Monthly Archives: April 2016

When Faith Falters ~ 1

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I enjoy meeting my friend Paula for lunch once a week.  At these lunches we talk about our shared medical issues, our God, our love for Jesus, our service at church, the possibility of saving room for dessert (we never do), and any other good thing that comes up in conversation.

Paula is one of my OCFG’s.  I haven’t talked about this group of women in a while – they’re my Outrageously Christ-Filled Girlfriends.  Their faith runs deep, is outwardly displayed by their walk through life, and they constantly replenish, stretch, and support me.

But what do you do when the faith of a friend starts to go south?

The last few posts about Divine Appointments were specifically about how God brought Paula and me together. Until this past week I thought I was part of the appointment to provide prayer and support … which is huge in the realm of friendship … but when I met with Paula this past week I wondered if I wasn’t part of the equation for a time such as this.

At lunch Paula expressed some real issues she’s having trying to maintain her faith in light of her serious medical issues.  I don’t know if it happened earlier in treatment or just recently but Paula confided that the doctors have called her “incurable.”

I immediately bristle when someone – anyone – slaps a label on a person.  I know how easily a label can damage the psyche and I could easily see the effect it was having on my friend.

Trying hard not to proffer platitudes we continued to talk about God but the conversation got really deep – really fast.  She doesn’t know why God’s not healing her.  I don’t know, but I also don’t know that he’s not going to heal her.  I think as long as she is still drawing breath then God can heal her.  She brought up a scripture (Isaiah 53:5) that someone turned into a song, part of which is: “by His stripes we are healed.”  She and I don’t see eye to eye on this particular scripture.  She believes its physical healing while I believe it to be spiritual healing.  I look at her … probably blankly.  I don’t want to focus on our difference of opinion over scripture.  She’s in real trouble.  But every question she asks is not meant to be answered.  I can’t.  I can just listen and pray that God is listening.

I don’t feel adequate to be having this conversation.  Far too often my answer is, “I don’t know.”

Dejectedly Paula says she’s not hearing from God because she can’t concentrate when she reads the Bible.  I ask her not to beat herself up.  I can attest that cancer treatments mess with your mind.  Your memory has leaked out your ear and you can spend minutes searching for the right word for some every day, ordinary thing.  It’s aggravating but it doesn’t mean that God isn’t listening or talking to you.

At some point in the conversation, as we’d been tiptoeing around the topic of death, I mentioned that if it happened 5 days or 50 years from now it will be glorious to see Jesus.  She wonders how I can be so sure.  I know how.  About five years ago I had an experience in which I could have been killed and even though I was praying for Jesus to save me, I realized after the fact that I wasn’t afraid to die.  It was the first time I’d really comprehended that.  I’ve also just about finished up a BSF study on Revelation which has justly excited me (and many others) about the certainty of the believer’s eternal life.

This discussion led to yet another question I didn’t know the answer to.  Instead, I answered what I know to be true, “I don’t think we can know the answer to that question this side of heaven.”

Paula looked off into the distance over my right shoulder, “I don’t even know that if I die tomorrow that I’d go to heaven.”  She couldn’t meet my eyes as she looked back at her lunch.

I was silent.  The severity of my friend’s situation coming into full view.  If I hadn’t known it before, I knew it now.  Satan had my dear friend in his sights.  It was war.  I immediately grabbed her hands and prayed for God to rebuke the devil.  There was no way the enemy was getting ahold of my OCFG – because she is an outrageously Christ-filled woman – even if she didn’t feel like it at the moment.

Join me Monday for the conclusion of “When Faith Falters” and have a great weekend!

~ Felecia

Divine Appointments ~ 2

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This is the second half of a post that began yesterday and which you can find here to get caught up.  ~ F

Much praise was sent heavenward after the results of the biopsy were in and as I acknowledged God’s infinite wisdom to put Paula in my life.  What I didn’t know then – was that I wasn’t done.  I’d initially gone to the doctor in February to check out some unusual bleeding and an MRI showed that it was now my uterus that harbored something suspicious.  Surgery was slated and pre-op testing began.  It was an EKG followed by a stress ECG followed by a Heart Cath to discover that I had a 100% blockage of the artery they call the ‘widowmaker.’  A stent was immediately placed.  I returned to church to wait out the month before we could perform the surgery (due to the stent).  During this time a beautiful woman with long strawberry blond hair had started sitting near Paula and I in the front row. We quickly welcomed Lydia into our little group and discovered she was a nurse by trade as well as a prayer warrior for the Kingdom.

A month later I was undergoing a hysterectomy and since no one had really mentioned the “C” word in my presence, we’d been praying that my bleeding was simply caused by a renegade fibroid cyst (which I learned can sometimes masquerade as cancer).  It didn’t matter to me that my surgeon was the head of the Oncology GYN department or that I’d seen the words “suspected uterine cancer” as a diagnosis on some blood work. We all wanted the best possible outcome and I had such a peace about the whole situation that it simply didn’t matter to me what they discovered inside me.  You know that peace of God that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7)?  I had it – big time.  Thank you, Jesus.

It wasn’t until I awoke in Recovery that I learned that the doctor had gotten most of the cancer with the surgery (having to perform a complete hysterectomy and grab as many lymph nodes as he could) but that some lower pelvic lymph nodes remained that couldn’t be excised and there seemed to be some cancerous cells moving toward my stomach. Chemotherapy would be my next stop.

Paula was instrumental in helping me through those early months; preparing me with her first-hand knowledge of chemo and later radiation therapy, gifts of ginger drops and peppermint oil to help with nausea, a CD with healing Scriptures, warm fuzzy socks, and prayer – prayer – prayer.  Lydia’s nursing skills got a work out as well because when I was on the operating table I also received a hernia repair that hadn’t closed properly.  We were blessed as Lydia came to my aid helping show my Mom how to clean and change dressings as well as handle the wound vacuum until the visiting nurses could step in.

Then when I could physically return to church, the three of us created a little prayer huddle continuing to pray for each other.  The months have flown by for Paula and me and we have become a constant support to each other.  I don’t know how people without God in their lives can make it through a bout with Cancer and I don’t know how they could do it without a support system.  I had so many people praying for me and surrounding me and my family with love that it was palpable.  I believe I literally felt the prayers.

God knew that Paula and I would survive these trials better with each other, and He was right.  How blessed was I to have these two women enter my life at that time?  Our friendships continue to grow and I can’t wait to see what else God has in store for us!

Now it’s your turn.  Tell me about a time when you were involved on either side of a divine appointment?

Feel free to remain anonymous if you wish.

Divine Appointments ~ 1

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It was last October when I promised that my next post would be on Divine Appointments.  I apologize for taking such a long time to get this out to you and thank you for your patience.  ~ F

In Christianese, the “divine appointment” is an occurrence where one has found oneself uniquely in a position to help someone else.  While there may be something mysterious about how the whole situation transpired, there is no doubt in one’s mind that only by the providence of God the meeting occurred and you were just used by Him … sometimes for some purpose only He could know.

It’s really quite a thrilling feeling to be used by God to help someone else.  You are at once both humbled and overjoyed.  It’s equally as thrilling to be on the receiving end of a divine appointment.  In this two-part post I find myself doubly blessed.

As I’ve matured as a Christian I’ve been blessed to be included in many divine appointments – and perhaps have matured in my faith because God used me in such a manner. When you’re involved in a divine appointment your faith (and most likely the faith of the other party) is strengthened. Over the years God has orchestrated my life in such a way as to use me to provide timely counsel, pray for someone in need, and provide someone with money, food, or other necessary items.

While I didn’t realize it at the time, early last year God was busy arranging a multi-person divine appointment.

It was any old Sunday in January 2015 while sitting in the front row of church awaiting the start of service when I saw a woman and her husband approaching my location.  I’d seen them at church before but didn’t know either of them at all.  The woman was wearing a mask across her face – not something you normally see – and I remember being surprised that she would come to church if she was so sick.  When she took the seat right next to me I couldn’t help but wonder what cold, flu, or disease she might be harboring and was more than a little concerned – I hated getting sick.  As she settled into her seat I asked, and not very politely, “Do I need to be worried?”

Her eyes crinkled up in such a way that could only mean she was smiling under that mask and after a moment she said, “No.  I’m protecting myself from you.”

Floored, I immediately assured her that I was perfectly healthy and she shook her head slowly.  “You may be, but I can’t take that chance.”  Before the service began she introduced herself as Paula and explained that she was fighting cancer. Because the treatments weakened her immune system, she needed to ensure that she kept as healthy as possible.  I kicked myself for my foot-in-mouth disease and told her I understood.  I also mentioned that I was on the Altar team and asked if I could pray with her after the service.

Praying with Paula that first day was a heady experience.  I ‘heard’ from the Holy Spirit during the prayer that God was solidly with her and told her what I’d gotten.  She said she knew that but also thanked me for giving her the confirmation.  Later that day I thanked God for bringing this gentle soul into my life and allowing me to intercess for her.  Little did I know then that our almighty Father had introduced us to help one another … a two-way divine appointment!

Within a few weeks Paula and I were becoming fast friends and I had begun to suffer some medical issues of my own.  I learned that Paula was fighting lung cancer, that her husband was a rock-solid saint, and that I was going to face my own hurdle when I received news after a mammography that there was a suspicion of breast cancer.

A couple weeks of trepidation gave way to utter relief as the biopsy ruled the cells benign and I was grateful to have Paula there to lean on.  As much as I hate to say it, having grown up with a very large chest, my breasts were a large part of my identity.  Having to let one or both go was something I didn’t want to have to contemplate.  Further, I wasn’t even married yet and I could only think of what man would want a woman with no boobs.  I’m not proud that I think so little of men or was that shallow; and I don’t say that only because I have been able to keep mine.  I’ve endured so much since that time that my perspective has completely changed and with my weight loss I’ve actually lost 2 cup sizes!  Believe me – there is no longer any false pride relating to chest size!

Please join me tomorrow for the conclusion of this divine appointment that will yet include another person.