When You Don’t Even Know How to Pray

Since my Dad’s Cancer diagnosis in December, my mind has been warring between optimistic and realistic thoughts.

I recall sitting in the oncologist office in early January and staring at his PET Scan. The doctor explained to us that everything that was white was Cancer. There was so much white. More white than black in some places.

Both the optimist and realist in me know without a shadow of a doubt that with God ALL things are possible. I love a big and mighty God that can erase every last bit of this so-called incurable, inoperable cancer. That is my constant prayer.

I admit though, that the battle between the optimist and realist in me has brought some conflict in not only my thoughts but in my prayer life. While I know that prayers are answered every day, I know that many are not. If everyone’s prayers were answered, no one’s mama, daddy, or child would have Cancer. We don’t understand why some prayers are answered and some are not. I know that God has a plan though and He is in control.

So how do I pray expectantly as I am told to do in the Psalms, when the realist in me knows that my prayer for complete and total healing may not be answered?

Danged if I know.

Ha! You thought I had the answer?? Not quite 😉

I haven’t figured that out yet, but I have found a way to have peace in a turbulent time. Hebrews 4:16 encourages, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace in our time of need.” I do not know if God will heal my dad, but I know that He will provide my family with the mercy and grace to heal our aching hearts during our time of need.

Hebrews 416

Of course we always want the ultimate prayer of healing to be answered. However, we can be so grateful for the many prayers that have been answered along the way. Dad has had minimal to no side effects in his 8 weeks of chemotherapy. We had a CT Scan of his head, neck and chest today, and it showed that his very aggressive cancer is stable. It hasn’t grown at all since he started treatment. (The doctor thinks that there is a chance that it has even shrunk a bit!) That is a HUGE answered prayer. We don’t have to hope and wait for a clinical trial. Considering that this is a very rare cancer and there is no known protocol for treating it, this is truly a blessing. We found a drug that is effective on our first try!

And then there are the blessings that God gave to us without us even knowing. The doctors believe that the origination of Dad’s cancer is from a radiation treatment he got when he was a child. What if the cancer hit him 30 years earlier? Mama would have been a single mom to two girls who would have grown up without the most amazing dad. It totally sucks that we are dealing with this now, but it would have been so much worse any sooner in our lives. (I know that isn’t very eloquent, but that is just how I feel)

I don’t know how many of you may be dealing with a crisis and your optimistic and realistic selves are battling it out in your head. How do I pray about this situation just right?? Lucky for us that God doesn’t require us to say the perfect prayer to follow His perfect plan. He just wants us to come to Him. I encourage you to pray with all your heart and soul. Be honest with Him even when it is tough and sometimes messy. He knows what is in your heart anyway.

Ask Him to fill you with His grace and mercy during your time of need.  And He will.

The Fruit of the Christmas Spirit

fruit of the Christmas Spirit pic

In Galatians 5:22 – 23, Paul tells us about the Fruit of the Spirit:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,

peace, patience, kindness, goodness,

faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

What if we thought about how we could embody the Fruit of the Spirit this Christmas season?

Love: God’s love for us is the heart of Christmas. He loves us, his children, so much that He sent Jesus to this world. “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son.” John 3:16. We can demonstrate our love this Christmas season by being present in our loved ones’ lives. “We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 5:19

Joy: Relish the beautiful Christmas music. Blast it. Sing It. Dance to it. Christmas can be a tough time for many; God will help you find joy when you seek it. “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say rejoice.” Phillipians 4:4.

Peace: In a time that seems anything but peaceful, we can rest in the truth that God is with us – Immanuel. He is the Prince of Peace and the battle is already won. Turn off the news for a little while and enjoy some peace and quiet with your family. “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.

Patience: The new clerk at Target that can’t figure out the cash register (who is working a 2nd job during the holidays to provide for her family), Aunt Mildred who always gets under your skin (who has a tough time in the holidays), your kids when they are constantly fighting on Day TWO of Christmas break (who are over tired from all the Christmas fun and are secretly missing the structure of their school days). There are a lot of opportunities to exercise patience during the Christmas season. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another with love.” Ephesians 4:2.

Kindness: The holidays can be very difficult for those who have lost loved ones or are going through a crisis. Being kind is being aware and having a genuine desire to treat these people gently. “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love.” Hosiah 11:4

Goodness: Goodness is kindness in action. Send a card to someone going through a hard time. Make them some cookies. Sing carols in a nursing home. Serve a meal in a homeless shelter. Don’t just think about it… Do It. “We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

Faithfulness: The Christmas Story needs to be told to our children as more than a story that falls between “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” and “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” As parents, it is our responsibility to really impress on our children that when we read about Christ’s birth in the book of Luke, it is fact. Don’t get me wrong, I love even the secular parts of Christmas; however, it is important that we instill in the next generation the certainty of Christ Jesus. “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17

Gentleness:  In America we live in a nation that is quite diverse.  Different cultures and religions are all around us.  What a remarkable opportunity to share the true Christmas story.  Bashing Red Coffee cups and “Happy Holidays” wishers doesn’t exactly demonstrate God’s love.  Instead we can be respectful of others’ beliefs while we share our own.  If we don’t respect others, how can we expect it in return?And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth” 2 Timothy 2:24

Self-Control: Whether it is too much egg nog at the office Christmas party, cookies at Mimi’s house, or spoiling your adorable kids a bit too much, losing some of your self-control is all too easy. In fact, many may over indulge in the name of Christmas (myself included). While my self-control may falter at the dinner table (because how often do I get to eat Nana and Mimi’s food??), I am making it my goal to maintain my self-control and not slack on my workouts. “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.” Proverbs 25:28

Eeeeks. Those are some tall orders. But that is why they are called the Fruit of the Spirit. As imperfect humans, we are incapable of these attributes on our own. Only by the Holy Spirit living within us, can we personify the Fruit of the Spirit. 

While the rest of the world waits for New Years to make changes and start fresh, we can have a New Start any and every day of the year. When God sent His son on Christmas Day, we were given the gift to be redeemed and start a new life in Christ.

And all you have to do is receive His gift.

Merry Christmas, Sweet Friends.