"You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts."
Saturday, May 07 2016
A joyous Mother's Day to you all! This has been a week of celebration for our household as we commemorated Paul's graduation from SHSU with a Master of Science degree in Homeland Security Studies and Certification in Critical Infrastructure. Perhaps you heard our buttons popping with pride as we viewed the proceedings in Huntsville on Thursday evening. This was all the more poignant because just three weeks before, I was headed into surgery, not sure if I would even be able to attend the ceremony.
The day following Paul's graduation, I had my second post-op visit. Greeted in the MD Anderson waiting room by Alan, the nurse who would be taking my vitals, he studied me with a rather puzzled grin, shaking his head as he remarked, "Surgery just 3 weeks ago - and it's as if it never even happened!" While in many ways it does seem like that, at times it also feels like I've been around the world in 80 days! Yet I have become even more aware that I want to remember every part of this journey - to never forget the details of God's faithfulness every inch of the way.
Have you ever thought of how ironic it is that the disciples of Jesus seemed to forget from day to day the miracles that they had witnessed and even participated in? How Jesus fed the 5000 with five loaves and two fish - and then, not long after that, they had to feed another crowd of a mere 4000 and wondered how they could possibly do that?! Yet I have found this to be true of myself. I have seen the mercies and miracles of God more times than I could ever recount - but sometimes it feels like I have amnesia and can't remember how He has always been my ever-present help in trouble.
Today, I celebrate the love of God expressed in myriad ways: through the gift of Motherhood; through the power of your prayers and expressions of love; through His provision to meet every need; through mercies new every morning and His great faithfulness. I gratefully echo the words of the psalmist in Psalm 77:11-14,
"I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will consider all your works and meditate on all your mighty deeds. Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples."
Be blessed as you celebrate today.
Sunday, May 01 2016
This morning as I continue to rest in the Lord, I've been chewing on a meaty morsel of scripture from Proverbs 13:12-
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.
Two days ago, I shared my perspective on what Oswald Chambers calls "gracious uncertainty" - trusting in God's character through our uncharted circumstances; finding that we who are born into a living hope through Christ have His divine presence resident in us as all the hope we need: Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27).
So what is "hope deferred" - and why does it make the heart sick? To defer something means to put it off, to postpone it. There is a delay that causes a desired outcome to not be fulfilled. So often, this results in disappointment and even heartache. We hope and pray and hope some more, but we don't seem to see the results to our prayers.
But the scriptures give us an opportunity to see beyond our temporal human desires and peer into the unchanging heart of God. Abraham, the father of our faith, chose to believe God's promise that he would be the progenitor of many nations, even when God asked him to sacrifice his only son Isaac on the altar. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed (Romans 4:18). He did not defer his hope by pleading with God to remove this trial; he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness (Rom. 4:3). He didn't waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised (Rom. 4:20-22).
Now for the clincher: The words "it was credited to him as righteousness" were written not for him alone, but also for US to whom God will credit righteousness - for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead
(Rom. 4:23-24). Abraham placed his faith - the substance of things HOPED for and the evidence of things unseen - in God and God alone. He knew that God had made him a promise to be the father of many nations and that the only way this would be accomplished would be through his son Isaac. He knew that God would never deceive or forsake him and he chose to believe God, even when the life of his only heir was threatened. He did not defer his hope but chose to put it in the One who could raise the dead. His longing was fulfilled and became a tree of life: a tree for the healing of the nations.
One of the most comforting verses to me through many years of trial has been Romans 5:5 - And hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out His love for us through the Holy Spirit, whom He has given to us. There have been times when I have been almost afraid to hope - and then the Lord calls this to mind: hope does not disappoint us. If God has deposited His Holy Spirit in believers as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come, how could we possibly be disappointed? If our Hope is living in us, what more do we need? There is no need to defer - to put off - hope and cause our hearts to be sick. We can put on Christ, our very present help in trouble and the lover of our souls, and know that He is the Tree of Life that will bring healing to you, to me, to the nations. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.
Friday, April 29 2016
I Peter 1:3-4
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.
This morning in rapid succession, two of my precious ones mentioned Oswald Chambers' April 29 entry in My Utmost for His Highest - my beloved husband Philippe and my longtime dear friend Donna. Having devoured this daily devotional for over 30 years, I have seen the Holy Spirit breathe new life into these timeless words over and over. Today was no exception; in fact, my recent circumstances underscored and highlighted them with fresh clarity:
"Certainty is the mark of the common-sense life; gracious uncertainty is the mark of the spiritual life. To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways; we do not know what a day may bring forth. This is generally said with a sigh of sadness; it should be rather an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God."
Two weeks and one day ago, I was quite uncertain of what my circumstances would be. Would I awaken from surgery with the best-case or worst-case medical scenario? Would I then be facing chemo and/or radiation? Would my body be wracked with excruciating pain? All of these questions entered my mind, sometimes bombarding me with the what-ifs. But I took heart as I was reminded of the suffering of Jesus and His prayer to our Father: "Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done." I continually drew on the strength and faith of the body of Christ surrounding me, knowing that your prayers were rising like incense before His throne and would release God's power and glory into my circumstances. I leaned into the presence of the living Christ in me, the One who walks with me through everything I do and promises that He will work it all together for good. I trusted in those whom He had appointed and anointed to care for me, knowing that they too were being uplifted by the prayers of the people of God. I chose to take Him at His word that declares I am healed by His stripes. I was uncertain of my circumstances - but completely certain of my Lord.
The apostle Peter reminds us that we have a LIVING HOPE through the resurrection of Jesus Christ and an eternal inheritance that is incorruptible. The author of Hebrews calls this hope "an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf." (Hebrews 6:19-20)
WHAT IF...we were to live each moment of our lives through the eyes of our Living Hope - Christ in us, the hope of glory?
WHAT IF...we were to realize that this hope of our eternal inheritance is available to us right now, on earth as it is in heaven?
WHAT IF...we really chose to believe that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, character produces hope - and hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love for us through His Holy Spirit whom He has given to us?
Today, let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Let us walk together with childlike faith, that gracious uncertainty that carries the expectation of those things that are exceedingly abundantly beyond what we can ask or even imagine. To God be the glory!
Tuesday, April 26 2016
Precious family and friends,
Philippe and I just met with Dr. Michael Bevers, the head surgeon who operated on me April 14, and received the great news that my pathology report came back with confirmation that the removed tumor was entirely contained and the margins clear. He was absolutely amazed by the rapidity of my recovery - a wonderful opportunity to give glory to God and testify to the power of prayer! He told us that mine is a very unusual case and rather uncharted territory for the MD Anderson team but that he is still inclined to recommend no further treatment. He will once again take my case before a board of MDA doctors on Thursday to get a final consensus, but expects that this will be the plan. I will then have checkups every 3 months with Dr. Bevers.
I know that you and others on six continents have bathed me in prayer and rejoice that we together can give all glory, honor and praise to Jesus our Healer. For those of you who have agreed to serve as "captains" to share the news with others in your realm of influence, feel free to copy and paste this message.
Thank you for the love you have demonstrated to Philippe, Paul and me through this "bump in the road." We thank God for you.
Always in the love of Jesus,
Thursday, April 21 2016
Beloved friends and family,
As I consider what has transpired over the past 7 days, amazement seems to be the operative emotion. I'm amazed by the love of Jesus expressed through His children like you the world over! I'm amazed that, as one dear friend wrote, "the prayers of the saints have pulled the cords of heaven" and brought such rapid healing and restoration! I'm amazed at the myriad ways in which the Lord is showing Himself strong through my weakness!
A dear friend who was present with us in the pre-op room just before my surgery, the Rev. Randall Trego, was prompted to write last Sunday's sermon based on what he had experienced with us that day at the hospital. He shared his observations of our prayers with the surgeons and staff, the peace of Christ that enveloped that little room and filled it with His glory, and this testimony:
"Each person who attended her was prayed for by Jan. Both doctors who were to be attending the surgery were eager for prayer. As we joined hands around the bed, they insisted that, for those who pray, even in those moments before going to the operating room, peace and healing come with greater ease. There was no fear in those moments. It was not a great ordeal of suffering, but great joy for what God was going to accomplish through each and every person involved. Jan insisted that the operating table was going to be an altar table upon which Jesus would show His love and mercy for each person involved in the work that was being done. There was not one detail that was a part of that procedure, not one person who had not been chosen to be the hands of Jesus to bring healing. As Philippe said, fear was not a choice; it was not even in his awareness."
God's word says in I John 4:18, "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear." Surrounded by the love of God manifested by the power of the Holy Spirit and displayed through the hearts and lives of those around us, there was no room for fear. This is who Jesus is: the perfect Son of God who became like us except without sin so that we too could become the children of God. He who knew no sin became sin for us so that through Him, we could become the righteousness of God. What greater love is there than this?!
His love and the peace and joy that accompany it are available to all who desire Him. Receive the fullness of His love today. Be AMAZED!!!
Monday, April 18 2016
A glorious Monday to you, friends around the world! Here in Houston, we were abruptly awakened shortly after midnight by jolts and bolts of
thunder and lightning, shaking the earth and illuminating the skies. The waterline of the small lake behind our home has rapidly encroached its banks, enlarging its territory and threatening to become an uninvited guest. But I am reminded of Isaiah 43:2 - "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you."
Two years ago, we had experienced several months of severe drought and this same little lake had virtually dried up. When God finally sent rain, I distinctly remember saying, "I will never complain about rain again." So I will choose instead to thank and praise Him, knowing that He is faithful in all things and in every season of life.
I just read a devotional on The Elijah List that speaks of how deeply God is touched by our faith in Him. Choosing to believe and affirm that our Lord is everything He says He is moves the very heart of God to act on our behalf in ways beyond our ability to comprehend. Here are a few paragraphs from this article:
"How does your faith touch God? The same as the woman with the issue of blood did. She pressed in; she was determined to touch Him, even a small part of Him. She was determined to touch Him, even though every doctor had told her it was hopeless. Even though she had spent every penny she had trying to get healed. Even though her mind was reminding her of all this, she pressed on. She determined that no matter how many obstacles stood in her way, she would touch the Healer and as she did, she was not only healed but made whole that very hour.
You see, if you are battling illness and you continue to confess what the Bible says about you, no matter what you see or feel, your faith is touching God. If you are facing financial hardships and you continue to honor God with your tithe and give as God directs, and trust Him, confessing that He will meet your needs, your faith is touching God. If you are facing a crisis of your faith and you tell God, "I don't understand, but I trust You," your faith is touching God. When all Hell has come against you and you stand in the face of it and declare, "devil, I don't care what you throw at me, I am going to trust my God and I am going to worship Him no matter what," I promise you, your faith is touching God.
As your faith touches God, He will release His awesome miracle-working power on your behalf and move Heaven and earth to get to you. He loves you that much! He wants to bless you that much! You mean that much to Him. Don't give up, my friend. Press on in. Push your way in if you have to, but press on in and touch Him. Touch Him with your faith, you will be forever changed.
Prayer for Today: Father, my prayer for today is simple...may I touch Jesus with my faith. In Jesus name. Amen."
A New Thing Ministries
Thank you, Kim Potter, for so clearly stating the truth. All we have to do is take Him at His word. The One who promised is faithful. If He said it, He will do it. To God be the glory. Be blessed as you trust in Him.
Saturday, April 16 2016
O God, our Help in ages past,
Our Hope for years to come,
Our Shelter from the stormy blast
And our eternal Home.
Under the shadow of Thy Throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone
And our defense is sure.
Before the hills in order stood
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God
To endless years the same.
A thousand ages in Thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Sure as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.
This Isaac Watts hymn came to mind a few minutes ago as I marveled at the concept of chronos vs kairos time. How inconceivable that we had just pulled into the same driveway a mere 2 days after we left it on Thursday - but forever enriched by circumstances and connections that would never have occurred outside of these events! The chronos app - time according to the clock - told me I was away from home, and certainly from my comfort zone, for 48 hours- a mere 2880 minutes. The kairos app - time according to an appointed purpose, God's time - told me I was at Home the entire time. I believe that God has wanted to teach me a greater level of trust in Him through this experience, but it really isn't about me. He is showing us as His children how to live so fully dependent on Him that we are never consciously away from His presence. Then, regardless of the apparent circumstances, we can dwell secure because our defense is sure.
In this kairos moment (which is also translated into chronos as 5:10 pm on Saturday, April 16), I am rejoicing that God has brought me safely through major surgery, sent me home in record time with NO PAIN, a hefty appetite, and all of my plumbing functioning, and given me countless opportunities to experience and express the love of Jesus in this kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. I am thankful for each of you who have played an invaluable role in my life and for this story that is still being written by our Author and Perfecter. Thank you for loving me so well.
Friday, April 15 2016
A lot can transpire in the course of 15 hours! Yesterday morning at this time - 5:20
am - I was wide awake and bracing myself for some pretty significant unknowns, chiefly the extent and duration of my surgery, levels of post-op care and the expectation of serious discomfort that generally accompanies major surgery. To say that I am elated by what I avoided would surely be an understatement.
Searching for adequate terms to describe my sojourn as a guest at Methodist West, I think that the fruit of the Spirit most aptly covers it: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Every single encounter with the medical and support staff has exemplified these 9 fruits:
- LOVE pouring over me through the surgical team as we prayed before the operation;
- JOY of the sovereign variety as the Lord imparted His strength to me;
- The PEACE that surpasses all understanding as I was being prepped for surgery;
- PATIENCE as I am listening to my body to tell me how far to extend myself;
- The KINDNESS of every individual I have encountered in this consecrated place;
- The GOODNESS of the Lord in the land of the living as I awakened from the anesthesia and heard Dr. Bevers tell me how well everything went;
- The GENTLENESS of both pre- and post-op nursing care;
- The abiding FAITHFULNESS of my precious husband, son, friends Barb, Craig and Sue, Terry and Randall as they walked me through the day with prayer - coupled with continual prayer coverage from friends, family and even total strangers on six continents;
- SELF-CONTROL to reign in my thoughts and emotions as a tiny cloud of apprehension threatened to darken the horizon when I leaned on my own understanding just prior to the operation.
How glorious it is right now to once again be counting my blessings and naming them one by one!
- Surgery that lasted only 1 hour and 45 minutes rather than 6!
- Ice chips in the recovery room!
- Being rolled into a magnificent corner suite of two huge rooms, large bath and panoramic view, totally unexpected but greatly appreciated!
- Being able to eat strawberry jello and lemon sorbet within a few hours of surgery!
- Blowing the spirometer up past the top line time and time again!
- A surprise visit from my dear mentee Hannah, who was here for the birth of a friend's baby.
- Taking a little walk around 10 pm with no discomfort!
- My dear friend Barb keeping vigil over me through the night, with loads of laughter as we made up for years lived a thousand miles apart!
- NO post-op pain so far!!!
I am also elated by a visit I had with the head of chaplaincy at this hospital immediately following my pre-op tests on Wednesday. I shared with him about our chapel healing prayer services at St. Luke's - The Woodlands and at The Vintage - and he expressed a great interest in having us plant it here! The night before surgery, I put together a training folder for him and dropped it at his office before I jumped on the gurney for my surgical siesta.
How wonderful it is to give thanks to God! And I am praising Him for the gift of YOU, precious prayer warrior, knowing that your fervent and effectual prayers have availed much fruit as our Papa in heaven has so lavishly answered our cries for mercy and healing. Thank you for every heartfelt prayer as we press on together in Jesus' name.
Forever in His love,
Thursday, April 14 2016
I know all of you have been fervently praying and awaiting this update just as I was. Here is Philippe's text in it's entirety:
"Jan is fine in recovery, the surgery was of the more minimal nature. The analysis of the tumor will determine the post op treatment, will know in a week. So far very great news!"
Amen & Hallelujah! Thank you Jesus for seeing our dear sister through surgery. We know you will see this work through to completion. Please remain with Jan, Philippe, and Paul throughout the recovery process and always.
I will update as more information comes through. Now is the time for Jan to rest and recover, Lord willing, she will be home sooner than later enjoying the comforts of her own home. A dear friend of hers, along with Philippe, and Paul are with her in the hospital. Somebody will be with her at all times. Will send further updates as they come in, but knowing Jan, she may be doing the updating herself!
Until we hear further, let us all continue our prayers for Jan and the family, and let us all keep our eyes focused on Jesus as He continues to make a way.
Praise God from whom all blessing flow!
Did ask Philippe if they had any idea when they may release Jan... so far, she is doing really well, so hopefully, by Saturday or Sunday. Let's all pray sooner than later - whatever God's best is.
Sweet, healing, dreams Jan!!! Rest up friend! xo
Friday, March 25 2016
There are some people in life who leave an indelible mark on our lives, even from the briefest of encounters. I'm sure you would agree, Jan is just that type of person.
Daughter, sister, devoted wife, dedicated mother, talented artist, author, Chaplain, missionary, and friend to all who meet her. Jan has touched the lives of countless people around the world, including mine. Jan and I met as volunteers at the Pregnancy Assistance Center North nearly 20 years ago. We had an instant connection and bond that has only been strengthened by the years. She is one of those rare friends whom you know in your heart of hearts is a forever friend regardless of where the circumstances of life take you.
Our dear friend has found herself facing a familiar path. Jan has been diagnosed with cancer. In early March Jan went for her annual physical at which time she shared about feeling something in her lower abdomen, possibly scar tissue from past surgeries? Upon further exploration, it was confirmed, cancer.
When I heard the official news yesterday, I asked if I may start this Caring Bridge site for her as I know all of you will want to follow along and support Jan, Philippe, and Paul throughout this journey. She gave me permission to proceed. She and Philippe are co-authors as well so I'm sure you will be hearing directly from them from time to time. However, as you can imagine, keeping up with the details of this diagnosis and all that comes with it takes a great deal of focus and strength, so I will do my best to share with you to help lighten their load.
Jan's text to me yesterday stated that the biopsy confirmed the mass in her lower abdomen was an aggressive form of cancer, but still contained. It will require surgery and perhaps radiation before that. She has a wonderful team being assembled by her dear friend, Dr. Pam Schlembach, at MD Anderson. I do not yet know the staging, nor the origination of the cancer.
I do however know that Jan's faith has not been shaken by this. This, from Jan, in a communication to her ministry prayer team:
"...However, unlike in times past when I would have been overcome with terror, the Holy Spirit washed over me with blessed assurance that Jesus my Healer was right there with me, experiencing all that I was experiencing and working on my behalf to bring new glory through these circumstances."
By God's good grace, Jan has maintained her peace and is standing firm on God's faithful promises. Please join me along this journey with our dear friend to support her (Philippe & Paul) through your words of encouragement, love, and, most especially, your prayers.
Lisa Maisano-Norman, fellow traveler