Tag Archives: Friendship

It’s Not Goodbye

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Bob and Paula

Bob and Paula Nilsen

It’s hard to cry for departed Christian friends because I know where they are and am confident I’ll see them again. It’s much easier to weep for those they left behind. We must all await our time to enter the realm of God.

My friend Paula left us last month. Paula is a vivacious, generous, and gentle soul who God pulled into my life and became my friend just before I was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. (If you missed it, here are easy links to part one and part two.)

I originally assumed God had brought us together for me to help her with her cancer diagnosis; but in a short matter of time we could see that we were meant to lean on each other through the suffering of this disease. Two Christian women fighting shoulder to shoulder with the big C.

God’s plan in our friendship really became evident when Paula’s disease metastasized to bone and brain and her faith began to falter. (You can read that here with links to part one and part two.) It scared me because she was one of the most solid women I knew. If her faith could crumble so easily … could mine?

What I didn’t know until later was that her doctors had told her she was incurable from day one.

Incurable.

It’s a hideous word that should not have found its way into our lexicon. I wondered how having that word spoken over you could damage your psyche. Now I could really appreciate just how tough and resilient she was. She’d lasted almost two years with that label slapped on her and her faith had just now had begun to slip. I counted my blessings that no doctor has ever used that word or, the alternate, “terminal” with me. Of course we are all terminal in one way or another.

Determined to restore her faith, we embarked on a 28-day bible study by Kay and David Arthur called Lord, I Need Answers. I’m not sure if it was the weekly camaraderie or God working through the study itself (or both!), but we were equally refreshed and stronger by the time we completed that study. I cheered as Paula was able to say with confidence the ultimate statement, “I know I’m going to Heaven when I die.” Faith reestablished! Hallelujah!

It wasn’t long though before Paula’s body began to ignore her directives. Since the disease had begun ravishing her body, she slipped into hospice care and friend after friend came by to sit with her, offering their love and support, and praying over her and with her.

It was very tough to witness this vital, faithful, loving woman fade away and I was with her on what was to become her last day. That afternoon I prayed a couple of Psalms over her (something she liked me to do when I’d come over) but found it very difficult to get through Psalm 91, one of our favorites. I dissolved into tears as I prayed God’s undying love over her. I couldn’t be sure she had heard me at all but had her hand in mine and as I was saying goodbye with a promise of returning the next day, she squeezed. I reported it to her nurse as I burst into a fresh round of tears.

Her husband, Bob, let us all know that she passed into Jesus’ arms at about 10pm that evening. I can’t say enough about Bob. He’s a good, godly man and a verifiable rock. There’s no wonder that God brought Bob into Paula’s life for a time such as this. It’s never easy for a man to lose his wife, but really God? They just celebrated their third wedding anniversary in March.

I’m beyond grateful that God brought Paula and I together two years ago. I’m overjoyed that He was able to use her in my life and me in hers right until the end. I’m thankful she heard a few chapters of my book and never once laughed!

Farewell, my friend, I love you.

Three Amigos 2

Me, Paula, and another friend at church.

Three Amigos 1

Three Amigos

“Don’t be dismayed at good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.”

~ Richard Bach (Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah)

Sorrow

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Sorrow

It’s dreary here without Paula.

Her two greyhounds stare at me as if because I’m here, their female human should be too.  Chrissy and Scooby.  I don’t have the heart to tell them she won’t be home just yet.  They’ve already been missing her something fierce, I’m sure.

A sound outside makes me get up from behind the laptop and move to the front window. The dogs are excited.  Perhaps I’ll give them a treat, they think.  Or even better, a walk.

I see the neighbor across the street poking around in his garden.  He wears a lumbar brace, smeared with dirt and stained with sweat.  His belly protrudes over the belt.

I try to imagine what it smells like and my nose wrinkles in perceived disgust.

A UPS truck in the street slows but then inches forward stopping at the house next door.  I sigh and absentmindedly scratch the pooch that stands next to me.  I look down.  Scooby.  I take his long head into my hands and rub his ears playfully kissing the top of his nose.

No sooner does UPS pull away when another truck, larger and white, pulls up directly in front of the house.  I squint to try and read the small blue lettering on the cab.

Hospice.

This is what I’m waiting for.  But I wish I wasn’t.

You see.  Paula is not doing well at all.

The cancer has gripped her body and is causing a host of other issues.

But Paula, whom God put directly into my path so that I could love on her through her struggle, ended up loving on me so much more when I was diagnosed.

She saw me through the breast biopsy (which was negative) and then the heart issue (which required a stent) and then the surgery and then the chemo and then the radiation therapy.  All along being supportive and encouraging and ever so prayerful.

I won’t lie.  It was tough to tell her when I went into remission.

Because she wasn’t.

And I wanted her to be free with me.  I wanted us to celebrate together.

While she was finding cancer in more and more places I’d been diagnosed, treated, and relieved of the disease.

Why?

That awful question which has no answer this side of Heaven.  But I ask anyway knowing my words fall deafly into a void.

Why do I get to hear the words “cancer free” and she doesn’t?

Instead, I watch forlornly as Hospice moves in the bed and the tray table and the oxygen tanks and my eyes fill with tears.

It doesn’t matter that I know we’ll all meet again in Heaven.  I want time with her here – now.  We’re just getting to know each other apart from our shared medical journeys.

I sign the paperwork of receipt and plop down in the chair behind my laptop, exhausted.  I put my head in my hands and pray.

Pray for healing.  Pray for Heaven.  Pray for her husband.

It’s all I can do now.

Hold her hand, love her, and pray.

And pray.

The Peace of God

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The Peace of God

I was just remarking to my mother the other day that it seems to me as though more and more people are getting dreadful diseases.  I began noticing this trend about six to nine months ago and had originally chalked it up to the fact that I’d been diagnosed with cancer assuming I was just hearing about so many other people with cancer because I as moving in that circle.  But I’m not so sure that’s the case anymore.  Every day someone else I know is diagnosed with cancer or some other disease like Parkinson’s, and we’re all fairly young (between 40 and 60).

A couple of weeks ago I heard from another of my OCFG’s (Outrageously Christ-Filled Girlfriends).  She had a routine mammography that had originally gone well but the doctor had called her back for additional pictures.  Having not had that ever happen, she was a little alarmed.  We (women) each handle this information in our own way.  Women grow up with their breasts taking an odd significance in their life – mainly because they are the only sexual organ that is so obviously prominent on one’s body.  For some women breasts become a sort of status symbol, for some they become part of our identity, for others they are the life-blood for rearing children, and for all of us they are simply part of our figure.  Men, would you like a useful finger or two lopped off?  I don’t think so.  But when a doctor gives you that look or calls you back for more pictures, your mind starts whirring with possibilities that could follow. If you’re not careful, it doesn’t take long to fall down the rabbit hole of worry and I can just imagine Satan’s demons hopping aboard the fear train and stoking the fires.  Breast cancer.  It’s not diagnosis you want to hear.

However, getting additional pictures isn’t an unusual step for women as they age.  There is always something weird popping into view somewhere!  And as any good Christian friend would do, I prayed that the doctor wouldn’t find anything of importance.

I didn’t hear anything for a week or so until she let me know that they were now calling her back for an Ultrasound (US).  And that’s ample reason for the bravest of us to grow even more concerned.  Half the problem is the doctor.  They never seem to say anything that truly calms us because they’re trying so hard to not upset us.  It’s a no-win situation.

I’d recently driven down routine mammy-extra views-ultrasound street and took a left turn at biopsy lane so I told my friend about the entire process I’d gone through so she’d know what to expect.  As I’ve written recently, I’d given my burden to God to handle because with everything that was going wrong in my body at that time I just couldn’t worry about one more frightful thing.  Then we prayed again, bringing her fear and anxiety to the foot of Jesus’ cross and laying it there. Not only did my friend not have to bear this burden alone – she didn’t have to bear it at all.  She knew that, but it’s always nice for a friend to come alongside and agree.

I love chatting with this particular OCFG because we throw Scripture at each other all the time and that’s not a bad thing!  We always seem to be bouncing God’s word or Christian-living views and questions off each other … what do we think … what do we know … how do we know it.  We talk it out and usually come to some sort of agreement.  It’s quite enlightening to discuss Scripture with someone who is studiously in the Word.  We should all have people in our lives who are at all ends of the spectrum.  The really knowledgeable, the semi-knowledgeable, and the maybe not so knowledgeable.

A little while later I’d checked in with my friend and she gave me the date of the US.  But this time she sounded different.  She shared right away that she was enjoying God’s peace and that she’d received a word of knowledge … Job 23:10 which reads in the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC)

10 But He knows the way that I take [He has concern for it, appreciates, and pays attention to it]. When He has tried me, I shall come forth as refined gold [pure and luminous].

How lovely is that promise?  He knows the way I have taken … God is so intimate that He knows everything.  We can be confident in His testing because we really can’t fail.

My friend continued her thoughts in a text, she said (and I could feel her joy), “So I know that no matter what happens, I will be refined as pure gold! How gracious of Our Lord to comfort me with that truth!”

How gracious indeed.  How can we not love and worship a God who provides this kind of peace and protection when we need?

I’m so ready to worship Him forever!

** Amplified Bible, Classic Edition (AMPC) Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation courtesy of BibleGateway.com

Bible Study

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Bible Study

This week I’m starting a bible study with my OCFG Paula.  Have you ever embarked on a bible study with one other person?  Specifically we’re doing a study that I’ve had laying around for a while called “Lord, Help Me to Grow Spiritually Strong in 28 days” by Kay and David Arthur.  It’s now been repackaged as “Lord, I Need Answers: A 28-Day Journey to Growing Stronger in Your Faith.”  Paula is afraid that I’m going to be bored since she knows how much I enjoy studying with BSF.  But I think we can receive a lot from any study because isn’t it really about what God wants to speak to our hearts?  He has been known to use any and every thing to get His point across and I’m sure He’ll use this study too.  Besides, for me it’s more about fellowshipping with my friend and strengthening her faith during a trying season in her life.  The fact that I’m bound to get something out of it is just the proverbial icing.

If you’d like to grab this book and fellowship with us we’d love to have you. You can get what they call a slightly imperfect version which is only $5.99 here: Christianbook.com (not an affiliate link).

At the end of each day’s message there is a ‘take away’.  For Day One which is entitled “Is Anyone Up There?” it is to write your story.  We do this often at my church because we always want to be ready to testify how Jesus has changed our lives. As Peter said, “… always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3: 15b)

But I was thinking … don’t we have many stories?  Who among us comes to Christ and then grows beautifully from that point on a straight and heavenly trajectory never faltering?  Not one.

Don’t we gather many stories throughout our lives?  The story I traditionally tell is the one where I initially came to Christ because it was such a God-thang.  But there was the time I came back after a little slide; then the time I came back after a huuuuge slide – that was pretty special.  But now, and it maybe a little premature, I seem to be recovering from cancer and that will be yet another story to tell of His awesome grace and mercy.  How am I to decide which story to tell when?  Should I be tailoring stories for certain situations like a resume and cover letter for different potential employers?

To make it easy for now, let’s stick to the story of how we came to Christ.  How you were living before Christ, how you made the decision to follow Him, and the state of your life after Christ.  Keep it short and powerful.  We can prattle on about ourselves all day I think (just look at this blog!) so it’s wise to keep your story between 3 and 5 minutes.  Just long enough to tell an unbeliever without losing or boring them.

My story appeared several years ago on the original blog that was lost when my hosting company changed blogging programs.  But I’ll reprint it on Wednesday and if you get yours written down, you can post it in the comments. I’d love to hear it!

And don’t forget to let me know if you’re going to join us in this Bible study!

When Faith Falters ~ 2

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This is part two and the conclusion of a story that started on Friday.  You can find part one here. ~ F

Faced with a friend whose strong faith is perilously close to slipping over the edge of the abyss … I close my eyes and pray … God, help.  I am not equipped for this.

As I often do with my counselees, I change the direction of the conversation.  There is a time to shake the muck and mire off your feet and scramble back up to the edge of the pit.  I concentrate on asking Paula to pray for God to speak to her and then to watch closely and listen for Him to speak.  “He can use anything and anyone,” I say.

“I do,” she says.  “How come I don’t hear Him?”

Knowing that she believes she isn’t hearing Him I add, “His voice may not come the way you think it will.”  I remind her that I’d wanted to share Psalm 66: 1-10 with her earlier and hadn’t had the opportunity to – mainly because of how our conversation had unfolded.  I ask her to read it at home because it had been called to my attention that morning and it was so beautifully brimming with praise to God.  It’s hard to feel poorly when you’re busy praising Him.  And, since it’s one of my spiritual gifts, I tell her that I’ll pray for God to send me a word for her and that when He does I’ll let her know immediately.  She doesn’t look very confident.  It doesn’t matter.  I’m confident for the both of us.

We settle the bill and I suggest we go sit on the rocking chairs that litter the front porch of this establishment.

Outside we rock and talk softly.  The gravity of her earlier emotion subsiding, she’s now deep in her head and I’m still praying that God will speak to her and allow her to hear Him.

A woman walks by with a “Happy Birthday” balloon. I notice her hair is cropped really short like maybe she’s coming off chemo.  “Happy Birthday” I call out as she passes by.  She turns and smiles, it’s not her birthday but a friend’s … she’s just going to the car and will be right back. I mention to Paula that she might have cancer.  “Look at her hair,” I whisper.

“It may just be her style,” Paula responds.

“Maybe.” I say, sighing and looking out into the parking lot.

As the woman returns from her car she stops and hesitates in front of us.  Looking at me she indicates that she’s just finished treatments for breast cancer, had a double mastectomy, and reconstructive surgery.  She apologizes for surmising my situation (which I presume is due to my lovely ‘I’m fighting cancer’ hair-do).  I wave her off and congratulate her and her progress.  I gesture to Paula and tell her that my friend is also battling cancer and having a tough day.

Her words so tender and uplifting, I gasp and grab Paula’s hand as the woman bends down and speaks directly into Paula’s soul.  She mentions much of the verbiage in Psalm 66 – the very Psalm I had planned to read to her hours earlier.  She talks about gratitude and hope and healing. Paula is crying and I’m thanking God for this angel He has sent to us.  Talk about divine appointments!  Hugs and kisses later she hurries off to retrieve her friends inside.  I praise God aloud for sending the woman and squeeze Paula’s hand again.

Paula is still despondent.  “She’s just a woman,” she states matter-of-factly.

“A woman sent by God,” I emphatically declare.

The next morning I was not even out of bed before I was praying for Paula and asking God to give me a word for her.  I sigh laying my head back on the pillow, “Lord, we need a word from you now,” I implore aloud.  Suddenly I ‘got’ Isaiah 62:12.  I smile and say (again out loud), “Thank you, Lord,” my heart brimming with joy.  I grab my HCSB from the nightstand and read:

“And they will be called the Holy People,

the Lord’s redeemed;

and you will be called Cared For,

A City Not Deserted.”

How glorious! Of course He cares for her and has not deserted her. I immediately text Paula.  The Lord makes my day before I’ve even gotten out of bed!  How can you not love such a responsive Father?  He is so faithful!  I pray Paula will receive this message from Him and meditate on it.

At church the following Sunday Paula remarks that she didn’t understand the verse I sent her.  She opens her Bible and we read her version of the verse.  It’s nowhere near as glorious as the version I’m currently using (the HSCB or Holman Christian Standard Bible).  I open mine and read it to her.  She sits back contemplating the message.

Then, just before service started Paula grabbed my hand, “Don’t give up on me,” she whispers.  I turn to look at her with tears in my eyes.

“I won’t,” I whisper as I hug her tightly. “I won’t.”

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Now tell me … What have you done to strengthen your own faith, or someone else’s faith?

Update:  While Paula still struggles, she is doing better, is reading the Bible, and has (at least) remembered that she will be going to Heaven when she dies. Glory!

 

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.