Sunday, September 9, 2018

Gift


Everyone has an expiration date. I know this isn’t something we like to think about or focus on even for a moment, but it’s true. As the years go by, I am saddened to hear about singers and actors who have passed away; these are people that I grew up listening to and watching in movies. When we are younger, somehow we are convinced that we have immortal lives.  As the process of aging starts to catch up with us, many of us realize that we are on this earth for a limited time.

Me with my mom during her months of chemotherapy in 2016

Today, my mom and I celebrate extended life on this earth. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago on September 9. Through God’s grace and excellent medical treatments, she is still with us and doing well. She is a daily reminder to me that God does perform miracles. She had advanced stage breast cancer, and at the time of her diagnosis, I was convinced that she only had a few months left with me. God showed me that He has a timing for each one of us. Her time was not the time I was so certain of. I’m so thankful for more time, more memories, and more laughter with her.

On September 9, 1999, I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of thirty. I was a third year medical student at the time, and I was devastated. In my thirty years, I had overcome some bad relationships, finally graduated from college, and I had just started to have confidence in my ability to do some good in the world. I had finally been admitted to medical school after two years of applying, and I was studying so hard to become a successful doctor so I could help sick people. I couldn’t understand how a good God could allow this cancer in my life. I couldn’t understand why He would bring me to this point and then tell me, “No more.”

I struggled during that initial diagnosis and treatment, but God had a plan that I couldn’t see. After surgery, radiation, and more surgeries, I was cancer-free. It wasn’t easy, and I had to endure some physical and emotional pain. In fact, the scars will always be with me. The thing is, God wasn’t finished with me yet. He didn’t cause my cancer, but He chose to bring me wholeness again. I feel heartache as I realize that this healing doesn’t happen for everyone.  There are many people, even younger than I was, who have succumbed to the effects of cancer, and their sweet lives on this earth have ended. Almost all of us know someone this has happened to. With all of my heart, I believe that God has His reasons. I believe that God’s protective and loving arms take some children and adults to be with Him before their earth years are lived out. It’s hard for us to accept losing someone we love so much.

My graduation cake and memories of my cancer struggle

Today, I focus on the positive and I celebrate my life. I am grateful for the years I’ve been granted, for the time I’ve had to enjoy the beauty of God’s creation, and for the moments I’ve been able to share with my family and friends. Every day we’re given on this earth is a blessing. Knowing this, I focus on the legacy I want to leave behind me one day. Did people see me as someone who loved God and others? Did my family and friends feel loved and special? Did I treat strangers with kindness and respect? Did I show them God’s love?

Our days are numbered, and thankfully many of us have been gifted with many days. Job 14:6 says, “A person’s days are determined; You have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” What legacy will you leave behind one day? Who do you serve? How well you do love others? How well do you love who God made you to be?

Though we have a mortal expiration date, God can renew us each day. “Therefore do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16. This gift of renewal from God is there for the taking. He offers us strength and courage on this earth, and He offers us eternal life when we turn these short lives over to Him.

I pray today that God would open your eyes and heart to His wonderful plan for you. I pray that you would come to understand His great love for you. His love for you is specific and on purpose. He has a plan for you…a special plan for you.

Friday, September 7, 2018

When God says “no”


Have you ever felt like God might be telling you “no” to something you think you want? This morning I awoke early after having a dream about someone from my past. I awoke feeling sad and a little distressed. Old feelings from that time in my life resurfaced, and they were feelings I’d rather forget. During those early years in my life, I chose a path that I’m pretty sure God did not agree with. I chose a relationship that promised security and wealth and love. Only, after a time, the love was not there. I suffered silently for a few years feeling like a victim. After I cried out to God for help, He shut down that relationship. He had never approved of it, but He did allow me the choice, and I struggled because of my choice. Even when that relationship ended, I was still devastated. I no longer knew who I was or what or who I was living for. I didn’t know what or who was good for me. I suffered the pain of loss for some time.

But as I grieved the loss and worked through the pain, God started pointing out His plan for me. He helped me get admitted to medical school. He helped me become a doctor.  He saved me from dying from breast cancer. He introduced me to the man of my dreams, and I married him. He gave me a daughter to adopt and a family to love.

I look back and see that I had believed lies. I had searched for the wrong things thinking they would bring happiness. Even after making the wrong choices and falling into a pit of despair, God came along and picked me up, brushed me off, and set me on the right path—His path for me.

When God is telling us “no,” it’s because He knows what’s best for us. He wants to save us from pain and heartache. He knows what paths will lead to our despair, and He tries to guide and direct us onto His safe and prosperous path. However, God is not a dictator.  He gives us choices, and He lets us make them. If you ever find yourself in a dark place on a path that you know is headed for a bad place, it’s never too late to cry out to God for help. The journey back to His safe path may not be easy, but in the end, it will bring you peace and more joy than you can imagine.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Fear not


My eight-year old daughter ran into my room last night and exclaimed with excitement, “Mommy, come look at the rainbow!” I jumped up and hurried with her to the front porch. There was a perfect, beautiful rainbow across the sky. While we were admiring and enjoying the beauty of the rainbow, there was a sudden flash of lightening followed by a very loud, thunderous boom. My daughter immediately hurried to my side and yelled, “Let’s go in, mom!”

It doesn’t take long for fear to overcome our other emotions. We can be having a great day, and then something happens that elicits that gut-wrenching feeling, and then fear becomes our dominant emotion. Fear drowns out our healthy, positive emotions. I can be focused on homeschool and enjoying teaching my daughter, and then I remember that I have to pay bills, or submit a form for work, or complete a project. In an instant, fear of forgetting or not completing my tasks creeps in and ruins my positive mood.  In those moments, I can actually feel the stress seep into my being.

Fear of anything can strangle our positive emotions of courage, joy, and hope, and can zap our strength and resolve. Fear is a slick emotion that can overcome us in a second. When I feel fear becoming a dominant force in my day, I remember God’s promises. My favorite one comes from Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

When I’m at work, out shopping, or at home, and I feel frustrated with the way someone is treating me, Hebrews 13:6 reminds me that, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” When the fear of loneliness is present, I remember John 14:16, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.” When I worry that I might not be successful at something that I need to try, I look at James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Fear is always going to creep up on us. We can expect it. The enemy of this world is sly, and he knows just how to get to each one of us. The thing is, we can use God’s promises to help us combat these fears. God’s promises are stronger than any fear. We can crush our fears, or at least stop that fearful train of thought, by remembering God’s promises to us. God gives us power to overcome.

Tackling our fears is not always easy. Most of the time, it’s not. Some days we may have to repeat those promises over and over because our fear is strong. The enemy doesn’t give up. He will keep jabbing at us to break us down and make us feel weak. But God doesn’t give up on us either. We are His children, and with His promises for us, we are able to overcome any fear the enemy throws out. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

He wants you



Have you ever thought about how much God wants to call us His own? The message I often hear evangelists, pastors, and Bible teachers talk about is how we must come to God through our faith and accept Him into our lives. This is true. After all, God let’s us a make a choice to have Him in our lives—or not. He is gracious enough to give us a choice. But have you ever really thought about how much God wants to take you into His arms and call you His own?

Psalm 103:11 says, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him.”

Romans 8:32 says, “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will He not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

 John 1:12 says, “Yet to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave them the right to become children of God.”

I John 3:1a says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”

Ephesians 3:17b-18 says, “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and deep is the love of Christ...”

There are times that we all feel unloved. Life gets hectic, people in our lives get busy, and days go by. The love we expect from our human relationships can fail us depending on the day, the stressors, and the mood. Just remember that God’s love for you is unfailing, unconditional, never-ending, and meant specifically for you. There is no love like His—for you. You are loved so much.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Good enough



Do you ever hear these words in your mind? Perhaps someone has made you feel this way?

“I’m not attractive enough.”
“I’m not smart enough.”
“I’m not creative enough.”
“I’m not strong enough.”
“I’m not good enough.”

These statements are outright lies, but they seem to be easy for us to believe, and they are lies that we play over and over in our heads at times. These lies beat us down, zap our confidence, and make us less effective in every way. The enemy of this world lurks from person to person, and he quietly weaves these comments into our thoughts. He uses people to drive this point home in us: when we didn’t qualify for a job, or our creativity wasn’t quite what they were looking for, or we just didn’t have the look they wanted. If the enemy can get us to focus on our flaws, our attention is pulled away from our faith. These thoughts lead us to feeling like failures and can paralyze us.

Friend, you are good enough in God’s eyes. He has equipped you to do everything He has called you to do. You are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” as written in Psalm 139:14. Ephesians 2:10 says, “We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

God created each one of us with unique abilities and characteristics. Isaiah 64:8 says, “Yet you, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hands.” Romans 9:21 adds, “Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?” Not only did He create us to be unique, but He also added His strength to help us. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

So when you hear these lies in your ear, and you begin to feel self-doubt or discouragement seeping into your soul, remember who you are to God.  Don’t allow yourself to submit and jump onto the bandwagon of lies and despair. Remember that God is for you. “If God is for us, who can be against us (Romans 8:31b)?” Ask Him for strength. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak (Isaiah 40:29).”

Ask Him to show you how He sees you.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!And that is what we are!” I John 3:1a

Thursday, August 30, 2018

You matter



Have you ever had one of those days or weeks where you just feel insignificant? The world seems to go on around you, and you go unnoticed. Do you sometimes wonder why you are on this earth, if you have a purpose, or what is the meaning of your life? These questions may seem a little philosophical, but I think we all wonder this at times. For some of us, life goes on around us feeling chaotic and moving fast. It can get overwhelming as we try to juggle the many tasks we have to complete in a day. Alternatively, for others, we don’t have many tasks, and instead we have slow, lonely days, many of which are empty.

Our mistakes and regrets can also beat us down and can make us feel as if we can’t possibly have a purpose. We assume that people may just look at us and see what we sometimes see: an uncertain path, a lack of direction, an outsider, a lost soul, a nobody.

You may or may not be that professional with a career, that celebrity, that stay-at-home mom, that homeless person, that single or elderly person who lives alone, that addict, that politician, that pastor, that server, or that cashier. The thing is that whatever walk of life you are in right now, whether healthy or unhealthy, your life is significant. Even when you don’t feel significant to anyone else in this world, you matter to God. He says “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3.

At times, the stressors of this life can beat us down to the point that we fall. When we are down and feeling defeated, it is then that we need to look up and ask God for help. He longs to reach down, and wrap His arms around us, pick us up off the floor, dust us off, and give us a new heart. His love for you and me is unconditional and life-giving. He loves us and knows us so intimately that He knows how many hairs are on our head.  In Luke 12:6-7, Jesus says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Anytime you are have a moment of feeling insignificant, remember you are worth a lot to God. You are worth so much that He sent Jesus for you. He longs to surround you with His love and offer you a bright future. You just have to ask Him for help and believe that you matter to Him—because you do.

“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.” Jeremiah 29:11


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Lavender Sky— Available now!




Lavender Sky is available now at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com!

Dr. Delaney Bartlett holds onto a painful secret from her past. As an obstetrician, she experiences the joy of bringing life into the world, and she loves her career. As a woman, her secret holds her happiness in bondage and she wonders if she will ever have her own family.  After her fiancĂ© of four years breaks off their engagement, Delaney moves away to the small town of Guntersville, Alabama to make a fresh start.

Ben Montgomery is the handsome surgery manager at the local hospital. He is haunted by memories that leave his heart aching every day. He thought his move to Guntersville might help him escape his painful memories and feelings of loss. But even a few years after his move, he finds himself spiraling downward emotionally. 

Savannah Carter is a young woman who faces a difficult choice. She needs help and has no resources. She is scared and unsure of what she should do, and she is quickly losing hope. 

When God crosses the paths of these three people, miracles happen. The pain doesn’t disappear, but each one finds unexpected kindness, love, and support. Through these new relationships, each one comes to understand God’s love, His redemptive power, and the hope He offers.


Christian Faith Publishing

Gift

Everyone has an expiration date. I know this isn’t something we like to think about or focus on even for a moment, but it’s true. As the...