Tag Archives: healing

30 Days of Thankful: day 27

In addition to her training as a counselor, my friend Rebecca has unique gifts of wisdom and insight that help her guide others to spiritual health and wholeness. She shares her journey of how giving thanks helped her cope with her own loss.  After reading Rebecca’s words, I believe you’ll feel like you have been blessed with a personal counseling session with her–you may even be changed by her insights.

GUEST BLOG: Rebecca Woodman

Gratitude is a choice, available to anyone. It is a choice that holds the power to change our entire perspective. It is a choice that turns into an attitude and an attitude that can then become a habit. Learning to be thankful and practicing giving thanks can be transformative in taking negative thoughts and finding positive return, ultimately blocking toxic emotions.

Scripture tells us in Psalm 100:4Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise.” Begin your conversations with God, the Creator of the universe, and your conversations with the people who He has placed in your life with gratitude and thanksgiving.

Some of the ways that I help those who come and sit on the couch in my counseling office understand that his/her current struggle does not have to ruin or dictate life is by helping the client understand how to look for the gifts and be grateful, even when life is throwing its fastest curve balls. Encouraging those who are challenged to find the positive to think of one thing each day for which to be thankful. Some questions to get folks started could include:

  1. What is one thing that is going well in life right now for me?
  2. How do I see that my needs are being met?
  3. How can I help someone today? Who would that be?

There is a difference between feeling grateful and being grateful. Feeling grateful is a response to a benefit. Being grateful is a way of life. John F. Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude we must never forget the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

Research on benefits of gratitude from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology help us to understand that there are psychological, physical and interpersonal benefits to a heart filled with appreciation. Those who understand how to be thankful are found to be more alert, energetic, have higher scores on scales of happiness and optimism, achieve better sleep, have improved immune response, are shown to be more helpful and connected, feeling less lonely and isolated, among many other positive outcomes.

I personally learned after the loss of two sons born stillborn that counting our blessings was one of the only ways to survive the pain. Counting my blessings when at my weakest state helped me to gauge my healing and served as a marker in time – recognizing all that was good, even in those moments when the tears fell so easily. Thanking God, even in the midst of a storm, is really an expression of faith. A thankful heart can bring about faith and faith can move mountains. Author Charles Dickens said it as, “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some.”

Our Life Group has been memorizing Scripture together weekly and it has been a pretty cool, unifying experience. This particular week, our verse is 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” THIS is God’s will. Even if there were not all of the positive benefits to uttering a simple “thank you” and even if I had not learned in the midst of struggle to look for the hidden blessings, I would still be convicted by Christ’s words that HIS will for my life is a heart of appreciation. I will choose gratitude.

 


30 Days of Thankful: Day 10

He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done (Luke 17:16).

Today I learned some simple lessons from a leper about being thankful.  It’s Day 10 of our 30 Days of Thankful.  I’ve been pondering the story about Jesus healing ten lepers. Only one comes back to thank him. But there is so much more to the story. Let’s take a few minutes to reflect on this passage:

As Jesus continued on toward Jerusalem, he reached the border between Galilee and Samaria. As he entered a village there, ten lepers stood at a distance crying out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” He looked at them and said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy. One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan.

Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has healed you” (Luke 17:11-19 NLT).

All ten men are on their way  to see the priest.  The priest must perform the religious ritual for lepers to be pronounced cleansed.  As they went, they were healed–even before they got to the priest.

But only one of them is thankful.  Look at his response:

  1. He runs back to Jesus.
  2. He praises God as he goes.
  3. He falls to the ground at Jesus’s feet–thanking him profusely.
  4. He displays humility.

Jesus is incredulous that none of the others come back.  Only one out of ten.  Ten percent.  Only the one gives glory to God.  Honors Him for healing him.  “Stand up….and go,” Jesus tells the Samaritan leper.  “Your faith has healed you.”  The word for “healed” in the Greek is translated solo.  It also means “saved.”

Was the man also saved?  Had he acknowledged Jesus as his Lord?  He was the outsider–not only a leper but a despised Samaritan. He was nothing more than a pagan, according to the Jews.  Yet he was the only one out of ten.  The ten percent.  The one who gave God glory.

I want to be in that ten percent today.  To notice when Jesus acts.  To stop my plans.  To go back to Jesus and thank Him–give Him glory. I want to be that one.

 


Brain Tumor a Blessing?

He has made all things beautiful in His time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Sometimes, when the answers to our prayers are slow in coming, we wonder if we can truly trust God.  Could there be an unseen purpose behind His delay?  My friend Bethany learned that God may have reasons which we don’t understand until later.  She also came to realize that His timing is for our good and His glory.  Above all, He can be trusted.

GUEST BLOG: By Bethany Kortekas

“A brain tumor? I have a brain tumor? Lord, we have been going through tests and doctor appointments for the last two years for unexplained infertility, and now a brain tumor?”

Adam and I have been married for five years and were excited about having a family. When we were not able to have our own, we started exploring our options: adoption, foster care, kidnapping, or even not having children. We talked to several families about their journey and discovered embryo adoption. When a couple has gone through In Vitro Fertilization, the doctor uses the couple’s eggs and sperm to create babies for them to carry. Sometimes a couple is not able to carry all of the children created by the doctor in this process. Currently there are 600,000 embryos in medical storage waiting to be implanted or donated to science.

When we realized that we could adopt embryos and still experience childbirth ourselves, we were excited to start the process. We put our profile on Miracleswaiting.org and told friends on Facebook to pray with us. A friend out of state contacted us and suggested she talk to her co-worker. This lady had four embryos left and had recently been asked by her medical storage to donate them to science. She had agreed and had all the paperwork notarized, ready to mail that day, when she got the call from our friend that we wanted her embryos. It felt like a sign that God had saved those babies for us!

However the normal legal work and medical approvals dragged from weeks to months. The implant we had hoped for in December pushed to January to April and then finally in June, I went to the doctor about something unrelated and they discovered something. The doctor found that I had a tumor on my pituitary gland, which is right between my eyes. The doctor explained that this tumor grows off of the hormones that increase during pregnancy. If we had become pregnant on our own or if we had been able to implant our embryos when we had hoped to, the tumor could have grown to impair my vision and I could have gone blind!

Now, I am not sure how you view prayer, but it can be easy to assume that if you have a good enough request, God will give you whatever you want when you want it. Sadly as Christians, we can become so self focused that we forget about the sovereignty of God. Our God has the whole picture.  All  of the past, every angle of the present and all of the future. Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.

Did God know that I had tumor that could have blinded me if I had conceived a child? Absolutely! Was any of this a surprise to Him?  Did it mess up His plans for us to adopt four embryos? No! If He says wait to my prayers, I can trust that He knows best.  He is orchestrating things for our benefit or for the benefit of others. As I look over my life, there is no doubt that I would rather have God’s best for me than whatever I originally picked out. My vision is too small and my choices are too self-serving.

Currently my tumor is under control with medication.  We’ll find out the results of our implant in May, and I have to be honest. I am hoping for twins! However, we know that whether these first two embryos will finally rest in our arms or in the arms of Jesus, that prayer is a power tool to remind us that God is in control. We do not have to worry about the future because God is using His timing for our benefit that ultimately gives Him the glory. What an incredible security that gives us as we pray!


Trained by our Trials

Trials are the food of faith. –George Mueller

I’ve been thinking a lot about how hard it is to wait for answers to my prayers. God’s delays can be frustrating. For an impatient person like me, waiting can be one of life’s more difficult trials. When God seems silent, I can fall into the trap of thinking that if I just pray harder, memorize more Scripture, or pound harder on the gates of heaven, I can move God’s hands.  And I have to admit. I do love those times when God gives an immediate “yes” to my prayer. But more often, I find the answers are painfully slow in coming.

I’m not always a good sport when God says “Go slow,” or “grow,” or even “no” in response to my prayer request.  Sorry to say it, but I can sound a bit like my friend’s three-year-old daughter who, in the middle of a tantrum, howled, “But Mommy, all I want is what I want when I want it!” Isn’t that how we all feel at times? What’s so wrong with wanting what we want when we want it…especially when what we are praying for is a good thing?

I’ve come to learn that even though my prayer may be within God’s will for my life,  I may still have to endure lots of waiting before the answer comes.  I look at our three grown children and remember how fervently I prayed for them. The long years of infertility sometimes left me wondering if we would ever have babies. I persevered in prayer for a total of about 108 months. And though God did heal me and I finally got my “answers,” the journey required much endurance and many tears on my part.

So why didn’t God just give me those babies when I wanted them? I probably won’t know all the reasons for His timing until our first conversation in heaven. But I will tell you this. I don’t think a drop of the waiting was wasted. From a purely practical standpoint, He knew just which children He wanted to give us and the precise moment each of them needed to be born. But beyond that, I truly believe He used those long months to prepare me to be a mother.  That season of my faith journey also drew me much closer to Him.

I believe that “wait training ultimately prepares us for our dream.  God knows exactly how to use the times of waiting for our good and for His glory.  Someone once said, “We grow great by our dreams.” That may be true, but we are trained by our trials.  So stand firm, dear friend.  Let’s draw encouragement from God’s Word as we wait for the answer to our prayer.

Consider it sheer joy, my brothers, when you encounter various kinds of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance carry out its intended purpose, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4 MOUNCE).

 

 

 

 


Day Eighteen: Don’t Say It, Pray It

 How often has your mouth gotten you in trouble? Words can do damage. Maybe you’ve heard this saying: It’s easier to get into trouble than to get out of it. The same is true with our words.  Once we’ve spoken them, we can’t take them back.  During our 21 Day Watch, we’ve been watching God.  But did you know that He’s also watching us?  The Bible teaches us to pray that He would especially help us watch our words:

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;  Keep watch over the door of my lips (NKJV Psalm 141:3).

This verse is my watchword for today.   I’ll be spending time with an extended family member who is wrestling with lots of personal issues.  I’ve asked  Lord to help me watch what I say.  I mean well, but over the years, my words have caused little change.  My loved one continues to make poor choices which have impacted her life and her family. For whatever reason,  I’m not the right person or it’s not the right time to say the hard things that need to be said.  This happens sometimes with the people we love most.  Do you have someone like that in you life?

I’m learning that sometimes it’s better to “pray it before I say it.”  If the person is not ready to hear what we have to say, or we can’t find the right words, we can pray first and trust God.  We can pray for Him to soften their heart.  Pray for them to listen to the Holy Spirit.  Pray for others to speak into their life. Pray for the wisdom to know what to say and when to say it.

“Don’t say it, pray it” is a good approach difficult conversations.  Here’s how I pray before I speak:

Lord, increase my love for this person.

-Help me to get the “log” out of my own eye, so I may see the situation more clearly.

-Help me to see this person through Your eyes.

-Give me pure motives and remove any bitterness or unforgiveness.

-Fill me with courage to speak the truth in love, but only in Your timing.

-Show me the right words, Your words, that will bring healing and hope.

Does the Lord need to help you put a watch over your lips? Then you’re in good company.  Let’s believe together that He can do a miracle. That God will give you the strength to “pray it before you say it.”  That the story for your loved one is not over.  Until then, let’s keep watching with hope.