Wrestling the Serpent!

March 3, 2021   (Post #60)

(From Journal #8:  February 27, 2007)

I had a dream last night that in turn called to my remembrance an encounter I had with a snake years ago that is a testament to this dream…

In the dream, it seemed as if John and I were in a hotel room, and someone else was there, but I don’t know/remember who. (I’m thinking a guardian angel?)  Someone was trying to break into the room to kill us!  They had tried to kill us before and I remembered how we’d been kept safe and I was explaining it to this person and told them You would protect us, but we had to fight back and “armor up” but I knew we’d be okay, and we were! “Victory before the battle…”

My encounter with a snake was after I’d just seen the movie “The Passion of the Christ” which was released in 2004.  This happened even before I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  The spiritual significance of this encounter has revealed itself many times.  Snakes never announce themselves; they sneak in.  We have to be on watch and deal with them when they expose themselves.

I let the dogs out in the morning and went outside with them.  I was in my PJs and barefoot.  We had a koi pond and I went to check the skimmer.  As I had my hand in the water, I saw from my peripheral vision a snake head in the pond!  One of my bassets was drinking from the pond!  I was afraid the snake would strike my dog.  I jumped up and got long snippers that would reach and clip plants in the pond. I reached and managed to get the snake’s head in those clippers.  IMMEDIATELY, that snake came out of the water and wrapped itself around the shaft of that tool!  Freaked me out.  I was afraid to drop the tool for fear it would strike me or the dogs.

I realized I had to fight.  I began to squeeze those clippers as hard as I could on that serpent’s neck.  The problem was, I had a bad case of tennis elbow.  At that time, it was hard and painful for me to even squeeze a dish cloth. But as painful as it was, I knew I couldn’t let the serpent get away.  I thought of the movie and how Jesus ultimately crushed the serpent.  So I began to pray and kept squeezing that snake that fought me hard.  The Lord gave me strength to keep fighting.  After about 20 minutes or so, the snake finally quit fighting me; I’d killed him.  When I finally let him out of the clippers, I measured him and he was 31 inches long!  To me, that was huge.  This wasn’t just a victory against a natural snake in my pond.  This was a spiritual victory against an enemy that would come to attack my health and other areas of my life over and over.  I must always be on guard, confident that You are my protector.

Genesis 3:1:  Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made….

Psalm 91:13:  You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

2 Corinthians 2:11:   …lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.

1 Peter 5:8:  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Ephesians 6:10-11:  Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 

Revelation 20:2:  He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.

Lessons from the Beach

January 30, 2021:   (Post #59)

(From Journal #8:  February 24, 2007)

I’m at the beach with a group of ladies.  One of my friends and her husband built a beautiful house right on the coast.  After going through immunotherapy again, I’m so grateful to have this time away to just rest in You and fellowship with my friends.

This morning as I walked on the beach looking for shells, You taught me another life lesson.  We, like the shells, are made by You.  We were created to be whole and perfect, each beautiful in its own way – all shapes, sizes and colors.  But life, bad choices, even things out of our control, beat us up and we can be broken.  Even if only a tiny piece is on the beach, it’s still pretty to someone (You) who will pick it up and make something beautiful with it.  It still has value and worth.  What some will walk by, another will stop and gather.  They see something in that broken shell that someone else doesn’t. Some shells even mold together, similar to how we get help and support from others.  

Thank You for this revelation, Lord.  I am always humbled by the size and power of the ocean and yet You created it and hold it in the palm of Your hand!  How big is my God! 

Isaiah 40:12:  Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, measured heaven with a span and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? Weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?

Psalm 34:18:  The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Psalm 51:17:  The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

Another Gut Punch!

January 17, 2021:  (Post #58)

(From Journal #8:   December 13, 2006)

Yesterday was my first round of immunotherapy again.  What a long day. Left the house at 7:30 a.m. and didn’t get home until almost 6:00 p.m.  I had another allergic reaction, so that slowed things down.  But this reaction wasn’t as severe as last time, so I am grateful.

My last CT scan report obviously wasn’t what I was believing for.  The lymph nodes that had previously shrunk had grown and a few more lymph nodes in that vicinity were larger.  I’m not going to try and pretend with You because You know the truth anyway.  I was disappointed and not excited about having to do treatments again.  The enemy has tried to bring frightening thoughts to my mind, but I refuse to listen.  I will take this treatment with the same faith as before!

I see how my quiet time with You keeps getting interrupted; the enemy knows “interruption and distraction” are his greatest weapons.  I need the Word before my eyes as well as in my ears. “Seeing is believing” and I need to “see” the Word as well as “hear” it.  His goal is to keep me from everything that increases my faith.  Help me to not cooperate with his schemes.

I know the truth and the truth shall set me free.  I will not let go of my confidence.  You are faithful.  Any thoughts that come into my mind contrary to Your Word, I resist in Jesus’ Name!

Romans 10:17:  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Proverbs 4:20-22:  My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body.

John 8:31-32:  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Sold!

December 30, 2020  (Post #57)

(From Journal #7:  October 21, 2006)

Well, Lord, we did it!  Last night was the auction and our painting was the highest selling thing in the whole event!  Two people got into a bidding war and it sold for $3,300.00!  I’d set a minimum bid of $500 and was afraid no one would even bid that much.  Lord, how awesome are You???  I’m so excited to be able to help raise and give every dime of this money to fight cancer, the very thing the enemy wants to destroy me with.  Take that, devil!  My next CT scan is coming up in late November and I’m standing on Your Word that I am healed.

I humbly thank You for allowing me to be Your “brush.”  You’ve shown me that I can be used for the Kingdom of God.  I just need to be obedient, have faith in You and then in myself, not in my own strength but Yours.  I pray that “we,” namely You, do many wonderful paintings together to continue to bless and advance Your Kingdom in ways that I can’t even predict.   

This was a breakthrough moment and another layer added to Your Pearl…

Matthew 13:45:  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 

1 Peter 4:10:  As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Ephesians 2:10:  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Just be the Brush

December 13, 2020   (Post #56)

(From Journal #7:  October 9, 2006)

Lord, as I struggled to “see” what needed to be done on this painting, the Holy Spirit spoke the most powerful and beautiful words into my spirit.  This is what I heard:  “In the spiritual realm, you are My canvas.  In the natural world, you are My brush.  Just be the brush.”  Once I heard that, I realized that I am not responsible for how this painting turns out.  You are the Artist; You just want me to be Your brush.  You showed me that I am a painting, a spiritual canvas You work on.  I’m also a physical brush You use to paint pictures for others.  Every time I got stuck, frustrated and tense, I’d hear You saying, “Just be the brush” and I’d relax, get out of my head, and just paint. We are artists together.

You’ve guided my eyes and my hands and we’ve gotten so much done.  I know it’s Your strength, not mine, that has seen me through.  I was so leery of not only painting glass, but on such a large canvas.  But You pushed me out of my comfort zone and forced me to trust You alone, and of course, You didn’t let me down.  The confidence You are building in me is great – but it’s not confidence in myself that “I alone” can do anything.  It is confidence in myself that I can do anything You’ve called me to do as long as I rely on You.  I designed my own labels for the wine bottles and even added a cork lying on the table.  Today, I signed it!  We got this done in 9 days!  Glory to You!!!  I’m really pleased at how it turned out, and I named it “A Pearl from the Vine…”

I’ve questioned so many times how could You use me to be a blessing to the Kingdom?  And now, here You are helping me paint a picture to raise money to fight cancer!  May this painting be anointed and bring a huge sum to beat cancer!  AMEN!

Philippians 4:13:  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Ephesians 2:10:  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

Colossians 3:23:  And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.

Isaiah 64:8:  But now, O LORD, You are our Father; We are the clay and You our potter; and we are the work of Your hand.

The Path Can Change

December 6, 2020  (Post #55)

(From Journal #7:  October 3, 2006)

Two days ago a friend called and asked me if I had a piece of art I would be willing to donate to be auctioned at an annual cancer fundraiser on October 20th. I immediately knew this was You challenging me to step up and take action.  I told her I didn’t have anything on hand that I felt great about donating but I would do a painting especially for the event.  

When I hung up the phone, I almost panicked. ”What was I thinking???”  There’s such little time to get it done!   And then my prayer literally was “Lord, if You don’t come through for me, I’m toast.”  I need You to show me what to paint and empower me to do it.  Then yesterday morning while taking a walk, You taught me something…

As I was walking home, You had me notice the sidewalk and think of it as walking on the path You have set before me.  But I could only see the path so far.  I could not see the final destination.  I so often want to see the “blueprints” of Your plans, when You have me on a “need-to-know” basis.  As I walked farther, I came to the left turn to get home.  I couldn’t see that turn earlier.  I thought I’d seen your straight path clearly from where I was, but You told me to turn left.  

We get off the path, don’t we Lord?  We get ahead of You and decide what we’re to do based on what we see today and then we don’t always hear Your small still voice saying, “Turn here.”  And I realized that even if I’d not turned left, I could still get back home, but it would take longer and I’d have to walk a different path that wasn’t as easy.  

After our walk, I just started looking through magazines and saw a photo reference of a couple bottles of wine alongside a glass of red wine that really spoke to me.  I’ve never painted anything like this before; glass is hard to paint.  I continued looking at other photos, but kept going back to this one. I felt this was the path I’m to take for this auction.  I wanted to do a large painting, so sketching it out was mathematically challenging to calculate the proportions relative to the size of the canvas.  But I stayed calm and I think I got it, thanks to You.  Today, I want to start laying down some paint and do what I know to do at this point on the path and listen for You to tell me when to change direction.

Isaiah 30:21:  Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”

Proverbs 3:5-6:  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

Proverbs 16:9:  A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.

Complete the Unfinished

November 17, 2020  (Post #54)

(From Journal #7:  September 18, 2006)

A few weeks ago I met with another surgeon about doing the hernia repair.  He does it by laparoscopy which is much better.  I was supposed to have it done a few days ago. But early in the morning on the day for pre-op lab work, I woke and felt Your Spirit telling me I was outside Your timing?  So I called and canceled trusting You would give me peace on when to reschedule.  I found out why when I had a follow-up appointment with my oncologist. He said everything was looking good, praise!  He suggested I have another CT scan before the hernia repair.  Thank You for having me wait.  While I wait, I know You are more than able to supernaturally heal this…

We’ve been painting a lot and finished three things.  It felt so good to complete the unfinished.  It was symbolic to me that You leave nothing undone.  It was a “breakthrough” in more than one realm.  I’m tired of “staying stuck” in any area of my life.  I am ready to move into a new level and want all that You have for me.  I am sick of the wilderness.

Then on Sunday, Pastor Rob’s sermon was so good and confirming.  I felt Your Holy Spirit so tangibly and had goosebumps all through the service.  He taught how You are not constrained by our natural time.  Case-in-point:  I received the message from You that no matter how many years I’ve wasted or how many mistakes I’ve made, there is always plenty of time for You to accomplish Your will in my life.  You have a way of making up that time.  Lord, I received that even though I didn’t go to art school and I’m getting a late start, You can catapult me as an artist.  If You desire for me to speak and give my testimony even though I have no platform, You can make it happen.  If You want all these lessons and thoughts written into a book or column, whatever, You’ll show me and make it happen. I just sat there and felt Your love and received that it’s never too late with You. 

I also felt You telling me to take the same faith I have about healing and use it in every area of my life.  It’s the same faith.  The enemy knows he can’t get me to waver where healing is concerned, so he’s attacking me in other areas, which creates stress that has a detrimental effect on my health.  We’re on to him! 

Today I was drawn to Joel 2:25:  “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…”  I appropriate that promise over my life, Lord.

Romans 8:28:   And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

A Work in Progress

October 24, 2020   (Post #53)

(From Journal #6:  July 25, 2006)

I saw the cardiologist about the heart monitor and results are normal!  Praise You for the good report!  

I had a humbling experience while at the hospital.   While in the waiting room an elderly gentleman on crutches came in.  He seemed very distressed and was muttering to himself.  I looked at him a couple of times and smiled.  I heard him utter “Jesus” and I knew he was praying.  I began to feel I should go and offer to pray with him, but I didn’t want to embarrass him (or was it me?) in front of the people in the room.  I really wanted privacy and hoping for more people to leave.

Before that could happen, an attendant with a wheelchair came for him.  I followed him to the elevator because I couldn’t let him leave without telling him that my spirit felt I was to pray for him.  He said for me do it and I trust that You gave me the right words to pray.  So, I wound up praying in the middle of the hallway, in front of the elevator, in front of many more people than who were in the waiting room…

That precious man needed a touch of love and I pray he felt Your love through me.  Help me to grow in my discernment about others and to know when and how to be encouraging as Your Spirit leads me.  Lord, forgive me for not praying with him immediately when I felt the Holy Spirit leading me.  But You did show me that I can be bold enough to pray whenever, wherever, and with whomever You tell me.

This is still hard for me, just like with recently approaching my neighbor Libby.  I did send her a card letting her know how much I enjoyed our time and that I’m praying for her.  Thank You for the privilege of being Your servant to others.  I am definitely a work in progress.

Luke 6:46:  “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord’ and not do the things which I say?”

Psalm 40:8:  I desire to do Your will, my God; Your law is within my heart.

James 5:16:  …and pray for one another, that you may be healed.  The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

John 13:34-35:  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Make the First Move

October 9, 2020  (Post #52)

(From Journal #6:  June 12, 2006)

Lord, I have so much to thank You for!  My recent CT scan was so good!  The lymph nodes have shrunk to 1/2 the size, my lungs are clear, and no other suspicious places showing!  And, I saw a cardiologist who did a new kind of test on me that shows if there is any soft or hard plaque in my arteries and it was perfect!  So even with high cholesterol numbers, my arteries are clear.  He’s having me wear a monitor for 30 days.  If there’s anything to be discovered, shine Your light on it, Lord.

For several days, I’ve had a thought “pop into my head” that I’m to ask the next door neighbor Libby to go to the Home Show with me.  The woman isn’t that friendly and barely speaks to me, but a week or so ago she caught me outside and did chat a bit; she even asked about my art.  Anyway, I’ve felt the Holy Spirit speaking to me to ask her to do something.  Lord, You know how much I hate doing these things… that’s why You’re after me, huh?  

I confess that I didn’t want to go, but I called her, hoping she’d say no.  But she didn’t.  The only available day of the Home Show for her was Sunday and I didn’t want to spend my Sunday afternoon with her.  I told her I’d call her after church to see if she was still up for it, and she said she’d still like to go.  Well, You sure taught me a lesson.

We made some small talk and I finally asked if she had kids or grandkids.  She began to tell me how she hasn’t spoken to her daughter in 4 years!  She was telling me this as we were leaving the Home Show and I felt You telling me to go to Sonic and keep talking.  I discovered why You had me do this.  We sat in the car with our drinks and she began to open up about her life, her husband’s health, etc.  She’s scared and lonely.  I told her YOU had me call her and that You love her a lot.

I’ve been painfully aware of how these mission trips to far off places aren’t for me. I’ve always admired those willing to go to dangerous places to share the Gospel.  Yet all You did was ask me to go next door and I whined and complained, after church!  It wasn’t China or Africa – it was next door.  Forgive me for my selfish attitude and poor witness. I pray the seed planted in Libby will be watered with Your love and Word.  I trust You will show me how and what to do concerning her in the future.  I am humbled to be used to reach out to her.

Don’t Fuel the Unbelief

September 27, 2020  (Post #51)

(From Journal #5:  April 20, 2006)

I watched a great teaching yesterday and the woman said something that hit me right between the eyes:  “Fear is an emotional response to unbelief.”  

Unbelief is actually a spiritual thing that produces a physical, natural response:  fear!  When fear attacks, I pray You will help me check myself, and let You show me any areas of unbelief.  For instance, this thing about my heart having some weird symptoms has caused fear.  I know that fear is not of  You.  The enemy uses fear to fuel unbelief.  Wow!  We’re on to him, Lord.

I also see another way that I open myself up for the enemy to attack me with fear.  It’s been several days since I’ve been in my journal.  I have missed You and I know You didn’t go anywhere…  I traveled to see my family and have been busy and distracted.  In other words, I didn’t keep my time in prayer and in the Word as my top priority.  I threw up some hurried verbal prayers, but I have missed my deep written prayers and conversations with you.  They’re a record of our relationship and are priceless.  

Oh Jesus, I cannot live and function without You.  I see what happens to me after about three days and it’s not good.  It affects my temperament and I become impatient with others rather than walking in love.  I catch myself grumbling and complaining rather than having a heart of joy, peace and gratitude.  Forgive me.

You are my rock, my source of everything.  You are faithful when I am not.  I thank You for never leaving me nor forsaking me.

2 Timothy 1:7:  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

1 Peter 5:7-8:  …casting all your anxiety upon Him, for He cares for you.  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith…

Psalm 91:1-2:  He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.   I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”