Jesus in Our Life-line

As we sit at the feet of Jesus with our heavy hearts, fears and pain we will find our only true life-line – Jesus.

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I Peter 5:7  Don’t worry or surrender to your fear. For you have believed in God, now trust and believe in me also. (TPT) 

John 14:1 Let him have all your worries and cares, for He is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you. (TLB)

These two scriptures have been a training ground for my life. They have encouraged me, have taught me to lean on Jesus, grounded me in trusting God in the midst of chaos, and have been my life-line.

The training process always begins with the small-stuff; learning to walk as you lay your worries, cares and fears at the feet of Jesus; not too hard, right? Then when the medium-sized worries begin to filter into your life you learn to strengthen your resolve and move forward. You’ve got this – this isn’t so bad? These scriptures may now have become a simple platitude.

Well, the training is not complete; the large-ones, the overwhelming worries, cares and fears step into your life. Now, you have to chew on these scriptures, pray them out-loud and spend considerable time at the feet of Jesus; leaving them there over and over again. It’s during these times you will learn a powerful truth, one of fighting forward!

Once you think you have conquered the understanding of these two scriptures, you have a solid foundation. But, there are still Goliath-sized worries ahead. Right now, living in the midst of an unseen virus, you watch in horror as a tsunami of crushing waves strike day after day. Your life has been turned up-side-down and that foundation might find a few cracks from the shaking.

Today in the midst of a pandemic where debilitating fear, pain and anxiety saturate your environment; your resolve begins to dissolve and your armor and strength to fight-forward is slipping. Here, enters the need for your life-line! Here, you have nothing left within yourself but your faith! From here you are able to find your place to fight-forward, only as you continually spend time in Gods presence.

Our sustaining refuge is found at the feet of Jesus. As we wait in His presence, sit at His feet, worship and read His Word, we will find our peace, our faith and our resolve to stand up. It is in this place that we will, again, be able to pick up our armor and willingly move to the front-lines to fight-forward.

There will be days where we will be weak and shaky, where our faith will waver but as we learn where our help comes from, as we learn to live by these scriptures, they will become an encouragement and a grounding of our faith. As we sit at the feet of Jesus with our heavy hearts, fears and pain we will find our only true life-line – Jesus. He is waiting there for you, join me at His feet where you will find the courage and peace to get up and fight-forward.

Where Does My Help Come From?

Only when you lift your eyes to the face of Christ and allow Him into your pain and suffering will you truly be set free to live a life where that weakness will become your strength.

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     “You are living in a ‘rainbow and butterfly’ world that is not reality” and “How can you always be positive and only see beauty” – these are just a couple of the phrases that have been spoken at me during the last few years BUT are far from my living reality. I too, live in a world full of struggles – physical, financial and emotional stressors tug daily whispering doubts and fears that could easily derail me. Every day I make a choice – my eyes look up – the only place that my strength can be found.

     The last 19 months have been some of the most difficult of my life as physical disease robs and steals my sleep, thought processes, every day movements, abilities and even my hopes and dreams. Many days I have been to weak to get up from a bed where I have barely slept due to pain that nothing releases – willing myself to push up and roll off the side to begin my day. BUT in the midst – I look up – I make a choice to see the beauty in a new day, a flower, a butterfly – all of life that buzzes all around me.

     I make a choice to look up – not down, inside or even around me (though I admit I have done all of these over these months) BUT I look to Christ – He has me, carries me, loves me and is ALWAYS there for me. He is GOOD all the time – even in the darkest most difficult places.

Psalm 121:1-2 I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

     During these months I have found that His strength is my strength – when mine is totally gone – THEN He comes in and gives me hope, purpose and direction where there has been none.

     Through Christ – His strength floods in and I can always be positive, I can see only beauty, I can love living in a “rainbow and butterfly’ world – for it is a specific decision to lift my eyes to the hills and to be strengthen by His loving hand in the midst of my own weakness.

     If you too, are living in the midst of pain and suffering – begin to look up for your hope – not down, in or around. Only when you lift your eyes to the face of Christ and allow Him into your pain and suffering will you truly be set free to live a life where that weakness will become your strength. You will step into a world where living a ‘rainbow and butterfly’ life can be a reality.

II Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

 

A Warrior’s Unexpected “Call to Arms”! (by J. K. Sanchez)

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     The air in the room instantly became thick and hot, her ears hearing only her crashing heart beat; four unexpected words spoken in a sterile environment now bouncing through her head like a ping pong ball – “you have breast cancer”. How she receives, processes and walks through today and the months and years ahead will transform her and impact everyone her life touches.

     The insidious leviathan called “breast cancer” begins to surface, having already begun its rampage within the territory belonging to her. Does she run or fight? Her first responses to this attack are terror, numbness and inability to move. But soon instructions, research and information are received and the sword is offered; now decisions loom. The still surreal question before her – surrender to this monster’s fiery breath or take that sword with both hands, brace her feet and prepare to move forward into the fight of her life?

     This devouring disease looms as a possible destroyer over every woman. There is no discrimination to its destruction – all are at risk. Every year over 200,000 women are faced with this monster’s appearance.   Every year the decision to take up a sword of defense is forced into trembling hands of women of all generations – the single woman, the mother, the career woman, and the retired woman. They all will receive a “call-to-arms” that was never expected. This battle is one that is a life-long sentence! These women may make it through the skirmish, but will live everyday for the rest of their lives with this leviathan and its smoldering breath lurking under the surface; never knowing if it will resurface again.

     Two brave warriors: Cherrie, a vibrant grandmother in her 60’s, and Rachael, a single mother of two in her 30’s, live each day with this lurking monster’s presence, but they walk with positive attitudes of thankfulness. The determination to fight – to lift the heavy sword – is wielded by three powerful words that stand strong within each of them: Faith, Hope and Love – the greatest of these is LOVE.

     Each of my friends and every woman who will encounter, fight, survive or succumb to this insidious disease are already winners, for they have made the stand against it. How the battle is fought is the key – it is the positive attitude within them that knows that they were made for more.

     At 64, the unexpected jolts in Cherrie’s life had adjusted to a soft daily roll. But one morning in March 2011, everything in her life quickly changed. As an exuberant positive person not much could shake her; but as the doctor spoke she barely heard anything past “stage 1a breast cancer”. This was a routine mammogram that now had turned into a tidal wave crashing over her mind. Shock, fear, anger, and tears all flooded unbidden over her, but within minutes the destructive wake stirred a determination as she announced, “Let’s get this taken care of NOW!”

     Her years of experience and research skills immediately kicked into gear. Her first contacts and rapid response came from friends working in the local hospital. They connected her to some of the best cancer specialists and within weeks she was scheduled to have a lumpectomy and begin a regiment of radiation.

     Though her greatest fears were of the cancer spreading or cells being left undetected, she knew her positive attitude had to stay intact.

     Cherrie was overwhelmed with love and support from her daughter, granddaughter and friends; this love became her strength. Shortly after surgery she received a surprise visit from co-workers touting pink roses and champagne to celebrate, cheer her on and stand beside her – just in case she grew tired as she wielded this heavy sword. They were in her corner to fight this fire-breathing leviathan – they knew this red head had enough fire in her to breathe right back at him. Their support, encouragement and love were what helped her through the hardest days. The very best medicine is often found in friends – laughter, love and of course some “furry” snuggles.

     Now 5 years cancer-free, Cherrie knows that love was the reinforcement she needed every day, “To be with those who were positive and loved me unconditionally kept my hope up. ”

     This destructive tsunami hits new women every day, but from one warrior to the next, Cherrie’s advice is “above all else try to remain positive, it is frightening but necessary to be optimistic. Put your trust in your medical team BUT ask questions at every opportunity. If you need help – ask for it! The people who love you sometimes don’t know how to help – so tell them.” And with a smile and some sweet levity Cherrie advises, “be thankful for Lane Bryant push up lingerie – I am!”

     Rachel, a 34 year-old mother of two with no risk factors, was unprepared to hear the results of the recently found rapidly growing and painful lump on her breast. As the doctor diagnosed, “It’s an invasive aggressive cancer”, the words sounded as if a death sentence had just been handed to her – this aggressive cancer could mean less then a year to live. Within weeks, armed with firsthand encouragement and research, she chose her best option for surgery and a double mastectomy, lymph-node removal and implantation of expanders were accomplished.

     Life as she had known it had come to a screeching halt – surgery, weeks of chemo and a myriad of medications took over her life with her biggest fear looming in front of her – her two young sons without a mother.

     Rachel lives a life that is positive – always looking at the best in life and others, so it was time to focus that positive attitude on the fight of her life.

     Family stepped up! With her sister’s ability to research healthy options in every arena and help with her boys, as well as her mother’s strong shoulder and prayer warrior spirit – she found the fuel that helped her make the decisions to fight this leviathan. The onslaught of support through kind words, prayers, and gifts of all types overwhelmed her with love and hope that she would complete this journey.

     With months of pain, medications that made her sick, loss of her hair, setbacks, surgeries and more surgeries, as well as living through months of hormone inhibitors which made her feel dead inside, this young warrior responded, “Giving up was never an option or a thought.  No matter what I am facing and going through, God has given me this life and it is His to give and take away. My goal is love, truth and kindness – even on the hardest days.”

     Now only months since her last medications, she thoughtfully responds, “I am still often tired, but grateful for each day with my sons. I’m lucky to be alive, even though I still have pain and hard days.”

     She thinks often of those who unexpectedly helped her in many of the little everyday ways – providing meals, finances, occupying the boys, and a myriad of thoughtful gestures. She is filled with joy as she sees the example of God’s grace having been walked out in her family – seeing them come together, reconcile differences and support both her and each other has been an unexpected blessing.

       Life is never the same and this battle is never really over. Once you have cancer it is always lurking. The thoughts that ring loud and clear from Rachel are “before this, the world and life felt so big – full of wonder and possibilities. Now I don’t feel that way. Hopes and dreams are simple now, but I have deeper peace and security. I’m able to be more honest and direct. My relationships are all simple because I’m at peace with others and myself. I don’t place expectations on anyone and I allow myself to have weakness and space to rest.”

     Rachel’s thoughts for those beginning and fighting this battle are to walk daily with “Focus- Laser focus! Focus on what is in front of you right now. Whether it is a person, a project, decision, pain, recovery, gift, blessing, sunshine, or storm – all you have is right now. Soak it in. Also, every step is temporary, whether good or bad. Pain comes and goes and healing takes its place.”

     Though cancer takes over every thought in this journey, it is not what defines these women – they have not chosen this battle and have no control as to how, why or when it attacks – but they do have a choice; how they respond to it.

   Loving support and prayer are the covering and glue that seem to hold together as well as strengthen body, mind and spirit while these warriors trudge through this darkness.

     Human beings are able to pick up, move-on and overcome so many horrific obstacles in life because of three seemingly small words: Faith, Hope and Love. Faith that there is a God bigger than all of this, who loves us and is the ultimate one in control; Hope that our life (our story) is not finished yet, and that there is still a promised future waiting for us. And the greatest of these – love. A love that will change, support and bring life, growth and strength to the atmosphere that surrounds us. Love is the adhesive that is the key to any type of recovery.

     Let’s come along side these fighting warriors with faith, hope and love; bringing some small strength to them as they fight this insidious leviathan. For we know not if we may be the next warrior in need of strength to lift the sword in the fight of our life, as its lurking presence may beckon our own unexpected call-to-action.

 

Photo courtesy of : saphatthachat@freedigitalphotos.net

“Higher – Daddy, Higher!”

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Children love to go higher and higher, to be lifted, to swing, to climb – always asking and desiring “Higher – daddy, higher”.

As a young child I would swing for hours pushing higher and higher until I could hear the “ker-thunk” of the swing set legs lifting slightly up and then back into their sleeves, enjoying every minute of free-flight freedom. I would also find the same release of joyous freedom when I would twirl round and round with arms stretched out and head staring straight up at the clouds; spinning like a top until I was so dizzy I couldn’t stand upright anymore – landing in a heap in the grass. And another childhood memory – my love of encountering a grassy hill! Without words the race to the top would begin, no thought given to the inevitable grass stains and no concern to the possible nauseous feeling at the end. The only desire was the exuberant release of joy and freedom that was to come as I rolled all the way to the bottom.

Do you remember those times of untethered freedom expressed in childhood?  Most of us have some or have loved watching our children or grandchildren experience them.

But then the time comes where these types of behaviors are no longer appropriate; we grow up. However, we still search to find that same release of joyous freedom. As adults we shift our search to downhill skiing, bungie jumping, skydiving, zip-lining and a myriad of similar extreme sports, finding the release of joyous freedom that explodes us out of our care, worries and craziness of life. All of these examples speak of our desire for the exhilarating joy that freedom brings.

These experiences of “letting go of everything” require a faith! It stirs a belief that we will be ok, that this is worth the risk, that this is really a safe activity.This is an ultimate trust in our God who is good and has our lives in His hands.  

We believe, desire and declare, “Higher – Daddy, higher”.

However, when life throws you an unexpected curve ball, life begins to spin out of control, life pulls you into the pit; suddenly the free fall fun is no longer joyful or freeing. Your trust is shaken, you pull back, you hang on and fear takes over! This overwhelming grief, this unexpected medical diagnosis, this heart-stopping loss or this unrelenting pain begins to run your life!

The spinning and out of control feeling has changed, what previously brought joyous freedom now is overwhelming, why?

Your eyes have become focused on the mountain not on the creator of that mountain; you have forgotten who is pushing the swing.

Looking back to the face of Jesus, His promises and His love for you is the key. As you lean into His presence – it will bring you back to that child like trust, allowing you to “let it go”; stirring joy and releasing freedom in the very center of the chaos. On this zip-line life journey, the fears that claw and grasp at your heart will soon begin to dissolve. The balm of Gilead with healing will soothe your heart and life will begin again.

 Return as a child to swing higher and higher with your daddy – He’s got you – trust in His love for you, then the exhilarating release of joy and freedom will return and lift you from the pit.

Let go of the fear, grief, pain and loss; turn and declare, “Higher -daddy, higher” as you find that place of peace and trust that only exist in the presence of the arms of Jesus.

 

Psalm 40:2 He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet up on a rock, making my steps secure. (ESV)
Psalm 103:2-5 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.(ESV)
Photo courtesy of worradmu@freedigitalphotos.net