Sunday, March 16, 2014

Strength, courage, and faith.

There is a beautiful young woman in our church.  Her name is Charolete.

She is a shining example of faith, strength, and beauty.

She always has a smile.

She is at church as often as she can be, even though there are days when she probably doesn't feel like sitting on a pew for an hour.

Charolete has cancer.  She has been battling this disease since she was 13.  She is now in her mid 20's. (I think?)  She is taking high doses of chemotherapy to shrink the tumors in her body.

Her hair is gone, but it only accentuates her beautiful face.  Today she was in the "High Profile" section of the state newspaper.  Our pastor had a copy and recognized her, and I watched her pale skin turn bright pink.  It was precious.

Swiped this from a friend's Facebook page…because I didn't get a paper today.

Even in tough times, she is doing so much to help others.  In a time when so many dealing with cancer or other serious illness struggle to disguise side effects of the chemo under wigs and scarves,  Charolete doesn't hide it.  It's inspiring.  I would only hope that I would have that confidence and courage.  She gives people hope, though she may not realize it.

March 8th, 2014 a ball (The Hope Ball) was held in Little Rock.  Proceeds benefitted the 20th Century Club, which is a residential type hotel that provides free nights for patients taking cancer treatments.  Charolete starred in a promotional video.  (link below)


Cancer is a terrible disease.  It would be difficult to find someone who hasn't been touched in some way.  Not only does it affect the patient, but friends and family as well.

I wish I could eradicate cancer from the world, but all I can do is pray.  Pray for Charolete, and for Racheal (another friend in our church just beginning her treatments).  Pray for researchers, and doctors, and patients.  Pray for hope….but at long as we have people like Charolete, it isn't difficult to hold on to hope.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Let the change begin in me...

“If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.”  Ephesians 4:21-23

Peace roses I planted in my yard to remind me of the peace that only comes from a personal relationship and fellowship with Christ Jesus.

 This morning, our Sunday school lesson was from Paul’s letters to the church at Ephesus, and how he admonished them to pray for a change in themselves; focus on changing their individual hearts and minds, and God would take care of the rest.

So often (preaching to myself here, too) we have the tendency to pray for God to “fix” someone else…as if we don’t need to be fixed.  Often we fall into the trap that if God would just change the heart or the attitude of the other person, things would be just right.  It reminds me of the old Irish curse:

  “May those who love us, love us, and those who don’t love us, may God turn their ankles so we will know them by their limping.”  

Why do we have the mentality that the problems in our lives would magically disappear if God would just change the hearts of those with whom we disagree?

Are you guilty, too?  I shamefully admit that I had the same problem.

Just over a year ago I felt like my world was crumbling at my feet.  Things needed to change.  I prayed for change in another person because I honestly thought that would fix the problem…until one night when God revealed that I was the problem.  
One evening, in the desperate cry to God to change the heart of another person, His voice quietly asked, “What about you?”  

Ouch.  Sometimes the truth hurts, but it was truth I needed to hear.

From that point my prayers changed.  Rather than asking God to fix someone else, I began earnestly praying for Him to change my life so that it would be pleasing to Him. (It’s a good thing our Lord is still in the business of miracles!)  In His faithfulness, God began to change my attitude and my heart.  I was able to release much of the anger and bitterness that had been building up like bile in my soul, stealing my joy and delight in the Lord and in life.  As God began to make changes in me, He also began to change my circumstances.   The pieces began falling up.  (I was reminded of high school when we watched a 9mm film of an earthquake, then watched it backward as it rewound onto the reel, buildings lying in shattered ruins on the ground began falling up, back into place….wow, I just really dated myself with that last comment, my kids think a VCR is ancient technology.)

When we are miserable in our current circumstances, the real change, the change from sorrow to joy, cannot come from another.  We must allow God to change US before He can change our circumstances. 

We have to let go of our “righteous indignation” (which I learned this morning is just another word for sin), admit that we are probably a major part of the problem, and allow God to work in ways we can never imagine.

King David had to learn the same lesson:

Have mercy upon me, O God, 
According to Your loving kindness; 
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, 
Blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, 
And cleanse me from my sin.  For I acknowledge my transgressions, 
And my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, 
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge.  Psalm 51:1-4

When we finally reach the place when we can get over ourselves, God will come in and fill the void.

Yes, there are days when I find myself wishing that He would change the attitude of another, but He gently reminds me that I am not blameless and I never need to forget how much He has done in my life. He reminds me that I need to mind my own business and trust His judgement.  He knows best.

In my classroom I have a quote, which reads: “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  Allow Him to be the change…after all, this world desperately needs more Jesus!