Be You Bravely


Scripture for the day:  Isaiah 43:18-19 “Do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old.  Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?  I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

I am a mentor mom for MOPS, and our theme this year is Be You Bravely.  This scripture from Isaiah is our Bible text.

Bravery is defined as courageous behavior or character.  Some synonyms are courage, valor, nerve, daring, audacity, heroism.  Fear is defined as a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, pain, evil, whether real or imagined.  To me, it is the opposite of bravery.

I read last week that the Bible says “do not be afraid”, “fear not”, etc. 365 times.  I don’t have 365 scripture references to back that up, but I know there are many in the Bible.  I like the number 365 because that means there is one reference for every day of the year, and I need to be reminded daily.

The Bible says in Psalm 111:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.”  To me this is a good place to start.  This requires learning about God and having a reverential awe of Him.  Ultimately, we are to exchange our attitudes and will for His.

Fear can be a real hindrance to spiritual growth.  Sometimes we are fearful because of previous mistakes, and we get stuck in the past.  We become rooted in our failures and are unable or unwilling to move forward.  It takes bravery to stop looking in the rearview mirror and start moving ahead in God’s grace.

Sometimes we are literally paralyzed by fear.  I remember one such time in my life, and it is still very vivid to me.  I was in my teens and was watching TV with my grandfather.  Suddenly, I had the feeling that someone was watching us.  I got up and went to look out the front door.  As I did so, the figure of a man streaked across the porch.  At that moment, I was paralyzed by fear.  I couldn’t speak.  I couldn’t move.  I just stood there for a few seconds before I was able to alert my family to the potential danger.

Just recently, I went out in our garage early in the morning.  I was barefoot at the time and felt something under my foot as I stepped out of the house into the garage.  I looked down and realized I was standing on a snake!  I was not paralyzed by fear!  The next thing I knew I was up in the air between the car and a table, yelling to my husband!  Two scary situations.  Two very different reactions.  I did not exhibit bravery in either situation!  But my reactions were completely normal.

I can think of a couple of times in my life when I exhibited bravery.  In 1984 I was asked to be director of Vacation Bible School at my church.  I felt totally unqualified for the job, but I said yes anyway.  The main reason I was hesitant was because I would have to speak in front of everyone on parent’s night.  Public speaking almost kept me from accepting a job that brought me so much joy and pleasure.  God called me, and He equipped me every year.  I am so grateful that I didn’t let fear override my desire to serve.

In 2008 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  I was too sick to be fearful, and so I raised my fist in anger at the beast.  I looked cancer straight in the eye and said “bring it on”.  The fight was neither easy nor pleasant, but God was with me all the way.  Because it was His will, I survived.  I volunteer at a cancer support facility to give hope to those newly diagnosed.  I am alive.  I can smile.  I am the face of hope to those fearful beyond words.

So how can we be brave?  Scary situations, evil intentions and calamities are all around us.  For me, I embrace Isaiah 41:10-11 “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced; they shall be as nothing, and those who strive with you shall perish.”

Quite simply, God is with me.  He will uphold me, help me, strengthen me.  He will enable me to be brave.

Song for the day: “Fear Not for I Have Redeemed You”

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xn0m8z_christian-praise-worship-songs-lyrics-2011-fear-not-for-i-have-redeemed-you-isaiah-43_music

 

 

Advertisements

Busyness


Scripture for the day:  Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Be still.  I struggle with that command, and I always have.  I am very good at “doing”.  I excel at “overdoing”, but this verse wants me to be still.  Oh, how I struggle with that.  My mother was a doer.  She was always working.  Even if she was sitting, she was crocheting or doing something with her hands.  I don’t know whether I emulated her or whether I was born with her nature.  Either way, I, too, strive on activity.

God has worked on this for years in my life, and I have always resisted.  But age is on His side now, and so that makes His task easier.  He has also placed me in situations where  silence, inactivity were required.  When my mother was in a nursing home, I visited her almost every day.  On my way to her room, I passed a sign that said “Be still, and know that I am God”.  Every day  I read that on my way to sit with her and be still.  I might have been sitting quietly, but inside I was churning.  Nothing quiet going on inside of me!

Then along came cancer.  I was too sick to “do” anything, and so I was in bed.  I didn’t have a chance to recover from surgery before I started chemo.  With that, I experienced the kind of fatigue I had never known before.  I was too tired to fight, and so I gave in to being still.  I faced death, but God chose to save me.  In saving me, He also changed me.  I am no longer the President of Over-doers Anonymous, nor do I want to be.  I am content to let others take charge or let things go undone. Psalm 23:2 says “He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.”  Through cancer treatment and recovery He taught me to lie down and be still.  I have no desire to leave His green pastures and get back on the interstate highway.

Psalm 90:12 says “So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  I am selective now in my commitments.  I try to follow His leadership in my life and take on those tasks I feel He wants me to accomplish.

His way is so much better than my way. Philippians 4:6-7 says “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  I claim this scripture today, and I am at peace.

Song for the day:  “Be Still My Soul” by Kari Jobe

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mq59iE3MhXM

 

Let Them See You


Scripture for the day:  Galatians 3:26-27  “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

I put on clothes.  I put on shoes.  I put on a coat, hat and gloves when it is cold outside.  But do I put on Christ?  Do I make sure I am clothed in His righteousness before I leave home?  If not, I will be ineffective as I try to witness for Him.

God has given all of us special talents, gifts unique to us, and we are called to use those gifts for Him.  I love to write, and I feel it is a gift from God.  When I spend quiet time with Him, I am usually led to express what I am feeling from the Bible study on paper.  It is only then that the words become real for me.

God places each of us in unique situations; and He uses those times to refine us, bring us closer to Him.  I volunteer every Tuesday at a cancer center.  Yesterday I was blessed to spend time with a woman who is undergoing treatment.  She was pale, thin, hoarse from the drugs they were giving her, her bald head covered with a wig, but she was smiling.  We talked about those days when you simply need to have a pity party.  She told me during those sad, overwhelming times she prayed for her sons, not herself.  So God has put Jo and her sons on my heart.  I prayed for them yesterday, and I am praying for them today.  Because Jo and I shared a unique situation (cancer) we were able to connect in a way that would have been impossible for others.  So I count my cancer diagnosis as a gift from God.  Because of that unique situation, I am able to comfort others going through a difficult time.

Jo and I also shared a belief in Jesus Christ.  We are both daughters of the King, and we have a relationship with Him.  We talked about how He had walked with us through the deep waters of cancer diagnosis and treatment, never letting us sink to the bottom.  We shared how thankful we are for Jesus’ love and saving grace.  Cancer treatment may be ravaging Jo’s body, but her spirit is whole and happy, clothed in Christ.

I am dressed and ready for the day.  But I want Him to take my voice, my words, my actions today and make them His.  If He does, it will be a good day.

Song for the day:  “Let Them See You” by Colton Dixon

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C8Be1on3JHk

 

Survival Rates for Ovarian Cancer Compared to Other Cancers


Ovarian cancer accounts for approximately three percent of cancers in women. While the 10th most common cancer among women, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death among women, and is the deadliest of gynecological cancers. Mortality rates are slightly higher for Caucasian women than for African-American women.

A Woman’s Lifetime Risk:
     A woman’s lifetime risk of developing invasive ovarian cancer is 1 in 72.

A woman’s lifetime risk of dying from invasive ovarian cancer is 1 in 95.

Age:
Approximately 1.2 percent were diagnosed under age 20;

3.6 percent between 20 and 34;

7.4 percent between 35 and 44;

18.6 percent between 45 and 54;

23.4 percent between 55 and 64;

20.1 percent between 65 and 74;

17.6 percent between 75 and 84;

8.1 percent 85+ years of age.

From 2005 to 2009, the median age at diagnosis was 63. For the same period, the median age of death from ovarian cancer was 71.

Survival:

Ovarian cancer survival rates are much lower than other cancers that affect women.

• The relative five-year survival rate is 44 percent. Survival rates vary depending on the stage of diagnosis.

• Women diagnosed at an early stage have a much higher five-year survival rate than those diagnosed at a later stage.

• Approximately 15 percent of ovarian cancer patients are diagnosed early.

• Women diagnosed with breast cancer in 1975 experienced a five-year survival rate of 75.3 percent; today, the American Cancer Society estimates the rate to be 90 percent.

• Women diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1975 experienced a five-year survival rate of 69 percent; today, the American Cancer Society estimates the rate to be 69 percent.

• Women diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1975 experienced a five-year survival rate of 36 percent; today, the American Cancer Society estimates the rate to be 43 percent.

Can’t Stand? Kneel


fr_1186

Scripture for the day:  Isaiah 25:4a “for you have been a stronghold to the poor, a stronghold to the needy in his distress, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat.”

My family and I participated in a walk to raise awareness of ovarian cancer this weekend.  It was a beautiful day, and it was nice to be part of something much larger than our small story.  Some ladies were in wheelchairs, but they were there.  Some were obviously weak, struggling, but they were there.  Many were in the process of undergoing treatment, and many were in remission.  Family and friends who had been there for us when we were fighting for our lives were there to support us.  We were all there under God’s blue sky with a common goal:  to raise awareness about a disease that had almost cost us our lives.

As a survivor, I was given a “goody bag” to take home.  When I opened the bag, one thing in particular stood out to me.  It was a teal and white card that read:

When life is too much to stand . . . kneel

I think most of the ladies there yesterday have known those days.  For all of us, there were times when we wondered if we would make it.  There were days when life was too much to stand.  It was in those moments that I knelt before my God and simply gave the pain, the fear, the doubt to Him.  I found power in Him when I was too weak to stand.  He changed me.  He changed what I was feeling even though the circumstance was the same.  His love gave me peace.  He gave me hope.  I could almost feel His loving arms hold me close and help me stand.

fr_1184

I will keep the sweet memory of this weekend.  I will treasure the feel of sunshine on my face;fr_1183 the gentle breeze; the love of family; being with other families who understand what a cancer diagnosis means.  But I also give yesterday to Jesus because I know it happened through His grace.  He was there for me in the pain, and so I also give Him the joy of Saturday.

He was my shelter from the storm.  When the giant waves crashed around me, threatening to take me under, He was there to keep me safe.  He is with me now  as I walk through the quiet, peaceful waters of remission.  No matter what life brings my way, Jesus is beside me.  I give Him praise, honor and glory in everything.

Song for the day:  “On My Knees” by Jaci Velasquez

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=By-8BN316mM 

Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer


Today I want to share the risk factors for ovarian cancer and screening tests that can be performed.  This information is from the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.

Risk factors for ovarian cancer may include:

Family history of ovarian or breast cancer

Family/personal history of BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 genetic mutation

Being of Ashkenazi Jewish descent (increased risk of BRCA-1 & BRCA-2 mutation)

Never having been pregnant

Abdominal obesity

Women who began menstruating before age 12 or reached menopause after 50

Use of hormone replacement therapy

Factors that MAY reduce ovarian cancer risk:

Use of oral contraceptives

Pregnancy

Oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries)

Breast feeding

Screening:

There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer and a Pap test does NOT detect ovarian cancer.  However, ovarian cancer abnormalities can be detected by a complete pelvic exam, a transvaginal ultrasound, and a CA-125 blood test.  These tests are most effective when used in combination with each other.  The only definitive way to diagnosis ovarian cancer is through surgery and biopsy.

Ovarian cancer is known as “The Disease that Whispers” so listen carefully!

Know your body.  Know the symptoms.  Be persistent.

Dancing with NED


Ovarian cancer is a silent killer.  It creeps into lives undetected and makes a home.  Most women aren’t diagnosed until it is Stage 3 or 4, and it is simply too late.  I was fortunate because my cancer was Stage I and the chemo drugs have knocked it out for now.

Doctors almost never use the word cure.  They say there is “No Evidence of Disease”.  And so, I’m in remission and dancing with NED.  I could be left stranded on the dance floor at any moment because NED is a fickle partner.  Who knows when the ugly beast could tap NED on the shoulder, and he would be out of here.  Gone.

I could spend my time worrying about this, but instead I choose to live my life fully and face the future with a smile. I don’t know when my situation will change, but I know God is in control. He has a plan, and so I rest in Him.

Cancer will not be a part of my life today. I will exercise, eat well, enjoy the love of friends and family. I am a survivor!!!  For today, I can savor the joy of victory.

NED? I’ll enjoy my dance with him for the moment, but I realize he is fickle. I will cling to my Rock instead, trusting Him to help me deal with this life and prepare me for the next.  With Him, all things are possible; and so I choose to dance and sing and truly live.

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.  Please join me in spreading the word about this deadly disease.

Symptoms include:  bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, urinary frequency or urgency.  The symptoms are vague and easily dismissed as something else.  If symptoms linger for more than two weeks, see a doctor.  Be persistent.  It took me 7 months to get a diagnosis, and I came very close to being another grim statistic of ovarian cancer.

Previous Older Entries