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Phil's Friends Blog - Entries from March 2012
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.