courage

There's a Better View Ahead

Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God,” Luke 9:62.  

Change is never easy, but if we keep our eyes on what the Lord did BEFORE, we may not enjoy what He’s doing NOW, or WILL DO in the future.

You can’t keep looking back and still expect to move forward…safely.

This became clear to me when I took a drive to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. The road I was traveling had just two lanes, so going around curves were potentially dangerous.

There were several opportunities for stops along the way with scenic overlooks into the Shenandoah Valley…beautiful. I couldn’t take enough pictures.

But the Lord made it clear. If I stayed at the last scenic overlook, I would never get to the next highest point. If I tried to keep looking back when I drove forward, I could have crashed into oncoming traffic. With the increase in elevation, each overlook would have a better view than the last.

His plans ARE to prosper us. Just because we’re traveling down the road and don’t see a “scenic overlook” yet, we shouldn’t be discouraged or want to back-track for that matter, to the last stop. Press on, dear sisters! A spectacular view awaits you.

 

Heavenly Father,

Help me keep my eyes on you. Remind me, the best of my days lie ahead. Don’t allow me to settle for good, when you’re best is still to come. I love you. Thank you for giving me the courage to follow you.

Paying it Forward

This is Just a Season” was read by over 2,000 viewers on CREATED WOMAN this past year.  It was the story of forty-year-old Jenny Stark from Orange, Texas, and her journey with breast cancer.  Jenny’s courage to embrace breast cancer,  her desire to help others traveling down the same road, and her faith was truly a class act. Knowing that Jenny was going to have reconstructive surgery within a few months after that story, I wanted to do a follow-up article on her.  Discussing this with her, she told me that her surgery, called a TRAM-FLAP, was scheduled for October 10, 2011.  I suggested that we wait until after the surgery to let viewers know how she was doing.

Immediately, she replied:  “No, I don’t want this article to be about me and my surgery.”  “I want it to be about  Paying it Forward.”  “Paying it forward?”  I asked.  “Yes!”  “The knowledge I have learned through my own trials, equipped me in helping someone else through theirs.”  “It’s like passing the baton,” Jenny explained.

And so it was- - - this is where I picked up on Jenny’s story from last year of how Jenny went about Paying it Forward to a friend and former co-worker at the bank where Jenny had once been employed.

Like most women when they first hear the news from their local doctor that they have cancer, Jenny’s friend was shocked and afraid to proceed to the next step.  The next step called for her traveling two hours away from her home in Orange to M.D. Anderson Hospital in Houston, Texas, for more tests.  “I will go with you,” Jenny told her friend.

When she received word from her doctor that she would need Chemotherapy, Jenny went with her on her first treatment.  When she was given a Saturday appointment for a CT scan, Jenny volunteered to drive her.  When it came time to get the results of that test, her friend was too scared to receive the news herself over the phone.  Jenny placed the call with her to get the results one way or the other, so she wouldn’t have to wait the entire weekend with no results.

Jenny went so far as to fill in for her friend at the bank on a part time basis in her absence.  She wanted to relieve her of the worries or concerns that she may have, so she could totally focus on getting better.

Jenny emphasized the importance of making yourself available for the FIRST OF EVERYTHING to the one who has been diagnosed with cancer.”  “It’s not so much that you have to attach yourself permanently to that person,” Jenny explained.  “It’s a matter of being willing to be a servant, to be there for that person, whether it’s driving them to their  appointments, or just answering their questions.”  “In short, make yourself available to do everything that is in your power for them in their time of need.”

Jenny also introduced her friend to the  “Do and Don’t list when faced with cancer, as she had detailed in This is Just a Season. (linked above) Jenny very emphatically reiterates two that she feels strongly about:

1.  Don’t get on the internet when your doctor confirms that you have cancer.  Everyone’s breast cancer is unique; what you find on the internet may not apply to you.  Besides, it only creates anxiety to find information that might not even apply to your situation. Let your doctor explain to you the steps to be followed according to your specific situation. He will also keep you at the point where you need to be in at the present time.

2.  Do ask God for direction in choosing the right hospital, and follow the doctor’s orders in charge“You see, it works like this,” Jenny explained.  “There is a big difference when faced with making crucial decisions based on our emotions rather than on praying and asking God for directions.”  “As we receive directions from God, He will guide us to the right hospital, as well as the right doctors whom he has given wisdom and skill.”  “God, the hospital, and the doctor work as a team in restoring your health.”

As Jenny and I talked on in general about the storms of life that come to all of us at times, I marveled at her insight and wisdom of how to walk through those storms and not become a victim to them.   “Wow, you are so wise!” I exclaimed.  She laughed and then gave me an illustration, using her hands in a lowered position, then in an upward position.

 “You are never down; you are either up or getting up.”  If you are getting up, you are moving in an upward position.  Picture yourself moving in the direction toward God.  If you are down, you are not moving at all, so always be leaning towards Him or on Him.”

We glanced at our watches and two hours had passed since our conversation had begun.  I could have lingered in her presence another two hours gleaning wisdom from her. We  prayed together for her upcoming reconstructive surgery, and as we were saying our goodbyes, Jenny remarked:  “I had no idea what I was going to say when I met with you today.”  “I had no notes; I just knew I wanted to talk about my friend, and my journey with her this past year.”

My thought was:  Jenny didn’t need any notes.  Her heartfelt message poured out from within of her desire and hope that she had helped her friend.

I personally believe that God is smiling down on Jenny saying:

“You have answered The Discipleship Call.  You have BELIEVED, LIVED, LOVED, MINISTERED, and LEAD your friend through her journey with cancer this past year.”

Well Done!”  “I am pleased with my servant, Jenny.”

“You Paid it Forward!”

I Can Handle It

I can handle it and figure it all out on my own. If I mess up, I do not need anyone to help me.  I am strong enough and capable to turn it around and make it right.  I know the exact time when things need to be done according to the clock, day, week, month and even year. That WAS the story of my life. My need to be morally perfect and in control caused me internal frustration, hopelessness and missed opportunities for deeper relationships. 

 All of my life, I have had a desire to do the right thing. I prided myself in “keeping it together”.  However, when I could not keep it together and failed in certain areas of my life, I was too embarrassed and shameful to ask for help.  I KNEW if I tried really hard I COULD do it without the help of anyone, including giving it to God.  After all, I needed to TRY and please Him.  This struggle left me feeling like a failure more than once.  It was only when I realized I was powerless by myself and took the courage to ask for help, I became secure in who I was as a woman and more confident with myself than trying to do it alone.

 After many years of infertility, multiple miscarriages and trying to “fix” things in my marriage on my own, I had to realize there are things in my life I can not control.  I had to be willing to submit those things to God and give up my fears, my timelines and plans of how I think it should be done.  For someone who prided herself on being organized, on time and prepared for any situation, the lack of control in certain areas of my life left me feeling hopeless. The internal battle of not being able to figure it out on my own was exhausting.

 What a happy day when I really understood what is now my life’s scripture

Philippians 1:6

For He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Jesus Christ.

What a relief. I am not expected to have it ALL together. God knows we are going to fail, so why shouldn’t we expect it of our self.

As a Fitness and Wellness coach, My purpose in life is to work with women who want to overcome the helpless feeling of not knowing how to maintain their weight and consistency in their fitness.

I understand the feelings of having control and discipline in so many areas of life, yet struggling internally in one area that is so important to a woman.

My heart is to empower women to feel confident in their choices with food and exercise and not allow this one area to dominate her thoughts.

I am passionate about helping women to overcome their fear of failure and to feel secure in all areas of their life by establishing a healthy lifestyle, no matter how BUSY life gets.

Facing Another Dark Valentine’s Day? How ‘bout a little light…

Let’s face it, Valentine’s Day can be really hard. I remember a few years in particular that were gut-wrenching for me.  I got so annoyed with those stupid jewelry commercials. I had to leave the room when they came on.  I went out of my way to avoid the Hallmark store. I remember watching The Notebook and feeling utterly lost in the heart-break of my own story.  The last thing on earth I wanted to see was someone else’s romance.  My happily-ever-after seemed trashed and life was very dark. But, there was a light that shined into my darkness. If you’ve faced another Valentine’s Day alone, or you are in a difficult place in your relationship, allow me to share a little light:

You, LORD, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.

Psalm 18:28

Know that God is in the business of turning darkness into light. It’s nice to know that you don’t have to do that yourself. You don’t have to make yourself shine-y. Allow God to shine on you.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God…my Savior…Psalm 42:11

It’s helpful to talk to yourself! The Psalmist did it all the time. Put your hope in God. There is nothing to hard for Him. When life comes crashing in around you – that’s exactly when you need a Savior!

Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for and hope for and expect the Lord! Psalm 31:24 AMP

Let your heart take courage. Wait. Hope. Expect.  Some relationships end. Sometimes, it just feels like the end.  But this is not the end for you! There is always a new beginning with God!

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned… Isaiah 43:2

The key word here is THROUGH.  Whatever you are facing, there is an “other side.” God so sweetly beckoned my wounded heart with this verse.  Just Keep Walkin’ Baby. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and you will make it THROUGH.

Lynn Marie Cherry has a heart to encourage women towards freedom and plant seeds of hope. She enjoys sharing insight from God’s word and the world around her. She has been married for almost 20 years to the same great guy, they have two amazing boys. You can read more at http://lynnmariecherry.blogspot.com/