Written in Iron Ink: Cancer, waiting, and a God who tends

Cancer is everywhere.

I’m no longer surprised by the growing list of those fighting cancer in our church bulletins, in our personal prayers, and in our neighborhoods and families.

Satan likes to destroy and if he can do something easily, he’ll take that route.

The good news is that cancer only destroys the body. It feels like it destroys the spirit, but time and again I have seen individuals I love stand up and fight it and proclaim the victory of Christ in it.

I am in awe. I am in awe of a God who works hope when life seems to be falling apart and I am in awe of the individuals who cling to Him in the dark moments, as well as the light.

In my recent podcast visit with Rev. John and Sharla Fritz we talked a lot about Waiting, because that’s the title of her latest book, but also because it is the earthly reality of life with cancer.

There are lots of gems of insights from the Fritz’s, but my favorite is their awareness of today. Cancer reminds you that each of us is only promised today, and while it is very imperfect, that day is a tremendous gift.

“Tending to the tender mercies of today.”

This day, right in front of us.

Cancer may feel like it’s winning, this day.

Life may feel overwhelming, this day.

The road may seems so long, or way too short, this day.

The waiting may be unbearable – waiting for a diagnosis, waiting for treatment options, waiting to see if the treatment options worked, waiting to see if it’s in remission, waiting to see if it comes back, waiting to hear how your loved one is doing, waiting, waiting, and more waiting…this day.

But God is tending in the waiting. He tends to us. He tends to our spouse, our children, our loved ones. He tends to today and He tends to eternity.

The body of Christ is there to tend to one another. This life is so momentary. Cancer makes us intensely aware of that, but…

this momentary life is lived in His hands, and best lived together.

God works His testimony in even this, in cancer. He works to shine the hope and light of Christ through our body’s imperfections and weaknesses. He shines so very bright.

He also gives us one another in the wait and I have rarely seen God shine brighter than in tending to one another.

I pray that however you have been touched by cancer, this resource and the other resources listed below will be used by God to tend.

Resources:

Waiting by Sharla Fritz on Amazon

Waiting by Sharla Fritz on Concordia Publishing House with free downloads

Cancer Companions

Phil’s Friends – Care packages for those with Cancer

 

Jesus in Everything: Pringles and Faith

There once was a boy who loved Pringles.

He loved them so much he would save up money to buy them, alongside his hot wheel cars.

When he got married his wife failed to understand his obsession with Pringles, but out of love and care, she faithfully bought him cans of stacked potato chips for his stocking every Christmas and his easter basket every Easter.

But this isn’t a blog about love and marriage, it’s a blog about disappointment, and more than that about faith and genuineness.

I shattered Dave’s world one day when I checked out a series called “How It’s Made” from our local library. In one episode, they show the making of Pringles from start to finish. I remember Dave jumping up from the couch…

“They’re powdered potatoes???!!!”

Dave’s whole life he thought Pringles were the world’s most carefully cut potatoes. Then one day he learned, they’re kind of fake…artificial…not what he thought at all.

We laugh about it. It’s a funny story and you’ll really want to hear Dave talk about his chip struggles in the podcast, but what matters more than the humor of it all is that small things, like this in life, teach us about a bigger picture.

There are so many everyday things that can point us to something bigger if we just let them, if we let our minds wander to the eternal, rather than settle for the here and now.

In John 3, a man named Nicodemus asks Jesus a very complicated question about belief and faith. Jesus answers about being born again. Nicodemus asks another question, based on his limited perceptions and biases-

Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Like you and I, Nicodemus thinks about things in a very narrow way. Birth means one thing to him in this story until Jesus reveals to him the bigger picture.

Jesus says “new life” and we think “isn’t there only one life?”

Jesus says “family” and we think “people we live with.”

Jesus says “taco” and we think “Mexican.”

Ok, so Jesus never said taco or Mexican, but the idea for chips and salsa came from somewhere, and I’m pretty sure that’s why God makes tomatoes grow on a vine. 😉

There is a myriad of things in everyday life that can point us, and others, to Christ, if we let them.

At I Love My Shepherd one of our core values is Jesus in Everything. We believe that all things in creation, all of life’s relationships, all of life’s challenges, are best when we let them give us a little more perspective and understanding into who He is.

So, welcome to our new podcast series, Jesus in Everything –

Grounded in the Word, found in the everyday.

Today’s episode is indeed about Pringles and genuineness – how Dave learned that being the most genuine form of ourselves is important and showing people the most genuine and truthful version of Jesus is important too, all through a potato chip.

Where do you see Jesus in your everyday life? Tell us more! We’d love to hear your suggestions for future episodes! Send them to us in the comments below or on social media:

YouTube – I Love My Shepherd

Facebook – @ilovemyshepherd

Twitter – @ilovemyshepherd

Instagram – @ilovemyshepherdministries

Jesus in Everything: Pringles

PS This is not a op-ed about Pringles as a product. They are, and continue to remain, delicious. Dave simply prefers kettle cooked chips with the skins clearly visible, at this point in his potato chip journey.

As mentioned in the podcast – Christ is the Unseen Guest art by Pure Joy Creative

The Truth about Mental Health: For you and for your children


I would like to proclaim a truth about mental health:

It just is.

Mental health is something we all have. I know we’d like to relegate it to people with some diagnosable illness, someone far different from ourselves, or some distant cousin that no one talks about, but you have it. I have it. We all have it.

Mental health is part of all of us. It’s made up of our neurons and hormones and synapses. It’s made up of our emotions, our sensory system, our experiences, our heredity, and our relationships.

We have this gigantic part of us that we are ignoring, wishing, hoping-for-the-best that it stays on the up-and-up.

Let’s proclaim a new truth together: Mental Health is.

We all have it. It’s a part of us. Sometimes it’s happy and doing well. Sometimes it’s struggling. Some of us struggle with it more, others of us less. Sometimes it needs treatment, medications, and more support than we’d like, but it’s better that way; peaceful, functioning well with some help. But it’s important to understand that it’s a thing inside each of us, not relegated to someone less than, outcast, or disconnected. It may look different in each of us, more dramatic perhaps in some of us, mostly happy in others of us, but it’s always there, a part of us, woven and knit in us by our Creator, messed with by a world full of sin.

In today’s podcast I present more on this truth. I pray it helps lighten the shame associated with mental health, for us and for our children.

Sometimes, we think we need to “keep it together.” We need to be at the top of our mental health game and so does everyone in our households.

When we read Proverbs 22:6:

Train up a child in the way he should go;
    even when he is old he will not depart from it.

we think “training them up right” means that we just need to teach them the Word, good values, good morals, good character, and then they’ll be able to “keep it together.”

Truth: It doesn’t work like that.

Training them up means sharing hope and sharing the struggle. It means gathering around the Word so that when the hard times come we know where to turn and so do our children. It means helping them learn that there is no shame in sharing the burden, getting help from experts, and being honest about brain chemistry, individual needs, and when mental health goes awry.

Our children won’t be perfect. We won’t be perfect. Often mental health is out of our control, out of their control; but it is never out of God’s control. He is in the realm of synapses and emotions and struggle too. He is God of even this- when it’s good, when it’s bad, and when it’s ugly.

Truth: We all have mental health.

Let’s normalize that. Let’s rejoice in the gift of one another for support and encouragement when we each need it. Let’s thank the Lord for the creation of medicines, for doctors and nurses and therapists who are in the know, for hope in a God who values our tears when we’re hurting and holds our arms up in the triumph…for us, and for our children.

 

I Love My Shepherd Podcast, Episode 17: The Truth about Mental Health