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Thursday's Thoughts

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But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you. For my power is made perfect in weakness in you."
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
For the sake of Christ then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities. 
For when I am weak, then I am strong.   
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Listen...Do You Want to Know A Secret?

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When I was first diagnosed with cancer, the oncologist suggested we wait to administer chemotherapy. "We have only one bullet to shoot at it with," he said, "and we don't want to use it too early." 

I left with a schedule of recurring appointments, a little concerned but very relieved.

My husband and I walked through the halls of the multi-story downtown office, emerged into the bright sunlight, and paused. Beside bustling traffic, we stopped and offered a prayer of thanks.

We were so relieved. We'd been prepared for the worst, so when the doctor told us we didn't need to do anything right now, it felt like we'd been sprung free.

Before we got in the car, my husband looked at me.

"That's good," he said. "Now we don't have to tell anybody."

Really?

If there's one thing I learned from my brother's death, it was this: In God's economy, we are meant to be in community.

God reaches us through others. He nou…

Can You Believe It?

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There were other pebbles in the sands of recovery as I dealt with the grief that consumed me after my brother Jim's death.

Rooting out the weeds of guilt and remorse didn't occur overnight. In my search, it's like each 'ah-ha' moment just kept pointing the way to Christ.

On one occasion, I remember visiting a friend who had been a former neighbor. Jan lived across town now and didn't attend our church, so I felt somewhat safe in opening up to her about my inner struggles with grief.

As we spoke, Jan offered words of consolation and faith, but I shrugged her comments off.  I'd heard all that before; it was meaningless. She didn't know how really unworthy I was of God's love.

Finally, she stopped.

"You believe in Jesus, don't you?" she asked.

I nodded slowly and stared at her. Where was she going with this?

"You remind me of an illustration I saw during a sermon at church one day," she said. "There were two people on …

Thursday's Thoughts

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Come to me all you who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

Facing Changes? Hang On and Carry On!

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Coping with cancer treatments has presented a new set of challenges...a new lifestyle. I resisted the thought, but let's face it...I'm living a 'new normal.'

But, really, my situation is no different than yours.

Aren't we all constantly facing a 'new normal'?  The changes can be sudden or slow, obvious or subtle, wanted or unwanted, but life never sits still. And aren't we blessed by that?

The 'new normal' always presents an opportunity to once again confess that we are not in control of our lives. 

Rather, we are held by a loving God who turns everything, no matter how dreadful it may seem, into something beautiful.

So let the 'new normal' begin.

Jesus, I trust in you.



This song's for you!  Click here for Let My Words Be Few by Matt Redman


Part X Where Can You Lay That Burden Down?

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In my trudge through the quicksand of grief following my brother's death, I leaned into the church. I hadn't been to confession in years and I had to gather the courage to go, but I saw it as a safe haven, where I'd be protected by anonymity and confidentiality.  This is a story I wrote about that day:


I sat outside the confessional, wringing my hands.Tiny beads of sweat collected about my forehead as I glanced nervously around the room.

I had been carrying this sin for years. No matter where I went, what I did, or how much time elapsed, the gnawing guilt persisted.
Nobody knew.
Finally, unable to bear the weight of the cross alone, I approached the confessional. It was the only safe place to voice my inexpressible shortcomings. I knew, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I needed the mercy of God.

Had I known my brother Jim was going to die, I would have handled the situation differently. I would have accepted him, atypical as he was, instead of nagging him to meet my standar…

Thursday's Thoughts

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Never give up praying. And when you pray, keep alert and be thankful. 
Colossians 4:2

A Cancer Diagnosis - the Worst Thing in the World?

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Sometimes people start talking to me about their fears because they or someone they love is being tested for cancer. They are so anxious...so afraid... Other times someone will exclaim that the test results were normal...they are cancer-free....and they are so excited...so thrilled!
In every instance, somewhere in the middle of their story, they begin to falter, realizing they are talking to someone who is battling cancer. Their expression changes. They soften their emotions. They eliminate the "c" word, switch the topic or try to explain how really scary it was for them.

But it doesn't bother me.

Cancer, or any other scary diagnosis, isn't the worst thing in the world that can happen to us.

The worst thing in the world that can happen to us is a lack of faith.






Changing Perspectives - How's This for a Really Good Book?

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**

"Hang onto your faith," Wendy said. "It's the only thing that will get you through."

These words still resonate in my heart. They were spoken long ago in the church parking lot by a friend with whom I confided about the sorrow I still carried with me, long after my brother's death.

And God Himself seemed to deliver that statement.

Back then, I only attended Mass when I felt like it, when it was convenient, when I wanted to get dressed up...I went out of habit, not devotion...After all, I'd been raised going to church every Sunday... 

But after Jim's death I began questioning my faith. Did God really exist? Was God a loving God? If so, then why did my beloved brother have to suffer and die so young? Was there really a heaven? Was Jim really in a better place? 

Despite my doubts, I began to notice something strange...Surprisingly, although I really did feel mad at God for the death of my brother, the only times I felt at peace was during Mass.

So I kept…

Thursday's Thoughts

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Bless the Lord, who is my rock
He gives me strength for war and skill for battle
He is my loving ally and my fortress my  tower of safety, my deliverer
He stands before me as a shield, and I take refuge in him
He subdues the nations under me
Plalm 144: 1-2


This Song's For You

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Twenty-one years ago, when my youngest daughter was only 5 years old, I was diagnosed with the cancer I'm battling today-Waldenstroms Macroglobulinemia. At the time, the oncologist chose a watch-and-wait approach.

Yes, it was a little scary.

But, mostly, I leaned into the Lord.  I read my Bible, attended daily Mass, joined a Bible study and cultivated faith-filled friends. God provided just the right support and help along the way.

The diagnosis heightened my appreciation of each day. Every breath was a prayer of gratitude.

During those busy after-school hours, I'd play holy music while the kids were doing homework and I'd be fixing dinner, It was my way of praying while managing the home.

It was so calming. I like to think we all benefitted from it.

Recently, I started following a blog called Sunflower Seeds by Melannie Svoboda SN. She always closes with a link to a song.

Today's song, shared with you here, transported me back decades ago to that kitchen, with m…

Part IX - Getting By With A Little Help From My Friends...

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The friend who suggested I seek counseling mailed a book to me called the Courage to Grieve by Judy Tatelbaum.

I was convinced I didn't really need it, but, in solitary moments, I began reading it.

The first few chapters bolstered my smug attitude. Sure, some of it made sense, but I couldn't relate to problems addressed here. I wasn't angry at my brother. I wasn't in denial of his death, I'd been at his bedside when he died. I didn't need this book. I had this under control.

But, day after day, something kept drawing me back. 

Then, one afternoon while the kids were napping, I turned to a page that basically said - 'if none of this works for you, picture the deceased person and talk to them, beginning your sentence with, "If only..." or "I wish..."'

Suddenly the floodgates opened...I wish you hadn't died...I wish you hadn't gotten sick...I wish you'd had a career....I wish you'd had a wife...I wish you'd had a…

Thursday's Thoughts

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It's Lent!

Just yesterday I read a Lenten article written by a young mom. In it, she suggested you 'lean into' the desert already given to you...and carry that cross with joy. 

While she was referring to having patience for the endless diaper changes and wailing toddlers, we can all find challenges in our lives...

What's your desert? Can you find ways to be more patient? More forgiving? Can you offer a smile instead of a frown? A helping hand instead of a complaint?



Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." 

Matthew 16:24

Cancer - the Current Crisis - Got Faith?

Living with cancer is like looking at life under a magnifying glass. It can, as in this case, accentuate basic concepts that are true for all of us.

Since chemotherapy, I feel like there's a mean monster living inside my body.

One day I'm writhing in agony. There's bone pain...crazy head pain...muscle aches. It might last a few days...might last a week...maybe a few hours.

Other days, the agonies simmer just below the surface. Those are the good days.

It's been impossible to predict the relentless spikes in pain. There's no way to guess when the debilitation will occur or how long it will last.

Sometimes I might be fairly functional. Other times, I'm stopped dead in my tracks.

There's no rhyme or reason. It's unpredictable and uncontrollable.

I expected to feel much better by now, but that's not happening.

A friend called recently and asked how I was doing.

"I'm not in control," I complained. "I can't plan anything. I can't pre…