Archive for May, 2013

Death….a Definition

 Thanks to my current situation, I’ve had lots and lots of conversations
about death lately.     Having a cancer that’s been declared “incurable”
by the doctors hasn’t changed my views about death one iota.    I was
brought up to believe that death is not an ending, but a simply a transition 
to the beginning of forever.      The start of an eternity spent in Heaven
with Jesus, the Savior Who loves me more than I could ever imagine!
 
I think what frightens a lot of people is the opinion they have of death as 
the great UNknown…. and that opinion to me, is perfectly logical if I’m
talking to someone who’s NOT a Christian, who’s never read the Bible, or
been taught anything about the afterlife and therefore, grew up believing
there isn’t one.   At least with someone like that, you know where to start!
 
What I can’t fathom is folks who ARE Christians, grew up in church and
claim to have a faith firmly grounded in Jesus, who STILL fear death and
treat it as a horrible thing to be dreaded and avoided.   Someone brought
a lady over here a few months ago who was also facing a diagnosis of
no-cure cancer.   She wanted this lady to “feel my attitude” in the hopes
it would rub-off on her, I guess.    
So we’re sitting out on the patio talking and I’m telling her how I feel and
why.  Then she starts telling us how she wouldn’t be so scared of dying
if she knew what to expect, where she was going and what it would be like.  
Here’s where  my tendency to let my mouth run in high gear while my
brain’s stuck  in neutral kicked in and I said the first thing that popped into
my head: “Ma’am…..do you not own a Bible?”   She said she did.   So I
asked, “Have you actually read it?  Or is it just some prop you keep on
the coffee table?”    
I could pretty much tell by the look on her face that I wasn’t exactly
creating a fan.    So I backpedaled trying to explain that I didn’t
understand how anyone who’d read the Bible could claim that death
was an unknown?    
 
God’s Word explains all about death….what it is, why it’s necessary, what
it means, and especially why Christians don’t have to fear it. He covers 
Heaven pretty thoroughly too.    More than any eye has seen, any ear has
heard or any mind can conceive is what He has prepared for those who love
Him.     Reunions with our loved ones who  went on ahead of us….streets of
gold…..many-roomed mansions…..(even though, personally I’ve already got
my order in for just a simple porch with a never-empty coffee pot and some
comfy rockers tucked away in a corner of Paradise where I can pretty much
see everything!!”} LOL!
 
We get to FINALLY meet Jesus face-to-face!!   I hate to fall back on song
lyrics again but really….I CAN ONLY IMAGINE!!!    What would YOU do first?
After I get my hug from Jesus, I’m on a mission to find the ones I love who
beat me up there!   My grandparents, my mom, my mother-in-law, the rest of
the family, then I’d love to track DAVID down…..now THERE’S a poet!!!   
I’m also gonna have to find Esther and I’d love to meet Paul, from one rebel
to another, right?  You get the idea—-besides, I’m sure you’ve got your own
agenda!  I mean, come on, who hasn’t spent time daydreaming about what
it’s gonna be like in Heaven??
 
And eventually, we’ll all have brand-new bodies that work the way they ought
to & we’ll all sing like angels!!   Even if you were a smokestack down here, or
couldn’t carry a tune if it had handles…..up there we’ll all be part of a heavenly
choir!   I can picture endless gardens, sunshine, blue skies, puffy clouds,
beautiful cities, angels up close, eternal peace and joy spent in the company
of our Savior and our loved ones!!   No more pain, suffering, tears, fears or
troubles!  My goodness —  what’s not to love?    More lyrics: 
 
           When I get where I’m going….don’t cry for me down here!!
 
And as for her ‘not knowing where she’s going?’   Let’s be real for a minute!  
Are you a Christian or not?   Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior or 
haven’t you?   If you haven’t, then I don’t blame you for being afraid —-
I’d be downright terrified!    And if you haven’t, you shouldn’t be running around 
calling yourself a Christian.  But if you already belong to Christ,  I can’t begin to
 understand how you don’t know where you’re going!!
Have you never read what Jesus says in the Bible?  Start Now!!   Did you
read it and not believe it? 
Not a good plan to tell folks you’re a Christian while thinking to yourself
that Jesus lies a lot.  He doesn’t.   Or maybe you read it and didn’t
understand what He said?  Find a preacher…..TODAY!!   Or someone
who can explain it to you!  
 
Does the idea of going to Heaven make me sad?   Only because I’m not excited
about causing pain to the ones who love me here.    But even that, I have to
leave in God’s hands.
I’ve experienced the sadness that comes when a loved one goes to Heaven
before I think I’m ready to let them go.   Did it hurt?  Yup.  Did God help me
through it? 
Yup.  Did I survive with a stronger faith than before because of it?  Yup.   And I
have to believe that the ones who’ll miss me the most will too!
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The Power of Prayer

What do you think is the most unnoticed, under-rated weapon in the modern
Christian’s arsenal?    In my opinion, it’s gotta be PRAYER.    Such a simple
concept, familiar to everyone, believer or not, but still misunderstood and
underused, even by those who should know better!!
 
A good friend of mine has her own blog (Love ya Deanne!!) and one of her
recent entries was about how we often are asked to pray for someone and
our response is,“Of course I will!”    But DO we?    The intention is there but
sometimes the follow-through is missing.    Her advice was priceless:   When
asked to pray for someone, respond by offering to pray WITH them…right
then, wherever you are!!   Much more effective!  
 
I think a lot of the problem is that Christians UNDERestimate the power of
prayer.   How many times have we heard, “Well, all we can do is pray…”
Like it’s some kind of last-ditch, end-of-the-road thing to do when someone’s
in trouble and there’s nothing else left to try!      Prayer shouldn’t be a last-
ditch anything!  
It should be our first line of defense no matter what we’re facing!   It’s a
POWERFUL and PERSONAL connection between us and our Heavenly Father
Who’s just waiting for us to ask for His help!!  I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s
a storage room up in Heaven somewhere just crammed full of gifts, blessings,
grace and solutions waiting to be showered onto believers down here, but the
corresponding requests were never made!!    Someone very wise once said,
 “You have not, because you ask not!”    DUH!!!
 
I’ve had this discussion over the years with lots of folks and you’d be
surprised how many times I’ve heard this:  ” I’m never sure HOW to
pray.   I know the Lord’s Prayer of course, but that’s it.”  Makes me want
to rent a billboard somewhere that says:   
 
                  DON’T COMPLICATE IT PEOPLE….JUST PRAY!!
 
What exactly does it mean to pray?    Granted, Jesus taught us the Lord’s
Prayer.   But it shouldn’t stop there.   Prayer is just a conversation with your
Father….how hard is that?    Most of us have no problem at all talking to
our families, our neighbors, our coworkers, the person behind us in line
at Wal-Mart, the woman seated next to us on the bus or in a waiting room-
so why is there all this difficulty and drama surrounding a chat with our
Creator?    Our Heavenly Father, who knows ALL about us and loves us
beyond words anyway?    Are we afraid we’ll shock Him? I doubt it!
What on earth could we tell Him that He doesn’t already know?    Lots of
folks think that prayer should be reserved for life’s biggest problems and
before meals.     That’s not a good plan —- if all of sudden you’re faced
with a major catastrophe and the only prayer you know is “Bless this food
we’re about to receive…..” you’re gonna be on the spot in a rather BIG
way!!      Prayer shouldn’t be reserved for disaster or calamity!!    That’s
the same as treating God as though He’s just a life-preserver, to be used
only in emergencies!!     I’m sure He’d rather be someone we talk to, rely on and turn

to on a daily basis instead of being treated like a spiritual
9-1-1 operator!
 
Now once upon a time, like the good Catholic girl I used to be, I prayed at
regular intervals….before meals, in church, morning and bedtime, etc.
Then Clayton, ( those of you who’ve read Dusty’s Story from the beginning
remember Clayton….a sweet old retired preacher from my Steamboat days
who became my spiritual mentor )  told me something that forever changed
both my life and my attitude about prayer.    He told me to spend one hour
every morning talking to God.    He didn’t care if I read formal prayers
(Catholics have HUNDREDS of those) or made up my own, or read the Bible,
or sang worship songs, or just sat and meditated on how much He’d done for
me.    I was just to spend an hour, preferably the first hour, of every day
focused on the Lord.      He said if I would do that, every morning for
2 weeks, that I’d never stop because it would change my life so drastically
that I’d never look back.   And you know what?    It did and I never have.  
Clayton said that if I’d faithfully give Jesus one hour each day, then He’d give
me everything I needed to get through the other 23.   He was SO right!
 
If you make it a habit of having your coffee with Jesus every morning, the
rest of your day will be SO much better.    I’m not saying that every day will
be a breeze….some of them are going to be downright awful — that’s called
life.    What I am saying is when you have Jesus backing you up nothing’s 
going to develop that you and He together can’t handle!      I can already
hear some readers saying, “An hour in the MORNING?   There’s no time….
my mornings are hectic already!”   Been there, done that.    When I started
the coffee with Jesus thing, I was a single mom myself.    The only way I
could swing it was to get up an hour earlier than I usually did.   Easy?  Not
at first,  but it wasn’t long until I realized that if I didn’t spend that first hour
with Him, my day imploded rather quickly.     NOW I understand why my
Grandma Rose spent an hour out on the porch every morning “talking to God”
when I was growing up.   So the ‘I don’t have time’ excuse kind of falls flat.
You’ll never have the time — you simply make the time!
 
Think about it like this….imagine one hectic morning, you race down the
stairs, running late (again), find your shoes, grab your purse and skid
around the corner headed for the kitchen door and you see Jesus sitting
at the table, pushing a cup of coffee towards you!!   What would you say?
“Geez….morning Lord….I’d love to sit and talk but I have that meeting at
nine and I’m already late —maybe we could hook up later?”   Of course
not!!!    You’re going to fall flat on your face in the kitchen and worship the
One who died to save you and actually cared enough to stop by for coffee!
He really would LOVE to have a coffee and a chat with you…..so many of the
ones He suffered and died for treat Him like He doesn’t exist, I bet He’s
thrilled when someone makes time just for Him!!
 
What you do or say during your “prayer” hour is totally up to you.   I believe
there’s as many different ways to pray as there are people.   Even though,
lots of people have tried to ‘educate’ me over the years about the ‘proper’
way to pray ( but that’s a whole other Blog entry!! ) I’m still convinced that
there’s no right or wrong way to pray.      I’m totally in awe of those folks
who can just launch out loud into a verbal word-perfect prayer to fit any
situation at a moment’s notice.   That’s something I can’t do.   Now give me
a keyboard and I’m off and running, or hand me a microphone and I’ll
tell stories to 3000 people for 2 hours, not a problem.     But ask me to lead
a prayer out loud and I shut down faster than a crashed computer.    I guess
because to me prayer is a VERY personal connection with Jesus.    I can’t
even begin to imagine telling anyone else the things I talk about with
Jesus!!    But that’s the whole point — we should be able to and He expects
us to tell Him everything that’s going on in our lives and our hearts.  What
we’re doing, feeling, afraid of, celebrating, worrying about, all of it.  
 
So, if a daily prayer isn’t part of your routine?   Take Clayton’s challenge and
give God one hour every morning for just 2 weeks…..I dare you!!   Then come
on back and comment on this blog and let me know what happens!!!
Bundles of Blessings!!

Pray for Healing? Why I Don’t….

 

Been getting lots of emails lately questioning why I don’t advocate
praying for God to “heal” me.  So I figured I’d address it in my brand
new blog.     Guess I’ll begin by saying that I felt this way even 
before the Big C (cancer) showed up.    I do understand that not
all Christians feel or even understand my point of view and they are
totally within their rights to believe whatever they choose.   To me,
however, the whole idea of praying for God to heal me of anything,
is being just a bit more arrogant with the Lord than I’m comfortable
with!       It’s like saying, “Never mind YOUR will —- pay attention to
MINE!”    That’s not a conversation I can imagine myself EVER having
with the Father!
 
 
Let me also say that my faith in God and His abilities has always
been rock solid.   My unwillingness to pray for “healing” has nothing to
do with what I believe He’s capable of.   Our God can do Anything;  of
that I have no doubt.
But over the course of my life, I’ve come to understand that while God
doesn’t cause illness, disease or sickness, He can and does use these
things to further His agenda.  I cling tightly to Romans 8:28.  
He will work all things to good for His children who are
committed to His purpose.      Years ago, when my children were
small and I was working as a waitress, I had problems with severe
psoriasis in both feet.  
The skin had worn away in a dozen places, walking was a nightmare &
eventually I spent 8 weeks in a wheelchair because they simply would
not hold me up.    I never once prayed to be healed….what I did do
was pray almost every minute of every day for the grace and the
strength to make it one more day.   The Lord never failed to answer
those prayers.       Many people wanted to ‘lay hands on me’ or pray
themselves for my healing, (this is the South, after all!) but I usually
politely declined.   Then I had to listen to all the remarks:  “Oh I’m
sorry….I thought you were a Christian.”   Sigh.   
If you plan on responding to that particular comment here in Dixie
I hope you’ve cleared your schedule and packed a lunch!
LOL!   I am a staunch Christian and yes, I’ve read in the Bible
all the different places where it says we can pray for healing.   
I’ve also learned that God usually gives His best to those who leave
the choice up to Him.
I’m not attempting to criticize those who pray for themselves or others
to be healed of anything and everything. My own church is non-
denominational with strong Pentecostal roots.   Someone sneezes and
they have 100 people on their knees in a flash:  “Heal her Lord!!”   
Whatever works for you.    
Personally, I believe that God knows everything about me on a daily basis.
The big stuff ( job loss, cancer, money issues ), the little stuff ( where ARE
those keys, hope this recipe turns out, why can’t I fall asleep ) all of it.
If it has an effect on me in any way, my Father knows.   And He cares.
When I’m happy — He’s happy.   When I hurt, He hurts.    He’s proved
this to me over and over again.    So when the cancer showed up, I didn’t
feel the need to TELL Him.   He knew.  I know that, like the song says,
Nothing touches my life without first going through His hands.  That
thought alone brings me more comfort than I have words to explain. To  
put it another way:  “He’s GOT this”.    He has a reason for this even if I’m
not able to see or understand it right this minute.   I’m not required to
understand everything He does and He’s certainly not under any
obligation to explain Himself to me!!!    What He tells me in His Word 
is that I should trust Him.   Completely.  No matter what.  Whether I
understand things or not.    So that’s what I do! 
 
Even in my little thought for the day email, when folks write in with
prayer requests, I mention the person’s first name and  ask my readers to
keep them in prayer.   For strength, grace, comfort, peace, whatever’s
needed.     But I’m NOT comfortable telling God what to do on my behalf
or anyone else’s.     Jesus is aware of every detail of our lives.    He knows
what each of us needs and when.   He certainly doesn’t rely on RED FLAG
prayers to keep Himself updated on who’s sick with what and where they
are.      He knows what we need, usually before we know ourselves.    For
me it all goes back to “trust”.     He’s been with me all my life and He’s
never once let me down.   I just can’t bring myself to believe that He’s
carried me all this way just to drop me now!
 
For too many people, praying for healing can be a dangerous thing.   They
pray for God to heal them or a loved one.     Then, if the healing doesn’t
come fast enough, or in the way they wanted, or the way they think it
should or at all,  they’ll use that as an excuse to start complaining that He
isn’t there, or isn’t real or isn’t listening.    Wrong, wrong, and wrong!!
 
Always remember that God sees the WHOLE picture….not just the
smidgeon that’s under your nose right now.     The two-year-old who,
despite the prayers of his family and his whole church, succumbs to the
cancer that’s riddled his little body for most of his life —Is it because God
doesn’t care?     Because He was too busy?    Nonsense.   God sees and
knows what WE cannot and never will down here.      Perhaps, God
in His tender mercy, saw that if this child were “healed” now, his future
would contain even more sickness, pain and suffering and brought him
home to Heaven so he’d be spared all that misery.    We can’t second-
guess God.    Through faith, we must believe He always has our best
interests at heart.    
 
 
Will the family of that child know pain and loss?   Most certainly.     Will
they ever understand why the Father chose to take their child to heaven
instead of healing him here?    Probably not.    But if their
faith is strong, they will find comfort and peace in the arms of Christ and
WILL be reunited with their little boy one day.    And because of their
faith and trust, the way they handle their child’s death will no doubt be a
powerful testimony both to other Christians and to who knows how many 
UNbelievers who watch them react to  what the rest of the world perceives
as a tragedy.
 
Whether or not God chooses to heal my cancer here on earth or by taking
me home to Heaven, is totally HIS decision and either way I’m perfectly
comfortable leaving the issue where it belongs and where I’ve spent my
entire life…..in His Hands.

God’s Plan!!

Now, before I dive into the details of what God’s plan is, let me explain that I am NOT a fan of praying for healing.  Never have been.    What I DO believe in with all my heart is that God has a plan for each of us.     God knows I’m sick and according to Romans 8:28, He will work it to good and use it to further His plans because I am totally committed to Him.    So to me?  Praying for healing is just a touch more arrogant that I’d like to be with the Lord.    Who on earth am I to tell Him what to do?    THY WILL BE DONE—-are the four little words that a lot of folks leave out of their prayers.    To me, praying for healing is the same as saying to God, “Never mind YOUR will…pay attention to MINE!!”
So the whole week before the Feb 11 CT scan, I spent praying. Not for healing….but for the strength and the courage to accept whatever the doctor would say.     I knew in my heart that it wasn’t gonna be great news; but I also knew that whatever it was,  God and I would get through it together.    After all, I’d trusted Him all my life…why would I stop now?
Those nights before the scan, is when I first became aware of what God was laying on my heart.    He’s not real pleased with the way most Christians handle the whole death and dying thing.   We are living in the End times and the image we portray to the rest of the world is more important than ever.     We Christians go on and on to anyone who will listen about how good our God is, how much He loves us, and what a wonderful place He has prepared for us to live with Him for eternity!       But then, as soon as one of us is preparing to actually GO there, what do we do?   We react as if it’s the biggest tragedy to ever hit the planet!
We fuss and moan, cry and carry on with tears and whining.  How on earth does that look to the UNbelievers?   They can only come away with one opinion — Christians are mostly either idiots or hypocrites.     Neither take is really good for kingdom-building!    We need to live what we preach if we’re going to have an impact for Christ!!   So what was my role in all this?    God let me know.    He’d given me the visibility, through the Porch website and my little Thought for the Day email.    Thousands of people get my emails, visit  my Porch on a regular basis, read the cancer updates I send out, etc.    God wants me to SHOW them and, through them, the world, what it looks like when a Christian with strong faith faces the prospect of death and dying.     Let them know it can & should be a time of joyous anticipation and celebration instead of all sadness, gloom and doom!
Some sadness?  Sure…someone we love is going to a better place and we’re not going to see them again until it’s our turn to go…..but at the same time we should be happy for them and willing to celebrate with them!!     Everything I’ve read in the Bible and been taught in my life about Heaven makes it hard to wait to get there!! 
The reason so many folks fear death is because they perceive it as the Unknown.   POPPYCOCK!!   If you own a bible and have actually read it?  Death is anything BUT unknown.    It’s not an ending.   It’s a transition.    It’s where today stops and forever begins!!   
Thinking about it I could see that I was perfectly suited to get this message out to the world!!    He HAD given me the visibility…every day my inbox is flooded with emails from around the world — people talking about their own situations and how my story and my attitude about the whole thing has given them hope and changed the way they think about dying!    He’d also given me the gift of gab and the ability to share anything about my life with anyone.    I’m Irish and a storyteller from WAY back so it just comes naturally for me.
I was confused about how I was supposed to reach people more close to home.    But God let me know  He’d open the doors, I just had to be ready to go through them.    My first reaction?    AMEN!!   If that’s His plan for my last few years here on earth, then I’m in it to win it!!    Last thing I want to do is show up in Heaven having to hang my head and say, “Sorry Lord,  I chickened out!”   Not this girl!!  And open doors He did!    Invitations for speaking engagements began pouring in from all over the Southeast!!   Bible colleges, women’s conferences, church seminars, you-name-it!   My calendar was booked all the way to the end of October 2013!  Which was not making hubby happy at all!    He said it was going to be too much for me to be gallivanting all over trying to talk to so many people.     Then, came the suggestion from a good friend that instead of all that traveling, I use the technology right here at home.    Make podcasts of the talks I wanted to give and let folks download and use them wherever!  Not only could I do it from home, I could reach thousands instead of hundreds, and the stuff I’d record would be available online even after I’d changed zip codes!   Hubby liked this idea MUCH better!
But was God on board?   He’s the one who had all these people set up the speaking engagements after all… Rich said for me to pray about it.   So that night, I did.    I just told God what the new idea was, said if He was ok with it, this whole podcast & blogging thing,  He’d have to make a way because we had no money for laptops, webcams, etc.    The very next day?   I get a letter telling us that a refund we’d given up on has been approved!    More than enough to pay for a laptop, wifi, etc. GODWINK!!!        So a few days later,  I’m standing in Wal-Mart at 8 am in the computer aisle, by myself, surrounded by laptops, tablets, modems, speakers, etc.     I have absolutely NO idea which one I should get, what I need to go with it, etc.     Technologically savvy, I’m NOT!     All I did know was that I’d better buy one that was compatible with the Internet provider I had which was Timewarner.      I felt so helpless, I just stood there in front of a row of laptops and said out loud:  “Lord?   A little help here please???”    Literally 2 seconds later I hear a voice behind me say, “How can I help?”    I turn around and what do I see?    I see HELP!!  Not a Walmart salesperson —-  I see a man with a TIMEWARNER logo on his pretty green shirt!   WAY TO GO GOD!!!!     He said, “I was over in the next aisle pricing some parts for one of my customers before my shift started and I heard what you said!!   So I just walked around the corner to see who on earth talks to GOD out loud, in Wal-Mart at 8 am!!!”     I laughed my head off!!    He ended up showing me exactly what I needed AND saving me money!!    Hubby comes around the corner right as we were finishing up, sees the Timewarner man and says, “Where’d you find him?”   I replied, “I didn’t find him….God did!” GODWINK!!
So now, here I sit, with a new laptop, complete with webcam, blogging away trying to get my “history” online for posterity!!   My real aim is to leave a modern legacy that lets believers know that our God is real!  Alive!  Active in the lives of His children TODAY!!      The idea that  Jesus is just some shadowy figure in a dusty history  book  is the image a lot of folks have today and they are SO wrong!  If you open your heart to Him He will gladly transform your life just the way He did mine!   But He needs ALL of you!  Not 10%, not part-ownership, ALL of you!    Once you commit your life to Him nothing will ever be the same and you’ll never have to be afraid of anything, ever again!!  
Now that I’ve gotten this blog current, please follow me and stay updated on where God takes me from here!   Feel free to email or comment on what you read….I’d love to see your feedback!!  God bless!!