Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Strength of Our Words

A few years ago I watched the movie, “Mona Lisa Smile” starring Julia Roberts. She played the role of an Art History college professor at a prestigious eastern girls school during the early 1950’s. She was a “liberal” thinker for those times, and felt that the well educated women at this college could have careers outside the home after they graduated if they so desired. Her ideas were not easily accepted by many at this institution, because even though the women at this school were educated they were expected to marry well to do men and have traditional lives of the times. One of the young women at the college had a great deal of power over her friends, other students, and even some of the faculty because of her family background and her creative ability to write for the campus paper. Unfortunately, she wrote mostly negative, unpleasant articles, and her jealous and vindictive ways were self-destructive not only for herself, but for many who came in contact with her. Towards the end of the movie, with the help of friends and her college professor (played by Julia Roberts), she becomes aware of her hateful ways, changes how she acts with others, and becomes an advocate for doing what is right. Her words still had power, but now they had the power to build up and not destroy.

All of us have experienced the power of words on us and on others. Whether spoken gently or harshly, negatively or positively, words have influence over all who hear them.

Proverbs 16:24 says, “Pleasant words are like honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

God wants us to know just how powerful a pleasant attitude can be. Describing words as “honeycomb” gives us visions of sweetness, but the sweetness described here is sweet to the soul – the deep inner part of all of us- and that is powerful. And healing to the bones, ahhh…. for those of us who live with daily pain, the thought of our bones healing from the pain we experience, is a miracle in itself. Definitely, this image is powerful.

I believe that keeping a gratitude/blessing journal can help us to turn our focus away from the “nitty-gritty” of life, and keep our focus instead on all that is good. When writing down or mentally listing all our blessings of the day, it cannot help but put a smile on our faces. Recently another blogger, Ms. F. talked about her M.O.B. ~ her Moments of Beauty on her blog, "I May Be Fatigued, But I Will Always Be Fabulous", that she purposely searches for each day. I have been trying to add this activity into my day, too.

Recently I heard Oprah tell her audience that when she was 8 years old one of her teachers told her she was as “pretty as a speckled pup”. For a child who had not received any positive input in her life, these words were also like honeycomb and sweet to her soul! It gave her courage to overcome great odds.

In Proverbs 3:17 we read, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all her ways are peace.”

The dictionary defines the word pleasant as meaning, sweet, fun, nice, merry, friendly, and pleasing. Just hearing these words is uplifting! Apply them to people, and we can see how we are attracted to those who are pleasant. A pleasing word can get us through a tough day, and a friendly greeting can brighten a person’s spirit. A positive attitude can bring hope to the hopeless – joy to the downtrodden- peace to the restless soul. There is great strength to be found in our words ~ to ourselves and others. Let's all practice a pleasant attitude with powerful words so that what we say will be sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

This spectacular sunset, as seen out my window, gave me pause, and I could not help but lift my voice in praise to God for all the beauty He has created. It was, as a fellow blogger calls it, my MOB ~ Moment Of Beauty~ for the day!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Finding Daylight

One of the best booklets I have ever read on grief came from a workshop my husband attended last fall on the subject of grief, loss, and the steps to recovery. The author, Elizabeth Harper Neeld, wrote a book entitled, "Seven Choices: Finding Daylight After Loss Shatters Your World". She wrote this is response to her own journey through the unexpected death of her young husband. She gives workshops on the subject of grief and loss and her book was given out to most everyone in NY after 9-11.
Of course there are many different losses that result in grief, but recently I have listened to or read about the grief that overwhelms people when someone they love has died. Debi from the blog, "Who Says Eight Is Enough", spoke of the young child Tuesday's death recently and how much it affected her, let alone the parents and family of this sweet child. One of my sister's called yesterday and shared that a friend of hers in the senior apt. complex she lives in was found dead in her bed. Another friend is in the process of dying from cancer throughout her body, and only a few months ago a woman my sister took care of and loved, died. Needless to say, she is experiencing alot of sadness at losing so many friends.
Grief is at times overwhelming. When our 25 year old son died 4 years ago, I remember feeling consumed by the pain of his passing. I was too ill to go to the funeral several states away, and had to stay home while my husband and older son flew by plane to the service. I felt completely empty and racked with was hard to breathe, move, or think about anything else the day of the funeral. It may sound morbid, but I asked Joel to take pictures of Kevin in the casket so that I could "see" his body. I knew it would be important for me to experience this as part of my grieving process. We also had a memorial service here at our church so all of our family could gather, celebrate his life, grieve his death, and find comfort in not only each other but the knowledge that he was with our Lord Jesus.
Life comes with loss, and from loss comes grief. We cannot avoid the grieving process ~ denying the feelings that comes from grief would be detrimental to our well-being. It is very important to work through the losses we experience and there are no rules for how long it takes. But there are choices we can make to help us through it.
For those who find themselves going through the loss of a loved one, let yourself experience and express your grief fully, keep close to those you love, and reach out for help in getting through it. Joel and I made these decisions and others to help us when our son died. It gave us what we needed to move through the process and find daylight once again.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Miracle

Jeremiah 32:17 “Ah, Lord God! Behold, you have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for you.”

Our friends, Marilyn and Leon, dealt with a life-threatening disease for over two years of Leon’s life. He was diagnosed with incurable asbestos type cancer, which created a tumor in his lung that grew so large that it was bending his esophagus to the side and he was having trouble swallowing his food. He would often need to go into the hospital to have fluid removed from his lungs so he could breath easier. He was told by his doctors that there was nothing more they could do for him. He went ahead and planned his funeral, asking Joel to preach at his “celebration of life”. Then they decided to really enjoy the time he had left and spent each day making it special and filled with family, fellowship, and travel. In mid December of 2003 his son-in-law came home on leave from Iraq and the entire family celebrated their “last Christmas” together. Leon continued to get worse and we fully expected to get a phone call from Marilyn announcing his death before the end of January 2004.

Then things begin to change. Leon began to gain some strength back and his breathing became easier. We wondered if this was the calm before the storm so-to-speak, as many who are dying begin feel to stronger a few days before they actually die. It is like the body rallies at the end. As time went by, though, Leon became stronger and stronger and continued to feel better. He went to see his doctor, X-rays were taken, and the results were unbelievable. The doctors could find no sign of the tumor in Leon’s lung. It was completely gone. Everyone was stunned, and his family doctor told him there was no medical explanation. It had to be a miracle. A couple of days later Leon had a seizure from the pain medication he was taking and ended up in the hospital where doctors there repeated the X-rays, once again confirming that he no longer had a tumor in his lung. He was sent back home. A week later he went to see his oncologist for his check-up and after looking at all the reports, the cancer doctor said, “The other doctors must have made a mistake. You never could have had asbestos cancer in the first place. It would never disappear.” Marilyn then spoke up and challenged him, “You mean our local doctors, the X-rays, and the doctors at Mayo Clinic were all wrong and misdiagnosed Leon? All his suffering and pain was not real?” The doctor walked out of the room, but in a short time he returned, walked over to Leon and shook his hand. He said, “I do not use these words lightly, but we have no explanation for your recovery. It is a miracle.”

Leon is back to his old self now and lives a normal life. There is no sign of cancer anywhere in his body. He continues to enjoy life to the fullest, never taking for granted the gift of healing God gave to him.

I have shared this story with several people, and each person has had a different response. Although most are amazed, some are skeptical, and wanting a reasonable explanation for the disappearance of the tumor. One person asked me if he was on certain medications that could have brought about the healing, while another person asked me if the doctors could have been wrong…did they each take their own X-rays or use the same ones. And another wondered why Leon would be healed and not others who were faithfully prayed for as well. There is no medical explanation for Leon’s recovery, and we do not have the answers behind the miraculous healing by God either. Questions do go unanswered.

What we know for sure is that the Lord healed our friend of a fatal disease. The how and the why of it are not as important as our response – to glorify and praise God for this miracle and share the witness of this healing with others. The focus is not to be on Leon or his doctors, but on our Lord. It’s a miracle to behold.

To God be the glory!!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Healing Benefits of Laughter

Proverbs 17: 22 "A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."

Have you laughed today? Not just a chuckle, but a great big belly laugh? Some studies show that laughter can actually bring healing to our bodies.
~~Laughter is proven to boost the immune system
~~Laughter reduces blood pressure
~~If you laugh on a daily basis, really have a 40% less chance of having a heart attack!
~~If you laugh on a regular basis you sleep better
~~Laughter raises the serotonin levels in your body
~~If you laugh on a regular basis you make better decisions.

These statements are from studies done on how laughter affects the body. If they sound weird to you, laugh at them ....but take them to heart.
Norman Cousins, one time editor of the Saturday Review found himself very ill at one time in his life. The doctors diagnosed him with a connective tissue disorder after a trip to Russia in 1964. He felt his illness could be stress related, so he decided to bring more joy and laughter into his life. While he was in the hospital he had every video made of the Three Stooges brought into his room. He would watch these videos and laugh and laugh....and he began to feel better. He used laughter to boost his immune system, which in turn gave the immune system the strength it needed to fight his illness. His severe symptoms went away and He went back to his normal life.
We really have a choice to walk around with a smile on our face and joy in our heart...OR a frown on our face and sadness, anger, and frustration in our heart. Not a very hard decision to make, is it!
There is healing power in laughter. The next time you turn on the TV and surf the channels, make a conscious effort to stop on a channel with a show that will make you laugh. One of our favorite shows is Tool Time with Tim the Tool Man Taylor! We always get a good laugh from the antics of our grandchildren too. Find your own special triggers for a good belly laugh. Pick out a movie or a radio show that will make you laugh. Read humorous books and learn a few good jokes to share with others. When you plan out your days, add these things to the list...Enjoy! Laugh! Play!
Make an effort to ACTIVATE YOUR JOY!

(parts of this message are brought to you courtesy of Joel Osteen :-)

Monday, February 2, 2009

God's Pleasure

I am writing this on “Libby”, my laptop. Her full name is Liberty Laptop. It may be unusual to name your laptop, but, then, I guess I am an unusual person. I have named her Liberty because of the freedom she brings me. I can now sit in my recliner and look out my window while writing to my heart’s content or until my arms tire! I believe God has given me the desire to write, and having this laptop makes it easier to do so. I am so very grateful for this luxury.

It was just this past Thanksgiving that my daughter-in-law and son gave me~ Libby~ her “old” ~ all of 15 mo. old~ laptop. I was overcome by such a generous gift and still am. It has truly changed my life on a daily basis. I also remember when they were here what my son said about giving to others. Several of us were having a theological discussion and he mentioned that when he gives to others it makes him feel good and it used to bother him, until he realized that it makes his Heavenly Father happy and that is what he feels ~ his Father’s approval. I have thought about that many times since.

Today I was reading my Daily Guideposts and the subject of God’s approval came up again. Daniel Schantz was telling the story of Eric Liddell which is what the movie, “Chariots of Fire”, is based on. Eric’s sister felt his desire to run in races was frivolous since Eric had plans to be a missionary. His response was very interesting to me…”God made me for a purpose. He also made me fast. When I run I feel his pleasure.”

Daniel Schantz goes on to say about himself, “To do what God designed me to do is to feel his approval.”…..”To develop those gifts and use them for others is like a conduit for the power of God.”

We are created by God and each of us is unique. He has blessed us with a variety of gifts and when we use these gifts for God’s purpose and His glory, we do feel His pleasure ~ It makes God happy. When we open our hearts and give to others, we feel His pleasure. Do you give of yourself or of your resources to others? Are you a teacher? Do you fix cars for a living? Maybe like me you love to write…or your desire is to be a full time mom or dad….maybe you take care of a loved one who can’t take care of themselves. Whatever you are doing to develop and use the gifts God created specifically within you, it will fulfill His purpose for you and bring you joy. It will also honor Him and He will honor you. You will feel His pleasure!