Compassion

Feeling a little brokenhearted today. I’m healthy. My family is healthy. We’re all thriving. But all around me is despair. When I close my eyes I might even feel the agony and hopelessness of the world echoing within my soul. The blind cry out for relief from their sorrows and grope for the cross that remains just out of reach. Others with clear vision call on their Savior, their reason for hope, but He shows them more trouble.

2 Corinthians 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ”

When I was sick so many people wanted to help that I felt supremely guilty that I couldn’t come up with odd jobs for them. It was silly–they felt a burden to help in a tangible way, and praying didn’t seem tangible, so I felt a burden to help them ease their burden in a tangible way. We were all wrong. We should have just prayed together. Prayed more. Every time we inhale and feel a burden we should exhale with a prayer. But…it’s hard to pray! It’s hard to care deeply for someone, to rest their problems on your shoulders and have no way to lift them off other than to lift them up in prayer. And let’s be honest, when we do all that, many times we don’t see a real answer. We don’t feel the Lord’s presence. He doesn’t do “little” things like resolve social situations for our kids. He doesn’t do big things like blow the Holy Spirit down to breathe life into a dying child. He doesn’t heal most people’s cancer.

It’s hard not to take these unanswered (or differently answered) prayers personally. To keep praying, trying, crying, day after day. Sometimes it seems impossible to stir up enough passion to even want to intercede in faith for another. But that’s when we need to remember. We remember the faith from our youth. We remember the prayers He did answer from the past. With every gut wrenching blow we feel from receiving bad news, we will remember how the King felt when Judas kissed his cheek. When I hear my own voice bitterly complain about circumstances being unfair, I will remember how He felt each time the crowd of people He loved and cared for screamed, “Crucify Him”. And every time I wonder, “What’s the point?” of praying for someone, I will look around and take note of the empty tomb. The cross was enough.

Lamentations 3:22-24, “The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease. For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning: Great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion” says my soul. “Therefore I have hope in Him”…

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Good and Bad

A week or two ago, I had a very bad day. I have excuses for it, but in the end I was just not being the generous, kind, loving, gentle person God made me to be. I stormed out of the house and took a drive to calm down. I found myself complaining loudly to God about all the annoying things that were going on, and I tried to remark that “this is not what I asked for”. I was pulling the “woe is me, my life is unfair” card, I know. Anyway, as I was in mid-sentence, God changed my mind and heart so I announced (still loudly, I’m still me after all) instead, “this IS what I asked for. This is exactly what I asked for.” And it was. I always made a point not to glamorize this life I’ve been given. When I begged for Him to take the cancer away, it was for His glory and so I could continue my work as a mother. I knew that both of those options are generally not highly appreciated tasks and there would be few accolades on earth to go along with them. The daily nonsense I put up with now is all exactly what I wanted and I am doing my best not to forget that.

We went to New Orleans last week. Yaacov had a business trip so the kids and I tagged along. It was the first trip with just the four of us since cancer. There were moments of craziness (all mothers remember what it’s like trying to get kids to sleep in hotel rooms…parents have to tiptoe around in the dark starting at 7pm), but a few moments that were so special, I get tears in my eyes just thinking about them. One special time was in the early morning, when Naomi woke us all up and we were too tired to get up (plus, what is a family of four supposed to do at 5:30 am in New Orleans anyway?). I pulled her into bed with Abi and me. Yaacov didn’t fit but he was snuggled up in the neighboring bed. We all cuddled and watched cartoons. The girls were warm next to me, and they giggled innocently at all the funny parts. It was a special time, another gift from the Lord. As I zoned out of the cartoon for a moment to thank Him, He reminded me like He had during the bad day: “This is what you asked for.”

I am more aware than ever that He gives us good things but still allows bad ones. He wants the best for us. He is for us. For me. For you. Romans 8:31, “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

Romans 12:12

Day 2 of claiming my hip healing: Hip feels great. I didn’t work out today though, so that’s not otherwise unexpected. I’m going to keep praising Him for the healing no matter what. Otherwise I might take it for granted and it will come back.

I had a bad day emotionally today. I have an issue unrelated to my physical health that upsets me. It’s one of those things that takes me a long time to get over, and then once I think it’s done it comes back up. It involves a loved one and I know that God can change me rather than answer my prayers to change others. So I was praying a lot for it then opened my Bible app to look something up. The daily verse was SO helpful. Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” It applies to every situation. This line has the answer to every question. 

No matter what, we will embrace hope. We will persevere during tribulations. Let us all continue praying, no matter what the cost or fear. Live Romans 12:12 with me, even for a day. 

Priorities

I have a lot of long term projects hanging over my head right now, and recently had a big breakthrough about them–they aren’t important! There are obviously parts of everyone’s lives that necessarily create a pit in their stomachs, but it’s occurring to me that they don’t need to comprise a large part of my day and concerns. I made a mental list of the (many) that do that for me. The current ones are all self-imposed, like the commitment I made to finishing my next book. I made that on my blog, really to myself. Not a publisher or anyone else that matters. Now whenever I start working on writing different things I remember that goal and feel guilty I’m not working on it. It eats away at me. I’m praying about the answer, but I’m pretty sure I’m taking it off the to-do list. Along with about five other unimportant things that stress me out.

This is pretty huge for me. It goes along with the “release yourself” idea that I usually take issue with. I really respect hard work and honoring commitments, as well as the satisfaction and benefits that come from a goal achieved. However, all the things that stress me out right now are things I decided to do independently. No one is counting on them but me, and I think I might go ahead and release myself from them.

So, that’s progress. I think it’s working more intentionally toward my priorities. God has spoken a lot about them to me this week. My priorities must be: God, Yaacov, Abi & Naomi, then the ministries I’m involved with. I was praying about my mission this week and feel strongly that it is to tell people what God has done for me. To glorify Him. That must be interwoven among the priorities but if I’m doing a good job in my relationship with Him, that will fall into place. Anything else on my to-do list must correspond to it’s spot on my priority list.

1 Cor 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

I feel good about all this. Here are a few other things I have going on:
Friday is the Joanna Francis Living Well Foundation event. It is a fundraiser to help people with stage 4 cancer pay their non-medical expenses. I am one of the honorees who supposedly does a good job of “Living Well”. The only things I really do to live well is keep a positive attitude and pray. I got to nominate doctors who helped me live well. They picked Dr. Crooms and Dr. Rassam and those two are being recognized. This is an event that has caused me stress, but that has waned recently and I hope it will be fun. I would appreciate prayers for it because it is the first cancer-related event I will go to without the opportunity to say anything. That means I have no chance to tell people what God has done. And that in some weird way I am getting attention like I’ve done something great. It’s sort of anti-God in that way. Please pray for opportunities to tell the truth to these people. I also don’t know who else is being “honored”, but because it is for people with advanced cancer, I expect to be the only one healed. I ran into one person involved with it and she still assumes I have it and am between treatments. I know a lot of people think that, and as much as I hate to admit it, hearing that sort of thing gives me a hiccup in my confidence. So honestly I avoid it. Anyway, I don’t want to tell a bunch of people who are dying that I am not dying. And I don’t want to sit there quietly and let them assume I ate so much broccoli that my cancer went away. And I don’t want this, I don’t want that, yada yada. Please just join me in prayer about it.

If you want to support the Living Well Foundation, you can do so by going to the event or probably just giving money. The link is: http://www.joannafrancislivingwell.com

Romans 14:20, “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble.”

I felt led to start fundraising for an amazing woman named Debora Passetti. I have mentioned her on here before. She prayed intensely for me during cancer then was diagnosed, at stage 4, herself. It gets worse though. Her husband had just retired, they’d bought a camper to travel the country. They can’t do that now, and the cancer in her liver is not letting up. So her sons moved back to Tallahassee to be closer to her. What do you know, her son was driving one of their cars and got rear-ended. He broke his spine in two places. The police said normally people just die on the scene from that. He has a motor tic and if he had just had one little tic after the crash he would have been paralyzed. But he didn’t! We rejoice because he is not paralyzed and is doing great. But it’s still so much for his parents to deal with. Too much.

They depend on the Lord but it is clearly a difficult time in their lives. Retirement always drops people’s income so it’s probably extra hard on her husband to feel a lack of control from that. I read online that the average insured person still spends over $700/month on cancer. So anyway, we started an account where people can donate but so far it’s not taking off. I am not sure what to do from here. I have some ideas for fundraisers but they all have downsides so I’m stagnant. If you would like to help support their family, the link is: http://www.giveforward.com/supportfordeborapassetti

1 Timothy 6:18, “Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”

Important, time-sensitive prayers

Just a quick update on a few important people.

Please, please pray for these dire situations. The good news is that the Lord heals people all the time. The bad news is that these people are really, really sick. I will be fasting tomorrow for them and would appreciate if anyone who feels led to do so joins me in that and/or praying.

The first is a young mother named Angela Faddis. She has a popular page on Facebook so you might have heard of her. I believe she has two young children and stage 4 colon cancer. One week ago the doctors told her husband she would be dead within hours. She is is still alive right now. I am going to pray for a full and immediate recovery. That the cancer recedes and never returns. That she regains her strength, mental faculties, and recovers from all damage caused by the horrendous disease. I know it’s unlikely, and that part of life is death, but this is God we’re talking about. He might not “need” people like her around, but guess what? The rest of us do!  She and her family are kind, loving, faithful people devoted to the Lord and we need more of those around.

“Yahweh will sustain him on his sickbed, and restore him from his bed of illness.” Ps 41:3

The other is my friend’s dad. I just realized I don’t know his name. If I remember right, he has a heart condition that started from being shot when he was a police officier. He’s had several close calls in the hospital over the past few years, including briefly dying at least once. He is in a hospital in Miami now, in critical condition. His heart is only working 5% on its own. It’s very bad so please pray a lot for him and the Kalogeras/McDermott families.

“And the prayer of faith will restore the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up to health, and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgotten.” James 5:15

Updated Prayers for today, Monday and beyond

In case anyone on here is a prayer warrior (I know the answer to that!), there are some upcoming important events for a few of the severe illnesses I’m following. I have been trying to not give away as much identifying info as I did in the past so that’s why I’m just using initials:

Today (Thursday) from 6-7 pm we will be praying for DP. She is undergoing chemo and was diagnosed with Stage 4 Breast Cancer a few months ago. She has an upcoming CT scan and Friday is her chemo day. There is a specific prayer we’re all praying for her. If you want to join in, email me and I’ll forward it to you. Please pray that she will believe not just that God CAN heal her, but that He WILL heal her. Pray for her continued comfort and ease of treatments, and that she will enjoy every moment and blessing around her.

“Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, if you have faith and DO NOT DOUBT, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe you WILL receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” Mth 21:21-22.

Monday we will be fasting and praying for AA.AA has a really crummy case, too. Six years ago she was diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer called endometrial stromal sarcoma. I think there were only 300 cases then or something. It was Stage 4 upon discovery, but she was miraculously healed. When I was first diagnosed, everyone from church told me about her, as the example of how one could be healed. Well, a tumor recently returned and Dr. Crooms removed it (Dr. McAlpine is her other amazing local doctor, woohoo!). There are no tests and very little treatment for this rare condition. Her youngest daughter is 13 now, and this fear of recurrence is the last thing she needs. The last thing anyone needs. I’m particularly saddened by it because the return can make AA lose confidence that she was ever healed in the first place. She is getting another opinion from MD Anderson next week. They’re obtaining her slides and reviewing them that way, so we don’t know Monday is it. But it’s a good day to petition the Lord, in unity, for her true, final healing. There is some debate about whether it is low or high grade, so she would like us to pray that it is low grade. I will be praying for her confidence and peace as she trust the Lord with her health, and that there is no evidence of any sort of disease in her, forevermore.
An elder from church is also a doctor, and he blogged about AA. All the details are here, ipressontothegoal.blogspot.com/2012_05_01_archive.html

Phil 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

A young lady named JH was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, and felt the Lord guided her away from the traditional treatments. She has no children but desperately wants them, so she had her eggs frozen and recently began a clinical trial for a non-chemo drug. She is having a CT scan on July 26. I don’t know what day she’ll get the results so that’s the day I’ll be praying especially hard.

James 5:14-16, “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has GREAT POWER as it is working.”

Please pray that all these women will have supernatural peace and belief that God is in control. Pray they will boldly push aside any doubts that they will be healed, and instead embrace the opportunity to be a part of His glorious plan–a plan that involves their true hope, full healing, and awareness of His glory. Pray they will live as though they have already been healed, the way Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. Pray they will persevere in the face of odds, and they would be protected from the evil one who comes to destroy them. Pray this experience will strengthen, rather than ruin them, mentally and physically.

There are three other cases to pray about, but I don’t know what they have coming up so I’ll wait to post them. For the most part, I don’t think it matters when you pray for someone, but if we’re joining together for the common purpose it feels right to do it at the same time. “For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them” Mth 18:20

Whenever I set aside specific times or days to praying for something like that, I fast from food and entertainment when possible. Once in awhile fasting from food makes me very sick, so I take that as a sign to eat. The idea is to stay as focused as possible on the thing you’re praying about. Also, when the disciples couldn’t drive out a certain demon, some Bible translations say Jesus replied, “this kind can only come out by prayer and fasting.”. Some versions don’t say the fasting part, so I imagine there’s controversy in the original Arameic term. But, I figure we are called to fast at times, and if there is a chance that some situations are dire enough to require fasting, it wouldn’t hurt. When I give up a lot of things like that I’m also more attuned to what God wants, so I pray more in synch with Him.

“When you fast, do not look somber like the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” Mth 6:16

50 States

Well, I tried to find an interactive map to keep on here and mark off the states where there are people praying for us, but it was easier said than done. However, I have been so moved by hearing about all the prayer chains and lists we’re on that I really want to track it. Our goal will be to have at least one person in every state praying for us, so that when God heals me we can spread the good news back out and the entire land will hear of His glorious deeds!

We would really appreciate you asking people in various states to pray, and tracking who they are to make sure they rejoice along with us later. Hopefully we can get at least 5 people in each state praying, in case priorities change over time. Anyway, please let Yaacov, me, or Susan know if you secure prayer in a new state so we can track it (commenting on this page works best, but any other method is great too). The states I am certain of right now are: FL, AL, AZ, GA, MI, OH, NY (and Guatemala).