemplate suicide. A relationship with God will fill up those empty spaces that we fill up with drugs, alcohol, or some other addiction.

Chronologically, Jesus’s first recorded words were found in Luke 2: 49 when his parents went looking for him in the temple (NIV). “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”

We live in desperate times in a desperate world. People are so unhappy—so sad—so empty–so …….. Suicide is at all an all-time high or at least it seems that way to me. Not to mention wasted lives due to drug use, alcoholism, and any other addiction you want to include.

But Jesus’s first words tell us all we need to know to have more peace and joy in our life. You don’t have to search for him. You don’t have to hunt for him. He’s in His Father’s house.

In my Father’s house. When you spend time at another’s house, it implies a relationship with that person. I don’t believe it’s an accident that Jesus’s first recorded words pointed to having a relationship with God—His father. Our Father. First and foremost, we were created to have a relationship with our Creator.

Without that relationship, something will always be missing from our lives.

With that relationship, we can begin to heal our hurts and find true peace and joy.

In no way do I presume to know what Prince’s relationship with God was. And I’m certainly not going to say that because a person struggles with an addiction doesn’t mean that they aren’t a Christian. In fact many Christians struggle on a daily basis with depression and addiction. It’s not magic and I’m not going to tell you life will change overnight when you form that relationship with God, but it could!

But what I will tell you is that once connected, you’ll discover the only power source you’ll ever need–GOD!

And then you can add your voice to the others that point to the hope of more peace and joy–GOD!

GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

 

THE BATTLE FOR EASTER

Easter– the most holy and most precious of our Christian holidays. Without Easter, there would be no Christianity. Easter is the cornerstone of our faith.

We all love Christmas, the celebration surrounding the birth of the baby Jesus. We love that He was born in a manger on a star-filled night. We love that the angels announced the Good News of his birth first to the humble shepherds that kept watch over their flocks. We love that the magi came bearing gifts for the newborn king.

But Jesus was born a man. Just as God gives each of us free will to choose or not to choose Him, Jesus had that same right. He didn’t have to go to the cross for us. At any time he could have said no. He could have called 10,000 angels.

He didn’t.

Instead, He made the ultimate sacrifice. For us. He chose love.

Have you ever wondered what happened during those three long days between Jesus’s crucifixion on the cross and His resurrection, the first Easter?

I have.

And the result is my first-ever short story–THE BATTLE FOR EASTER.

battle

It’s available now on Amazon.  CLICK HERE: Amazon Link

When I say short story, I mean short so if you buy it don’t be shocked. It’s around 4000 words. A short story. It is, of course, a complete work of fiction since we have no idea what happened during those three days Jesus lay in a tomb.

If you buy it and you like it, please leave a review on Amazon as well as a comment here. THANKS and…

UNTIL NEXT TIME…GOD BLESS & GOOD READING!

The Message of Mary and Joseph

Here’s another past Christmas message that’s good no matter what time of the year it is. Many people love Christmas and think of it as the best season of the year. But for some, it can be a difficult time depending on your own life circumstances. If that’s the case this message is for you.

THE MESSAGE OF MARY AND JOSEPH

Luke 1: 29-33

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

With Christmas just around the corner, Mary and Joseph have been on my mind. I think there are some valuable lessons to be learned from them.

The first two that come to mind are faith and obedience. Both Mary and Joseph proved their faith in God when they were obedient.  They chose to follow God’s will for them in spite of the difficult circumstances. Being pregnant before marriage was not just frowned upon then, it was a sin punishable by death.

That’s a lot faith and obedience.

But the real lesson I want to focus on is that in spite of their faith and obedience, God did not make their chosen path easy for them. As so many of us face adversity, whether physical, emotion, or our circumstances, we may question whether God is punishing us. Whether we are doing what God wants us to do. Whether we are living a life of obedience and faith. Whether God still loves us.

The message of Mary and Joseph clearly shows that we can be obedient to God and doing exactly what he wants us to do, but life can still be difficult for us. Surely, if anyone had a right to believe God would make their path easier it would be Mary and Joseph, but clearly the circumstances Jesus was born under show that didn’t happen.

They had to face all sorts of trials and tribulations even as they brought God’s son into this world. They had to face the shame and humiliation of Mary’s pregnancy with their family and friends. They had to make a journey that was difficult under normal circumstance, but it was made even more difficult by Mary’s pregnancy. Then they had no place to stay, Jesus was born in a structure of some sort with the animals.  Talk about a tough situation. Then as they were getting settled in a new life, they had to flee for their lives.

No, God did not make their path easy in spite of their faith and obedience.

Most of us will face adversity in one form or another in the coming year, remember the message of Mary and Joseph and know that you are still loved by your heavenly father.