A Half-Truth is the Most Cowardly of Lies

Today started out dreary.  When we made our way to the car this morning, we were both soaked by heavy rain.  I didn’t say anything to Kelly as I took his hand.  As we always do when we start our journeys to the UNC Cancer Hospital, we pray:  for our safety, for the safety of those we leave behind, for the safety of others drivers that we encounter on the road, for the witness we may be called to provide to those we meet along the way…and for Kelly’s blood work to be good.

Image Credit:  www.collectwallpaper.com

Never before today have I ridden to Chapel Hill with a heavy heart.  Never before have I been scared of what the outcome of Kelly’s blood tests might be.  Since the first time he went into remission, I have always been secure in the fact that God has more for Kelly to do on this earth and that God intends to keep Kelly healthy to serve Him.

Photo Credit:  http://alccorting.wordpress.com

But today the devil lied to me, yet again, and I believed him for a while.  All he had to whisper today was “What if?

Lie #3:  What if ______________?

Today, my “what if” was:  what if the blood work shows that the leukemia is back?  The hematology clinic where they take Kelly’s blood always has patients in various stages of the cancer process.  Today, it seemed there were more people who had lost their hair, or their ability to walk on their own, or had to wear a mask because they were in a neutropenic state and could not afford to come in contact with germs of any kind.

Kelly During Chemotherapy – December 2010

We were blessed again today with good numbers and a vote of confidence from the doctor:  instead of coming every six weeks for follow-ups, Kelly can come every three months.

Oh, how my faith faltered this day.  And not because what the devil presented me with was something that I recognized as an out-right lie, such as “God doesn’t love you, Sandy,” but because it was what I initially perceived as a half-truth.  There is always the chance of recurrence with cancer.  It happens every day.  In fact, most cancer patients will tell you that the initial cancer diagnosis isn’t as scary as the thought that it might come back.

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Be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid of them and don’t be frightened, because the Lord your God will go with you. He will not leave you or forget you.  Deuteronomy 31:6 (New Century Version)

On our ride home, God would not let me rest until I realized what He was trying to teach me:  if it’s a half-truth, it’s still a lie.  This is perhaps Satan‘s most successful tool — the “What if” lie.  He takes something that is real in our lives and creates a half-truth with it.  Our job is to remember that even if he uses real circumstances, his half-truth is still a lie.

Image Credit:  www.s723.photobucket.com

What, you may ask, would I have done if the numbers had not been good?  I would have been shocked.  I would have been upset.  I would have cried.  But I would have been all these things on my knees.  I would have called on my family to pray.  I would have contacted my friends and church family and asked them to pray.  But I would not have been weak about it like I was on the ride to Chapel Hill today.  If God gives me the chance, I will never make that trip with a weak heart again.

So my dear brothers and sisters, stand strong. Do not let anything move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your work in the Lord is never wasted.  1 Corinthians 15:58 (New Century Version)

Photo Credit:  www.photo.net

My dear friends — what’s your “What if?”

shr

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Too

Image Credit:  http://doroteos2.wordpress.com

This is the lie that probably affects me the most.

Lie #3:  I’m too _____________.

You can fill this in with

  • old
  • young
  • nervous
  • inexperienced
  • busy
  • uneducated
  • shy
  • damaged
  • unworthy
  • untalented
  • sinful
  • set in my ways

 There are probably a million other words that you can put in that blank, but they all mean the same thing — that you feel limited in some way.  This lie hurts me because it makes me feel inadequate and I hate to feel inadequate.

Because He was full of grace and truth, from Him we all received one gift after another.  John 1:16 (NCV)

Image Credit:  www.wallpaper4god.com

The good news is I serve a big, mighty God who more than makes up for my inadequacies.  John spoke of the gifts God gives out of His abundance in the above Scripture.

Every good action and every perfect gift is from God. These good gifts come down from the Creator of the sun, moon, and stars, who does not change like their shifting shadows.  James 1:17 (NCV)

Ever been caught during that time when the brightness of the day suddenly changes to shadowy twilight?  It can be a little unsettling.  We live by a wooded area in the house that is my childhood home.  As a little girl, there were times when the shadows came a little earlier during the wintertime and I would be caught by the woods. My heart would beat fast and I would sing “Jesus Loves Me” as loud as I could as I ran back to the safety of my home with the warm glow of the lights in the windows.  God is like that warm glow — He never changes even though our world may be topsy-turvy around us.

Image Credit:  www.donotdepart.com

My God will use his wonderful riches in Christ Jesus to give you everything you need.  Philippians 4:19 (NCV)

And so what if I’m inadequate?  We all are.  The greatest reassurance we have is that God will bridge that gap between what we have and what we need.

So whatever your “too” is, rest assured  it’s nothing our God cannot handle.

shr

Image Credit:  www.photobucket.com

How Can I Keep from Singing: Let It Rise

Image Credit:  http://mysticgirl.wordpress.com/2010/09/13/i-hate-mondays/

Yesterday was definitely a Monday.  After such a wonderful weekend at our church picnic on Saturday and a phenomenal worship experience on Sunday at church, Monday came down like a thousand-pound weight.  And I got caught under all that weight.

There wasn’t anything earth-shatteringly bad.  It was just a bunch of little things that culminated in this massive burden.  I know I’m not alone in this.  I know that you must feel like this at times.  All these little annoyances:

  • Trying to make a purchase only to find that my card is invalid.  There was questionable activity on the card, so instead of calling me, the bank invalidates the card for my protection.  That’s great…except that all those “questionable” charges were made by me. (I’d been purchasing materials for our upcoming “Mom After God’s Own Heart” Bible study. The bank’s security department said there were too many charges within a specific period of time.  I just think it was the devil trying to discourage me.)
  • Kelly arguing with me about little things   This is so uncharacteristic of this patient, non-confrontational man.  It’s usually me doing the arguing.  I admit that I can knit-pick with the best of them.  Kelly never does.  I almost felt like I was in the Twilight Zone.
  • A cancelled nail appointment.  I don’t have many vices and even less vanity purchases but the one thing I do enjoy is getting my nails done and having a pedicure at the beginning of sandal season.  The appointment was cancelled for a good reason and the nail tech rescheduled it for the end of this week.  But as I looked at my gross feet yesterday with the toenails so long they could be considered lethal weapons, it was just an added disappointment.
  • No wipes in the diaper bag.  While out and about running errands, Joshlyn needed a diaper change.  In the worst way.  I found no wipes in the diaper bag and it was my fault because I didn’t check before I left the house.  It was not pretty — let’s just leave it at that.
  • Trying to come up with dinner plans when I did not plan for dinner.  I’m usually very good about planning dinner because it’s one of the ways we’ve been able to live on less with Kelly being on short-term disability.  When I plan for dinner, no one has to order a pizza or make a border run to Taco Bell.  At 5:30pm, I realized that, in my rush to go out and run errands all day long, I had not given a single thought to late day sustenance.  So, everybody sort of fended for themselves — sandwiches, left-over grilled chicken, and chips, and some peanut butter on crackers.  Not really a bad thing, but I felt a bit guilty. 
  • Lying down for just a “minute” at 6:30pm and waking up this (Tuesday) morning at 6:30am.  And not posting on Monday!  I even had a blog draft ready to go for publishing.  Oh, well…

Fill us with your love every morning.  Then we will sing and rejoice all our lives.  We have seen years of trouble.  Now give us as much joy as you gave us sorrow.  Psalms 90:14-15 (New Century Version)

So, as I made my way to pick up Joshlyn and Casey this morning, I was feeling down — the weight of all of Monday’s problems still pressing against me.  I dropped Casey off at work and she gave me this huge hug and says, “I love you so much.”  (A little weight lifts and my spirit perks up.)  

On the way home, Joshlyn was making these sweet baby sounds.  I remembered to thank God for my beautiful granddaughter and said a little prayer for her as I drove home.  (My spirit is lighter now.)

On the radio, the DJ said, “Here’s little something for your spirit this morning.”  Big Daddy Weave starts singing “Let It Rise” in his bold, slightly raspy voice and it’s almost as if the voice of God said, “That was yesterday.  This is today.  I need you present in the things I have planned for you, so let your praises rise.”

So I will praise you, Lord, among the nations.   I will sing praises to your name.  2 Samuel 22:50 (NCV)

I knew that the draft I had planned to share today would have to wait.  This was a teachable moment for me.  I always advise others to “Let go and let God.”  Today I’m practicing what I preach.

Image Credit:  www.oneyearbibleblog.com

“Let It Rise” (Big Daddy Weave)

shr

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Music of My Heart: Joe Lupton

When I taught school, I was pretty brazen.  If I wanted something, I was not afraid to ask for it.  If the answer was “No”, I was not afraid to ask again…and again…and again, until the person usually just said “Yes” to shut me up. (I didn’t realize how annoying this trait was until I had children.)

Image Credit:  http://hamsandwich66.blogspot.com

In this post, I want to introduce you to someone who bolstered my faith and definitely knows how to “Faith It Forward.” His name is Joe Lupton.

I spent some of my student teaching at J. W. Seabrook Elementary School in Fayetteville, NC.  This school was special to me because it’s where I attended elementary school.  My supervising teacher in the spring of 1984 was the great Frances Piland.  I learned so much from her and my teaching style mimics hers.  She knew how to get to a student by any means necessary — even if it meant paying for a child’s field trip or making sure a child ate breakfast in the mornings at school because she knew that there had been nothing for supper at his house the night before.  That is a teacher who is worth more than her weight in gold.

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After I had taught at Eastover-Central Elementary School for the first five years of my career, I got a chance to come “home” to Seabrook.  It was my first experience teaching sixth grade, but I found that I loved it.  Although my degree was elementary education, we had music in my classroom every single day.  In fact, it became the greatest disciplinary tool in my arsenal:  misbehave during the day = no music for you.  I rarely had disciplinary problems and I attribute a lot of this rare phenomenon to music.

During the 1989-90 school year, I had an exceptionally musical class.  Around Thanksgiving of 1989, one of my most animated students, Duane Tabb said, “Mrs. Rosser, you ever thought about doing some Michael Jackson?”  Until that moment, I hadn’t, but if I could hook some students with MJ and if I could find the right song, I thought I’d give it a try.

Image Credit:  www.free-scores.com

One day after the Christmas holidays, I stopped for gas at the convenience store.  Low and behold, there was a MJ cassette tape on sale in a little rack beside the cash register.  It was $1.99 and I bought it.  On that tape was Man in the Mirror.  As I listened to it, I knew that this song would be the song to teach my kids.  Kristian Johnson, another student, brought me a tape of From a Distance by Bette Midler.  Both were wonderful songs with messages that taught Christian concepts.

Image Credit:  www.chartstats.com

These kids learned the songs with such expertise.  They added dance moves and sign language.  It was amazing.  One day, our principal stopped by and listened to us.  Mr. Strickland was so impressed he asked us to sing at the final PTA meeting in May.

In 1990, the choice of karaoke tapes was very slim.  I couldn’t find MJ or Bette.  So, I thought about who I could get to play this on the piano so the kids could sing without words on a tape.  I had met the choral teacher at Stedman Junior High School just once, but his piano talent was widely known in our neck of the woods.  That was when I decide to ask Joe, choral teacher and pianist extraordinaire, to come and be our accompanist for the evening.

Image Credit:  www.dimensionsguide.com

I called him after school one day in late March and asked him if he’d consider doing this for me.  Without a single second of hesitation, this man who didn’t really know me from Adam, said “When is the performance?  I’d be glad to.”   (I was SHOCKED!  It was a big favor for a casual acquaintance.)  But as it happened, our final PTA meeting fell on the same day as his spring choral concert.  (My heart fell.)  Then Joe said, “If you’ll send me the sheet music by the school courier, I’ll make you a tape.”  (Again, I was simply without words for the generosity of this man, and for those of you who know me, I’m NEVER without words.)

 

Credit Image:  www.brucemctague.com

He did this huge favor for me (and even provided a better cassette tape than I sent him because he knew that tape quality affected the sound of the music).  He barely knew me.  But he did it.  I have always been touched that he would take time out of his day (and money out of his pocket for the cassette tape) to play two songs for a brazen teacher and her sixth graders.

Image Credit:  www.cafepress.com

Joe is now the organist at Pleasant Grove UMC in Durham, NC.  He has touched hundred of students in his teaching career.   He’s still the same amazing person and a superb musician…and he’s fighting pancreatic cancer.  He has good days and bad days.  But he’s a fighter.  You can follow him on his blog, The Big C, Not Middle C.

 Jesus answered, “The most important command is this: ‘Listen, people of Israel! The Lord our God is the only Lord.   Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second command is this: ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’ There are no commands more important than these.”  Mark 12:31-32 (New Century Version)

Joe’s act of kindness is the essence of what Christ teaches, and I’m so glad that Joe is my brother in Christ.  He recognized me as his neighbor and then did what Jesus would have done.   I mentioned this memory to him the other day and he exclaimed, “I’d forgotten about that!”  I never have.  And I never will.

 Joe Lupton  (photo credit: his)

I want to ask you to pray from my friend, Joe.  Cancer is tough, but God is tougher.

And Joe, I just want to say, “Thank you.  You made a difference in my life.”

shr

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He’s a Liar and the Truth Ain’t in Him

I think this describes the devil pretty well.  This is the second week of our Bible study exposing the lies that Satan uses to keep us from being the person God wants us to be.  I want to acknowledge both my Southern grandmothers, Eula Mae Carter and Alice Westbrook, for introducing me to the catchy little phrase I’ve used for today’s title and for being wonderful servants of God — they considered Satan the king of all liars.

Lie #2:  I’m just going to fail anyway.

Other forms of this lie are:

    • No one really cares anyway.
    • I don’t have any will power.
    • I’m afraid.
    • This is just hopeless.
    • This is probably a bad idea.

You cannot imagine how often the devil said these statements to me over and over when I decided to get healthy.  Previously, it’s the lie that has kept me from attending exercise classes at my church, sharing my health concerns with friends, and it derailed every effort toward losing weight I’ve attempted in the last ten years.

To share a mini-update about my progress:  I am still at 193 pounds but I have continued to lose inches in my chest, waist, and hips.  Can you believe that I’ve almost considered this a FAILURE?  Am I crazy or what?  And once, when someone noticed the obvious change in my physique, I heard me say, “I feel like I should have lost more weight by now.”  Sabotage at its best!

When I decided to post a “before” picture in my first post about getting healthy (see related articles below), it was with great fear and trepidation.  The whole time I kept hearing, Who is going to care that you are losing weight? No one wants to hear about this!

But I did it anyway and I want to share some statements and Scriptures that I use frequently to shut the devil up.  I love to stop him in his tracks and the Word of God does just that.

1.  God is always on my side.  I am never alone.

He gives strength to those who grow tired and increases the strength of those who are weak. Even young people grow tired and become weary, and young men will stumble and fall.  Yet, the strength of those who wait with hope in the Lord will be renewed.  They will soar on wings like eagles.  They will run and won’t become weary.  They will walk and won’t grow tired.  Isaiah 40:29-31 (GOD’S WORD translation)

And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.  John 16:32b (21st Century KJV)

2.  I have the power to do anything because of God’s power.

 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Ephesians 6:10 (NLT)

 I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength.  Philippians 4:13 (New Century Version)

3.  God’s grace allows me to have the strength to attempt anything.

Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 2:1 (21st Century KJV)

4.  As long as I have breath, I have hope.

Be strong and take heart,  all you who hope in the LORD.  Psalm 31:24 (NIV)

5.  When I’m weak, Christ is strong.  (I learned this from “Jesus Loves Me,” did you?)

I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.  2 Corinthian 12:10 (The Message)

6.  I cannot fail if I put my faith in Jesus.

The LORD is righteous in her midst, He will do no unrighteousness. Every morning He brings His justice to light; He never fails.  Zephaniah 3:5 (NKJV)

Some people brought to him a paralyzed man on a mat. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “Be encouraged, my child! Your sins are forgiven.”  Matthew 9:2 (NLT)

“Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.   Matthew 16:28 (NLT)

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.  Colossians 2:7 (NLT)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.   2 Timothy 2:7 (NLT)

 

Failure should never be your first thought when you attempt something.  I’m learning to take my healthy eating and increased activity (I’m not sure it’s really exercise yet, except for Zumba on Tuesday and Thursday nights) one step at a time.  I am human and sometimes I deviate from what is healthy — or as I have referred to it in the past, cheated on my diet.  However, I’m not dieting.  I’m making a lifestyle change toward health, just as I have made a decision for my lifestyle to be one of praise and worship for my Savior.

How do you handle failure?  What are some of your tricks or tips for getting back on track when you’ve deviated? 

And let me know if you’d be interested in sharing some really yummy, healthy recipes!  I’ll share if some and I’d love to read your “yummy-best recipes” in the comment section!

shr

Image/Photo Credits:  www.leadingsmart.com, http://lucyinnovation.wordpress.com, www.picturedepot.com, www.losingweightdiets.com, www.fno.org, www.hellosaver.com, & www.poemsbycc.com

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“How Can I Keep from Singing:  Beautiful”  http://wp.me/p22liv-aI

“Jesus Loves Me, This I Know – Satan Hates Me, This I Know, Too”  http://birdmartin.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/jesus-loves-me-this-i-know-satan-hates-me-this-i-know-too/

Let God But In”  http://edithpont.com/2012/05/15/let-god-but-in/

“STOP! 2 POUNDS –> -2”  http://futureflyingsaucers.wordpress.com/2012/05/14/stop-2-pounds-2/

The Song We Were Singing: Revelation Song

It’s that time again…time for my friend Jodie to bring us a message from her blog www.jodiebailey.com   If you’ve never read one of Jodie’s posts before, she loved music like I do.  My “How Can I Keep from Singing?” posts on Monday were inspired by her “The Song We Were Singing” posts (also on Mondays).  I love to bring you her perspective.  She has a heart for God and a way with words.    I’ll be back on Wednesday with lie #2 that keeps us from being all that God wants us to be!  Sandy

 

Photo Credit:  www.home.messiah.edu

I know that Sandy has been writing about Scripture songs.  It just so happens that the song of my heart this week is straight out of Scripture.  In fact, it’s straight out of one of my favorite books in the whole Bible.

Revelations.

It’s funny to me that it wasn’t always that way.  When I was younger, Revelations scared me so much I was afraid to even see it in my Bible, let alone read a word of it.  But then one day,  I read it.  And then I read Max Lucado’s When Christ Comes.  Suddenly, Revelations was not scary.  It was beautiful.

Revelation 4 is an incredible chapter. The heavens open wide. God on His throne.  The angels singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, Who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8b NIV).  Compelled to praise because He is so amazing and incredible. I can hardly keep my fingers from trembling just typing that.  If you get the emotion behind it, even once, it will never leave you.  God receiving His rightly deserved praises.

There is something about singing “Revelation Song” that takes me there.  When I close my eyes and sing it, it’s almost like I can hear the angels in harmony.  There is that moment when I know that those exact words are being sung in the very face-to-face presence of my King.  Oh my word.  Like the song (and Sandy!) says, “How can I keep from singing?”

-JB

“Revelation Song”  (Phillips, Craig, & Deanhttp://youtu.be/YTGqmMG3Eyo