Five Minute Friday: A Safe Haven

This has been a difficult season, as I wait for the neurosurgeon’s office to call and let me know when my cervical spine surgery will be done. I’ve been waiting for a while, then finally found a doctor who understood that my worse pain was in my neck and upper back. I’ve been cleared for surgery with my primary doctor, and now the waiting should be coming to an end soon, as the hospital schedules the surgery sometime in June.

During times of difficulty, I’m learning to look to God as my safe haven. My emotions may be on a roller coaster, but He is always constant. My battle with fear may be ongoing, but He is my source of faith. I’m so grateful to have a safe haven to turn to in times of anxiety.

One of the ways that God has helped me during this waiting time has been through the prayers and encouragement of a special group of ladies who understand what I’m going through. Participating in this group of ladies who love Jesus and all suffer with chronic illness has been a constant reminder that I’m not alone, that God is with me and that He has provided amazing support to help me keep my eyes on Him. They are a second safe haven, yet really part of the first one since they are continually reminding me to not place my hope in people but in God.


Learning Is For a Lifetime

Hundreds of thousands of high school and college students around the United States have recently or will soon graduate. As they grab their mortar boards and throw them in the air, they are rejoicing that their time of schooling is finally over.

For the first eighteen or twenty-two years of our lives, depending upon whether or not we go to college, learning is our main “job.” The majority of our time is spent in classrooms, learning new materials.  And once we graduate, many think this “learning stage” is over. It’s time to leave learning behind and to go out into the adult world.img_0192

I had similar thoughts when I graduated from college. Personally, I knew I would still be in a classroom, since my degree was in Early Childhood Education. But now, I was the teacher, and “they” (my two classes of five year olds) were the students. But a few days after the start of the school year, I saw the error in my reasoning. My children were learning – but so was I. Just finishing my formal education didn’t mean my learning was over. I simply needed to take more responsibility for my acquiring of knowledge from this point on.

This was before the Internet was available for the public, so most of my learning during my years of teaching was from books. This was also a season of making new friends, many of whom were fellow teachers, and I quickly learned that they were good sources of answers to many of my questions. I think my first year of teaching kindergarten was one of the most intense times of learning in my life.

In my second year of teaching, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Suddenly, there was a whole new body of material to learn. I sensed God calling me to turn in my resignation and enroll in Bible college. I did this, and there we learned the basic principles of the Christian faith and became familiar with the Word of God. But this one year of extended classroom learning was like sticking my toe in the vast pool of teaching found in the Bible.

While in Bible college, I met my future husband. We married at the end of the school year. With marriage, and nine months later having our first child, it didn’t take me long to realize I had many new things to learn. Throughout the last forty-three years, that has continued to be true. Life isn’t static. And with each new stage of life, we see new things we need to learn. Before long, I clearly saw that learning is for a lifetime.

Areas of Lifelong Learning As a Christian:

  • Center on the Word of God. We are called to be disciples, and to be a “disciple” means to be a learner. The main way Jesus teaches and leads us is through His Word. And His purpose in teaching us isn’t just so we’ll be familiar with the facts and principles. We need to learn about our teacher. We need to grow in our knowledge of Him and understand His character, so that we have a good foundation to build our faith upon. We need to know how to recognize His voice when we are reading or praying. And we need to learn how to apply the things He teaches us, even in situations where they may not seem logical.
  • Learn new skills required for your ministry or occupation. I first learned this when I was teaching kindergarten. Even after four years of college, I was totally in the dark about many things: use of some of the equipment, what to teach the children in certain areas so that my classes wouldn’t miss out on some topics that the kindergarten classes in my school regularly taught, and how to handle ongoing discipline problems. Thankfully, I had experienced kindergarten teachers on both sides of my classroom, who took me under their wings and taught me some of these basics. This happened because I had a teachable spirit and was willing to reach out and ask for help.
  • Don’t ignore practical learning for everyday life. As soon as you notice an area where increased knowledge is needed, find some sensible answers. This will vary for each person, but you will reach a point where you need to learn something new. For example, as a newly wed, I knew nothing about cooking Mexican food. I wanted to surprise my husband, and decided to add some jalapeño peppers (seeds and all) to a casserole I was making. He was definitely surprised! As soon as he took a bite, he quickly warned me not to eat it. The casserole was even hotter than he likes, but he ate some so he wouldn’t hurt my feeling. All my previous experience using peppers for cooking had been with bell peppers, and I had no idea how to cut up the jalapeños or how many needed to be added to the casserole. Wisdom would have been learning this before using them in a recipe. After the damage was done, the friend who gave us the jalapeños gave me some instructions on how to chop them – after removing the seeds – and how many to use in cooking.
  • Learn about any other areas that are important for you or your family.  For our family, one of the biggest areas we’ve needed to increase our knowledge is in the medical field. First, when our infant son was diagnosed with Massive Infantile Spasms, we needed to do some research to understand what to expect. And this was just the beginning. I quickly learned that I needed more information about our son’s growing list of problems, to be able to talk intelligently with his doctors. A few years later, I started going through the same process for myself, as one chronic illness after another was added to my medical history.

We are fortunate to live at a time when information about each of these areas, as well as many others, is easy to find. We can learn through personal conversations, reading books, taking classes, listening to recorded audio, and watching educational videos. And the Internet is seemingly an unending source of information.We can even use social media to continue our learning.  But we need to have discernment concerning the sources we use. Is this “fact” really just someone’s opinion? Are these medical sources of information trustworthy?  Use a variety of sources, and stay away from those that seem unreliable. But there are no excuses for not continuing to learn, until you go to be with the Lord.  In fact, Henry Ford said continuing to learn is the key for staying young.

No matter what else you choose to study, don’t neglect the Word of God, our most important instruction book for life.

Tuesday at Ten: A Journey of Faith

Joni Erickson Tada knows what it is to have a broken body. As a teenager she loved riding horses and swimming. A diving accident in 1967 changed all that. Diving into a shallow lake left Joni Eareckson Tada a quadriplegic in a wheelchair.

For the next two years, Joni made a determined but largely unsuccessful attempt at rehabilitation. And her battle was not just physical. Joni also struggled with suicidal despair. During this time, her faith was shipwrecked. She was unable to accept God’s design in her paralysis. Why didn’t God stop her accident from happening?

With the help of a friend, Joni gradually began to understand that God did not cause the diving accident, but He allowed it and had a purpose in it. God sees no indwelling goodness in a spinal cord injury – or in cerebral palsy, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, or any other disease that leaves someone with a broken body. Instead, He uses situations like this for our good and His glory.

As it says in Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:28‬ ‭ESV).‬‬ These things in themselves are not good, but for His children they fit together into a pattern for our good. If we are His children, His purpose is to conform us into the image of His Son, Christ Jesus.

Looking back almost forty-nine years later, Joni says she can see many ways this accident has resulted in good. God used this injury to develop patience, endurance, tolerance, self-control, sensitivity, love and joy in her life.

Today, Joni is the leader of Joni and Friends International Disability Center, a ministry is dedicated to extending the love and message of Jesus Christ to people who are affected by disability around the world. She is also an internationally known mouth artist, a talented vocalist, a radio host, an author of 30 books for adults and 5 for children. She also writes on her blog Joni’s Corner, and is an advocate for disabled persons worldwide.

When I read Joni’s story, I see what a true journey of faith is like. And that’s how I want to live. Like Joni, I know what it is to have a broken body. Like Joni, I was in an accident, but my was in an automobile. My attempts at rehabilitation were more successful than Joni’s. But we also suffered the grief of losing our firstborn daughter in the accident.

We also have an adult son who has cerebral palsy and a long list of other diseases, that have left him completely bed bound and dependent upon others for all his needs. When I look at the Joni and Friends website, I see hundreds of children

So Joni’s story deeply touches my heart. From the place of total devastation, she has become an example for disabled people around the world. Through her writing, art, singing, and other ministries, numerous lives have been touched and changed. If you struggle with a disability or chronic illness that limits what you can do, learn from Joni’s story.

Reflecting on the life on Joni Eareckson Tada definitely makes me realize that I have no excuse for not fulfilling God’s purpose for my life. My prayer is that you will be encouraged by this story and will find joy in your journey of serving our Lord.

Tuesday at Ten logo

Tuesday at Ten logo

Tuesday at Ten: Forgive

What is it to forgive? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, it is:

  • to stop feeling anger toward someone who has done something wrong
  • to stop blaming someone
  • to stop feeling anger about something
  • to forgive someone for (something wrong
  • to stop requiring payment of (money that is owed)

Forgiveness is clearly taught in the Word of God, our Guidebook for Life. In fact, in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus said if we won’t forgive He won’t forgive us. I don’t know about you, but I need Jesus’ forgiveness.

The need to forgive is something most people believe in, but at the same time avoid because of how difficult it is. Instead of “waxing eloquent” about forgiveness, I decided to make some graphics on the subject, one of my favorite things to do. Some use my own words, some are anonymous quotes, and others quote well-known people. Between each graphic, I’m including quotes from Scripture of what Jesus and his followers had to say about this important subject.

Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.”‭‭ Luke‬ ‭11:4a‬ ‭NIV‬

“And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”  ‭‭Mark‬ ‭11:25‬ ‭NIV‬‬

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”   1 John‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NIV‬

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. ‭Colossians‬ ‭3:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.” Luke‬ ‭17:4‬ ‭NIV


“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”         Matthew‬ ‭18:32-35‬ ‭NIV‬‬




Coping with Chronic Illness

In Coping with Chronic Illness, by H. Norman Wright and Lynn Ellis, chronic illness is compared to having a career. “You can do poorly or well at it. Doing well doesn’t mean being cured; instead, it refers to your ability to cope and make needed adjustments.”

Until about ten months ago, I considered myself somewhat of an expert at coping with chronic illness. I had accepted my limitations, found ways to fulfill most of my goals, and was basically content with my life. And I’d walked this way for nearly forty years.

Then suddenly, things changed. My pain management doctor did an epidural steroid injection in my cervical spine, which was supposed to reduce my neck and shoulder pain.  But instead of the pain improving, it became worse. And for some reason that none of my doctors have identified, my overall condition was also much worse. I was left dealing with constant pain and a whole new set of limitations.

This is my personal story, but I suspect many of you have similar stories.  Chronic illnesses are seldom static. Once we learn to live with one level of debilitation, things often change and there are new problems to deal with. Knowing how to cope with today’s problems is essential.

What exactly is chronic illness?

According to the definition of the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, a chronic disease is one the lasts for 3 months or more, that generally cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication. Having a chronic illness often means living with “invisible” symptoms that no one but you sees, feels, or is aware of.

How can I cope with my chronic illness or illnesses?

It is possible to be realistic about the losses in our lives, and still live in joy, peace, hope, and awareness of the many ways the Lord is blessing us. We are His creation, made with a purpose we are called and empowered to fulfill. I believe this understanding is the key to coping with whatever chronic illness or illnesses God has allowed in your life.

Specific ideas for coping with chronic illness:

  1. Don’t try to bear the weight of chronic illness on your own. Find someone you can confide in. Participating in a support group such as God-Living Girls is a great way to do this.
  2. Seek medical help, and be willing to listen to your doctors. If you question a diagnosis, get a second opinion. Learn enough about your diagnoses to ask questions.
  3. Spend time daily talking with God in prayer and reading and meditating on His Word.
  4. Work to develop a positive attitude and a grateful heart, in spite of how you’re feeling.  Open your eyes to all the blessings in your life, and thank God daily for them.
  5. Hold onto the truth that God has not abandoned you. He is at your side, ready to strengthen you to successfully face anything that happens today.  Allow His perfect love to drive out your fear.
  6. Set realistic goals, taking your current physical and mental limitations in mind. Don’t expect to do everything you did prior to becoming ill. Don’t expect perfection. Be alert to times when you need to rest.
  7. Be willing to ask for help, when it’s truly needed.
  8. Look for new creative outlets that give you pleasure, such as writing, art, crafts, and music.
  9. Develop an eternal perspective. Remember, your years on the current earth are few when compared with eternity, so focus on living to please God.
  10. Finally, remember that YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR DISEASE OR DIAGNOSIS. You are God’s beloved daughter, created to fulfill His purpose for your life.

Chronic illness has changed our lives. We cannot do many of the things we used to be able to do. But this doesn’t have to keep us from walking in joy, being at rest in our current circumstances, or reaching out in love to others who are in need. We each are still a whole person, a person of value, unique and greatly loved by God. Our daily symptoms and physical limitations do not change this.  The above items aren’t rules to follow, in order to gain God’s approval. You already have that. And these aren’t the only things that will help you cope with chronic illness.  Perhaps you have your own word of advice on how to cope with chronic illness that has really helped you. If so, we’d love for you to share it with us in the comments.

Tuesday at Ten: Choose Wisely

We make hundreds of choices every day.  Some are of little consequence, such as which coffee mug I chose for my morning cup of coffee. Others may be life-changing, including the person we choose to marry. But no choice we ever make will be more important that the choice to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord of our lives. If you aren’t sure that you’ve made this choice, find someone you look up to as a mature Christian and talk this over with them. Without this assurance that you truly are a part of God’s family because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, none of the below steps will make sense to you.


The question of salvation was settled in my life many years ago. Yet I’m currently facing another major decision, one concerning my health, and my husband and I are in agreement that we need to hear from God before moving forward. After seven months of greatly increased pain, dizziness, and other symptoms, the spinal and neurosurgeon I was referred to has told me that the vertebrae in my neck and back are in such bad shape that surgery is my only option left for getting relief. Back surgery is risky, therefore my husband and I want to hear from God before we make a decision. So what I’m sharing today is not theoretical. The principles I’m sharing are practical steps to confirming the will of God in a situation such as this.

Proverbs 3:5-6, in the New Living Translation says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” But what is our part in the process of finding God’s will. These verses give the steps.

  • Trust in the Lord with all your heart. The Hebrew word translated trust means “to be confident and secure in someone,” in this case in the Lord. It includes the idea of picking up all my cares and concerns and throwing them on Him. And I am to do this wholeheartedly. James 1:5-8 promises: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.”
  • Do not depend on your own understanding. To depend on (lean on, in KJV), is to rest upon or put our confidence in something. We are not to rest in our limited understanding, intelligence, or discernment. Instead, we’re to rest in the Lord as we wait for His answer. “Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him.” (Psalm‬ ‭62:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬)
  • Seek his will in all you do. KJV words this “acknowledge Him in all your ways.”  The word for acknowledge means to know or be acquainted with someone. Another meaning is to turn the mind on someone or something. God seldom works in our timing, so to me this is instruction in what we are to do while we wait for His answer. We are to turn our focus on Him, not the subject for which we’re seeking an answer. And we are to seek to please God in all we do, not just to get Him to answer us but as a way of life. This is also a good time to become better acquainted with God, by studying His attributes or names that give us deeper revelation of who He really is.
  • He will show you which path to take. Unlike the first three points which are instructions, this final one is a promise. If we do the three steps listed above, God will smooth the path before us, will show us the best decision to make.  There are numerous verses that promise God will be faithful in showing us what choice to make in situations such as the one I’m currently facing, but one of my favorites is Hebrews 10:23,  “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”

We all make innumerable choices every day, most of little lasting importance.  But sometimes we need to make decisions that may have a major influence on our future. I’m currently facing such a choice, and some of you may be also. I hope you will join me in the decision to choose wisely, by doing it God’s way. Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.” Isaiah 46:10 tells us He knows the end from the beginning. Therefore, we can be confident He knows which path will take us where His perfect will is found. So let’s ask for wisdom, wait for His answer, then boldly and bravely start down that path.

Memorable Mondays: Blessing Others When You’re Hurting 

Today’s Memorable Monday book review and memorable quotes are from the book Soaring Above the Circumstances, by Dean Kilmer.

“More than 117 million people in our country are living with chronic illnesses. Taking into account their family members who provide them with care, almost everyone in our country is dealing with some form of serious illness.”

In spite of the fact that this book is primarily about chronic illness, it is an easy to read book, packed full of encouraging Bible verses and examples of several people in the Bible who “soared like an eagle” above their difficult circumstances by becoming a blessing to someone else.

The author, pastor of a church in Waxahachie, Texas, says he decided to write this book because “everywhere I look I see evidence of faith’s life-changing power.” This includes many from his own congregation “who are weary from years of fighting serious illnesses and yet are living victoriously.” Many of the true-life stories are filled with both faith and humor, and I throughly enjoyed reading it.

Pastor Kilmer gives four common characteristics of these men and women, young and old, whom he calls his heroes of faith:

  1. They all inspire others with their faith and actions.
  2. They all have great faith in God.
  3. They are all involved in serving other people in spite of their problems.
  4. They all know that God has a purpose for their lives.

I hope others can see all of these characteristics in my life, but honestly this book challenged me to look for more ways to bless others. Because of my physical problems, I can’t go and clean someone’s house. I can’t take someone to a doctor’s appointment. But I can send someone a card to encourage them. When someone is hurting or in the hospital, I can pray with them and send them a card to help them turn their focus upon the Lord. I don’t know where you are physically, but there are very few people who are too sick to be a blessing to someone else.


“The eagle does not fight the storm; it uses the wind to climb to safety. We need to learn not to be distressed by our illnesses; instead, we can use our struggles to fly closer to our God.”