No Fear In Death

There is no doubt in my mind that I will one day walk on a street of gold. One day, a hand that was once nail-driven to a wooden cross will reach out to me, and lead me Home. I will see my Savior face to face, and I will enjoy eternity in Heaven with Him.

I am not afraid of what life-after-death holds for me. (If you don’t know where you will spend eternity, go here to read how you can have that assurance.)

Once upon a time, I used to worry about how I would die. I’ve never been diagnosed with a terminal illness or told I only have a short time left to live. Yet there were nights I used to lay awake long after the rest of my family would be sleeping, and I would wonder how I would die. These worries at times would leave me frozen with fear, allowing anxiety to get a grip on my mind, debilitating me. Would I die in a car accident? I began to have panic attacks while driving. Would I die of a heart attack? I began to struggle with chest pains. Would I die of a stroke? I began to wonder if I had blood clots. Would I die of cancer? I began to question every twinge of pain.

Maybe you are reading this and are thinking about how silly and ridiculous I sound. A Christian afraid of dying?! Believe me, I used to think that of myself. Shame would fill me each time I struggled with this fear. Yet, I soon learned that I was not alone. In the last year, I received emails and private messages from other Christians who also struggle with anxiety, and have had the same fear of dying.

Over the years, I have learned that God has given us all the tools we need to overcome our anxieties. These tools are found in the Word of God. Once I realized that my fear of dying was beginning to affect me in a physical and unhealthy way, I turned to the scripture. There, I found exactly what I needed to turn my fear into peace!

Why I No Longer Fear Dying

God knows how many days I have left to live on this earth. In Psalms 39, we are told that God knows when we lay down to sleep, and when we rise for the day. He knows our thoughts before we speak them. In fact, God has a book with my name on it, and He is keeping track of every little detail about me, including how much time I have left on this earth. The Lord knoweth the days of the upright: and their inheritance shall be forever.” – Psalms 37:18

God has already declared what my end will be. When God moved upon the face of the waters in Genesis 1, He was putting thought into His creation. He was thinking about the little details He would give to each and everyone of us. If God put so much thought into His creation, wouldn’t He put some thought into how His creation would end? From the moment I was formed in my mothers womb, God had a plan for how my life would end. Not only that, His plan will bring Him glory, and it will please Him! Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” – Isaiah 46:10

God is holding my years, days, hours, minutes, and seconds in His hand. I trust God’s Word. He said that the death of His Son, Jesus Christ would be an atonement for my sins. He said that I can stand before His throne spotless, and blameless. If I can trust God to hold my eternity in His hand, why can’t I trust Him to hold my life in His hand? God has a plan for my life, but I can’t live that plan if I’m consumed with worry about my death! But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou are my God. My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.” – Psalms 31:14-15

I will not live one second longer than what God wills me to live. God is not going to allow anything to get in the way of His plan for me! What comfort to know that my death will not be some accidental mistake, or afterthought! God has set an appointment for my death, and He’s going to make sure I keep it! “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;” – Job 14:5

No matter how I will die, God will be with me. Heart attack, stroke, cancer, accident, murder – it doesn’t matter how I die, God has promised to be with me! No matter where I go, I can never outrun God’s hand. When my appointed time is up, God’s hand will be there to lead me Home, in fact, He may pick me up and hold me until we get there! “If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” – Psalms 39:8-10

These precious promises God left in His Word are for us to take a hold of, and apply to our lives. If I trust Gods plans for me, then I don’t need to fear death. Trusting God is not about feelings or emotions, it is about action. I have to choose to trust God’s Word. I have to choose to commit Scripture to memory. I have to choose to quote these Scripture when I feel anxiety or fear. Only then can God turn my anxiety into peace!

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” – Isaiah 26:3

“No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me.”

– Keith Getty and Stuart Townend

When Silence is Loud

Sitting on my couch, I watched the setting sun cast it’s long shadows across my living room wall. The silence in the house was so loud, it deafened me.

Yes, you read that right. I said the silence was deafening.

I come from a large, loud family. Even when we didn’t have friends over, our house was still crowded, and loud. As the middle child of five sisters, I was able to experience the joys of sharing a bedroom, bathroom, and even my clothes with a crowd!

Eventually, I moved out of my noisy house and into a noisy, college dormitory. There, I shared a room with 4 other girls. Our house had eleven people living in it. Talk about crazy!

After living my entire life with crazy, loud females, you would think I’d get my own place just so I could enjoy some silence. Instead, I met a really handsome guy and decided to get married. I went from sharing a noisy dormitory to living in an apartment with my husband. I worked a part time job until giving birth to our first child.

I have spent the last 16 years raising 4 children. When it was time for my youngest child to go to school full-time, and for me to enjoy silent days at home, I found myself taking care of my sick husband.

Finally the day arrived. My husband was going back to work full-time after being home nearly two years. In my excitement, I made a list of fun house projects, stacked several books in a neat pile by my chair (pictured above), and filled my calendar with empty days.

Except, instead of leisurely resting in the sweet joys of silence, I became a tight ball of nervous energy. I had never truly been alone for more than an hour or two, and I wasn’t used to the silence. I soon learned that I was not a person who loved complete silence. I would much rather try to have a conversation with my husband over the craziness of our 4 loud children, than to be in an empty, quiet house alone. There is a lesson in the Bible for every phase of our lives, and I soon learned the benefits silence.

We need silent moments in our lives to remind us that God is still God. We get so busy in our day-to-day crazy, that we allow the noise and confusion of the world to creep into our hearts. We become weighted down over news of future wars, corrupt politics, and raging teenagers with guns. Yet, when we take time to shut the world out a few minutes everyday, and read the Word of God, we can find comfort in the truth that God is still God! Those worries are not for us to figure out. Just be still and see what the Lord can do! Someday, He is going to come and make everything that’s wrong in this world, right!

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” – Psalms 46:10

We need quiet moments in our lives so we can see God’s miracles. Four months ago, my husband was in the final phase of his cancer treatments (read Gabe’s cancer story here). During that time, my life was crazy. I pretty much felt like a single mom as my husband was often too sick to partake in normal “daddy duties”. During those crazy days, I was too busy to see the miracles God was performing. It wasn’t until it was all over, and I found myself sitting in a quiet empty house, that the reality of our situation really hit me. My husband had survived cancer – twice! And although we struggled more financially than we ever had, we somehow not only survived, but thrived!

“It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord .” – Lamentations 3:26

We need quiet moments in our lives so God can give us confidence for our future. In Isaiah chapter 30, God warns Israel to not seek help from the Egyptians. He warns them that if they do, it will be to their own detriment. God advised Israel that their safety relied not in running for their lives, but in staying in the quietness of where they were.

Sometimes, we need to rest in the quietness of where we are. The shadows of our future can easily alarm us, causing us to fear tomorrow. We become tempted to follow the worlds solutions, rather than following God’s Word. Don’t give in to that temptation. Instead, wait quietly in the silence of where God has you now. Listen to His voice, and follow His Word. In doing this, we can have confidence in our tomorrows!

“For thus saith the Lord God , the Holy One of Israel; In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength: and ye would not.” – Isaiah 30:15

They say that silence is golden. I have yet to experience the physical riches of silence! I have learned, however, that there are many spiritual benefits to having a quiet moment.

When Your Kids Are Along For The Ride

When my husband found out he had colon cancer, he wasn’t sitting in a doctors office. There was no box of tissues nearby for him to grab. His wife wasn’t sitting next to him to take hold of his hand. No comforting words or hand on the shoulder from a doctor. He recieved the results coldly, over the phone by someone who had grown used to passing on bad test results.

I found out the news in a more gentle way. In the privacy of our bedroom, with my husband’s arms around me. My husband’s shirt to dry my tears. My husband’s gentle words to calm my fears.

Our teenagers, however, learned of Daddy’s cancer in an unusual way. My son was listening outside our bedroom door. He, of course, ran down the stairs to share what he had heard with his older sister.

The two of them, not understanding everything, but knowing it was making mom cry, began to finish making dinner and keeping their little brothers quiet.

Many people have asked me over the months how my kids are coping. The first time I was asked this question, I had to take pause. I was so wrapped up in my own feelings, I hadn’t taken the time to see how my kids were really doing. I began to pay close attention.

My fifteen year old daughter has a very laid back personality. Her way of handling daddy’s cancer has been to not think about it. Instead, she has focused on helping me out at home. Many times I have been at the cancer center with my husband and come home to a spotless house and happy little boys. My daughter’s main goal through this valley we are in, has been to make everyone as comfortable as possible. When asked what the hardest part of this journey has been for her, she will say being home all summer. She misses the family outings, having friends over, and our trips out of state.

My thirteen year old son has an A-type personality. He is the most determined person I know! He thinks very deeply, and has a lot of emotion to go along with his thoughts. His way of coping with dad’s cancer is to plan. I have had several conversations with him about the “what ifs” of our family’s future. When my husband and I come home from a long day at the hospital, we usually find that he has organized something. He will have mapped out evening plans for the entire family, and will take it upon himself to make everyone stick to his plan. When asked what has been the most difficult part of this journey, he will say seeing his dad so sick, and not having family outings this summer.

My youngest boys have, for the most part, been unphased by Dad’s cancer. As long as we have family movie nights, games of Battleship and UNO, pizza, and popsicles for the back porch, they are perfectly content. There have been a few moments of needing to ask questions about Daddy’s sickness, but when asked, the only difficulty they could think of is not getting to sleep in a tent this summer!

If you are in a hard place in your life, and have kids along for the ride, here are some truths my husband and I have learned.

1. All kids react to stress differently. Every human being has different personalities, and this includes kids. Some will hold their thoughts and fears inside, others will talk to anyone who will listen. Then there are the kids who don’t seem to notice what’s going on, and are content in their own little world. Study your children and learn how they are coping. Open doors for conversation every now and then, and make sure your kids know they can talk to you at any time.

2. Kids take their cue from their parents. If a parent is afraid or angry about their circumstances, chances are their children will be, too. Little eyes are watching how you deal with stress every day, and will copy what they see. If you are able be joyful despite your circumstances, your kids will be, too. Parents need to be careful on how they talk about things in front of their kids. This doesn’t mean you should hide the truth from your kids. They know something is going on, even if you try to hide it. Be honest with them, but be positive. Always remind your child that God is on your side!

3. Kids can get bitter, too. We learned early on, that our kids NEEDED a life outside the house. When there is a sick family member at home, it is often, that home becomes a dreary and depressing place. We make it a point to do something special with them at least once a week. This can be accomplished by trips to the library, local parks, ice cream shop, and even the YMCA. Our family also has wonderful friends, and my kids have been invited to go along with other families for outings.

4. They want to feel useful. My older son took charge of all outside chores since my husband had his stroke over a year ago. This has been a difficult task as we have a very steep hill in our yard. His determination, however, has helped him persevere in his tasks, and he is now getting attention from our neighbors, and job offers! My younger son’s are always “writing books” for their dad, or giving him “massages”. If your child is a “doer”, give him something that will make him feel that he is contributing to the family.

Lastly, here are some tips on helping your kids through difficult family trials.

1. Have a routine. Our family schedule has for the most part, been pure craziness. I have found, however, that my kids need some routine. I can’t always be there when they wake up, and there have been days I wasn’t there at bedtime. When I am home however, I make it a matter of importance to have our evenings together. I will read a couple of chapters from a book before prayers each night to my little ones. The older ones feel privileged to watch an episode of Start Treck with us before bed. Every child needs some order in their day, even during the hardest valley.

2. Pray with them often. Kids need to hear their parents talk to God. They need to hear the emotions and fears that are daily laid at the feet of Jesus. They need to feel God’s presence in their family and home.

3. Use scripture. My younger son has always struggled with fear, for as long as I can remember. He doesn’t like to be alone in any room of our house, and he is easily frightened by many things. My husband’s poor health the last two years seems to have slightly intensifed his fears. After many talks, and times of prayer with him, I recently discovered that scripture gives him the most comfort. He has a favorite verse we memorized together, and he recently asked if we could hang it up in his room.

4. Focus on making memories more than having fun. The biggest lesson I have learned with my kids, is that even fun can be forgotten. They are not going to remember every movie, every ice cream cone, or even every trip to the park. This realization has changed my planning to some extent. Now, every outing is all of us together. No one has opportunity to be home alone- there are plenty of other times for that. Also, to my entire families dismay, I take a LOT more pictures.

There is no perfect answer or laid-out plan on helping your kids walk through a valley with you. As a parent, the best thing that you can do for your kids is to be right with God. Your kids will see the comfort and the peace that God gives you in the valley, and you will be able to show them the way to God even in the midst of trials.

A Year Ago

A year ago today, I had no idea that our family was about to embark on a journey that would forever change our lives. I had no idea that just a few short days into 2017, my husband would be diagnosed with colon cancer. I never would have guessed that it would be a year filled with private tears, and worry.

A year ago today, I had no idea how good our God is! I had no idea how far the reach of His comforting arms extended! Never did I expect the honor of witnessing the miracles He performed, just for us! A year ago today, I had no idea how much God really cared for and loved me. I had never experienced such great, unexplainable peace in the midst of great chaos!

A year ago today, I didn’t understand that in order to shine brightly for God, you have to be surrounded by darkness.

I didn’t know that God could use you for His glory during the hardest of your trials and struggles. I didn’t understand that when we are in our weakest state, that is when our God is strongest! Never would I have guessed that walking with the Saviour in 2017 would be the sweetest walk I would ever experience!

Today, I am facing the future of 2018. Sometimes, I look ahead in trepidation, wondering what surprises are lurking in its dark corners. Yet, the fear doesn’t last very long because all I have to do is think back to a year ago and remember how God saw us through the most difficult journey of our lives. 2018 will hold it’s trials, and who knows, maybe they will be more difficult than what we have already faced! I know that I can trust God, however, to be right there with me, from the start of the journey, all the way to the very end!

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:19

Thank you, dear readers, for joining me in my discoveries of God’s goodness and mercy in 2017! I hope and pray you all have a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! And whatever is in store for your 2018, I pray you claim the promise of God’s peace!

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27

(Photograph taken by Kasey Photography)

When Your World is Changing

We have been listening to Christmas music since late October.  While I haven’t tired of the music itself, I have noticed the excitement that first accompanied those joyful melodies, has begun to wane.  A spirit of reflection has replaced the excitement, bringing many happy memories to mind.  These memories however, eventually lead me back to reality.  Life is changing all around me, and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

Families growing and spreading out, are natural reasons for shifting traditions and dynamics.  Declining health, battling cancer, financial struggles, troubled marriages, and the death of loved ones, are also causes for change.

So, how do you cope when your world is changing?  Here’s what I have personally learned:

Trust God with Change –  When we feel that our lives are beyond our control, we tend to become fearful and anxious.  Our comfort zones are shaken, and we feel insecure. Don’t forget that God has a plan, and is allowing change in your life for a reason.  Although change may be difficult, you can trust Him to use it for good in your life. Stop fighting change, and trust God!

“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” – Deuteronomy 31:6

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Rejoice in Change – Rejoicing through difficulty reveals hope and peace in the believer. Someday, God will wipe away all our tears.  Someday, we will all gather around a table, furnished with the best food we can imagine, and dine with The Father.  Someday, there will be no more pain, sorrow, or death!  This hope we have for our future can give us peace for the change we must endure today!  If you are not sure where your hope lies, please check out this page titled, There is Hope!

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”  – Romans 15:13 

Give during Change –  Giving when it is hardest to do so, results in the biggest kind of blessings! When we are busy serving others, we don’t have a lot of time to dwell on the sorrows of change. Give your time to your family and friends.  Show kindness and thoughtfulness to your neighbors and co-workers.  Continue on in your service to the ministries at church. Extending generosity when you are in the midst of your own struggles, can help change someone else’s life – for good!

“How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” – 2 Corinthians 8:2

God NEVER Changes – When my life begins to feel unstable because of the changes going on around me, I find peace in this one thought: my God NEVER changes!  Different trials has brought me either further away or closer to God, but HE has never changed His postion.  His voice still sounds the same, His Word still reads the same, and His comfort still feels the same.  My God, who is also my Friend that never fails, will always be there for me!  I don’t ever have to doubt if He will answer when I call.  He will be the same God to me when I am ninety-five, that He was to me when I was 25!

“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever”. – Hebrews 13:8

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” – James 1:17

“For I am the LORD, I change not…” – Malachi 3:6

If you are struggling with change in this busy holiday season, don’t be downhearted.  Trust God with your change, and allow Him to work for your own good!  Once you do, you will find it easy to rejoice, even when your heart is sad.  Rejoicing makes for a generous spirit, and giving when it’s hardest is a gift that can change lives! And don’t forget – God never has, and never will change!

 

 

 

 

He is Kind Unto the Unthankful

Nearly two years ago, I was sitting in an uncomfortable chair in the emergency room.  Despite the busyness of the nursing staff around me, I felt alone, and scared.  It was after midnight, and my husband had been whisked away to have tests done.  Several hours later, I knew something was wrong, when three grim-looking doctors came into the room.  They explained that my husband did not have a concussion as previously thought, that he had actually experienced a stroke.  My heart began to pound, my hands shook, and a flood of emotions raged in my chest.

However scary that moment was, in just a few months, I would be praising God that my husband had that stroke!  For it was because of an imaging test done that night, that his thyroid cancer was discovered.

Yet, at that moment in the emergency room, I was not very thankful.

A year later, after my husband’s thyroid had been removed, and his radioactive iodine treatment was complete, I was once again, sitting in another uncomfortable chair.  This time, in a hospital room, next to my husband’s bed.  I was holding his hand., as another surgeon explained to us that my husband had stage 3 colorectal cancer.

I’m pretty sure I had a hard time expressing thankfulness at that moment.

Yet, here I am today, expressing deep thankfulness to my Heavenly Father!  Not only for the trials He allowed in our lives the last two years, but for His kindness.  Our family is a living testament to the fact that God is kind to the unthankful!  Despite the fears and the sorrows we have had in the last 2 years, God has showered us with His tender care.

“But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.” – Luke 6:35

He showed us kindness through His comforting word.  There is something about the scripture that comes to life when you are walking in a valley.  Suddenly, verses you have read a hundred times before, have new meaning and understanding.  Comfort and hope are found in abundance throughout the scripture!  On the day that I watched my husband struggle to walk because of his chemo treatment, I felt the Comforter’s hand on my shoulder as I was reading Psalms 139.  Yes, God is kind to the unthankful!

He showed us kindness through our brothers and sisters in Christ.  The visits to hospital rooms, cards in the mail, hot meals, and thoughtful gifts to our family, all helped to ease our present suffering.  One day, I had found myself standing in the adult diaper section of the grocery store.  I was angrily swiping away tears, trying to decide what size my husband would need.  Once I got home, I had allowed myself to become filled with rage. How could radiation do this to my husband!?  Throwing open the mailbox, I angrily yanked out the package that was tucked inside.  The return address showed it had come from dear Christian friends who recently moved to Florida.  Angrily ripping it open, the first thing I pulled out was a package of Dove chocolates – my favorite! Suddenly, my tears of anger had changed into tears of thankfulness that God would be so kind to unthankful me!

He showed us kindness by providing our needs.  Because of the aggressive treatments, my husband had to cut back his work hours.  Yet, we never missed paying a bill, we never missed a meal, we never had to wear clothes with holes in them, and our vehicles continued running!  Once, toward the end of my husbands treatments, we realized we wouldn’t be able to pay the kids school bill.  I made arrangements with the principle and the business office to delay our payment.  We weren’t sure how we would be able to pay it.  We never mentioned our financial situation to anyone, not even family.  Yet, a few days later, we received a card in the mail with money in it- more than enough money to pay the school bill!  God showed us kindness by making provision for our every need!

He showed us kindness by answering prayer.  God not only answered our own personal prayers, but also the prayers of others who were praying on our behalf.  During the moments we had reason to be afraid or down, our spirits were lifted.  My husband was positive about his cancer prognosis, and I never once struggled with anxiety!  Those things alone made us know that we were being covered in prayer.  When my husband’s chemo had become particularly difficult, he had an appointment with his oncologist.  The doctor asked if my husband needed a refill on his pain medication.  When he learned my husband wasn’t taking pain medication, he was shocked.  “In all my years of being an oncologist, you are my first cancer patient that hasn’t needed pain medication!”  My husband replied, “that is because God is answering the prayers of my brothers and sisters in Christ!”  Yes, God is truly kind to the unthankful!

The wonderful thing about being a Christian is that God loves to shower His children exceedingly and abundantly beyond what they deserve or even ask! Here are just a couple more of the many little ways God was kind to us!

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” – Ephesians 3:20

Last spring, we took a family trip to the Creation Museum.  We were going to have to leave early because my son had broken the flat screen TV in our hotel room.  We didn’t have the money to pay for it and eat the next day.  Once we arrived at the museum, we bumped into some friends.  I never mentioned the broken TV, but at the end of our conversation, the lady slipped me a handful of money and said, “God told me to give this to you.”  Our family was able to stay the entire day as originally planned and pay for the broken TV!

There was another time I was feeling particularly sorry for myself.  My husband couldn’t get away from the cancer clinic long enough to go on our yearly camping trip.  How I longed to get away from “cancer” for just one day!  However, because of his weakness from treatments, my husband couldn’t camp in a tent.  The cabins I had looked into were all booked up until September.  During the last couple weeks of summer, I received a phone call from a campground.  “We have an opening in a cabin you were asking about.  Are you still interested in a one night stay?”  Um, YES!!

So this week, our family will be joining the millions of other American families who celebrate Thanksgiving.  We will carve a turkey and watch football.  We will eat pumpkin pie.  We will play games and laugh until we cry.  We will thank God for my husbands healing from his stroke, and his remission from his cancers.  And we will be thankful for all the kindness our God has shown to us, when we were so unthankful!

 

 

 

 

How to Help Someone With Cancer

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My husband and I at the Toledo Cancer Center for his chemotherapy. A friend had generously given us a gift card to Chili’s that we used for lunch.

Ringing the doorbell, I nervously clutched my casserole dish closer. The door opened, and a woman with dark hair smiled at me.

“Come in, sweetie”, she said.

Following her through the family room, I noticed a hospital bed set up in the corner. There was other medical equipment near the bed. I quickly looked away.

“Just set it down right here on the counter”, the woman said. I began unpacking the meal I had brought.

“I made a chicken pot pie, I hope you haven’t had it this week.”

“Oh, that sounds wonderful! Thank you so much, I just haven’t had time to cook.”

“Are you doing OK?”

Her eyes glistened with unshed tears. She slightly lifted her chin, and I could see determination pushing away her emotion.

“I’m doing fine. It’s been hard, but God is good.”

“We are praying for your husband, and for you”, I replied. “Let us know if we can do anything at all. We live pretty close to you.”

How I wish I could go back to that moment in time, and taken the opportunity to show just a little more compassion.  Maybe I could have given that dear lady a genuine hug, or said a prayer with her.  But the truth was, I didn’t know how to act, or what to say.  I felt awkward and incapable.  I was terrified of saying or doing the wrong thing.

In the last year, I have learned that no one can really know what to say to someone who is suffering from cancer.  This knowledge can only be obtained by experience.  By sharing what I have personally learned in the last year, I hope to help others who may be feeling intimidated at the idea of helping someone with cancer.

HOW TO HELP SOMEONE WITH CANCER

Let them know you care.  In this day and age, it is extremely easy to express your care and concern to someone who has cancer.  Texting, instant messaging, and sending cards in the mail are just a few ideas of easy communication.  If the person you are reaching out to is a good friend, consider a phone call, or even a short visit.  It doesn’t take any profound words of wisdom to tell someone you care.  Keep your text message short, but sweet.  A simple “we are praying for you” can go a long way.

Give them time to process their diagnosis.  If someone has just found out they have cancer, more than likely, they don’t know very many details.  There will need to be more tests, and possibly even surgery, before they find out what stage their cancer is, and what treatment will be required.  They may be trying to process the fact that they even have cancer, while also struggling with all the unknown possibilities. So while you are expressing your care and concern, be careful to not bombard the cancer patient with too many questions. But don’t leave them alone! They need to be surround by their family, friends, and church during this scary time.  However, do be sensitive to what you say and ask the first few weeks after diagnosis.  Now is not the time to share stories of “great-aunt Martha, who died a terrible death from colon cancer”!

Be informed. Once the cancer patient has a treatment plan, things start moving pretty quickly.  One way to show you care is to stay informed of what kind of treatment is needed, how often, and how aggressive it will be.  Learn when surgeries will be, and make sure someone will be there to sit with the spouse.  Send flowers, cards, or bring up a gift basket after surgery is over.  Ask if they have any needs, so if others happen to ask what they can do to help, you will have an idea of what to suggest.

Help them with the small stuff.  I can’t tell you what a blessing it was for my husband and I to hear the many offers to help watch our kids.  We had friends and family help pick up kids from school during treatments and appointments.  Friends kept our kids overnight during surgeries. A friend brought over a hot meal during the first few weeks my husband was diagnosed.  We were still walking around in a daze, and I wasn’t really making dinner, and her thoughtfulness went a long way into comforting our hearts. The small stuff can become very overwhelming when you are going through cancer.  My husband became so weak and ill during his treatments, that he could no longer accomplish small tasks around the house.  Thankfully, my son was old enough to start mowing the lawn, and our friendly neighbor offered to help with a few projects around the house that couldn’t wait.  If you want to help someone who is going through cancer, these are all wonderful ideas that you could do to be a blessing.

Giving gifts is always a great idea. Depending on the type and stage of cancer, it may become impossible for a patient to work full time, if at all. Thankfully, my husband was able to get part-time disability, however, it was only a certain percentage of his salary. Gradually, it became a little hard for us financially. While we never truly struggled to the point we couldn’t buy groceries, there were a few times we saw God provide specific needs when people would slip us a rolled up $100 bill, or we received a card with cash in it through the mail. God always provided our needs while my husband had cancer! We received restaurant gift cards that helped us out on the truly difficult days during my husbands treatments. We never would have been able to get carry-out as often as we did without the generosity of our brothers and sisters in Christ! If the Lord puts it on your heart to give, even if it feels impulsive, obey the leading of the Holy Spirit. Maybe God is trying to use you to help fullfill a need in the life of someone else!

Don’t forget about them. Once the initial shock of a cancer diagnosis wears away, it is easy to forget about the difficulties your friend with cancer is still facing. Life goes on, and the crazy, busy, hustle-and-bustle of every-day life can distract us from remembering to reach out to those still in need. There was a day when my husband had to go in for his chemotherapy, and I wasn’t able to be there for with him because of an event I was hosting.  My brother-in-law drove over two hours to come and sit with my husband for those 4 hours!  It was such a blessing to know that while life was going on for everyone around him, someone was still thinking of my husband.  During his cancer treatments, my husband received many cards expressing love and prayers.  Often the card would arrive on a day where an encouraging word was desperately needed.  God has a way of sending you what you need, exactly when you need it!  Knowing that others are thinking and praying for you is just as needful at the end of a cancer journey than it is at the beginning.

Pray for them as they get back to normal life. When you have cancer, hearing the word “remission”, is definitely something to celebrate! Yet, depending on the aggressiveness and length of treatment, it may take a while for a cancer patient to gain their strength again. There may also be some struggle in becoming independent, after needing the help of others for a long period of time. And lastly, a person who has gone through cancer tends to change how they view life. Their dreams and goals for their future have changed, and this may cause a little uncertainty when getting back to “normal life” again. Don’t stop praying for someone who has had cancer.

If you are still uncertain of what to say or do around someone with cancer, you can always pray. My husband and I KNOW we could never have gone through the last year without the prayers of others. What an encouragement it was to hear that so many people were praying for my husband! Not only was it encouraging, but is was comforting. The next time you hear a family member, friend, or church member was diagnosed with cancer, don’t let the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing stop you from helping those in need.  God is not going to overlook any effort you put forth in love in ministering to His saints!

Hebrews 6:10 – “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed towards his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”