Phil's Friends Blog - Entries from April 2012

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    ThuThursdayAprApril26th2012 Prayer Requests - 4/26/2012
    byMartel Sardina Tagged No tags 0 comments Add comment

    John 1:29

    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!

    Luke 24:5-7

    New Living Translation (NLT)

    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? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, 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.
    ThuThursdayAprApril26th2012 Testimonial
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    Dear Phil's Friends,

    You are a blessing to the soul.  Keep up the caring work you do.  Thank you all so much for the gifts, cards, and love you've shared.  My husband and I have both been comforted with the trials of cancer during 2011-2012.  Just want you to know prayer works.  We both have thankful hearts for this marvelous gift of restored health and are humbled by God's goodness and blessings.  Thank you to Michelle, Aiden, Alexia, Nicolas and several others for your special cards.  It is very thoughtful work you do.

    With grateful hearts,

    Linda & John T. (Illinois)

    FriFridayAprApril20th2012 Prayer Requests 4/19/2012
    byMartel Sardina Tagged No tags 0 comments Add comment

    Ephesians 3:20

    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.

    FriFridayAprApril13th2012 Prayer Requests - 4/13/2012
    byMartel Sardina Tagged No tags 0 comments Add comment

    Proverbs 12:25

    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.
    FriFridayAprApril13th2012 Testimonial
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    We've received some great letters in the mail this week.  Here's one of them:


    Dear Staff of Phil's Friends,

    I am the grateful recipient of the kindness of all of you.  When I was going through my 2nd diagnosis of cancer in three years, my niece gave you all my name.  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.

    Now it's my turn to give you the name of another friend of mine who I met at radiation treatment.  Just this past month, Marcia was again diagnosed with a brain tumor (after having breast cancer.)  She has had surgery two weeks ago and will now go through chemo and radiation in about a month.  With this 2nd cancer occurence, she said she an out of body experience.  She wants to get closer to Jesus in her life and also wants to be baptized which she has not yet done.  I praise God for helping her in this time in her life.  I know you all would be a wonderful help in her journey, too.

    I also want to tell you what an ongoing inspiration my niece has been to me, too.  She has been dealing with Stage 4 breast cancer since April 2008.  She is now going through a new chemo treatment after four years of many treatments and (2) Gamma knife treatments on the tumors in her brain last year.  She is always concerned for me and kind to everyone in her life because of her faith in Jesus.  She always has a smile and kind, inspiring words about her life.  She gives God praises for giving her strength.

    Thank you so much for all you do for everyone.

    In Jesus' name and praise,
    Nancy I. (Ohio)
    ThuThursdayAprApril5th2012 Prayer Requests - 4/5/2012
    byMartel Sardina Tagged No tags 0 comments Add comment

    1 Peter 5:6-8 (ESV)

     Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you,  casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.  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.

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