Water into Wine, Remembering my Journal entry. August 9, 2010

August 9, 2010. On this date, I knew there was a very large lump on my right breast, but I didn’t know what it was at this time.

I was keeping a Bible Journal at the time. Apparently I was in John 2:

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.”

That was a crisis for this wedding feast. And I was in “crisis” as well.

Jesus said her,”Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”
John 2:4.

In my journal writing I wrote, “Can God be showing me what to do in my crisis?”

I wrote so many years ago, (7 years to be exact):

There were 6 water pots of stone about twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the water pots with water.”
Today feeling very empty and confused, He said, “fill the water pots with water.” Water in the Bible symbolizes the Holy Spirit. And at the wedding they ran out of wine and He said, “Fill the pots with water.”

My very first thought is, the Holy Spirit. I need to be filled with the Holy Spirit!

So, on that day, many years ago, God was showing me personally, intimately what I, Toni, needed to do to get through that day, and the days I didn’t even know were to come, (which included a cancer diagnosis, many doctor and surgeon visits, then chemo, surgery, hormone therapy, etc., etc.

The words of Mary ring so loud to me, “Whatever He says to you, do it.”

Fill the pots with water.”

That’s what He said.

I knew I needed counsel. He answered me, “Fill your clay vessel with water.”

So, I went to the word about the Holy Spirit:
And not be drunk with wine which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the LORD, giving thanks always…,” Eph. 5:18.

Little did I know, but for me, to help me through and keep me standing on the Rock, to keep faith through all the chemo and chemicals, I would be turning the pages of Then Sings My Soul, by Robert Morgan.

Speaking the words of the hymns, and singing them as I learned them, I was transformed, from fear to courage.

I was continually being transformed- from fear to courage!

So today, a lot has changed. I am healthy and strong. But what’s amazing is the remedy for my crisis today still remains:

“Whatever He says to do, do it.”

Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim.
Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.”
They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. John 2: 7-11.

Dear Lord, teach me to seek Your face and hear Your voice as I open your word to hear what You say.” In Jesus Name. 

Amen.

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Speak, “Be Still My Soul.” Time and again, for myself and my friends

“Be Still my soul … ” (1)

How can it be? The reality. God help us see – that You are the Almighty. “Be Still my soul … Be Still my soul.” 

Words. They hold power.

Let us speak old words together. With fears, and stress, tears and pain, whether seen on the outside – it seems, there are dark clouds within. We walk in the night, with courage and fight  – “O God, we cry – increase our faith  –  again, and again.

Today we pray, “Increase our faith.” Tomorrow we asked for increased faith again in this marathon-type race.

Words penned in 1752, over 200 years ago, bring health to the soul, somehow. So, today, let us pray together, to our God Almighty and our Father in heaven, with old words, true, (yet first person is changed a few)-  that we might  comfort ourselves in You.

Let us say together, out loud, putting sound on our chords:   “Be Still my Soul. Be Still my soul, The Lord is on our side …

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to our God to order and provide;
In every change, You faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul: thy best, thy heav’nly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.”

There is so much change. But You, O LORD remain. We draw near to You, and You draw near when we do. O God, help us, today in such darkness, take hold of Your light and believe and rest . . .

in Your faithfulness.

“Be still, my soul: Our God doth undertake
To guide the future, as You have the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul: the waves and winds still know
Your voice Who ruled them while You dwelt below.”

Be still, my soul: when dearest friends depart, And all is darkened in the vale of tears, 

Then shalt we  better know Your love, Your heart,
Who comes to soothe our sorrow and our fears.

“Dear Lord, comfort the downcast with Your Spirit, we draw near.”

“Be still, my soul: the hour is hast’ning on
When we shall be forever with You Lord.
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul: when change and tears are past
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.”

Dear Father in heaven, we bow our heads together. The most important change that needs be, is that which must be done, inside of me.

Increase my faith, that I might stand, and follow You, as You take hold of my hand:

“Be still, my soul: begin the song of praise
On earth, believing,  You, O Lord on high; to
Acknowledge You in all our words and ways,
So shall You  view us with a well-pleased eye.
Be still, my soul: the Son of life divine
Through passing clouds shall but more brightly shine.”

Today. Today! This is what You have given us. Teach us to pray. To talk with You the words of this hymn rather than complaint. Be merciful to us.

Teach us to trust.

Help us to take hold of You – who are Love, and let go of all lust. Let us put off the fight, and the anger, and the strife …

and let us make harmony as we sing Your melody throughout the rest of our life.

We bow our heads, we pray to You. We end our words  and whole heartedly say:  “Our soul is still, as we set our minds on the hill, where You laid down Your life, as a perfect sacrifice, forgiving my failures, Dear Lord Jesus, Thank You.

(1) “Be Still My Soul” by Katherine von Schlegel. 

Why ‘give back?’ Because, I’ve been ‘given!’

If I can write a story that inspires someone to hope again, then I have succeeded. I had no hope. I was suffering and despairing, I was low. The rug had been pulled out from under me, and my whole family of 13.

(And yes, they were all mine biologically, and no, we are not Catholic, or Jewish (!) (I would always be asked in NJ). “No we just love Jesus.” was our answer.

The thorns of this life had torn and ripped and brought great loss. Now we had bleeding hearts. And it seemed as if each of us was all alone, each with our own pain, because loss sometimes brings a void of words.

Even in the ‘trying’ to heal, I opened the Bible to page 1 and after reading the word “GOD”, all I could see was, “The earth was…an empty waste, and darkness was upon the face…”(Gen. 1:2). “Yes, that’s me…” is all I could feel.

I remember going for a long walk, all alone. I cried out to God! Yes, out loud with tears down my face – this was a desperate cry to God. Yes, I even yelled at Him! I yelled, “I will never get over this!” “I will never get over this.” And I believed my words. I believed my words!

But my words weren’t true. You see, two weeks later… (and I imagine you are thinking, “Oh, everything smoothed out and the pain and hurts were taken care of.”) Well, think again! Two weeks later it was discovered that I had a very large tumor on my right breast, 5cm x 7cm. I now had great loss AND breast cancer! Truly it seems as if God is mean and heart-less. That God is distant and just doesn’t care.

But something happened – something amazing and huge and transforming and good.

My family was injured so they were numb, but God had a plan. Do you know, (of course you don’t know. That’s why I’m telling my story, so that you WILL know…), that the neighboring community gathered together and extended rides for me to the infusion room – sometimes people I didn’t even know! Friends came and sat with me for hours while I received my poiso…I mean…chemo! People sacrificed their time…for me.

A dear sweet woman in her late 80’s who lived 5 states away sat down and wrote in  a beautiful card with flowers every Tuesday, week after week with the hand written words, “In God we trust” on the envelope and the words “I am praying for you and your family daily, Love Bea” . Every Thursday week after every ‘bald and sick’ week I received mail from  what seemed the very the hands of God saying, “I love you.” “I am with you.” “I will never leave you.” “I have not forsaken you.”

The  swim team of the Y(MCA) that we were members of rallied together and gathered gift cards of activities and eating places so the children could focus on life and health and hope! For a large family, this is a BIG deal! The Y provided a way for the kids to ‘kick out’ their anger’ that they couldn’t even understand at the time,  to ‘kick out’ their fear and uncertainty. The Y was a finger of the strong hand of God for each of my children, saying, “I’ve got a hold of you during this storm.”

Do you want to hear something HUGE? Well, women from the local  church were touched and being that I was sick through the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, they decided to go shopping for the 8 children I had living at home at the time! Yes, the woman went Christmas shopping for my family! The evening they came walking in like Santa with large contractor bags, (yes, 4 of them!), filled with goodies for my kids, I felt like George in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life!’ God walked through the door saying, “I love you!” “I am with you and your family!” Each of you are special to me. I know your names, I know your shoe size. I want to bless you.”

Wonderful, well thought out dinners with amazing desserts and cookies walked their way down our sidewalk through our door being carried by busy people who chose to give their time and substance and effort for me and my family for weeks and weeks! We saw God! We saw the very hand of God! (And somehow, the kids think that dessert comes after every meal now!)

The dinners didn’t always seem appetizing to me however,  because I was very sick on the chemo. So, for many weeks, one of my friends came and shared time and love and …you guessed it, her home-made chicken soup. I had hope because I could hear once again the amazing sound of God’s grace, “Toni, I know what you need. I am here for you.”

I was empty and in the face of darkness, but the “Spirit of God moved upon the …” hearts of His people. And I was healed.

I was healed of everything that hurt me. The cuts were still there from the thorns, but they healed. God’s hand reached down to touch us through the hearts, minds, hands, and feet of others.

God had a plan. He was working a work of compassion in my heart. But first, He had to allow the ‘rug to pulled out from under my feet’.

I had no hope, but now I hope to better spot the person that feels ’empty and void and filled with darkness.’ And now, I hope to ‘give back’ – be it a card, or a phone call, or prayer with someone, or a song…(you don’t have to ‘join an organization’ to do that!)

Those little things are as big as the hand of God! I know first-hand.

Why ‘give back?’ Because I’ve been ‘given!’