Monthly Archives: March 2011

when "less" receives a helping hand…

when "less" receives a helping hand…

I’ve been feeling “less” today.
A lot less.
I think it has something to do with the seemingly “more” going on around me… in others’ lives. Maybe even in your life. I didn’t think anyone could talk me out of my feelings. They were pretty strong, fairly steadfast in their obedience to keep watch over my heart. But then I called her… told her I needed to talk to another survivor. And she talked me out of my lesser estate.
She reminded me about our enemy and his wicked intentions. His schemes. His craftiness. His willingness to tailor-make a trap for me. And then she said this…
The next time the enemy comes knocking with his lies, you rip open your shirt… you show him your scars, and you remind him of the price that’s been paid for your faith’s cultivation. There’s a story in your scars, Elaine. Write it before the Lord.
Her words stunned me, lifted me; challenged me and released me to the greater work of my faith. My heart is lighter now than it has been all day. A few well-spoken words from a sister survivor has made all the difference. She understands about faith’s scarring; she carries a few of her own. We’ve known a similar pain. We’ve walked a comparable path, and we serve the very same Lord.
And tonight, my heart is profoundly grateful.
For friends who know Jesus.
For friends who understand scars.
For friends who speak the truth.
For friends who answer their phones, despite what the Caller ID indicates.
Thank you for picking up the phone, friend. You didn’t have to, but in doing so, you’ve been God’s strength and love to me.
May we all, each one of us, add such strengthening and love to a friend in need this week. Never underestimate the power of a few well-spoken words on behalf of the King and his kingdom. He intends for his words to release their witness through his children.
Keep to it. As always…
Peace for the journey,


PS: I plan on taking a bit of a blogging break this week, but I’ll be around to visit you as I can. Shalom.

"the hour has come…"

I had a thought last night in those closing moments before restless slumber. It didn’t originate with me, and I’m certain I’m not the first person to think upon it. It’s one of those “staying” thoughts as evidenced by its arrival to my consciousness upon waking this morning. It blesses me, challenges me, humbles me, and relinquishes to me a gift of weighty proportion.
A thought that belonged to Jesus first, and now a thought that belongs to each one of us who call him Lord, Savior, Father, and King:
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”(John 10:23)
Jesus would carry the fullness of that mission; Jesus was and is the only One to explore the depths of what that would mean as he willingly surrendered his flesh to wooden beam and iron spikes. Jesus, better than anyone else, understood the measure of an hour’s approach; not just any hour, but an hour—an eternal moment—that gave perfect witness to the perfect plan set in motion by the perfect Father in the perfect beginning.
Calvary. The hour that changed everything. The hour when the Son of Man opened the door for the God of man. The hour that gave stage to the King and his story. The hour that shook the foundations of hell. The hour that gave the world entrance into the portal of heaven.
God’s hour. Christ’s hour. And by his grace, our hour as well.
I tread carefully here, for in no way would I want to diminish the work of Calvary by suggesting that you and I, mere mortals with an eternal pulse, could measure our kingdom work against the work of the cross. It wouldn’t be fair to Jesus; his glorification of the Father because of his surrendered flesh is too big, too wonderful, too weighty a standard for human shoulders. What I am suggesting, though, is that there may come an hour or two for each one of us that, like Jesus, will become an occasion for the Son of Man to be glorified in us… through us… most days in spite of us.
As the blood-bought children of the Most High God, as the temples of his pulsing Holy Spirit, you and I are given the unbelievable privilege of being a doorkeeper for the King and his kingdom… of making gracious entryway for Jesus and his donkey, the Savior and his cross.
I don’t know when that hour will arrive for you in coming days. Perhaps this one or the next will cradle eternal significance for you and for the life of another. Perhaps in coming days. But of this I am certain…
You won’t have to wait very long for an occasion to display the glory of God in you. He’s just too big of a deal, too wonderful and far too weighty to stay bottled up inside of you. I suppose you could refuse his release—his witness—to those around you; but in doing so, you forsake your God-ordained, sacred responsibility as a believer in Jesus Christ—to glorify God’s name. To make God bigger. To magnify his majesty. To give God the stage so that others might bask in the reality of who he IS.
Oh friends, the hour is upon us. Not just any sixty minutes, but rather an eternal moment when the response of our hearts to Christ’s cross and its reaching grace can make all the difference between life and death for a human soul. Carry your cross this weekend, friends, in light of how our Jesus has carried his. Our hearts may be initially troubled by its weightiness, but what shall we say?
Father, save us from this hour? No, it was for this very reason that we came to this hour. Father, glorify your name through us. (paraphrase of John 10:27-28)
The clock is ticking. May our hearts be willing to keep in tandem with its pace. As always…
Peace for the journey,
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a Word for all seasons…

I remember the day he broke my heart. After a week long vacation of exploring his neck of the woods and getting to know his family, he told me we were “over.” The next morning he drove me to the airport and put me on a plane headed north, back to my parents. I was devastated. Nothing… no words, no Kleenex, not even the kind nun sitting next to me could absorb my grief.
Some pains need some time to work themselves out of a heart. Perhaps you understand.
This particular pain would be no different. I spent the rest of my summer licking my wounds, even having thoughts of transferring to another college. My parents were wonderfully supportive. I don’t think they’d ever seen their baby girl cry so many tears. They loved me back to functioning health, and when September rolled around I made the one mile trek back to college (a hometown school) with a stiff upper lip and a gaping wound.
Asbury College was and still is a relatively small campus. Everybody knew everybody, and everybody knew—almost before returning to the fall semester—that I was suffering with a broken heart. There was a huge “elephant in the room” walking through the campus grounds that semester; everywhere I turned, he was there… not the elephant, but the boy that I loved. He quickly moved on to loving someone else. My heart’s pace walked a bit more slowly. And I never thought my tears would end.
But they did, and now some twenty-seven years down the road, I reflect on that season of my first heartbreak and just exactly where the turnaround began.
It began with the Word of God.
I’ve been a church girl all of my life… loved Jesus, known Jesus from the cradle. I’ve heard his stories, sung his songs, claimed his love, and walked some faith from the earliest of articulations. Along the way, there have been strong moments of clarity regarding my commitment to Christ, and my sophomore year in college would prove to be one of them.
As a teenager I began to lightly study the Bible. My youth pastor and his wife beautifully depicted for me what it meant to walk in discipleship with Christ; as a youth, I memorized a lot of Scripture as a requirement for participation in various missions’ trips. But rigorous Bible study wouldn’t happen for me until my late thirties. Up until that time, it was a gradual “heating up” of my heart and my developing a rich appreciation for what God’s Word could do for me.
In the fall of 1984, God turned up the heat a notch, and I found a scripture (perhaps it found me) that would become my saving grace for that painful season. I don’t know how I happened upon it, but as I did, I was sure that God had penned it into holy writ as a postscript just for me. I didn’t know what to call it then—“it” being when the Word (Logos) of God becomes a personal, spoken word (Rhema) to my heart. Thankfully, my lack of understanding didn’t get in the way of my receiving. Instead, I let it wrap its blanketing warmth around my heart. I quoted it over and over again until it became my certainty, and today (ever time I think on it or hear it quoted by another), I cannot help but attach a memory or two from that season alongside it.
It was the anchor that held me…
“Therefore, we do not lose heart; though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. Therefore, we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:16-18)
Twenty-seven years ago, my heart was in trouble. At eighteen years of age, that break-up was the largest “momentary trouble” I’d ever faced. I’m so glad that God doesn’t weigh out our needs before giving us his Scripture… as if some verses are reserved for those more sorely troubled. We’re blessed to receive the entirety of God’s Word as a personal anchor for all seasons, whether the heartache is perceived to be big or small.
My heart has moved on from the summer of 1984. My light and momentary troubles have changed over the years. There were more heart “aches” to follow that initial one, and as they arrived, even more of God’s Word to comfort and anchor my weary soul. But I’ve never forgotten that beginning “word” that helped me through that rough patch, and friends, I don’t suppose I’ll ever forget the current “word” that has helped me through this recent rough one.
It “found” me in much the same way as 2 Cor. 4:16-18 did in 1984… almost as if God had penned a postscript into Scripture just for me. Even though I had read it before, I’d never read it through the eyes of personal suffering. It gripped me seven months ago. It grips me still. It has been and will continue to be the anchor that holds me in the days to come…
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10-11).
God himself… restoring me. God using the best of what man has to offer me, but in the end, God himself… restoring me. Renewing me. Making me strong and firm in my footing and steadfast in my faith. Father God laying brick upon brick between mortar mixed by his own hands, making sure that the broken walls before him are restored to a beauty not yet seen. A loveliness not yet imagined.
Many doctors, nurses, friends, family members, and even strangers have held my hands in recent days, speeding me on toward my recovery. But only One has held my heart, making me his priority and making sure that I arrive safely there. Only God is capable of such healing. Only God knows when enough is enough. Only God holds the words, writes the words, and speaks the words that can truly tether a soul to eternity.
Perhaps today you need a word from God as well. Perhaps you’ve already claimed one as your personal postscript from his hand. Perhaps you’d like to use one of mine. God’s Word is a foothold for all seasons, including all manner of heartbreaks, heart “aches.” If your heart is filled with ample tears in this moment, then God’s Word is you answer. It’s filled with truth; it breathes everlasting. Dig in and take hold.
To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Peace for the journey,
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PS: A special thanks to Sheri for starting a scholarship fund for my attendance at She Speaks this year; I am humbled by her kindness.
six months that will preach…

six months that will preach…

“Six months.”

That was Dr. Habal’s response to me last August when I inquired of him how long this cancer treatment process would take. A process that, thus far, has included:

  • three surgeries,
  • eight rounds of chemotherapy,
  • four doctors,
  • countless vials of surrendered blood,
  • PET/CT scans,
  • thousands of miles on the road,
  • a growing stack of medical bills,
  • sleepless nights,
  • up to eight medications in a single dosage,
  • hair loss,
  • nail loss,
  • weight gain,
  • sexual desire obliterated,
  • neuropathy in feet and hands,
  • prostheses fitting, and…
  • innumerable moments of confusion, discouragement, and just plain feeling like I would never climb out from the bottom of my malignant pit.

Undoubtedly, further pondering would add to this inventory, but I think you get my point. I don’t bullet list the process to garner your sympathy. I do so to highlight the fact that, had I known what I was signing up for on the front end of my six months, my spirit might have initially failed me. I’m glad I didn’t know. I was fairly confident that what would be required of me would be a stringent test of my totality—body, mind, soul, and spirit. I was also certain that what I would require of my God would be a hefty portion of his daily grace, giving me the “all” that I needed, exactly at the moment of my needing it. He’s been faithful to my requirement, every step along the pathway.

But even though I lacked first-hand knowledge regarding the particulars of how this process was going to flesh itself out—even though it all seemed rather benign and surreal in that initial moment—Dr. Habal’s “six months” statement to me nearly seven months ago felt like a death sentence… felt interminable and everlasting.

That was then, and this is now. Six months have come and gone, and just yesterday I made the return 150 mile trek back to Dr. Habal’s office to benchmark the moment. There was laughter and hugs aplenty; Nurse Beth has since given birth to beautiful baby boy Caleb and was more than happy to share his photographs with us—a new life to celebrate on both counts, hers and mine. Dr. Habal was reassuring in his assessment of my healing chest wounds and in regards to my follow-up, oncological treatment at Cape Fear Valley Cancer Center. I left his office feeling a bit renewed, like I had accomplished a great feat… a freeing of sorts from my malignant pit.

And I thought about the surrender of my last six months… the brevity and longevity of its witness.

So much taken away. So much added to my daily routine. So much death coursing through my veins. So much life harboring beneath the soil, waiting for resurrection’s song. So much trauma, drama, entrances and exits. So much crying, trying, hoping and praying. So much searching. So much hurting. So much loneliness. So much loving. So much of everything wrapped up into the surrender of my last six months. 

So much life yet to live because of my surrender to the last six months.

And somewhere in the midst of all of it—the best and the worst of my everything—is a sermon (as my father likes to say) that will “preach.” A homily, a witness, a testifying grace to the worthiness of a life surrendered to a “six month” process of chosen suffering so that a malignancy could be removed. So that new life could begin… again.

I imagine that all of us, if we haven’t already, will reach a point in our earthly tenures of having to surrender our lives to a “six month” suffering in order to know some healing. A “six month” process of dying to something in order to take hold of God’s everything. Some of us will walk it more heavily than others. For some, the requirement will be greater. For some, a lesser portion. But all of our surrenders to our “six months,” when given to the charge and keep of our Father, will birth a beautiful forward glance because of a backward willingness to bow down, dig in, and fight hard for the healing.

Six months of chosen surrender can author a glorious resurrection for the dying pilgrim. Six months of sacred submission can yield a celebrated renaissance that will resonate far more clearly, far more brilliantly than had not the yielding been chosen.

Six months of surrender.

I’ve walked mine in anticipation of the next…

six months.

How differently I imagine them to unfold than the previous ones. How expectantly I pray that they will. I pray the same for you, my good, pilgrim friends.

Perhaps this day you’re standing on the front side of your “six months.” Perhaps somewhere in the middle. Perhaps, like me, you’re filtering out of that season, standing on the hindsight of your surrender and feeling the depths of what it is to have known so much, walked so much, suffered so much. Wherever your heart and flesh are in this moment, I’m living proof that all of our surrendered seasons, when lived under the scrutiny and watchful eyes of our Father, will culminate to give each one of us a backward glance that “will preach” for all of eternity.

They may not feel good to you. You may not want them—your six months of surrender—but when they arrive as a certainty upon the soil of your “next,” my God and I want you to know that you can survive with them. You can even thrive in the middle of them. You, most assuredly, can live beyond them. Why? Because we serve a with them, in the middle of them, beyond them God. He has not abandoned you. He has authored you, and he will walk you through your next six months.

Thanks be to God for the indescribable gift of his continuing, durable, and fortified presence in our lives. He lives so that we can live tomorrow. Today as well. As always…

Peace for the journey,


PS: FYI… I didn’t win the scholarship to She Speaks, but I appreciate your good thoughts and prayers along the way. It’s all good.

one word…

“Just one word from You, and everything changes.
Just one word from You, will bring me life.”
–Vicky Beeching {“Listening”, Eternity Invades, 2010}
Just one word.
I awakened with this refrain running through my thoughts this morning. I’ve been thinking on it ever since… pondering the one word that would mean the most to me. The one or two or five situations in my life and the one or two or five situations in a friend’s life where one word from the everlasting Word would change the landscape of both of our lives.
One word. One thought. One loving look. One wink or nod in my direction. One break in the clouds. One droplet from the sky. One ripple in the water. One whisper from behind the veil. One gentle grace released from the Father’s heart, and everything changes…
for all eternity.
I don’t know what it is about our prayers that move the heart of the Father in one direction or the other, but I do believe that they do… move the heart of the Father. And today I’m just bold enough, harbor faith enough, to bring a few thoughts before him and ask him for that one word that would change everything… that would bring me life.
Perhaps you’d like to join me in the pondering—to take some time this weekend and speak some words to the Father, believing that with his one word, everything in your life will change…
for all eternity.
God’s words have eternal consequences. He doesn’t speak them casually or coincidentally. Instead, he considers them reverently and then reveals them to us with all the confidence and certitude of heaven. We may not always like what he has to say, but we can be certain that when he speaks, everything in our lives will change…
for all eternity.
Of this I am convinced, friends. There have been a few one word moments in my life over the past year, and eternity reverberates with the witness of what I’ve chosen to do with God’s holy utterings. How I pray always to be found faithful with their receiving, even more so with the living of them out on the pavement of my everyday life.
And so this day I pray for that one word from God that will make the best difference for all of his eternity. His glory. He renown. He knows what that one word will be regarding my one or two or five situations. He knows the desires of my heart, even as he knows his own. And somewhere between the two—my desires and his—an understanding is reached. A decision is made. A holy word is spoken.
I wait in anticipation of what that might be, whenever and however he chooses its release.
What is the one situation in your life right now that could benefit from a single nod from heaven—a sacred one word from the Father’s heart that would bring you life? The one word that would change everything… for all eternity? I imagine that you are intimately acquainted with that situation… that it rests heavily upon your heart and even more prominently in your thoughts. Even as I have asked myself that question, it doesn’t take long for me to recall my one or two or five weighty situations.
One of them pertains to my writing; in particular, my recent WIP (you can read about it here). Along those lines, I’d like the opportunity to flesh out my ideas with other Christian writers and make some stronger connections in the publishing arena. Lysa TerKeurst at Proverbs 31 ministries is offering two Cecil Murphy Scholarships to attend this year’s She Speaks Conference in July (a conference for women interested in speaking, writing, and leadership). I was able to attend the conference a couple of years ago and would like to attend again this year. There are still a couple of variables to weigh out in the matter in regards to my participation, but I’ve been praying over it and am confident of God’s leading in the weeks to come. I suppose I don’t have to tell you what a scholarship would mean to me.


It’s just one of the few things I’m earnestly talking to God about in this season of my life. It’s not the most important thing but important enough to warrant a few prayers in anticipation of God’s one word. I would appreciate yours as well. Now, if you care to share, what is the one situation in your life that needs the application of our Father’s one word? I’d love to pray for you this weekend. You mean more to me than you know. As always…
Peace for the journey,

PS: If you’d like to read more about my first visit to She Speaks, click here.

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