Monday, August 31, 2015

Malachi: You are My Jewel


Malachi 3:17
Amplified Bible (AMP)

17 And they shall be Mine, says the Lord of hosts, in that day when I publicly recognize and openly declare them to be My jewels (My special possession, My peculiar treasure). And I will spare them, as a man spares his own son who serves him.


Often this world attempts to strip us of our uniqueness. "Being the only one of its kind" is an honored position (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/unique).  Often, the nature of society attempts to marginalize our worth.  The message we receive is you aren't pretty enough, you're too thin, you're too fat, make more money, give your money away, etc.  Yet, we don't need to allow society's voice affect our heart (self worth).  

Our focus, needs to be on what God says about us.  He calls us His jewels, "a valuable stone (such as a ruby or diamond) that has been cut and polished" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jewel).

Our heavenly Father, sees us as His own treasure!  WOW!

The next time you think of yourself as less than or not good enough, remember that you are the treasure of the King of the Universe.  

Now, how's that for a self-esteem booster?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Psalm 126: Statistical Grace

Psalm 126:3
Amplified Bible (AMP)

The Lord has done great things for us! We are glad!
 
 
I'm thankful, extremely thankful!!!  Today, I finished a course in statistics by taking a proctored final examination at the Penn State Harrisburg.  You see, I'm not naturally gifted in the mathematical sciences.  I tend to excel in creative writing.
 
Give me symbolism or give me...symbolism.
 
Yet, I finished well today, and I can only attribute it to God pouring out His grace.  From the beginning of the course in May, I know that in order to be successful in statistics, grace would be absolutely imperative. 
 
Statistics was one of those subjects that required a great amount of studying, but God empowered me to understand the foreign topics of discreet random variables, chi-square analysis, and regression.  In my natural weakness, His grace prevailed allowing me to finish well.
 
Applying this concept to my path here on earth, walking out my faith as I live this life, my confidence is bolstered that His grace empowers me in areas much more vital than a four-credit college course.  His grace empowers me to walk out holiness and live righteously.  His grace gives me the strength to say, "no" to temptation.  These qualities are vital, eternal qualities. 
 
Yet, God has a plan, even in statistics.  He is building a future in which I will influence many for Him and finishing statistics brings me a little closer to that future.
 
The Lord has done great things for me, and I am glad! 
 
 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Psalm 124: If It Had Not Been for the Lord

 

Psalm 124
Amplified Bible (AMP)

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

If it had not been the Lord Who was on our side—now may Israel say—
If it had not been the Lord Who was on our side when men rose up against us,
Then they would have quickly swallowed us up alive when their wrath was kindled against us;
Then the waters would have overwhelmed us and swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us;
Then the proud waters would have gone over us.
Blessed be the Lord, Who has not given us as prey to their teeth!
We are like a bird escaped from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped!
Our help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
 
 
I can't stop remembering the past and comparing it to the present!  I am so thankful!!!   Psalm 124 beautifully describes what would have happened to Israel if the Lord had not been on their side.  Thinking about my own life, I think about what would have happened to me if the Lord had not been on my side.  I take this Psalm personally, and I encourage all of you to apply it to your life as well, remembering that man (or woman) is not our enemy, but the evil one who whispers lies and stirs up contentions is our true enemy.
 
 
If it had not been the Lord Who was on my side when the evil one rose up against me, then he would have quickly swallowed me up alive when his wrath was kindled against me.
 
The waters would have overwhelmed me and swept me away, the torrent would have gone over me.
 
The proud waters would have gone over me.
 
Blessed be my Abba, Who has not given me as prey to his teeth!
 
I am like a bird escaped from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and I have escaped!
 
My Help is in the name of the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
 
 
This morning, I remember the past and give praise to my God Who was on my side, is on my side and will always be on my side!  If I "feel" like all is against me, I will remember that the Author of Everything has my back.  All for His glory!!! 
 

Friday, July 10, 2015

Nehemiah 10-13: None Can Stand Before the Great I AM!



I felt like I was suppose to post this song, but wasn't sure how it would fit into the devotion for today.  In reading, I see now what the Lord is saying.

No matter what mountain this life manifests, the mountains will shake and crumble before the power and the presence of the Great I Am!

Our part...

"...to celebrate the dedication with gladness, with thanksgivings, and with singing, cymbals, harps, and lyres."  Nehemiah 12:27b (Amplified)

The Israelites were celebrating the dedication of the newly constructed wall.  Church, Beloved of Jesus, the wall is rebuilt!  See it now!!!  Do not be deceived by the current world atmosphere.  There is no power in hell or any who can stand before the power and the presence of the Great I am!!!

"And the singers sang and made themselves heard..." Nehemiah 12:42b (Amplified)

We must continually allow the Holy Spirit to identify and cleanse not only the Church at large, but our personal temples.  We must rid ourselves of all traces of the enemy!

Nehemiah 13:7-9
Amplified Bible (AMP)

7 Then I discovered the evil that Eliashib had done for Tobiah in preparing him [an adversary] a chamber in the courts of the house of God!
8 And it grieved me exceedingly, and I threw all the house furnishings of Tobiah out of the chamber.
9 Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers; and I brought back there the vessels of the house of God, with the cereal offerings and the frankincense."
 
Friends...
 
Sing and be heard!
Play your instrument loudly!
Dance without religious restraint!
Live in purity!
 
We have a high calling...to worship the Great I AM!!!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Nehemiah 6-9: As One Man

Nehemiah 8:1-3
Amplified Bible (AMP)

Then all the people gathered together as one man in the broad place before the Water Gate; and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had given to Israel.
 
And Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of both men and women and all who could hear with understanding, on the first of the seventh month.
 
He read from it, facing the broad place before the Water Gate, from early morning until noon, in the presence of the men and women and those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.
 
As one man...
 
What mental image do you have when thinking about this phrase?  It's obvious that "all the people" equal many more than just one man.  Let me propose to you that "as one man" is referring to a heart quality shared by all the people.  The people as a whole unit, as one man, desired to know God's heart as expressed by His Word.  These people were attentive to the reading of the Law, because in their heart, they all desired to do right, to live according to God's directives. 
 
Later, in chapter 8, verse 9, the people wept when hearing God's Law.  Apparently, this "one man" was being convicted of how far from God's holy mark they had been living.  Yet Ezra encourages this "one man."
 
 
Nehemiah 8:10
Amplified Bible (AMP)
 

Then [Ezra] told them, Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet drink, and send portions to him for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. And be not grieved and depressed, for the joy of the Lord is your strength and stronghold.
 
How does this story apply to the church at large today?  Are we attentive to God's law?  Do we share a common desire to hear, then obey.  Do we feel the sting of conviction when what we think or do doesn't line up with living the way God desires.
 
I am not writing about following the law as a mechanical manual, us being religious robots who walk through life feeling condemned, who work, and work to prove worthiness.  Let it never be!!!
 
Freedom is conviction of His Spirit, empowered by grace, living knowing we are loved by God!!!  Having this corporate heart attitude through out the church (His Bride) qualifies us as being gathered together "as one man."  Excitedly anticipating God's direction, feeling our heart being stirred for change we will embrace the Spirit's conviction. 
 
As we listen attentively to what God is saying, together with a like heart's desire, then we become one in the eyes of God.  Jesus isn't coming for many brides, He is coming for one Bride, "one (hu)mans, His unified people!
 
Sooo, the next time fear induces you to "politely ignore" a brother or sister in Christ or hold those people whom you judge as sinners at arms length, remember the people who gathered together, attentive to God's Law, being seen by God as "one man" and choose to be unified for a holy change!
 
We need each other!  It's the way God designed His Church!  We must forgive and encourage and hold each other up! Some may even need to contact a brother or sister whom they have mistreated. Living in this way, God sees us as one man!!!  Jesus, sees us as His radiantly beautiful Bride!!!
 
In the name of our Bridegroom, Jesus...AMEN!!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Nehemiah 1-5: A Sign of Mercy in the Western Sky

Nehemiah 1:5-7
Amplified

And I said, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, Who keeps covenant, loving-kindness, and mercy for those who love Him and keep His commandments,
Let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to listen to the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You day and night for the Israelites, Your servants, confessing the sins of the Israelites which we have sinned against You. Yes, I and my father’s house have sinned.
We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, statutes, and ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses.
 
How many times have I missed the mark? 
 
It's sobering to think about the times in my life when I committed sin, both willingly and ignorantly.  Yet, I am not a solitary sinner.  All of you, like me, have sinned.  If we desire, the Holy Spirit will open our eyes to right and wrong, the way God sees it.  When the "eyes of our heart" perceive missteps (sins), grace will empower us to turn away from that thing which drives a wedge between us and Jesus.  You see, my friends, it's not about following rules and regulations; it's about following the Ruler and Regulator of the universe.  He is the King and, we obey because we love Him.
 
 
 
June 28, 2015
 
 
Yet, in our unfaithfulness, God is faithful!  He gives us a sign of His mercy in the night sky.  As Jupiter and Venus converge, some believe this celestial event is similar to what occurred in order to form the Star of David, which pointed the way to Jesus.  As you look into the western sky, remember Jesus and ask Him to empower you to see sin the way He does.  This kind of heart loves God more than self, and it is a heart which is blessed with His loving-kindness and mercy.
 
This heavenly sign once again points the way to Jesus.  Do you seek Him?  Look to the west in tonight's sky.  See the sign.  Pray that your spiritual eyes are opened to see like Him.  Bless you, my friends.  May grace empower you!!!
 

 


Friday, June 26, 2015

If Grace is an Ocean

 
This reminds me of a dream I had several years ago. I had fallen through the ice and was sinking deeper and deeper, but I was not suffocating. The deeper I sank, the more I was enveloped by peace and love. What is awesome is during that time in my life, I had momentary encounters with peace. At that point in my walk with Jesus, I knew His love, but peace in the storm was fleeting. Today, I am the woman portrayed in this picture. Last night before going to sleep, I thanked Abba for the gift of peace. 

 May, you, my friends also find Peace in the storms of life. May you know that love of the Eternal One! 

 Much Love...

Beautiful Grace

Monday, June 15, 2015

Ezra 7-10: Cherish His Heart

Recently, I had someone very dear to me say, "I cherish your opinion."  My heart was so deeply touched that tears filled my eyes.  My loved one was saying, I love the thoughts you have regarding this situation that I face. 

I cannot think of a greater sign of honor and love than this!


Ezra 7:10
Amplified Bible (AMP)

10 For Ezra had prepared and set his heart to seek the Law of the Lord [to inquire for it and of it, to require and yearn for it], and to do and teach in Israel its statutes and its ordinances.
 
 
Ezra honored God much like I had been honored.  He knew God as One full of perfect wisdom.  He understood that the books of Moses, the written law, was God's heart; His thoughts translated into writing. Ezra knew that God wouldn't give a command for no good reason.  Ezra trusted God, because he was familiar with His heart. 
 
Ezra cherished God's heart!
 
I wonder if God's eyes fill up with tears when we seek His thoughts about a situation we face.  When we ask Him, "what should I do, and how do You want me to respond?"  When we inquire of the Lord, we cherish His heart, and that, my friends demonstrates our love for Him.
 
Lord, empower us to seek Your heart, understand what You are saying, then do it.  There is no greater way to show You our love.  In the great name of Jesus, AMEN!!!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Esther 6-10: It Shall Be Granted, It Shall Be Done!

The book of Esther presents an encouraging example of how God pours His grace (power) through willing vessels.   You and I have been called to stand against the spiritual enemies which come against us.

Whether those enemies manifest as sickness or strained relationships or employment difficulties, it is important to remember the true source of attack.  It is not the person standing in front of you, it is the spiritual realm attempting to thwart your calling and destroy your life.

Purim is the Jewish holiday that celebrates God's victory over the enemies coming against His people.  It serves as a reminder to us that we too must stand against the enemy, reveal his tactics, rescue those who have fallen to deception.  The evil one is the enemy, not people!  Keep this in mind the next time someone talks behind your back or bullies you to your face.

Seasons of difficulty may arise, but a season has a beginning and an end.  It won't last.  Spring follows winter, but the change of season is not abrupt.  Gradually, the days become warmer.  Little by little brown grass greens, and suddenly, spring has sprung.  The winter has passed.  New life is visible all around us. 

But even in the midst of difficulty, our father offers us peace.  He will open our eyes to see the end of winter.  We can perceive the new life of spring.  We can identify His blessings even in the middle of the battle.  God's grace makes it possible!

The celebration of Purim reminds us that God always provides...rest from enemies.
 

 Sorrow is transformed into gladness by our awesome God.
 
Mourning is remodeled, and a holiday is declared!


Just as Esther stood before King Ahasuerus, our heavenly King is calling us to stand before Him. I can hear His voice speaking through the ancient Babylonian king's word's.
 
Esther 9:12c
Amplified Bible (AMP)
 
"Now what is your petition? It shall be granted to you. Or what is your request further? It shall be done."
 
Take courage, receive His grace, stand before the King!  Make your petition and it shall be granted; it shall be done!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Esther 1-5: The Hadassah Connection

At times the Lord speaks clearly in a still small voice.  At other times, He communicates using symbolism to stir curiosity.  Today, He is speaking symbolically.

I have been studying the Bible chronologically, and  today's reading begins with the book of Esther.  In Hebrew, Esther means Hadassah, which means "myrtle" when translated into English.

הדסה
What are the odds that I would be reading a book whose name means "myrtle" while I am vacationing in Myrtle Beach? I do not believe in coincidence.  I believe God is speaking, but sometimes discovering what He saying takes a little research.


Proverbs 25:2
Amplified Bible (AMP)

It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the glory of kings is to search out a thing.


The scientific name for the myrtle plant is Myrtus communis or Greek Myrtle.  It is an evergreen, an upright shrub grown for its fragrant foliage and ability to withstand clipping. A perfect plant for a topiary or hedge. From midsummer to early fall, it produces solitary, white flowers which are followed by purplish-black berries. It may grow to 10 feet tall, but there are many dwarf varieties available. Grow in moist, well-drained soil that is moderately fertile. Full sun is best (Backyardgardener.com).



According to Judaic symbolism, the myrtle has smell but no taste, meaning a person who performs good deeds without the learning of the Torrah.  Myrtle corresponds to the eyes, enlightenment (Judaism 101:Sukkot).

I feel like God is reminding me that I am to continue being taught by His Spirit so that I smell and taste good to the Lord.  It's a continual maturation process from one level of glory to the next.

As Hadassah was obedient to Mordecai, I am to continue in obedience to the leading of His Spirit, which enlightens my understanding and causes me to see people and situations the way He does.


Esther 2:10
Amplified Bible

Esther had not made known her nationality or her kindred, for Mordecai had charged her not to do so.


No matter the season, the myrtle an evergreen plant retains its fragrant leaves reminding me that whatever situation arises, my fragrance (response) is to be sweet and lovey.  The Lord has given me the ability to withstand clipping. He prunes and trims areas in me that do not bear fruit allowing my roots to strengthen and deepen. 

Deeper and stronger roots increase the health of a plant enabling it to withstand times of drought.  More abundant fruit also result.  So it is with me.  Difficult times, dry seasons in my life have increased the quality of my roots in the Lord.  My fruit...love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self control ripen and become a blessing for those around me to taste. 

Finally, just as God was aware of Haman's plot to annihilate His people in Persia, He is aware of any plot the evil one sets against me.  He has my back.  He is my guard.  He knows where I sleep and the specific location of my vacation.  :)

Although, I believe today's insight was for me, you can be assured that God is aware of your location and circumstances.  He will protect and lead you too if you let Him. 

Blessings to you my friends!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Zechariah 10-14: He Hears the Silent Scream

Zechariah 10:11
Amplified Bible (AMP)

11 And [the Lord] will pass through the sea of distress and affliction [at the head of His people, as He did at the Red Sea]; and He will smite down the waves of the sea, and all the depths of the [river] Nile shall be dried up and put to shame; and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down and the scepter or rod [of the taskmasters of Egypt] shall pass away.

 
 
I love the imagery of this verse.  When the Lord leads, He smites down the waves of distress and affliction. 
 
Imagine being trapped in a tumultuous storm encompassing body, soul and spirit.  The sea's waves overwhelm and water displaces the oxygen in the lungs.  Gasping for air, yet only taking in more water, the process of drowning occurs.  

Drowning is a silent event. A drowning person no longer has the ability to scream, raise her head or arms out of the water, or struggle violently (Zafares, 1998).
 
Often a person experiencing emotional turmoil screams silently as well. 

 
 
 
Jesus hears the silent screams of a drowning heart.  He passes through "the sea of distress and affliction" and "will smite down the waves of the sea."
 
Hold fast to the One Who will save you!  In the midst of the violent waves, He is with you passing before you "through the sea of distress and affliction."  He makes a way where there is none.  He makes the mountain a plain and straightens the crooked path.  He will never leave you and certainly never forsake you.  He is faithful...always!!!


Thursday, May 7, 2015

Zachariah 9: His Eyes are Upon Us

Zechariah 9:8
Amplified Bible

Then I will encamp about My house as a guard or a garrison so that none shall march back and forth, and no oppressor or demanding collector shall again overrun them, for now My eyes are upon them.
 
Thinking back over the challenges faced in my life, I remember, I see that God was always there.  At times my soul was so distressed and stirred that I was ignorant to His Presence, but now I understand that He was ALWAYS there. 
 
It was through those challenges that my weaknesses were revealed.  Friends, it is valuable to be familiar with our own weaknesses, because then we realize that our only hope and protection come from the Lord.  We must understand that knowing our weaknesses doesn't equal a skewed self-esteem, but it does cause us to understand our desperate need for a savior.
 
We have a choice.  What will we cling to as our savior? 
 
Money
Power
Influence
People
Technology
Self
 
There is no doubt that these are blessings, but do they have the power to save us?
 
Let me submit to you that God, as expressed through Jesus, is the ONLY ONE capable of saving us from the oppressor.  I'm not offering anyone false hope, bad things do happen in this world, but those bad things do not have the power to oppress and "march back and forth" over our souls if we cling to the True Savior, Jesus Christ! 
 
God has promised to encamp around us like a guard or a garrison!  His eyes are upon us!!!
 
Just yesterday, I read an article quoting the actress Natalie Portman's thoughts about the Oscar she received, "I was reading the story of Abraham to my child and talking about, like, not worshipping false idols. And this is literally like gold men. This is literally worshipping gold idols -- if you worship it. That’s why it’s not displayed on the wall. It’s a false idol."
 
Those are bold words.  TRUTH!!!
 
Any time we trust in something or some person other than God for our protection, we in effect committing idolatry. 
 
Those are bold words.  TRUTH!!!
 
 
Lord, I ask that by Your Spirit You reveal our weaknesses and through them show Yourself strong.  You have promised to be our guard.  You ARE the Savior of our souls.  We know that no matter what happens, You are there providing peace and calm in the midst of any earthly storm.  No more will the enemy of our souls march back and forth over our thoughts/emotions for You are always Faithful and True.  We love You and submit ourselves to You always, in the Great Name of Jesus, AMEN!!!
 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Zechariah 7-8: Here is Your Part: Tell the Truth. Be Fair. Live at Peace with Everyone.

Zechariah 8:19
(Amplified)

Thus says the Lord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month and the fast of the fifth, the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah times of joy and gladness and cheerful, appointed seasons; therefore [in order that this may happen to you, as the condition of fulfilling the promise] love truth and peace.

God doesn't want us to go through life with a sour, "woe is me," attitude.  The verse above instructs that while fasting, attitudes should be filled with joy and gladness and cheerfulness.  Zechariah goes on to say that loving truth and peace is the prerequisite condition to fulfilling the promise.

Looking back a few verses, I see God has promised that He is "sowing peace and prosperity."  I normally haven't been quoting from Bible translations other than the Amplified, but the Living Bible says it so well. 

Remember, I have paralleled the rebuilding of the temple with the rebuilding of the true temple inside each of us.  Imagine our personal temple, where the Spirit of the Lord dwells, as being rebuilt after being ravaged by the consequences of sin as you are reading the verses below.

Zechariah 8:9-19
Living Bible (TLB)

The Lord Almighty says, “Get on with the job and finish it! You have been listening long enough! For since you began laying the foundation of the Temple, the prophets have been telling you about the blessings that await you when it’s finished. 
 10 Before the work began there were no jobs, no wages, no security; if you left the city, there was no assurance you would ever return, for crime was rampant.
11 “But it is all so different now!” says the Lord Almighty. 
 12 “For I am sowing peace and prosperity among you. Your crops will prosper; the grapevines will be weighted down with fruit; the ground will be fertile, with plenty of rain; all these blessings will be given to the people left in the land. 
 13 ‘May you be as poor as Judah,’ the heathen used to say to those they cursed! But no longer! For now Judah is a word of blessing, not a curse. ‘May you be as prosperous and happy as Judah is,’ they’ll say. So don’t be afraid or discouraged! Get on with rebuilding the Temple! 14-15 If you do, I will certainly bless you. And don’t think that I might change my mind. I did what I said I would when your fathers angered me and I promised to punish them, and I won’t change this decision of mine to bless you. 16 Here is your part: Tell the truth. Be fair. Live at peace with everyone. 
 17 Don’t plot harm to others; don’t swear that something is true when it isn’t! How I hate all that sort of thing!” says the Lord.
18 Here is another message that came to me from the Lord Almighty:
19 “The traditional fasts and times of mourning you have kept in July, August, October, and January are ended. They will be changed to joyous festivals if you love truth and peace!

Reading this, I find my heart being stirred with excitement!  My part, your part, is to tell the truth, be fair, and live at peace with everyone.

In the past, I allowed my heart to be injured because of lies and half-truths spoken about me.  Now, I realize, that fear is powerful relationship killer, and it was fear that influenced those speaking.  It was fear that caused me to be hurt.  Fear, was the enemy!

I cannot control whether others choose to do their part in telling the truth, being fair, and living at peace with everyone.  BUT, I can choose to do my part empowered by God's grace. 

The Lord is so absolutely good to me.  While riding on my bike on April 29th, a snake crossed my path.  He was moving so fast; he was scared to death of me.  Later, that afternoon, I read Chuck Pierce's prophetic word,

“Your feet will walk in a different direction this year. For even though you felt shaking ground last season, now you will walk on ground that ...is being solidified. There will be many on your path that will flee from the anointing that is now rising up in you, from your feet. I will shod your feet with peace, in a new way. Then the enemies that have tried to get on your highway will move out of the way. For many enemies have stepped onto the highway that you’re walking, but because you stood in the shaking, now the wind of My Spirit will clear your path ahead (Isaiah 35).”

The enemy, symbolized by the snake was fleeing from me.  Spiritual enemies may attempt to influence people, but God's wind is clearing my path.  By the way that day was lovely with a breeze blowing!!!

To tie all of this together, I am grabbing hold of this symbolic message from the Lord.  No more will fear cause an injury to my heart.  I have been living in such great peace and blessing and joy.  My promised future is unfolding before me.  I am praying for those who are controlled by fear and have been prayerfully blessing them.  My heart is choosing to continue telling the truth, being fair and living at peace with everyone.

I will reap God's promises.  I am reaping God's promises and, I pray that you will reap them too!!!

With much love in Jesus, Beautiful Grace!!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Speak Life, Overcomers!

Transcribed from the speech given at Wilkes University on 4/18/2015.  Be blessed, Overcomers!!!



Good Afternoon, Relay for Life Enthusiasts! 

I have been asked to address you today because someone felt what I had to say would encourage and inspire.  That is my heartfelt hope! 

As a mental health nurse, I realize that all of us need hope!  Hope to confront the dark emotions which can imprison minds.   Hope to face the uncertainties of tomorrow with resolve.  Hope to instill courage when facing the grim diagnosis of cancer.  Hope to overcome whatever mountain blocks life’s path.

But before we talk about hope, let’s talk about mountains.

In December of 2010, I asked my friends on Facebook…When a mountain is placed in your path, what do you do?


One friend said,

"Fret over it for a while. Stress out and make myself crazy until I finally realize I can do nothing. Only when I reach that point do I finally surrender to God, place everything in His hands and let go. It's at that point God begins to move that mountain...one large boulder at a time."

 

Another replied,

"Take pictures! :)"

 

And another was to

"Pray!"

 

One friend said to

"I usually start digging a path and hope a friend or two shows up to help. They usually do. Good friends show up with big shovels. The best friends show up heavy machinery. : )"

Finally someone said,

"Get 2 climbing....it’s not ur first or ur last!! But ull get over it!!"

 

It occurs to me that perspective influences just how the mountain is perceived. If a mountain is in the path, could it mean that the path one's on must change? A person could look at the mountain and be overwhelmed.  A mountain could cause a person to fear or panic; conversely, a mountain could inspire bold courage. A person could ignore the mountain and hope it goes away.

Mountains...everyone experiences obstacles in life!  Unpaid bills, strained relationships, employment stressors, health issues and emotional upheaval, and yes, a cancer diagnosis are ALL examples of mountains or obstacles, which may block our life's path.

The mountain that I faced in 2010 was foreknown by God and He has brought good, a lot of good from it!  I wouldn’t be here today encouraging you, if I had not faced my mountain as an Overcomer.

My story began on Christmas day, 2010.  As I was driving to work, I was asking God “What’s up” for 2011?

My heart heard clearly, “Do not trust in the horses and chariots of men.  Trust in Me.”  From Psalm 20:7

I understood that to mean do not trust in the power and wisdom of men APART from God.  Immediately, I began pondering His statement and attempted to apply it to any current situations, which gave me a choice to either trust man or trust Him.  I knew God was speaking, but was not certain how His word applied to me.

Two days later, I was visiting my momma in the hospital.  My cousin, who I don't see very often, was also visiting my Mom.  She was telling me about her numerous past surgeries, the latest of which was a double mastectomy. 

After the visit, my husband and I had decided to eat out for dinner, and eat somewhere fun, so we decided to eat at a local hibachi grill.  My phone rang as the chef juggled knives and threw eggs, slicing them in midair.  As I watched the visual food display, my surgeon's voice cut through the moment with the surreal statement, "The biopsy showed cancer in your right breast." 

The next two months were filled with overwhelming amounts of information, statistics and decisions, but I remembered that God had given me a heads up.  Every decision, every choice I made, I remembered that God said, “Trust Me.”

Originally, I was scheduled for a lumpectomy on my right breast followed by radiotherapy (5 days a week for 5 weeks) combined with Tamoxifen (5 years).  But I didn’t have peace with that plan.  I felt God was leading me to trust Him for a different plan. 

Because of my discomfort with the treatment plan, the surgeon proposed another option of double mastectomy, thus eliminating the need for follow up radiotherapy and Tamoxifen.  I felt peace, God’s peace with this course of action.

So On February 3rd 2011, I had a bilateral mastectomy.  I felt God leading me to have the left breast removed as a prophylactic (elective) treatment.

Let me ask you.  Do you live your life seeing it as a glass half empty or do you live as though the glass of live is half full? This was the conversation I had with the women employed by my plastic surgeon about a week after the surgery. One of the women remarked, "You have a really good attitude about all of this." I responded, "I try to look at life as a glass half full with the help of Jesus." Little did I know, testing of my half full statement would soon begin.

The next stop was the postoperative visit to my breast surgeon.  The surgeon proceeded to explain the pathology report. As expected, an aggressive type of cancer was found in the right breast, but ONLY in the area identified by the biopsy with No lymph node involvement!!!

Then she began to explain the findings of the left breast pathology report. Remember, having the left breast removed was a prophylactic (elective) procedure due to the chance of cancer forming at a later date and my choice of not undergoing Tamoxifen therapy.

 Invasive mucinous carcinoma (extremely rare cancer) on that side as well. Since this cancer was not expected, no sentinel node test had been performed so the extent of metastasis (spread) was undetermined.

The surgeon read my face as she revisited the idea of Tamoxifen therapy as well as possible chemotherapy and now the need to see an oncologist.

I will be honest, my awesome peace was attacked in that moment. The surgeon then pointed her finger toward Heaven and said, "Apparently, there is Someone up there looking out for you."

As the surgeon left the exam room, I began to get dressed, and with tears in my eyes, I said to my husband, "I'm not leaving this room until I get my peace back!" I began to thank Jesus for the fact that the cancer was already removed, and began thanking Him for granting me peace throughout the "ordeal." I felt Him touch my emotions as I reported to the checkout desk.

Later, while using the ladies' room, the Lord reminded me of the earlier conversation with the women at the plastic surgeon's office. Glass half full? I thought to myself. Then God broke in saying, "Not a glass half full; you are a cup running over."  At that moment, I received a new infusion of courage and peace to continue facing and overcoming my mountain. 

Psalm 23:5 (Amplified Bible)


"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over."

A few days later, I was sitting in the oncologist’s exam room.  The doctor asked how I decided to have the left breast removed.  I told him I was not at peace with the Tamoxifen treatment and after praying, felt peace to have a bilateral mastectomy. His replied, "That's not logical." I quietly responded, "Faith isn't always logical."

It turned out that there was not enough tumor tissue to perform the genetic testing.  During that time, my resolve was tested, but my faith was invigorated by my awesome dad who said, “Bellann, Jesus is in your heart. I'd follow my heart."  So, I followed my heart!!!

I received the initial pathology report the Monday after Christmas 2010, stating that I had breast cancer. The Monday after Easter 2011, I received the results of the PET scan, no metastasis!!!

Although, the cancer had been completely removed, I knew that my lifestyle needed to be dramatically changed.

Lifestyle change #1.  Sweating exercise!

I used to joke, “The eleventh commandment says, Thou shalt not sweat.”  I didn’t enjoy sweating, nor did I appreciate sore muscles post exercise, BUT deep down I knew exercise was beneficial for a healthy and properly functioning body.  Then I found out that cancer "Reoccurrence rates decreased by 40 percent among those who exercise at least 3-5 hours per week, compared with those who were sedentary," according to Harvard Medical School.  I had been sedentary most of my life and I knew I had to change!

So my journey as an athlete began.  I started walking short distances, than I began to combine walking and running.  By September 2011, I was able to run my first 5K race, and I completed my first sprint triathlon in August 2013.

 

Lifestyle change #2.  Dietary overhaul!

Previous to cancer, I ate, loved to eat, and ate whatever I wanted.  As a nurse, I knew all about balanced diets, but knowing and doing are very different.  But having had cancer changed my attitude and behavior.

I found out that organic (pesticide-free) foods are healthier. 

 

·        Did you know that the body processes and breakdown the pesticides we eat into “estrogen-like” compounds? 

·        “Currently there are some 160 *xenoestrogens that may be involved in breast cancer development.”3  These can be found in cosmetics and UV screeners, as well as foods that have been sprayed with pesticides.

*any by-product of industrial or chemical processing that have estrogenlike effect.1

 

I found out that most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D.

u 30%-50% of the adult US population is vitamin D deficient (Centers for Disease Control)

Vitamin D affects up to 200 genes that influence cell division and cell death.  Vitamin D not only affects bone strength, affects the kidney, breast, pancreas heat and blood vessels, muscles, and immune cells.

When I had my vitamin D level checked, I was deficient!  Now I take supplemental Vitamin D3.

 

I found out that I needed to dramatically decrease my intake of processed food and sugar.

I increased my intake of fish and limit other animal proteins.

I limit my consumption of dairy products.

·        There are high levels of estrogen in dairy foods.  Think about it milk comes from a cow, which is a female mammal.  Of course, the estrogen levels would be high.

 

Lifestyle change #3.  Follow Peace

After I received the cancer diagnosis, I realized the importance of maintaining a positive thought life.  I was able to resist fearful thoughts by listening to worship music, especially at night when fearful thoughts tend to scream.

I made certain that as I faced my mountain, I didn’t forget others who also were faced with mountains.  I refused to allow a diagnosis shift my focus toward me, which has the danger of stimulating self-pity. 
Self-pity does not solve problems and it certainly does not remove mountains. 

I focused on the many blessings in my life.

I made certain I was not harboring unforgiveness towards anyone.

Fearful thoughts, self-pity and unforgiveness are not the way of Peace!

 

All of us face a mountain at some point in our lives, sometimes many mountains, but the way we “see” that mountain makes all the difference. 

Let me submit to you today that we are not merely survivors, because the word “survivor” implies one who has faced an enemy and has narrowly escaped.  I believe we are Overcomers.  We are ones who have faced our mountain with strength and have prevailed.  Survival implies a position of weakness, but an Overcomer shouts strength.

We will not be victims, merely surviving.  We will be an Overcomers!