Reblog: How I Balance Faith and Medicine and Exams

At least we made it this far...

Check out this fantastic post by  Nathan called Lessons from Psychiatry Part 1: How I Balance Faith and Medicine and Exams.

Seriously.  Read it now.

I read this and I thought… Wow… Here is a lesson I have learned over and over again.  And a lesson I forget more often than I should given the number of times that I should have learned it.

Over the last few weeks with my exams and presentations and relationships all seeming to want to demand my attention, my relationship with God has been a struggle for me.  It came up at small group, it came up in my own (very rare) Bible reading.   It came up everywhere.

And really, my relationship with God should not be a struggle.  It should be something I work at.  Something that I want to have.  But, really, I think it shouldn’t be a struggle.

And…

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Fighting Fear with Faith and Hope

Bone.  Marrow.  Biopsy.

Three words I hoped I’d never hear again.  But that’s where we were on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at the UNC Cancer Hospital when Kelly’s blood work numbers came back askew.   Not all the numbers were bad.  In fact, all the numbers were in the normal range — except for the one number that really counts, his absolute neutrophils.  Neutrophils are white blood cells that fight off infection.  Kelly’s neutrophil number was 1, meaning he had about 1,000 of those cells to fight off infection in his body.  That’s a problem because normal absolute neutrophils will range from 1.8 to 7.7.  In July, his absolute neutrophil number was 4.2 — the best it’s been since he went into remission.  When he was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, his neutrophil number was 0.

Neutrophils.jpgNeutrophils (The most abundant white blood cells in most mammals.)

Image Source:  www.wikipedia.com

When we were discussing options, Dr. Foster looked at Kelly and said, “Another bone marrow biopsy is an option.  I know a biopsy is uncomfortable.”

Uncomfortable,” Kelly replied wryly.  “Is when your underwear rides up.  Bone marrow biopsies are excruciating.  But it’s the only way we’ll know for sure what’s going on, so let’s do it.”

So, this past Monday, two years, ten months, and 27 days from the first time he had a bone marrow biopsy, he lay on a gurney at the UNC Cancer Hospital having his sixth one.  He was face down, waiting patiently while Dr. Van (his other cancer doctor) was preparing the site where the needle would be inserted.  I was holding his hand and it just didn’t seem like it was enough, so I got on my knees by the gurney and laid my head next to his so that we could be face to face.

Image Source:  www.riversideonline.com

We prayed.  We cried.  He gasped in pain as they numbed his hip.  Silent tears rolled down his cheeks as Dr. Van used three separate vials to aspirate marrow samples.

Image Source:  www.bing.com

It’s hard to watch the man who is your earthy rock go through so much pain.  It makes you feel so small.  And I remembered several scriptures and began to pray them:

 All you who put your hope in the Lord be strong and brave.  (Psalm 31:24, NCV)

Always respect the Lord.  Then you will have hope for the future, and your wishes will come true. (Proverbs 23:17b-18, NCV)

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.  (Isaiah 40:31, NIV)

Be joyful because you have hope. Be patient when trouble comes, and pray at all times.  (Roman 12:12, NCV)

When I had no more words, I sang.

I sang “How Great is Our God*” by Chris Tomlin.

I sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness*.”

I sang “He is with Us*,” by Love and the Outcome.

I sang “Amazing Grace*,” which led into “Amazing Grace/My Chains are Gone*,” by Chris Tomlin.

We were holding each other’s hands so tightly that our fingers were white.  So I poured out my tears, a language that only God truly understands.  And in near silence, Dr. Van continued to work.

Image Source:  www.bing.com

And Kelly broke the silence, not with a gasp of pain, but with these prayerful words, sung so softly that I might have missed it if I hadn’t been so close to him:

In seasons of despair and grief, my soul has often found relief… I’ll cast on Him my every care, and wait for thee, sweet hour of prayer.*”

Almost immediately, Dr. Van said, “There is power in the Blood.  And I know that you both know that God has this — either way.”

I usually write something about weight loss on Wednesday — physical weight loss.  Today’s post is about losing the weight of a spiritual burden.  I took a great deal of fear with me into that procedure room, but I came out feeling light and full of hope.

What will the biopsy show?  We don’t know.  But we know God’s got this — either way.

*To listen to each song, just click on the title.  “Sweet Hour of Prayer” is sung by George Beverly Shea, who for years was the voice of the music at all the Billy Graham Crusades.  Kelly loves Billy Graham and loved to hear GBS sing.

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Carb Cycling at Your Fingertips: Chris Powell’s “FREE” App

Carb cycling is how I’ve lost 34 pounds since January 2013.  I’ve tried to describe what it is and how to do it here on LBTK. Some of the comments I’ve gotten are encouraging, but a few have said, “Sounds too complicated!” or “The book is $20 — I’m on a budget!”

Well, what may have seemed complicated is now easy-as-pie.  And what may have been an expense you couldn’t afford is now FREE! The Vemma Nutrition company has teamed up with Chris Powell, transformation specialist on “Extreme Weight Loss” and author of Choose More, Lose More for Life, to make carb cycling simple.  Chris and his wife, Heidi (who is also a trainer and a working mom) have created a resource that is so complete, it’s impossible to get it wrong!  Vemma and the Powells have created an app for smartphones, Vemma Bod-e.  It’s free!  And it will “hold your hand” (so to speak) as you go through your week of eating. (Please ignore the fact that I misspelled my own last name, LOL!)

Settings on the Vemma App
Settings on the Vemma App

Even though I’ve been carb cycling for almost ten months, I decided to try this app — and it’s amazing.  Every day, you can see what your eating plan is.  You can set your wake-up time and it makes an eating schedule for you based on that information. My wake-up time is 7:00 am.  The app sends me a message to remind me to eat breakfast.  At 10:00 am, I get a reminder to have a mid-morning snack and gives me great suggestions about what to eat.  At 1:00 pm, I get a message reminding me to eat lunch, with suggestions based on whether it’s a low carb day or a high carb day.  At 4:00 pm, I get another message reminder with suggestions for my afternoon snack.  Then at 7:00 pm, I receive my last reminder with food suggestions.

My Day 2 Schedule (Low Carb)
My Day 2 Schedule (Low Carb)

Every day, I can go to the “Tip of the Day” and watch a short video from Chris and Heidi (usually about 2 minutes long) and get a great eating tip and a word of encouragement.

My Message Board

When I downloaded the app, I looked over the eating plan and if I didn’t like a suggestion on the app, I “clicked” on the arrow to the right of each food choice and could choose from 8-10 more suggestions.  If I don’t like any of those, I simply choose a meal or snack based on whether it’s a low carb or high carb day.  After I chose my menu for the week, I clicked on “Grocery List” in the settings and the app put together a list of all the foods I needed to buy for my week of carb cycling.

My Grocery List - Week 1
My Grocery List – Week 1

The meal and snack suggestions come with RECIPES! (Also found in settings)

My Lunch for Today
My Lunch for Today
A Mid-Morning Snack Option -- Ham & Cheese Roll-ups (Low Carb Day)
A Mid-Morning Snack Option — Ham & Cheese Roll-ups (Low Carb Day)

When you download the app, your meal plan will start the next day, giving you 24 hours to get ready.  There is a place for you to list your current weight, your current measurements, and your weight loss goals.  My goals were to keep losing on the carb cycling plan and be more active.

My Current Stats
My Current Stats

One of my favorite perks with this app was the ability to sign up to receive updates from a REAL, LIVE PERSON.  My coach is Jim Klunk and he lives in Kentucky.  He’s not just a coach — he’s carb cycling with me.  Jim has coronary artery disease and was diagnosed in 2006 with MS.  Because of his inability to work out like everyone else, he consistently gained weight over the last decade.  He found out about carb cycling and presented the information to his heart doctor, who immediately approved of the eating plan.  Without going to the gym, and by just being active a few minutes a day, Jim lost 25 pounds on the carb cycling eating plan.  He’s still working at it every day.  He does a lot of research and when he finds a great eating or work-out tip, he drops me an email and a word of encouragement.  This week, his suggestion was to add turmeric to my shakes and meals — it’s been shown in studies to help women burn up to 6 extra pounds a week!

Vemma Nutrition sells an assortment of supplements for weight loss.  Chris Powell has partnered with them to bring a special formula of proteins, healthy carbohydrates, and fats to the Bod-e shake mix.  I’d never tried this before and Jim sent me a sample of the Chris Powell Bod-e Shake and a free DVD with Chris and Heidi’s best tips for weight loss — BOTH FREE!

My Free Sample of Bod-e Shake

My Free DVD
My Free DVD

The shake mix is delicious!  And it’s cheaper than the protein shake mix I normally buy at Wal-Mart.  So, I ordered a bag of the vanilla shake mix (it’s extremely versatile — add fruit or any flavoring you want to the vanilla and you can have a different flavor every day for breakfast).  You can mix it with either water or milk (I use almond milk).  At first, I didn’t sign up for auto-delivery, but after using the mix for two weeks, I knew I wasn’t going back to the other protein shake mix.  If you are interested in receiving a free sample of the shake mix and a free DVD, please send your name and address to my friend, Jim, at jimklunk1@aol.com and he will send them to you in the mail for FREE — NO DELIVERY CHARGES, NO POSTAGE & HANDLING, AND NO STRINGS ATTACHED! 

Those of you who are regular readers know that I don’t promote anything without an excellent reason.  In fact, I rarely promote anything on this blog.  If I find a new product that’s worthy of your time and money, I share it.  I’m also not one for spending lots of money to lose weight (sorry Nutri-System, I can cook my own food) or on gimmicky items for weight loss and fitness (you will never see me recommend an electric belt that “works” your abs for you).  What I write about and recommend to you, I always have checked out and tried myself — including books to read, recipes to make, fitness equipment, and weight loss information.  I don’t get paid to recommend anything.  If you’re interested in the Chris Powell Shake Mix (in either vanilla or chocolate), you can click here to order.  Chris Powell has developed other products for Vemma as well and they all carry his name.  THE ONLY PRODUCT THAT I HAVE TRIED IS THE SHAKE MIX.  I cannot comment on any other products because I’ve not tried them, but you can check all of the products out when you click here.

So, when I tell you that this app is FREE, EASY, and WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE, I hope you know I’m speaking from personal experience that has brought me true success.

Best of all, if you get off track on the carb cycling plan, there is a RE-SET BUTTON on the app!  Nothing is set in stone.  You can always have another chance — as many chances as you need.  Isn’t that what a healthy lifestyle is all about — getting back on the horse when it bucks you off? Not giving up because you had a bad day (or week or month)?

If you download and check out the app, will you leave a comment and tell me what you think?

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Faith It Forward: Tricia Edwards Smith

O death, where is your victory?  Where is your power to hurt? (1 Corinthians 15:55 ERV)

Thursday, October 17, 2013, the angels came to collect my friend, Tricia, and escort her home to Jesus.  Her long and arduous fight with cancer was done.  After years of praying for it, she was finally healed.

Todd & Tricia

Image Source:  www.facebook.com/tricia.smith

But her fight has not been in vain.  In her fight to live, I saw an extreme display of faith that has forever changed me. I watched as her family, her church, and her community rallied around her to offer her strength through prayer and an outpouring of love through deeds of kindness.  The irony of it all is that while we were offering Tricia our strength, she was giving us hers.

Her husband Todd, and sons Carter, Aaron, and Nathan brought her such joy and she was the light of their world.  Her parents, Nancy and Landon Edwards, raised Tricia in a Christian home, full of love and laughter.  Todd and Tricia established the same kind of home for their family.  She had a close, loving relationship with her brother and sisters, Mike Edwards, Pamela Edwards Pritchard, and Teresa Edwards Pritchard.  Her nieces and nephews adored her.

Her friends were another source of joy to Tricia.  A Facebook page, “Friends of Tricia,” was established so we could share with her our thoughts and prayers.  Hundreds of messages were added each day.  She was never far from my thoughts and when I had even the smallest bit of time, I would read each and every message (many of them prayers) and lift them up to God as well.

Never one to think of her own needs first, she was constantly looking out for the needs of others and it led her into healthcare.  As a critical care nurse, she loved caring for others and she was good at her job.  She worked well into her battle with cancer, refusing to let it keep her from the profession she was so obviously made for.  It was not only her medical knowledge that she imparted to her patients — she shared the love of God and joy of serving the Great Physician. Even if you didn’t personally know Tricia, you could take one look at her and know that she was warm, giving, and selfless. She had a million-watt smile that could light up a room and she always had a kind word and a hug to share with everyone she met.

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Image Source: http://www.klove.com/encouraging

Tricia’s greatest source of strength and joy was her relationship with Jesus Christ.  That’s why, even in the last days when Hospice was called in, she wasn’t afraid.  As others tried to comfort her, she sought to comfort them — to let them know that no matter the physical outcome, she was spiritually ready.  She took satisfaction in the knowledge that this world was a temporary residence for her.  She trusted completely that she was just biding time on earth, simply in transit to her true home — Heaven.

I love what her niece, Erica, shared:  “I’m praising God for the life of my Aunt Tricia. So jealous of the angels today. Thank you for your many prayers. Our family appreciates each one. Please pray for continued strength as we go through this arm in arm and only through the grace of The Lord Jesus.

I heard a loud voice from the throne. It said, “Now God’s home is with people. He will live with them. They will be his people. God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, sadness, crying, or pain. All the old ways are gone.”  (Revelation 21:3-4 ERV)

We will grieve mightily because we will miss her happy, humble presence — a woman with a gentle spirit and a heart as big as all outdoors!  Her family will especially miss her.  On special days to come — holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, weddings, and the days her grandchildren are born — there will be a yearning for her physical presence. There will be an ache that cannot be soothed because those will be days when there would have been memories to be made with her — that she would have loved to make.  But she leaves such a rich legacy behind that it will almost seem that she is here — and she will here, living in the hearts and accomplishments of those who loved her.

Today, Tricia is rejoicing because she is in Heaven, completely healed, and in the presence of our Lord.  Tricia can finally say, “I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have served the Lord faithfully.” (2 Timothy 4:7 ERV)

I have seen glimpses of faith in my life, but life-altering portraits of faith have been few and far between.  Faith has a new face for me now.  Faith looks like Tricia Edwards Smith.

If you would like to make a contribution to the Tricia Smith Charitable Fund, send your donation to:

Fayetteville Community Church

2010 Middle Road Loop

Fayetteville, North Carolina  28312

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Celebrate Me Home” (The Perrys)

To follow me on my Facebook page, “Loved by the King,” click here.

Six Foods to Help You Lose

Image Source:  http://goliathflores.blogspot.com

Daniel did not want to eat the king’s rich food and wine because it would make him unclean. So he asked Ashpenaz for permission not to make himself unclean in this way.  God caused Ashpenaz, the man in charge of the officials, to be kind and loyal to Daniel. But Ashpenaz told Daniel, “I am afraid of my master, the king. He ordered me to give you this food and drink. If you don’t eat this food, you will begin to look weak and sick. You will look worse than other young men your age. The king will see this, and he will become angry with me. He might cut off my head. And it would be your fault.”

Then Daniel talked to the guard who had been put in charge of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah by Ashpenaz. He said, “Please give us this test for ten days: Don’t give us anything but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then after ten days, compare us with the other young men who eat the king’s food. See for yourself who looks healthier, and then decide how you want to treat us, your servants.”

So the guard agreed to test Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah for ten days. After ten days, Daniel and his friends looked healthier than all the young men who ate the king’s food. So the guard continued to take away the king’s special food and wine and to give only vegetables to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. (Daniel 1:8-16, ERV)

I am really enjoying my online nutrition class.  I’m learning so much about the foods I eat and how my body processes them. I am always looking for good foods that make me feel full and give me every advantage on the diet playing field. Here is a list of foods that I consider to be the “best of the best” foods to help you lose weight.

Image Source:  www.romafoods.com

  1. Fruit/Vegetables:  The USDA’s MyPlate plan suggests that we eat fruits and vegetables at every meal.  Fruits do contain sugars and they have carbohydrates.  However, these carbs are complex and take longer to digest.  They leave you feeling full longer, which is always a plus.  The key to successful integration of fruits in your diet is portion control.  Vegetables should be high in fiber and water content.  The fiber helps in digestion and the water helps move the food through your digestive tract.  (Specific food suggestions:  1 cup of berries = 83 calories, 1 small Gala apple = 55 calories, 1 cup sliced bell pepper = 46 calories, 1 cup broccoli florets = 30 calories)
  2. Nuts:  Although high in fat, raw nuts are one of the most nutritious, satisfying foods you can eat.  The fat in nuts is monounsaturated and actually has been shown to aid in weight loss.  They taste good and satisfy our need for something crunchy.  Low-sugar nut butters (almond or peanut) are also good choices as long as you enforce portion control.  (Specific food suggestions:  1/2 cup raw almonds = 265 calories, 2 Tablespoons almond or peanut butter = 190 calories)
  3. Low-fat Dairy and Non-Dairy Foods:  Yogurt is one of the most nutritious dairy products that can help you lose weight.  Non-dairy foods like tofu offer lots of protein and are low in fat.  Almond milk is my favorite non-dairy food. (Specific food suggestions:  1/2 cup of firm tofu = 88 calories, 5 ounces plain fat-free Greek yogurt [with a dash of vanilla extract and sweetened with stevia] = 80 calories, 1 cup almond milk = 30 calories)
  4. Potatoes:  Any kind of potato except a FRIED potato is good for you.  It’s high in fiber and filling.  I must stress portion control, again, because a single potato (boiled, baked, or broiled with salt and pepper) cannot derail your weight loss efforts.  (Specific food suggestion:  1 medium baked potato = 161 calories)
  5. Whole Grains:  Whole grains in pastas, rice, and breads are not refined and have more nutrients.  Whole grains are complex carbs and we know what they do for us — leave us feeling full longer.  I have to give a plug for my favorite bread, Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Bread.  You can find this in the freezer section of health food stores or in your local Harris Teeter.  It makes a delicious sandwich and is great with my Basic Egg Scramble in the mornings.  You can find different varieties, such as the Ezekiel 4:9 English muffins, Sesame, and Cinnamon Raisin breads.  (Two slices of Ezekiel 4:9 bread have 160 calories and 0 sugars!)
  6. Water:  Water hydrates the body, helps with digestion, and has nutrients and minerals that our bodies need.  Best of all it’s calorie free and cheap!  (Duh!)

Image Source:  www.drsharma.ca

If you read the rest of the first chapter of Daniel, you will find that Daniel and the others who ate his diet of fresh foods and water were healthier than the rest of the men  who ate the king’s rich, calorie-laden foods and wine.  The king considered Daniel so wise that he made Daniel his personal servant, which put Daniel in a position to do God’s work later on.

Like Daniel, we need to eat the whole, fresh foods that God provides for us.  Ridding our diets of processed foods is one of the healthiest, most productive decisions we can make.

Remember, our desire is to eat to live, NOT live to eat.  If you have a favorite food from any of these categories, please share them in the comments.

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Weight Loss Wisdom 3

I recently read an article entitled “10 Weight Loss Tips from the Duke Diet and Fitness Center.”  It was informative and since Duke University is right in my own back yard (give or take 70 miles), I decided to share this information with you.  You can visit the Duke Diet and Fitness Center (DDFC) website here to see what it offers.

1.  Eat more!

Choose a full plate of healthy foods.  Often, DDFC clients will say that they are scared they’ll be hungry when they first start the program.  But they change their minds when they see the meals they’re served.  Most clients say it’s more food than they normally eat at a meal.  Your body has to have fuel.  The DDFC uses the USDA‘s MyPlate instead the food pyramid.  If you look at a round plate, half that plate should be filled with healthy fruits and vegetables.  One-quarter of the plate should be filled with healthy proteins, to include fish once or twice a week.  The last quarter of the plate should be filled with carefully chosen, fiber-rich starches like beans, legumes, brown rice, or quinoa.

Image Source:  www.choosemyplate.gov

2.  Plan your meals.

Not only should you plan WHAT you’re going to eat, but WHEN you’re going to eat.  Eating small meals every three to four hours will keep you from becoming ravenous.  Being ravenous leads you to eat any-and-everything you can get your hands on.  Starting with breakfast within an hour of rising, don’t skip meals.  Don’t let your hunger reach the point of no return.

3.  Keep a food journal.

Write down what you eat on paper or use an internet helper such as MyFitnessPal.com or CalorieCounter.com.  The dieticians at Duke have found that you get off your eating plan if you don’t keep track of what you eat.

4.  Curb the emotional eating.

Before devouring a dozen chocolate chip cookies or half a box of Krispy Creme doughnuts, you should stop and ask yourself some questions:

  • Am I really hungry?
  • What am I feeling right now?
  • What do I really need?
  • What can I do instead?
  • If I eat this, how many calories am I going to have to burn?
  • How long with I have to exercise to burn these calories?

One DDFC client has put a note on her refrigerator that reads: WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR IS NOT IN HERE!  

5.  Have a daily indulgence.

Allow yourself one treat that is no more than 10% of your daily calorie count.  (For example, most days I eat 1200 calories. My indulgence would be something with 120 calories or less.)  In doing this, don’t choose your trigger food.  Choose something that tastes good but will not cause you to lose control.

Image Source: http://www.mamasgotittogether.com

6.  Don’t beat yourself up.

Okay, so you ate the dozen chocolate cookies or the entire box of doughnuts — you can’t ruin your diet in one day, says Christine B. Tenekjian, a dietician at DDFC.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  If you need to rid yourself of the guilt, journal about what you were feeling before you over-indulged and try to figure out why you did it.

7.  Walk it off!

People that come to the DDFC often have not been active in quite a while.  Fitness experts there start their clients on a walking regimen — short distances at first, then working up to 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day.  A pedometer is an inexpensive investment that will give you great feedback.  (Personally, I use the free Runtastic app on my iPhone.  It has a pedometer, a distance monitor, and a timer.  There are also other apps that do the very same thing.  Just do an app search for “pedometers.”)

8.  Make your work out simple.

Working out in a gym is nice but not always affordable or feasible.  It’s just as easy to set up a workout routine in your own home:  doing squats, wall push ups, tricep dips from a chair, ab crunches,  leg lifts, and using resistance bands are all effective exercises as long as you do them two or three times a week, one or two sets of 8-12 repetions each.

9.  Rise and shine!

DDFC has found that people who do their daily workouts first thing in the morning have a better chance of sticking with it. With the busy lives we lead, there’s just too much of a chance that something will come up and take priority over our workout time if it’s later in the day.  Decide to become a morning person (it’s hard — but I personally learned to do it after more than half my life of being a “night person”) and set a routine that’s hard to get interrupted.

Image Source:  www.cardio-greentea-stretching-tumblr.com

10.  Be creative in your motivation.

There’s more to motivation than just setting a weight loss goal.  What happens when you run into a plateau and become discouraged?  DDFC advocates finding a partner for accountability and motivation or changing up your routine to get out of a rut.  Any routine that become “routine” is boring.  When you get bored, you run the chance of abandoning your goals.  I found a great article on one of my favorite websites, Everyday Health, that offers some great tips.  You can read the article here.

Image Source:  http://raymcdonald.wordpress.com

I am praying for you all.  Whatever challenge you’re facing, God is listening.  It’s one of the ways I curb the emotional eating — I pray.  If I get caught up in talking to my Heavenly Father, I find that my emotional needs are met in a much bigger way than any half-gallon of ice cream ever could.

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Even If

I keep a prayer journal.  When friends ask me to pray for them or for someone else, I write a name and the need, if I know it.  Sometimes I only know that someone needs me to intercede on their behalf.  God knows the need and it’s not necessary for me to know it in order to offer my support through prayer.

I did something last week that the Lord has been urging me to do for quite a while:  choose and day, go to church, and kneel at the altar to pray for people, our nation, and our world.  I asked my friends, family, and followers on Facebook to send me their prayer requests. (I have a companion page for this blog there:  “Loved by the King”  I started this page because I try to post here on WordPress two to three times a week.  I wanted a place that I could share a short daily devotional, so I started a community page on Facebook just for that.  Please visit me there and give me a “Like.”)  I chose Friday, October 4, 2013, to be my very first “Friday at the Altar.”

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I began writing these names and requests on paper.  I prayed for each one as the requests came in.  Then on Friday, I went to my church and laid all the pages of requests on our altar at 11:00 a.m.  Before I began to pray, I read aloud a portion of scripture that the Lord gave to me from the book of Daniel, chapter three.  (You can read the entire chapter here.)

These were my focal verses:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered the king, “Nebuchadnezzar, we don’t need to explain these things to you. If you throw us into the hot furnace, the God we serve can save us. And if he wants to, he can save us from your power. But even if God does not save us, we want you to know, King, that we refuse to serve your gods. We will not worship the gold idol you have set up.”  (Daniel 3:16-18, Easy-to-Read Version — emphasis mine)

I chose to read the verses from a Bible I keep in my office at the Culbreth Memorial UMC.  It’s a Today’s English Version Bible donated by the family of a woman who was a faithful member of our congregation for many years before her death.  As I read from her Bible, I could feel a distinct energy in the sanctuary — an air of expectancy.  When I knelt at the altar and read the names on my pieces of paper aloud, the energy increased.  (The hairs on my neck and arms actually stood up!  I call them “God-bumps.”)

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After I prayed aloud, I did something that I don’t do enough — I sat in silence and listened.  God spoke to me in that still, small voice of His that I sometimes miss in the hustle and bustle of my life and all the things I think are important, but really aren’t.  In those moments, God dealt with me about some situations in my own life.  I was determined to stay on my knees until God released me from the moment.  When I felt that release, I stood and sang a short little song that I hadn’t thought of in years.  I’ll bet some of you know it.

Hear our prayer, o Lord.  Hear our prayer, o Lord.

Incline thine ear to us and grant us Thy peace.  Amen.

I gathered my papers and went back to work in the office.  If you don’t believe in signs from God, then the rest of this post will probably not mean much to you.  I believe that God gives us signs that affirm His approval or disapproval of the things we do.  I believe that He gives us little nudges to encourage us.  A friend of mine says there is no such thing as “coincidences” — they’re all “God-incidences.”  I agree.

I don’t even remember why I looked, but in the front of the TEV Bible I had used was a hand-written message:

“Take care of the things that are important to God and God will take care of the things that are important to you.”

More “God-bumps.”

I have a stash of sources I use for my daily devotionals.  On Thursdays and Fridays when I’m working at the church, I use “The Upper Room,” a publication of the United Methodist Church.  I turned to the devotional for Friday, October 4. The pages were stuck together with static electricity and before I could get to Friday’s devotion, I noticed that the scripture for Wednesday’s devotional (October 2) was the same scripture that I just read in the sanctuary.

“God-bumps” on top of “God-bumps.”

I cannot tell you what a privilege it was to pray for my family and friends.  What was even more intense for me was the fact that friends-I-haven’t-met-yet (people that follow me here, receive my blog by email, or follow me on Facebook) entrusted their requests to me.

Image Source:  www.msd.org.au/prayer

My prayer request for all of them was this:  whether or not their prayer requests were met with their desired answers, I asked that God give them His presence and assurance that He knows best.  To be like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego – to say “even if,” I will still worship and trust You.

Image Source:  www.robparkersblog.com

If you would like me to add your name to my “Friday at the Altar” list, leave me a comment.  You can tell me your specific request or you can say that you have an unspoken request.  If you just need prayer in general, simply leave your name.

I don’t do this for acclaim.  I don’t do this so that people will look at me and say, “That Sandy Rosser, she’s doing the Lord’s work.”  I don’t do this for any other reason that to be a servant.  I love God and He said for me to love others; to serve them daily because that’s how I show His love.

Image Source:  www.usf,edu/clipart

My request to you:  wherever you are on Fridays at 11:00 a.m., take a moment and offer up a prayer.  You might not be with me in person, but you can be with me in the Holy Spirit.

And if you happen to live in Fayetteville, North Carolina or the surrounding area, I would consider it an honor if you’d join me in person on Fridays.  I believe in the power of prayer.  My God is in control and He can do anything.

I chose “Let Them See You” as my Monday Music song.  It says exactly what I want my life to express — on Fridays, and all the days in between.

shr

Other than those noted, all image sources are mine.

Let Them See You” (Colton Dixon)