Trusting … God Has a Plan for Me …

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jer 29:11

Plans… especially this time of year we think about our plans, we make resolutions, sometimes look back at our past plans. It can be a time of great hope…

I’m reminded of this time last year, I had many resolutions for 2013. I had grand plans for cooking new recipes, exercising and health, more patience and organization at home and work.

Then, I had cancer. At age 43, with no risk factors and “good” health, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My world was turned upside down. My days were filled with tests and results, appointments and medical plans. I was treated with chemotherapy, a bilateral mastectomy, and 25 rounds of radiation.

My year was not anything like I had planned. I had set aside many of my original resolutions, forgotten others. My new plan was simply to make it through the year. My task was to fight cancer. There were countless appointments and tests, treatments that caused my hair and eyelashes to fall out, burned my skin and knocked me out. Some days and weeks were so dark, it was hard to find hope in this new plan.

Life usually isn’t what we’ve planned, often it is difficult and heartbreaking. But every step is an opportunity to step closer to God. To believe, to hope, sometimes to fall apart and know where to turn to be put back together. I did this one day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time.

So, my resolutions from last year were almost ridiculous; instead of cooking healthy new meals, I went months avoiding the kitchen. Instead of increasing my health and running new races, my runs turned to walks. My patience nearly disappeared, my organization system was completely overwhelmed. But one step after another, one day after another I moved forward with hope. Slowly, my health is returning. Once again I can run, some days even with ease. I recently baked for the first time in nearly a year. My patience and organization are still works in need of much progress :).

I would never have guessed this plan, never have chosen it, but I’m hopeful for this new year. I don’t have grand plans or resolutions this year. But I know that I will keep moving forward trusting that God has a plan for me, one with hope and a future… :)

My prayer for you is that you too will find hope in God’s plan for you.

Trust and Perfect Peace

You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, is the Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:3-4. In our devotional we have been reading a great deal about trust and peace. To be able to trust in the Lord is my prayer for everyone that we at YANA come in contact with.

What I have learned time and time again through my journey with cancer is that I have such little control over the events that affect my life. When I think I’m in control that is the time to watch out, I am approaching a danger zone. My trust has to be in the one who is truly in control. The one who tells me: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called to his purposes.” Romans 8:28

I have a choice every day to either trust or ignore that He said He is working in all things bringing good in my life, even when I can’t comprehend the circumstances. The more I choose to trust by considering who it is I am putting my trust in, the greater my peace. If you are struggling today with the circumstances you are facing take time to reflect on these two passages of scripture. Each of us has a choice to make the Lord our Rock by trusting in His promises. I can say without hesitation that I am so glad that I can put my trust in a living and loving God.

John

We would love to hear your comments feel free to reply to this blog.

Care and Thankgiving

As I reflect on Thanksgiving, I am reminded of another major thing I experienced going through cancer. Someone was there for me. People prayed for me, sent me cards, left messages of good cheer, took me to appointments, and most importantly-they cared. We all share this journey of life with others. Heartfelt gestures can touch us deeply. The Bible says God is love. The image of God as our shepherd is endearing to me. I think Isaiah 40:11 speaks about God’s care for us the best. “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart.”

In what ways do you feel the care from others? Do you believe God cares for you?

When A Blanket is More Than Just A Blanket

I am always deeply touched by the comments we receive from cancer patients who’ve been given a YANA Care Package. Recently, two of those responses especially moved me. Each shared how the blanket in the Care Package brought them to tears. One of our new friends in Santa Ana wrote, “I was so touched, I wanted to cry so hard and scream.”

I began thinking, how can a simple handmade blanket affect someone so deeply?

YANA collage 5.19

Then I thought about all the people, of all ages and skill levels that help to prepare the fleece blankets. I can’t adequately explain the joy and love I see on the faces of those who are cutting and tying the blankets. I wish all of you who receive a blanket could see first hand the LOVE that is poured out for you as they are being made. It is a deep Love that we believe comes from God and is specifically meant for you.

So many times people write to us explaining how the care package arrived at just the right moment when they needed an expression of Faith, Hope and Love. For me, that is when a blanket truly becomes more than just a blanket.

All of us at YANA want you to know in very simple and practical ways that we LOVE you very much, and we are here for you. One of my favorite chapters in the bible, 1 Corinthians 13 speaks to the depth and fullness of that love that comes through faith in God:

(1)If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (2) If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (3) If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

(4) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (5) It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (6) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. (7) It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

(8) Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. (9) For we know in part and we prophesy in part, (10) but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. (11) When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. (12) For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.(13) And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

John Gronnel

 

Creating An Island Of Pain: Does Our Weakness Repel Others?

It was such a simple question:  “How are you doing?”

My body shook as the tears flowed down in waves.  I was scared.  I felt helpless.  I was in pain.  And I felt so alone.

My girlfriend wrapped her arms around me and prayed out loud for God’s comfort.  I’d been asked that question so many times lately and I had at least four different versions of the same answer: “Fine.”  That means, fine – I know you’re just politely asking.  Fine – If I tell you how I really feel you’ll avoid me next time.  Fine – I don’t have the strength to open myself up to you.  Fine – I want to hide and not talk to anyone.

But this question was real, and I knew my answer would bring prayer right then, and prayers that would continue.

As I cried and she prayed I felt some of the pain lift, and a touch of God’s peace fill and calm me.

The memory came back to me as I read Sarah Young’s Devotional Jesus Calling for November 2.  She wrote,  “Grow Strong in the Light of My Presence.  Your weakness does not repel Me.  In the contrary, it attracts My Power, which is always available to flow into a yielded heart.  Do not condemn yourself for your constant need of help.  Instead, come to Me with your gaping neediness; let the Light of My Love fill you.”

Looking back I will tell you that 2011 was the worst year and the best year of my life.  It taught me that to be poor in spirit is to be utterly and completely available to be filled with God’s presence.  It taught me that God wills us to let others into our lives to help bear our burdens…our “gaping neediness.”  Indeed, my gaping neediness allows God’s people to respond to his words, “Now that you have purified yourself by obeying the truth so you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.” 1 Peter 1:22

Have you experienced the blessing of your empty spirit being filled with God’s peace? How have you responded to others who have tried to give comfort?

The Lord is Close to the Brokenhearted …

I remember sitting in church sometime after my first chemo treatment. I listened as the pastor said, “I don’t know what you’re going through but God knows. He can bring good out of all circumstances.” These words made a torrent of tears pour from my eyes. My body, emotions, mind and soul were suffering. My cancer diagnosis was devastating, my life turned upside down. The October 14th Jesus Calling devotional says, “When suffering strikes, remember that I am sovereign and that I can bring good out of everything.” Stuffing wet tear-filled tissues into my purse, I was confused, sad and lonely. But after I had shed my tears and heard more of the message, the Holy Spirit brought a peace into my soul. God’s love washed over me. In the midst of my turmoil, joy emerged.

Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

How do you think God is changing you in the midst of your trial? Have you brought your crushed spirit to Him? In what ways have you seen Him bring good out of a tragedy in your life?

Free to Be Me

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —- His good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:1&2)

Praying over what to write about this week for the blog my thoughts and prayers were captivated by Romans 12.  I continue to ask myself what does it mean to me, on a personal level; not to conform to the pattern of his world?  I know I fall short in this area all too often it especially haunted me during my treatment.  One example while going through my bone marrow transplant I hit rock bottom, by far the most difficult thing I have ever gone through.  During this time I had countless people show us love by sending text, cards, visit, pictures, phone calls to encourage my family and me.  However, the sicker I got, and worse I felt the more I dwelt on the person that remained silent.  He is an old friend of over 30 years who we have walked through life together from childhood.   The “pattern of this world” that I so easily fall prey to is keeping score.  Every time I find myself doing this mentally I go to a bad place, and only see the negative in the situation.  During treatment was no different; my mental state left me with he just doesn’t care anymore.  What kind of friend would abandon someone when they are in a life and death struggle?  I hate to say it but I could go on but you get the idea.

Being transformed by the renewing of your mind for me, means breaking through this natural pattern of keeping score by renewing my mind daily.  I have found that regardless of how sick I feel I need to thank God that he has given me another day.  It’s another day to love and share with my family, friends and others who are struggling like we do through this horrible disease.  The further I get from treatment the more I have to remind myself that I need to be renewed every morning of everyday.  I like to start the day with Jesus Calling and I usually read the scriptures first and see what God will say to me.  Then I like to read the insight from Sarah and carry it into the day.  The day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.  I love you all and hope to hear from you and how you have been renewed.  We at YANA we love to bring Hope to others with your thoughts.

Crisis Approaching: Who’s Going to Be in Control?

I opened up Jesus Calling today to September 17. It reads, “You will not find My Peace by engaging in excessive planning: attempting to control what will happen to you in the future. This is a commonly practiced form of unbelief.”

It appeared that Sarah Young had written this one specifically for me. My mind had been spinning at 3:00am with popcorn thoughts from my to do list. I remembered how my heart had been beating a little quicker than normal, a sure giveaway that showed how helpless I felt to stay above it all. And now here were the words that confronted me; this was a sign of my unbelief.

In truth, my life is in a peaceful stage right now. The medical crisis that taught me to cling to God for hope and strength the year before had passed. My faith has grown since that time. I’ve known the freedom of living under the easy yoke of our gentle Lord. But here I was at it again, trying to manage even the normal messiness of life on my own.

I’ve been memorizing Romans 15:13 this week. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” It’s the perfect reminder: I don’t have to have all the answers to overflow with hope. My God is the God of hope. Tonight I think I’ll put away my to do list, and meditate on the God of Hope.

What about you? Do you ever trust God in the crisis and then take back control, worry and all, when life gets back to normal. Perhaps you’re in the middle of the storm and feeling overwhelmed. Share your thoughts and what you’ve learned or where you struggle. –

Noelle

As it Comes

The September 8th Jesus Calling devotional begins, “Accept each day exactly as it comes to you…not only the circumstances of your day, but the condition of your body.” Wow! I know for me during cancer treatment it was difficult for me to accept each day, especially when my body was going haywire and I was so sick from chemo. Feeling a range of grief emotions and feeling my body in turmoil, I learned I could struggle in trying to make sense of it all or just release the struggle and accept how I was that day. God wants us to release wherever we’re at for that day into His care. He infuses His strength into us and offers His peace. I could never have imagined where my life has taken me after cancer. The blessings are one-thousand fold.  I love this verse Exodus 23:20 “I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” We can’t see the road, but He can. All we need to do is accept as it comes and release it to God.

What are you struggling with today?  Have you wrestled with something in your life and then found relief when you released it to God? Please feel free to write me and share your thoughts and how we can minister to you or your loved one.

I Am Weak, But He is Strong …

As I read the devotional for September 2nd out of Jesus Calling Paul says, “I boast in my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest in me.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

Thinking about stories of people in the Bible such as Moses, Joshua, David and Paul I am struck by their weaknesses. By themselves their weaknesses made them not effective. But when they put their complete trust in God, they became strong, courageous and effective for the work God called them to do.

God sometimes used very simple objects to accomplish his work, such as a staff, trumpet or a small stone. But in the hands of someone yielded to God these “simple” objects changed history and glorified His name.

When I am relying on my myself there is fear, anxiety and a feeling of being out of control. Just think how God can use me when I acknowledge that I am weak on my own and that through him all things are possible.