November 29, 2011

Update on my cousin, Michael

Hey everyone. I sure hope that you all have enjoyed your Thanksgiving and are now embracing the Christmas season that has so rapidly "snuck up" on me that I can hardly believe it's that time of year already... AGAIN! : )

Anyway, this week is "finals" week at school...and tomorrow's my daughter's 13th birthday!  Wow.   So there's much to do...but I wanted to share an update on my cousin, Michael, for those of you who are following and praying on his behalf.

I will post the latest email update I received from my Aunt this week:

"We wanted to let you know that Michael will not be going tomorrow (Nov. 29th) to Charlottesville. The nurse called today and said that the three biopsies that Michael had on the 17th showed something different from the first biopsy that he had at Maryview. (our local hospital).  It didn't show the same as what he had here. They said that it showed the kind of cancer that may have come from some cancer cells somewhere else in his body. They were already planning to do a bone scan and a head scan on him and they hadn't done it. Soooooo.........with that flag up, they decided to do a full body scan on him next Tuesday, the 6th of December. They also will do the bone scan at the same time. She also told me that if they went through with the ablation tomorrow, that it had a lot of side effects that could make Michael real sick and it might not even work. One of the side effects was that he could get an infection and that would make him really sick and they don't want to make him sick if this might not even work. So until they find out if there is any more cancer or cancer cells in his body this will be put off.
After next week they will know more of what is going on, 
and how to treat Michael. 
We ask that you still keep him in your prayers and pray that there is no more cancer in his body.
We will keep you updated as we go along.
Thanks for your love and support.

Michael's Team

I thank each of you for your prayers and concern in regards to Michael and our entire family.  :)  God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above ALL we could ever ask or (even dare to) think!  :)

I'll be in touch A.S.A.P.   Until then, have a great week! 

Christmas Hugs and "Hershey Kisses."

November 24, 2011

The Unknown: Something to Be Thankful For

                    Thanksgiving Backgrounds
I was on my way home from classes early Monday was rush hour.  .  . in the last few minutes of my "mini-journey home" the Holy Spirit seemed to burden my heart to pray. . . so that's what I did.  

For two days prior to that, I had been reading in one of my devotionals how Abraham had sent his servant to find a bride for Isaac.  The servant had prayed for God to grant him success.  And basically that word for "success" is 'qarah' "to be put in the right place at the right time."  The devotions were actually referencing success in our every day lives and the daily duties we each have.  But the Holy Spirit pointed out the fact that we have been given an assignment too. . and that's to go out and preach the gospel to every creature. . .to share the Gospel with others, and allow the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of the lost and bring them to Christ, Who is our Bridegroom.  The saved are His Bride.  Is there anyone out there that we can introduce to Christ, the Bridegroom?   

As I was almost home, that's what I felt burdened to pray:  "God, put me in the right place, at the right time, to bring someone to add them to our family, the Bride of Christ."  

However, as I switched to the middle turning lane on the main road outside our neighborhood, traffic was heavy.  As I began to approach the street that I was going to turn "left," I noticed in the middle turning lane ahead of me a large construction truck barreling down the lane, head-on, in my direction.  I began to slow down to a "crawl" as I wondered what that driver was doing.   Was he going to turn left into the neighborhood across the street from mine??  Based on his speed, I quickly realized he was not going to be turning and was headed straight for me.  By this time I had come to a complete stop, prior to the place where I would've been waiting to turn left into my neighborhood.  When the driver did not turn into the other neighborhood and kept coming towards me, I began to honk the horn, and at the last minute the driver swerved to miss hitting me!!    All I remember seeing were the headlights of the truck, the color red and a ladder on the side of the truck.  After he swerved, I began to approach my street to turn left into our neighborhood, and realized I had stopped my car far in advance of where I should have been.  

God had placed me at the right place, and at the right time, for had I been waiting where I should have been turning left, the truck would have plowed into me and probably pushed me into the backseat of my car.  

It took a minute or two for me to fathom what had just happened, and what may have happened if the circumstances had been different.   Needless to say, it shook me up. . but I am so thankful for God's protection, and how amazing that as I was praying the words for God to put me in the right place at the right time, He did just that

Wow!   Anyway, tonight's Thanksgiving service at church gave me a moment to share this testimony of praise with others... however, I began to realize that I do not know WHAT damage, injuries (or worse) that God spared me from.  Is it difficult to be truly thankful for something that we're not really sure of?  I could have been killed, or severely injured...more than likely I'd be in the hospital right now, unable to even post a blog or prepare tomorrow's meal.    My family may have been preparing for my funeral instead of Thanksgiving dinner.  Who knows?  

This reminds me of our salvation.  God in His infinite mercy, has made a way for us to be SPARED from eternal damnation and separation from Him . .and that Escape is Jesus and His shed blood on Calvary.  At some point in time, if you're saved, you have been rescued from something that you will never experience.  Thank the LORD!   

I don't know the exact details of what God spared me from on Monday evening in that near head-on collision.  All I do know is I was helplessly sitting in that lane, trapped by traffic on both sides, with a big red truck barreling in my direction. GOD in His infinite mercy and Divine Protection, caused that driver to be able to swerve and miss hitting me at the last minute.  God spared me from something that I will never experience.   Even though I will never know what He saved me from that day, I am still thankful. 

I may be unable to grasp the extent of what He did for me on Monday, and especially on Calvary, but I pray He would constrain my heart by His love and cause me to be overwhelmed with thankfulness!  And I pray this for you too! :)

May He continue to put you and me in the right place, 
at the right time, to grant us success in our endeavor 
to win souls for Christ!!

Happy Thanksgiving to each of you!!

Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your protection over me, especially on Monday.  Thank You for burdening me to pray on the way home that afternoon...I have no idea what may have happened; all I do know is that because of Your Sovereign control over our lives, You caused me to stop my car further back, and that gave the driver enough time to swerve out of my lane.  Without a doubt I am sitting here tonight, because of Your unmerited favor and Divine Presence in my life.  And I owe this all to Your Son, Jesus!!   Thank You so much for Your many blessings---blessings that I am totally unable to grasp. . .especially the blessing of never knowing what eternal life apart from You will be like.  This is because of Your mercy, and grace through Jesus Christ.  And because of Him, I am wrapped up, in Christ, forever Yours, for all eternity.  I thank You, In Jesus' Name, Amen.

November 10, 2011

Urgent Request

Please keep the candle burning
for my cousin Michael!

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him. I John 5:14-15

I just wanted to send an urgent request for prayer for my cousin, Michael. I still want to refer to him as my little cousin, because I can picture him as a little 4 year old at my Granny's house. . . curly brown hair, cute as a button.  He just recently turned 21, and has turned out to be a fine young man.

Sometimes things happen in life that we wonder "Why!??" And this is one of those times. Michael was recently diagnosed with an EXTREMELY rare form of liver cancer. In fact, there are only 2 in 10 million that have this form of cancer. And he is one of those two. He is currently being seen by a team of doctors at the University of Virginia medical center. The tumor is approximately 12 it is a large tumor. 

The local doctors said that this cancer does not spread outside of the liver (metastisize). HOWEVER, the doctors at UVA have told them that it in fact does spread. So a bone scan is to be done soon. They are also planning to do three more biopsies of the tumor.

Our prayer is for them to be able to remove the tumor (and the affected part of the liver) and have Michael be able to keep 20-25% of  his liver. The liver can regenerate itself, so even though 20-25% doesn't sound like much, it's actually a lot!  If he is unable to keep at least that much of his liver, the entire liver would have to be removed, and he will need a liver transplant.

So....for now, please be praying for:

  • Michael, and his family, especially his parents who are travelling with him to and from his appointments to UVA. Pray the cancer has not spread and that the tumor (& affected liver) can be removed without him needing a liver transplant.
  • Also pray for God, Who is our Great Physician, to give the team of doctor's wisdom. Because this is such a rare form of cancer, the doctors are having to research this as they go along. Pray for God to guide them in their research and give them wisdom.
Even though we can't begin to understand the "why's" in this, we need to focus on the Who. God is "the WHO" that is ABLE!

So, let's not focus our energy on the WHY, but on HE WHO IS ABLE!  "Now to Him WHO is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:20-21.

Look at the word POWER in that verse. The Greek word for power here is from "dunamai."
Definition: (miraculous) power,
might, strength

MIRACULOUS POWER!! But catch the fact that this is referring to God's miraculous power that is working WITHIN US! We have His Holy Spirit working within us! 

I John 5:14-15 says  we can have CONFIDENCE when we approach God in prayer.  HOW:
  • pray according to God's will
  • You must BELIEVE (know) that He hears your prayers...and when you REALLY BELIEVE that HE HEARS your prayers, He says that whatever we ask, we know we have it!
So, lets entrust the Holy Spirit to energize our prayers, as we lift our requests to the throne of God!  May we begin to see God's glory manifested through the miraculous work that will be done on Michael's behalf!!

Dear Heavenly Father, You have given us such a privilege to confidently come to You in prayer on behalf of Michael and his family.  We thank You in advance for what You will do.  Father, this situation comes as no surprise to You.  But to us who know and love Michael, it has shaken us to our core.  We ask for Your Holy Spirit to give us the words to pray according to Your will, and the FAITH to BELIEVE that You will hear and answer our prayers!  Please give the doctors wisdom to know how to treat this successfully.  We ask that the cancer would be contained to the liver.  Please allow Michael to keep a portion of his liver too, Father, so that he would not require a liver transplant.  I ask for You to strengthen and encourage Uncle David, Aunt Dianne, as well as Amy and Jay T (and their families!)  They are so special to our family, and need Your strength and peace throughout this storm.  Draw the family closer to You, Father, and to one another.  Be glorified in this, and may You give Michael a renewed sense of Your Divine purpose for his life, Father.  Allow him to be a shining light to others around him, in order to point others to his Inner Strength which is YOU.  We choose to focus on what we KNOW and not on what we don't know.  WE KNOW that You are in controlWe KNOW that You LOVE Michael and his family (and all of us); we KNOW that You have already answered our prayers and even take time to listen to us as we pray, for Your Word says, "Before they call I will answer, and while they are still speaking I will hear."  You do not lie, Father; You can not, for You are holy.  You honor Your Word above Your Name.  So we KNOW and we BELIEVE with full assurance that YOU have answered our prayers according to Your will.  We do not know what the future holds or what the outcome will be, but we DO KNOW that Your will for us in this situation (and every situation) is to GIVE THANKS!  It requires a LOT of faith to THANK YOU for THIS, Father. It makes no sense to the human mind to say "Thank You!"  but  maybe You're just wanting to see our hearts united in full faith and assurance of Your unfailing power and unfathomable love.  You are ABLE to heal Michael; You are ABLE to keep this cancer contained,  Father! You contain the ocean waves and tell them where to stop.  You have set the boundaries of the we KNOW that You can set the boundaries of this cancer and tell it "YOU WILL GO NO FURTHER!"  We ask You to have already done this, Father.   Even as I sit quietly here, Father, and just wait for You to speak, I hear You gently whisper, "Thy will be done."  Oh Father, we pray for Your will to be done not just in this, but in all of our lives, Father.  May everyone around us see a difference in us, and may that Difference be YOUR POWER resting upon us so that others are drawn to You.  We claim Your favor and presence as a shield around Michael and his family. . .and we ask that You would bring them to our hearts in order to pray for them at just the right moments when strength and comfort is needed the most, Father.  The effectual fervant prayer of a righteous man or woman availeth MUCH, Father.  You said it!  And we are made righteous because of the finished work of Jesus on the cross on our behalf!  So we thank You for this honor to pray for Michael, his family as well as for the doctors.  The battle, Father, is not in the hospitals or doctors' offices around the world, NO!  It is in the prayers of Your children.  Father, as long as Moses held his arms up to You, the army below was winning. . .but as soon as his arms began to slip and fall down from exhaustion, the enemy began to overtake them!  Father, lift up Your children's arms in this battle!  May we never grow weary in well doing to pray for not just Michael but for ANYONE who needs our prayers!  May we have eyes to see our brothers and sisters in Christ who are in need of support in their prayer-life; and may we lift them up, just as Aaron and Hur helped to prop Moses' arms up!  (Exodus 17:12) We lift our hearts to You, Father, on behalf of Michael. We ask for Your will to be done.  Encourage Your children through this...May we see YOUR MIRACULOUS POWER working in and through us, and our prayer-lives, Father.  Breathe life into our prayers by the power of Your Holy Spirit!  In Jesus' Name we pray, Amen.....
THANK YOU TO EACH OF MY DEAR BLOGGING SISTERS AND BROTHERS IN CHRIST.  Please pass this prayer request along to your sweet blogging family! May the Holy Spirit renew our strength to come to the battlefield and PRAY for God's will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven!
**I've added an update from my Aunt Dianne in the comments section.  I am so thankful for each of your prayers. Before I wrote this blog, I asked them if it'd be okay to share Michael's situation on the blog, because God gave me the faith to believe He will use each of you in a special way to be a part of this journey in prayer on Michael's (and the family's) behalf!   Thank you for proving that God's people can pull together, even if they've never met, to pray for a special brother in Christ.  :)  Love U!  <3

November 4, 2011

A Personal Invite

"...But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him,
just as he told you.'"  Mark: 16:7 

Just wanted to touch base with everyone to let them know that the LORD blessed the concert efforts more than I could imagine, and how humbling it was for me to see Him working in the hearts of His children.  What an honor to be used as a vessel in His hands to minister to the hearts of His children.  :) 

In preparation for last weekend's concert, I was searching God's Word to see whatever it was He would have me to share, and how would He tie it into the music He had given?  I want to share those little lessons or "golden nuggets" with you here.  ;o)

Remember how Peter pledged his allegiance to the Lord, and yet he quickly denied Jesus not once, but three times before the rooster crowed. . just as Jesus had told Peter?   Can you imagine the anguish Peter must have felt knowing how he denied Jesus?  And here Jesus had been crucified? Then how must Peter have felt when he heard the news that Jesus' body was not at the tomb, and in fact Jesus had risen?  If I were Peter, I would have probably had mixed feelings:  perhaps excitement, tinged with guilt and even fear of seeing Jesus again.   Yet, in our verse today, (Mark 16:7) we see what the angel said at the tomb. "But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you."  Does this statement "exclude" Peter as a disciple?  No!  Once we are saved, we are always saved.  We find this to be a personal invitation.   "Go and tell his disciples, especially Peter....."  Why would Peter even need a personal invite?  I'm sure he was wondering if the Lord would even welcome him into His presence! 

This spoke volumes to me!  I hope it will do the same for you as well!  Jesus personally invites you to come to Him, no matter what you've matter HOW long it's been since you've spoken to Him. . .and especially if you've been rejecting His invitation to "Come to Me.."  Now is your chance to come and find that HE is here, just as He promised HE would be.  A personal invitation, what more could we ask?
                  Jesus' nail pierced hands

Luke 24:13-35 tells us of another account on Resurrection Day.  Two of them were on the road to Emmaus.  Walking along, discussing the events of the day, probably wondering about whether they would see Jesus.  Then the Lord Himself began to walk with them.  However, they did not recognize Him.  In fact, He spoke with them and walked along for quite a while and even went with them to the house.  It wasn't until Jesus was at the table, blessed the bread and then broke it that their eyes were opened.  (verses 30 and 31)

Isn't it that way with us too?  We can be walking along with the Lord in our spiritual "walk," and have Him speak to us as we read the Word; we hear His message preached, but it seems that when we become broken THAT's when we really see Him. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."  Purification is by fire.  Removing the dross, purging the impurities away.  This implies extreme heat (suffering and brokenness.)  At the end of Job, when God had spoken to Job and caused Job to catch a glimpse of God's majesty, Job said, "My ears have heard of You, but NOW my eyes have seen You."  Job 42:5  Job had been broken, but now his eyes were opened.  His heart was purer than ever before.  God allows us to be broken in order to purify our hearts, so that He can reveal more of Himself to us...and that's when we will reflect more of who HE IS to others.  :)

Going through some extremely difficult times? 
Could this be a chance for our Lord to reveal MORE of Himself to you?  I think so.  Be still and know that HE is God, and He will be exalted--even to you, right now, right where you are.  :)

We all remember the account of when the parents brought their children to Jesus. . and the disciples "shooed" them away.  Jesus rebuked the disciples and allowed the children to come to Him.  I never noticed until last week, that the Bible says in Mark 10:13, that the parents wanted Jesus to simply touch their children.  But in verse 16 we read "And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them."  Jesus wants to do SO much more for us than simply "touch our lives."  All we need is the faith to COME to Him. . .and then watch and see what He will do. . He will scoop us up into His arms, place His hands on us, and bless us!! 

Do you have a child in need of a touch of the Master's hand?  Keep asking God for more faith and continue to bring your child before the throne of grace!  God wants to do more than touch your child!  He wants to pick him or her up and bless them abundantly!  And guess what!? He WILL!  Keep on praying according to His will!   

This lesson of the parents bringing their children to Jesus could also symbolize salvation.  He wants us to come to Him for salvation (to touch us) but He also wants to "give us life more abundantly!"  (pick us up, place His hands on our lives and bless us!)   God is certainly a GIVER of LIFE, and "LIFE more abundant" too! :)

Jesus' life is to be lived in and through us.  Each day, as we surrender our will to His, "He must increase and I must decrease."   How is His life to find rest within our hearts?  How can His life in us "Grow in wisdom and in stature and in favor with both God and man?"  Simply look at the stable in Bethlehem.  Mary placed Jesus in the manger.  That was not a typical "bed fit for the King of Kings!"  It is a feeding trough. 

After Jesus had risen, and "reinstated Peter" by asking Peter three times "Lovest thou Me more than these?"  He told Peter to "feed My sheep."  How are we to feed God's sheep?  By allowing the Bread of Life to live and grow from within our hearts.  Our hearts are to be like the manger in that Bethlehem stable so many years ago.  Once we have humbled our hearts, and allowed His life to find a resting place in our hearts, He will continue to grow, and others will see a difference in us...they are hungry, and don't even know what they are hungry for. . .But we do!  They are hungry for the Bread of Life.  Allowing Jesus to live in and through us, by keeping our hearts humble, will cause others to come to us. . .not for US, but to find the Bread of Life within our hearts. .  we are simply the "trough" or "manger" that holds the precious Bread of Life within!  God's great Master Plan for our salvation had a humble beginning ~ a stable in Bethlehem!  And so His purpose for your and my life must have a humble beginning too:  our hearts. :)
                               The Manger

Feed My sheep!  Jesus knows that His dear children are in need of nourishment and encouragement.  What are we doing to allow His life to grow within our hearts so that others can find that we offer the Bread of Life to them--not because of anything we have done.  No.  But because of Him choosing us, like that little manger was chosen, to hold His life and allow His life to rest within our hearts. . .

May His life in us continue to grow so that others who are hungry will be drawn to the Bread of Life.  "IF I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto Me."  He was lifted up once, on that cross.  Now, is He being lifted up in our hearts?  In order to do that, we must "decrease."  We must humble our hearts. . .

Oh dear Heavenly Father, thank You for these wonderful lessons You opened my eyes to.  The "concert" last weekend was not about music, but rather about Your message of encouragement.  Thank You for the privilege and honor to have shared Your message through not just the music but most importantly, Your Word, to the hearts of Your children.  Please help us all to keep our hearts humble, so that Your Son's life, Who is the Bread of Life, can continue to grow and be lifted up.  Please draw all men unto You, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, before our time on this earth is over.  In Jesus' Name, Amen.