Do Good

chickadee taking off Shandi-lee Cox via Compfight

Building a business is inherently stressful. On the entrepreneurial roller coaster, I am experiencing abounding fear, much self-doubt, and occasional panic! As an example, while rejoicing that my first group coaching venture was off the ground, I fretted and worried: How will I find six more people for the next group? How can I market this? I confess to self-doubt and discouragement. Very often in the building stage, the activity level is high and the “return on investment” is low. It was during that fretting and worrying that God began plying my heart with a simple truth: “Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.” (Psalm 37:3)

In a recent week, I participated in, presided at, and prepared for six different events related to a non-profit organization of which I have been a member for many years. “Trust in the Lord, and do good….”

During this same week, there was a non-paid speaking engagement at a local university wherein I delivered a training session for instructors on how to write a good course description. This was not a topic on which I considered myself an expert; thus it required considerable research and writing time. I had prepared a sheet of DOs and DON’Ts with respect to writing a course description and submitted it for duplication. Wondering if I was on target for what I had been asked to do, I inquired of the administrator if she had
read the material and if it met her expectations. Her comment: “Yes, this is exactly what we have needed.” During the presentation, a gentleman commented, “We instructors have to write a course description every quarter. It would be great if this document could be included as a guideline in the form we have to complete for our courses.” I passed his suggestion to the administrator who agreed that was a great idea. “Trust in the Lord, and do good….”

Three more non-paid speaking engagements filled my calendar. Thankfully I was able to use material with which I was already familiar for classes of sixth and eighth graders at a middle school, and an adult student group at a local university. The topics were how to write and deliver a speech and effective speaking skills. “Trust in the Lord, and do good….”

Through all of this, God encouraged me with his promise of “…so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.” There are hundreds of Continue reading

It Takes a Village to Get Grandma Down the River

When the grandchildren made plans for tubing down Davidson River in Pisgah Forest last July 4th weekend, I decided to go along just to watch them launch and start their journey, then walk back to the campsite that was nearby. But what is a grandmother to do when her son shows up with a tube for her? Obviously, he did not get the memo that Grandma was there just to watch. Since I hate to see good money wasted, I felt obligated to join the down-river migration.

The grandchildren were seasoned veterans after having tubed once during this fateful weekend, so they each jumped into their watercraft and floated merrily on their way. They also came prepared with bathing suits and water shoes. I was wearing appropriate campsite attire and leather moccasin-type shoes – not appropriate tubing attire at all. However, since my tube had a bottom in it, I naively thought there was an outside chance I might not get wet. That thought was reinforced when I was instructed to take off my shoes and put them in the bottom of the tube before wading into the water and getting into it myself. It would be nice at the end of this journey to have dry shoes for the walk back to the campsite.

It was bottoms down when I finally managed to get situated in the tube with the help of my son and grandson. With legs hanging over one side of the tube and arms flailing over the other, I was pushed out into the mainstream of the river. Not get wet? What was I thinking??!! My river craft had a leaky bottom and both I and my leather shoes were soaked immediately.

Due to longevity, I can claim expertise in several areas, but at tubing I was a complete neophyte and had much to learn. It all seemed so simple. Get in the tube and float. Nothing to it, right? Seems the river was somewhat low that day, so I had not floated long or far when I hit a rock and got hung up. I managed to push off one nearby and get moving again only to be snagged by another rock. And so it went for a good portion of the adventure. Once I even got caught in some brush near the riverbank. My son, smart man that he is, was following closely behind and came to my rescue. A man fishing from the bank with an amused expression on his face watched my struggle. I decided to laugh with him by saying, “It takes a village to get Grandma down the river!”

Once you are in that tube on the river, you have no choice but to finish the journey. Along the way, I finally realized I was getting snagged by so many rocks because….well, let’s just say I was sitting very low in that tube! The rocks were visible, so I began arching my back to lift myself off the bottom. Amazingly, I skimmed the rocks and floated easily! Wow!

Lots of life lessons here. None of us shows up for life truly prepared for what is going to happen. Yet, if we waited until we were “dressed appropriately” (fully prepared), we would miss so many unexpected blessings and learning opportunities. The best Continue reading

“Nothing is Random”

At the crossroads Thomas Guignard via Compfight
In Jesus Calling, I read, “Nothing is random in My Kingdom. Everything fits into a pattern for good, to those who love Me.” Thus, I began ruminating especially on the phrase “Nothing is random….”

The Lord frequently reminds me…because I too soon forget…just how intimately he is involved in the minutest details of my life. From being “fearfully and wonderfully made” to being “accepted in the beloved,” there is a divine concert in my life that continues playing out moment by moment through the masterful conducting of Christ. When I can grasp just how intricately he is weaving the warp and woof of his plan, there is rest and a fearless trust. In recent months, I have experienced a blessed rest that comes from fearless trust. Yes, I will confess to moments of fear, but fear is fleeting in the face of who my God is.

I have been at a crossroads trying to discern the Lord’s forward path for me. I was not questioning God’s master plan as I felt sure I was headed in the general direction of where he wanted me to go. Yet I was very perplexed at how he might possibly be executing that plan.

Having set upon the path of being a professional speaker, I knew it would take some time to find my niche. Never mind that I was entering a very crowded and highly competitive field. I was confident of the Lord’s leading in the matter. My vision was of speaking engagements here, there, everywhere! And God granted some exciting opportunities over time. It was humbling when I had to rely on family for support when there was not income sufficient. At one point I even took a part-time job that allowed me great flexibility for scheduling speaking engagements, but the whole time I sensed the Lord was not pleased by my lack of trust in his ability to care for me. When that job played out – not enough work to keep me busy – the Lord had made his point. There were some difficult months, but God was faithful.

At that crossroads, in desperation I cried out to the Lord with a very unglamorous prayer: “Lord, I need to either go big or go home.” In reality, that prayer was God bringing me to the point where I was ready to boldly step out AGAIN in faith and trust him to open every door, guide each step. Shortly after, the Lord began sending people who needed help strengthening their speaking and communications skills who were willing to pay for the help! The exciting thing is that this is as much a ministry as it is a service, and seeing someone grasp the principles of effective speaking is great reward. The beauty is that Christ has allowed me to witness how intricately he has been working to prepare and enable me. Truly, I see and know experientially that “Nothing is random….”

God has opened the way for me to help people who put both feet in their mouth at the same time because those folks don’t have a leg to stand on! The Lord be praised!

Trust in Action

Last Wednesday it was my joy to speak to a group of senior citizens at a church in the Midlands. Because each speaking engagement brings its own unique challenges, I always seek the Lord’s guidance to be sure it is his message I am delivering. This was actually a return engagement. It is one thing to be invited to speak to a group; but to be invited back is the ultimate compliment to a speaker!

The first engagement brought with it great spiritual turmoil as I struggled to know the mind of the Lord. The leader of the group had asked me to speak on a Thanksgiving theme. After I spoke, she wanted the members of the group to be willing to come forward and say publicly something for which they were thankful. After much prayer, the thoughts finally gelled. I remember printing off my notes and rushing out the door for the trip down. There was no time to review the notes, do the usual tweaking and settle the message within. For the drive, I played a music tape that always blesses me. By the time I arrived at the church, I had been blessed, encouraged and strengthened. I breathed a final prayer “Lord, help!” and entered the meeting hall. God was gracious, he was faithful, and he filled my mouth with words that elicited the desired response.

This return engagement was booked several months ago, so I have had time to mull over a topic that I thought might resonate well with older folks. I entitled this presentation “Keeping the God Focus.” Once again I struggled to get the outline on paper despite months of running various thoughts before the Lord, but I left with three solid points that I could develop with the Lord’s help. I was not alone for this drive. I believe my companion for the trip was ordained of the Lord, but having another person in the car did not allow me the additional focus on the presentation. Nevertheless, I found myself frequently breathing a prayer to the Lord and entreating his help to clarify my thoughts and to help me deliver his message once again.

What I learned from both of these experiences is that our trust in God never goes unrewarded. In fact, I was specifically challenged by the Lord to let him prove himself in both of these situations. Had I felt fully prepared, knew word-for-word what I was going to say, the temptation to trust myself, my preparation, my gifts would have been strong, and my message would have fallen flat. God expects me to prepare to the best of my ability according to the gifts he has given. However, it is at the limit of my ability that I must trust him to speak through me and accomplish his purposes.

I was reading this morning from Jesus Calling and saw the author stated my thoughts much more clearly: “If you live your life too safely, you will never know the thrill of seeing me work through you.”  God wants us to risk walking outside our comfort zone so that he can show himself strong in our behalf.  That is trust in action!

The Lord be praised!

The Cancer Story – Part IV

When we left off last time, we were preparing for my daughter’s wedding.  I had a second chemo treatment before the wedding and was experiencing weakness and lack of stamina.  With all of the last-minute details to be taken care of, the greatest in my mind was how to get the rented flowers and plants from the nursery to the church and back.  God sent a man in our church who borrowed a covered van from his company and took care of this for us.  I have thanked him more than once for coming to our aid.  Friday night of the rehearsal, God had more helpers to do the physical work of attractively arranging the foliage.  How blessed to have people with talent and a servant’s heart to assist.  I was instructed to just sit on a front pew and give directions.

Wedding days are long days, and there was some concern as to how I would hold up.  But, the Lord be praised, I was there for the pictures beforehand and the reception afterwards.  As my son escorted me down the aisle to my seat, I saw tears of rejoicing in the eyes of people who knew of my struggle.  I drew great strength from those demonstrations of love and care.  It was interesting as many came through the receiving line and commented, “It’s so nice that you did not lose your hair!”  I guess the wig looked truly natural.  Others were curious enough to ask, “Geneva, is that your hair?”  I replied, “Of course it’s my hair!  I have the receipt to prove it!”

With a beautiful wedding behind us and the happy couple off to start their lives together, life continued in a routine of work and chemo treatments.  We finally settled on a schedule whereby I would have a treatment on Thursday afternoon, go to work on Friday pumped up by steroids given to counter nausea, have an okay day on Saturday, end up on the couch Sunday too sick to attend church, get up on Monday morning, vomit, and go on to work! What a life!

As I stated earlier, I was so naive about how long I would need the chemo treatments.  As the weeks stretched into months and then into years, I was growing more uneasy about how long I might have to keep this up.  Regular CT scans showed that while the tumors were not growing, neither were they shrinking.  My treatments were handled at an ambulatory infusion center.  After several months of chemo, my veins began to collapse, so an access port was surgically implanted.  For some reason, my port was difficult for the nurses to access.  It was a very painful process as they pressed a curved needle into the narrow access point.  One nurse tried three times and finally admitted, “I have no idea what I am doing.”  After that, I insisted that the access be done only by a nurse who was familiar with my port. Because it was so painful, the goal was to get the needle in on the first try.  One sweet nurse confessed that she prayed before sticking me.  God was still sending his angels to minister to me.  How gracious was my God.

In July 2010, after four years of chemo and no real evidence that the tumors were being impacted, I told the oncologist that I wanted to stop.  I had sensed the Lord dealing with me for a number of months, so I finally summoned the courage to tell the doctor I’d had enough.  He was willing for me to take a break for four months and then do a CT scan in October to assess the situation.  Over the years I had continued to educate myself on the power of nutrition to heal, and one friend kept me flooded with good information.   Thus, concurrently with suspending treatment I began changing to a vegetarian diet and added juicing to my lifestyle.  Within three weeks after stopping treatment and changing my diet, I felt like a new person.  October came when the doctor wanted to do the CT scan.  Please remember that during all these years of chemo, I had absolutely zero insurance; but between the goodness of God and generosity of the Greenville Hospital System, the medical costs had been covered.  Since I would qualify for Medicare in January 2011, I asked the doctor if we could hold off until then to do the next CT scan.  He was agreeable.

What unfolds next is a testament to the power and grace of God.  Looks like we are headed to Part V only because I want these posts to not take too much of your time to read.  Also, there are some details that should not be skipped because they show the working of God in my life.  With more to come, may the Lord be praised!

The Cancer Story – Part III

With the type of cancer confirmed – granulosa cell carcinoma – I began regular consultations with the gynecological oncologist, a fine doctor who is a believer.  Since his mother died of breast cancer, he is even more passionate about his work with gynecological cancers.  Because the granulosa cell is fairly slow growing, it was almost a year before any significant growth or change in the tumors was detected.  The doctor was now recommending chemotherapy.

A couple of years before the cancer was found in my lungs, I had learned about some powerful glyconutritional supplements that started me on a journey of learning about the importance of nutrition in maintaining good health.  I began taking those supplements and recommending them to others. I had always told myself that if ever I had cancer, I would NOT take chemo.  It was an agonizing decision as I prayed and sought counsel on both sides of the question.  Do I continue with the nutritional approach or do I start chemo?  I was consulting with a medical doctor who had left conventional practice because of her belief that if you feed the body properly, the body can heal itself.  She had much first-hand proof that this was true, and her following was growing.  After exchanging several emails on the decision facing me, this courageous doctor finally said, “Geneva, if it were me, I would do both.  I would take the chemo and stay with the nutritional supplements.”  I was comfortable with that approach, and my family concurred.  We began talking with the oncologist about a date for the first treatment.

While trying to make the best decision about my health care, we were also in the throes of planning my only daughter’s wedding scheduled for the end of July 2006.  I was so excited!  After three trips down the aisle as mother of the groom, I was finally going to be mother of the bride.  I had even taken on the task of making the bridesmaids gowns.  The pattern and fabric were chosen, and I finally managed to cut out three simple dresses when God stepped in with a different agenda and I came down with another severe upper respiratory incident.  Knowing how these things go, I realized I would never finish those dresses in time for the wedding, so I called friends whose daughter was a professional seamstress and invited them to lunch after church on Sunday. Although I was getting worse and breathing was difficult, I managed to serve a meal and hand off the dress project before being instructed by the doctor to get to the emergency room that afternoon.

The ER doctors decided I had blood clots in my lungs, so I was admitted to the hospital on July 2, 2006.  After nine days in the hospital that included a wrong diagnosis and medications that caused my lungs to hemorrhage, it was decided that I would have my first chemo treatment before leaving the hospital.

I was so naive about this chemo thing and a little arrogant as well.  Somehow I had the idea that one or two treatments is all it would take to eradicate this cancer; and despite what the doctor said, I was just sure I would not lose my hair.  God knows me so well, but in his loving and gentle way, he shepherded me through the tears when my hair started first to thin, then to come out in clumps as I showered.  I was so weak from the chemo that my son had to accompany me for the final wedding shopping to push the wheeelchair.  We also shopped for a wig.  It was one week before my daughter’s wedding and all of my hair was gone.  I learned something about my own vanity through this experience and even more about the kindness and mercy of my God as the wedding neared.

At this juncture I am not sure how many more “Parts” it is going to take to finsh the story.  In truth, the story will not be finished until God writes the final chapter, but the goal is to bring you down the early roads I traveled so that you can appreciate the magnitude of God’s working in all of this.  I hope you see God in these details.  He is working all things for his glory and my good.  His strength is being made perfect in my weakness, and he is molding me for the future.  See you next week.

The Lord be praised!

From Miracle to Miracle

“Geneva, you just live from crisis to crisis,” observed one of my friends many years ago. While an overview of my life would seem to support her statement, I choose to believe that I have lived from miracle to miracle. Here is one case in point.

My mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor and was scheduled for surgery. This news could not have come at a worse time for me. It was one of the few times in my life when I was not working, and my husband had a job as a commissioned salesman in a local department store. I was in South Carolina. Mother, my sister and five brothers were in Arizona. The family wanted me to come, and they chipped in to cover the plane ticket. But travel takes more than just a plane ticket, and I had absolutely no funds for expenses. God, in his forethought, brought a gentleman who needed some typing done. I finished his project the day I was to leave for Arizona, and he paid me $20. Continue reading

Knots in the Ribbon

In reflecting over the multitude of life’s challenges, I realize I have been guilty of compartmentalizing my trials.  As I went through each hard place, I remember thinking, “When this is over, my life will return to normal.”  And there were brief interludes when there was a little bit of normal in my life only to be interrupted by another difficulty followed by the thought pattern of “When I get through this….”

Very recently the Lord showed me through a message I heard on the radio that my thinking about trials was all wrong.  God does not view my life  in segments of “good times” and “bad times.”  To him, my life is one continuous ribbon of his marvelous plan being unfolded through everything he has allowed for my good and his glory.  The hard times?  Yes, they are just knots in the ribbon of life, all planned by God, all allowed by him for the purpose of growing me into his likeness.  My life has not had many defining moments, but it certainly has had its share of refining moments!

 knots in the ribbonIn the now mature years of my life there is the tendency to think maybe I am past all the knots in my ribbon.  No so!  What is happening now is a continuation of the refining process as I watch from the sidelines while my children endure trials and hard places in their lives – all ordered by God to be sure as knots in the ribbon of their lives.  I pray it won’t take them as long as it did me to see that the difficulties are not isolated or compartmentalized.  They are part of one continuous ribbon of life planned by a loving Heavenly Father who desires to refine them as well.

“But, God, can’t I help just a little bit to make it easier for them?  I’ve been down this road, have the knot in my ribbon as proof.  Can’t I tell them what I learned? ”  In his gentle way my God responds that the lesson he had for me is not the same as the lesson he has for my child.  It is best if I pray and trust and keep my hands off.  I find that so much harder than going through the trial myself.

The Lord be praised!

—-

image Creative Commons License Elisabeth D’Orcy via Compfight