Monthly Archives: October 2022

Testimony

Remember I prayed for my friend Lesley with Leukemia? This is her story.

BUT GOD…. On 2 September 2022 Grant and I went to have routine medicals for applications for travel visas. The medicals included a full blood count and mine was red-flagged as I had almost zero white blood cells. Five days later I had a diagnosis of Acute Leukemia (blood cancer) – if untreated, fatal within a few months. Further investigation revealed that I had underlying Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) (failure of the stem cells in the bone marrow to make new blood cells) which meant that conventional chemo wouldn’t work – it would in fact probably make me resistant to any treatment. Talk about a shock! I was told to isolate as with zero white blood cells I had basically no immune system. We did a huge amount of research and discovered that the average survival rates with both diseases, even with treatment, was five months to two years, although the Haematologist at Olivedale said that with new treatment it was possible to survive but only after 4-6 months of targeted chemo treatment, and then a total bone marrow transplant. As you can imagine we went through the whole gamut of emotions and reactions, which was just surreal as I really wasn’t sick! We worked through denial, horror, disbelief and grief in all forms. I am the kind of person who needs to talk through things with the people I love, but some of the people I love just couldn’t bear to talk with me (totally understandably)! Just a tip – don’t ever hold back from contacting someone who is suffering because you don’t want to intrude, or you don’t know what to say (I have done this so often!) Just tell them you care – it helps. I talked to anyone who would listen! Thank you all – you know who you are! We went through boxes of tissues and had lots of “what if” conversations, we cried and laughed and cried some more. I sat and thought through my possible future. I discovered that I wasn’t scared of death (a bit scared of the unpleasant process of getting there, though) and that although I had plans for another twenty or so years on this earth, it really wouldn’t be a tragedy to land up in heaven with Jesus a whole lot sooner than expected. What really finished me though was the outpouring of grief from my family and close friends. I really hadn’t understood how much they loved and valued me! And it was heartbreaking to watch their grief. I said to Grant (tongue in cheek) that it was like eavesdropping on my own funeral! To start with I couldn’t pray. My prayers consisted of “Lord help!!”, “Please, Lord have mercy!” and similar one sentence calls for rescue, with lots of tears. However my dear husband stepped up here, and prayed me to sleep every night, and prayed me awake every morning; and family and friends, both local and from all over the world, contacted us, prayed with us, and promised to pray for me and for us – for healing, for strength, for peace, for increased faith, for wisdom and for courage! We prayed for God’s help and presence with us, for peace and strength. People have told us that we have encouraged them through this experience, but we just need to confirm here, that there was absolutely nothing impressive about our personal faith – it was weak and wobbly. It was 1 all God. He answered those prayers in an amazing way almost from day one! We felt a deep-rooted peace and comfort and unshakeable knowledge that He was with us all the way through. It was almost tangible. I also discovered that the Word is alive in a way I have never experienced before. If I kept on feeding my mind with chapters, verses, worship songs, and focusing on the truth, I was amazingly able to cope with just about anything. Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. But, oh my word, if I focussed on the facts and the horrors of this disease, the treatment, and the uncertain future, I sank immediately just like Peter did when he was trying to walk on water and took his eyes off Jesus. And sinking is not fun. I started to read everything I could find on healing, first in the Bible and then different people’s opinions and commentary on the truth of what the Bible teaches. The Bible is so full of healing principles, promises and statements of fact. Just a few of thousands below… Proverbs 3:7-8 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 4:20-23 My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Let them not escape from your sight; keep them within your heart. For they are life to those who find them and healing to all their flesh. Psalm 103:2-3 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases. Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Mark 1:30-34 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them. That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. James 5:14-15 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 2 Some people say we should “claim” healing, and walk around insisting that “I am healed in Jesus’ name!”, no matter what the current facts are. I couldn’t quite get my head around that. Others say God can heal, but only if He wants to (almost implying that He probably doesn’t.) We had to sit and work through what we believed about sickness and healing. I know that we live in a broken world and sickness comes from Satan, not from God. But I also know that God’s got me and nothing can touch me unless He allows it, and that He will be with me through everything. So He must have allowed this horrible thing to happen, and there must be a reason. So we prayed, and our prayers changed over the weeks and months. First we prayed the “Lord, help!” prayer. Then we prayed for healing, in Jesus’ mighty name. We asked our church leaders to come and pray for me as per James 5. We asked Jesus specifically to touch me, heal my bone marrow and blood, and make the meds work way better than they were expected to. We read Psalm 37 one morning, and this verse jumped out at me – so we prayed it! For the ”wicked” read “cancer cells”! Psalm 37:10 In just a little while, the wicked (cancer cells) will be no more; though you look carefully at their place, they will not be there. But Psalm 37 also talks about “the desires of your heart” and I began to think – what if God healed me now – would I want things to go back to exactly the way they were in August? So what are the “desires of our hearts”? We began to pray differently. We still asked God every day to heal me, but we also asked Him to show us what the purpose of this experience was. To show us how He could be glorified through this, and how He could use it to extend His kingdom. Otherwise, what a waste! I started treatment (eventually after lots of negotiation with the medical aid) on 29 September. Seven consecutive days of IV chemo, with the associated stresses of needles and collapsed veins. Thankfully side effects were minimal and totally manageable (answered prayer, there). Then twenty days of oral chemo medication. I had regular blood tests, checking my cell levels. The doctor warned me that my platelet and red blood cell levels would crash (my white blood cells had remained at almost zero all the way through). Sure enough during the week of 9-15 October they did crash, and by Friday I was developing horrible bruises and battling crushing fatigue. I lay in bed and said to Grant, “Well it seems that God is not interrupting the course of this disease, but He is certainly keeping us at peace.” The doctor scheduled a blood transfusion for the Saturday, and that made an amazing difference to how I felt. I was so grateful. But they warned me the effect would wear off within four or five days, and sure enough by Tuesday I was getting noticeably more tired again. On Wednesday afternoon I was lying on the couch between sleeping and waking, and the words of “The Blessing” were drifting through my mind – but I couldn’t remember them clearly, so I fetched my phone and played the song quietly on repeat as I lay with my eyes closed. 3 May His favor be upon you And a thousand generations And your family and your children And their children, and their children May His presence go before you And behind you, and beside you All around you, and within you He is with you, He is with you In the morning, in the evening In your coming, and your going In your weeping, and rejoicing He is for you, He is for you. I slept deeply. When I woke up in time for supper, I felt good, and the next morning I still felt good. We went for blood tests, and as the doctor walked through the waiting room she said “how are you?” When I answered that I was fine, she looked surprised and said “That’s exciting!” She then called us in and told us that she was expecting crashing cell counts and to schedule another blood transfusion, but instead, the cell counts showed everything going up. My white blood count was still low, but for the first time showing an improvement – unfortunately not enough yet to stop isolating. Surprisingly, she confirmed that this was nothing to do with the blood transfusion but was a result of my bone marrow stem cells starting to work properly and she was amazed. I began to feel more and more that God had healed me. One week later – we went back to the hospital for the start of my second course of IV treatment. Routine blood tests showed “remission”! Normal platelets, increasing white and red blood cells. No more isolation – thankfully! Then it was time for the second bone marrow biopsy. Today (Monday 31 October) the doctor came though to us having received the biopsy results and said “Your leukemia is gone! There is no sign of it left. I have never seen this treatment work so well and so quickly. You are absolutely fine and you can live a totally normal life.” God has intervened and answered our prayer of Psalm 37! Psalm 37:10 In just a little while, the wicked (cancer cells) will be no more; though you look carefully at their place, they will not be there. She wants me to carry on with the targeted chemo treatment ‘just in case it comes back” for the next three months and she is still concerned about the underlying MDS and talking about a bone marrow transplant – But if God has healed the leukemia He can heal the MDS too, and maybe He already has! We praise our great, miracle working God. May His kingdom come, may His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!

Lesley and Grant Caw (+27) 0828520810 (L) (+27) 0824508816 (G)

Bubbles

And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah8:10 ESV)

A couple of years ago, my hand-held shower-head broke off. I learned to do without it and had almost forgotten what it is like to have a shower attachment in my bath. On Saturday I went to a craft market at a little church near our home. On one of the stalls was a showerhead and attaching hose and bracket for R60. I wasn’t sure it was the right thing or that it would screw into my mixer but I bought it. When I got it home, I found it did fit and it is now attached.

I had forgotten the pleasure of being able to make foam in my bath by using the shower attachment. I continued to add bubble bath mixture however, because it helps me clean the bath afterwards. but now… O, the luxury of a relaxing bubble bath!

I wonder what it is about bubbles that captures the spirit of joy. They are nothing but air encased in a thin skin. Remember the joy of a child blowing bubbles? They float effortlessly, shimmering in the sunshine and reflecting rainbows on their surface. In this case the air is breath.

Joy is part of the Fruit of the Spirit and the more we allow the Holy Spirit to breathe into us, the more joy we will manifest, reflecting the glory of Christ. Jesus had this joy. He said in John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” He was talking about love – the fact that He loves us just as the Father loves Him and that we are to abide in His love and love one another.

Joy can transform the everyday to something special, just like the bubbles which set apart Champagne from ordinary wine.

My Prayer

Dear Lord, sometimes life seems so ordinary:- the everyday routine, one week following another in cyclic appointments and duties. Please breathe Your joy into my life this Monday and may this joy affect those around me like bubbles.

Slow to Anger

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.” (Proverbs 16:32 ESV)

It is not easy to rule one’s spirit. My eight-year-old granddaughter managed it last weekend. We were playing a family game and everybody was having fun.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

It was time for the youngest to go to bed. She begged to play another round but all the grown ups knew exactly what would happen if she got over-tired. Her father explained that if she was tired, she would cry when we did have to finish. She promised she wouldn’t. So we played another round. Sure enough, when we finally stopped, my granddaughter’s face crumpled and tears threatened. However, it only needed a reminder of her promise and it was like a switch had been flicked. She smiled and cheerfully helped pack up and go to bed. I was impressed. It is not something I’d witnessed before.

I realised that our moods and emotions are actually under the control of our wills. Part of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. If we can determine to be slow to anger, the Bible says we are better than the mighty. I would suggest we would be stronger than the mighty because it takes a lot of strength to do that. Likewise, as many as the troops and tanks and weapons that it requires to take a city, that is less than the power that is needed to rule our spirits. Fortunately, our God, great in power, will put all His resources at our disposal if we ask Him for help in this regard.

My Prayer

Father, I confess I am quick to find excuses for my bad attitude and actions, be it tiredness, disappointment or anything else I can think of. Please take control of my emotions and grow my self-control that I may act in a way pleasing to You. Amen.

Open Your Mouth Wide

Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:10b ESV)

I thought of baby birds when I read that.

Image by Jan van Oosthuizen from Pixabay

However, the Psalm goes on: “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways.” (Psalm 81:11-13 ESV)

Imagine if some enemy persuaded a baby bird that its mother was mean to only give it worms to eat when there was fudge available.

“But Mom said only to eat what she gives me. other stuff is bad for me.”

“It is not bad for you. Look, I’ll eat some. See. I’m fine. In fact I have so much energy, I think I can fly,” says the enemy.

So the hatchling eats the fudge and it is true, she has more energy. When her mother comes, she doesn’t open her mouth. She is full. She thinks she is big now. She can make her own decisions. Gradually she becomes deaf to her mother’s voice and doesn’t react. Her mother thinks she is dead and throws her out of the nest. Fortunately the baby bird lands in a soft clump of gorse and doesn’t die but injures her wing. She thinks she is happy, however, because she lands near the packet of fudge. She will be all right, she reasons. So she gets fat and heavy and doesn’t even know that she was created to fly. She also doesn’t know the danger she is in as a grounded bird in a place where predators abound.

Does this story ring any bells? It is the story of the fall. How Man chose to be his own god, rather than submit to the Only True God. Our human nature is deaf to the voice of God and everyone does what is right in his own eyes. Yet God longs for us to return to Him, so that He can save us from the danger we are in.

My Prayer

Father God, please teach me to recognise Your voice and to obey as you train me in Your ways. Forgive me for my stubborn heart which convinces me that my way is the right way. Amen.

Anticipation and Reality

When we look forward to something like a holiday, we somehow think that, because we have spent or budgeted a lot of money for it and expended a great deal of time planning it, success is guaranteed. In our mind we imagine a care-free time in perfect weather where we have enough money to do everything we want to.

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

This is not a realistic expectation, nor does it line up with our past experience. I have had holidays where:- I caught the wrong bus and by the time I got to my youth hostel, it was locked for the night; I was in so much back pain that I had to consult a physiotherapist in a foreign country; I fell off my bike and spent the night trying to stop bleeding; we got back to our tent site to find our gazebo had been trashed by the wind; one of the children was so sick on the journey we decided to abandon our booked caravan site and go for a bungalow at three times the price. I could go on and on but I am sure everyone has had similar experiences they can recount. Yet we continue to look forward to holidays with excitement and anticipation and are shocked when things go wrong.

The same is true of Christian life. We have some rosy expectation that now that we are Christians, we are immune from everyday frustrations, disappointments and disasters. Yet we are never promised a trouble-free life in this fallen world. All we are promised is that God will be with us in the trouble.

Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you might have peace. In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 ESV)

He also warned his disciples about things to come. There will be wars, famines and earthquakes. Christians will be hated, persecuted and put to death. Lawlessness will increase and false prophets will arise. That doesn’t leave much room for rosy expectations that things will get better.

Fortunately we do know the end of the story. We know that when Christ comes again, everything will be made right. We know we will be with Him forever, regardless of the troubles we go through in this life. We know that God is in control, no matter what. We can only trust Him and know that He will never leave us nor forsake us.

My Prayer

Lord, I have no idea what my future holds. I trust you with whatever will come my way. I know You are always with me. May I sense Your presence and rest in Your love. Amen.

Gardens and Weeds

Is there anything our God cannot do? Recently I’ve shared personal experiences of God’s power. He organised for a specific truck to overtake our motorhome at a specific moment and caused me to look at that specific instant, just to give me a message of encouragement. He caused an official government agency to change its mind on requirements. In little things and big things He has shown Himself powerful.

A friend of ours, who is also my daughter’s mother-in-law, was diagnosed with Leukemia when she went for a routine medical test to apply for a visa to go to New Zealand. I can only imagine the sense of shock and devastation as she entered the storm of drug treatments, both intravenous and as tablets, extreme tiredness, blood transfusions accompanied by the whirlwind of fluctuating emotions. Family and friends have been praying, specifically that the drug regime will arrest the problem and she won’t need a bone-marrow transplant. She has remained close to God and puts her faith in Him. On Tuesday she shared parts of Psalm 37. For “wicked” read “cancer cells.”

“In a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.” (Psalm 37:10 ESV)

Today my friend went for (more) blood tests. They show that everything is starting to recover. The doctor said the results were better than she expected:- red cells up, platelets up, white cells starting to come up, ‘though still very low. She likened it to a vegetable garden totally choked with weeds.

The treatment has started clearing the weeds and the vegetables are starting to do what they were designed to do.

I think weed-killer in the hands of the Master-Gardener can be very effective.

Some time ago, another friend had a “vision” from God about a garden. In his case, the weeds were spiritual. God showed him that he was doing too many activities for God and not spending enough time with Him. In that case the weeds had to be pulled up manually, one by one, to enable spiritual growth to take place. In either case the Master-Gardener knows exactly what He is doing.

I know the Lord can heal my friend. Only He knows what His plans are and He will chose the time and the means according to His will. Meanwhile we continue to pray and celebrate every sign of encouragement.

Her Psalm for the day. “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord.” (Psalm 40:3,9 ESV)

My Prayer

Lord, I know from personal experience that You are an awesome God. If You will, you can heal Lesley. I continue to pray for Your touch to bring healing physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually. I trust You, Lord, no matter what.

This post is published with permission.

Self Image

“The opposite of self consciousness is not a “good” self image or self esteem. The opposite of conscious is unconscious. To lose consciousness of one’s self happens when we become more conscious or aware of God and His will than we are of self and its will. This is a work of the Spirit, accomplished progressively as we renounce our natural limitations and abandon our selves to Him” (Lisa Revere)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

This post is part of One-Liner-Wednesday.

Like Father…

Across the road from our house is a big, beautiful tree. Its trunk and branches are a white colour dappled with browns, blacks and other colours. The leaves have five points, like spikey hands. I’m not sure what kind of tree it is, perhaps a sycamore or a plane tree.

Yesterday I noticed new spring leaves on a branch, five-pointed, just like their bigger counterparts.

If anybody can identify the tree, please tell me what it is in the comments

I thought to myself, “Like father, like son.” I called to mind families I know where sons resemble fathers physically and in mannerisms. My brother looks a lot like my father did. We are all familiar with the concept of family resemblance.

Jesus was talking to his disciples about the Father. “Philip said, ‘Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.Jesus answered, ‘Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.‘” (John 14:8-9 NIV)

The writer to the Hebrews says, “The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command.” (Hebrews 1:3a NLT) This is not so much a physical likeness because God is invisible, but Christ embodies the nature and character of God, the Father.

The likeness doesn’t end there. When we become Children of God, (“To all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 NLT)) we receive a number of family privileges. We receive adoption into the family and the family name. We receive the family inheritance. The third thing we receive is the family likeness, not as an instant transformation but rather as a growing resemblance.

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV) The more we contemplate the Lord’s glory, the more we are transformed into His likeness.

The little leaf in my photo resembles the big leaf, but it is not there yet. There is still a lot of growing to do. Likewise I still have a lot of growing to do but my Lord know exactly how to grow me into His likeness as He brings situations and circumstances across my path. Sometimes I will fail and regress but I can trust the Spirit Who is in me to control the process.

My Prayer

Lord, thank You that I am a child of God. You are my Father. I do not have to strive to be like Christ, it is a natural growing process and it is in the hands of Your Spirit. I know I will not always enjoy the growing pains, but I trust You with the final result and my final destiny. Amen.

A Rose in the Car

Recently a friend gave me a single rose. I wanted to keep it from wilting in the car on my way home. We have been in the middle of a heat wave for the last week or two. I asked for a small bottle that I could use to keep the flower in water. I managed to find a suitable spot in my car to wedge the bottle and keep the flower upright.

As long as the stem of the rose remained connected to the water, the rose would stay alive and drink up the water. However, should the stem be removed from the water for a while, it would suck up air instead, leading to a quick decline.

Jesus said, “Remain in me and I will remain in you. for a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4 NLT)

Jesus was talking about a vine and its branches but it is also true of a rose and water. The rose stem needs to remain in the water so the water can remain and flow through the rose stem.

In John 7, Jesus talks about “living water,” by which He meant the Spirit. If we walk by the Spirit, i.e. keep constantly connected to Him, we will not gratify the desires of the flesh, (Gal 5: 16) which cause us to wilt and fade as the living water is no longer in us.

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, I do not always keep connected to You. Please help me to walk more and more by the Spirit, like a rose keeping its stem constantly in the water. I know that without You I can do nothing. Thank You for Your life-giving Spirit. Amen.