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Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Faith of a Regular Joe

I had a CT scan this week. It is the last of the tests to see if my cancer has been defeated. It’s been a long hard year and a real struggle. But today is also the last opportunity I have to praise God before knowing the results of the scan. You see, I’m still having unexplained pain in my lower back. It’s different from the usual everyday stuff. And as you know my beloved mom-in-law had breast cancer too and seemed to be improving. Then suddenly her back began to hurt. Sadly the cancer had moved there with a vengeance, eventually taking her life. So I can’t help but wonder.

However, today is the day I can praise the Lord and trust Him ahead of time, no matter what the test reveals. It’s not that I am sure He has taken the cancer away. Many good people with much more faith than I, have died of the nasty stuff; like my sweet mom-in-law. Instead, my faith rests in the goodness of God. He alone is wise and holy and knows the best path for me. So today I will praise Him.

During the past year some of my best encouragement has come from the Psalms. The folks who wrote those words were just regular Joes like me with all kinds of problems. When I saw these words, I wondered if the writer had been watching the last year of my life.

Psalm 107:18-21 says, “They couldn’t stand the thought of food, and they were knocking on death’s door. ‘LORD, help! They cried in their trouble, and He saved them from their distress. He sent out His word and healed them, snatching them from the door of death. Let them praise the LORD for His great love and for the wonderful things He has done for them!”

Author Philip Yancey says, “Confidence in what the Lord will do springs from the knowledge of what He has done.” When I recall the goodness of God in my past, His lovingkindness, and His many answers to prayer, it fills me with confidence that no matter what the future holds, I can trust Him.

Though my body is weak, my faith is small and my brain is tired, my heart can’t help but praise Him. For His unfailing love is higher than the heavens! His faithfulness reaches to the clouds! [from Ps. 108:4]

 

Lest you misunderstand, let me tell you what you already know. I am no saint. However, this is not my first rodeo.

Obviously.

But this one thing I’ve learned.

The Lord can be trusted.

“‘LORD help!’ they cried in their trouble and He saved them from their distress.

He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves.

What a blessing was that stillness as He brought them safely into harbor!” –Psalm 107:28-30

When I look at my trial as an opportunity to trust Him, it feels like victory rather than defeat. And like the regular Joe begging Jesus for help I pray,

“I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” –Mark 9:24

Beloved reader, may the storm you are navigating today be calmed to a whisper and the waves be stilled. And may the stillness in your soul be a blessing worthy of praise and thanksgiving.

PS:

Special thanks to my daddy Seabert Pittman who took the beautiful pictures used in my story. He has an appreciation for every sunset and sunrise God gives, and also an eye for contrasting darkness with light… just like the Lord. As our Father says, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” –Psalm 30:5

Also, I got a call from my oncologist before I put this story out. The CT scan revealed a cyst on my liver but she does not believe it is cancer. I will have an MRI on July 14th. So again we wait, and walk by faith.

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The Paper Chain

He made a long paper chain for me to count off the days. Chemo had worn us both down to the very last nerve of our already fragile psyches. Since my cancer treatments started in May and would continue until the end of September, it had been a very long hard summer. But suddenly we had something to look forward to. A friend graciously offered her house at the beach for us to get away for a week-end and leave the Big C behind. If I could just get past that last chemo and take a few weeks to build up my strength, then we could get a glimpse of the ocean. And everyone knows that saltwater is good for what ails you.

Day after day I tore one ring off the paper chain and prayed for better days. We scheduled our trip for the last week-end in October and hoped for decent weather and better strength. Finally the time came and the last of the paper chain was torn away. The forecast was beautiful. Food was planned and packed since I have a hard time eating. We tried to think through everything we’d need for our little trip as I was still so weak.

We arrived at the house on Friday afternoon. The place was gorgeous and overlooked a marshy creek bed with lots of wildlife. We unpacked and took the golf cart toward the beach. The access where we parked was rather steep and involved a lot of steps. Resting often I was glad to spot a bench at the end of the long walk. There before me opened up the view of the ocean. Waves lapped gently on the shore and the water shimmered in the sunlight. After a short rest we took our chairs down onto the beach. But out of nowhere we were swarmed with biting flies. Have you ever been a part of such a lovely experience? It was not pretty. Though we had some serious repellent, probably harmful enough to kill us, it did not deter the flies. They seemed to lap it up like grandma’s Sunday gravy.  Suddenly I had sympathy for the Egyptians back in Moses’ day. We could not stay. Those nasty creatures followed us all the way back to the golf cart and didn’t leave until David picked up some serious speed.

Saturday a new day dawned and we wondered whether to try again. But I was so sick and needed to maintain a close proximity to a toilet. Sorry delicate readers– just keeping it real. David brought Cream of Wheat to the little patio table on the deck facing the marsh. We prayed for a good day and wisdom to know what to do. The sun was warm for October 29th so we lingered and watched the giant cranes and herons as they watched the tide come in with their breakfast.

Then we spotted him: a huge old buck wandered from a cluster of trees and just stood there for our viewing pleasure. One by one other deer joined him, some even splashing in the water that rose to where they were. We sat in the perfect place just far enough away that they didn’t notice us but we could enjoy their movements in the rising tide. It’s a picture I’ll never forget.

Sunday morning came and we decided to give the ocean another try. Again we armed ourselves with repellent and sunscreen and mounted the golf cart. This time we drove a little farther and found an access which was constructed more like a ramp instead of a stairway. Gradually it wound through the wooded area then offered benches overlooking the ocean. Sparkling water spread before us along with fishermen and families enjoying the sunshine and surf. Though I was too weak to walk in the soft sand, the bench worked just fine. We sat there soaking in the beauty of it all for what seemed like hours. It definitely cured what ailed me.beach

Sometimes it feels as if a trial will last forever, much like this story of our lovely week-end. Like biting flies, pain and despair quickly gobble up what little bit of strength we have.  I’m so glad we hung on and tried again to find that happy place. The next time I feel like giving up I plan to pull up those scenes I promised never to forget.

The majestic old buck with head raised sniffing the wind; the graceful doe frolicking at the water’s edge; the beautiful ocean pounding the beach then pulling away for another time; all just because the Lord made such a wonderful world. No, cancer is not so wonderful. But because of it my eyes are opened like never before. I never knew such joy could be gained by being still and watching the world. And never before has anyone made me a paper chain, counting down the days til we could simply be together.

 

 

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As we walked toward the house I called David over to see what was poking through the leaves. “Look! Here’s more!” Like a kid finding Easter eggs I get so excited to see hosta coming up each year. As we rounded the house a few bright tulips nodded approval as we moved pine needles out of the way in search of more hosta. My favorite chartreuse variety springs forth a little later. It’s barely starting to show. Azaleas are full and brightly blooming along with the dogwoods. I thought to myself, “Too bad everything doesn’t look its prettiest all at the same time. What a show that would be!”tulips

David however, being the positive one of us commented. “I’m glad they don’t all bloom at once. Now we have stuff to look forward too, just like life.”

Soft white dogwood petals drifted to the ground like snowflakes. Easter has passed so they have permission to let go. Orange breasted robins play in their midst in anticipation of babies to come. Bright green grass fills in the muddy spots where snow once lingered. All of nature joins together in a song of worship as even the rocks cry out, “He lives, people, He lives! Why sit hopeless with your curtains drawn when a soft spring rain falls, sweetly watering all He’s created? For if He dresses us so beautifully and feeds us so well, will He not also take care of you?”Hosta3

As we moved indoors I sat by the window watching the rain fall as the birdbath filled to the brim. Dogwood petals continued to float softly downward. Soon my favorite tree will be clothed in the bright green leaves of summer. Daffodils which were the first to announce the coming spring have too quickly wilted. Though they’ll be back next year bringing hope at the end of winter, they too confirm that not even this season will last forever.

Someday we’ll meet the Lord face to face. As beautiful as this earth is, heaven is bound to be breathtaking. That’s probably when everything will finally bloom at once, for the Lord is surely saving the best for last!

We’ve really got a lot to look forward too!dogwood

 

 

 

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There is HOPE!

A couple of friends talked over the events of the last few days as they walked along. Sadness was written across their faces as they admitted, “We had hoped…”

Hoped, past tense… as in, we used to hope, but not anymore. Now we know better than to think things will ever change.

Have you been there? Have you gone through something so hard that your soul is crushed beyond repair? Someone you love has suddenly been taken… and way too soon. The spouse you trusted tossed you aside like an old shoe. Something you planned and even dared to dream about died, leaving you…

Hopeless.

That’s the feeling of the friends who traveled down the road together. Having witnessed the horrible death of the Person they had closely followed, their hopes were just as dead.

Where do we go from here? How will we ever recover? Is all we’ve believed in been wrong?

A few miles later, they realized they were in the very presence of the risen Lord!

That first Easter morning changed everything.

The powerful Son of God stepped from the grave to prove the hopeless wrong. Since death cannot defeat Him, how could anything else? What could separate us from the love of God?

Our fears?

Our loss?

Our worries?

Things changed in an instant! The moment He was raised from the dead, hope was forever restored! Do we dare to trust Him?

“O death where is thy victory?! O grave where is thy sting?”

Thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ!

All creation shouts with joy on Easter Sunday morning! Our Creator lives, and reigns with power over any circumstance that brings suffering to His beloved ones. With the strong arms of a Shepherd, He reaches out to pull us close to His heart as He gently leads us home. Not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love as we walk in the presence of the risen Lord!

Praise His sweet holy Name! Our conquering King lives!

And there is hope!

New Year

More hope found here:

  • You can read about the friends traveling to Emmaus when Jesus suddenly appeared and walked with them in Luke 24:13-34.
  • Romans 8:1 helps us understand that we are no longer condemned by God when we trust His Son as our sacrifice for sin.
  • There’s more about His great love for you personally in Romans 8:23-39.

Easter means nothing at all if you’ve never trusted Him. Call out to Him. He’s waiting for the time when you and He can walk the broken road of life together. This wonderful God of all creation longs to adopt you as His very own.

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She placed the fragile prize into her grandfather’s hand so he could see her beautiful treasure. The shell of a tiny bird was the source of her excitement. With so much amazement that she could barely form the words she explained to him how the baby bird hatched from the egg and flew away.fragiletreasure 2

“Yook Poppy Yook!” And look he did with oh such care! These precious little ones the Lord has trusted us with are also fragile treasures. I love how he is soaking up every minute. Something about having grandchildren around makes everything brand new.

Today is a milestone birthday for him, the big SIX-O. He is definitely better than ever. The past few years of transition have taught us both some very valuable lessons; stuff we knew but didn’t really KNOW firsthand until we had the privilege of experience. I think our top three would be:

  1. God shows His strength best in our weaknesses.
  2. God really will provide everything we need.
  3. God’s timing is perfect. Wait on Him & rest in His care.

When our talents and abilities are not enough, when we’ve exhausted all our resources, when we don’t have a clue what to do, that’s when the Lord shows us things we’ve never considered possible!

Happy Birthday David! Thank you for allowing God to use you, for resting in His care, and for leading our family well. I look forward to the next forty years with you, which hopefully will be a little more Promised Land than Wilderness. Either way, we’ll soak up every minute together. It’s all brand new!

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Don’t you love the sound of moving water? Waves gently lapping on the shore, a mountain stream tumbling over rocks, summer rain hitting a tin roof: there’s something about the sound of flowing water that gives the soul a gentle rest.

A while back David and I designed a fountain using a watering can and a tin tub. A small pump pushes the water up through a hose which is tucked into the watering can. The watering can sprinkles water into the tub making the soothing sound of rain. Oh how I love it. When we first came up with this idea we were in our “forever home” and assembled the fountain in the front yard. Neighbors would stop as they walked by to study how our engineering marvel worked. If we noticed them we’d step outside and point out the black hose which was hidden in plain sight. It’s funny how some things aren’t visible unless you’re looking for them.

When we thought we had sold our house and moved into this little rental, we took our fountain apart and tucked the pieces in the shed. There was no reason to reassemble it since this was only a temporary residence. When the sale of the other house fell through and the bottom dropped out of the economy, we also found ourselves unemployed and waiting on next. About a month ago God brought about an amazing turn of events. The perfect job opened up for my sweet David. But the best part is that we get to call this little temporary residence home now. Finally it felt right to set up our fountain again.

Just look at her pour!ftn

I love Matthew 11:28-30. Beside it I wrote the date May 7, 2014 and a note which says, “during a long night of worry.” So much sickness and financial strain. By then we had been jobless for seven months. But the Lord reminded me that night that He can be trusted to bear my burdens and gently teach me in the process.

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to Me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you. Let Me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.’”

We moved here eight years ago and the whole time I’ve been thinking temporary. “Don’t get too attached” I warned myself. Now suddenly I’m free to enjoy the lovely little home the Lord provided. It was hiding in plain sight. How funny that we didn’t think we’d be here very long. Now I am allowing myself to do the dance of joy. My fountain is out and making a beautiful sound as it softly splashes a happy song.

“You’re home my dear. Listen and find rest for your wandering soul. What’s that? You have to tinkle again? Well bless your heart.”

Thank You dear Lord for my sweet little fountain, for indoor plumbing, and for my home.

There’s just no place like it!ftn 2

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Remember when folks used to celebrate anniversaries with traditional gifts according to the years of wedded bliss? Silver for the twenty fifth and gold for the fiftieth are probably the most well-known. I remember when my Grandpaw and Grandmaw Pittman celebrated their fiftieth they received all manner of “gold” crap. Somehow it just didn’t fit their life. Raising twelve kids on a cotton mill income didn’t give many opportunities to use shiny vases and platters. However, celebrate we did and I remember how pretty Grandmaw looked in her white Sunday dress. She even tied a scarf about her neck which was rather uptown. I guess the gifts of gold were symbolic of something I didn’t understand at the time.

David and I just celebrated forty-one years of marriage. Even Hallmark skips number forty-one as though the significance is minimal. Lost somewhere between rubies for forty and sapphires for forty-five, I received something even better.

You see the last ohhh… about fifteen years have been rather rough. Around 1998 we remodeled the prettiest old house which in my mind was to be our forever home. Right beside our little church, it was the perfect location to finish raising our kids. With a great big dining room we would have plenty of space to gather our three daughters with future sons-in-law and grandchildren for holiday meals. The attic we finished with additional bath would make a great place for overnight stays when the kids were in town. Visions of toddlers on tricycles riding fast and furious in the big basement made my mama heart happy with hope.

But it was not to be.

Our little neighborhood began to lose families which were replaced by, as King James would say “lewd fellows of the baser sort.” Residents beside us opened a dog kennel housing upward of twenty barking poodles in a very small fenced lot. The odor was less than pleasant. Nights were less than restful. A year later our little church closed.

When a neighbor a few houses up from us was shot and robbed on his front porch the need to sell was confirmed. Moving from our “forever home” to a tiny rental would only be temporary, but it would give the anxious buyer a chance to rent to own. It would also give us a way out. Fast forward eight years and two such “buyers” later, and we are still in our temporary home. Our forever home was foreclosed on in the summer of 2013. A few months later David lost his job. We sent resumes to churches all over the country as we tried to pray in “faith without borders.” I began getting rid of anything we didn’t need in anticipation of the inevitable move. “Lord help us,” I cried often.

Out of the blue just prior to our forty-first anniversary came an opportunity we had never considered. One interview, two interviews, many prayers, more prayers, surprise, provision, peace… sweet indescribable peace, and a new ministry is ours. And get this! We don’t even have to move!

“‘I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray I will listen.’” –Jeremiah 29:10-12

This year for our anniversary I got dirt… wonderful rich black dirt so we can make new flower beds in the place where we’ve been afraid to get too attached. Like Grandmaw’s gold it’s symbolic of something precious. Dirt fits our lifestyle perfectly for it’s all about putting down roots and new beginnings in a place we can now call home.

In fact, this is without a doubt my favorite anniversary gift ever!

 

David really loves it when I take his picture. ;)

David really loves it when I take his picture. 😉

 

Commercial break:

Anyone in the Salisbury- Rockwell, NC area in need of an awesome gift for the little woman, be sure to check out F&E Landscape Supply for great deals on mulch, gravel, and anniversary dirt. John Fender will treat you right!

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