International

International
Kindred Spirits

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Voice of a Friend

If you thought I was surprised at the email message I received, you should have heard the cry of delight when my American cell started playing the theme song from "Friends" just minutes ago.  Most often it is a solicitor call and I press "Reject", but not this time.  On glancing at the display screen I read, "Diane's Cell".  I eagerly answered it, and sure enough, I heard the voice of my friend.

We only spoke for minutes, but it was so wonderful to hear her voice.  She had quite the evening last night.  Apparently, if I understood correctly, the pain port disconnected in some way causing a leak.  She had to return to the hospital around 8:30pm.  The problem was fixed and she was back home, but she didn't sleep well last night.  Praying she will get the rest she needs tonight.

As I pause and think of the happiness the few minutes on the phone brought me, I think of the voice of another Friend that stirs my heart and blesses me.  A Friend who tells me I am dearly loved and chosen.  A Friend who invites me to rest in Him.  A Friend who never leaves me or forsakes me.  A Friend who speaks and even the wind and waves obey Him.

Thanking the Lord for voices that deliver good news of great joy with messages of healing and hope.

Standing the gap for "Hope", Diane,
"Faith", Joy

A Written Word

"Behold, I have written these writings to you with my hand." Galatians 6:11

A message written by hand.  A treasured word from one delivered to another.  No third party involved.  Heart to heart.

Imagine my joy when I opened my email a couple of hours ago to find that Diane had written a short note to me. Her words were few.  Only seven.  The perfect number really.  They spoke volumes to me.  It was so wonderful to hear from her.  Beyond words really.  Between the lines I read her understanding of my concern.  Distance is always difficult at times like these, but she bridged that separation and encouraged me.  I can't fathom the time and effort it would have taken to type it out with such limited mobility, each letter agonizing.  A priceless gift received with much happiness.

Please continue to pray with me that the medication will manage her pain.  Pray that she will get the rest she needs.  Pray that the recovery will be quicker than anticipated and complete.  Pray that there will be no complications.

There is another "writing" that blesses me every day.  Ancient words that also delivered a priceless gift.  A gift birthed in a stable.  "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." John 1:14

May The Word live in your heart and soul today.
Thanks for joining with us in prayer.

Standing the gap for "Hope", Diane,
"Faith", Joy

Friday, December 9, 2011

Welcome Home

Well friends, I just received a call from Diane's dear friend Linda, and Diane is already resting at home.  Linda said she was quite the trooper this morning and she came through everything very well.  Thank you all for your prayers.

Linda said she just needs quiet and rest right now and so I pray that the medication will do it's job, keeping her free of pain and letting her sleep so her strength can return.

Thank you all for praying and messaging me with your thoughts and care.  I have forwarded messages to her throughout the day.  I know they all have been an encouragement to her heart.  Please keep your prayers and well wishes coming.

Standing in the gap for "Hope", Diane,
"Faith", Joy

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Trusting God

 "May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other." Genesis 31:49

It has been awhile since "Hope" and "Faith" have connected with our friends here on our blog.  We are thankful that the Lord has kept watch between us all and we pray that as you enter this precious season of the year your heart is seeking Him, like the wise men did many years ago.

Our hearts continue to seek Him.  We are seeking to know Him, experience Him and trust Him in new ways as He gives us opportunity.  One such opportunity will come tomorrow as Diane, "Hope", once again faces surgery.  

The osteotomy on her left wrist, that we had wanted to be detained until the new year so that a possible trip might happen before Christmas, has been scheduled for tomorrow.  This is a surgical procedure in which a bone is cut to shorten or change it's alignment.  Diane had this done years ago on her right wrist and is very aware of what is to come.  Her ulna bone will be shortened, then held together by a plate and screws which will give the joints space.  It is a very painful process and the healing will take much time.  Although it will most likely be day surgery, the full recovery time will be three months.

This past Sunday I was reading how God provided Elisha as a personal attendant for Elijah, and the Lord is doing the same thing for Diane.  Although I selfishly wish He had chosen me for the role, He instead is using the gifts of several others to minister to Diane and help care for her needs tomorrow and in the weeks that follow.  With a right wrist already fused, having the other wrist immobile will be difficult.  Although I have seen the way she so adeptly adjusts to her circumstances, living alone will make routine tasks a challenge.  The Lord has been faithful in providing gracious neighbors, family and friends who have already made plans for meals and walking the dog. I was beyond thrilled to hear last night, that with the exception of two days, loved ones are already scheduled to stop by and care for her immediate needs every day. God is so good.  I am so grateful for the kindness that is being extended to my most precious friend.  Many "personal attendants", or Elisha's, have already offered their service.  Thank you to each one of you and God bless you.

I would ask that you would join me in praying that God will use this surgery to bring about complete healing and that full use and strength will be restored to Diane's hand. I pray that the Lord, who's hand isn't shortened, (Isaiah 59:1) will touch Diane and return her quickly to complete health.  I pray that He will strengthen feeble hands, (Isaiah 35:3) and that His presence will fill her home with His comfort, peace and rest.

It is very hard for us not to be together during these days, and if wishing made it so we would have had that hug months ago.  I'm still fighting a compromised immune system or I'd be booking that plane ticket.  The Lord knows, and as the verse above promises, He is watching between us while we are away from one another, supplying our "Hope" and "Faith".

I will be back to update you as I hear from Diane.  Thank you for loving my very dear friend.
Standing in the gap for "Hope", Diane,
"Faith", Joy

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Lean On Me

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Matthew 11:28-30

An invitation for the weary to rest.  An exchange of yokes.  A yoke that is effortless and offers relief.

I'm sitting here tonight longing to remove a yoke.  A yoke of pain and discomfort.  One that has become tiresome due to it's unrelenting weight and presence.  When something endures endlessly it wears us down.

My precious friend Diane has been a good soldier through her surgery and recovery.  She has tolerated ache and annoyance and has put up with the hardship and challenges induced by the limitations presented by the operation.  Tonight finds her hurting and not feeling well.  Although she tries to remain positive, I believe too that her heart is discouraged.

My dear friend has given continually over the past six months.  She has poured all her energy and strength into encouraging me and refusing to let me settle for anything short of victory.  When I would come to her in great need, she never refused me or turned me away.  She offered hope, love, prayer and faith.

Always quick with wit, she can turn tears into laughter, disappointment into joy and fear into confidence.  She has a gift of being able to minister cheer to a broken heart, bringing reassurance that everything is going to be alright.  When doubt wants to steal the expectancy that all will turn out well, Diane refuses to believe anything less than the promises found in God's Word.  She has let me lean on her, and I have leaned hard.

"Friends are the pillars on your porch.  Sometimes they hold you up, sometimes they lean on you, and sometimes it's just enough to know that they are standing by."

Today she needs us to stand by.  She needs an infusion of comfort and love.  My arms are too short to cross the miles and embrace my bestest friend.  Her "boo boo" is sore and swollen.  The pain is merciless and incessant.  I long to visit her, but the anticipated trip has been cancelled due to my lab results that indicate an immune system too at risk for travel.  Separated by distance, two little girls sit tonight and wish their Father would make a way for hands to reach.

Friends, will you pray for Diane.  Although this first surgery has been completed, like me, she sits in the middle of her miracle.  She visits her Doctor again in two days and further upcoming treatment will be discussed.  Will you pray that her Doctor will have wisdom for the operation that is yet to come and that the timing of her hospital stay will be the best for her recovery and healing.

Tonight we are leaning...leaning on the arms of One who carries us.
Love ya my friend, and holding your paw.
Standing in the gap for "Hope", Diane,
"Faith", Joy

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Living in God's Vast Resources


"Perhaps God brings us to the end of our resources so we can discover the vastness of His." ~ Neil Anderson

Diane and I are discovering afresh the vastness of God's rich resources as we each are leaning on Him.

Thank you again to all of you who are continuing to pray for both of us.  As I shared on Friday, Diane's surgery went well, and she is recovering at home.  I was blessed beyond measure this morning when I received an email from her at 7:30am, saying she was up, heading for the shower and about to enjoy a delicious breakfast that had been so kindly delivered to her door.  Diane is not normally an early riser, so I was encouraged that she was awake and doing so well.  The ironic thing was, I was still in bed, snuggled under covers at the time.  It is usually the opposite scenario. Smile.

To give you a further update concerning Diane's surgery, when the doctor performed the operation he noticed that extensive reconstructive work still needs to be done.  She will need an osteotomy which is a surgical procedure whereby a bone is cut to shorten or change it's alignment.  Diane has already had this performed on her right wrist and is very aware of what is to come.  It is a painful process and the healing will take much time.  She will lean in on the Lord again.  There is more from His vast resources that He has planned for her to discover. I am reminded of Isaiah 59:1 that encourages, God's arm is not shortened that He cannot save.  We are praying for the Hand of God to touch Diane and bring complete healing.

My precious friend "Hope" returns to see her doctor on October 25th and further discussion will take place then as to the timing of this proposed operation.  She is desiring that it wait until after Christmas if possible, but we will have a better understanding of this in a couple of weeks.  We will share the details as we find out more and as it gets closer to Diane's hospitalization.

For now, we are trying to stay focused on the present healing....for both of us.  I return to see my family doctor on Thursday, and if my immune system has improved, there is a possibility I will have opportunity to travel to Virginia and spend a couple of weeks with Diane.  Please join us in praying that the Lord's will in this travel decision will be clear to us.  There are other medical concerns in my immediate family at the present and so we are looking to the Lord for direction and confirmation regarding this trip.  How we both long to see one another.  There's just nothing like a best friend hug.

God is showing Himself as Sustainer, Comforter, Provider and Healer.  Thank you again for your prayers. Please continue to pray for Diane as she still experiences discomfort and tries to handle the daily routine tasks which are difficult to carry out at the present moment. Pray that the Lord will renew her energy and be her strength.  If we can pray for you, please leave your prayer requests and we will lift your name up before God's throne of grace.  We believe in the power of "two or three" gathered in His Name.

Standing in the gap for "Hope", Diane,
"Faith", Joy

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Phone Rang!!!

I couldn't wait for my American Cell to ring!!!

Diane is out of surgery and doing well.  I spoke with her friend Debbie, and all is moving ahead according to plan.  Apparently she was out of surgery by 9am, but Debbie was whisked off so quickly to recovery to see her she had no time to call and phone reception was non-existent.

As it would appear, somehow before or during surgery, Diane's eye was scraped.  It is feeling irritated and is visibly swollen.  A Doctor is coming to check on it before she can be discharged from the hospital.

Debbie is still guessing that they will be home by noon, and now we continue to pray for Diane's healing.

As Diane recovers, I am praying Hebrews 12:12 and Isaiah 35:3, that the Lord would "strengthen feeble hands".

Please continue to lift my precious friend up to the Lord, and rejoice with me over all that God has done.

Standing in the gap for "Hope", Diane,
"Faith", Joy

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Two Are Better Than One

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up…”  Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

The comfort of companions.  Sharing life with one another brings relief from times of loneliness and isolation.  A friend offers assistance and comfort in times of need.

Diane and I are both so thankful for the friendship, love and prayers you have extended to us, especially over the past five months.  We have been on a roller coaster of emotion, yet we have held unwaveringly to the Hand of the Lord and He has brought us through each ebb and flow. 

We were just remarking to one another recently how the Lord has alternated our needs, making it possible for us to support one another through each difficult trial.  Now as I begin to regain strength, Diane is facing surgery. 

On Friday, October 14th, as an outpatient she will have surgery on her left hand to repair two torn ligaments, two torn tendons, correct carpal tunnel syndrome, eliminate a cluster of ganglion cysts and remove a section of nerve in her forearm.  This surgery is similar to operations performed previously on her right hand, so she is very familiar with the procedure, the pain and the recovery. 

Friends would you join me in praying for “Hope”.  She has stood faithfully beside me, daily connecting and encouraging my heart as I walked through my wilderness.  Now she is facing an unsettled frontier and needs the assurance of friends coming alongside her on this journey.

Together will you pray with me that the surgery be successful, with no complications and that the recovery will be swift and pain free.  With her right hand already fused and the left now going to be cast, daily tasks will become difficult.  Living alone, regular, routine activities will present a challenge.  Meal preparation.  Walking the dog.  Housekeeping.  Personal care. 

Diane is so thankful for those who have already offered their presence and help during the first crucial few days, and I am so grateful for the kindness extended to my best friend.  Distance is difficult at times.  I am hoping and praying that the Lord will strengthen my immune system enabling me to visit her at the end of the month.  Although she suggested I request prayer for the Lord to comfort me at this time, I surrender my needs for the sake of my friend. 
  
As her mind recalls previous surgeries and the memories they uncover, please join me in praying that the Lord will bring every thought captive under His control.  This is a new day.  God is saying, “See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”  Isaiah 43:19

We know that God is in control.  He will bring about His healing in His time.  There will be a way in the wilderness.  New flowers are going to bloom.  Flowers of trust and acceptance.  Flowers of peace and grace.  Flowers or Hope and Faith.

Yes, two are better than one and a cord of three strands is not easily broken.  The Lord binds our hearts together in love even when miles separate.

Standing in the gap for “Hope” Diane,
“Faith”, Joy

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Let The Bell Ringing Commence!!!

Praise Jesus it is bell ringing time!!!

Joy has called and her sixth and final treatment of chemo is complete. I will let her tell you about the day and all the provisions of our Father. She and her sister Japhia are on their way home from the hospital in very heavy traffic.
Although chemo is complete, Joy will still endure the effects of it for the next 7-10 days. As has been the pattern with each treatment, each one is worse than the last. I know she covets your prayers in the comings days and as she and Japhia travel home.

Please let us know how you "rang in celebration" for what Jesus has done for our sister. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to each one of you for "standing in the gap for "Faith."

Much love,
Diane "Hope"

Get Those Praise Bells Ready!!!

Chemo number 6 is about to get under way. So those praise bells will soon be a ringing. PRAISE JESUS!!!
After talking to the doctor this morning Joy will only be having the one medication that did not give her problems. Treatment won't be as long for her today. That means the bell ringing will be underway that much sooner. (I am doing the happy dance. You just can't see me.)

There are some other amazing promises fulfilled for our sister, but those are hers to share. Please stay close through out the coming days with prayer and praise as she gets through this last treatment. He has never left her or forsaken her. He will never leave or forsake you either. This journey is a living testimony of His mercy and love for but just one.

If you don't have some bells......what are you waiting for .....there is still time!!!!!!!!!!

Standing in the gap, waiting to ring my bell for "Faith".
Diane "Hope"

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tomorrow Let the Bells Ring for Jesus !!!

"Tomorrow I will walk into a building that once held such fear.  I remember making a trip up to Sunnybrook Hospital back in April, before I even had surgery. I could not walk into the Cancer Center.  As I now sit and watch others walk in and tentatively look around, I recall the feelings that engulfed me.  I am praying that when I regain strength again, and my immune system recovers that I will be able to volunteer at our local cancer center.  I know the fear.  I know the longing to have someone come and guide you through, sharing what to expect, listening."


This is an excerpt taken from an update Joy sent out today. I remember taking that trip with her. That day was indeed hard, yet Jesus provided the foundation on which this "survivor" would soon emerge.  Here we are, September, and Joy is getting her final chemo tomorrow!!!  What a day of celebration it will be!!! It is tradition at the cancer center when a patient finishes their last chemo treatment they get to ring a bell. The bell ringing signifies the end of their long treatment journey. Tomorrow our own "Joy" a.k.a. "Joybells", will be ringing a bell. (smile) 


As with the end of chemo comes the return of "normal." Life will never again be what it was for Joy or her family. Her biggest desire through this battle has been to be Christ-like. Her countenance, motives, heart and life have been just that, a testimony of Christ. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt Joy will never be the same. Lives have been changed because of her walk through this valley. Although in the back of her mind there may always be a question of "am I really cured?", Joy knows that what Jesus has done is nothing short of a miracle in her life. As this chapter of treatment closes tomorrow, will you help her celebrate? Find a bell and tie it to your keys, or your shoes. Every time that bell rings, praise Jesus for all He has done for our Joy. Pray for those who are still in the battle. Let the bells ring for Jesus tomorrow!!!


Joy still needs our prayers throughout the day as the last treatment did not go well, nor did the days following. I will try to keep the blog and Facebook updated as she connects with me during the day. Feel free to comment here or on Facebook and let us know how you are ringing in the praise tomorrow.
Standing in the gap for Joy "Faith,"
Diane "Hope"

Monday, September 12, 2011

Walk of Hope

"Oh God, Oh God, I’m, I’m overwhelmed."

If you’ve ever watched the movie, “Facing the Giants”, the quote above should sound familiar. As I sat with tears running down my face Saturday night, those words echoed in my heart. Oh God, Oh God, I’m, I’m overwhelmed.

This past weekend has been one of countless blessings. I hardly know where to begin.

A couple of weeks ago I had received a complimentary ticket to attend the Beth Moore simulcast. As the day approached, I doubted my ability to be there. Just forty-eight hours prior to the event I was still deeply feeling the effects of my last chemo treatment, and surrendered to the very real possibility that I might not be able to go. Thankfully Friday I felt physically stronger and the hope of the conference returned.

Saturday morning I awoke excited and prepared for all the Lord had in store for me. The host church had made accommodations to help protect me from the crowd gathering and I truly felt the Lord’s blessing on the day. I even had a chair strategically placed and reserved for me. I felt very humbled by the kindness extended.



Entering the sanctuary, I immediately noticed that some renovations had taken place since my last visit. No one else may have appreciated the colour scheme, but the chairs were a shade of teal; the binds, and the curtains framing the platform were also teal. Teal is the colour that represents ovarian cancer. These details did not escape me.

As Travis Cottrell moved our hearts to worship, tears began to flow. It has been so long since I have been seated with 450 ladies praising the Lord together. Secluded in my house for a good portion of the past four months, the gift of corporate worship was being unwrapped and cherished. Joining my voice with precious sisters in Christ and praising the Lord together stirred my emotions. Oh Father, thank You for all You are doing. My life is my worship to You.

Beth’s teaching was straight from the heart of God. I love how she opens Scripture and encourages application of His Word. My notes are many…but they are so much more than letters scribbled on a page…they are life to me. I breathed Him in, and exhaled His peace. The Lord even used Beth’s wardrobe to say, “Joy, I love you”. Guess what colour Beth was wearing? Teal. It was a fabulous day of listening to the whispers of God and knowing that the Lord of the universe saw and cared for me.

Around 8:30pm that evening, while sitting visiting the sweet memories of the day, a knock came to my door. Not just any knock. It was the “family” knock. The secret code that convinces me to open the door, even if sporting my pyjamas. It was my sister and her son, and she said she had a surprise for me.

Seated on the couch, she handed me a notebook with a hand-made cover that read, “Ovarian Cancer Canada, Walk of Hope.” I opened it up to find a list of what looked like about 30 names. Confused, I looked to my sister for explanation.

Yesterday, September 11, was the 10th Annual “Walk of Hope” for ovarian cancer research. I had talked about it for over a month, but feared I would not have the strength or stamina to take part. I had just felt led that day, that if I awoke feeling able, I would participate in this opportunity.

As I began turning the pages in this book, tears began to flow. Unknown to me, my sister had sent out a dozen emails to a few friends asking if they would be willing to donate any amount in my name to help fight the battle against this number one women’s cancer killer. She longed for my heart to be encouraged with a pledge form and a few names. As He did with the loaves and fishes, God multiplied her request.

Reading the names, and the individual stories behind each submission, I came to names I didn’t recognize and assumed they were my sister’s friends. This is where the story gives me goose bumps. My sister didn’t know these folks either. Over the ten days or so as my sister collected funds, complete strangers sent her cards in the mail…or came to her door…dropping off significant amounts to be added to the collection. One such example was a lady who blocked her driveway one day as my sister was returning her son to school after lunch, and simply said she would recognize my sister as being related to me from my picture on my blog. She handed my sister a sizeable donation and drove away. Neither of us is certain of her identity. Another lady sent a card with a generous amount, explaining she did not know me, but had heard about this “surprise” and wanted to be involved. She also promised her prayers.

My heart can hardly hold the love that has been showered on me. The tears flowed unbridled as my sister presented me with a cheque to donate to Ovarian Cancer Canada in the amount of $2320.00. The Lord took my sister’s obedience to send out 12 emails, and He multiplied the response. People are still responding and the amounts are being forwarded to the organization.



As I came to the last page in the book, it was decorated with sunflowers and pre-cut note cards. Remember I told you that I had attended the Beth Moore simulcast that day? My sister had won a door prize. Included in the gift were note cards with sunflowers that said, “God’s love is expressed in every act of kindness.” God’s blessing and benediction on my sister’s efforts. Not only that, but she received the entire teaching series of Beth Moore’s “The Patriarch’s”. God, who sees in secret, rewards openly. So thankful for the way He blessed my sister for the blessing she is to me.

I did attend the walk with a special friend and her daughter. God provided in so many ways and we saw His Hand over and over again. Over 2.6 million dollars was raised in the fight against ovarian cancer.



This morning in my daily reading I came across this verse: “Please let us walk with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” Zechariah 8:23 Isn’t that beautiful? Can you imagine that request being asked of you? Nothing could delight my heart more or humble me deeper…someone has heard of my faith in the Lord and desires to walk with me. That is the true and eternal “Walk of Hope”. Is your walk inviting such a request today? Let’s live so that others will desire to spend time as our companions on this journey, not because of anything we have done, but because of Christ in us.

As I close tonight I ask that anyone who reads this would lift both Diane and I up in prayer...and if you have a request, please leave us a comment, we would be honoured to pray for you.

Standing in the Gap for our friends,
"Hope" Diane and "Faith" Joy

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Help Hope & Faith International spread the word about Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Copy and paste the information and send an email to all the women in your life. It might just save your life or the life of a loved one!
Blessings,
Hope and Faith


       JOIN ME IN  THE INTERNET WALK FOR  AWARENESS:
     
Ovarian  Cancer Walk
(TEAL  IS THE RIBBON COLOR REPRESENTING OVARIAN  CANCER)                   46044EE522DD498983AEF22C318682AE@HALANDJAN
 
Please do  not interrupt her trip.


           
She is  walking for Ovarian Cancer.

Please  pass her on so that she can reach her  destination.


           
Ovarian  Cancer Whispers  - so  listen  carefully . . 

Watch  for Pelvic or abdominal pain or  discomfort;
   ·     vague  but persistent gastrointestinal upsets such  as gas, nausea, and  indigestion    ·     frequency and/or urgency of urination in the absence  of an infection;    ·     unexplained  weight gain or weight  loss   ·     pelvic  and/or abdominal swelling, bloating and/or  feeling of fullness;    ·     ongoing  unusual fatigue;    ·     unexplained  changes in bowel  habits.
   
If symptoms  persist for more than 2 weeks, ask your doctor  for a combination pelvic/rectal  exam,   CA-125,  blood test, and trans-vaginal  ultrasound.
 
 A pap test  WILL NOT detect ovarian  cancer.
  
   
She must  reach every woman with this message about  Ovarian Cancer.


   
Say a  prayer for all those who are affected by this  terrible disease. 

   
She's  walking around the world --- via   e-mail!! 

    
Pass it on  so she can reach every woman in the world! 
 
Please hit  your forward button, so this woman stays  animated.
PLEASE  FORWARD THIS AND KEEP EDUCATING THE WOMEN IN  YOUR
LIFE!!
 
                 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Faith Rocks On

Simple pleasures.  Sitting in a rocking chair.  The gentle motion. Soothing.  Calming emotions. Back and forth.  Back and forth.  Back and forth.
The world seems gentler.  No jarring.  Restlessness finds relief.  Breathing settles.  Heartbeat returns to a peaceful pulse.  A deep sigh escapes, not from distress, but a sense that for just this moment, time stands still and all is at rest.
There is something so precious about being enfolded in the arms of a rocking chair.  Protected.  Secure.  Safe.  A beverage by your side…sipping hot on a cooler day, or racing a determined sun that threatens to melt iced liquid on a warmer afternoon.
Senses seem more acute. The chirp of the cricket.  The distant bark of a dog.  Laughter.  A wisp of hair tickles the forehead.  An ant runs over a barefoot toe.  I smile.  Closing eyes.  Inhaling slowly.  Savouring summer’s scent, while tasting autumn’s approach.
I remember rocking my newborn son.  The unmatched joy of motherhood. Seated in dressing gown.  The early hours of the morning.  A fresh-from-heaven precious bundle cradled in my arms.  Humming.  Quietly humming.  Wanting these sacred seconds to be captured for all eternity.  Serenity held while baby sleeps.
Is the motion so familiar because of nine months in the womb?  Is that why we gravitate toward rockers and swings?  Do they awake memories of comfort?  A rocking chair was home to our first nurturing.  Held in mother’s arms we were cradled in care.  How often our hearts return to that longing.  To be held.  The gift and tenderness of touch. 
There is something that mesmerizes and holds a heart captive in the gentle sway.  Pain released.  Peace received.  The steady rhythm.  The uninterrupted flow.  Movement to and fro.  Past behind.  Promises ahead.
There is One who offers eternal comfort.  A Father whose arms enfold us and safely rocks us in His embrace.  I catch my breath and breathe again.  Breathe in life.  Breathe in hope.  Worries are forgotten.
A refuge from the storm as Faith rocks on.

(OK...have to share the inspiration for this post.  As many of you know I just celebrated a birthday.  The beautiful "Faith" rocking chair was my gift from "Hope", Diane.  She took a couple of older rockers and refinished them.  She stripped the wood, sanded them down and repainted them.  They are still at her home right now, but I saw them via Skype, and I can't wait to visit and sit on her porch, side-by-side, and allow the healing of God's peace and presence to continue.  I have been overwhelmed again by her love for me...a love that would spend countless hours, and endure such effort on my behalf.  The chair is a gift of heart. Thank you again my precious friend for ministering to me in ways that leave me speechless.  May God return the blessings abundantly.  Hugging you.)

Thought you all might enjoy a few more pictures.  Some before and after.  Don't y'all wish she was your best friend?  :-)






Sunday, August 14, 2011

Happy Birthday Joy!!!

Happy Birthday Joy! ! !
You are so beautiful, my friend!

I know this is the one I made you last year. It will have to do until I can make you one in person.

May all the physical and mental challenges of these past few months be far from you today.
Wishing you a peaceful and wonderful birthday my sweetest of friends!
Love you,
Diane 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Round 4 Chemo Is Done! ! !

Praising Jesus for His mercies and love shone on Joy though out the day.Now home, safely tucked in, with her jammies on ,where she can finally rest. Continue to pray over the next 3-5 days as the chemo works through her body. Praying for her to feel as well as possible by Sunday the 14th, her birthday. (wink, wink)

Japhia made 3 chemo caps and finished a pray shawl today. I am touched by the ministry God is doing through her hands and heart. It shows me how we can be a testimony where ever we are in life. Thank you Japhia for your willingness to minister to others.

Now that 4 treatments are behind and only 2 more to go, it is easier to see the end of treatment. Joy and I have been talking about what 5 and 6 would look like. How 5 would be a bit easier knowing there was but 1 remaining. Then 6 is the end and what a day of celebration that will be!!!

Thank you for praying and sending Joy such encouragement today. There is no doubt the Jesus heard the name "Joy Brown" many times over today. It was wonderful to visit with her tonight via Skype. I just wanted to reach through the computer and hug her neck, but He knows this as well.

Blessed to be standing in the gap with "Faith." Joy
Diane "Hope"

Update on Chemo #4

Good Afternoon Friends,

I have gotten several emails this morning from our princess. (smile) Despite being chilled and not wanting to go through with this she is doing well. Prayers are reaching our Most High and I plead with you not to stop!

They brought her some soup but I wish I could get her some Brunswick Stew, I just know that would do wonders. (She love that stuff, Canadians don't know how to make it) Japhia is making Chemo caps hand over fist as her way of ministering to others there at the cancer center. Joy has one for every color in the rainbow, go Japh. What a wonderful way Japh has turned something awful into something beautiful! Hugs Japh!

Just a few more hours and Joy will be down to 2 more treatments! Praise Jesus!
Keep storming the gates of heaven friends.

Thanks Leah, Elaine and Renee and to all those who haven't written in but are praying. Joy is able to get some email at the center. Light up her mailbox!

Standing in the gap with "Faith," Joy,
Diane "Hope"

Today is Chemo Number 4

Friends right now more than ever Joy needs prayer. This chemo treatment is the hardest one to date. At 9:30 she was just getting settled into her much smaller room and feeling very anxious. Please join me and pray her through this today.

 Specific prayers:
* Pray for God's peace and comfort to wash over her all day like waves in the ocean.
* Pray this treatment take and there be no side effects.
* Pray for her mind, let it not wander in Satan's playground, staying focused on what is good and true.
* Pray for her sister Japhia who is beside her today. That she will anticipate Joy's needs before she speaks    them. Praying strength and mercy for Japhia through out the day.
* Finally as Joy finishes this treatment and heads home pray there would be a shorter, if not painless recovery time with this treatment in the coming days.

I will update you through out the day as she touches base. Let's stand in the gap for "Faith, sisters, holding her so high that nothing but the hand of Jesus can touch her today.

Blessings and love to all as I stand in the gap with "Faith," Joy.
Diane "Hope"

Monday, August 8, 2011

Halfway

Halfway is defined as a point of progression. So if you are halfway through a difficult task, it's a good thing. However, if you are halfway through something fun and enjoyable it might start to upset you because the end is soon near. Halfway is relevant. For me it can get very tricky. I find once I arrive at "halfway", I tend to rest. Do you do that? It is as though I feel a break needs to be taken. Maybe to reflect on where I have been or perhaps where I am headed. However for me resting often leads to sitting. Sitting can lead me to staying. Staying can get me stuck. Then when I get stuck that is where it gets tricky. It is then when things tend to fall apart  Sometimes I  question all that I know to be real and true, even when I know better. Do any of you do that?

I feel like that is where I have been. "Stopped." Here we are a full week into August and I feel like time has stopped since June 16. That is the day I was laughing and ending my wonderful visit with Joy in Canada. We were on our way to Toronto where I would catch an evening flight, when my cell phone rang. It was the phone call I had dreaded. The voice on the other end said my mom wasn't going to make it through the night and I should come home as soon as possible. "Halfway" between Joy's home and the airport a phone call changed my life and now things would never be the same. To make a long story short, mama passed into the arms of Jesus about an hour before I was able to reach her. Since then, I will be honest, I just haven't caught my breath. Life has taken on such a different view for me. I can't put into words how yet, I only know that it has changed. It has been a month since I have updated the blog and I know your prayers and thoughts have been with Joy and with me. Please know they are so deeply appreciated and welcomed. Please continue your prayers as I move out of this time of grieving and into a time of healing and peace. Jesus never promised life would be easy, He did promise He would never leave us. I know He is with me always.

So now you're up to date on me, so let me tell you about Joy. Girls have you seen our precious friend lately! Let me tell you this girl is working the color coordination of a head scarf. Two Snaps and A Whistle for Joy!!! WOOT, WOOT!! Yes, she has her bad days, but mercy sakes I don't even know what she is going to do next!!! I mean one day she is laying on her bed after chemo sick as a puppy and the next she is posting Facebook pics of herself behind the wheel of a new Camero Convertible! Mercy! LOL

Seriously loved the pictures she shared with us about going to their trailer at Muskoka Bible Conference Center. Glad she is able to get a change of view for a couple days now and then. (If you aren't already Facebook friends, you should be.  That's where Joy posts all her pics.) I was also celebrating with her being able to go there without her "hair"!!! What courage that took!!! Amazing is simply not enough of a word to describe Joy. Beautiful is another word to describe her. At a time when she doesn't feel her best and senses all eyes upon her, what strength it took for her to sit outside on her porch without her wig, 'al natural'. I have only seen her beautiful bald head through video and pictures, but long for the day I'll kiss the top of it in person.

This week we find Joy "Halfway":
Halfway through her chemo treatments. Number four will be this week. Each treatment has made her sicker than the last. The good news is Jesus gives her enough strength to handle it and she comes out of it just a bit stronger than she went in. Her numbers look good and doctors are saying good things at this point. However please do not let up with your prayers. We are still far from over with this fight. We are not "Halfway" through the cancer battle by any means. Joy will have her blood work done on Wednesday and a consultation with the oncologist, and then all being well, chemo will be early Thursday morning.  Please remember to pray for her blood pressure to be good on this trip as last time those numbers were elevated somewhat.  Praying all reports will be in the "normal" range this time.

Since last week Joy's husband has been battling a nasty cold. Joy has been trying everything, except living in a germ free bubble, to stay healthy. So far she is succeeding, but she has to stay healthy or chemo gets pushed back.

Next week (14th) is Joy's birthday and please pray her day will be filled with health and happiness. Usually the 5-7 days following chemo are not good for her, so pray really hard this month.  A day of bed rest would even be fine as long as it wasn't accompanied by the expected joint pain and upset tummy.  We know God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.

Chris, her son, will be going back to University over Labor day weekend. Joy will not be able to make that trip with him because of her next treatment. Pray as things get prepared for his return to school.

Finally, pray for God's hand and provision for my hopeful trip back to Canada in September.

"Halfway" is defined as a point of progression. Whether you are moving on or towards something, halfway is still better than not moving at all. Because when you are "halfway" you have made progress.

Standing in the gap with "Faith", Joy,
Diane, "Hope"

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Beauty Mark or Battle Scar

"Our suffering may not be a punishment, but a battle scar that demonstrates our loyalty."

When does a battle scar transform into a beauty mark? Battle scars can take on many shapes and sizes and if we allow them to, they can hold us hostage for many years. The darkness of emotional scars can set into motion a lifetime of mental torture that our society has deemed "the silent killer." Physical scars can leave us visibly changed on the outside making us look and feel outcast from the "normal" way of life. Having such scars can make one retreat into a world of solemness, feeling different because a physical affliction altered appearance. So how does one ever get to the point of looking at a "battle scar" as a "beauty mark"?

"You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth.  You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again."  Psalm 71:20-21

Oh, the promises of victory.  The hope of restoration.  Everyone of us has been through trials of transformations and valleys of shadows. None of us have escaped them without scars. These battle scars, big and little form throughout our lives and as we mend they can  turn into beauty marks. Scars are formed after a difficult event happens in our life. Healing comes as a result of time and the touch of God's hand.  It is a process. The painful reality is you can not have a beauty mark without first having a battle scar. From the ashes God creates a masterpiece.  I used to think it would be so awesome not to have any scars at all, but then it dawned on me.  I would have to live such a protected life. Think about it, all the things you would have to do to ensure you would never be hurt. No thank you, I will take the scars because I know that Jesus has them too. (smile) There is great beauty in battle scars.

As my battle continues, the past chemo treatment went well with no adverse reactions.  Thank you so much for your prayers.  The following day was also wonderful and I had strength to accomplish some small tasks around the home.  The third day hit like a ton of bricks, and I found myself in bed all day.  As sick as I felt, I didn't want to be alone, and Diane sensed my longing for company.  I set my computer on the bed and we skyped a couple of times during the day.  I didn't speak, and neither did she.  We just were there for one another.  Silent presence.  She worked around in her home while I slept, content to know that each other were close by.

Saturday my "boys" wanted to head to the trailer so I had a precious friend come and stay with me during the day and my sister relieved her around the supper hour.  I know I pushed myself a little too hard that day.  I should have listened to my body and stayed in bed.  Sunday I took a step backwards and had to listen to it's demands. 

Over the past week I have felt strength return daily and I've been amazed at some of the things I've been able to accomplish.  Yesterday morning before noon I had enjoyed a quiet time with the Lord, done some writing, almost completed three loads of laundry, emptied the dishwasher, cleaned the kitchen, viewed a 60 minute Beth Moore DVD teaching, and gone for a 45 minute walk.  I had great plans for the afternoon as well, until suddenly everything within me crashed around 2pm and I surrendered to the couch where I slept until almost 5:30pm.

Today was exciting as I was able to go to church this morning.  A precious friend who is also going through her own battle with cancer, invited me to join her at the little country church she attends.  This fellowship of believers is smaller in number, and perfect during this time when my immune system is compromised.  We sat up in the sound booth where she greeted me with bottled water and candy, welcoming me with open arms.  My heart rejoiced at being with His people in His presence.

The Lord has blessed me in other ways recently as well.  An article I wrote for Proverbs 31 Ministry was printed on their Everday Life web page.  You can read it here: The Middle of a Miracle.  The Lord gave me the gift of yet more words, as I shared my heart about Front Porch Courage.  My son was awarded the Willemina Blom Scholarship from Redeemer University for being the best all-around student in their music program. "You thrill me, LORD, with all you have done for me!"  Psalm 92:4

I so appreciate your continued prayers.  This past week I also had a head-on collision with Dr's assessments, lab reports, blood levels, ovarian cancer statistics and it all became very overwhelming.  The Lord used the wounds of a friend to quickly reign in my thoughts of panic and He has since settled me in His Word as I seek Him to free me from the lies of the enemy.  Please continue to pray for Diane as well.  Along with her deep concern for me, she is still grieving the loss of her mother, as well as struggling through some concerns where she is seeking divine guidance.  Please pray she will have clarity in direction and peace as confirmation.

As we close this post, why don't you take inventory of your battle scars, and thank the Lord for the beauty He has restored.

We both love you all and thank the Lord for the hope and faith He gives.
Blessings,
Diane, aka "Hope"
Joy, aka "Faith"

**This post was exciting to write.  The edits went back and forth as together we shared our thoughts.  I think this might be the first combined post we've written.  Isn't technology fun.  :)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Bubble Therapy

What is it about bubbles that captivates us? Is it the crystal circles of air that glisten in the sun? Or the carefree nature in which they float through the air?  From the time we are small children we are exposed to the magic of bubbles. They are almost seductive after the first puff through the simple plastic circle dipped in a soapy solution. As youngsters we are convinced the store bought version is far superior to the homemade one. I for one could not be swayed. Mom's version didn't have the "wow factor"; that peel off the foil top, brand new smell and slime on your fingers stuff you can't mix up in a sink factor. Oh yeah, you know what I'm talking about! There is something about bubbles that is intoxicating at any age. Bubbles make you just forget about your worries. Those crystal circles of air catch the wind and they float away, no destination, no time, they just float and POP. You dip, blow and more bubbles appear.  It is that simple. If a child is crying, bubbles make them laugh. If an person is sad, bubbles make them happy. Bubbles are a win-win situation, they are cheap and fun. 

When was the last time you and a friend bought a bottle of bubbles and shared a laugh? 
Maybe you need some "Bubble Therapy". 
Watch the following video and see what happens when Joy and I shared some "Bubble Therapy."
video

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

His Strength Alone

"Go in the strength you have...." Judges 6:14

 But Lord, my strength is small. I feel so weak…and frail.

Can you stand?

 Not without You Lord.

 Then take My hand.

This is how I approach tomorrow friends. The Lord has provided in so many ways over the past three weeks, but now I stand afraid to face another treatment and begin the process over again. I wish it was over. I wish it had never begun.

Tomorrow I will walk into the Cancer Center again, not as a visitor, but as a patient. I will have my blood assessed at 8am. Trusting all will be well, and I’ll move on to see my surgeon/oncologist for 9am. After consulting with him, Lord willing I will proceed to the treatment center and another round of meds will be pumped through my body killing diseased cells and bringing healing.

I ask that you would pray the treatment can be given as scheduled and nothing detour it from happening tomorrow. I pray for journey and mercies as my sister and I travel to Sunnybrook, leaving just after 5:30am. I ask that you would pray there would be no reaction to the drugs this time. I would love to avoid the rush of feeling I endured at the previous treatment, as well as the rash that manifest itself. I pray if the CT scan is scheduled, the results will indicate my lymph nodes are not enlarged. This will keep me from needing radiation. I pray the recovery this time will go smoothly and my body will not resist the treatment, but receive it well, allowing it to do the work for which it is designed. I pray for my relationship and reactions with medical staff, other patients, and volunteers. May they see Jesus. I pray I will have a good night’s rest tonight. I did not sleep well last night at all. I ask that you would continue to pray I will accept the changes taking place. I’ll tell you, looking in the mirror isn’t getting any easier. It’s hard to believe the "Princess" status, even while wearing the tiara. Pray I will be conscientious to eat the proper foods and drink enough so my body will benefit from the protein and fluids. Please pray I will continue to choose to spend daily time in God’s Word, even when I could make what would seem like valid excuses. I need Him. I desperately need Him. Please pray I will not be nauseated and I will be a good little girl and take my medications when needed. (I threw that request in especially for Diane.) Please pray for my sister as she accompanies me. Pray the Lord will give her strength for the day. Please pray as my "boys" hope to go up to Muskoka Bible Conference Center this weekend that they will enjoy the rest and they will be kept safe. Please pray for my precious friend Eithne who is giving up her time to care for me if my guys are away.

My friend Nancy shared a verse with me on the weekend. "But You, O LORD, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head." Psalm 3:3. I am so thankful the Lord is my shield. A shield doesn’t prevent the attack, but it protects us in battle. Yes, there have been many days lately where I have felt the enemy’s fiery darts, but the Lord is continuing to give me victory.

"Even though I'm walkin' through
The valley of the shadow
I will hold tight to the hand of Him
Whose love will comfort me
And when all hope is gone
And I've been wounded in the battle
He is all the strength that I will ever need
And He will carry me."

(He Will Carry Me – Mark Schultz)

Placing myself in His arms. Needing Him to carry me,
Joy "Faith"

Please continue to pray for Diane, "Hope".  The memorial service may be over, but the journey without her mom has just begun.  Please pray the Lord will continue to minister to her heart.  Love ya friend. Wish we were together right now.  HUGS

Thursday, June 23, 2011

It Is Well With My Soul

I found myself sitting at her memorial service Monday night, numb. Everything had happened so quickly since I returned from Canada. On the way to the airport I received the call telling me mama wasn't doing well.  Of all the times I had flown, this time God's provision had already given me a direct flight home.  I believe He allowed mama and I to cross paths in the sky, for when I arrived at the hospital she had already gone to be with Jesus. Maybe it was mama who had caused some of that turbulence up there. (smile) God's perfect timing!

It was extremely difficult for Joy to refrain from getting on a plane and following me home. Her compromised immune system determined she should not travel. I don't know if you have ever had a person willing to stand in the gap for you, but this is truly the basis of our friendship. I pray you will experience this type of friend sometime during your lifetime, if you don't enjoy such a relationship already. Not being able to travel, Joy could pray, and that is exactly what she committed to do.

We both have an amazing group of friends where we live. I love how Joy's friends accept and love me and my friends do the same with her. One of Joy's specific prayer requests for me was that I be surrounded by loving friends. Her request was answered.  My friends surrounded me with love, caring for my every need, and they continue to do so.  Thank you to all of my special peeps here at home, afar, and in cyber space who ministered to me. I wish I could hug each one of your necks.

I keep thinking the Lord is alternating days of emotional emptiness with Joy and I. It seems like just when one of us has almost caught her breath, the other looses theirs. The Lord continues to give us each strength to offer the other support, even in our own brokenness. 

I was thinking back on the memorial service Monday night.  As the words of the old, yet timeless hymn "It Is Well With My Soul" washed over my heart, the pain and emotions of the day caught up with me. I stuggled to keep my feelings in check, but no longer could the tears be denied.  The heartache rushed through my soul and I felt so out of control. The emotions I had been trying to surpress since mama's death found a way to breathe. Why is it I feel I have to contain my emotions? Is it Fear? Pride? Control?

Honestly none of us have control over anything in our lives. God does! "It Is Well With My Soul" was written by a man who lost so much in his life.  It is so easy sometimes as Christians to praise God in the good times, and not so much in the harder times. I sat there during the service gripped by emotion, yet saying to my Heavenly Father, "It Is Well With My Soul."  The irony of this song being played that night, was that it is my favorite hymn. No one in my family knew this until after the service.

If you are struggling with a "season of difficult times" maybe these lyircs might help make things "Well With Your Soul."

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul!

It is well ... with my soul!
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It was only the very next day and Joy needed me to stand in the gap for her! "IT IS WELL WITH MY SOUL!"  Sisters, Joy needs all of us to stand in the gap for her!  It has only been 2 1/2 weeks since chemo began and her greatest fear is coming to pass. Joy's hair is falling out! No matter how you have prayed, or felt you have prepared, this has taken Joy by surprise because it came too soon. Again I pose the question, "What do we really have control over?" (Nothing) Women, regardless of what people say, let's face it, we are vain. Maybe it is the whole Eve and apple thing, I don't know. But just imagine if you woke up tomorrow and were suddenly bald. What would your reaction be? For Joy, she knows it is part of the healing process, but she still must go through this valley.

Tomorrow, Friday, at 10:00 a.m. she will be having the hair that hasn't fallen out, shaved off. I appauld your courage my friend.  I know what strength it took to pick up the phone and make that appointment.  Will you stand with Joy as she takes another step toward healing?

Please leave a comment on the blog letting her know you will stand with her as well. I know it will encourage her heart.

"It Is Well With My Soul"

Standing in the gap for Joy (Faith)
Diane (Hope)

*************
I just talked with Joy and she said things went better than expected. In fact we shared a lot of laughs as she 
recounted some of her adventures and blessings this morning. Check out her Facebook page for some fun conversation on her wall. As of noon she had chosen not to look in the mirror, but that will happen when she is ready. Thank you for all your prayers. Please continue standing in the gap as she adjusts to her wig and "no do." 
Standing in the gap for Joy "Faith"
Diane "Hope"