…Also Known as Borrowing Trouble

It used to be that the “what ifs” kept me awake at night. You can read about that here. That doesn’t happen a lot these days, and I find it pretty easy to transition from having slept in my recliner for two or three hours to getting right back to sleep in the bed.

Nowadays, sleeplessness shows up at dawn–if dawn arrives at 4am. Waking up that early isn’t so bad. It’s an opportunity to sit in our quiet home and read the Bible and pray. It’s just that the time between that moment my eyes open and when I finally get up is a bit problematic; because most mornings, as soon as my eyes open, this big old giant elephant rushes in and jumps onto my chest, almost suffocating me with heavy and unwelcome anxiety. Awful thoughts pour into my brain in those few moments.

Why? Why does this happen? Did the dreams I can never remember assault my mind while I slept? Is the enemy attacking, hoping to paralyze my day with fear? Am I doing this to myself? Because, if I’m doing this to myself, I’m going to be really mad at me!

These days, my anxieties aren’t because one of my kids might fall into a well (read the article). And I know I’m not alone in this–we all have concerns, right? The “what ifs” invade our minds, the elephant makes a trampoline of our chests, and our peace becomes a ruins.

Jesus knew this would happen. Matthew, chapter 6, is a gold mine of encouragement and instruction for those of us who are overtaken by the anxieties of life. Jesus told his followers, “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” (6:25)

But what about sickness, Jesus? People I love are sick. “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” (6:27)

And then there’s this precious exhortation: “… do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (6:34)

I know, I know. Some days this is so much easier to say than to do. I’m there right now. Very serious concerns have visited our home. It’s easy to fill my mind so full of anxiety that I completely lose all peace. But the great Peace Maker won’t let me. He sticks close beside me; He is the shadow on my right hand (Ps. 121:5), and all I have to do is look to Him and be assured He won’t leave me. Peace ultimately arrives and pushes the anxiety into the background. Oh, how I wish I could say it goes away and never returns. I’m working on that.

In the meantime, I keep certain verses close. Psalm 94:19 – “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.” I begin my mornings with this verse, remembering all the blessings in my life, thanking God for everything wonderful that comes to mind. Take that, silly elephant! And get off my chest.

Here are a few more verses I remember; perhaps they will bless you, too.

Psalm 142:3a – “When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path.”

God told Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” (1:5a). He knows us, too. He knew before we were born what path our lives would take. He knew the struggles we would fight, the fears that would overwhelm.

GOD KNOWS, friend. GOD CARES for us. He will never leave us on our own. 

When I told the world about my husband’s cancer diagnosis, I was overwhelmed by the compassion of friends. More than one friend referenced Psalm 121, which I have now adopted as my “rudder” as I steer through these new and treacherous waters. It’s a beautiful promise, and I can barely read it without shouting. “I will life up my eyes to the hills; from where shall my help come? MY HELP COMES FROM THE LORD, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; HE WHO KEEPS YOU will not slumber.” (Psalm 121:1-3).

God is my keeper, my shade, my protector from evil, the guard of my soul. He’s my Good Father. Amen.

God bless your day, dear friends. And remember, it’s all about HIM.

My Help Comes From the Lord

(This picture was taken in 2013 when the Forsyth Jail & Prison Ministries’ staff traveled to Israel. We were on the way up to Jerusalem. No matter which direction you travel in Israel, Jerusalem is always up, as it is the highest point in the land. No wonder David chose it as his stronghold.)

With all that is happening in the world, as well as the shock waves running through our immediate family, my soul has been drenched in a jumble of emotions, spilling out through my eyes and–not so quietly–through my mouth. Desperation attempts to consume me. It eats through hours of sleeplessness and keeps my soul restless.

What a great comfort these last few days have been. We are friend-blessed and have felt your prayers for our family. Our hearts are overwhelmed with gratitude for the love you have shown. And, interestingly, not only did my mind go to Psalm 121, but I have also had friends reference it in their communications with me. That, my friends, is a God thing. This psalm reminds me that my help comes from the Lord. I have to focus my eyes above the challenges facing our family and look to the hills to God, who is my refuge and my strength. This promise has brought shouts of joy to my soul. Also, while searching the scriptures this morning, I found this:

Isaiah 41:10 – “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

God’s Word. Love.

What about you? Is your life on a roller-coaster these days? There certainly is a lot to throw us off the tracks, isn’t there? Look to the hills, precious person. God will not allow your foot to slip.  The One who keeps us does not sleep. He holds us up with His righteous right hand. He’s fully aware of it all and completely in charge.

Love you guys. Have a blessed day.

And remember, it’s all about HIM.

-Claudette

The Color ‘C’ (The Cancer Journals)

***Update July 6, 2029: Discussion with radiologist was fairly positive. She said that if Dave has to have cancer and surgery, he is in the best position for that. She said he is Stage 2 on a cancer scaling; on a Gleason scale he is an 8, but it’s so very early in the process that it’s not some of the grade 8’s that you would read about online (which she told us not to do). He meets with his doctor at the end of July, and they discuss his options again. And then they will schedule his surgery for sometime in August. He has a bone scan on Thursday, but the doctor thinks that will be a negative result, just like the lymph glands. So looks like at the moment it’s all contained in the prostate. They caught this really early, and the actual aggressive cells were only 10% of the total biopsy results. Whew, that makes me feel much calmer. Dave feels better too, but now he has to deal with the surgery and all that entails.***

Wait a minute, letters aren’t colors! Oh, really? Well, let me ask you, does your world change colors when you experience different life events? It does? Aha! So, letters and words do make colors. I can distinctly remember events in my life through the years that I refer to as “gray” periods.

I would venture to say that not many folks can say their lives haven’t changed color by the ‘C’ word—cancer. We’ve maybe lost loved ones, dear friends, or experienced cancer personally. For Dave and me, it was family members–my mother and brother, his father. These losses colored our worlds for a time with the grays and blacks of grief.

Now, we are facing cancer up close and personal, with Dave’s recent diagnosis of prostate cancer. Man, I hate even writing those words (excuse me a moment; I have something in my eyes). There you have it–the man that I have loved and lived with for two-thirds of my life, has cancer. Now, before you go all Marcus Welby on me (younger generations may need to Google this reference ) , I know all the statistics that say that this is pretty easily contained and that at his age, prostate cancer will not likely be the thing that “takes him out”– his words. That does not really help. Inside the body of my beautiful husband, an enemy is lurking. And I don’t like it one single, itty bitty little second.

As a believer, how do I face this? God knows my sadness and fear in this moment, and He’s not disappointed in my emotion. If I were to be angry with Him, shake my fist in His face (God forbid!), and turn my back on Him, He would just sit and wait patiently for me to turn back around and run to to Him. I understand, I believe, and I trust that God is bigger than any disease, including cancer. I trust God to do His will, for His purpose, in every circumstance of my life. I teach this to other believers, because I so strongly believe it. God is every moment my Comforter.

In times of anxiety and sleeplessness, I quote one of my favorite verses, found in Psalm 94:19 – “When my anxious thought multiply within me, Your consolations delight my soul.”

Dave has really been a trooper, and his response provides a bit more calm to my heart. He refers to cancer as “body rust.” Once it starts, it doesn’t stop, so there needs to be some kind of serious intervention, or it will just eat right through us. If left alone, the affected part can cause total breakdown. Sometimes treatment is called for, and sometimes the rusted part needs to be completely removed (e.g., his prostate). Yeah, he’s pretty wise like that. I think I’ll keep him.

No matter what, when my world gets rocked and turns gray, God is and remains in total control of my life, of Dave’s life, and of your life. This is not a platitude, my friend; this is truth.

Be blessed, and remember, it’s all about HIM.
-Claudette

Our “Adopted” Children

In addition to our own two children and five grandchildren, Dave and I have a number of young people we refer to as our heart children. They’ve come into our lives through the years and captured our hearts. We don’t know what it is that caused us to love them, but we can’t deny that God placed a deep love for them inside of us.  Most of them belong to happy, loving families, so it’s not like we feel the need to “rescue” them. For some of these young folks, it’s almost like the scripture that talks about souls being knitted together. I clearly remember looking at a young couple visiting our church and immediately loving them. Dave and I barely knew their names, but we knew they were going to be our “kids.” To this day, they have our hearts, and have also given us a heart-grandchild (he calls us Grandma Claudette and Grandpa Pastor).

To my memory, it began when a friend of one of our children called us “mom” and “pop.” At first we were surprised, but it didn’t take long to decide we really liked the reference. Considering us in that way represented to us a sort of trust that we were there for them. Even today a few of our kids’ friends continue to refer to us in that way, even though they are now grown and have children of their own. At one of our churches, one of our members called me mom because, in his culture, pastor’s wives are considered the church mother or first lady. He and his wife remain precious to us to this day. Kids who grew up in churches Dave pastored occasionally still seek us out for advice. I have some “adopted” kids that I met through various online forums. Our grandsons friends call us grandma and “dad.” We love each and every one of these young people, and we are honored that they share their lives with us. We consider it a high calling and a great privilege.

As believers in Christ, it doesn’t surprise God when we call Him Father, or Daddy, or Papa. In fact, He rather enjoys it. We have been adopted as His children, and His heart is knitted to ours.  Because we are His children, we are precious to Him; and like the Good Parent that He is, He is interested in every aspect of our lives. He forever wants the best for us. I don’t understand why God loves me, but I know that He does. I am grateful to be His child, and I know that I can always depend on Him to care for me and love me unconditionally.  

Ephesians 1:4-6 says, “… He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (NASB)

How wonderful is that?

Have a great day, everyone. Remember, it’s all about HIM.