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Phil's Friends Blog - Entries written by Martel Sardina
Prayer Requests 6/14/2012
25 Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
New International Version (NIV)
but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
Someone once said, "Getting over a painful experience is like crossing the monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward." I don't think this idea of "letting go in order to move forward" only applies to painful experiences. It also applies to situations where we don't want to give up our control. I've been thinking a lot lately of how things have changed since I was a kid. I used to play outside, basically unsupervised for hours on end. I used to walk to school or go other places by myself. But when I think about letting my kids do that, it scares me. I think about all of the "bad" things that could happen. They could be (insert list of "bad" things here) and that would be terrible if it happened. I don't think as much about the "bad" things I might be doing by not letting my kids go out and experience the world. Am I causing them to fear things unnecessarily? Am I taking away the opportunity for them to make decisions and gain a sense of responsibility? Are they overly dependent on me? Am I trying to control the situation when I should be trusting them to make the right choices? Am I trying to control the situation when I should be trusting God to take care of us all?
How can I (and how can they) move forward if I don't reach out for the next bar? Am I going to hang there forever? I suppose I could try, but eventually my arms would get tired and I'd have to let go. But stopping and letting go is different that letting go and reaching out to grab the bar that will move me forward.
Is there a situation in your life that's like this one? What are you holding on to that's keeping you from moving forward? It reminds me of the verse above. Let go of the fear. Trust in Lord. Move forward to the place He wants you to go.
Heavenly Father, So many of the prayer requests we've received in the last few weeks have to do with people who need to let go of something that it holding them back in some way. Whether it's bitterness over old wounds, test results, or fear over figuring out what You would have us do next, remind us to let go of those things that burden our hearts. Remind us to trust in You. Lord, this week we pray specifically for Camille, Lenora, Connie, Holly, Angie, Bob, Johnny, Mary, Evelyn, and Loretta. You know the things that are burdening them. Release them from any bitterness or anger. Allow the power of Your forgiveness to heal them both physically and spiritually. Reveal to them the direction You have for their lives. Give them the peace and strength to empower them to do whatever comes next. We ask these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
Prayer Requests - 5/17/2012
New International Version (NIV)
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
I read a Facebook post yesterday and I can't get it off my mind:
"For the record, I am not a small claims court. I am not a mediator. I don't care about your personal situation or sob story. If you want someone to help you collect something which you feel is owed to you--I am not your attorney, nor am I the court. When you make bad relationship and life choices, it is not my place to help you. Why do people think I'd have an interest in their drama? *block*"
(For those who are unfamiliar with Facebook, the *block* at the end of the above statement means that the author is going remove certain people from his "Friends" list so he won't have to read their drama-filled posts.)
When I read this, my heart was filled with a kind of sadness that I don't recall ever feeling before. Part of it is disappointment. I'm disappointed that the author isn't looking at this situation as opportunity to be a peacemaker. As Christians, shouldn't we be trying to help others we know to work out their differences? To help others learn what it means to ask for and receive forgiveness? But it's bigger and heavier than that. What would life be like if God treated our requests for help in this way? My mind keeps wandering to a scenario where I'm the one asking God for help, and the above words are His response to me.
I keep thinking about another statement I heard recently: "According to your faith, so be it unto you." When I think about that one, it scares me. It makes me think of all the times I've failed to live out the things I claim to believe. It makes me thankful for God's mercy and grace. Thankful that every day brings new opportunities to extend grace as it has been extended to me.
I'm going to try something different...I've never really prayed back scripture before. But there are some verses (from 1 Timothy 2 and Matthew 5 & 6) that really apply to the thoughts I've been having the last few days.
Heavenly Father, You are the only God. And there is only one mediator between You and mankind, Jesus Christ, who gave his life as a ransom for all people. Help us to live peaceful lives that reflect the faith we proclaim. Use our lives to bring others to know You as Savior and friend.
Today, we pray for Angie, Bob, and Amy, who need the gift of Your salvation. We pray for Johnny, Evelyn, and Sherry, who need the gift of Your peace. We pray for Gloria and Jessica, who need the gift of Your direction. Where should they go next? Reveal Your will to them. We thank You for the wonderful news of Gary's successful surgery and the fact that his cancer did not spread. "Our prayers were answered 'to the max'," Gary's family says. We thank You for his healing and continued recovery. We pray for all those who are undergoing treatments. You know their needs. Give those patients and their families the strength they need to get through each day. We thank You for the life of Chuck who is with You now in Paradise.
Lord, we know that nothing would please You more than our obedience. For us to worship and pray, without anger or disputing, but with our hands lifted high bringing Glory to Your name. And finally, remind us of Your words from Matthew 5 above. Remind us what it means to forgive as You forgive us. Help us to be peacemakers...the kind of children that You call us to be. Amen.
Prayer Requests - 5/10/2012
New Living Translation (NLT)
15 For the despondent, every day brings trouble;
for the happy heart, life is a continual feast.
16 Better to have little, with fear for the Lord,
than to have great treasure and inner turmoil.
17 A bowl of vegetables with someone you love
is better than steak with someone you hate.
Now here's a Proverb I can relate to. It's a classic case of the optimist vs. the pessimist. For much of my life, I have had a pessimistic view of the world. I believed in Murphy's Law: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." I'd meet "morning" people and groan at their enthusiasm. Carpe diem? Ha! I still have a hard time seizing anything before 9am. I was just another rat in the race. Working a job I hated, trying to earn more money so I could have a new car, a big house, nice clothes, and for what? Even when I had many of those things, I found that I was more miserable than I'd even been.
It wasn't until I found out that I was pregnant that my perspective on life changed. I always knew that when the time came to have kids, that I wanted to stay home and take care of them. In order to figure out if we could "afford" to do that, we started managing our money differently. The pursuit of acquiring "stuff" became unimportant. We decided to simplify our lives. Now I won't say it's always been easy. And sure there have been times when I've wanted some big ticket item and thought, "If I was working full-time we could get that." But the fact that I can't just go out and make those kinds of impulse buys causes me to have to evaluate whether or not the item is worth the cost. Most of the time the answer is "No."
The funny thing is that when we set out on the quest to simplify, I thought life was going to be worse than ever. We wouldn't have enough money. We wouldn't have [insert name of latest gadget here] We wouldn't have... Turns out I was wrong about that. Way wrong. All of our needs have been provided for. We have food, clothing, shelter. But more important than any material thing...we gave ourselves and our kids the gift of time. Family time. Time to have dinner or go to church or play at the park or read together. And I don't know about you, but I'd rather eat a bowl of broccoli with my husband and my kids than be forced to schmooze clients at some fancy restaurant all in the name of earning the almighty buck.
If you're feeling like a rat in the race this week, maybe it's time to reevaluate what's important. Maybe it's time to trust that God will take care of your needs and let go of your dependence on treasures that you're going to have to leave here when it's time to go to Heaven.
Heavenly Father, Thank You for opening my eyes to the fact that true happiness is found through relationship with You and through relationship with those around us. Lord, You know all of our needs. But this day, we ask for healing for Gary and Louise who are recovery from surgery. We praise You for the news that Rita is cancer-free. We ask for Your comfort and peace for the families of Bill, Sharon and Velma as they mourn the loss of loved ones. Remind us of our need to focus on storing up treasures in Heaven rather than the race to keep up with Jones'. Remind us that your blessings come in so many forms, it's not just monetary, we're blessed with spiritual gifts as well as physical/mental talents. Remind us to use those gifts and talents to bless others and bring glory to Your name. Remind us to be thankful for what we have been given, not to dwell on what we have not. Make us optimists. Give us happy hearts despite the trials that are thrown our way. Remind us to put our trust in You. Amen.
Prayer Requests - 5/3/2012
New International Version (NIV)
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
2012 National Prayer
Written By: Dr. David Jeremiah – NDP Honorary Chairman
Every good gift and perfect gift comes from You. You are a faithful God and Your mercy endures forever. You have promised to bless the nation that trusts in You. Our currency proclaims “In God We Trust,” but in our culture we are far from You. In the words of the prophet Daniel, “We have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.” We come before You once more, seeking Your forgiveness and mercy. You, O God, are our only hope… Hear our prayer and, for Your honor’s sake, shine Your face upon this nation. Give our leaders the desire to seek Your wisdom and the courage to follow Your guidance… and watch over the men and women of our armed forces as they sacrifice for the cause of freedom. We give You thanks for all You have done for us, and we earnestly pray that You will help us become, once again, a nation whose God is the Lord. In the name of Your Son, and our Savior, we pray this prayer. Amen
Today is the 2012 National Day of Prayer. If you’re wondering how this observance came to be, check out the Historical Time Line at the link below:
Sometimes we become so focused on our individual circumstances that we forget to pray for things larger than ourselves like the spiritual health of our nation. So as you pray for the individual concerns listed below, I’d also ask that you spend a few moments focused on larger issues, like all of the people in our nation and beyond who have yet to know Jesus as Savior and friend.
Prayer Requests – 5/3/2012
· Jennifer – Pray for God’s will to be done.
· Sherri – Pray for encouragement.
· Bob – Pray that he comes to salvation and knows Jesus in his heart, not his head.
· Trey – Pray for the Lord’s protection and that he stays in remission.
· Angie – Pray for her salvation and that she comes to know Jesus.
· Chloe – Pray that her mother would see that Chloe is fearfully and wonderfully made by God. Pray that her mother would be able to let go of her anger about Chloe’s various medical conditions. Pray that Chloe would be strengthened and feel God’s love as she goes through her treatments.
· Vincenza – Pray that her body responds well to chemo. Give thanks and praise that she is off oxygen and the condition of her lungs is improving.
· Riley – Pray for healing and pain relief from the side effects of chemo.
· Mary Jane – Pray for stress relief as she is feeling overwhelmed as a single mother.
· Sal – Pray for comfort and pain relief as he has transitioned into hospice care. Pray for his daughter who is struggling with the stress of being a caregiver and also balance that with her other work and family responsibilities.
· Sharon – Pray for pain relief and peace for her family.
· Evelyn, Gloria, Shelita – Just pray. The Lord knows their needs.
· For the family of Michael – Pray for God’s love to poured out on this family as they mourn. Pray for peace.
Heavenly Father – As I look over this list, I’m saddened by the difficulties that so many we know are facing this week. It hurts to know that many of our friends are in pain, whether it be physical or emotional. Lord, You know what kind of healing is needed and I ask for Your abundant mercy on behalf of the people listed above. But more than that, I ask for those individuals to be made aware of the healing they receive, to be made aware that it was born from Your grace. When we hear reports of answered prayers, I ask that we are bold enough to share our experiences with others. Use our lives and our circumstances to bring others closer to You. And on this day, our National Day of Prayer, I ask that You open our eyes to see needs beyond our own and give us the courage to put our faith into action. Help us become people who are worthy of the precious gift you gave and use our lives to bring glory to Your name. Amen.
Prayer Requests - 4/26/2012
New Living Translation (NLT)
Jesus, the Lamb of God
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
New Living Translation (NLT)
5 The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man[a] must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”
It's always nice to open up the mail and receive a card or letter from a patient that lets us know how they are doing. But today, we received something special. We have patients who are talented artists, too.
The attached photos were sent by James from Kansas. The first one is a picture of a lamb. It says that it was done on a scratch board. The second is a picture of a wooden cross. It has the word "Risen" etched into it with a wood burning tool and also pictures of two doves.
The verses above come to mind as I look at these pictures. Both pictures are beautiful reminders of the fulfillment of God's promises to us. A big "Thank You" to James for sharing his artwork with us.
Heavenly Father - We have a lot of people to pray for this week. So many who are going currently going through treatments and other who have procedures coming up soon. We ask for healing and protection for Larry, Jim, Carol, Evelyn, Camille, Vincenza, Holly, Charles, Jennifer, Gloria, Lynne, Corrine and Baby Matthew. We give You thanks and praise for Marci's recovery from brain surgery. She has asked for healing and strength for her upcoming chemo treatments. Lord, we know of families with loved ones who have received word that physical healing may not be possible anymore. Guide those families through the decisions that they have make regarding transitions to hospice care. It's hard, Lord, to watch as those we love suffer. So for those patients we ask for relief from pain. For those families we ask for patience as they wait for whatever is next to come. We've also heard from several families with loved ones who have been called to be with You in heaven. Comfort the families and friends of Otto and Kaitlyn as they grieve. Lord, we thank You for all of the doors that You continue to open. Continue to connect people to this outreach and allow us to bring the hope that can only be found in You to those affected by cancer. We pray for all of our patients, volunteers, staff members and all of their families. Strengthen our relationships. Make us aware of circumstances where forgiveness and reconciliation are needed. Give us the courage to ask for forgiveness when we make mistakes. Give us the grace to extend forgiveness to others. Remove our stubbornness so healing in those circumstances can begin. Remind us that we should seek forgiveness because of all You've done for us through Jesus Christ. Make us aware of Your presence. And may Your presence be magnified in our lives so that through our example others will see how we are different. Use us to draw others closer to You. Amen.
Prayer Requests 4/19/2012
New Living Translation (NLT)
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
When I woke up this morning, I wasn't thinking about how God was going to use me today. I was thinking about other things. Things I had to do. My plans. But as many of you know, "my plan" isn't always God's plan.
I came into the office this morning, thinking of all the things I had to do. Paperwork to fill out. Bills to pay. Writing up this week's prayer requests. Wondering what I was going to write about. Thinking about how it didn't seem like I'd have enough time to get everything done. But all of my plans got scrapped within a few minutes of walking through the door. A phone call came in. God had something else that he needed me to do.
I've heard people say that God's timing is perfect. (I'm not sure I always believe that, though I know I should.) I'm going to take this morning's experience as evidence that statement is true. Lannie (our Care Package Coordinator) does not usually work on Thursdays. I'm not sure why she came in, but it was a good thing she did. Someone called and left a voice mail last night requesting a hospital visit for a patient in hospice care who had taken a turn for the worse. The situation looked grave. An original prognosis of months to live had quickly changed to days, maybe less. The caller wondered if we could deliver a care package and possibly pray with the patient and her family. If Lannie had not been here to check her voicemail this morning, we might not have received the message in time.
After a few more phone calls to confirm details and get directions, Michelle (our Card Outreach Coordinator) and I were in the van and on our way to the hospital with a care package in hand. Our drive to Chicago went smoother than we were expecting. Traffic was lighter than normal and we didn't have to fight to find a parking place. As we walked up to the hospital entrance, we noticed a small garden area filled with beautiful flowers. There were benches around a statue in the center. The inscription on the statue said:
Our God is good, give thanks!
God's mercy endures forever!
Let us pray for those who are sick that they may find healing of body and spirit
For our God is good, give thanks!
God's mercy endures forever!
We went up to the room and had a nice visit with the patient and her family. We had been told that the patient might not be lucid but when we came in she woke up. And when we asked if we could pray for her, she said "Yes!" I held her hand as we prayed. And when I was done, she smiled and said, "Thank you!" The family was touched by the gift of the care package and the fact that "strangers" would be willing to come on such short notice to bring comfort to their family. I can't accurately described how I was feeling at that moment, other than to say that I knew I was where God wanted me to be. And our willingness to serve was noted by the hospice staff and may open door for Phil's Friends to serve others at that hospital and at their other locations throughout the area.
Heavenly Father, I thank You for changing "my plans" to Your plan today. Thank You for the opportunity to serve this patient and her family, to be witnesses of Your love. Lord, we ask for Your hand of protection over all of our patients and their families. We ask for healing of body and mind. You know our needs. We pray for Lisa, who has received word that her chemo treatments are no longer effective and has to make choices for the next phase of her journey. Continue to bring the support that she needs from family, friends and doctors to comfort her at this time. We pray for the family of Carolyn who recently passed away. We pray for Catherine, Deb, Michael, all of whom were recently hospitalized. We pray for families with one or more members seeking employment. Sustain these families and reassure them You will continue to provide the resources they need. Lord, we also pray for those who are suffering marital stress. We've heard from individuals who are lonely and uncertain because the stress of illness has taken its toll on relationships. We ask for reconciliation and healing to be brought to those families. We also pray for our organization as a whole. It's an exciting time as we grow, but growth often means change and sometimes change is hard to accept. Keep our hearts focused on the mission of bringing hope and let all we say and do reflect Your love both inside and outside our office walls. We thank You for all we have and the ways You continue to use our lives for Your glory. Amen.
Prayer Requests - 4/13/2012
New Living Translation (NLT)
25 Worry weighs a person down;
an encouraging word cheers a person up.
Did you know that there are some people in the world who fear Friday the 13th so much that they won't dare to get out of bed? Worry about all the unlucky things that could happen weigh those people down to the point that they are paralyzed by their fear. So rather than taking the opportunity to choose to see the good that is out there, they do nothing. I have to admit that there have been days when I've felt the same way, too. Not because of superstition, but a variety of other fears. Finances, parenting, health concerns, there are so many things to worry about. The people we support have fears about all of things and more. And that is why it is so important that we continue to send cards, take their phone calls, respond to e-mails and Facebook posts. It is important for us to remember to share encouraging words with those around us. It is important for us to remember to lift those people up in prayer. Not only can we cheer them up, but our words can also help to calm those fears.
We received a letter this week from Nancy in Ohio, she writes: "You have been there every week with letters, scriptures, and cute children's cards which have meant so much to my healing and my spiritual life." Because Nancy felt that the encouragement she's received is so important to those who have cancer, she also requested a care package and cards for Marcia, a friend she made at radiation treatments. It is awesome to see patients reaching out to share that hope and encouragement with others, too.
Heavenly Father, Help us to remember not to let worry weigh us down. When we see others who are struggling, allow us to recognize it and give us encouraging words to share to help them see their way out of being paralyzed by fear. When we are the ones who are struggling with worry, remind us to cast our burdens on You. We know of so many who are struggling this week. We pray for the families of Joann and Dale. We ask for comfort for their spouses who are feeling empty and alone. Fill that void with wonderful memories from their marriages and with friends and family to lean on as they grieve. We pray for Deb who is recovering from surgery. We pray for Michael who is in the ICU. We pray for Nancy, Brandy, Marcia, Barbara, Scott, Kathy, Baby Matthew and all of the other patients (over 1,000 per week now) who are receiving cards as they undergo cancer treatments. We give You thanks for patients who have received word of healing/remission. We ask that You continue to restore their health as they resume "normal" life. Lord, we know of patients who have been healed and are now wondering if parenthood is next on Your agenda for their lives. If it is Your will, we ask that those families are blessed with the gift of children. We ask for Your protection over the marriages (whether long standing or soon-to-be) of all of patients, staff, and their extended families. Bring those families closer together and closer to You. We pray for the safety of those who are traveling this week, including Nancy and Phil. And finally Lord, we ask for Your continued protection over this outreach. We're in another growth spurt. Bring us volunteers who are willing to serve and the resources to reach out to others. You know our needs. But most of all, keep us focused on our mission and focused on You in all we say and do. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Prayer Requests - 4/5/2012
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
I woke up this morning feeling heavy-hearted. Not about anything specific, and there's nothing particularly bad happening in my life right now. It's more a weight of the world kind of a feeling. I try to start the day by listening to K-Love while I'm getting my kids ready for school, but for the last few days, the radio reception in my kitchen has been bad. Any other day I might have just shrugged this off as a consequence of living in the flight path of O'Hare Airport. But when I think about the verse above and the fact that Easter is approaching, it confirms Peter's statement that the devil is always on the prowl and seeking ways to separate us from God's love.
On the drive to the office, I was able to get K-Love tuned in. The first song I heard was "I Shall Believe" by Matt Brouwer. I've heard the song many times, but today the chorus came through crystal clear. Everything is not going to turn out the way I think it should. When it doesn't, I might try to "fix" things and fail. But even if the worst happens, God will not give up on me. The next song that came on the radio was "Who Am I" by Casting Crowns. Again, a song I've heard several times. But when I think about it in the context of Good Friday, the last verse really resonates:
Who Am I, that the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love and watch me rise again
Who Am I, that the voice that calmed the sea
Would call out through the rain
And calm the storm in me
It reminds me that God loves me despite my sin. That the promise of John 3:16 is true. That Good Friday is about reflecting on who we are because of what He has done for us. And Easter is a celebration with gratitude for that gift.
That weight, that heavy-hearted feeling I described earlier, that's the kind of feeling that can be paralyzing and keep us from using our lives for His glory. When you struggle with carrying that kind of weight, maybe listening to this song will remind you that God is capable of calming "the storm in me." Cast those burdens on Him. He cares for you.
Heavenly Father - I thank You for this day. For reminding me through Your word and through songs that no burden is too big for You to bear. No matter what happens to us personally or to the world at-large, You are with us. May that reminder be constant for the families of Jeff, Candie, Judy, Norman, Gerald, Gene, and Britta, all of whom are now with You in Heaven. May Your presence be felt in the lives of Marty and Patricia who have been recently diagnosed with cancer. We ask for healing for Marty, Patricia, Ramona, Baby Matthew and all of the other patients who are undergoing various treatments, surgeries and procedures. You know their needs. Give their doctors wisdom. Provide each of those families with the strength to endure. It's hard to be a patient. It's hard to be a caregiver and feel so helpless when you can't "fix" things for the one you love. But Lord, we know that "helpless" is not the same as "hopeless." When we struggle with the weight of worry, we ask that You remind us to cast that burden on You.
Lord, we thank You for the countless ways You bless our lives daily. We thank You for the calls and e-mails we receive telling us how the cards and care packages mean so much to those who receive them. We thank You for Barbara who is almost done with her current round of chemo. Her 53rd wedding anniversary is coming up soon and she has asked for prayers that You would allow her to reach that milestone. We thank You for the gift of an adopted daughter for Justin's family. But most of Lord, as we come to the cross on Good Friday, we ask for Your forgiveness, and we thank You for the ultimate sacrifice that was made on our behalf. Remind us that this life is not about who we are or what we've done, but that is it's about who we can be and what we can do because of what Jesus did for us first. We bow before you humbly as we celebrate the gift of light to dark world. We ask all these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
Prayer Requests 3/22/2012
English Standard Version (ESV)
3 Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
The verse above is not long, but it is packed full of promises about prayer. The LORD is speaking to us, inviting us to cry out to Him in our time of need. He promises to answer us. He promises to reveal information that will help us make sense of the circumstances we're in. He doesn't promise to do it on our timeline though. Perhaps if we could remember that, we could keep the enemies of prayer (anger, fear and doubt) from sneaking back into our lives and disconnecting us from God in the times we should be running to Him.
Heavenly Father, The last week has been filled with news, some good and some bad. We thank and praise You for the prayers that have been answered this week. We thank You for Hannah's positive test results, but ask for Your continued wisdom and guidance for her doctors as they evaluate the need for additional tests and possible treatments. We thank You for the many blessings that Gene, one of our volunteers, brought to our outreach through knitting hats for our care packages. We were sad to learn that You needed to bring her home now, Lord. But we know how You used her talents and we thank You for the opportunity we had to share her gifts to bring comfort to so many people.
Lord, we pray for healing and strength for those undergoing treatments. We pray for Johnny, Scott, Vicki, Evelyn, Vincenza, Gloria, Charlie, Denise, Lisa. We pray for all of the people who are receiving cards of encouragement every week. That list is growing, nearly 1,000 people every week, who need to know that You are holding their hand through each step of their journey. Make Your presence known in their lives. We pray for the caregivers and families. Grant them patience, comfort, and peace as they continue to balance their duties at work and at home. Grant them times of rest and renewal.
We pray for our organization. We ask for Your continued wisdom and guidance regarding all of the decisions that need to be made to keep things running smoothly. You know all of our needs. We pray for the staff and volunteers who have been traveling. Guard them and keep them safe from harm. But most of all, we ask for you to keep our hearts and minds focused on the promises revealed in Your word. Keep the enemies (anger, fear and doubt) at bay. We ask all of these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
Prayer Requests 3/15/2012
New International Version (NIV)
22 Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let
the righteous be shaken.
You Never Let Go by Matt Redman
Excerpt from song lyrics:
And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?
Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me
I don't remember the first time I heard the above song. But I do remember the last time I heard it. It was playing on the radio as I was pulling up to the stop sign at Woodworth and Roselle Rd. I was singing along and had just flipped my right turn signal on. I stopped at the stop sign, looked both ways and began to pull forward to make the turn. As I was turning, a teen on a bike came from out of nowhere and sailed around the back of my car and in front of the car the was behind me. The other driver was pulling forward and almost hit the bicyclist. The other driver honked his horn. But the boy didn't stop or even slow down. He just sped away, seemingly oblivious to the narrow miss. Several "what if" scenarios played out in my mind. Some of them were frightening. In that moment, it occurred to me that I might have just witnessed a small miracle. The course of several lives could have been dramatically and tragically changed in a few mere seconds. Matt Redman belted out the chorus. And then I remembered, that no matter what happened (or what could have happened) God would be with me through that circumstance. And the fears from thinking about those "what if" scenarios faded fast.
Sometimes it is hard to keep from getting caught up in thinking about or dwelling upon those "what if" scenarios. When we're faced with situations that we can't control, we struggle with worrying. When we make decisions, we struggle with second-guessing our choices. We can become paralyzed by worry, fear and doubt. Those are the times when we need to remember that God is with us. Those are the times when we should be seeking counsel in His word and through prayer. It's the only way to break that temporary paralysis and begin moving forward again.
Father in Heaven, Today I am so thankful for small miracles, for the opportunity to look at situations life throws my way and feel Your protection over me. I am grateful for all of the times when the promises in Your word have calmed my fears, worries and doubts over the "what ifs." I ask that You bring that sense of calm to the people who are facing those kinds of struggles now. Being diagnosed with cancer, facing treatments or being a caregiver brings up a whole bunch of "what ifs." But in those times, remind all of us that You are with us and that You never let go, even though we sometimes let go of You. I ask that when we meet people who are facing those kinds of "what if" situations that You give us the courage to share our faith with people who are struggling. Use us to bring comfort to others. Lord, for those who are struggling physically, I ask for healing. We've heard of many who are having or recovering from various surgeries and others who are hoping to resume treatments soon. I ask for freedom from pain for all those who are suffering. You know our needs. Thank You for meeting and continuing to meet those needs daily. Grant us patience as we wait for guidance and direction, as we wait for Your will to be done in our lives. Amen.
Prayer Requests - 3/8/2012
New International Version (NIV)
8 Praise our God, all peoples,
let the sound of his praise be heard;
9 he has preserved our lives
and kept our feet from slipping.
10 For you, God, tested us;
you refined us like silver.
11 You brought us into prison
and laid burdens on our backs.
12 You let people ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance.
One of my jobs here at Phil's Friends is to write a monthly devotional that is sent out to our patients and their families. I just finished writing the one that will be sent out this month and it wasn't an easy one for me to write. Some of you know that my dad passed away from lung cancer back in 2008. One of the things furthest from my mind during the time he was sick was giving thanks and praise to God. I was very angry about the whole situation then. And I'll admit it, I walked away from God during that time. I became an expert in what not to do during times of trouble. If you would have asked me then if I thought I'd be where I am right now, I would have told you that you were crazy. How could I provide support to other people facing cancer? Especially when I'd failed miserably at being a source of support to my own father. It's good that God is not as short-sighted as I am. I'm starting to learn how to view the experiences I've had as part of His long range plans.
When I look back on that time, I can see now how God brought me through that situation despite my best efforts to ignore Him. He was there through it all, whether I acknowledged His presence or not. I've learned a lot about patience and perseverance. But more importantly, I learned about what it means to love someone despite the past. To love someone in the same way that God loves each of us.
I don't know what you or many of our patients and their families are going through this week. But I suspect there are people out there who are feeling how I felt at that time. People who are angry with God for the circumstances that they are facing. People who can't see how they can possibly thank God or praise Him. People who can't see that something good may come from whatever is happening now.
Lord, I'm not sure why you put praise in all circumstances on my heart today. I know there have been times when thoughts of praise and thankfulness were far from my mind. Times when I was angry for being placed in certain circumstances. Times when I was blinded to the good that still existed despite whatever was happening. If there are others out there who are feeling that way, I'd ask that you open their eyes to the good. Remind them that no matter what, every day that we are here is a gift. There are things to be thankful for every day. And if they can't see all of the things that You have blessed them with, then I ask that You highlight just one of those things each day as a source of encouragement and hope.
Let us be like like the family of Vicki, a patient who is recovering from surgery. Her family wrote us a note saying despite the surgery and upcoming bone marrow transplant, "God continues to bless us all!" Let us be like Diane and Barbara who say, "Praise the Lord!" for recent anniversaries of being cancer-free.
There are so many people who are thankful for the support and encouragement provided by receiving a care package. One friend writes, "I was having such a bad day. Constantly crying, on the verge of a nervous breakdown. And then I received a care package! What a blessing! I cannot tell you how much it means to know people are on my side and can understand my situation when most people have no clue about what I struggle with daily."
There are so many who need strength for what is to come. Remind all of us that our experiences are opportunities to refine and grow our faith and that You will lead us to that place of abundance, as promised in the verses above. We pray for Johnny, Vincenza, Trey, Jennifer, Evelyn and her husband, and for Kaitlyn. We pray for a baby that is to be born today via C-section who may need surgery. We pray for those who were victims of the recent tornadoes. Please make Your presence known to the people in those communities as they recover and rebuild. And for anyone not mentioned specifically by name, You know their needs, Lord. May Your will be done in their lives. We ask these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
Prayer Requests - 3/2/2012
We recently received this letter:
Thank you for the care package and the thoughtful and inspirational cards you and your wonderful organization have sent to my dear wife over the past two years. Each time Deb received a card, it was a delight to open. There was always a sweet and heartfelt message as well as an illustration drawn by the person who wrote the card that was so touching to both of us.
As you know, only too well, through your own experience with cancer, that the medical treatments are important, but the emotional treatment of cancer patients is just as important, if not more important. The emotional toll that cancer takes on the patients is unimaginable for those of us who have not experienced it. As a husband and father of two sons who also watched their mom go through this, we know that support for Deb as well as for family members is so important.
Unfortunately, Deb lost the fight in Feb. 2012. It was the most heartbreaking day of our lives. We miss her so much.
I want to thank you and your wonderful organization for its support throughout the two years of Deb's battle...Thank you and God Bless.
The Family of Deb D.
This is the reason that we do what we do here at Phil's Friends. As Deb's husband mentioned, the support we provide is for the family as well as the person who has cancer. Our prayers and cards of encouragement are so important to them. There are times when we go through periods where we don't get much in the way of feedback from people we support. And sometimes those dry spells cause us to doubt whether what we do really makes a difference. But when we get letters like this one, it reminds us not to be discouraged when the phones are quiet and the mail is slow in coming.
We've really settled in to our new office space. If you haven't seen it yet, I encourage you to stop by and check it out. We've put up a big bulletin board in our meeting room that is filled with pictures and cards from the people we've supported. If you are ever doubting that your prayers are helping or being heard, come in and read some of the stories that are posted. They are as much of a blessing to us as our words are to them.
Father in Heaven, We thank You for being faithful through all of our days. Sometimes we don't see Your hand or feel Your presence in our lives, but that doesn't mean that You are not there. This week, we received praises from Barbara and Sebastian who have both recently celebrated their 1st anniversary of being cancer free. Thank You for the healing that You have provided and continue to protect them. Thank You for allowing their families to see now that You were with them every step of the way, even though they might have doubted Your presence at the time. There are so many who are still in need of healing. You know all of their needs. We pray for Ginny, Gary, Evelyn and her husband, Vincenza, Gloria, Trey, Kaitlyn, Johnny, Edward and Jennifer. Give them the strength they need for their upcoming treatments. We thank You for the positive test results that Hannah received, but we ask for continued wisdom and guidance for the doctors treating her to make a correct diagnosis. We ask for patience and peace for Hannah and her family as they await results of additional tests that are to come. We've received word of many patients who have been giving eternal healing and are now home with You. We pray for the families of Deb, Nicholas, Tom, Verna, Christine, Rick, Richard, Catherine and Jan. These families are grieving those losses. We ask for Your comfort and peace to be showered upon them in this time. Provide loving family and friends to reassure them that Your promises will be fulfilled. And finally, we ask that You continue to help us find ways that we can be a source of comfort and peace to all of the people we encounter each day. Magnify Your presence in our lives so that we may share Your hope with others. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Prayer Requests - 2/23/2012
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
For the last several days I've watch a debate unfold in the various social media forums (Facebook, Twitter) about what people are giving up for Lent this year. I'm not going to debate the biblical validity of this Lenten practice here. Whether or not you decide to participate in it, the key thing to remember is clearly stated in the verse above. Lent is not about what you give up. It is about what was given up for you.
James 2:26 (NKJV)
26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
There are many people who will read this verse and think that what James wrote here contradicts what Paul wrote in the verse above. What James is really saying here is that those who claim to have faith in Christ but never do anything outwardly to express it really have no faith at all. Our response to faith in Christ is to perform good works. But we are not doing those works to "earn" our salvation. We do them to share that gift of faith with others so that they might also believe.
Psalm 39:4 (NLT)
4 “LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is.
"Today, our rendezvous with reality has arrived." When I opened the newspaper this morning, I saw this quote from Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. He was talking about the state's budget crisis. When I read his statement, it reminded me of the verse above. Our rendezvous with reality is the fact that we are only here for a brief time. We have one life here on Earth. Are we using our time as the finite and precious resource that it is? Or are we squandering it on the things that don't really matter in the end?
I'm reading a book called "Transforming Prayer: How Everything Changes When You Seek God's Face." Part of my journey to learn what it means to TRUST God is centered around connecting with Him through prayer. I used to pray in the "grocery list" style I've talked about before. Presenting my list of requests, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, and finding myself getting frustrated because some of those prayers had not been answered to my satisfaction. Can you see the problem with my prayer life up to now? MY list, MY satisfaction. As that old saying goes, there no "I" in the word "team." My prayer life has been very self-centered. Looking back, I can see that. Why is it that you can be blind in the moment, but in hindsight, everything is always crystal clear?
As we pray this week, let's reflect on the hope that we've been provided through the gift of salvation. Let's reflect on our response going forward to that gift. Let's reflect on what it means to connect with Him through prayer that is not self-centered, but God-centered. Sometimes we hear the question, "What would Jesus do?" Let's reflect on not only that, but also "What (or how) would Jesus pray?"
This week, we ask not for our will to be done, but for Yours. Forgive us for the times when we've prayed selfishly and have been frustrated by our perception of Your response. Remind us not to treat salvation as something that can be earned, but as Your gift to us, a gift that we should share with others. But sometimes it can be hard to share that gift. Sometimes we worry that our attempts will be rejected. Give us the courage to keep trying. Present opportunities for us to meet others wherever they are and tell them of the hope that can only be found through a relationship with You.
We thank You for all the blessings You continue to provide. Too many blessings to count. But help us to see those blessings daily as a means of encouragement. We thank You for those who have been declared to be in remission. But there are so many people we know of who are hurting now, too. We ask for peace for those awaiting test results. We ask for healing for those who are too weak to continue their treatments. We know there are different kinds of healing. Sometimes, people we love are healed and given more time here on Earth. Sometimes they are healed through death. Sometimes we struggle to understand how someone can be healed when they are taken from us. But what we ask this week is for You to remind us all of the unique purpose You have (through life or death) for each of us to fulfill. In Acts 9, You told Ananias, that Saul was "Your chosen instrument." Each one of us is "Your chosen instrument." Make us aware of Your purpose for our lives. Transform us, as You transformed Saul, into people who use the precious resource of time to bring glory to Your name. Amen.
Prayer Requests - 2/16/2012
New Living Translation (NLT)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.
At the beginning of 2012, I chose the word TRUST as my spiritual theme word for the year. This is the area that I feel God has told me that I personally need to work on. Leaning on Him, relying on Him at all times, and not trying to navigate life on my own. I've tried the self-reliance route in the past. Don't ask how that worked out. I think you all know the answer is "nowhere good." Reading this verse reminds me that God is the one who is in control. His plan for my life has already been determined. Knowing that His plan will ultimately lead somewhere good is making it easier for me to trust that it will, even when I encounter moments of doubt.
New Living Translation (NLT)
4 Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago to teach us. And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.
If I had to pick a second theme word, it would probably be PATIENCE. I know I've gotten myself tangled up in troublesome situations because I wanted things to be done on my schedule. I'm certainly willing to share my calendar with God. But He doesn't need me to tell Him when, why or how to get things done. Sometimes I'm the one who needs to slow down. Sometimes I'm the one who needs to wait patiently instead of jumping into a situation just so I can tick it off of my to-do list. Sometimes our ability to be patient is one of God's ways of showing us mercy. Patience may keep us from deviating from the path He's set us on. Reading this verse reminds me that God's promises will be fulfilled. And when I'm having trouble processing that notion, reassurance can be found in reading God's word.
2 Corinthians 5:7
New Living Translation (NLT)
7 For we live by believing and not by seeing.
One of the things I love about being involved in this outreach is being able to share stories where people are bold enough to tell others how God has worked in their lives, even in what some would call the worst of times. I became aware of the Harrison family's story through Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, IL. If you have six minutes to spare, consider watching the video link below. (This one brought me to tears but they were the good kind.)
Lord, This week we've heard from so many people who are in need of patience and trust. So many who are awaiting test results like Hannah, Priscilla and Andrea. So many, like Johnny, who are awaiting healing so they can resume their treatments. So many like Angela and Kim, who are recovering from surgery. So many like Kaitlyn, who are waiting for the correct diagnosis so that effective treatments may begin. We've heard of people like Janis, who are not only dealing with cancer, but also taking care of children on their own. Lord, we ask for You to provide resources to help all of those people who are struggling financially, for those who are struggle to be caregivers when they need care themselves. We pray for all of the people, like Peter, who are caring for a loved one with cancer. Give them the strength and patience to be loving in times of frustration. Give them peace and times of rest and joy. Lord, we thank you for the lives of all those whose journey here has ended. We thank You for families, like the Harrisons, who are willing to share the story of how You walked with them and worked through them as they faced cancer head on. We ask that You comfort all of the families who a grieving the loss of loved ones, but especially the families of Anthony and Mary. Lord, we ask that in times of doubt, that You fill our hearts and minds with constant reminders of all You've promised. Remind us that Your plan and Your timing is perfect. Remind us to lean on You. We thank You for the blessings You give us every day. Let Clyde Harrison's words from the video above ("Who could ask for anything more than what God has given me? What a life!") be the words that remind us of how much we are loved. Amen.
Prayer Requests - 2/9/2012
2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
Lord, in times of trouble, it is so easy to seek refuge in places we shouldn't. We think that we can handle things on our own. We don't want to burden other people with our problems when we know that those around us may be suffering, too. Remind us that when we share each other's burdens, we are providing and being provided with a source of relief. There are so many around us now who need relief. We pray for Chloe, who is 5 yrs. old and undergoing treatments. She is fighting against the people who are trying to help because she is scared and doesn't understand what cancer is and why she has to go to the doctor again. Help Chloe's parents and doctors. Give them gentle hands and loving words to help reassure Chloe as her treatments continue. We pray for Kaitlyn, Cindy, Danny, Charlie, Johnny, Vicki, Thomas and Hannah all of whom are undergoing treatments or awaiting test results. We ask for continued strength and healing. We ask for freedom from pain and fear. Let their hearts be filled with peace.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
God Offers Comfort to All
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.
Lord, we praise You for the good news of Barbara's remission. We are thankful that we were able to be a source of comfort to her during her journey. We ask that You continue to use all of the people who make phone calls, write cards or pray for our patients and their families. Use those who are now cancer survivors to be a source of encouragement to others who are just now beginning their journey. Help us show Your love to others in all that we say and do.
19 When doubts filled my mind, your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.
Lord, there are times when we doubt You, Your existence and the promises in Your word. When we lose people we love, grief can be overwhelming and it can consume us. We pray for the families of Mary, Rick and Mary Beth. If they are doubting now, we ask that You provide reminders of Your presence, reminders that Your promise of heaven has been fulfilled. Take the burden of grief away from these families and replace it with the comfort that will give them renewed hope and cheer.
And finally Lord, we thank You for all the blessings that You have and continue to provide to each of us individually and to our organization as a whole. Sometimes we don't realize how lucky we are. We live in a country that has so many resources and so much freedom. Sometimes we forget that there are places in the world where cancer and other illnesses are viewed as curses, where people are ostracized for being sick, where resources like hospitals and medicine are not available. We ask that You remind us to keep all those around the world who are suffering in prayer. Give us generous hearts to share our gifts and do what we can, where we can. Expand our outreach to those in need, no matter where they are in the world. Amen.
Prayer Requests - 2/2/2012
Joshua 1:9 (NLT)
9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Lord, It is easy to do what you command in the verse above when life is calm. Why is it so hard to be strong when life takes a turn for the worse? Why is it so easy to forget that You are with us, no matter what, and wherever we go? There are so many who have lost that sense of calm and peace. So many, like Dave and Hannah, who are undergoing tests and awaiting results. So many, like Stacy, who don't know what is coming next. Lord, we pray for wisdom and guidance for their doctors to diagnose symptoms and determine the best treatments. Lord, we pray for the families of those, like Harriet, who have been called home. Lord, bring that sense of calm and peace back to all who need it. Remind them all of Your promise. You will not leave us or forsake us. You ARE with us wherever we go.
Ephesians 6:10-18 (NLT) The Whole Armor of God
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we[a] are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
13 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. 14 Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. 15 For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.[b] 16In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil.[c] 17 Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.[d]
Lord, We need Your protection each and every day. We've had many reports of people connected to our organization being attacked in various ways. Whether it's cancer or other health issues, whether it's broken relationships, job related stress or other forms of spiritual/emotional attacks, we need to use the tools that You've already given us to defend ourselves. Keep us connected to You and each other through reading Your word and through prayer. When we are dealing with others, give us compassionate hearts and ears that are willing to listen, and tongues that are slow to speak. Let our response be Your response. Give us the words to provide comfort and hope to those who come to us for help.
Psalm 27:13-14 (NLT)
13 Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.
14 Wait patiently for the LORD.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the LORD
Lord, Every day we see examples of Your goodness. Every day, we are blessed in some way, no matter what troubles the day may bring. Here at the office, we are blessed with phone calls, cards and e-mails from the people we support. Yesterday, JoAnn called to share her story. She is a 76 years young, a widow, a mother/grand/great-grandmother, and a breast cancer patient. She called to praise You for the healing you have already provided. She said that she knows for certain that her healing and response to treatment so far, is by Your grace. She is so thankful for all the people who are lifting her up in prayer. But Lord, she also said that she felt she had to call to let us know that she was praying for all of us, too. She asked that You send angels to guard us as we continue to reach out to others. Thank You for JoAnn and all those who continue to pray for and encourage us. Thank You for all that You have and will continue to enable us to do. Amen.
Prayer Requests - 1/26/2012
I've always thought of myself as a good listener. I like talking to people, hearing about what is going on their lives, and sharing what is going on in mine. However, I know there are times when I am not listening though I should be. I seem to encounter this problem when I think I already know what the person I should be listening to is going to say. I've noticed that my kids sometimes have the same problem with their homework assignments. Instead of reading the directions that are printed on the worksheet, they jump right in to solving the problem, only to find out that the answer they calculated is not the one the directions required. In life, we find ourselves in many situations that are repetitive or routine. We get used to doing things the way we think ought to based on past experiences and never stop to evaluate our course of action.
Unfortunately, many of us treat our prayer life in the same way. We pray the same prayer at every meal. We pray the Lord's Prayer, but recite it from memory. We seem to forget that every prayer is a unique conversation with God. Just think about that for a minute. Can you call your prayers conversations with God if you're just repeating words without regard for their meaning? Can we call our prayers conversations if we're the only ones doing the talking, and never spending any time listening to what God says?
So how do we shift our focus from prayer by recitation to prayer by conversation? Here's what's been working for me:
- Start with a moment of silence to clear your mind.
- Select a piece of Scripture, read it, and allow time for meditation.
- Use a model like A-C-T-S (Adoration-Confession-Thanksgiving-Supplication) to help you shift the focus of your prayers from the grocery lists of requests to a worship based prayer. Ask for intercession from the Holy Spirit as well as for God's presence/purpose to be magnified in your life.
- Don't let your prayer life become stagnant. Seek opportunities for spiritual growth.
- Evaluate - assess what works and what doesn't for you and readjust accordingly.
New Living Translation (NLT)
1 Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
2 Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
3 Exult in his holy name;
rejoice, you who worship the LORD.
4 Search for the LORD and for his strength;
continually seek him.
5 Remember the wonders he has performed,
his miracles, and the rulings he has given,
6 you children of his servant Abraham,
you descendants of Jacob, his chosen ones.
Lord, We want our prayers to be conversations with You. But sometimes we get stuck in repetition and routine. Sometimes it is easier to recite prayers that we've learned than to really examine our thoughts, what's happening in the world around us, and more importantly, what You are trying to say to us through Your word. Use Your Spirit to enable us to become more connected to You through prayer. Use our lives to magnify your presence and our purpose in this world. Many of us have seen You work miracles. Remind us of those miracles and Your promises in each season of life. Give us the desire to seek the strength that only You can provide.
Each week, Lord, I am amazed by the stories from patients who call or send cards to let us know how our outreach at Phil's Friends has touched their lives. These stories are a blessing to us, hearing how You are using people, strengthening their faith, repairing broken relationships, and providing healing. But Lord, there are also so many who still need our prayers. This week, we pray for Ramona, Jon, Jeff, and Richard, all of whom are undergoing treatments and seeking You as their source of comfort and hope. For Jeff, we thank you that a bone marrow donor was found quickly and ask for Your healing hands to be over him as he undergoes a transplant procedure this week. Richard's advocate shared the fact that it took a cancer diagnosis to bring him back into a relationship with You. Richard needs constant reminders of Your presence. Bring him peace.
Lord, we thank You for all of the resources that You continue to provide. Thank You for the connections that have been made through Phil's interview on Moody Radio last week and during his recent trip to Missouri. We ask for Your continued protection over our staff and volunteers as they travel to events or here to our office to be of service. In all we say and all we do, keep our hearts and minds focused on You. Amen.
Prayer Requests - 1/19/2012
New International Version (NIV)
25 Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,[a] here is your son,” 27 and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
There is a man laying in a hospital bed. He's hooked up to more machines than I can identify (oxygen, blood pressure, IV, heart monitor, etc.) He's got a huge bandage on his chest. I'm not sure what the bandage is covering, but I'm going to venture a guess that it is his chemo port. He's less than 30 years old, has brown hair that's cropped short, not quite a military haircut, but close. He's got a full mustache and beard. He is a handsome young man. He looks tired, but at peace. Close your eyes for a moment and picture him there. Can you see him? I left one important detail out that needs to be added. He's holding his daughter who is about 3 years old. She's sleeping in his arms.
This man's name is Jeff. He was diagnosed with acute Leukemia about a week ago. I've been corresponding with one of his family members and received the picture I described above a few days ago. I wish that I had pictures of everyone that we are praying for. When I looked at this photo, Jeff became real to me in a different way. Some might look at the picture and feel sad. Or some might look at it and wonder why anyone would want to preserve this particular moment in time by photographing it. But there is a beauty beyond what most will see in this circumstance. When I look at it, I see something more.
In the verses from John 19, Jesus is about to die on the cross. But what is he concerned about? Not himself. Even in his final moments, he seeks to comfort those around him. When I look at this picture of Jeff, I see a father who is not concerned with his own suffering but with comforting his daughter in that moment. It reminds me that no matter what season of life we're in, our Father is with us. He's holding us in His arms and providing His comfort and peace. We are never alone.
I mentioned last week that I'm working on improving my personal prayer life and am hoping that a side effect of my personal growth will be the growth of the Phil's Friends Prayer Outreach as well. Last Friday night, I attended a prayer service a local church. The specific focus of this service was praying for those who need healing. I'm still struggling with that grocery list image. I don't want to pray the requests we receive as though they are items to be checked off of a list and forgotten about until the next week. So I'm going be trying out some different things format wise. The model I'm using for this week's prayer is called A.C.T.S. which stands for: Adoration - Confession - Thanksgiving - Supplication. I'm going to label the parts of the prayer as such, in case this format is something you might want to try, too.
Lord, I adore you for: who You are, who You have been, and who You will continue to be. You are my rock. My source of refuge and strength. 24/7, not just in times of trouble. Why is it so easy to forget that? Help me remember the promises You've made and kept. Help me remember the promises to come. Focus my mind and heart on You at all times, both good and bad.
Lord, I confess that I fail every day in new ways and ways I thought I'd overcome. While we like to focus on our successes, we know that our organization has had its share of failures along the way, too. Forgive us for our failures. When we make mistakes, when we don't uphold Your word, bring those situations to our attention so that we may seek reconciliation, forgiveness and restoration. Use those mistakes as opportunities for spiritual growth.
Lord, there is so much to be thankful for. Remind us that every day is gift and that no matter our circumstance, You continue to bless us through it all. I thank You for all the blessings given to me: family, friends, food/shelter, for taking care of all of my needs and more. I thank You for the blessings you continue to pour on this organization, for providing what we need when we need it, for the gifts of our volunteers, their talents and time. We've had several cards and phone calls reporting good news. Thank for the healing you've provided to Virginia, Frank, John and Susan, all of whom have received word that they are in remission or cancer free. We've also heard from many new patients who are thankful for the prayers, cards, and care packages they've received. And Lord, we thank you for the lives of those who have been called to join You in Heaven.
Lord, though You already know the concerns of all of our hearts, there are so many people who have come to us requesting prayer. This week, we pray for your comfort and peace for the families of Arthur, Brian, Karen, and Gerald who are in mourning. We pray for Larry, Jeff, Sally, Jon, Benny, Carol, Kim, Lynn, Katherine, Michael and Connie, all of whom are currently undergoing treatments. For those who are newly diagnosed, we ask that You alleviate their fears about what treatment will be like. Give each of our patients continued strength to endure. Give their doctors guidance and wisdom to determine the best course of action. We ask for Your protection over each one of their families. Lord, we know how stressful times like these can be. Give all of the caregivers patience. Let them continue to be positive, even on bad days. Lift up all of these families, surround them with people who provide constant reminders of Your blessings and love.
But most of all Lord, keep that picture of Jeff in our minds. When we walk out into the world, keep us focused on that image, the image of a father who comforts his child in the midst of suffering. Allow us to be that father for those we know who are in need. In all we say and do, let Your presence and power be magnified in our lives and the lives of those we touch. Amen.
Prayer Requests 1/12/2012
New Living Translation (NLT)
4 But may all who search for you
be filled with joy and gladness in you.
May those who love your salvation
repeatedly shout, “God is great!”
King James Version (KJV)
4Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: and let such as love thy salvation say continually, Let God be magnified.
There are times in Scripture reading when you need to look beyond your preferred Bible translation. I'm showing these two translations of Psalm 70:4 because there is a critical difference between the two. In the NLT version, the verse ends with "God is great!" But "God is great!" (while true) does not mean the same thing as "Let God be magnified."
When I read the two versions I'm left with very different impressions about what I am supposed to do next. In the NLT, my reaction is that I am supposed to tell others about the greatness of God. But in the KJV, my reaction is more than just telling others about that greatness, but also to ask for God's glory and presence to be made larger in my life and the lives of those I touch.
I want to apply that idea of letting God be magnified to my prayer life as well. But how? Until a few days ago, I didn't think there was anything really wrong with my prayer life. I pray every day. I know I don't pray continually, but I'm working on it. I pray out loud in front of other people. I've become bolder about asking strangers if they are in need of prayer. I thought I was doing pretty well on the prayer front. And then I saw a book called "Transforming Prayer: How Everything Changes When You Seek God's Face." A statement made in the back cover copy really convicted me. "...(for most people) prayer is little more than a grocery list of requests."
When you read these prayer requests, the last thing I want is for anyone to read it and pray for things as though it were just an ordinary grocery list. I want you to know that the people who submit these requests are real people who are in pain, who are hurting, who need not only our love and support but God's love as well.
I took a phone call today from a woman who was very angry that someone had sent her a care package and put her name on the weekly card list. It might sound strange to hear that someone would react in this way, but I understand it. When my dad was diagnosed with cancer, he was angry. (How could God do this to me?) But more than that, he was scared. When a doctor tells you that you have cancer, it causes you to seriously have to think about the inevitable. We all know logically that we are going to die someday, but it always seems like that day is far, far away. Too far away to think about now.
As I spoke to this woman, I could hear that anger and fear in her voice. She told me that she was going to throw the care package and cards away. There was nothing I could say that was going to change her mind about that. The call ended and my immediate reaction was to pray for this woman. I said, "Lord, before you let her throw that care package in the garbage, I ask that you let her look through it one more time. Let her find one thing in that bag that could give her hope as she goes through her treatments. Even if she throws everything else away, give her something to hold on to that reminds her that You are there, even though she's not ready to accept it or You right now."
If I was working in a secular organization, I'm not sure what my reaction would've been to taking a call like that. I'm not proud to admit that the "old me" might have spewed back some of the anger this woman was dishing out. And even though I was upset by the call, I was left with a strange sense of peace about it. I asked for God to be magnified, for His presence to be made larger, in this woman's life. And by doing so, His presence was magnified in my own life as well.
I am not going to list the requests that have come in this week in the format that I usually use. That grocery list image is still bothering me. Here's what I'm going to pray instead:
Lord, You know the requests that are on our hearts this week. You know the patients who have just been diagnosed, the caregivers who are trying their best to hold their families together as they struggle with the new normal now that treatments are underway. You know who is in pain whether it's physical or spiritual pain. You know who is in need of healing and who is ready to be called home. You know all of the things that trouble us. And this week, Lord, I ask that in all of these things that You help us find ways to magnify You. Let every prayer we say be a prayer that is more than a grocery list of requests. Give our prayers meaning beyond whatever requests we may bring. Use those prayers to bring us and the people we touch closer to You. Amen.
Prayer Requests 1/5/2012
For the choir director: A psalm of David, to be accompanied by the flute.
1 O Lord, hear me as I pray;
pay attention to my groaning.
2 Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God,
for I pray to no one but you.
3 Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord.
Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.
4 O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness;
you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked.
5 Therefore, the proud may not stand in your presence,
for you hate all who do evil.
6 You will destroy those who tell lies.
The Lord detests murderers and deceivers.
7 Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house;
I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.
8 Lead me in the right path, O Lord,
or my enemies will conquer me.
Make your way plain for me to follow.
9 My enemies cannot speak a truthful word.
Their deepest desire is to destroy others.
Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with flattery.[a]
10 O God, declare them guilty.
Let them be caught in their own traps.
Drive them away because of their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you.
11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread your protection over them,
that all who love your name may be filled with joy.
12 For you bless the godly, O Lord;
you surround them with your shield of love.
TRUST. That's my word for 2012. TRUST is a scary word. To me, it implies a sense of foreboding...that something bad is coming. I've lost a lot of loved ones in the last few years. In 2008, my dad passed from lung cancer. In 2009, two of my nephews died within six months of each other. And this last year, I lost several high school friends and we're not even 40 yet!
When I prayed for God to reveal my word for this year, three words kept coming to mind: TRUST, FAITH, and BELIEVE. The words are connected. I guess God knew I wouldn't like TRUST right off the bat, so He had to throw in the other two in order to convince me that this is the area He wants me to focus on this year.
I've committed to devote time every day to reading God's word in order to work on TRUST. I plan to accomplish this by reading The One Year Bible. (If you haven't heard of this, it is basically a plan to read the Bible in a year. Each day's reading gives you a passage from the Old Testament, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs.) And it's funny how I'm only 5 days in and TRUST has been popping up all over the place.
Take Psalm 5 (above) for example. This one is all about TRUST.
Each morning I pray and wait expectantly...Lead me in the right path...make your way plain for me to follow...let all who take refuge in you rejoice...
It's all about letting God guide your path. But the key is that you have to ask Him for that guidance. When He nudges you in the direction of the right path, you have to be willing to follow. (And when I say "you" here, know that I'm talking about myself, too.)
I've got my feet on the path now. But I don't know where this path leads. My challenge is going to be trusting that God will make the way evident and that He will be there to brush off my skinned knees when the bumps crop up and I stumble and fall. In any case, I'm ready to find out what 2012 will bring.
- From the Nitalla family: We praise God for you and your ministry. You are all in our prayers. Have a blessed Christmas.
- From John who recently learned that he is cancer free.
- From Kiara: Thank you so much for the words of encouragement and your prayers. Words cannot express our gratitude.
- From Judy: Thank you for your wonderful letter about the magic of hugs and the token you sent. I know Jesus is my best friend and yours too. May you enjoy many blessings of His love.
- From Jill: Thank you for all that you are and all that you do. Merry Christmas and Happy 2012!
- From Leona: Thank you for being a special group of friends to me. May God continue to bless you all.
- From Shandra: Thank you for all you do for my mom. She loves the cards and still raves about her care package. She has Stage 3 inoperable pancreatic cancer. Please keep praying for us. You are all in our prayers, too. Keep up the good work.
- From Kathy: We appreciate all your notes and best wishes for my husband. He is in and out of treatment. But the prayers do help. Continue to pray for both of them.
- From Beth: Your cards and words of encouragement always came at the perfect time with the perfect message. My husband passed away on Christmas Day. The following day, your card, letter and picture came with a hug coin…what more could I ask for? I believe your organization is being blessed by God to bring blessings to others daily. Please pray for Beth and her family as they cope with this recent loss.
- Please pray for Michael who has been too sick for chemo but hopes to start up radiation treatments soon.
- Please pray for the families of Bettie, Dean, Florence, Aaron and James all of whom recently passed away.
- Please pray for Kevin who is recovering from a stroke and for his wife who needs strength as his caregiver.
- Please pray for Tonya who has breast cancer and recently found out that she also has a brain tumor. She will be starting up with chemo again this month.
- Please pray for Joy who is finishing up treatments for uterine cancer. And for her friend, Catherine, who is also having chemo treatments.
- Please pray for Ashley. She had her PET and CT scans and has to more tests and biopsies to complete. Please pray for a positive outcome from the additional tests.
- Please pray for John who will be receiving a care package soon. A friend stopped in to personally pack it today and will be delivering it to him in CA. (I think that might be our first personal west coast delivery!)
- Phil's word for 2012 is: CONSISTENCY. Please pray for the application of that word to his personal and business life in the coming year. With all of the recent changes, moving to a new office, our rapid expansion, it's become evident that we really need to focus on this word as both individually and as an organization.
- And for those who have asked for prayers for God to identify your word for the year...we will be praying for you to find whatever path God wants to put you on and for you to follow where He is leading.
Lord, Thank you for the wonder and possibilities that a New Year brings. Thank you for all of the responses that we've received from patients in the last week. It is awesome to receive cards back and sometimes photos so we can see the faces of the people we serve. Thank you for the progress that we're continuing to make as we get settled in to our new space. Be with us this Sunday as we dedicate this space and celebrate what we have done in partnership with You over the last five years. We ask for healing for those who are undergoing treatments and/or recovering. We ask for patience and strength for all of the caregivers. We ask for comfort and peace for those who have lost loved ones. We may not always understand why things happen the way they do or why people we love have to be taken from this life sooner than we'd like, but give us faith to trust that Your will is being done in all things. Amen.
Prayer Requests 12/29/11
A few years ago, a good friend challenged me to come up with a theme word to represent what I was going to focus on in the coming year. Here are the "rules":
I want you to think of ONE word. Find one word that is going to be your word for the New Year. Let it inspire you in whatever direction you feel you need to go. When you have chosen your word, write it on a note card and place it somewhere you will see it every day. When I see my word each day, I will focus on what this means to me and charge each day with the energy and peace this word brings.
She added the following quote: "Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Emerson's quote reminds me of Psalm 118:24 "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
In prior years, I've picked words like JOY and HARMONY and while they served me well, I'm going to modify the challenge and pray for God's guidance when selecting my word for this year. My hope is the He will reveal the area that I need to focus on most. If you want to play along, here's a simple prayer you can say: Reveal what You want me to focus on in the coming year. I'm turning this one over to You. Lord, change me. I'll share my word in next week's update. If you come up with one and want to share it, let me know and we will pray for whatever God intends for us to focus on together next week.
- Thank you, Lord for all of the phone calls and e-mails we've received from patients in the last week. We love hearing how people are doing, having the opportunity to pray with them and hear their stories. Continue to use this outreach to bring comfort and hope to more people in the coming year.
- From Anita: I wanted to thank Phil and the two Chicago Bears players who stopped by with a care package for me at the hospital. It really made my day and allowed me to tell my kids/grandkids about the great afternoon I had.
- Please pray for Ashley who had her annual PET and CT scans yesterday. She is awaiting test results and hoping for more good news.
- Please pray for the family of Amanda who passed away from brain cancer.
- Please pray for the family of Susie who recently passed away.
- Please pray for Joseph who is currently undergoing treatments.
- Please pray for the family of Kathryn who passed away in November.
Lord, This week we are still celebrating the birth of Jesus and looking forward to the New Year. We give thanks for opportunities You provide for us to pray with and for others. For Ashley, we ask for continued good health and further healing. For the families of Amanda, Susie, and Kathryn, we ask for Your comfort and peace as they mourn the loss of their loved ones. For Anita and Joseph, we ask for healing and the strength to endure their upcoming treatments. Please watch over all of us as we continue to travel and celebrate the holidays with family and friends. But most of all, Lord, I ask for Your guidance. Show each of us where You want us to go next and give us the courage to take action. Keep us focused on You and those we serve. Amen.
Prayer Requests 12/22/11
Galatians 3:25-27 New Living Translation (NLT)
25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian. 26 For you are all children[a] of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.[b]
Same verses from The Message:
25-27But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ's life, the fulfillment of God's original promise.
I was baptized on Christmas Day in 1982 at the age of 10 years old. And while I've understood why I needed to be baptized since then, I don't know that I ever really thought about the significance of being baptized on that particular day (Christmas Day) and the significance of how I wound up in that church on that day in the first place. It all started with an invitation from a friend. When I was little, my younger sister was best friends with a girl named Penny. Penny's family lived a few blocks away and we spent a lot of time playing at their house. Her brother, Sam was a year older than me. There were other siblings older and younger, but Penny and Sam were the two that we played with most. Over time, my parents became friends with their parents. Their parents reached out at some point and invited our family to go to church with them. My dad had grown up Catholic, but left the church and really had no interest in becoming involved with organized religion again. It seems that God had other plans. I know there was more than one invitation and more than one discussion about what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus. Eventually, my dad accepted the invitation, putting each of us on the path to accepting that relationship for ourselves.
I know I didn't understand the symbolic nature of my baptism day until much later. The fact that Christ's birth and my (spiritual) rebirth are forever linked by sharing the same date on the calendar is a concrete reminder to me of the purpose of Jesus' life on Earth. He was born to die for the forgiveness of all of our sins. To give us the gift of salvation. But once we accept that gift, once we have arrived at our destination, it doesn't mean that our journey is over. What it really means is our journey has only just begun. We need to put on that new faith wardrobe and use whatever time we have left to live according to His will and extend His love to others.
When I think about the invitation the Wright family made to my family almost 30 years ago, I sometimes wonder what kind of life I would have now if they hadn't boldly shared their faith with us then. And when I say "boldly" I don't mean the kind of conversation that ends with the words "Turn or burn." I mean a real conversation, not an argument where one side has to win. They met us where we were, told us why they believed what they believed, and invited us to take a look at what the Bible says. They never judged my dad's decision to walk away from the church he grew up in. Instead, they invited him back into God's house. They invited him to come home.
I never plan what I am going to write about when I sit down to compile this list of prayer requests. I sit down at my computer and start typing. Last week, I wrote about three people holding hands. The one on the left is the person who needs encouragement, the one of the right is God and you are the one in the middle linking the other two together. That mental picture is coming into focus for me this week. Sometimes the person on the left isn't going to want to hold your hand, but that doesn't mean you should ever stop extending it. It might take more than one invitation. And when you think of the path you might be putting that person on someday...well, I can only speak for myself when I say that the possibilities are endless and awesome.
- Thank you, Lord for all of the blessings you have brought to Phil's Friends in the last year. Our outreach continues to grow. We thank you for all of the advocates, volunteers, and staff that you have brought to help us bring hope to those affected by cancer. We thank you for the larger office/warehouse space which will enable us to reach more people. Keep our hearts focused on You in the coming year. And let everything we say and do be a reflection of Your love.
From Gene: I received your wonderful Care Package today. Thank you so much. The gifts and the bag are very much appreciated. I finished chemo Oct 31 and a blood test and CT scan since then have come back as "normal". I have had a lot of friends and family members praying for me during this ordeal and I found comfort in that. I now begin a monitoring process every 90 days. Thank You and Merry Christmas.
From the family of Robert: Thank you for the many cards, gifts and prayers while Robert was dealing with cancer. The prayers and love that was sent to us was wonderful. We both especially loved the cards from the children. It is with a sad heart that I must tell you Robert passed away. My prayers are with all of you each night. Thank you again for all your kind gestures. May God Bless each and every one of you.
- Please pray for Lisa. Lisa was recently diagnosed with colon cancer and after further testing, the doctors also found cancer in her liver. She will be having surgery on the 23rd to remove the tumor in her colon. The other one will be removed later. Please pray for a successful surgery and peace for Lisa and her family.
- Please pray for Ron. Ron has had many extensive surgeries and two rounds of chemo in the last few months. It has left him with painful nerve damage and he cannot function well. Please pray for pain relief.
- Please pray for Chuck. Chuck was recently diagnosed with extensive Stage IV small cell lung cancer. The cancer has spread to his bones. He started chemo two weeks ago. Please pray that the chemo does its job and kills the cancer cells and that he will have more years with his family and grandchildren. Please pray for God to lift his spirits.
- Please pray for Glen. He has prostate cancer and is recovering from surgery to have a tumor removed. He is learning about post surgery treatments and procedures. Please pray for his healing and for the strength to cope with whatever comes next.
- Please pray for the family of Robert who recently passed away. May God fill them with his presence and peace during their first Christmas without him.
- Continue to pray for Nicholas, an 8 yr. old boy who has leukemia and has been in a coma for the last few weeks.
- Continue to pray for Joel (Phil's brother) who is still recovering from a motorcycle accident.
Lord, as we celebrate the birth of Your Son, remind us of what the gift of his life and death really means. Fill our hearts with Your Spirit. Give us the courage to boldly share our faith. We thank You for the blessings you continue to provide. And we pray for all those listed above. We ask for healing, comfort and relief from pain. We ask for strength and courage for those facing uncertainty. Let those people know that even in times of doubt, You are there. We ask that you lift the spirits of those who are feeling down. Bring them joy and peace. Open their eyes to acknowledge that blessings can still be received in the midst of suffering. We ask that you provide safe travels to all our patients, advocates, volunteers and staff as they visit family and friends over the holidays. And most of we thank you for the most precious gift of all, the baby in the manager, the Savior of the world. Amen.
Prayer Requests 12/15/11
New International Version (NIV)
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
There are times when it is easy for me to get discouraged. I'm the kind of person who enjoys getting feedback. When I was in school, I was always happier with the grades on my papers if the teacher had taken the time to write something else like "Good job!" somewhere on the page. Negative feedback, such as "Not your best work" or "Are you sure you studied?" motivated me to do a better job the next time around. When I took over as Prayer Coordinator, there was a period where I sent out these e-mails and wondered whether or not anyone even read them. Weeks passed and no one responded. E-mail can be impersonal. I was really starting to wonder if using e-mail was an effective way to communicate with people concerning prayer. From there the doubts and discouragement began to set in.
The next week, I sent out the e-mail and thought to myself, "If no one responds this week, I'm going to tell Phil that I'm not going to send out these e-mails anymore." You can probably guess what happened next. Within a few minutes of hitting the "Send" button, I got not one, but several responses back. One of them said, "Thank you...what you wrote was what I needed to hear today." I don't think it was an accident that I received that validation at that moment. The moment when I was ready to give up.
When I woke up this morning, the verse above was running through my mind. And while I don't think I've personally been feeling discouraged lately, it occurred to me that the holidays can be a discouraging time for many people. Especially for families where loved ones have been lost and this is the first Christmas without that loved one here. When I got to the office, Jenny and I opened the mail and we found a letter from Cindy. Cindy has had breast cancer for 4 years and was writing to thank us for supporting her over that time. (To read her letter, click the link in the Praise section below.) Cindy wrote about a specific instance when she felt God's presence in her journey. A time when she needed to be reminded not to give up. Can you guess what Bible verse came in the next card she received? A coincidence? I don't think so.
An image just popped into my mind of three people standing in a row, holding hands. On the left is the person who needs encouragement, on the right is God, and you are the one in middle holding the other two together. As you go about your business in the coming weeks, look for people in your life who are in need of comfort and make a conscious effort to remind them of God's promise in the verse above.
- From Cindy S. - You can read the letter she sent us here: http://www.philsfriends.org/10260/blogentry/entry_id/277552/Cindy_s_Story
- From Cindy H. - I am a 1 yr. breast cancer survivor. Thanks to God! Thank you so much for the wonderful cards. They were so uplifting to me. You were the only one that send cards to me. Because of you, I now send cards to people I know who are going through cancer treatments.
- From Cindy M. - It's Chemo Day #1 and I am feeling strong but know that can change quickly. Thank you for your prayers and for being there for me and my family.
Lord, This week I ask that You allow each one of us to be a source of encouragement to someone in need. Whether they are facing cancer treatments, seeking employment, or grieving the loss of a loved one, make that need for encouragement apparent to us so that we might be the one to hold their hand and keep them connected to You. Amen.
- Pray for the family of Kimberly who recently passed away. Please pray for her mother, Shirley, who was her caretaker and is having a hard time dealing with Kimberly's loss.
- Pray for the family of Fred who passed away from lung cancer.
- Pray for the family of Rita who passed away.
- Please pray for a family with both parents who are seeking employment.
- Please pray for Jan. She will be having radiation over the holidays and will not have family or friends nearby at this time. She is very thankful for the cards and prayers.
- Pray for the family of Jack who passed away from leukemia.
- Pray for Jack J. who was just diagnosed with prostate cancer.
- Pray for Vincenza. Continue to pray for her healing and a miracle.
- Pray for Trey who is 7 years old and has leukemia and Down's Syndrome.
- Pray for Harriet. Her cancer is spreading and she is not feeling well. Please pray for her sister who is also her caregiver.
- Pray for Angie for discernment in to how to proceed with cancer treatments. Her advocate has also asked for Angie's heart to be opened to the Gospel message.
- Pray for the family of Florence who passed away. Her sister wanted to let us know how much the cards and prayers were appreciated.
- Please pray for all of the children and spouses who have lost a loved one as the holidays can be an emotionally difficult time.
We received a touching testimonial in the mail today and we wanted to share it so you will know what our outreach means to the people you support.
December 2, 2011
Dear Phil's Friends (and specifically Jan) -
Greetings! God's blessings be upon you. My name is Cindy and I'm writing to you from the Infusion Center of Cancer Treatment Center of America in Zion, IL. I just pulled out my Life Reference Manual to read it and was thinking today how blessed I am to have the Phil's Friends blue bag as that is what I pack my stuff for the doctors in. It would be difficult to carry my Bible as it is bigger and heavier.
Anyway, I have been wanting to write you for a long, long time to thank you for what you are doing for those in need. I have advanced breast cancer which has metasticized to the liver and bones. I just tell you this as my explanation for not RSVPing to your special dinner letter. I apologize. I knew we probably weren't going to to go. I spend most of the day resting. I must have put the letter in my Phil's bag because I found it today as I was cleaning out my bag. I am sorry. But praise God...it sounded like a big success. Jan wrote a little about it in a note.
Could you all give each other a hug and a thank you from me? Especially Jan. I do not have her last name but she has prayed for me, sent me a note in the mail each week. What faithfulness! And I'm sorry to say that she has never heard a thank you or anything from the person (me) she has written to for months...years? I know she must write them as unto the Lord.
Please, please, please tell Jan she has blessed me beyond words. To say that I am touched is such an understatement. She has to be extremely diligent, love Him (from her words in her notes this is obvious) and be so faithful to write letters like she does and again faithfully send out notes with no reply, weekly! Amazing.
Could I just tell you one example of how God spoke to me through one of Jan's notes? Months, perhaps a year ago (? chemo brain), I was struggling (not the only time) and was asking the Lord, "Why haven't You told me to be strong and courageous? Do not be terrified or discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." He had given me this promise to hold onto many times before but I wasn't doing too well and I needed to hear it from Him again.
That day, or the next day, I received a note from Jan. Guess what the verse on the top part of the note was? Yup, Joshua 1:8-9. Did I not command you to be strong and courageous... The Lord used Jan to give me His word again, in a personal way. I knew it was from Him and I was so encouraged.
I have wanted to communicate my appreciation and gratefulness to you all as you successfully encourage believers through their trial and hopefully reach those who don't know Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Thank you so much for sticking with me and my family for almost 4 years now. There is such fruit from your ministry - God is being glorified and blessing your work. It doesn't get much better than that.
Thank you Lord for using Phil, Jan and their friends to come alongside of those in need and lift them up to You in prayer, encourage them and share Your word and love. Continue I pray, to bless Phil's ministry abundantly - more than they have asked or expected.
Please again pass on my thankfulness to Jan for her cards. She will never know how God has used her faithfulness in my life, but He knows!
Great job, Phil's Friends. Thank you!
In His Unfailing Love,
Rom. 15:13 "And now may the God of Hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."
Prayer Requests 12/8/11
1 Corinthians 13:2b New International Version (NIV)
2 and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
It's been a rough week. We've taken many phone calls from families who have lost loved ones and others who are just beginning their journey with cancer. We've had several requests from home visits. We are about to send out our Christmas care packages. There are so many things going on, it's easy to feel overwhelmed at times. If I didn't know that God was here for us to lean on, I might be a bit worried right now. But instead in the midst of the surrounding chaos, I feel peaceful. I know we will find a way to pack the care packages, sign the cards, take the phone calls and visit those who are in need. We'll pull together and get through it as a team.
Earlier this morning, the supplies that we ordered for our Christmas care packages were delivered...by semi-truck...on a palette that we had no forklift to move. The delivery company called and asked us if we had enough manpower to move 400 lbs. of goods. And between Phil, Michelle, Jenny, and myself, we managed to make that happen. A brigade of boxes being passed from the back of the truck down the line and into the building. A visitor who had been meeting with Phil just prior to the delivery was impressed by the team effort so she decided to jump in and lend a hand, too.
The experience this morning reminds me of Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 13. He speaks of a faith that can move mountains being worthless without love. And as we were moving that mountain of boxes, it occurred to me that the reason we had no trouble accomplishing the task is because we love the people that we serve. We may not have ever met them in person, but through the cards, e-mails, and phone calls, we establish relationships that we get as much from (if not more than) we give. Sharing God's love with others (whether they are Christians or not) is the motivating force in this outreach. And knowing that He is the one working through us is the reason the we are able to accomplish more than what we believed to be possible. It's an awesome thing to notice. In all things, God is good.
From a new patient: Thank you so much. I received the care package and will be able to use it on the 6th when I go in for radiation again. The socks are so comfy. At night I go from hot to cold, and freeze. My only wish, or recommendation as you asked for, was that the BIBLE, was a larger PRINT, as when our eyesight gets effected from radiation, and just plain age....lol.....it is hard to read small print! I will find the time to send your reply card and envelope back, and the GREATEST GIFT, in that package, was the colored, signed card from your Dallas preschoolers! People without family or friends experiencing cancer, REALLY appreciate cards and being thought of! Please keep the prayers, and cards, and any fun pick-me-ups, coming, "I am so "Thankful"! I am in the hospital, during Christmas, and after radiation, it's so very nice to be thought of! Thank You!
Please pray for Richard who is being treated for a brain tumor. He was recently hospitalized. Pray for his healing and for his family as they continue to care for and support him.
Please pray for Norma. She is waiting for her documents to come through from the SSI office for her disabilities. She is done with her chemo in February, but needs the peace and strength to complete it. Pray for her 9 year old daughter during this Christmas season as well.
Please pray for Michelle who will be having another surgery tomorrow.
- Please pray for Kathy who will be starting chemotherapy this week.
Please pray for the families of Florence, Matthew, Geoff, all of whom passed away recently.
Please pray for a patient who recently had a miscarriage.
Please pray for Father Daniel Mallette of St. Margaret of Scotland. Some of you may have seen this story on the local (Chicago) news. Father Mallette is an 80 yr. old priest who was beaten and robbed a few days ago. Please pray for his healing.
Please pray for the Keniston family who have lost two sons within the last six months. One due to an accident, the other to complications from Marfan's Syndrome.
Lord, I ask that you bring healing to those who are sick or injured. Bring comfort to those who are mourning the loss of loved ones. For those who are undergoing surgery or just starting treatments, I ask that you calm their fears. May they lean on You just as we do every day for the strength to accomplish tasks that seem impossible. I thank you for those who have received news of remission or improvements in their condition. I thank you for the opportunity to serve others. As You loved us, may You now use our lives (staff, volunteers, prayer partners) as living examples of what it means to love. Amen.
Prayer Requests 12/1/2011
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 New International Version (NIV)
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
Some might look at this verse and wonder how you are supposed to "rejoice...and give thanks in all circumstances," especially when something bad happens, like facing a diagnosis of cancer. But I've found more and more that the answer when you don't feel like rejoicing or giving thanks is to pray and ask God to make the silver lining evident. I read an article recently about why the "Twilight" series is not a good source of entertainment for teenage girls. The author spoke about the difference between things that bring light or darkness into our lives. And while we can't completely avoid the darkness, there are choices we can make to re-balance the ratio of light vs. darkness. Why wouldn't we want to focus on the things that bring more light into our lives? Now that winter is nearly upon us, there are some who suffer from a type of depression called "seasonal affective disorder" which is caused in part by the decrease in daylight that the winter months bring. I found it interesting that one of the treatments for this is a special kind of lamp...an amplified source of LIGHT...that can cure the winter blues.
We try our best to do the things that Paul mentions in the verse above. And when we face times where we don't feel like we can do those things, may God make His light evident to remind us of His constant presence.
- Thank you, Lord for the resources you continue to provide. We've been blessed with many new volunteers and people who are willing to contribute to growing our organization so that we can serve more people each week.
- From Cathy - I want to say "THANK YOU." I have been blessed with one of your care packages and with many beautiful cards and prayers. Last year, I received a diagnosis of CML (Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia). This came as a shock and a life changing event. I believe in the power of prayer. Over the past year I have taken chemo pills and now my cancer seems to be under control. I enjoy the cards and appreciate the prayers. Thank you for remembering me daily.
- From Tom - Thanks so much for your uplifting cards. They are a real blessing to me. God is so good and faithful and has watched over me during this journey. (Note: Tom quoted a verse at the end of his note 1 John 2:8. I did not look up this verse until after I typed my thoughts above...the verse says: "Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining." The light is being made evident. You just have to know where to look!)
- From Carol - Thank you for a wonderful evening (4th Annual COH Dinner.) I am so happy I was able to attend. I was the recipient of a care package just last week and it couldn't have come at a better time. God was watching over me. Without my faith, I could never have come this far. Thank you for reaching out to people dealing with cancer. I am very blessed to have my faith, family and wonderful friends. And now I have Phil's Friends, too.
Dear Lord - Thank you for the opportunity to serve those affected by cancer. Help us make Your light evident on the days when we struggle with whatever problems life brings our way. Remind us of Your constant presence. Grant us Your comfort and peace in all circumstances. Amen.
- From Barb - I had my last chemo on Nov. 14. Please pray that my upcoming CT scan will be ok. I love you all. Thanks for being my friend. God Bless!
- For Sabrina - She has leukemia. Please pray for her healing.
- For Kristie - She recently found out that her cancer is spreading even more and will start stem cell treatments. She is married with two young kids. Kristie and her family really need everyone's support.
- Please pray for the family of Barbara who recently passed away.
- Please pray for Elizabeth as she adjusts to life without her husband, Arthur.
Prayer Requests 11/24/11
Did you know that Thanksgiving wasn't always a national holiday? While President George Washington was the first to make it a designated government holiday in 1789, Thanksgiving was not recognized as an annual event until President Abraham Lincoln declared it so in 1863. When Lincoln made his proclamation, Thanksgiving was to be held on the last Thursday in November. It was changed to the fourth Thursday in November in 1942. In reading up on the history of Thanksgiving, I was surprised to learn that Lincoln's decision was influenced by a letter he received from a woman named Sarah Josepha Hale, who urged Lincoln to declare the holiday in an effort to help heal the wounds of the Civil War. Thanksgiving is about more than being thankful for the blessings we've been given, but it's also about reconciliation and healing and ultimately, peace.
I know the holidays can be a very stressful time. When I enjoy my turkey dinner later this afternoon, I'm going to make a special effort not only to be thankful for everything that I received in life, but also to ask God to make me aware of the people and places in my life where reconciliation and healing are needed. Maybe this is the year that you will decide to do the same. May God give us grace when we need to extend it, and mercy when we need to receive it. And when we can't get either, may we find comfort in the prayer of Thanksgiving Jesus said in Matthew 11:
Matthew 11:25-30 New Living Translation (NLT)
Jesus’ Prayer of Thanksgiving
25 At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. 26 Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way!
27 “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”
- From Katherine who just celebrated her 1 year anniversary of being declared cancer free!
- And some from me :) I mentioned having some strange (possibly heart related) symptoms in my last e-mail. All of my tests came back normal, so while I don't know what caused the symptoms, it appears that I am OK. Thank you for all of your prayers.
- From our organization: Thank you, Lord for making our 4th Annual Celebration of Hope Dinner a success. We had a wonderful time meeting many of you in person, hearing stories from patients and families, and just seeing God's hand at work in all we do. Special thanks to Lauren Coleman and all of our volunteers. We couldn't do any of this with Him and without you.
- From our organization: Thank you, Lord for providing the opportunity to deliver care packages last Monday at the University of Chicago in partnership with the Chicago Bears. For more details on our visit, check out the story here: http://www.uchospitals.edu/news/features/bears.html#.TsyfGOwG4Kg.gmail
- Please pray for Letty. Letty has lost one kidney to cancer and continues to have new tumors growing despite receiving two rounds of chemo. She will be starting radiation treatments soon. Please pray for her healing and for the tumors to shrink.
- Please pray for Sally Jo. She has breast cancer and is recovering from a chemo port infection.
- Please pray for Slyvoni who has cancer and will be undergoing surgery next Wednesday.
- Please pray for all the children who have lost a parent to cancer. With the holidays coming, many are finding this time of year to be hard.
- Please pray for Gloria and her family who all have various medical tests coming up.
- Please pray for Evelyn. She is getting worse and her husband is having more problems with his heart.
- Please pray for Mary who is not feeling well.
- Please pray for strength for Camille.
- Please pray for a miracle for Vincenza.
- Please pray for Johnny. He's asked for prayer for his upcoming doctor appointments and for peace.
- Please pray for Jack and his family. They are awaiting test results to determine if he is in remission.
- Please pray for Greg and his family. Greg has brain cancer.
- Please pray for Trey, a little boy who has leukemia and Down's Syndrome.
- Please pray for Angie who has colon cancer. Her advocate has asked for special prayers that her heart might be opened to hearing the Gospel message.
This week, I'm going to let Phil close the message:
I wanted to let each of you know that I am extremely thankful for each of you this Thanksgiving. My prayer is that you will have a great time enjoying Thanksgiving with your family and extended family. This is one of my favorite times of year, since it is time to catch up on rest and relax with family while staying close to home.
At Phil's Friends, I have a lot to be thankful for. I look back on how far God has brought us in a span of 5 years. My prayer for each and every friend, advocate, and volunteer that walks through our doors or comes in contact with the organization will know they too have something to be thankful for.
Thanks for who you are and what you do.
God bless you all,
Philip J. Zielke
Founder & President
Prayer Requests 11/17/11
Psalm 23 (NKJV)
A Psalm of David.
The LORD is
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell[a]
in the house of the LORD
I once had a conversation with a pastor about what scripture to reference in a time of crisis. His answer was Psalm 23. I remember feeling kind of let down, not because the passage isn't a good one, but because I was expecting him to pull something out of his hat that I was unfamiliar with. I was hoping for a tool that I hadn't used before, not a passage that I already knew.
"Psalm 23?" I said. "But everyone knows that one. What else have you got?"
He laughed. "That's precisely the point. Everyone knows it. Many people have memorized it. And in a time of crisis, you might not have a Bible handy. All you've got to depend on is right up here." He tapped his head with his finger. "Besides, it's comforting because it's familiar."
I wasn't sure then if I believed him.
I've been in the ER twice in the last week. The first incident happened as I was trying to be moral support for a friend who was having surgery. I don't know if I saw one too many needles, but I wound up fainting and became a patient myself. After the fact, my friend and I were able to laugh about it. The second incident wasn't as funny. I've been experiencing some issues the seem to be heart related. In light of the fainting episode, I decided to err on the side of caution and headed once again for the ER. While I was there, waiting for test results, I texted a message to Phil asking for prayers, specifically for a prayer to help me calm down. As much as I didn't want to admit it, I was scared.
Phil texted back: "Read this...The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters..."
Psalm 23. In a moment of crisis. As I sat in the ER, the rest of the passage was instantly retrieved by my brain. I was able to think it to myself over and over until that scared feeling subsided. There have been times that I've questioned the value of memorizing scripture. But I know now what the pastor meant when he tapped his head. There are going to be times when you'll need the comfort and reassurance of God's Word. You might not have a Bible or a smartphone handy. You might need to rely on something familiar because the stress of the situation might erase your memory of anything else. I'm glad I had that comfy, broken in "tool" in my tool box. I hope this story helps the next time you need one, too.
Please pray for the families of May, Palmer, Arthur and Kevin C., all of whom have passed away recently.
Please pray for Bettie who has Stage 4 lung cancer. She is physically weak, suffering from extreme pain and is asking the Lord to call her home. Bettie's advocate (the person who submitted the prayer request) has asked for prayers for Bettie's family. Please prepare them to say good-bye and allow them to find joy in knowing that she's going to see Jesus.
Please pray for Kevin L. He has survived pancreatic cancer for 2 years now. He's recently received a feeding tube. Please pray that he is able to rest comfortably and give his wife, Gail strength as she cares for him.
Please pray for Michael who has been transferred to a different oncology practice. In the last few weeks, he's had a bad reaction to his chemo treatments. Pray for his new doctors to find treatments that are easier to tolerate. Pray for his healing.
Please pray for Jim who is currently undergoing treatment for his second bout with cancer.
Also, some general requests for our organization:
Please pray for everything to go smoothly at our 4th Annual Celebration of Hope Dinner tomorrow night. We ask for safe travel to/from the event for all who are attending. We ask for God to give our speaker uplifting words to inspire those in attendance. And also for God to provide the resources to allow us to continue to bring hope to those who are affected by cancer.
Please pray for our upcoming care package delivery hospital visits. May we bring hope and encouragement to the patients that we meet along the way.
Thank You, Lord for the blessings that you provide to us each and every day. Thank You for all of the volunteers who are willing to pray for others, write cards, and pack care packages. Remind us often of how important it is for us to be messengers of Your love. Please be with all of the patients and families listed above. Bring encouragement, healing and strength to those who are need. I ask these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
Prayer Requests 11/10/11
Psalm 9:9-10 New Living Translation (NLT)
9 The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed,
a refuge in times of trouble.
10 Those who know your name trust in you,
for you, O Lord, do not abandon those who search for you.
Why do bad things happen to good people? It's a question that never seems to be answered in a satisfying way. Some people will tell you that the fact bad things do happen to good people is the proof that God doesn't exist. If God exists and He loves us, he wouldn't allow bad things to happen, right? Some people will tell you that the reason bad things happen to good people can be boiled down to our sinful nature. We're not really "good" people so somehow we deserve the bad things that come our way in life. I don't know what the "right" answer is to this question. I'm starting to wonder if it's a question that we should even bother to ask.
When I read the verses above, I find that I am not as concerned with the "whys" of whatever bad things have come my way. If I'm still going to have to face the situation no matter what the reason "why" is, I want to focus on something that will give me the strength and hope I'll need to endure. When I read these verses, I find myself filled with the comfort of knowing that no matter what God is my refuge in times of trouble. If I trust Him, he will not abandon me. And looking back on my life, I can tell you that is true. I can see how God has brought me through many bad things. I hope you can see those moments in your life, too.
- Praise from Lynne: The doctors are calling her a miracle. She is almost done with chemo and will do radiation treatments after. Thank you, Lord for the positive response to treatment.
- Praise from our staff for the beginning steps of moving into our new office space. We've still got some minor details to address, but we're close to being fully functional. We walked through the office and warehouse today and prayed in each room, asking God to bless our ministry, our patients and our volunteers.
- From Theresa: Thank you for all the beautiful cards and the pretty things the children sent me. It helps a lot. Thank you to all the nice children and volunteers. May God Bless you all.
Lord, I thank you for this day. Thank you for the opportunity to serve others. Thank you for our new office/warehouse space. Thank you for all of the blessings you continue to provide. Thank you for all of our volunteers, and especially this Prayer Team. Allow us to recognize the moments that you have been our refuge and give us the boldness to share our stories to comfort others who are hurting. Give us the strength to endure the bad things in life that may come our way. I ask for these things in Jesus' name. Amen.
- Please pray for Lynne. Her doctors discovered a cyst and she will be having surgery to have it removed.
- Please pray for Arthur. He has Stage 4 lung and esophageal cancer. He is at home in hospice care. Arthur and his family were touched by the receipt of his care package. We ask for God's comfort and peace as they face whatever comes next.
- Please pray for Stella. Her husband recently passed away. She reports that our cards continue to brighten her days.
- Please pray for the family of Sonia who recently passed away. We ask for God to comfort her family as they grieve.
Prayer Requests 11/3/2011
New Living Translation (NLT)
2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Thought for the day: Try to encourage someone going through a personal struggle. You will be blessed, too.
When someone shares "bad" news (like being diagnosed with cancer) our first reaction may be one of shock. We may not always be able to find the right words of comfort at the moment they are needed. Sometimes, we walk away after an awkward pause without saying anything encouraging at all. Later, when we've had a chance to process what we were told, we can often think of many things that we wish we would have said. Sometimes, we are afraid to share those thoughts the next time we see that person because we failed at our initial attempt to be a source of encouragement. We find reasons to justify our silence. We don't want to make the situation worse or upset the person by asking them to talk about their illness. We think "I don't have to worry about saying anything because there are other people in this person's life who are there to provide support."
When I read this verse from Romans, I'm reminded of the constant need to change the way I think. Whenever I start thinking "I don't need to do this," am I thinking about what God wants me to do? Or am I letting the worldly view of "It's not my problem" cloud my judgement? Which way allows me to live by the faith I proclaim?
What I'd like you to remember as you encounter people who are struggling this week is that it is never too late to be a source of comfort. If you don't get it right the first time, if the words aren't there, don't let that stop you from sharing the things you wish you'd said at a later date. There's nothing wrong with saying, "I'm sorry that I wasn't the friend you needed when you told me about (fill in the blank), but after I had a chance to think about what you told me, I wished I'd handled it differently." And then use that opportunity to let the person know that you really do care. We can't assume that people have others to provide those needed words of hope. In fact, we might be better servants if we start assuming that people don't have a support system in place. Then we'd know that it's not our problem, but our opportunity to share the love of Jesus with the people we meet.
- Praise for Mindy who has been declared cancer free.
- Praise for Melisa who is doing well after a successful surgery.
- Praise for Mary Ann who is in remission.
- Praise from Candy who recently had surgery. Her surgery went well and she is at home recovering. She's up and getting around with her walker. She is so happy that God has blessed her with a recovery that is progressing more quickly than expected. She reported that the first thing she wanted after surgery was to take communion. She would also like us to pray for her doctor. She hopes to be a light to him.
- From the family of Jay: I can't tell you how much your care package meant to my husband, Jay, during his battle with cancer. When the care package arrived, he was rather ambivalent about the items, thinking it wasn't something he needed. I left the care package next to the computer and noticed that over a period of days and weeks items continually were taken out of the bag and used. He was especially fond of the scriptures and the uplifting booklets that came in our package. It inspired him to begin a journal over the last weeks that he lived. We put that journal on a blog for others to view during Jay's funeral visitation. I hope that he inspired others by his faith as he was inspired by the caring of you and those who work with you. I want to thank you and to all the prayer warriors that you have volunteering to uplift those who are suffering. We know that it helped both of us during this cancer battle. Jay lost his battle on October 3, 2011 after only four months of being diagnosed with lung cancer. Again, thank you so much for all this organization does to sustain people and bring them closer to God.
- From the family of a patient: My 92 year old grandmother is one of your friends. Your organization has been a blessing to her. She enjoys the notes from the children. Whenever she gets a letter or a gift from Phil's Friends she smiles. Earlier this year she received a stuffed bear holding a smaller bear, the bear sits on the sofa with her. This small gift from your organization touches my grandmothers life daily and keeps her smiling.
- Please pray for the family of Pastor Matt Peterson (St. Peter Lutheran Church - Schaumburg, IL) We were informed that Pastor Matt passed away last night. We ask for God to comfort and strengthen his family and the congregation as they grieve.
- Please pray for Jack who is in the hospital and suffers from leukemia. It looks like his journey is coming to an end. We ask God for Jack to be comforted and relieved of pain. We ask for prayers to comfort and strengthen his wife and daughters as they prepare for what is to come.
- Please pray for the family of Jay who recently passed away after a battle with lung cancer.
- Please pray for the family of Karen who recently passed away.
- Please pray for Michael who has seen improvement in his blood work but experienced a negative reaction to his most recent chemo treatment. Pray for his healing.
- Please pray for Kevin who is undergoing chemo and radiation.
- Please pray for Krista who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and just started treatments.
- Please pray for Jim who is going through his 2nd battle with cancer.
A few weeks ago, Trinity Lutheran Church (Roselle, IL ) held a second Community Walk. The following are prayer requests taken from that event:
- Please pray for a cure to be found for breast cancer.
- Please pray for healing for a community member whose sister has cancer.
- Please pray for a young woman who has ovarian cancer.
- Please pray for a family whose mother has cancer.
- Please pray for a retired pastor who has colon cancer.
- Please pray for a family whose father has cancer and mother is receiving treatment for diabetes.
Blessings to all of you this week. Thank you for taking the time to pray for all the concerns listed here, for the rest of our patients, and for our organization.
Prayer Requests 10/27/2011
John 16:33 New Living Translation (NLT)
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
Somewhere in my travels I acquired a little pamphlet called "Finding the RIGHT Bible passage." It has a topical index and provides several scriptures of encouragement for each of the topics listed. The verse I picked today is listed under the heading of Illness. Out of curiosity I scanned the pamphlet to see if it was listed anywhere else and found it also under the headings of Worry and Temptation. Isn't it great that we can find messages of hope in God's word that apply to more than one situation? Each week we come together through this Prayer Team to pray for those we know who are affected by cancer, but my hope is that when you read these messages you find something in them that is encouraging to you personally as well.
It's funny that this particular verse applies in three situations that are affecting my life this week. I have a friend who is scheduled to go in for surgery tomorrow and I will be her caretaker as she recovers. She's the one who is ill. But we've both been worrying about how we are going to get through the next few days, juggling the responsibilities of work and families. How on Earth are we going to get everything done? I have another friend who told me this week that she intends to quit smoking. She's going to go cold turkey, but was wondering what to do when the temptation to go bad to her old habit arose. My suggestion in both circumstances is to pray. To ask God for the strength we need to get through it. And when I read this verse, I feel empowered by it. Instead of focusing on the worries or temptations of this moment, I need to take a step back and think about the big picture. When I look again at all that Jesus has done (not just for me, but for each of us) how could I not be filled with the peace He promises here?
- Thank You, Lord for bringing forth more volunteers who are willing to pray for others. Thank You for Holli, Susan, Marivel and Donna who have recently joined our Prayer Team.
- Praise for Karen who is now cancer free.
- From the family of Florence: "Our family wishes to thank you for all of your encouraging notes and cards. She passed away on Sept. 18, 2011 after fighting a tough battle with cancer. Thank you again. She enjoyed the cards and good wishes."
- From Karen: "For the past year, you have been praying for me and sending me cards of encouragement during my cancer journey. I hope you know how much those cards meant and how God's word spoke to me through you. This is what we are called to do - share God's love with others. You have been the face of Christ to me. Your prayers also made a difference. I am now cancer free! I encourage you to now share God's word of hope with a new cancer fighter and help them in their journey. I will always thank God for you!!"
- From the family of Jacquelyn: "Diane has been sending very thoughtful cards to my mother ever since my sisters got her a Phil's Friends care package at a music festival over the summer. Mom was comforted by the great, very appropriate items in the bag and by the notes she received in the mail. Unfortunately, Mom lost her battle with cancer on August 11. I am so thankful for the cards that have been sent...Thank you again for what you do and may God bless you and the Phil's Friends organization.
- From Bev: "My husband greatly appreciates all the mail that is sent to him. Especially the cards the children make."
- From Kathleen: "Thank you so much for this ministry. My children learned of Phil's Friends through their school. I, too, am a Hodgkin's survivor (14 years!!) and know how important the support of loved ones is during cancer treatments. Thank you again for the love you show to others."
Lord, You alone know every one of our needs. We pray for all of the concerns listed here and for those on our hearts personally. Remind us of Your presence in the midst of the trials and sorrows we face. Give us the strength not only to endure but to see Your hand at work in our lives. Give us the courage to share Your hope with others. Grant us Your peace. We ask these things in precious name of Jesus. Amen.
- Please pray for Mary who has advanced pancreatic cancer. Mary is a teacher and her school has incorporated a silent moment of prayer on her behalf each day at 9:07am (CST). Mary's friend submitted a request that we include her in our prayer chain and has invited us to join them in remembering her in prayer every day.
- Please pray for Carol who has Stage 4 intestinal cancer that has spread to her bones.
- Please pray for Jim who has Stage 4 lung cancer.
- Please pray for Pastor Matt who is now in hospice care. We ask for comfort and relief from pain. Please pray for Pastor Matt's family. Fill whatever time they have left together with joy, love and peace.
- Please pray for Chuck who is facing treatment for another recurrence of liver cancer. Please pray for him and his family.
- Please pray for Kevin who is undergoing chemo and radiation.
- Please pray for the families of Florence, Bernie, and Jacquelyn who were recently called home.
- Please pray for our organization. We ask for the continued provision of resources to allow us to grow this ministry. We ask for a smooth transition to our new office space. We ask for unity amongst our staff and all of our wonderful volunteers.
- Please pray for Phil and Carrie as they travel and reach out to those who have not yet heard of our ministry. We ask for you to open the hearts of all the people they meet. Allow them to receive Your message of hope. Open doors that will allow us to bring more people to know you as Savior and Friend.
Prayer Requests 10/20/2011
Psalm 66:20 New Living Translation (NLT)
20 Praise God, who did not ignore my prayer
or withdraw his unfailing love from me.
If you've ever wondered whether or not your prayers make a difference, here's some proof to show that they do. We recently received a letter from one of our patients that I would like to share:
I am one of the blessed recipients of a Phil's Friends care package and letters/cards of encouragement. My wife calls them my "love letters" from Phil's Friends when they arrive in the mail. I was diagnosed with gastric cancer 16 months ago and continue to receive chemotherapy treatments. Although my cancer is stubborn and won't go away, it is being contained thanks to treatments, prayers and help from the Lord. I look forward to my "love letters" from Phil's Friends because their messages bring me comfort, support and reassurance of the love Christ has for me. The handmade cards from the school children are my favorites and touch my heart, as well as make me smile. Thank you! Thank you! May the Lord continue to bless your work.
Praise the Lord!
- For Ginger who has been blessed with healing.
- Please pray for Candy who is having surgery today. We ask for a successful outcome and a speedy recovery.
- Please pray for the family of Jacob who recently passed away.
- Please pray for Todd. Todd has a brain tumor and had been in remission. His tumor is growing and while the doctors are recommending surgery, the risk of paralysis is great. Todd has opted to resume chemo treatments instead. Please pray for Todd and his family. We ask that God would draw their family closer to Him and each other.
- Please pray for the family of Clifford who recently passed away. His wife, Stella, is having a hard time coping with his loss. We ask for God to comfort her as she grieves.
- Please pray for Gloria's grandson who was recently diagnosed with cancer.
- Please pray for Carol who has had breast cancer that has returned to her other breast.
- Please pray for Larry who is undergoing treatment for cancer.
- Please pray for Joel who has leukemia.
- Please pray for Barb who has breast cancer.
- Please pray for Larry who has cancer in his bones.
- Please pray for Roberta who has breast cancer.
- Please pray for Micquie, a long-time breast cancer survivor, who now has cancer in her other breast.
- Please pray for Karl who has Stage 4 lung cancer.
- Please pray for Dennis who has lung cancer that has spread to his brain.
- Please pray for Peyton, who is 3 1/2 yrs. old and has cancer.
- Please pray for Evan who is 8 yrs. old and has cancer.
- Please pray for Evelyn. Her tumor has grown and her sight will not be restored. Please pray for Evelyn's husband who is her caretaker. He has health problems of his own. We ask God to sustain and protect him so he may continue to keep Evelyn at home.
- Please pray for John who is undergoing daily chemo and struggling to juggle that with doctor's appointments and school. We ask for God to heal him and provide him the strength he needs to get through each day.
- And some general requests for our organization as well...we ask for God to continue to provide the resources (manpower and finances) to keep this ministry running smoothly. Our weekly card ministry sends out over 700 cards per week. We have many groups who are anxious to come and write cards or pack care packages once we move into our new office space. We ask for unity among our staff. Please keep us focused on bringing the hope of Jesus to everyone we encounter on a daily basis.
Lord, You know the needs of our hearts individually and those of our organization. We ask for Your comfort for those who are suffering. For the families who have lost loved ones, we thank You for the lives of those lost. Heal their hearts from the sorrow grieving can bring. For all those undergoing treatments, we ask for strength and healing. For those who have learned their cancer has spread or returned, we ask that You remind them of Your presence. Hold them close as they struggle to understand questions like "Why me?" "Why now?" "Why this...again?" We thank You for the opportunity to support those affected by cancer. Remind us that our prayers make a difference. May every word, every card, every care package, and every prayer be received as a "love letter." Use us to touch lives and bring more people to know You as Savior and friend.
Prayer Requests 10/13/2011
Do you ever have days when you feel like you just can't pray? Life throws us unexpected curve balls and sometimes they are not pleasant ones. Many times our first reaction is to use the crisis that has occurred as an excuse not to pray. Wouldn't it just be easier to go back to bed, hide under the covers and avoid facing those curve balls head on? I know that's what I'd like to do in those moments. Sometimes that's exactly what I actually do to try and "solve" the problem. And then I find myself wondering why I don't feel connected to God in the midst of the crisis. But I shouldn't be surprised when that connection is lacking. It's kind of hard to feel connected to God when you cut off communication. If you think of prayer as being a phone call to God, ceasing to pray is like calling God and then hanging up the phone.
I read a devotion recently called "Praying When Life Gets Hard." (You can find it here: http://www.justbetweenus.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=87095 ) The author lists several tips on how to change your mindset, to pick up that phone and hit redial, when we don't think we can pray anymore. I hope you find these tips helpful the next time one of those curve balls gets thrown your way.
Karen is in remission.
Dorothy is now cancer free.
Mary says they found cancer in her pelvis. However, after receiving treatments, it is now gone.
Catherine is in remission. She is feeling well enough to go back to work part-time and is joyful about her recovery.
Michael's tumors are shrinking. The treatments are working.
Praise the Lord!
Please pray for Douglas and his wife. Douglas has Stage 4 brain and lung cancer.
Please pray for Vincenza. The doctors have found fluid in her lungs and her oxygen levels are low. She is at home receiving oxygen treatments. She has asked for prayers for a miracle and for peace. (Update: We just received word that Vincenza is in the hospital, possibly for pneumonia.)
Please pray for Jessica. A red ring is growing around her tumor. She will be seeing her doctor in December. Finances are needed. Please pray for God to provide the resources that she needs.
Please pray for Jennifer. Her tumor is shrinking. She has two more treatments left. She recently moved and discovered that the pastor at her new church has the same kind of brain tumor. Please pray for her pastor and their church as well.
Please pray for Mary to stay focused on God's word.
Please pray for Camille.
Please pray for Colleen who has aggressive brain cancer. Her tumor has been removed but has a long road ahead to recovery. Please pray for Colleen's husband, children and grandchildren. Colleen's son and his wife are expecting a baby. Please pray for a healthy pregnancy and birth.
Please pray for Robert. His cancer has spread throughout his body and organs. He is extremely thankful for his care package. He said, "If the thief on the cross could go to Heaven, then he is able to have hope that he will be there, too." Please pray for Robert to continue to have that comfort and hope.
Please pray for Joe who has inoperable lung cancer and is beginning treatment soon.
Please pray for Cindy. She has treatment until the 19th of December, then radiation in January.
Please pray for Ethan who is 4 years old with Optic Glioma.
Please pray for Tracy who has breast cancer.
Please pray for Melissa who has Stage 4 breast cancer and has 5 young children.
Please pray for Michael who has been transferred to a new oncologist. Pray that his new doctors are given the wisdom to know which treatments would be best for him.
Please pray for Trey, a 7 yr. old who has Down's Syndrome and was recently diagnosed with leukemia.
Please pray for Pastor Greg who has Stage 1 brain cancer.
Please pray for Angie who has colon cancer. Pray that she might be granted the comfort and hope of Jesus.
And also a general request for our organization...we are continuing to make progress with our build out of our new office space. We recently sent out an appeal to our donors to ask for funding for this project. Please pray for God to provide the financial resources that we need to finish construction, purchase new equipment, and make our transition to the new office space as seamless as possible. Please pray for our staff and our volunteers that our talents and resources are used to cheerfully serve our patients and bring glory to God through our ministry at Phil's Friends.
Lord, I thank you for all of our prayer partners for being willing to pray for the needs listed above. I ask for your protection over our staff, our volunteers, and our patients. You know our every need. Bring comfort to those who are hurting or are in pain. I ask for strength of body and mind. Guard our hearts. And if anyone has "hung up the phone" in response to the challenges life sometimes brings, I ask that you encourage them to "hit redial" and re-establish that connection with You through prayer.
May God bless you this week. If you have any prayer requests, please let us know.
Prayer Request 10/6/2011
When I sit down to write up all the prayer requests we've received in the last week, I pray as I'm typing them. I'm not just praying for the people listed but also for God to give me some words to share with you to remind you of how important and needed your prayers are. This week I have a couple of stories to share. One is about a patient. The other is about an event we held last Friday. As you read on I hope you will realize how important you are to all of us at Phil's Friends. Thank you for opening your heart to others and being willing to serve in this way.
Phil met a patient named Kristie on a recent trip to Indiana. She has Hodgkins and is undergoing radiation treatments. She is married and the mother of two young kids. She came up to Phil with tears in her eyes to thank him for the care package that she'd received. When she opened her care package and read the card inside, she broke down and started crying. Her family asked "What's wrong?" thinking that something had upset her. Kristie said, "These are good tears." And she read the bible verse that had been written in the card.
"This is my command--be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
This verse was Kristie's confirmation verse. Receiving it in our card reminded Kristie that no matter what God is with her wherever she goes. She told Phil that every week her cards arrive at just the right moment. The time when she needs encouragement the most. She talked with Phil about volunteering and making cards for others with her children. She said, "But please don't stop sending my cards. I need them! You'll never know how much it means to me to know that people are praying for me."
Last Friday, we had our first event with a large group of volunteers. It was a little chaotic at times because we were told to expect about 40 people but were blessed with about 80 people who were willing to serve. Some of them cleaned and moved furniture in our new office space. Some of them packed care packages or wrote cards. The group took up a freewill offering and gave about $700 to Phil's Friends. And after seeing what we do on a daily basis, one of the volunteers matched the group's donation. We thank God for bringing willing volunteers to serve, for the unexpected monetary support and for all of you who prayed for that event to be successful. If you want to see a short clip about the event, check out the YouTube link below:
From Melisa: "Thanks for your prayers, e-mails, and reminders of God's love during a challenging time in my life. I'm blessed not to need chemo treatments and am continuing to heal at home."
From the Koehler family: "Thank you for the prayers from your ministry. The Lord is good and surrounds us with loving support to comfort us in our time of need. May God continue to bless Phil's Friends."
- For George who has lung cancer and is in hospice. One of our volunteers is planning to meet with George and his family to share the Gospel. Please pray for comfort and pain relief for George. Please pray for George and his family that they might be open to hearing the Gospel message and come to know Jesus as their Savior.
- For William who has recently learned that his cancer has returned and that it has spread to his liver and lungs. Pray for William as he resumes treatments. Pray for William's family that they are given the strength to be a source of encouragement at this time and that God will grant them peace.
- For Tracy who has Stage 4 breast cancer. She recently received a care package and wanted to say "thank you" to those who are praying for her.
- For Billy who has pancreatic cancer and is back in the hospital.
- For Pastor Peterson (St. Peter Lutheran) who has Stage 4 multiple myloma. Pray for comfort and pain relief.
- For the family of Percy as they mourn his loss.
On the weekend of 9/11, Trinity Lutheran Church (Roselle, IL) conducted a Community Walk to determine the needs of households in their community. Many families submitted prayer requests and I have included the ones from the prayer list they published that were related to people with cancer.
- Pray for Surgio who has cancer.
- Pray for a community member whose mother-in-law has cancer.
- Pray for all who are struggling with cancer.
- Pray for Robin and Carol who have cancer.
- Pray for a cure for cancer and healing for my neighbor.
- Pray for Ian who is having surgery and may have cancer.
- Pray for a community member whose mother has leukemia.
- Pray for my friends who have cancer.
- Pray for the young son of a community member who recently died of cancer.
- Pray for a community member whose husband has cancer.
- Pray for Cindy who is receiving treatments for cancer.
- Pray for a community member whose wife has a tumor that may be cancerous.
- Pray for a community member whose boyfriend's dad has cancer.
- Pray for Barb who has breast cancer.
- Pray for a community member whose daughter-in-law has cancer.
- Pray for a family with multiple family members who are recovering from cancer treatments.
- Pray for Kevin who has brain cancer.
- Pray for a family with many family members currently undergoing cancer treatments.
- Pray for Angela who has breast cancer.
- Pray for Herb who has cancer.
- Pray for a family struggling to make ends meet. The husband has cancer and his wife has a heart condition. Their only insurance is Medicare.
- Pray for Grayson who has leukemia.
- Pray for Emery who has prostate cancer.
- Pray for a community member whose mom is recovering from cancer.
As you can see there are so many people who continue to be affected by cancer. So many who want and need our prayers. Please pray for all of those concerns listed above. And please keep sending in any prayer requests that you may have.
Blessings to all of you this week :)
In Memory of Joan Adamski
Phil's Friends recently learned of the death of Joan Adamski. Joan was not only a patient we supported but also a donor and volunteer. Staff member, Martel Sardina, recalls an experience she had with Joan below. We extend our love, prayers and support to Joan's family as they mourn her loss.
I'll never forget the second time I met Joan.
The first time we met, I had only been volunteering for Phil's Friends for a short time and was holding down the fort so that the staff could take a lunch break. Joan stopped in on a Wednesday and asked if she could have some brochures to take to a doctor's office. I assumed that she was a nurse. She seemed happy and healthy. I gave her the brochures and she went on her way.
The second time Joan stopped by the office, I almost didn't recognize her. Her hair had fallen out. I found out then that she had breast cancer. And that it wasn't her first battle with the disease. This time, Joan was stopping by to drop off a donation of care package items. She had received one of our care packages in one of her previous battles and wanted to share the joy of receiving such a gift with someone else. I was amazed by her ability to want to care for others in the midst of coping with her own problems.
While Joan handed me the items with a smile on her face, there was something in her eyes that told me she wasn't smiling on the inside. I asked her if she wanted to talk about whatever was bothering her. She didn't and that was ok. But a voice inside my head said, "Ask Joan if she'd like to pray with you."
I didn't do exactly what the voice said. I asked Joan if she would like me to pray for her. She said, "Sure," and turned to leave. And that's when that internal voice screamed, "You have to pray with Joan...and you need to do it right now!"
I touched Joan on the arm and said, "Don't leave yet. I have this feeling that I am supposed to pray with you before you go." It was the first time that I had ever asked someone if I could pray with them outside of a church setting. I expected her to look at me funny or tell me that I was crazy. But instead, Joan said, "I could use some prayers right now."
We sat at the conference table. I asked her what she wanted to pray about. She listed some concerns: upcoming treatments, prayers for strength, prayers for her husband and other family members. But the biggest one that day was to remain positive no matter what the world decided to throw her way. Joan needed that source of hope, that light at the end of tunnel, to see her through the darkest of days.
We prayed for all of those things and more. It was an awesome moment. I knew with certainty that God had used me to deliver a message of comfort and hope to Joan.
When Joan left the office that day, she left with a smile that was genuine. Her eyes were brighter. She told me that the prayer had been just what she needed on a day when she'd been feeling down.
When I learned of Joan's death, I was sad. But the memory that keeps coming to mind whenever I hear her name or look at the beautiful picture of her on the memorial card is of the first time we prayed together. It's been almost two years since that day, but when I think about it, the memory is vivid. I can see the smile she left with even now.
Joan and I corresponded through cards while she sick. And I have to say that I got as much (if not more) than what I gave in words of encouragement and prayer. But I don't know if I ever told Joan how much that first prayer meant to me. Joan helped me step out of my comfort zone and taking that step strengthened my faith. I think of all the people that I've prayed for since and know I might not have had the courage to pray with those people if I hadn't ever met Joan.
So thank you, Lord, for the life of Joan Adamski. Thank you for using her to bless me personally, and to bless our ministry at Phil's Friends.