Sunday, December 21, 2014

More than a comforter

The Lord is our comforter. The prince of peace. He creates a tranquil calm in the midst of storms that transcends all our human understanding. Holy is He who casts out all fear and soothes our souls! 
2 Cor 1:4, " [He] who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."

So, we find out someone is sick and we comfort them the way He has comforted us in the past. We hear about a struggle and we pray for His will to be done, that they would know the supernaturally perfect peace of the Savior. And we move on. Mission accomplished, right?

Maybe not. Maybe praying, hoping, even striving for comfort is a great intention but...maybe stopping there is among the deeply insulting ways we fall short in loving God. We must love Him and His people bravely and deeply, bolstered by the power of the Holy Spirit, who calls us to speak the truth, and be doers of the Word. 

If you and your children were trapped in a car as it fell into a lake, would you want an onlooker to pray for your comfort? To call out "boldly", "Peace, my peace I leave you!" My heart aches just thinking of the cowardice that would display. The sad reality of how often that happens. Remember, when we do things for others, we are doing them for Him and through Him. God's is not a coward. Jesus was not a coward, the Holy Spirit is no coward. This is how He came: "And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each of them" (Acts 1:2-3). That is the same Holy Spirit who dwells within every baptized believer! Would someone who valued that Holy Spirit and His power watch the car plunge through the depths of a watery grave and begin to mourn before the car was fully submerged? 

Of course not. So why do we learn bad news from men and immediately jump to platitudes and peace offerings? Do not misunderstand me. Peace is amazing, and it is the opposite of fear, which we should call on the Lord to quench at all costs. But, peace is just one of the limitless perfect blessings the Lord will bring to us. Not through manmade objects, positive thinking, or will power, but through true faith in Him. He tells us time and again to pray, pray, pray. "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working" (James 5:16). The parable of the persistent widow taught us to always pray and not lose heart (Luke 18:1-8). "Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7) Then do it again. And again. "And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him." (1 John 5:14-15). 

The bolder the prayer, the more faith it takes to pray it. It's hard, sometimes impossible, to pray for impossible things. But if things were possible with men we wouldn't need to pray. We wouldn't need a hero...but we do need one, and we have Him! He came, freely, to save us, it's already been done! The blessings that come from Him answering impossible, faith-filled prayers are so much greater than whatever He did to answer it. It is for His glory, and not for our own. So no man can boast, we pray and seek this Mighty God who does so much more than comfort us. He heals, loves, empowers, gives, and takes away. Let's treat Him and His people like they are worth the risk of acting boldly and expecting mighty results!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Prayerful Life

Well, the Lord is at work again! Just when I think He's doing something different, He brings me back into this prayerful lifestyle. He has revolutionized my prayers and is working quickly. I'll be praying and hear my voice pray for a random thought that comes to mind, and then He answers it right away. It's happened several times in the past few weeks. I prayed about whether to keep (or, restart) writing, and He showed me Isaiah 12:4, "Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name, make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted". Then, I prayed for more opportunities to share what He has done, and three different people who I know from this blog contacted me for prayer. All within one day. So, I get it that He wants me to pray and blog, so that there will be more people to pray for. And that He wants to keep using me to exalt His perfect name.

2 Samuel 22:47, "The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be my God, the rock of my salvation"

What? It probably shouldn't be that exciting or surprising to me that He wants to keep using me, but He never fails to amaze me. I am so irrelevant, unimpressive, unfaithful...but He calls me anyway.
He put things in my heart--in all our hearts-- just to show He's there. The miracle He blessed me with wasn't a one-time deal, but was just a moment that opened my eyes to this world where the Creator reigns so powerfully that the scientific laws--and common sense-- do not prevail. Hail to this God whose love knows no bounds, mercy never fails, grace is limitless, and whose sacrifices are unmatched! He IS good, when the money is in the bank, kids are behaving, work is fruitful and doctor reports are clear. He IS good, when the storms come, the money disappears, the loved ones are unlovable, or the diagnosis or prognosis worsens. When man's report provides no hope, He is always good.

"Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" Isaiah 53:1

I forget His goodness often, and revert to feeling sorry for myself and the minor problems I struggle with. I'm struggling with minor health problems related to either my thyroid or the Arimidex I'm taking. The more I pray about them, the more He reminds me of people with real problems. I keep hearing how the flu is going around, but it seems to me that cancer is going around. I don't always know exactly how to pray for these people. I know God could heal any and all of them, but the most important part is really the spiritual healing we all need. So I just start with the fear and pain caused by their physical circumstances and wait on the Holy Spirit to move my prayers from there.

2 Thess 1:11, "To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work by faith of His power"

One girl, Amanda, is my age, and I don't know the back story, but she was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008 (around age 29 I think), and it's come back multiple times since then. We went to high school together and the clearest thing I remember is that everyone said she would be the first female president. It's not too late for that! But, I've noticed many people send her "positive thoughts" and other nice intentions. But I think interceding for her, to the One who can do something about her health, is the most valuable gift we could give. I also am praying for a local woman named Julie, who is seeking the Lord as she fights stage 4 breast cancer. She believes He will heal her and has already found many sweet blessings from the Lord through this. I call those "love notes" because they are so personal and dear to us. Ioa is another woman, who just finished treatment for breast cancer, and then they found cancer in the lining of her brain! That feels like an extra-large test to me. ALL cancer patients have at least a moment of fear that the cancer will come back or isn't really gone. Even if you're so faithful you cast it out quickly, it still crosses through your brain a time or two. And this is the worst one. She was probably counting down the days to finish treatment, then trying not to panic when her head kept aching. And the doctors couldn't find anything at first, so she probably second guessed herself and now knows she can't always count on her doctors. Anyway, she is undergoing radiation on her brain now and is believing in the Lord for a total healing. Please pray for her mental and physical healing and support during this traumatic time. Finally, Lyn was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and is currently figuring out what type of treatment to go through. This is such a hard time for anyone with such a diagnosis. It's nearly impossible to focus on the joy of Christmas, and spending focused time with your loved ones, when you are still reeling from the diagnosis. And you don't know what God would have you do for treatment, or even really how to pray and hear from Him amidst the turmoil, fear, outside opinions, and chaos of the holidays. I can't help but think back to the Christmas of 2011 when we went through that. It makes me dizzy and a little nauseas, even though I know how my own turned out!

Mark 9:23, "All things are possible for one whom believes"

Please pray for these women with the joy of one called to work for Him. Praying doesn't require much from us, but can open more doors than money, fame, or force. Luke 16:10 says "he who can be trusted with little will be trusted with much." So, we do our part by praying, especially for those He puts heavily on our hearts. I think when the Holy Spirit really tugs at your heartstrings about someone (or something), it could He is specifically calling you, entrusted you with, to expectation pray for her. He can answer the prayers for big things as easily as those for little ones, and does so to increase our faith, and His glory. What a privilege to commune with Him, and to intercede for the underdog!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Petscher's Week of Gratitude

My spirit is deeply moved with gratitude and a deep longing to please the Lord. It's been three years since The Diagnosis. I was miraculously healed more than 2.5 years ago, yet I still haven't been able to express words that truly convey my appreciation for that gift.

When I think back to this time in 2011, my heart still races and I lose my breath. The day before Thanksgiving I met Dr. Rassam and he first told us I was dying. When I replay all the events, good and bad, that I've experienced since then I'm awestruck and humbled that He cares so much about me. I didn't deserve to be healed, but He did that and continues to carry me along this journey of sanctification. And I'm a bit gutted that I still have so far to go before being truly sanctified, or set apart and holy for Him.

‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets" (Matthew 22, 37-40).

Over the past few months the Holy Spirit has been urging me to set apart a time specifically to focus on Him. He finally motivated me to do so in a variety of ways until I could not put it off any longer. Now that we are committed I am really looking forward to it. Yaacov, the girls, and I are going to take this week leading up to Thanksgiving and set it apart as a time of gratitude for the Lord. It's sort of like a lifestyle fast I suppose. There will be some exceptions because we had already committed to attending some events, but in general we are streamlining everything. We will live off primarily "needs" instead of "wants". The girls will have a few books and toys to hold onto, but the rest will be off-limits. We will only use phones and other electronics for work or as truly needed, and we will alternate through 3 outfits. We won't have treats, extra outings, snacks, tv or music, and the meals will be simpler than usual. Maybe we will turn the furnace off but I'm not sure. If others have done things like this, please comment with how yours went! Hopefully we will become much more focused on the Lord and blessing His people, and much less focused on ourselves and our fleshly desires. 

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6)
We are not doing this to become more worthy of the Lord's love. We will not be earning a place in heaven or anything. It's just to get back to what's important and to appreciate the many blessings He bestows on us for what they are--unmerited grace! 

Titus 3:4-7, "But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life."

Monday, October 27, 2014

Real Faith

This time last year I was praying for people with the confidence of knowing that all I prayed for were healed or at least whose conditions didn't worsen. I'm not exaggerating. When God healed me He left me with a powerful faith and, I suppose, ordained my steps to come in contact with those He wanted to heal. Maybe He was protecting me from seeing the sad side while He strengthened and prepared me for that. Either way, it sure is easy to believe your prayers matter when He answers them all.

It's a lot harder to pray with serious, passionate faith when you know it might not matter. You might look like an idiot. They might die anyway. You might have given someone false hope or become a stumbling block. You wonder if you overstated God. Maybe they'll blame you for getting the miracle they would have preferred to go to someone else. All people of faith likely encounter at least one of these issues, even if it doesn't bother them like it does me.

I've told you before how lonely it can be as a miracle recipient. Your friends are in (appropriate) awe of what He did for you, but few can relate. The enemy doesn't stop attacking just because God's hand touched us so perfectly, and we don't magically turn into superstars of faith who need only a moment of prayer to face hard times. We mira-cured (yup, I just created a word, like it? As in "miracle" and "cured" combined. How many believers do you think it would take to share the good news about His miracles to get that word used into mainstream use?) struggle with fears that the miracle will come "untrue/undone" in some way, or that something worse will happen that overshadows the goodness. Some of us feel so shocked about having been mira-cured that we "know" God wouldn't give us another awesome miracle down the road. When pondering this today, I realized I'm in that camp. If something really bad happened to me, my immediate response would not be, "Wow, what a great opportunity to commune with God! I can't wait to see how He fixes it this time!". Nope. If I got really bad news again I would paste a smile on my face (like I always do, what's that about? I start thanking every staff member profusely, and apologize for taking up space), and by the time I got to my car I would have my whole funeral planned.

I do not say this as a prophecy, just as an embarrassing truth. I decided it's better to face now than to have to learn the lesson the hard way. Because the tragedy of that scenario wouldn't be that I died, but that I lost faith, which is the primary requirement for glorifying God. The lesson shouldn't be that God maxes out on miracles. It should be that our faith is ever-growing and stretching. Despite what we know about people dying. No matter how many times we have prayed and seen the opposite of what we're asking for happen, we must try again. We will not grow weary of doing good. We will not fall away and lean on our own understanding when times are tough. We will not discount God because it's easier to use human terms and expectations. It was true yesterday that all things that are impossible with men are possible with God. And tomorrow, the same will be true.

In Mark 9:14-29 there is an awesome story about a man whose son was possessed with an evil spirit. The disciples had the authority to cast it out, but even though they did tons of great works, they could not cast it out. Did the man go home and complain about the wasted trip? Nope. He took his son to the leaders and asked Jesus for help. Did he have faith that Jesus would heal him? Not much. He said to Jesus, "If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us" (v. 22).

So, this guy wasn't certain Jesus would or could fix it, but he was desperate enough to stick around.
Jesus didn't hesitate. He was like, "IF you can!" Can't you hear the indignation there? The man should have had faith, because he knew enough about Jesus to bring the boy there in the first place! But, like me, this guy struggled a bit. The man responded, "I believe; help my unbelief!" Think about that. He said he believed, but acknowledged the difficulty. He knew that Jesus could help his unbelief in the first place. It seems weird, to ask the guy you want to believe in for help believing in Him. But he was being honest. It's hard stuff. I'm sure his faith had been destroyed bit by bit when each disciple had failed at their attempts to cast the demon out.

Eventually Jesus cast it out and the disciples were confused about why they couldn't do it themselves. Jesus said that kind had to be driven out by prayer (many versions say 'and fasting'). Maybe if the disciples could do endless works without stumbling they would have gotten big heads. Maybe their training was sort of like my year of everyone being healed. And no matter what your equivalent of that training time is, it's on to the next phase and we all have to step it up a notch. Pray more. Fast more. Focus more on God, His kingdom, righteousness, and sovereignty, and less on how we can pray and intervene on behalf of other people.

Romans 8:5, "Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires"

Monday, October 13, 2014

Hope in Unanswered Prayers

Barbara Holloway left the earth early Wednesday morning. Since then I waited to post this in case I got some amazing revelation that improved the tone of the post, but that just hasn't happened. She was a very strong and devoted believer and we know she is in her rightful place, at the "beginning" of eternity with the Lord. 

Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

There are no more tears or regrets in heaven. There is no more sin. Nothing to dread. No hurt feelings, pain, or sorrow. She got to go where we all should be. Where we all would have been if it weren't for the sin that Eve (first) committed in the garden. Barbara left this nomadic life where she was a stranger and didn't fully belong for the only place that isn't true. She made it to the end of the long race, where the Lord greeted her with His passionate joy and love.

We should all rejoice that Barbara is in heaven. Instead of coveting our neighbor's car/job/house/husband/well-mannered children/toned body/savings account/friends (pick whatever best applies), we should covet her new life. She is home and we are not. 

But there is one problem: She didn't want to go. 

Psalm 139:16, "Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

On the surface, and maybe a few layers beneath that, it feels like the ultimate betrayal by the Father. He promises, "If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you." (John 15:7). I assure you without any hesitation or confusion, Barbara asked to be healed and to stay on earth. She asked time after time. I'm told thousands were praying for her. She wholeheartedly believed He would heal her, until the very last agonizing breath, she believed He would answer that prayer. 

We can rejoice that she really was healed, but let's not pretend that was the answer she was looking for. She asked to be healed on earth and He chose not to do that. He could have done it but He knew better. He alone knows what is best for you, best for me, best for Barbara. He knows what God-glorifying things will happen on earth because her time on earth ended. He knows what other pain or problems she avoided by moving to heaven. He created her, you, me, and everything on the earth. He numbers and ordains all of our days, and He makes no mistakes.

Colossians 1:15-17, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.

We might want to know why He answers some prayers and not others, but we might never know. We just have to trust. That's what faith is all about, the confidence in what we hope for, the assurance of what we cannot see (Heb 11:1). We don't know the reasons, but we are never left alone with the answers. Jesus understands our feelings. When He saw Mary mourning over the loss of her brother, "He was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled" (John 11:33). The Jews even recognized it and said, "See how He loved him!" (John 11:36). Jesus had already planned to raise Lazarus, so we don't know if the sadness had anything to do with why He raised Lazarus from the dead, but regardless the words convey His true feelings. Jesus didn't sin, so He wasn't wrong in feeling enough sorrow for some combination of Mary's loss, the earthly loss of Lazarus, and maybe  for the confusion and sadness produced by His not preventing the death, that He wept. 

Barbara was in horrendous physical anguish at the end of her life. It was torture. But she never lost the hope of the living. She trusted fully in her Savior, even though He seemed to turn His back on her. The big picture is that He helped her to end up where she should be, where it is perfect and beautiful, pain-free and carefree, instead of where she thought she should be. Praise to the Lord Almighty who knows so much better than we do! Please pray for her family's sadness to turn to joy as they see the ways He turns Barbara's legacy into more fruit on earth.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18  So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Praying and praying and praying and praying and praying

I remember that before I was healed a friend posted a comment on here about what a roller coaster all the cancer stuff was. I was still cautious about being so vulnerable on here so I was a little offended. I felt like she was saying I should stop getting my hopes up about about things, to just sort of live in neutral. Since then I have had seasons of wishing for this neutral myself. It is hard to be so passionate about whatever's going on in life that when it turns out badly it's like part of you dies a little. 

Luke 9:41-43, Jesus answered, "O faithless and twisted generation, how long am I to be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here"...

Starting a few months ago I got sort of leveled off, the way I guess I wished. It felt like God didn't hear or care about me or what I did. After countless heartbreaks and unanswered prayers I suppose some of my faith died off. Looking back I know I sinned, but don't know if I turned away from Him a bit and He responded with increased distance, or if it was a period of testing that I failed. But either way, because of His mercy and grace, His boundless love, we have reunited and it feels so good! Colors are more vibrant, His presence is clear and weighty, my heart...feels again. Day after day He reminds me that His mercies are new each morning, and that He knows it all. He knows what we think, what we do, what we want, what we feel...and He knows why we feel it. God is not this impersonal, strict parent who judges what we do as sub-par. He is involved in every aspect of our lives, and encourages us to be better for our own well-being and for the good of the whole body of Christ. 

...While he was coming, the demon threw him to the ground and convulsed him. But Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy, and gave him back to his father...

It would not be right to serve this amazing Savior in a neutral way. We can't be fully devoted to living for Him while protecting our hearts from disappointment. So, we must immerse ourselves in Him. Look for the good and lessons in the daily struggles. Keep getting up after we fall. Keep pursuing the kingdom and His righteousness. Love those who hate us. Pray without ceasing.

... And all were astonished at the majesty of God.

A lot of people ask me to pray for their loved ones. I'm not good at it. I don't like presenting a prayer list to the Lord, even though He is the only one who can do anything about the list. I never know exactly how to pray that is not some version of my selfish desires to manipulate or manhandle God. I think that's some of what I did over this period of not hearing much from Him. The word says He leaves us with authority to do great things on earth, but He still has the right to make the final decisions and the Spirit blows wherever He wills. I just don't know how to approach all of that with the faith needed for the really big stuff.

...And all were astonished at the MAJESTY OF GOD.

Anyway, sometimes the Lord really opens my heart and I guess the lines of communication for praying for specific people. It's never when or how I expect it. He has me praying now for Barbara, who many of you have prayed for over the past few years now. Her health has declined but she has always been a prayer warrior and has always believed He will heal her. I remember how fearful I was when I first started blogging, that I would believe He would heal me and then He wouldn't. I was certain that would be the most heartbreaking way to go. And I was so sad to see how at first people prayed for everyone to be healed, then as they got sicker eventually people started praying that they'd be put out of their misery. All of these things stir my soul. We know that the Lord alone numbers our days and Barbara would not be put to shame if He chooses to wait until she's in heaven to heal her. But I pray so deeply that she would experience the fruit of this faith while she's on earth. That the doctors and nurses around her, who are surely counting her out, would see the cancer literally vanish. That all the health problems that have resulted from this cancer would dissipate in front of their very eyes. That her labored breathing would become smooth, the fluid in her lungs and the cancer itself would be loosed and flow right out of her as the Holy Spirit replaces the void with healthy fluids and cells. Technically, this is not possible. But, all things that are impossible with men are possible with God. He's proved it time and again, please pray boldly that He will add this woman's life to that score sheet.


Sunday, September 21, 2014


Feeling a little brokenhearted today. I'm healthy. My family is healthy. We're all thriving. But all around me is despair. When I close my eyes I might even feel the agony and hopelessness of the world echoing within my soul. The blind cry out for relief from their sorrows and grope for the cross that remains just out of reach. Others with clear vision call on their Savior, their reason for hope, but He shows them more trouble.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5, "Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ"

When I was sick so many people wanted to help that I felt supremely guilty that I couldn't come up with odd jobs for them. It was silly--they felt a burden to help in a tangible way, and praying didn't seem tangible, so I felt a burden to help them ease their burden in a tangible way. We were all wrong. We should have just prayed together. Prayed more. Every time we inhale and feel a burden we should exhale with a prayer.'s hard to pray! It's hard to care deeply for someone, to rest their problems on your shoulders and have no way to lift them off other than to lift them up in prayer. And let's be honest, when we do all that, many times we don't see a real answer. We don't feel the Lord's presence. He doesn't do "little" things like resolve social situations for our kids. He doesn't do big things like blow the Holy Spirit down to breathe life into a dying child. He doesn't heal most people's cancer.

It's hard not to take these unanswered (or differently answered) prayers personally. To keep praying, trying, crying, day after day. Sometimes it seems impossible to stir up enough passion to even want to intercede in faith for another. But that's when we need to remember. We remember the faith from our youth. We remember the prayers He did answer from the past. With every gut wrenching blow we feel from receiving bad news, we will remember how the King felt when Judas kissed his cheek. When I hear my own voice bitterly complain about circumstances being unfair, I will remember how He felt each time the crowd of people He loved and cared for screamed, "Crucify Him". And every time I wonder, "What's the point?" of praying for someone, I will look around and take note of the empty tomb. The cross was enough.

Lamentations 3:22-24, "The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease. For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning: Great is your faithfulness. "The Lord is my portion" says my soul. "Therefore I have hope in Him"...

Friday, August 15, 2014

More Sadness

Have you ever had a day where you had to dry off twice after a shower--once from the water, and the other from the tears that cover you so rapidly you require a second pass with the towel before you can get dressed? This is one of those mornings. I've had countless ones like this but they grow farther in between as time passes since my healing.

Someone else we were praying for died. Of cancer. I know, I know, we all die. Oh, and I'm well aware that every day with her was a blessing and the Lord answered many prayers to keep her around so long. And, yes, I do know that heaven is the place we should all want to be. That once we experience heaven we truly will all want to be there and to stay there. Forever. And ever. And ever. (And that believers GET to stay there forever and ever.)

A lot of people come to know and accept Jesus into their lives when someone close to them dies. I wonder why. Is it because He is so much more real to them then, providing His limitless comfort we don't experience under other circumstances? Or is it because they realize how preposterously powerless they are so maybe it's time to suck it up and worship the only one who is actually in control? I hope that's not it, but I struggle at times to tear my mind from bitterness of that sort.

Last week I prayed about how dead I feel inside. I know it's a spiritual battle, but think it's also related to all my medications and lack of hormones. Today I see that the Lord can break through such barriers to answer my prayers to really feel something. My ungracious heart cries to Him that I had other prayers I would have preferred for Him to answer. In my flesh I wish I still felt numb and that He healed this woman. That she was alive, dancing and praising the Holy One who healed her. 

As I wipe the last of my tears away I turn my heart back and thank this God we serve. He knows that I needed to feel again, to help me care enough to bother loving other people. And best of all, she is dancing for Him forever. She has that limitless joy that we all desire on earth but can never experience here. She is worshiping the One who knows us closer than a brother, who knit us together in our mother's wombs, who counted and ordered each day we struggled through on earth, who is the only one who knows what is actually best for us and who faithfully provides it.

Romans 14:8, "If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord."

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
And all the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt your goodness, we doubt your love
As if every promise from Your word is not enough
And all the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not,
This is not our home
It's not our home

'Cause what if your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You're near

What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy
What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise

Thursday, July 17, 2014


We need to feel helpless to appreciate and recognize our need for God.
The problem with that is: I don't want to! I want God to empower me to be fruitful for Him! I want to have such amazing faith that I don't stumble over my own inconsistencies! I want to pray and see Him work, instead of to do all that and watch as nothing changes. Sometimes I feel like I'm sitting alone in a big empty bubble, just watching others in their bubbles struggle. There's no escape, nothing I can do. I cry out to the Lord but my voice doesn't project. Where does our help come from? When will it come and who will it reach?

This week, an amazing woman of God died. Her name was Jessica Marie Hehn, and she was the first person I ever prayed for who was healed...and now she's dead.
Jessica was extremely young and healthy. She was actually a very successful vegan health guru, who was newly married and excited to have babies. Out of nowhere she was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. Can you imagine a more insulting diagnosis than lung cancer for someone so healthy? Right after I was healed she called me and I boldly told her about Jesus. I boasted about The Lord Who Heals and when I paused to take a breath I was surprised that she responded,"Oh, I know He will heal me." She had the faith I was sure no one else had. The faith that took me months of sleepless nights, hundreds of desperate prayers, thousands of mental debates, to grow to the size of a mustard seed. Since then I've talked to many more ailing people and she is still the only one so certain of her earthly healing. And she was right! That is, until she wasn't.

It was pretty quick that Jessica was healed and she praised the Lord for it. That was a few years ago now. I don't know when it came back or any other details, but a few weeks ago she got sick and couldn't recover. I'm very sad about that, but I'm more devastated by the last post I saw by her husband, right before she died. He faithfully declared that he knew the Lord would heal her. I know, I know that she was healed in heaven--that's what we say to him when we hug him in the receiving line. That's what we say to each other so we don't have to evaluate our theology or dare to question our own faith. In truth, Jessica and her husband did it all right. They prayed and believed He would heal her. They gave the glory to God. They boldly fought off all desire to water down their beliefs to match up with the world's expectations. And, then...she was rewarded by going to heaven, and he had to stay on earth. Without his wife. Without proof to support his faith. Without a reason to keep believing.

Oh, the agony of defeat! The heartbreaking ache of emptiness that comes with this helplessness! The anger from recognizing there is no one left to blame. This is the state of mind we often must embrace to recognize the Lord. The graver the despair, the more clearly we see our surroundings. The more we appreciate when He moves. I'm ready to appreciate Him! Ready for what He will show the whole world when He finally deals with all this cancer and pain. Ready.

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: First to the Jew, then to the Gentile." Romans 1:16

Monday, July 7, 2014

Big Prayer Request!

A few weeks ago the Lord put it on my heart to set up a 24-hour prayer time for a few of the very sick ladies I know with cancer. I would have liked to do it with more notice but there's a sudden, more urgent need for it so we went ahead and scheduled it to start this Wednesday (7/9). We are trying to get people to sign up to pray in 1-hour increments for 24 hours, so please consider taking a slot (or, 22 of them... :).
When you look at a day it doesn't seem hard to pray for an hour, but I think when you sit down to do it it's overwhelming. People who've done tons of this can pray for several hours, but those people are much holier than me. So, I'm going to share my "Praying for Dummies" tips. I'm not name-calling here, just thought I'd break it down so it doesn't seem so daunting.

1. Try to get somewhere alone. Even from the dog, who seems so sweet and cuddly until you try to focus on prayer and he starts bringing you the ball. Move anything distracting away--there is no such thing as multitasking appropriately while praying. I have prayed in the car (parked in the garage), in a variety of different closets, the yard, Abi's bed, the bathroom...I do best praying late at night or early in the morning because then I can sit at a table but still not be interrupted.
2. Prepare your prayer list, a Bible, paper, a pen, any notes/scriptures you've been meditating, and any good lists of scriptures you have (I have a Biblical promises one that's good, and I try to look those up in the Bible to get a better idea of the context while praying).
3. Set your clock for a start and stop time (if it's for something like this day of prayer--otherwise you don't need an end time). You might be having such a great time with God that you don't want to end it, but usually if you don't have the end time set it's like working out--you start watching the clock to see how much longer. Once your clock is set you can turn that part of your brain off and just wait for it to tell you you're done.
4. Pray out loud. Doesn't matter if you're alone or not (although obviously alone is better). This helps you stay awake (What's that? I'm the only one who falls asleep while praying? Riiiight...). It also helps you stay focused. Your ears hear the way you drift off to planning your day or making a shopping list, and get you back on track.
5. Write down the random, off-topic things that come to mind so you don't deceive yourself and think you're supposed to cut your prayer time short and do those things. Once they're written down, forget about them until later.
6. Also write down the cool things God shows you, because sometimes when you're done you can't remember it all.
7. When you're out of things to pray about, go through the little tips you know, like praying the way Jesus did, ACTS, ABCs (look these up), or just ask God to help you pray. If you're praying for another person, ask for empathy and brokenness for her, and He will increase your passion and interest in interceding for her. Make sure to think back to all the amazing things He has done for you or others and thank Him for those.
8. Remember that prayer is communicating with God, so just talking at Him isn't enough. Talk to Him and leave time for Him to answer. Ask Him to prepare your heart to hear from Him, ask Him to show you anything you need, and then just be still. Jot down anything that comes to mind but wait, wait, wait for more. It's not always the first thing that comes to mind that you need to know. Sometimes it's waiting in faith for more answers. More of His heart. More wisdom. When you find your mind wandering off, do your best to control it or just move back to talking out loud to God.
9. Don't be ashamed to be honest with God. He knows it all anyway, and the brokenness that comes from admitting your sin and struggles helps you grow closer to Him and to be more holy.
10. Seemed like a good idea to have an even 10 points here, but I can't think of another.

Anyway, here is some information about the 24-hour prayer-a-thon. Please consider signing up. You can pray from anywhere for an hour and it'll bless you so much to see how He answers! Sometimes it isn't in the way we expect or desire.

If you're local, we'll be ending the 24-hours with group prayer at 9am on Thursday at Four Oaks Community Church.

To sign up to pray:
 1. Click this link to go to our invitation page on VolunteerSpot:
   2. Enter your email address: (You will NOT need to register an account on VolunteerSpot) 
   3. Sign up! Choose your spots - VolunteerSpot will send you an automated confirmation and reminders.
Note: VolunteerSpot does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please email and I can sign you up manually.

Barbara H.
Barbara has been praying with faith for her physical healing from cancer for 18 months. Back in January of 2013, she was advised to contact hospice but chose to trust in the Lord instead of that fear, and He has blessed her for it. However, she and her husband, Dan, are struggling with some discouragement and despair as her body is exhausted from chemotherapy and the cancer metastasized to her liver and lungs. From Exodus 17:11-12, we remember that Moses was tasked with holding his arms up so his men could win a battle. His friends came along and helped to hold his arms up. Barbara has been praying for others for many years, and in that way she has taken a turn holding up the arms of others. We are ready to hold hers up now and to see the Lord's glory as He completely heals her and restores her health.

Exodus 17:11-12
So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set.

Gulan was born in Cuba, the daughter of a Cuban woman and a Chinese immigrant. She is the loving mom of two daughters and grand mom to eight grandchildren. She and her husband emigrated to the United States in 1970 from Cuba in hopes of making a better life for their children. She and her husband later divorced. She made many sacrifices including working in a non-air conditioned factory for years to provide for her girls, many times going without for herself so that her girls would have what they needed. With God's help she put both girls through college. She was a smoker. She gave up smoking ten years ago.  She was diagnosed with adeno carcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer five years ago. She also has emphysema and heart disease. She is a strong woman, dealing with a lot of fear….but courageous, nonetheless because she has faced her fears over and over again. God has been good to her in many ways. She came to know Him and realize that He was the one that watched over her on a Mother's Day many years ago. She can point out His faithfulness in her life over the years. Thank you for your prayers for her.

James 5:16
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

Karen W.
Karen has been battling breast cancer for many years and the more it spreads into her body, the more desperate she is for the miracle it will take for her to survive and be healthy to continue to raise her children. She has two daughters and a son—her son is the youngest at 11 years old. Karen has an amazing husband and is saddened that her whole family has had to sacrifice and form so many memories of her being sick. Karen is going through chemotherapy and is unable to eat, so is extremely thin and frail. Her mother is moving in to help physically support Karen and the rest of the family. Please join us in praying for her total physical healing, and that she will spend many years completely pain and cancer free, enjoying the gifts the Lord shares and serving as a living testimony for the power and mercy of the Lord God Almighty!

Job 9:15

Though I were innocent, I could not answer Him; I could only plead with my judge for mercy.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Art of Worthlessness and the Joy of Hope

I'm totally worthless, and I don't say that in some sort of low self-esteem, depressed tone. I mean that I am completely devoid of all value. The things I do each day could be done by anyone. I live now to glorify God and not only do I repeatedly fail to do so, it also doesn't matter to anyone but me that I do. The thing about God is that He doesn't NEED me to do it (Acts 17:25, "And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else"). He graciously allows me to do it. Each time is a blessing. Because my heart is such that I passionately desire to brag about God and His mightiness. I long to extol the Lord because I have experienced His love and character. I know Him and want others to taste the joy that comes with it. 

I pray for many miracles, and have not seen many lately. I do not pray for them because I'm stuck on some thought that God doesn't want or allow suffering. I pray for them because I want every person on the earth to experience a supernatural, perfect answer to prayer. We shouldn't need to experience such miracles because our faith is in what can't be seen, but the honor of being involved as a recipient of a miracle or to observe the answered prayer is life-changing. Seriously. If you haven't experienced one, change your life until you do. And by that, I mean literally, get on your knees and pray to the only one who can create the world and everything in it, and seek His face. He will guide you from there. There's no formula, just an honest desire to find Him and when you do you will be forever changed.

Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.

I often think back to when my friend Debora was healed last October. It's really embarrassing, what a hypocrite I was about it, actually. I had prayed (along with many) with utter abandon and brokenness for her to be healed. The stage 4 breast cancer had metastasized to vital organs that didn't respond well to chemo. She'd been off chemo for awhile and the scans had not shown improvement so we our only hope was back in His mighty hands. For days we waited and waited for her PET scan results and finally, instead of those coming through, I got an email that another friend was in labor with a child. As the hours passed, I lost my faith.  I had a feeling of dread--I was certain that God would not heal Debora and let my friend have a healthy baby on the same day. For the umpteenth time, I just "knew" Him, and "felt" this was so. When I finally heard my friend's baby was born healthy I broke down. I was happy for her but was certain that this demonstrated that He had made His choice. Clearly, He had chosen my friend and her baby` over Debora. I was so disappointed, completely crushed. And little angry, to be honest.

I kept praying for Debora while the time ticked by, because I had assured Him that I wouldn't give up, but my faith was shaken. I was like Peter who boldly stepped out of the boat but looked around and started sinking. Like always, I wanted others to pull me up and assure me that God would work, but when they didn't my faith wasn't strong enough to keep my head above water (Mth 14:29).

It was after regular business hours that we even got the call, so I had stopped watching the phone. I'm so grateful that it had no signal because it meant Debora had to leave me a voicemail that I can preserve for the long term. The memory of what God did for her is recorded there whenever I check my messages--all the incurable, terminal cancer was gone. Doctors couldn't do it. Medicine and diet were unable. But God was able. And willing. It's not about the cancer, it's about His mercy. He answers prayer. He wants us to see that. To feel it. I embrace just the memory of the feeling that I had that night when I was reminded of His righteousness. Of His goodness. Of His Sovereignty. Yet again, He broke down the walls of the box I continually try to put Him in and allowed me to see even more of Him than I did when He healed me. I didn't sleep that night. There was so much joy. Inexpressible Joy. It consumed me so much that I couldn't really function. Words didn't express it and memories don't fully preserve it. That joy is merely a fraction of what we will experience in heaven for all eternity, when He restores our bodies and invites us into eternity with Him. I'm sure many of you who prayed for me felt that joy when I was healed as well. I am truly worthless in all I do, but He still looked at me and valued me highly enough to pour out a huge measure of His awesomeness that day.

God doesn't heal everyone, as we know and many, many, many, many, many people make sure to remind me all the time. But He chooses to heal many. He chooses to answer our prayers and open the window to His goodness for we who don't deserve it. We, who think we know Him but actually can't guess His next move. We will never guess who He will choose, so all we can do is follow through with His commands. He says to pray for the sick, so we pray (James 5:13-16). He says to believe He will answer, so we believe (Mark 11:24). He says to worship Him with all our hearts, minds and souls, and so we do (Luke 10:27). It's hard and scary but the rewards are beyond all measure.

And, incidentally, if you don't have any of "your own" sick people to pray for, please pray for some on my list! The three miracles we are begging for right now all have late stages of terminal cancer. Karen, Barbara, and Gulan have faith and desire to be healed, so please lift them up and beg Him to bolster their faith and relieve their physical and mental pain!

Hebrews 10:23-2 

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

An End to Suffering

Yesterday at tee ball I chatted with friends and moaned about the heat while Abigail gingerly batted and skipped around the bases. I barely paid attention and mostly waited for the game to end so we could get on with the day. On the way home Abi mentioned that a little girl on her team doesn't have a mommy. Because her mom died of stage 4 cancer. One of my first thoughts was, "Why didn't I know?" because I'm That selfish. I actually think I know every woman in town who is sick. Or that I have a supernatural sense for when a motherless child is on the tee ball field. Or that it would have actually made a difference if I had known.

My next realization was that it could have been me. With one different choice from our Savior, Abigail would have been the motherless one on the team. Naomi would spend her time in daycare and the workers there would feel so sad when she was confused and tried to call them "Mom". It could have been me. God doesn't make mistakes, so it shouldn't have been me in that sense, but if you look at how worthless I am as a person, a mother, Christian, wife, sister, daughter and friend, it should have been me. Someone who doesn't even enjoy the blessings of this life doesn't deserve to be the recipient of a miraculous gift. But as quickly as that sorrow sinks in, it is replaced by the Lord's still, calming, all-encompassing peace. He saved me because of His grace, His mercy, His plan--not mine. I could actually be a fruitful person, I could be close to perfect in all I do, gracious, devoted, and compassionate. But I still would never earn His love.

Ephesians 2:4-9

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God."

I've been surrounded by suffering lately. So many people are sick and dying, and God pointed out to me that as a society we sort of celebrate suffering. It is obviously helpful for us, because the more we suffer the more we seek God and recognize our need for Him. But I wonder if we celebrate suffering more than we celebrate Him. When you think of the Bible, I think an outline would reveal that the whole thing points to Jesus, our Savior. We all suffer, it is biblical, but that's not the theme of the Bible. The Good News isn't about us at all. It's about Jesus and what we do with Him and His truth. 

"How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news" Romans 10:15

I think it's time to put an end to the suffering. I'm ready to remember the lessons He brought us through it instead of focusing on the circumstances. Seems to me that we find a lot of reasons to wait on celebrating Him. We have a hard time rejoicing in Him when we're suffering. Some of us even think about how we'll be doing all that rejoicing in heaven, like that nullifies the fact that we already have our Savior! We live in a fallen and sinful world, but that doesn't make God any less...God. He doesn't change so He won't be any "better" in heaven, we just won't have as many crummy circumstances that color our view of Him. 

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds" James 1:2

I think the original point of singing songs in church was to praise Him for His sacrifice and presence. That the appreciation for who He is would overflow so abundantly from our hearts that we would be incapable of withholding beautiful musical offerings toward the heavens. I had a little vision today at church, of what it would be like if we all actually entered the sanctuary in that state of mind. That we would all simultaneously arrive at the conclusion that God Almighty is perfect, loving, amazing, sovereign, all-knowing, pure love and MUST be praised! That it doesn't need to wait until the perfect song is played, or fit into the 17 minute pre-scheduled worship time. That our love for God would spill from us so readily that we wouldn't care that we don't sing well or don't know the words, we would just rejoice at His awesomeness without delay.

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!" Psalm 150:6

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Suffering and all that jazz

Here's what's keeping me up on this lovely evening: Suffering. Not that I'm personally suffering more than usual, but there are some ideas floating in my head that I think the Lord is trying to teach me about. For one thing, I'm praying for two very sick women with breast cancer. Honestly, both are about to die. But one is ready and waiting for heaven, and the other is still praying for a miracle. She's a believer, so is it her heart's desire because He put it there and is waiting for us to pray and believe she will be healed? Or is she struggling to trust Him with her children once she's gone? Afraid of this heaven we read about, which sounds so great but is eternal and, therefore, beyond our understanding? 
How do we pray for people who suffer when we don't get marching orders straight from Him? Isn't this faith that can move mountains big enough to expect and ask for things greater than our friends can hope for? Do we dishonor Him with safe prayers like those to "ease suffering"?

Jesus set the example with, "Father, if you are willing take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Luke 22:42. We can't go wrong praying the way Jesus did! But Jesus was God and knew His mission was to die for our sins. Karen, the one who wants to live, has no idea what He wants. So, we pray for more faith for us and for her. We pray when she is too sick to do so herself, that angels will minister to her and lift her up. We pray for her broken heart to heal on earth, and that she will not feel ashamed or deserted, but will experience His true, unshakable love. And we pray in agreement with her to the only One who was given all authority on earth (Matthew 28:18) to completely remove all her cancer. That she will not die but live and proclaim what He has done (Ps 118:17). Then we close our prayer back in rightfully humble place, remembering that we are servants to the only one who is truly faithful. That His glorious and perfect will is done with both of these ladies.

Ephesians 3:19-21 "and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen."

Here's a little housekeeping: I'm having some trouble with this blog, so for the past year or so people couldn't "join" it. I thought it was weird that people kept telling me they read it but there were no new followers. I'm not sure how or if that differs from subscribers, which I can't see at all but seems to send emails. So, if you haven't ever followed it, please do so because I think it's time to move off Blogger and that will be a way to make sure everyone gets the address change. Also, I've read a bit about what a pain that change is (and that I can lose access to this blog at any time, how sad!), so if you have tips or suggestions please send them my way!

My final update is that although I stated a few weeks ago that I was trying to write a fiction book about all this cancer, it's just not coming together as I hoped. I guess I got the message wrong from the Lord, so please please pray for me to hear what I am supposed to do. I have several thoughts but don't want to continue taking the wrong avenues. Over the past few years I have been blessed to verbally share my testimony on an average of every two months. But now I have none on the books and I'm not sure if that means it's time to change my focus or not. I do LOVE to share what the Lord has done though so please let me know of any opportunities!

Monday, May 12, 2014

Pain and Comfort

A well-known Tallahassee resident is about to die because of breast cancer. She's battled it for years with many ups and downs, but now her liver is failing so no one expects a recovery.
Everything she is going through is exactly what I used to be afraid of. It's exactly what I prayed against--people not believing she has enough faith to survive, people adjusting their prayers from requests for healing to begging for her to be released from her awful time in "this life". When she passes many will sigh with relief as the burden of having worried about and sacrificed so much for her over the years passes.They will talk about how she's in a better place now. And they will be right. 

Maybe having watched her health decline will make it easier for her boys and her devoted best friend to recover from losing her. Maybe having hundreds of people offer hugs and platitudes will ease the pain. Perhaps all the flowers that are delivered will send delicate fragrances that seep into their consciousness and revive special memories of happy days spent with her. Or, maybe none of this will help. 

Probably the fact that her boys have no mother will put a damper on the summer. The scent of the flowers will likely become a stench to all who cross them, a reminder that she cannot smell them any longer. Those who loved her will have pain that cannot be covered by reminders of this heaven that we cannot fully envision. 

Self-control and smiling faces can mask the pain but only one thing can remove it. The One who endured it all but didn't have to (Hebrews 12:2). The One who truly understands what we go through and promises to comfort us with the peace that transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7). The one who is closer than a brother, who sustains us on our sick bed but still numbers our days (Ps 3:5; Job 14:5). Only He can bring true healing, and only He will bring true healing (Jer 30:17). 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ending that 21 day challenge and some prayers/praises

I need to take a minute to post a few prayer requests that people have made me aware of (usually through comments on here) If you send them to me, please let me know the results, the less we know the harder it is to pray, and honestly when there are so many to pray for sometimes it's the details we learn that remind us in daily life of the circumstances and ignite our passions...

First, Abbie is my neighbor who had brain surgery for a non-cancerous tumor a few months ago. She had to leave her family to go for radiation in a different city for 6 weeks! Please pray for her total, permanent healing, no side effects or problems with the radiation, peace and provision for all involved, and a miraculous restoration of her lost vision! God can DO it! Pray that this is an amazing time for every family member, not one filled with sadness or fear. Luke 12:28-31, "But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you."

A man named Radu who is only 31, with two children, was recently diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Please, please pray for his faith, peace, and total, miraculous healing. Pray that the Lord will use those around him to truly encourage him, and that his hope and strength will be found in the Lord. There is something about this case that really stirs me up. I think we will pray Romans 15:13, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Also, a wife named Naz is asking for serious prayer for her husband, who has stage 4 pancreatic cancer. There is a little information and a request for financial support here: Please pray for them and see if He leads you to contribute money or a nice note in the comments, a special verse, etc. 
I think we pray for total peace, that their finances and other concerns of this world would be cast aside so they can enjoy time together without the incomprehensible burden. Pray that He would bless them each with one-track minds and be reflections of you despite their circumstances. And pray for each of their faith, health, spiritual, and physical healing that will all be to glorify the Holy One.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." Ephesians 1:2

An anonymous person posted about her mother's stage 1 breast cancer. Pray for both of their peace, as it's so tempting to get caught up in the terror that comes along with troubles of this world. Pray that the cancer will be permanently removed from her body and that it will not be permitted to control their thoughts or bodies! Matthew 6:31-33, "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

Tamara had cancer (I think it was breast but not positive) in the past and is fighting it again. Please pray for her and her friends and family's assurance that the Lord has a perfect plan and will turn all things the enemy intends for evil into good. Romans 8:28 "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

A friend of mine's mother and sisters have all battled breast cancer and anger. Please pray He will be glorified through all of it and that they would turn from trusting themselves and blaming Him to trusting in Him and seeing His goodness.Romans 8:5, "For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit."

My friend Mandy's mother has been battling a return of multiple myeloma and we are praying that He will make it disappear so they can extol the great things the mighty one does! John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing."

Okay, the end of the 21 day challenge (which has taken about 4 months to get through!) is here. 
Day 20
John 20
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripturethat Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.
11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 
and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other
 at the foot. 13 They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” 
she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw 
Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. 15 He asked her, “Woman, why 
are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you
 have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my 
brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them
 that he had said these things to her.
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors 
locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be 
with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And 
with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, 
their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when 
Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails 
were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the 
doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then 
he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my 
side. Stop doubting and believe.”
28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who 
have not seen and yet have believed.”
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in 
this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Until this year I always thought Thomas got a bad rap. It didn't seem that bad to me for him to want to see Jesus with his own eyes. But now that I know more about faith--that true faith is reinforced by His signs and answered prayers, but is not contingent upon them--I reflect on this with different eyes. We should strive for the faith that is so strong we don't need to see the scars. After we know what will happen it's easy to look back and see where we could have had more faith, but in the moment it's very, very hard. Thankfully there's a helper that we will read about in John 21!

Day 21
John 21
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way:Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.[c] When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”)21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

In case you didn't know, the disciple John is the one who wrote this book and is also the one "whom Jesus loved". What's that all about, because we know He is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34, etc.)? I guess He doesn't deliver consequences based on how much He likes someone, but still enjoys us in unique ways. John was a great guy and is possibly the only disciple not martyred, but when we remember that heaven is better than here, that sort of gave him the short end of the stick.