Monday, July 14, 2014

Helpful Tips for Hard Times

Dad's diagnosed with stage 4 cancer...{Or insert your current struggle} Now what?

 Here are 3 things that have truly helped me find hope while dealing with dad's sickness. I am writing in hopes that someone else will find joy through these as well.

Note: Most of the below subject matter has to do with God working in my life. If this turns you off, I hope you won't give up on reading it quite yet. I can't imagine going through hard times without my faith. So, if you aren't a 'religious' person or don't feel close to God, start where you are. Just see if a little prayer or Bible verse brings some hope. It can't hurt! I'd be glad to pray for you too! ;)

1. Almost immediately after dad was diagnosed, mom told me to read Psalms. So, I started a 150 chapter journey! I decided to circle any verse that meant something to me in my Bible. I also underlined a lot. In addition, I wrote down all the verses that applied to my life on small little white paper squares. After I started, I just felt the need to complete the project. I think I wrote about 200+ little white notes full of Psalms over the next 6 months or so. It was especially neat how God worked it out that the chapters I read went right along with my emotions. When I was down, the verses always seemed to be about God as my refuge and strength. After good news, I'd be reading about praising the Lord for His faithfulness. After awhile I found myself with dozens of little papers on my nightstand. So, one night I posted the verses all over my parents house. Most of them are there to this day. Not sure if it was more for me or them, but either way those little verses have been a big blessing. Why stop there? I posted them in my house. I gave some to both my sisters. I gave some to a friend who I felt needed them. And then another friend. By the end of Psalms I had given nearly all my notes to anyone I felt could use encouragement. I hope it helped them, but I know it has helped me. It gave me a positive and hopeful task to focus on. And writing helps me remember, so I took each verse to heart much more than if I'd just read them. Even now they are a daily reminder that God has given just the words I need at the moment I need them.

2. A second very helpful item has been the book "Red Sea Rules" by Robert Morgan, also suggested by mom (smart woman!). Soon after finding the cancer, mom gave me this book with a special note inside encouraging me that "the God who leads you into the storm, will also lead you out." Well after reading the chapter titles "God means for you to be where you are" and "Be more concerned about His glory than your relief", I promptly put that book down.  I didn't want to hear that God put us in this situation- my heart wasn't open for a long time. Thus, the little red book sat on my nightstand for a good 8-9 months before I was willing to pick it up again. Luckily, I did start to read it. And it was just what I needed. It allowed me to start opening my heart to God's plan- even if it wasn't what I wanted. Each chapter had exactly what I didn't want to hear, but needed so deeply. I am so thankful mom gave it to me- it has greatly impacted my outlook. Because it had been so great for me, I felt the need to share it. So, I got about 3 more copies and gave them to friends who God put on my heart. Well that wasn't enough- so I got about 5 more. I only have 1 left (& will probably need more copies soon!) because I keep feeling the need to give them out. I pray that God has used this little book to impact someone else like it did me.

3. The third thing that has helped me tremendously...people. Family. Friends. Co-workers. Even acquaintances. Anyone and everyone who has prayed and asked how things are going. If you ever question whether to bring up a tough topic, go for it. As long as someone has shared what's going on in their life, asking for updates is a blessing. It lets them know you are thinking of them- just be ready for a bit of emotion in the answer. ;) But, that's needed at times and better than avoiding the topic which can seem as though you haven't given it any thought. I am very grateful to have had so many people ask how dad is doing. Or even specifically how I am doing! Thank you to all of you who have made a point to encourage me and my family and really pray for us. Even when I had a hard time coming up with the words to pray, I knew we had countless people praying on our behalf. Keep it up- it works!

  Those are just 3 things that have made a big difference in how I've dealt with my family's circumstances. We're still walking this journey God has chosen for us (still not easy, but my heart's getting there..) and are thrilled at the progress dad has made so far (see previous post). Praise the Lord for His healing and prayers for faith no matter what lies ahead!


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