Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Of fear and peace...

It amazes me how people react when you tell them you have cancer.  It's as if someone has stamped the word "CANCEL" in big red letters across your forehead.  There is a look they get in their eyes, even if they try desperately hard to hide a reaction.  There is a sadness in their voice as they convey their heartfelt sorry for your circumstance.

Please don't misunderstand.  All of this is "natural" I suppose.  But it occurs to me that we don't get the same reaction if we say, "I have a headache,"  or "I have a cold,"  or even something more serious such as, "I have heart disease."

As I drove into work this morning, I really contemplated this phenomenon.  Why does cancer evoke such strong emotional reaction?  It is just a word, a label, a name.  

Why does it carry so much more weight?  Please hear me when I say this:  It is because we give it so much more weight.  If we believe our God is big enough to heal our headaches and our colds and our diseases, why are we so apt to give into the mindset of defeat that comes with a diagnosis of cancer?

2 Timothy1:7 says, "For God did not give you a spirit of fear; but of power, and love and of a sound mind." I understand the medical history behind cancer, believe me, I do!  But I also understand that God is bigger than a word.  He is bigger than a name.  He is bigger than a history.

I cannot change people's reaction to my diagnosis.  But I can change how I personally respond to it.  Ok, so it's cancer, so what?!  God is bigger than cancer!

Colossians 3:5 tells us to, "...let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts..."  Peace and fear cannot rule and reign together in the same place.

No matter what my diagnosis, no matter what name they may give my circumstance, I will allow the peace of Christ to continue to rule in my heart.  Because I know that cancer is just a name...and I know the one who is the Name above all names.  I know the one who heals all my diseases.  I know the one who conquered death and the grave, and my hope is in Him.

What have you given too much power to?  What "words" are causing you fear?  Unemployment?  It's just a word!  Depression?  It's just a word!  Uncertainty?  Just a word!  Poverty?  It's just a word!  Infertility?  It's just a word!  Cancer?  It's just a word.

God did not give you a spirit of fear but of power and love and of a sound mind, so let the peace of Christ rule in your heart today.  Trust in the one who is the Name above all names.  He is greater than anything you face today!

Only By His Grace,


Friday, January 24, 2014

Thankful for special blessings...

This week has not been an easy one, I admit.  Last Thursday was my big chemo treatment that always knocks me flat for about 4-5 days. But by day 5 I'm back at it, jogging, cleaning, doing what I do...it's how I roll.  But this week, by day four I wasn't coming back up, I was going down, and fast.

By day 6, I was running low grade fever and by day 7 I was calling the doctor expecting a trip to the ER.  I was sleeping most of the time, nauseous, vomiting, stomach hurting, couldn't eat anything except crackers and toast.  I lost 9 pounds in 6 days, y'all.  It was NOT a pretty site.  

But an amazing thing happened on day 6 as well, just as it always does in these circumstances.  I had 3 random friends text message me to tell me they were praying for me.  Coincidence?  I don't think so.

I had decided that if I was going to the hospital, I wasn't telling anyone, first, because I didn't feel like visitors, and second, I just didn't need the drama.  But the three specific friends who texted me are low drama people, and are incredible prayer warriors.

My reply to them was simple.  "I'm not doing well, have a low-grade fever.  At 101 I have to go to the ER."

All three of them texted back that they would pray.  Please understand the miracle in all of this.  Friend #1 I haven't talked to in a couple weeks.  She had no idea what was going on with me.  She just texted to tell me I was on her heart and she was praying.  Friend #2 is very busy, and although she lives extremely close, we see each other only in passing.  Friend #3 lives about 3 hours away and I haven't seen nor spoken to her in over 7 years...

I know that these were divine prayers going up for me.

So when I went in to see my doctor yesterday, an even more amazing thing happened.  

They couldn't find anything wrong with me.  My blood work came back fine.  My WBC count (which was crazy low the week before) was normal, if not a little high/normal.  My RBC count (which was low the week before) had come back up, too.  So much so they cancelled my 4 Neupogen injections this week.  I didn't need them.

When I was at my weakest point I prayed, "Lord, I can't take anymore.  PLEASE send me a reprieve."  And within less than an hour, my friends began texting and started to pray.  And by midnight my fever broke and I was feeling better.

I believe in the power of prayer.  I believe I have angels watching over me... and I have a multitude of prayer warriors :)

I am blessed with special blessings from above!

Only By His Grace,


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I am so thankful that I have experienced a changed heart through this journey.  I have not allowed myself to focus solely on my circumstances, but have allowed God to change my heart as well.  I trust Him in all things and pray for an ever changing heart that is open to whatever He has in store for me.

I used to think I was strong - until I became weak.  Now I know more fully that it was never myself that was strong but Christ in me.  I do not have to strive to be enough.  The work He did for me is and will always be enough.

I am thankful to finally begin to understand the work of grace.  It is when you are truly weak that His power is perfect.  What a wonderful lesson and such a privilege to be allowed to learn it...

Only By His Grace,


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Travel steadily along his path...

"Put your hope in the Lord.  Travel steadily along his path."  Psalm 37:34 NLT

I love the story of Gideon.  Do you know it?

Judges 6:11-14 gives the account.  11"The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.  12When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, 'The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.'  13'But sir,' Gideon replied, 'if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?  Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, 'Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?' But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian. 14 The Lord turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have...Am I not sending you?"

Gideon was hiding in the winepresses.  He was by his own account from the weakest tribe in Manasseh, and he was, the least in his family.  The tribes were in the middle of a great battle; a battle that seemed insurmountable.  Yet the angel of the Lord called him a mighty warrior. 

Gideon asked, "if the Lord is with us, why has all of this happened?"  To be honest, there are moments in this journey when I feel a lot like Gideon.  I feel like I am the weakest of the weak, and I wonder, if God is for me, why has this happened?  If so many are praying, then why has the Lord "abandoned us?"

But the Lord has not abandoned us.  I just read yesterday one woman's brilliant testimony.  She said, in short, "The adversary doesn't taunt me every day because he thinks God is not able.  He taunts me every day, rather, because he knows God IS able!" I understand this!  This is what fuels me day by day - the knowing that God IS able!

What I love about this story of Gideon is that the angel of the Lord said to him, "Go in the strength you have!  Am I not sending you?"

If God calls us to something, he will equip us for the battle.  We do not have to be strong or brave or brilliant.  We do not have to be famous or popular or courageous.  We only have to go in the strength we have, knowing that the Lord himself is sending us, and that He will be victorious!

Many days my physical strength seems to fail me.  I simply remind myself to put my hope in the Lord and to continue to travel steadily along his path.  I go in the strength that I have knowing that He has sent me and that He is able.

Only By His Grace,


Monday, January 20, 2014

Mercies are new every morning...

"Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:22-23

As hard as I try, I often forget that by day five I will start to feel better.  This is always the day when I remember this verse.  I wake up and instead of wishing I could simply go back to sleep, I remember, instead, "this is what it feels like to know His mercies are new every morning."

I am so thankful for the lessons this journey is teaching me.  So often I've thought that my will was most important.  I've believed that my wishes and my wants were more important that what God would be doing through the process.  

The truth is, every journey is a learning experience if we allow ourselves to be taught.  Just because we say something is or isn't a certain way doesn't make it so.  I'm so thankful that God knows far more about this journey than I ever could.

I remember reading that we view life as if we are watching a parade through a knot-hole in a fence.  We can see what has passed by and we can see what is in front of us.  But we cannot see what is to come.  Because we cannot see what is to come, we learn to trust in His Sovereignty.  God sees above and beyond our time limits.  He sees our parade from above the fence.  He knows what has passed, what is before us and what is coming.  We can rest in His ability to watch over us and care for us.  We can trust that He has everything in his control - and we can cease our striving.

I am thankful that even though I do not know what is to come, I know the one who does.  God is faithful and all-knowing.  He is surely working all things together for my good - even in this journey!

I know it is because of his great love that I am not consumed.  And I am so thankful that His mercies are new every morning!

Only By His Grace,


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Chemo round three update...

It has been a few days since my last post.  This week started my third round of chemotherapy.  I must admit, it seems to take me a little longer to recover each time...but eventually, I do begin to recover.

Symptoms are weird and vary from each treatment.  Nausea and fatigue are always a given... but strange symptoms like blurred vision, ringing in my ears, slight numbness in my hands, shaky legs and otherwise, just brain fog.  It seems I have to concentrate more to get the simplest tasks completed.  Meals are sometimes dangerous :)  I have to set multiple timers just to make sure I remember one dish or another, without burning something.  Even in all of this, these symptoms typically last about 5 or 6 days and then I start to feel like myself again.

An update on progress should be coming soon.  I have nine appointments in the next fourteen days.  I have another treatment on Thursday, then we have scans scheduled. We'll see if the tumor has shrunk enough to get urine to pass from my kidney into my bladder.  If so, then we can remove the nephrostomy tube. 

Then I have four days of Neupogen injections.  This drug helps the body to create white blood cells.  If all goes well, and the cancer has shrunk enough, then we will talk about scheduling surgery.  

To be honest, at this point I am ready for the surgery.  I do not know how some patients undergo chemo therapy for long periods of time.  These three small rounds have just about kicked my booty.  The incessant fatigue is about to drive me bonkers.  I'm a doer.  I like to do stuff, like clean house and mop floors and wash windows and organize closets.  I don't like sitting in a chair, and I loathe feeling lethargic.

In fact, I'm starting to feel like a big fat whiney weenie...a mere shadow of myself.  I'm tired, lethargic, groggy, foggy and weak.

My source of strength comes from scripture at all times.  Psalm 18:28-30 says, "For You will light my lamp; The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.  For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall.  As for God, his way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him."  

This is my prayer this week.  To say that cancer cannot be a dark place is untrue.  But the Lord lights my path and enlightens my darkness.  I do believe that by Him I am running against a troop, and with His help I will leap over this wall.  

In everything, I believe God's way is perfect and He is a shield to all who trust in Him.  I trust in Him and He is my shield. 

Only By His Grace,


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The highest example...

I am always encouraged by the examples I find in the Bible.  There are so many founders of the faith whom I would like to pattern myself after.

Abraham hoped against hope and he saw the promise  of God.  Peter, although momentary, had faith enough to step out on the waves with Christ.  Noah had faith to build the ark, Moses lead the Israelites out of bondage, Daniel waited in the den of starving lions.  

But the highest example I have is Christ.  I think of all he was tempted with in the desert.  He was tempted to, "...tell these stones to become bread."  He was tempted to, "throw himself down" so "the angels would lift him up and he would not strike his foot against a stone."  He was shown all the kingdoms of the world and promised, "All of this I will give you."  Even in the midst of his sadness, his hunger and his isolation, Christ responded, "Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only."  Matthew 4 NIV

"In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayer and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.  Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered."   Hebrews 5:7-8 ESV  

"And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross." Philippians 2:8 NIV

This passage is the greatest example I can find for how I am to respond to this journey I am on.  I know that God has heard my cries and has seen my tears.  I pray that I have been heard because of my reverence.  Like Christ, I pray that I will learn obedience through what I suffer, and will be willing to submit myself to whatever plan He has for me. 

I think of Christ's prayer in the garden of Gethsemane.  "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will."  Matthew 26:39. 

Again, he prayed, "My Father, if it not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."  Matthew 26:42.

In every prayer I pray my heart submits to the will of the Father.  Oh, if I could pass this cup I would, but my heart knows that this is the Father's will for me, for this moment in my life.  He alone is sovereign and by his omnipotence he has allowed me to be in this place, at this moment, for such a time as this.  Why would I, in my faulty human understanding try to thwart the will of God for my own will? 

I cannot.  The journey is not easy, the unknowns are many.  But I will submit my own will for my Father's will - even when I don't understand.  Because I know that His ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts.  Because I know that all things work together for good for him that loves the Lord and are called according to his purpose.  Because I know that The Most High is sovereign - I am not.

And so in every prayer my heart's cry is, "Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done."  Because if this prayer, this example of submission, is good enough for my savior, it is good enough for me!

Only By His Grace,


Monday, January 13, 2014

The quiet valley...

"He said, My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Exodus 33:14

I love the image of the valley.  I know there are books written on the metaphor of the mountain top, but I have always loved the valley.  Mountains offer us a broader view, yes, but the valley is plush and green, full of peace, flowing with fresh water.  It is peaceful and quiet.

Maybe that is why the psalmist said, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me."  

Many are asking me what is next on our schedule.  I'm still going for chemo treatments every couple of weeks with a week off for recovery in between.  I have two, possibly three rounds left.  Then we do another PET scan to see if the cancer has shrunk enough.  If it has, then we wait a period for recovery and then I have surgery.

There are so many unknowns right now, and to be honest, there are days when not knowing really weighs on my mind.  Has the cancer spread?  Has it shrunk?  Why am I not having the horrible side effects everyone expected me to have?  How will I adjust to my new lifestyle after the surgery?  Will I reach the 5 year survival rate?  

I don't see these questions as doubts.  They're just questions, really. My faith is strong and secure.  I believe God is in control of this and my source of strength comes from Him alone.

I guess I'm kind of in the valley right now.  Some days I'd love to be on the mountain top so I could see what lies ahead.  But being in this valley is peaceful, too.  It is where He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters. I know that His Presence is with me, and that He is giving me rest.  

Only By His Grace,


Saturday, January 11, 2014

In the waiting...

Psalm 5:3 says, "In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."

Psalm 33:20 -22 says, "We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.  May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you."

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:14

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope."  Psalm 130:5

Psalm 40: 1 says, "I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry."

Much of my life these days is spent waiting.  I'm waiting for the doctor to see me, waiting for lab results, waiting while I receive chemotherapy, waiting to recover from it, waiting in line at the pharmacy, waiting to go back to work, waiting to go to bed, waiting to get out of bed, waiting for surgery, waiting for a miracle... It seems everything I do requires some form of waiting on my part. 

Newsflash!  I am not good at waiting!  I don't like to wait, I like to do things now.  Why?  Because I have other things I want to do.  I want to jog great distances again. I want to hang out with friends.  I want to clear the creek bed and mow the lawn and build a flower garden with my daughter.  I want to clean my house.  I want to go on a family vacation.  I want to be whole again.

But waiting teaches us a great many things.  Waiting teaches us to submit to the Father's will.  Not everything in our life is for us to control.  Our thoughts are not His thoughts and our ways are not His ways.  We do not know what is best for us and therefore waiting teaches us to submit to the Father's will, even when we don't understand it. Many things are for our good, but we have to wait on them to see the blessing.

Waiting teaches us patience.  Not everything is for our good right now.  If we had everything we asked for when we asked for it, we would be nothing more than a bunch of righteous spoiled little brats.  Only forgiveness is immediate.

Waiting teaches us trust.  When we need something desperately and cannot see our way clear of the struggle...we wait.  And in the waiting we learn to trust.

I believe there we are taught to wait for the Lord, and to do so with grace.  

Psalm 5 teaches us to wait in expectation.  I love this one!  I believe when we ask, we shall receive.  Believing that truth allows us to wait in expectation.

Psalm 30 teaches us to wait in hope for the Lord.  Sometimes we simply do not know what the outcome will be.  Therefore, we wait in hope.

Psalm 27 teaches us to be strong and take heart while we wait for the Lord.  Sometimes waiting can test our patience, our hope and our our strength.  But we are reminded to be strong in our waiting.  Believing that when we are weak, He is strong.

Psalm 130 teaches us to wait and put our hope in His word.  What a great source of hope, strength, patience and peace comes from His word.  Every day I find strength for my journey simply through His word.  

Lastly, Psalm 40 teaches us to wait patiently.  I am not a patient person, I'm afraid.  But I am learning patience.  This verse is dear to my heart because it gives me hope.  "I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry."  I know that when I cry out to God he will hear my cry.  

I need only to wait on him. Patiently, in expectation, in hope, in strength and in His word.

Only By His Grace,


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Casting all my cares...

I love Charles Spurgeon. I love how his timeless devotions are simple enough to understand, and how they cut right to the chase.

Here's an excerpt from a recent devotion I've read.  

"O child of suffering, be thou patient; God has not passed thee over in his providence.  He who is the feeder of the sparrows, will also furnish you with what you need.  Sit not down in despair; hope on, hope ever.  Take up the arms of faith against a sea of trouble, and your opposition shall yet end your distresses.  There is One who careth for you.  His eye is fixed on you, his heart beats with pity for your woe, and his hand omnipotent shall yet bring you the needed help. The darkest cloud shall scatter itself in showers of mercy.  The blackest gloom shall give place to the morning.  He, if thuo art one of his family, will bind up thy wounds, and heal they broken heart.  Doubt not his grace because of they tribulation, but believe that he liveth thee as much in seasons of trouble as in times of happiness.  What a serene and quiet life might you lead if you would leave providing to the God of providence!  With a little oil in the cruse, and a handful of meal in the barrel, Elijah outlived the famine, and you will do the sam.  If God cares for you, why need you care too?  Can you trust him for your soul and not for your body?  He has never refused to bear your burdens, he has never fainted under their weight.  Come, then, soul!  Have done with fretful care, and leave all they concerns in the hand of a gracious God."

My favorite part of this devotion is the simple question, "Can you trust him for your soul and not for your body?"  For me, this is a question that has resounded in my heart over the past few days.  Seems the faith in my head and the faith in my heart are finding trouble meeting up.

The faith in my head prays, "God I believe you can heal me."  The faith in my heart says, "I better prepare for the worst in case he doesn't."  But upon reading the account of a Canaanite woman, here is what I've found.  

"Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon.  A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly."  Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, "send her away, for she keeps crying out after us..."  Matthew 15:22-23.

If you continue reading that story, Jesus did indeed have an encounter with the woman and because of her faith, healed her daughter.  

What is so impactful to me is the statement, "Jesus did not answer a word."  Yet, the woman still continued to follow along, crying out to them. Why?  Because she knew that He was her source.  When she finally caught up to him, He told gave her an answer that most of us would take as a "no."  But she continued... why?  Because she had no other hope.  And because of her great hope, Jesus granted her request.

Leaving me again with the question, Can I trust him with my soul but not my body?  Lord, increase my faith!  Lord, help me with my unbelief!

Only By His Grace,


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Never a question...

"Rejoice always. Pray continually." I Thessalonians 5:16-17

This sums up my life right now.  I didn't realize it until yesterday.  I find myself in a state of constant and continual prayer.  Washing dishes, folding laundry, cleaning the shower, tucking in the kiddos... my mind is constantly in a prayerful state.  "Lord, let this cup pass from me."  "Nevertheless, your will be done."  "Jesus, show me how to reach the hem of your garment?"  "I submit to your will."  "Please don't take me from my family."  "You alone are sovereign and I trust in you."  

I remember the psalmist, David, saying, "On my bed I remember you; I think of you through the watches of the night." Psalm 63:6.  Many are the nights I wake up in a prayerful state.  It just seems to be the state of mind I'm currently in.

There have been times of questioning for me, asking what I did to cause this, what I could have done to prevent it, what I did to deserve it... But even in the brief moments of questioning the physical, there has never been a question about the purpose.

I believe we are on the paths we are on by God's sovereign design.  Where we are, and what happens to us will either draw us to Him or we forfeit the purpose.  

If I believe that God is sovereign, and I do, then I believe that he has allowed me to be on this journey.  

If I believe he has allowed me to be on this journey, and I do, then I must believe there is a greater purpose in it for me.

If I believe there is a greater purpose in it for me, and I do, then I must also believe this path is for my greater good.

If I believe this path is for my greater good, and I do, then why would I question?  Why would I worry?  Why would I fear?

At first glance, this is a nasty, tangled, treacherous path.  But seeing it from a heavenly perspective allows me to see the blessing in it.  

It is where we learn to walk by faith and not by sight.  Sight says, "cancer."  Faith rests in, "God is in control."  

For those who see this as a curse, I beg you, please do not.  Somehow that minimizes the blessing.  Instead I implore you to join me to as I "rejoice always and pray continually."

If God is in control, and he most certainly is, then I have nothing to fear.  Whatever He allows is for my greater good.  I need only to submit myself to His will and draw closer to Him.

Only By His Grace,


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Taking up my cross: by design or by will

If you're anything like me (and I pray you're not) your thoughts tend to go in many directions.  I can think about my grocery list, my chore list, my wish list and a hundred other lists in as little as 15 short minutes.

This morning my heart was sobered as I thought about Jesus telling the disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me."  Matthew 16:24

We're told to "take up" our cross - to pick it up, to carry it, to choose it.  Wow... I have taken up my cross of cancer treatments because I have no other choice, no option, no opt out, no decline to participate.  

But would I have been willing to deny myself and take up this cross if it were offered to me?  If Jesus had said, "In order to receive this peace, this comfort, this greatest blessing of your life, you must take up (by choice) the cross of cancer."  Would I have willingly accepted a disease for which there is no cure?  Would I have picked up this heavy burden in order to follow Christ into this world of unknowns?  Would I trust him enough to take on something bigger than myself?  Would I have willingly given myself to something that has the potential to take my life in order to feel the presence I've felt these past two months?

Truth is, I fear I would not.  But the funny thing about something like this is it gives you greater understanding of faith and hope and trust.  I cannot say that even in this moment I would be willing to choose this cross.  However, I am grateful that it was chosen for me.  Because I believe He is sovereign, I trust that His way is perfect.  Even this way. 

I receive emails, texts, messages and comments everyday of how this is touching other lives.  I am humbled that my very small existence could touch even one other life.  I am honored that He would use me to encourage others, to help them along their own paths, to help them to choose to pick up their own crosses and follow him into the dark places of life.

I have found it to be true that in the darkest of places, his light dispels the darkness because He is the light.  I am grateful that this cross was chosen for me because I'm certain I wouldn't have had the strength to carry it by my own will.

What is your cross?  Will you carry it by will or by design?

Only By His Grace,


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Sharing that joy...

I must share something exciting with you.  

Our little cousin, the cutest second grade student ever, lead her class in a service project this year at Christmas, and I got to participate - if even in the tiniest of ways.

At the year-end Christmas party this sweet child provided three boxes of inspirational cards to her class.  

Each student then had the opportunity to write a note inside.  These notes included wishes such as, "praying for you," "get well soon" and "Jesus loves you," all written in their best second-grade manuscript.  Sweet beyond words!

My job was simple; I simply had to deliver them to the cancer treatment center where I have my treatments each week.  The nurses do the rest, delivering and distributing them to the patients.  

This is such a blessing, not only to me and the other patients, but to these sweet children as well.  Why?  Because it gives us an opportunity to share in the joy.  "But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God.  And I want all of you to share in that joy."  Phil 2:17

Every one of us has the opportunity every day to share in this joy.  You may not desire to write cards or to blog, but each of us has the opportunity, nonetheless.  We can share a smile, a warm "hello," lend a listening ear to a friend in need.  Did you  know that a large majority of patients that attempted suicide said that if someone had simply offered them a smile or a hello, they could have gotten through the day - they wouldn't have attempted to end their life?

You never know how far your simple act of love will reach.

It's January 1 and people all over the globe are making New Year's Resolutions.  This year, I encourage you to make one that truly matters.  Find a way to reach out to others and extend a friendly hand.

Share in the joy...  Sometimes that means we "lose our life."  Not in a physical sense, but rather in a metaphorical sense.  We lose 15 minutes of our time to listen to a broken-hearted friend.  We lose half an hour preparing a meal for a sick friend. (This has been the biggest blessing to me thus far and I am grateful.)  We lose 5 minutes of our life to send a quick email, write a note or text message a simple reminder, "I'm praying for you."  If you look for the opportunity it will present itself.

This year...are you willing to "lose your life" so that you may "share in the joy?"

Only By His Grace,