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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Stranger vs. Friend

The last six days have taught me many, many lessons. One is a lesson from which we can all gain great insight and value.

What do you do when someone you know goes through great suffering? I have never known the answer and in my fear and uncertainty I have more often than not been guilty of doing nothing.

I remember one of the first times cancer touched my life. About ten years ago, our Sunday school teacher was diagnosed with cancer. I remember the Sunday they shared his diagnosis with us. I was sitting in a chair right behind his precious wife, Gracie. The Lord laid such a burden on my heart for her and what she must be going through. I sat through the class silently crying yet on the inside my heart was weeping and wailing and wouldn’t stop for a long, long time. I didn’t know them very well, as we had just begun attending the class. The Lord told me to write her a note. He even gave me the words to say. But in my fear, I didn’t. I prayed for them but they never knew it. When he went to heaven I wanted so badly to share with her, to weep with her, to hold her and to hug her. But I didn’t because I felt I had lost my opportunity. Fear had stolen it again.

Another time this happened was a few years ago when I really felt a burden to pray for our pastor and his wife. I really didn’t know them that well. Just well enough to say hi with a smile inn passing. Each morning when I would go the local gym to work out, I would see the pastor’s wife. Many mornings, I would have to get off the treadmill and go hide myself in a bathroom stall and compose myself. I felt such a burden to pray for them. Again, the Lord showed me to send her a letter. He even gave me the words to write. And again, my fear held me captive in a prison of isolation and silence. About a week after the Lord had told me to write to her telling her I was praying, they went through an extremely difficult time. I wanted so badly to go to her and pray the words that I’d been praying all along for her in person. Again, I felt I had lost my opportunity. Fear had stolen from me again.

So, I want to encourage you. If God is telling you to do something for someone you know who is going through a hard time. Just do it. They will receive it. Looking at life and death decisions every minute of the day leaves us exhausted and unconcerned about what our children will eat for dinner or whether they will be on time to school with their homework. I just want them to eat and be lovingly tended.

Over the last six days I have learned this. I will not tell people to “call me if you need something.” I will never hesitate to call, send a note, show up on the doorsteps with a meal, a gift or an offer again. Never. I will not be afraid that I am too much of a “stranger” to share in suffering. Because I have learned in the world of suffering there are no strangers.

Jesus (told) a story, "There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead.

"A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man's condition, his heart went out to him…

From Luke 10; The story of the good Samaritan; The Message


Your friend,

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Color Guard Advance


Hello Glad Chatters! This is Kathy Scott, chatting about Spiritual Warfare tonight.

We are convinced that there is spiritual warfare going on here! There are so many messages and testaments of God's goodness in what is happening in our lives right now, that we are convinced that spiritual warfare is underway. Some specific evidence has proved to us that Satan is trying to scare us, irritate us, and stop our ministry. The bible reminds us in Ephesians 6:12, "Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms."

I'd like to share an experience that I had when I began my prayer journey years ago. I was a member of Mims Baptist Church in Conroe, TX, when they built their prayer room about 17 years ago. I was so in love with God, and serving in the church, that I joined the prayer ministry. Every week I went to the church at a particular time and prayed over requests. We were asked to sort through the Rolodex of prayer requests and pray for those that the Lord laid on our hearts. I loved going to the prayer room. God's presence was in that place with such peace.

One particular prayer request changed my life. There was a petition to pray for a young man that was part of a satanic cult. I was extremely burdened to pray for him. One of my best friends was an awesome, outspoken, believer in Christ. Her brother, however, was the complete opposite, and even sacrificed her cat to Satan. I knew that the request was real. I was burdened for my friend's brother, and I instantly was burdened for this man. So, I fervently prayed for him during that hour in the prayer room at Mims Baptist Church, weeping for his lost soul that would surely see hell if he didn't find Jesus.

As I drove off of the church parking lot, my spirit immediately changed. I felt fear, and I heard in my spirit a warning. If I continued to pray for that man, bad things would happen to me. For an instant I was afraid, but it came to me that if Satan was trying to scare me, then my prayers must have power! Matthew 16:23 came to me, and I spoke the words of Jesus out loud in my car, "Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me!" James 5:16 says, "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." I have courageously prayed for that man, and sent many other petitions to God, ever since.

What I want you to know is that there are things going on here that we cannot see. I am encouraging you to read Ephesians 6:13-18, and put on the full armor of God. You have the authority to speak God's word and erase the fear when it engulfs you. Fear is not from God. Just like cancer is not from God.

Despite what the enemy tried to do today, he did not rob us of our joy! It was a joyful day! Your prayers were felt, and God's spirit was very peaceful and powerful today. Stay the course Glad Chatters. KNOW that we are praying one for another. You're being prayed over as prayer warriors, too. The bible asks us to pray one for another.

We stirred the hornet's nest with all of our constant noise to the Lord; however, we have the victory through Jesus!

See Lisa's day below.

The Blessing of Normalcy

I woke up at 8:00 this morning. I laid in bed snuggling under the covers not wanting to leave its warmth. I put on my velour sweatsuit, wool scarf and fuzzy boots. I got my girl ready for a chilly day of soccer.

Then I got an email from Dr. Wang, one of the top oncologists in the world. Really? Ordinary Lisa Smith? Really? The average girl. This girl next door has an extremely rare and aggressive form of cancer? Top doctors from all over the United States are calling her. Even late at night and on the weekends. Weird.

Suddenly I feel anything but average. I am a member of clubs I have never really given a second thought to joining. Cancer Survivor. Sarcoma Diagnosis. Mastectomy. Reconstruction. Weird.

The day was so normal. Dinner with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and one of the cutest little angels. ever.

Then we hug goodbye. Tears. Weird.

The day was good and normal. and weird.

PS Dr. Wang said we were on a good path with a good plan toward seeing the best doctor in sarcoma. Keep praying for Dr. Trent.

Chatter Together

Hi Glad Chatter Friends! I'm Chatter Kathy Scott! I'm filling in for Lisa tonight.

I have to ask, what is Chatter? I looked the word up and discovered that it is a constant noise, and boy have we been making a constant noise to our God! I'm here tonight to express the awe and wonder that we have seen in the body of Christ, as we petition to our Lord on behalf of Lisa and her family.

As Lisa, or her family even utters a need, it hasn't failed that someone is calling at that very moment to fulfill the need. Just a simple example, Lisa was saying to her mom that she really needed to change the sheets on her bed. Someone arrived at her home and offered to help clean, wash the clothes, and change the sheets on her bed.

A huge concern was the need to find the right doctors. As they searched for the perfect physicians to treat Lisa, four friends recommended the same doctors. Please continue to pray for these physicians, the nurses, and medical financial needs to be met.

There is a married couple that owns a house two blocks from MD Anderson. They were going to sell the house a few months ago, but felt like God told them not too. They felt like God told them that someone was going to need to stay in the house during their cancer treatment very soon. They have offered their home to Lisa and her family, believing that she is the very one that God was talking about.

These are only a few of the examples of God answering prayer. I will continue to share the ways that God is meeting Lisa's needs, but would like to share with you a few other thoughts, too.

JUST DO IT! If you feel like helping, JUST DO IT! Sign up on Lisa's Prayer Wall to ensure that she is receiving 24/7 prayer. You may also sign up on the Care Calendar to provide meals and childcare. The links are on this blog to the left hand side of the screen. Caring Bridge has been set up also, so that you may receive email notifications and updates.

It's important that you know that people are texting, emailing, and doing things for the family; and, they are embracing every bit of encouragement and help! If you feel like the Lord is giving you a word, then send it! If you feel like God is telling you that there is a need, there probably is one! We are asking that you follow God's direction.

Through this experience, it has come to light just how many people are suffering from cancer. Lisa wants to share with you that, "Cancer is bad, but God is good." She has received hundreds of emails from other cancer fighters and is very encouraged by the testimonies. Thank you for sharing, and continuing to encourage her, and her family.

Thank you for being a Glad Chatter, and sending constant praise and petition to our Lord, Jesus. Ephesians 6:18 says, "Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints." Keep praying dear Glad Chatters!

Kathy

Friday, January 29, 2010

Slides

The slides will go to MDA on Monday. Praise God! I will share the miraculous story later.

Dr. Jon Trent has corresponded with me via email, viewed my path report and CT scan and agreed to take me as his patient.

I will start the process to be admitted to MDA on Monday. Pam in MDA's sarcoma dept. is helping me. Pray for her. Jennifer at Scott & White Temple is sending my slides. Pray for her. Sandy, my primary doctor's nurse is coordinating all efforts. Pray for her.

I have an appointment with a local plastic surgeon Monday afternoon at 4:00.

We plan to spend time as a family, enjoying soccer, the cold weather and church this weekend.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Philippians 4:4



Urgent Prayer Needed

We have an urgent prayer request here. So many wonderful friends have worked on my behalf and Dr. Trent has a copy of my pathology report but needs my pathology slides in his hands before I can get an appointment with him. I had a friend in Temple go to the clinic to pick them up this morning and it seems that they may have been sent to Dallas without my permission as originally my request to my insurance to be covered by MDA was denied but they did approve Baylor Dallas...Long story short, MDA was approved by no one notified the lab or the doctor in Dallas. This isn't a huge problem because I also have a doctor friend in Dallas who can pick up the slides today and overnight them to MDA but right now the slides are missing...Pray, pray, pray

This is urgent because I just received an email from Missy at It's Almost Naptime (wouldn't you know she'd have some amazing connections!!) and her friend at MDA who interned with Dr. Trent (coincidentally?! God!!) called him and he told her that he needs my slides and then he will agree to see me as soon as possible (in the world of cancer that is in the next two weeks...she begged him to do it sooner)

Good news from surgeon's visit and CT scan. The surgeon is in agreement with ALL specialists at this point. The mastectomy is not emergency. The most important thing is being seen and placed in the hands of the best and most experienced sarcoma surgeon I can find. That would be Dr. Cormier or Dr. Feig from the feedback I am getting.

The CT scan showed no significant tumors elsewhere but it did show a 3mm nodule on one of my lungs. Not enough of a concern to remove the lung or the nodule surgically but enough of a concern to watch (and we definitely want an expert opinion on that to see if that is something that would require chemo or radiation as now we are hearing differing opinions that one or both would be beneficial).

I think Sarah posted this earlier today but I am now having constant pain in the tumor area and on my lower left ribs and I need prayer that this cancer has not spread. The pain coupled with the lung nodule are threatening to take away my immense and overwhelming joy at what God is doing on my behalf.

And, The Storm I wrote about this morning...that message was prayed over me by my 3:30 AM prayer warrior as God was speaking it to me. I received an email from her that she wrote before she read what I posted and I received after I posted. We laughed and cried together celebrating the Living Word.

I cannot wait to tell you how our Great Big God, the Lord of Heavens Armies, gets these slides to Dr. Trent. Just like one of my friends said, "Don't take this the wrong way but this is really exciting!"

God's just like that.

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. James 1:2

Prayer Wall - Sarah

Hello friends of Glad Chatter!

This is Sarah Decker. Lisa asked me to guest post so that all of her readers would have the information about the prayer wall.

This is the post I published on my blog:

I am writing tonight with a heavy heart. I am just now able to process through some things due to new information available.

The summer before I moved to Baylor - Summer 2007 - I spent many days a week babysitting two sweet little boys and sometimes their two older sisters, depending on their busy summer camp schedule. I have such fond memories of walking to the park down the road with a baby in the stroller, two very active girls roller blading, and a curious little boy just taking in every aspect of the walk. I gained amazing wisdom from their sweet mother, Lisa, who shared her stories about growing up, going to college, and falling in love. At this time that she was such an important part of my life, my relationship with Brian was just beginning and going through some rough spots while he was a counselor at Camp Lone Star. I remember right before leaving we were talking about her favorite book, Redeeming Love, and the many things it taught her. I was amazed. Without a second thought she lent me her very own copy and I read the book 3 times before giving it back to her! I have always been amazed by Lisa's "go get 'em" attitude and her oldest daughter, Julia, walking her mom's footsteps with the same spunk for life. Lisa loves her children. She would come home from a busy day of work and running errands and just sit on the couch and cuddle. One time, about a year ago, I was in town and drove by to say hello after more than a year without seeing the kids. She was playing Wii with her two youngest children. She is filled with joy around her children. Her children are filled with joy around her. She has a husband who is a leader and a provider. A husband who fits her spunky attitude perfectly - a husband who has fun with her.

Unfortunately, there is a bump in the road. This week, Lisa was diagnosed with sarcoma of the breast. This is not considered breast cancer, it is sarcoma that was found in the breast. In her latest blog post, Lisa stated that out of nearly 30,000 cases of breast cancer studied at the Mayo Clinic over the last 50 years, 25 were sarcoma of the breast. The church I grew up in, where the Smiths are active members, sent out an urgent prayer request for Lisa stating a few more details about sarcoma. It is a rare form of cancer that is non-responsive to chemo or radiation, the only choice is an "emergency" mastectomy. Please visit her blog for current updates.

I have been plagued by pain and grief for Lisa. The e-mail also mentioned her children, especially one of the girls, having lots of questions. I can only imagine what they are all going through. I have been plagued with the concept that all I can do is spread the word and pray. Until now, I didn't think that was enough.

I need your help. Each and every single one of you. I would like to start a prayer wall for Lisa and her family. I desire that she is covered in prayer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The best way to do this is to spread the word and find 30 minutes, an hour, or however long you can commitand a specific day or days that you can commit to prayer for the Smiths. If you would like to commit to praying for Lisa and Andrew and their children, Julia (10), Alyssa (8), Hunter (6), and Palmer (4), become a part of the prayer wall by:
  1. Emailing smithprayerwall@yahoo.com
  2. If you have a Facebook account, become a fan of "Prayer Wall for Lisa Smith" to receive updated information about Lisa's medical updates and prayer wall hours.
When committing to the prayer wall, please be sure to include your name, city, state, and the time(s) you can commit to prayer. I cannot wait to see the miracles our Lord will work through this unfortunate circumstance - all for HIS glory!


Thank you so much for being a part of the daily encouragement for the Smith family. I am overwhelmed with the responses to this prayer wall and I can only imagine how overwhelmed with joy the Smiths are feeling. Lisa has expressed thanks on numerous accounts. Will you join us in blessing Lisa and her family through prayer?

-Sarah

This Storm

I woke up at 3:00 this morning to a raging storm outside my window. This is a favorite feeling of mine. I love the steady rhythm of rain pounding on the windows and roof and the quiet roll of thunder in the distance.

But, my heart flies out of my chest when the center of the storm passes. The roughest part. The thunder is loud and unpredictable, the raindrops give way to hail and a real Texas thunderstorm is born. Tonight I even screamed when the electricity went off and on in a power surge.

I first thought of the disciples on the boat in a big storm with waves rolling and the ship threatening to toss them while Jesus peacefully slept.

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. Matthew 8:23-24

You know the story; the disciples frantically wake up Jesus and Jesus calms the storm. The Message says that Jesus made the sea “as smooth as glass.”

Immediately as I thought of this story, I thought of God’s promise. The reason Jesus could sleep.

He won't let you stumble, your Guardian God won't fall asleep. Not on your life! Israel's Guardian will never doze or sleep. 
Psalm 121:3-4 The Message

Jesus slept soundly and peacefully, he was at rest because His Father never sleeps.

Two things I long to remember as I travel this journey by boat. I want to be like Jesus and never forget My Father is fighting so I can rest.

Prayer update:

Please add the countless others commenting here who are enduring their own storms with cancer.

Please pray for Charlotte’s father as he undergoes surgery. He is having a terrible reaction similar to Joyful’s dad last year.




Thursday, January 28, 2010

the night's update

I now know I need to go through the sarcoma dept. not the breast cancer dept. and am seeking an audience with Dr. Janice Cormier, Dr. Jonothan Trent, Rafael Pollock, Peter Pisters, and Barry Feig. Dr. Trent now has a copy of my path report.

God has moved miraculously to allow me to speak personally to two MDA doctors tonight. One currently there and one former staff member who has so graciously listened to my case and forwarded my path report to Dr. Trent. I also learned from a higher up doctor at MDA this morning, Dr. Nora Janjan, that I have the best chance of seeing Dr. Janice Cormier.

Prayer warriors pray that I see a sarcoma specialist at MDA as early as tomorrow. Pray that I see THE sarcoma specialist that God has this opportunity planned in advance for...the one that will minister to me, the one that He has chosen me to minister to.
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Good night and sweet sleep to you all!
when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

Feeling very hopeful,

the day's update

so many prayers have been answered today. from people volunteering to help with children, to house cleaning, to getting all the info i need to apply to md anderson tomorrow. please pray specifically as i am trying to see Dr. Janice Cormier a sarcoma surgeon. pray i am seen quickly and do not have to wait as i will also be consulting with a local surgeon Dr. Steines in the morning. the decisions are at times overwhelming. please pray we have very clear direction and many open doors. love to each of you for the beautiful sacrifice of your time spent in prayer and service. pray i get much needed sleep tonight. i was able to eat a small meal for the first time tonight. two people sent me the 23rd Psalm before 8 AM this morning. i think that very small meal felt like a feast at a banquet table in the presence of my enemies! Praising God for all!


Invitation to Prayer

Lisa Smith Glad Chatter

I have many messy thoughts but think that there's a message in here for us.

One of the most amazing things I have witnessed in the last couple of days is what suffering invites us to. Suffering is a door that when we choose to step over the threshold in His grace, we enter a place that is so deep and so close to His heart, it takes our breath away. Suffering also extends an invitation to others to step through with you as we bear one another's burdens.

As I have talked with family and close loved ones, many shared their own trials. Hard trials. Trials that have caused me to weep with great grief.
Please pray for Andrea as she buried her precious 3-year-old son this week who was tragically killed in a very freak accident.
Please pray for Deanna as her father "Coach" entered the gates of heaven forever free from cancer on Monday.
Please pray for Melinda as she undergoes her third surgery for brain cancer on Monday and then will begin chemo. encourage her here
And pray today for Tina's mom as she undergoes surgery for breast cancer.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15

Also my wonderful friend Sarah Deckerhas taken on the task of building a 24 hour prayer wall for my family. Please visit her blog to sign up to pray for us, to receive updates or to copy my prayer button her sweet fiance made. You can receive updates via email or facebook this way. She has directions on her blog. The staggering volume of emails, messages, texts, phone calls, ringing doorbells is the most humbling thing I've ever experienced. That people would be willing to lift up my precious family 24 hours a day is hugely overwhelming in itself. I've been amazed at how God has used this to unite the body on my behalf. Different churches, different denominations, different theologies, One God. United in prayer. Storming heaven for a miracle. That is a miracle to me.

Also wanted yall to meet my friend Kathy who will keep my blog updated during my surgery, recovery and at any other times I am unable to post.

The body is a beautiful thing.

Last night as I lay sleeping, which is a huge answer to prayer, I dreamed of Queen Esther going before the throne of King Xerxes asking him to extend his sceptor, listen to her plea and save her life. My first thought was how I will be going before Dr. Arun (and now also searching for Dr. Weiss) and begging her to hear my case, to take my case, to spare my life. But as I prayed the Lord showed me I've been before the King, He has extended his hand to me and the steps are already in order to save my life.

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Psalm 23:5





Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

***UPDATING AGAIN 11:30 PM***Just discovered a dr who specializes in this at md anderson. am calling at 8 AM to ask her to see me. Please pray for Dr. Arun.

***UPDATE***9:18 PM***Just spoke with the doctor and I will see surgeon on Friday. Surgery is being planned for Tuesday. Some facts I accidentally left out are that the tumor is 2 to 3 cm in size. This is a relatively small tumor compared to the tumor sizes in other cases in the studies. That is very encouraging news. I will go in for a CT scan at 10:30 in the morning. I will update as soon as I speak with the surgeon tomorrow. Thank you all for your love and prayers.

Just a quick update. When I showed up at 8:30, I learned the receptionist had misbooked my appointment. I was told to come back Friday. I almost broke down right there. My sweet husband handled this for me and Dr. Rodriguez saw me at 11:00.

This turned out to be a huge blessing because I was able to come home and sleep for two hours. When I woke up I felt so strong and refreshed as I haven't been sleeping at night.

Dr. R was the kindest and most compassionate doctor. He teared up many times as he explained what was happening in my body.

Right now and until my pathology report is complete, the diagnoses is not breast cancer. It is sarcoma of the breast. Out of 28,000 cases of breast cancer the Mayo Clinic has seen over the last 50 years, 25 were sarcoma of the breast. Sarcoma is an aggressive, highly dense and fast growing cancer.

Sarcoma is a soft tissue cancer originating in the muscles and soft tissue. It is more commonly found on the thigh or calf or even on the kidneys or lungs. The recommended surgery is an "emergency" mastectomy. Dr. R was able to get me a surgeon's appointment Monday afternoon but wasn't too happy with that because he wanted it to be tomorrow with the surgery on Friday.

Enter my most caring doctor in the whole wide world who has become a soldier in this ordeal, Dr. Wagner. I went in to his office because my daughter had a prescheduled appointment this afternoon. Was that God or what? So I had a captive audience with my loving doctor who has delivered all four of my babies, hugged me and cried through my miscarriages, admitted me to the hospital for septic kidney infections and knows my body like the back of his hand.

As I went over the report with him and the course of action. He shot up out of his chair with fire in him and said he would make a call and get me in with a surgeon out of network and aim for Friday, Monday or Tuesday surgery and make sure the plastic surgeon knows this is an emergency too, something that Dr. R. couldn't do.

Dr. R. is working to get me a referral to MD Anderson in Houston and to the CTRC in San Antonio. The second and third opinions are for further treatment such as chemotherapy. Dr. R. said that unless the cancer has spread to the blood, bones or lungs that chemo would not be very effective. I'd like opinions on that.

Best case scenario, they excise the cancer by performing the mastectomy and I heal. Worst case scenario, they find microscopic cancer in other places and I go through chemo.

Cancer is ugly.

My eyes will see the king in his beauty...Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.
Isaiah 33:17 & Jeremiah 17:14



This Morning's Prayer

I think this was written just for me...

Psalm 30

A David Psalm
1 I give you all the credit, Godyou got me out of that mess,
you didn't let my foes gloat.

2-3 God, my God, I yelled for help
and you put me together.
God, you pulled me out of the grave,
gave me another chance at l
ife
when I was down-and-out.

4-5 All you saints! Sing your hearts out to God!
Thank him to his face!
He gets angry once in a while, but across
a lifetime there is only love.
The nights of crying your eyes out
give way to days of laughter.


6-7 When things were going great
I crowed, "I've got it made.
I'm God's favorite.
He made me king of the mountain."
Then you looked the other way
and I fell to pieces.

8-10 I called out to you, God;
I laid my case before you:
"Can you sell me for a profit when I'm dead?
auction me off at a cemetery yard sale?
When I'm 'dust to dust' my songs
and stories of you won't sell.

So listen! and be kind!
Help me out of this!"

11-12 You did it: you changed wild lament
into whirling dance;
You ripped off my black mourning band
and decked me with wildflowers.
I'm about to burst with song;
I can't keep quiet about you.
God, my God,
I can't thank you enough.

Remember to be lifting up Dr. Rodriguez this morning. Claim this Psalm for me and for you as you read it.



Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sweet Inadequacy

I have been humbled beyond measure at the gracious love you have poured on me today. How I long to respond personally to every.single.one.of.you. How I long to linger over each word spoken, each prayer prayed, each and every comment but that is not possible. I received over 600 emails today and wept over each one. Thank you for that.

I am simply overwhelmed in the deepest part of me. Thank you for that. I am in awe at how fast God would gather his troops on my behalf. I am excited that I have the privilege of walking this road with so many. He will do great things.

My thoughts on this night are many. Just yesterday I was thinking about how I have never lived completely by faith as we studied faith vs. certainty last week in Daniel. My how things can change over night.

As I lay on my bed last night, I believe the Lord told me that everything, every.single.thing that seems bad in this will be used for good. I believe He showed me that I will LIVE. With all my heart I am believing that in faith. I am not certain but faith is being certain so in faith I am certain.

There are many here to help me now. My house and heart are full. In all the haze that was today, I was able help my husband and be filled with pride as I watched him work, enjoy my sweet Palmer in a park on a perfect day and I actually had time alone in my house where I could put my face to the carpet and weep freely in the Lord's presence. I know some of you are concerned I wouldn't get that time. I got my drama time and God was very near.

I visit with a local oncologist in the morning. Dr. Rodriguez. Please lift him up by name to Our Lord tonight. I will share more tomorrow.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1




Monday, January 25, 2010

It's Cancer

Two words no doctor wants to say. Two words no patient wants to hear. Two words I heard this evening.

The good news is I’m living. The bad news is I’m living with cancer right now.


I feel like I need to go to a meeting and stand and say, “Hi, my name is lisasmith and I have cancer.” Weird.

I would be lying to say I’m not scared. The truth is I’m terrified and unsure and don’t know what the next steps will be.

But God.


God does and that is where I’m resting my feet. I am planting them firmly on His promises of hope and a future.

This morning in my prayer time I felt the Lord telling me to pay attention to the patterns in prayer. I knew He was talking about my children. My children have been attacked at the very points where I know God wants to use them.

Even when I was writing my post The Lunch Table, I felt like the Lord was showing me that the reason I was in speech therapy for so many years growing up was because the enemy was trying to steal my voice. Literally.

I went for an entire four months during college that I couldn’t speak because the nodules on my vocal chords were acting up so badly. I was diagnosed with voice nodules when I was in the fifth grade. Basically, I lose my voice. A lot.

I always thought it was because I talked too much. Now I believe it’s because God has given me a message and the enemy does not want it to be heard.
As I face this attack on my womanhood, I know that it is because I have been given the privilege of touching the heart of other women. As I face this attack on my life, I know it is because I have a reason to live.

So with the Lord of Hosts on my side, I will fight this battle and win!
The “information” is (and this doesn’t mean a whole lot to me so if you have any medical insight, please share.) What the doctor knows so far is that I have a sarcoma, unusual and rare to the breast, not the most common form of breast cancer. The complete pathology report is not ready because the pathologist needs to run more tests on my tissue to determine what type of sarcoma it is, but should be by the end of the week. I will see a surgeon ASAP for a lumpectomy and tissue and lymph node sampling, then an oncologist for staging and a course of treatment.

Please pray for the doctors and the pathologist. Please pray for wisdom and hope and strength. Please pray I would make the most of this “opportunity” and bring God more glory than I could any other way. Please pray for my husband, Andrew and my children Julia (10), Alyssa (8), Hunter (6) and Palmer (3). For my parents, extended family and loved ones.

Please pray that my words don’t leave. When I’m stressed, tired or sick, they tend to go. Pray I fight this battle well and that the Messiah, King of messes would use my mess to make a message of hope. Pray that this test will give way to a beautiful testimony and that many will see and hear and put their trust in our very good and loving God.

I called you…Telling you, ‘I've picked you. I haven't dropped you.'
Don't panic. I'm with you. There's no need to fear for I'm your God.
I'll give you strength. I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you. Isaiah 41:9-10 The Message


Loving Jesus

Do you ever glaze over when you’re reading God’s Word? Do you ever tune out church because you’ve heard that story a million times? Do you ever choose to call a friend or read a book or watch TV instead of reading your Bible because it’s boring or you don’t understand it or it doesn’t help anyway?

I have done all of the above at various times in my life. When I was growing up my mom frequently told me that the Bible held all the answers to life. If I was heartbroken or frustrated or upset or saddened she’d tell me to go read my Bible and I’d feel better.

I read. I never felt better.

In ninth grade we were studying poetry. We all had to interpret an assigned poem and present it for the class. I was assigned a Psalm. I don’t remember which one. I must have read it a thousand times. It wasn’t very long. I had no idea what it meant.

I remember asking God why I couldn’t understand the Bible and asking Him what was wrong with me. I didn’t make a very good grade on the project. I think a B. But it started a questioning in my heart that was good. Very good. I asked God regularly why the Bible was boring to me. I confessed that I thought it was.

High school gave way to college and religion gave way to relationship. Still, reading the Bible each day was difficult for me. I committed and recommitted to getting up early, staying up late, carrying a Bible in my backpack and any other trick to help me read my Bible daily. I would go many weeks reading regularly and then stop.

I began to ask God to help me. I began to beg God to make me love his word. I would tell him how much I wanted to read and understand and love the Bible. Many times the Bible is referred to as God’s love letter to us. I begged God to make me love him enough to read his love letter to me.

Little by little he answered until one day many years later I realized I was reading the Bible every day. I was making the necessary sacrifices in order to make time to read his word daily. I stopped calling my time in the word a quiet time and began calling it a time of devotion because it had become a time where I would sit at the feet of the One I love full of devotion and eager to learn, to listen, to hear, to receive.

I read the Bible through again and again. I read many translations. The Bible is my favorite book. But the Lord showed me one night that it’s not the book I love. I love the Word.

In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1

If any of you are struggling to spend time with the Lord in his word each day, I would love, love, love to pray for you. Just leave me a comment or email me.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weekend at a Glance

This is my goalie girl. The iPhone pics have to do. I forgot my camera. She has played goalie before but this weekend was different. She played with gusto. Out of six halves, she goalied for four. She did amazing!! When you have grass stains all over your arms and legs that means you kept a clean goal! Have I ever told ya'll how much I love to watch my girl play?
Here's a closer-up of Julia and Annabelle, one of Ashley's pugs.
Ashley and me. Two very tired and windblown soccer mamas. Ashley is an awesome soccer aunt and is going to make the best soccer mom. My children fought for her attention all weekend and she loved it as much as they did. We've been friends since we were 19-years-old and Ashley knows all my dreams and all my fears and she's known most of them since before they were ever realities. Girlfriend time with her was a great gift. We were so busy this weekend and that was a good thing for my soul.
Soccer games and climbing trees go together like peanut butter and jelly. Enough said.

Ashley was such a help to us this weekend. She got up early, carried chairs and blankets, walked the dogs, walked the children to the bathroom, held children when Mommy was running up and down the sidelines yelling, navigated me around Houston, housed all five of us, bought me Starbucks, laughed when things were tense and just shared life. For that I'm thankful.

The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed; those who help others are helped.
Proverbs 11:25



Friday, January 22, 2010

The News

around here is...
Grandmother came through surgery brilliantly! Praise God!! Your prayers and comments brought tears to her eyes and peace to her heart. Thank you for helping me bless her. I know she will praying for each of you by name as she reads and rereads your kind words.

The biopsy results are not back yet. So this weekend, while I'm waiting, I will be soaking up some upper-seventies-spring-is-a-comin'-to-Texas weather at a soccer tournament. We get to spend the weekend with my BFF and girl talk is always so good for the soul.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 The Message

The Marked Path

I want to share this before I hear from my doctor. I want to proclaim something I’ve been declaring to God over and over this week.

“Lord, this opportunity will not be wasted on me.”

I mean the opportunity to have a benign report and I mean the opportunity to navigate the dark waters of cancer.

After a long heart-to-heart with God the other night, I determined that I want to walk whichever road brings God the most fame in my life. Don’t misunderstand me I would never in a million years want cancer. But I do want the world, and I do mean world, to know what a good and loving God I serve. I want him to use any and every method he needs to in my life to mold my character into one like His Son has. I want my adoption into His family to be legit. For real.

I do not say this lightly because I know the weight of the words that I speak. They are heavy but they are necessary. I need for my God to know where I firmly place my trust. The path marked out for me is not one of blurry boundaries and trails washed out by hard rains. It is one marked out in history (His Story) since the beginning of time. And it is one that I walk gladly. No matter where it passes, I know where it ultimately leads.

My thoughts this day are on the One who sets my steps, the One who marks my path, the One who knows my plans and the One who calls my story His. May my story be His Story.

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! Hebrews 12:1 The Message

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Legacy

I love my Grandmother. My grandmother has always been my hero. She made a huge difference in a sad little girl's life by her selfless giving of time and chocolate chip cookies.

She loves the Lord, loves her family and serves all in need. She and my Papa pray together each morning on behalf of their four children plus spouses, nine grandchildren plus spouses and fourteen great-grandchildren and calling each by name. She is a determined lady, a breast cancer survivor and a real steel magnolia. Sixty-eight years. That's how long my grandparents have been married. They share a beautiful love story. She made dinner from scratch every evening for over sixty years and each holiday meal for as long as I can remember. She has travelled all over the world. She volunteers on the same day each week at the hospital for over fifty years. She decorates, sews, knits and crochets also. She loves words as much as I do and passed on a love for all things organized. However, where am I am completely domestically and organizationally challenged, she dominates. She's a rockin' housekeeper.

My Grandmother has card catalogs of numbered index cards. On them are the contents of all the crates in her attic. She has files containing the giver, occasion and description of each piece of her collections. I think she had over 500 bells at one time. She has an address book and uses it to send every.single.one of her millions of family members and friends birthday, anniversary, holiday and get well cards. Obviously, any organizational challenge I have is not a result of DNA!

She's having a surgical procedure tomorrow and I would love your prayers and know she would too. I'd love to offer blessings today to one who has so generously blessed me. Will you visit her today and say a prayer? This is my legacy. Will you help?

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100:25

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I just can't stop writing about Daniel.

Committing to this Safari through Daniel has been quite an experience. When I first read about it on Amber’s blog, I prayed. I thought it sounded like fun but didn’t think I’d participate. Having to post on my blog a certain day can sometimes cause my heart to beat fast.

When I have the time it’s great. But sometimes when I am too busy or overly stressed my words leave. That’s not so great. As the New Year approached and it became obvious I would not be moved, unpacked and settled in a new place, I started to ask God what direction He would take my quiet times in January. (I had planned on reading a new version of a one-year Bible but it remains packed and stored until we move. Whenever that maybe.) Each time I prayed I felt a quiet nudging. So I said yes.

Here is the time of honesty. I love Amber. Love her blog. Love her writing. Relate to her ministry. Just love her from afar via blog and a few comments here and there. She has quite a cool group of chicas over there. And if you have learned anything about me on this safari so far, it’s that a cool girl will get me to do things I never considered before. So I said yes.

Beware more honest confessing is forthcoming. Daniel isn’t really the book I felt like studying. It seems like one of the brainy books of the Bible with all the prophecies and history and Revelations related stuff. Like I just told one of my friends a couple weeks ago, “I really wish I liked smart stuff.”

One of the things we have to do this week is read an article on the interpretation of the first dream and how it relates to eschatology. How’s that for smart stuff? Last night I was praying and reading my Bible and was still in week 1, all the courage vs. fear stuff. It’s so applicable to my right now. I was telling God how I love his word and all but I’d so rather be reading a People magazine than trying to figure out what the word eschatology means and understanding a dream that has boggled my brain since childhood. But because I’m a good student, afraid to not do my homework, I read through Daniel 2 a couple of times, prayed asking the Holy Spirit for revelation and went to bed.

When I woke up this morning and began praying through my daily routine, I realized that I am in exactly the same spot as Daniel was in chapter 2.

Daniel was living under a death threat by the king. There was not one man in the palace that was willing to try to interpret the king’s dream or even seek to find out what the dream was. The king ordered everyone, including Daniel and his friends, to death. Daniel 2:13 says that men were sent to look for Daniel and his friends to kill them. The Message says that Daniel and his companions were marked for execution. The path marked for them looked, in that moment, to be very dark.

We then see some “Daniel decisions” come into play. As Arioch was making plans for the execution, Daniel “wisely and skillfully” (v. 14) spoke to him and Arioch explained things to Daniel. Daniel proceeded to go boldly before the king to make an appointment to come back and tell the king what his dream meant.

Then Daniel went to gather his friends and pray. And they prayed and prayed and prayed asking God to release his revelation and spare their lives. God delivered. Daniel and his friends were spared.

You might ask how this relates to me. There has been an order from the pit of hell to cancer to come searching for me, and cancer always comes to kill. It is looking.

As soon as I heard I gathered you, my friends and we are praying and praying and praying. The path marked for me may seem to be dark and narrow and hard as waiting can be. But this morning I went boldly before the throne and asked my God to deliver. My faith is strong that He will.

Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God's unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it]. Hebrews 4:16 (The Amplified)


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Overwhelmed with Gratitude

That's how I feel as I read your sweet comments, prayers and Words of Life. Thank you for living such a Godly example for me and encouraging me to walk this path set before me no matter how narrow or dark the road may get. I will carry the Light of the World and all of your friendships in my heart. I love this great big, yet so small, bloggy world that God has blessed me with and that includes you too, Facebook!

I'll keep you updated on the results. I probably won't know until Friday afternoon the doctors say. I'm praying I find out tomorrow but I will praise Him while I'm waiting...(hear me singing? I love that song! It has a whole new meaning today.) Again, thank you all for simply being you.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16

and in The Message because that's where I am this year.
Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. Colossians 3:15-17

Love to you all,

The Biopsy

Fear. It's camping all around me as I wait to go in for a guided biopsy this morning.

About a month ago I found a lump in my breast. I have found other lumps, have had them examined, viewed and squished on and nothing. So I wasn't too concerned. I saw the doctor. He wasn't too concerned. But just to be safe he had me go get all kinds of pictures made. Radiologist looked at the pictures last week. Doctor called yesterday morning. Radiologist needs more information. The biopsy is at 8:30 this morning.

If you are close to me, related to me, one of my best friends or a prayer partner, please accept my apologies you are finding out this way. I realized yesterday that the more I talked about this the more opportunity fear had to sink its vicious claws deep into my mind, heart and soul. So I stopped giving life (as my friend Jenn says)to the fear by speaking words like cancer, death and fear. And I started giving life to things like health, healing and hope.

Today I'm asking you to pray for me and I'm going out on a limb and asking you to leave a comment, email, text or Facebook for me if you are praying because I need to hear that encouragement today. In order to squish fear, I know I must build faith. One way I build my faith is by praying with others. Hearing their belief builds mine. I know this blog has a community of readers who pray and who hold one another up when need be. I know some of you have been in my shoes and some of you have even walked the dark road called cancer. I need to hear from you.

I promise to keep you in the know because I intend to come right back here and praise God for his goodness no matter what kind of report I get.

Yesterday I opened my Bible to Psalm 27 and haven't closed it yet.
Psalm 27

A David Psalm

1 Light, space, zest— that's God!
So, with him on my side I'm fearless,
afraid of no one and nothing.

2 When vandal hordes ride down
ready to eat me alive,
Those bullies and toughs
fall flat on their faces.

3 When besieged,
I'm calm as a baby.
When all hell breaks loose,
I'm collected and cool.

4 I'm asking God for one thing,
only one thing:
To live with him in his house
my whole life long.
I'll contemplate his beauty;
I'll study at his feet.

5 That's the only quiet, secure place
in a noisy world,
The perfect getaway,
far from the buzz of traffic.

6 God holds me head and shoulders
above all who try to pull me down.
I'm headed for his place to offer anthems
that will raise the roof!
Already I'm singing God-songs;
I'm making music to God.

7-9 Listen, God, I'm calling at the top of my lungs:
"Be good to me! Answer me!"
When my heart whispered, "Seek God,"
my whole being replied,
"I'm seeking him!"
Don't hide from me now!

9-10 You've always been right there for me;
don't turn your back on me now.
Don't throw me out, don't abandon me;
you've always kept the door open.
My father and mother walked out and left me,
but God took me in.

11-12 Point me down your highway, God;
direct me along a well-lighted street;
show my enemies whose side you're on.
Don't throw me to the dogs,
those liars who are out to get me,
filling the air with their threats.

13-14 I'm sure now I'll see God's goodness
in the exuberant earth.
Stay with God!
Take heart. Don't quit.
I'll say it again:
Stay with God.


Remember I'd like to hear from you as I count my blessings!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Lunch Table



His Girl, Amber is hosting a safari through Daniel at her blog. Check it out and join the adventure!

Growing up I dreaded lunch. Hated it. Starting in sixth grade I was never sure where I’d be invited to eat lunch. Rejection haunted my thoughts. As soon as the fourth period bell would ring the anxiety would set in and I would wonder if I really had any friends.

The thought that dominated my thoughts from the earliest of ages was that I would pay any price to be popular. Becoming well-liked was my goal. No matter what the cost.

Failures plagued me. In fifth grade I was mortified that I didn’t make the school choir, had to miss class to attend speech therapy and didn’t make cheerleader. In sixth grade I accidentally wore the “wrong” jeans and tennis shoes and seventh grade sealed my doom when I didn’t make yearbook staff.

As I went through high school the list of failures mounted piling reason upon reason that my peers would reject me if I ever quit paying the price. Each year brought its own challenges. Challenges that gently chipped away at my morals and lowered the values I’d been given.

Eventually I sat where I wanted in lunch but the price tag was steep. I didn’t have enough confidence to share the Jesus I loved with the friends that I idolized. Sadly, I worshiped at the feet of the crowd instead of the feet of Jesus. My fragile heart just couldn’t take their rejection.

A move during high school made ugly insecurities once again rear their ugly head as I spent many lunch periods staring at a wall locked inside a bathroom stall. Sad, but true. In those very alone times I remember a new thought began to emerge out of my broken heart. I began to realize that the price may be too high.

College brought some freedom from the roller coaster of seeking acceptance but not much. Even after the semester I fell head over heels in love with Jesus, I would fall apart with criticism or rejection. The search continued.

I’ve tried to find it in a committee, team and uniform

And at a certain lunch table, in a certain group and at a certain address.

I’ve tried to find it wearing certain brand names, driving certain cars and choosing certain friends.

I’ve looked at school, at the gym and at church.

It has alluded me on the job, on my resume and in my mailbox.

Hair color, weight, accolades and associations don’t buy it.

Neither do awards, prizes or titles nor do

Sassy little girls or athletic boys,

Successful businesses, exotic vacations, black tie events and fat checking accounts don’t matter either.

I’ve searched for significance in many places. The only place the longing in my heart has been filled is securely resting in the Lord. This week I’ve pondered Daniel’s choices. Lots. His situation. Lots. Daniel chapter one says that Daniel was a “perfect specimen” invited to live the life of the popular at the king’s palace sitting at the king’s table. Daniel chapter one is also clear that although Daniel lived there, he rejected the king’s lifestyle. He spoke up about what he believed.

As I look back over my life I see how I was in no way ready to make Daniel decisions in junior high. My heart was just not right. But towards the end of high school I began to make small Daniel decisions that grew into larger ones in college. I remember the semester in college when I felt like I had lost everything. Committees, associations and friendships all fell apart. I truly believed all I had at this point was the Lord. I felt like I’d live this way forever.

Slowly those sacrifices began to five way to love. The Lord healed my aches and taught me how to live by his laws. Fast forward to today, I’d give anything to please the Lord every.single.minute. I want to make Daniel decisions each day in an effort to not only love my Lord but to lead, protect and teach my children to please the King and choose His lunch table. No matter what the cost.

Today I know that I have nothing to fear…

Not even sitting alone at the wrong lunch table.

Life, space, zest—that’s God! So, with him on my side I’m fearless, afraid of no one and nothing. Psalm 27:1


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Say Say My Playmates


I've said it before and I'll say it again. I sure love it when my children get along. And when I say get along I don't just mean tolerate one another. I mean play with each other like they'd rather be together than anywhere else.

For having four children, the sibling disagreements aren't overwhelming. Most days. Some days seem to go on forever and I feel like my shirt is black and white striped and I should have whistle in my mouth because all I do referee fights.

I always lean on the mother advice I got when they were two. If there is a problem with an attitude, first ask yourself if they could be bored, tired or hungry. This usually answers the question and solves the problem. However, none of those things give anyone an excuse to sin. Doing what is wrong is always a bad choice.

As in so many households, the children always seem to pair up a certain way. My middle two certainly love each other's company. They make so much mischief and silliness together, they sometimes even have to be separated. We went on LOTS of road trips this summer and after the first one, Andrew and I decided that we would assign seats in the Suburban. Funny? Yes, but necessary for adult sanity and child survival. Enough said.

This summer the two amigos decided they'd do everything alike. I loved it! They were certainly inseparable and found many ways to agree on which t-shirt to buy, which shark's tooth to choose and even matched down to their shoes on more than one occasion.

This verse is a common prayer I pray for my children. May they grow up to be friends.

How wonderful and pleasant it iswhen brothers live together in harmony! Psalm 133:1

Friday, January 15, 2010

Date Nights & Love Stories


Tonight is date night. Woo-hoo! We've been planing it for a couple of weeks now. We are not that couple who has a date night every month or sets a certain amount of time aside to be alone without the children. We just don't.

We do make our marriage a priority and we do spend a great deal of time together, I think. Over Christmas we were just so busy with the whole family we didn't have a date. The fall was jam packed with activities and we wanted to be at home whenever we had the chance. So tonight is the big night.

I get to primp, practice my beauty routine and pick out a nice outfit. I'm pumped. I love feeling beautiful, preparing for my husband. The truth is I don't even have to practice my beauty routine to feel beautiful around Andrew. He loves me any ole way and that's true love!

We started preparing for our date this morning. We spent the morning together just talking and getting housework done. We then had lunch together after a short business commitment. The next time I see him, we'll be out the door for a few precious hours without the interruptions of children.

This plaque is one I bought a few years ago. It's not especially pretty or expensive looking. I purchased it because I love the saying. "Every love story is beautiful but ours is my favorite."

I purchased this plaque when I desperately wanted to believe that saying was true of me. Of us. I brought the plaque home and stored it in a drawer in faith. I believed that our love story was headed toward the direction of becoming my favorite. But I still had my doubts. Quiet doubts. Doubts only taken to the Lord in the secret place. Doubts He gently took from me, replaced with belief, determination and love. Sweet love. Faith gave birth to true love in my marriage.

God has done a huge thing. I don't know what else to call it but a big, huge, miraculous thing. He's given us our dreams back, turned a floundering, lonely marriage into a beautiful love story of redemption and we know the best is yet to come! Wouldn't you know when we just recently revamped our house to sell it, I found the perfect place for the cute little plaque? My husband even noticed it and commented on how much he likes it too.

Tonight I will have a quiet dinner with my best friend, one who I love truly, madly and deeply. And we will celebrate our love story.

(If you've never read it, click here.)

Faith is Seen

Studying on this safari through Daniel has been eye opening. I mean, I've only studied chapter one and my mind is moving at the speed of light. I'm noticing little details, thinking about his character in new ways and challenging myself in big time. Three things have stood out to me about Daniel's life and character in chapter one. Faith, leadership and obedience make up this "perfect specimen" of God's family.

Funny thing that when I see Daniel, I see faith. As one of the main words I think of at the same time as "faith" is unseen. Faith is hoped for, it's matters unseen, it's a tangible assurance that what we believe is actually true. Hebrews 11:1 is my ultimate faith verse.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

That's how I have it memorized. Do you see why it's been so impossible for me to picture faith? This is what the amplified says:
NOW FAITH is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses].

And even better this what The Message says:
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd.

So even though my senses, such as sight, don't see faith, it's there. It's what makes life worth living and it's what set Daniel above the crowd. (I will visit being set above the crowd in a later post about Daniel but just know this ministers to my soul. A very dry and forgotten space in my heart was watered by faith today.)

As I have been studying this week and meditating on the fact that walking by faith takes courage and courage conquers fear, I have come to realize that as Christians, a people of faith, we live by what we know not what we can see. Talking to God, listening to God and believing God takes great faith. If we practice walking by faith enough, what we can't see becomes more real than what we can see. This is the place where Daniel came to life for me.

Through faith, that is by living a lifestyle unpopular to many and believing God would honor it, Daniel's boldness made him a true leader. The Bible is clear that it was through Daniel's request that Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were given special treatment and preference by the king's servants.

The courage to ask. I have a child that is a little shy to ask. She doesn't ask for much. But when she does ask it is specific and it is expected. Just her style. She especially doesn't ask her dad for much. But when she asks, he always delivers. Always. There's just something about our children coming to us. Even though meeting her requests brings him great joy and he is almost always happy to comply, she is still shy the next time she asks. Hmmmmm

When I saw Daniel as the spokesman for this crew of guys, I thought of myself and the crew I've been made spokesman for by God. As a parent do I ask the right questions, requests the right treatment, guard their little hearts well? These are questions I ask myself daily. Questions I ask and then follow with lots and lots and lots of prayer!

Daniel is an incredible obeyer of God. He obviously fears God more than the king or even death itself. I teach my children to obey. Obedience is immediate, joyful and complete. If just one step is skipped, it is disobedience. Obviously God has chosen Daniel to live in the palace. Some in his position might believe God would justify eating forbidden food. Not Daniel. Daniel is setting the stage for a life of no compromise and full obedience here in chapter one for the dreaded lions' den. I can't wait to study his obedient heart even more.

I was so excited when I read that God blessed Daniel and his crew ten times over for their bravery and obedience. As they choose faith and courage any fear they might have dissipates. I'm pretty sure Daniel was recounting many stories like this as he walked into the lions' den. Aren't we blessed to have such incredible examples of faith going before us?

The Message says it best:
Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls! Hebrews 12:1-3

Because of many examples of faith in the Bible, including Daniel, I can let go of fear and run towards my destiny, that would be the race marked out for me. Welcome Year of No Fear!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Gadgets? I'm Clueless!

Yesterday I had to wander around Bed, Bath & Beyond to find a soup pot or dutch oven or whatever people call those big pots you basically use to cook everything.

Mine got burned to a crisp. Remember? Shopping there was such fun! I had a cart full of goodies that I didn't even know I was missing. I mean seriously. Where have I been?

I did not know there were so many organizational tools, colors of satin sheets, furry throws and kitchen gadgets. Things to squeeze my oranges, drain my pasta, whisk my smoothies, organize my closet, lift my bed and warm my towels and hold my coffee. I registered for homey stuff a long time ago. My set of pots and pans is now mismatched and has only a few remaining. My plates are all broken and chipped and we are doing good if the six of us can eat on matching plates. My table linens are out of style, colors long since left the fashionable palate. My bed linens have holes in them and stretched out corners (There are even little elastic thingies to hold stretched out corners around mattresses. Seriously?!). My towels are frayed and my rugs are rugged. I used to update things but I just haven't gotten out much in the last few years. I started to wonder what I've been missing as I wandered the aisles.

In the end I settled only on my list but managed to add this meat grinder thingie. It was on sale for $2. I thought it's be worth trying for that. I just fried five pounds of ground beef. It is ground to perfection. Nice and fine little crumbles. Just beautiful! Not the regular gigantic lump of meat that's not really a meatloaf I usually end up with. Pretty amazing.

What other kitchen gadgets do I need? Come on. Tell me your favorites. I need an easier and more beautiful life. Help a sister out in the kitchen!