A Common Thread

Some things you choose. And things some you don’t.

You can’t choose the family you’re born into. And of course you can’t choose the physical traits that make people notice who you “take after.” The color of your eyes, the shape of your nose, and even the sound of your voice are traits that are passed down from one generation to the next.

Generations woven together by common threads.

A Common Thread - The Joyful Journey

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…And with His Wounds

I had good news this week. My CA-125 is “stable”. After months of uncertainty, we can say with a certain degree of confidence that my cancer–at least for now–is still in remission.

And With His Wounds - The Joyful Journey

Though I am incredibly grateful for this good news, I am also humbled by it. Sometimes it seems that cancer is all around me. I am continually aware of so many people–godly people–who are battling this horrible disease, and who receive very little good news over the course of their battles.

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“One Word” for the New Year

We have this hope...

Over the last week or so, I’ve heard quite a bit of talk about a simple alternative to the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. Instead of a resolution, you’re encouraged to choose one word for your new year. But I’ll get back to that in just a little bit, because thinking about choosing a word for 2014 got me thinking about 2013.

And frankly, 2013 wasn’t my best year.

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Real Life. Real Hope

To say that 2013 was a roller coaster ride for our family would be an understatement.

Last year, on December 10, I went to my doctor because of a symptom that I was concerned about. Three days later, I had surgery and was diagnosed with stage 3A ovarian cancer. Twenty days later, on January 2, I began an 18-week course of chemotherapy. During those 18 weeks I lost about 30 pounds, all my hair, and some of the feeling in my fingers and toes. Nausea and fatigue made doing even the simplest tasks seem difficult. Fear of infection kept me from venturing out of the house. I spent the better part of January-May on the couch. I lost almost 5 months of “normal” life.


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…and therefore I have hope.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes the Lord prepares us in advance for the testing that is yet to come?

And Therefore I Have Hope - The Joyful Journey

There is a truth that I have been pondering for years–decades even–that has recently become more meaningful to me than ever before. It’s not that this truth didn’t mean something to me before. It’s just that during the seasons of life when the Lord was writing the truth on my heart, I didn’t fully grasp my great need. And consequently I didn’t fully appreciate the magnitude of the truth.

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How Not to Say the Wrong Thing

It’s hard. Someone you love is hurting. They’ve lost a loved one. They just found out they have cancer. They’ve lost their job. The circumstances don’t really matter, but the advice is the same. Think before you talk.

It seems like common sense really. But unfortunately, we don’t always exercise common sense when we are talking with someone who’s hurting. The fact is, some of us talk too much and listen too little. We talk when we get nervous…and I think hurting people make us nervous. So we talk. And when we talk, sometimes we say dumb things.

I heard a classic example of this tonight while Jim and I were on a date, eating our picnic dinner and waiting for the band to play. An older gentleman sitting behind us was talking about the funeral of his 90-something year old mother. Yes, I was eavesdropping. Anyway, he shared that at his mother’s funeral, someone “comforted” him with these words.

“It’ll be okay. You probably won’t miss her that much since she was so old.”

That is NOT comfort. That IS just plain stupid. Kind of like Job’s friends, this particular friend would have been better off keeping silent.

Tonight before the concert, Jim and I attended the wake of a 25-year-old man who was killed in a motorcycle accident. I felt at a total loss as I hugged his mom, his aunt, and his grandmother.  I couldn’t imagine their grief. It would have been silly of me to offer some kind of wisdom at a time such as this. They need to know people love them. And are praying for them. Words of wisdom can wait.

During my own battle with cancer, I was most thankful for those who offered the wisdom of scripture and the comfort of music. Some folks said very little. They just assured me they were praying. That was perhaps the greatest encouragement of all. So few words. Yet, so much comfort.

I read an article today that offered some great advice on helping a hurting friend. And how NOT to. If you have ever wanted to offer comfort and wondered what to say–or what NOT to–you will appreciate the wisdom here.

If you want to learn the lesson of “Comfort In, Dump Out”…read on.

“When Susan had breast cancer, we heard a lot of lame remarks, but our favorite came from one of Susan’s colleagues. She wanted, she needed, to visit Susan after the surgery, but Susan didn’t feel like having visitors, and she said so. Her colleague’s response? “This isn’t just about you.”…(keep reading)


Some Advertising Wisdom from Yesteryear

In today’s culture it can be much worse to allow your children to watch advertisements than to allow them to view the programming the ads accompany.  The same is typically true of advertisements in magazines, on billboards, and on the internet.  Not only are today’s ads often R-rated (or worse,) they are usually presented without integrity.  We’re never sure whether we can trust the line that the advertiser would have us buy!  It all makes us look back with nostalgia at the “good 0l’ days” when you could trust advertisers to provide you with trust-worthy information in a clean, non-offensive way.  Right?

Have you voted for my blogging partner, Arby, yet today. He’s a finalist in the Homeschool Dads category on the Homeschool Social Media Awards being hosted by Alpha Omega Publications. Arby and I are the writers over at The Homeschool Apologist. If you haven’t voted yet, head over and vote now! And don’t forget, you can vote for all your favorites once each day!!

Lions and Tigers and Blog Awards, Oh My….

Yesterday was the start of the “finals” of the Homeschool Social Media Awards hosted by Alpha Omega Publications.  For the last several weeks, bloggers and social media types from within the Christian homeschool community nominated their favorite bloggers.  Yesterday, the nominees were announced and the finalists were revealed.  The voting phase has begun.

I’ve been blogging for 4 years.  I’ve had 3 different blogs.  And probably a total of about 55 readers.  Well, that may be a slight under-exaggeration, but you get the point.  I don’t have a big following.  But that’s okay.  At least it is now.

But there have been times over the last four years that I allowed my blogging to define who I was.  I lived for the comments.  I lived for the stats.  And trust me, when you don’t have a big blog, that can be a bit of an ego slam.

How many people read that post?

Why didn’t they comment?

Didn’t they like it?

Maybe I should just quit.  

Here’s the thing.  I love to write.  I love homeschooling and I love to talk about it.  And when I started blogging, that was enough.  But I didn’t realize at the time what I was getting myself into.  I didn’t realize that I was joining a community of sorts.  I didn’t realize that, in a way, this community could be a bit like junior high with its ability to make me feel invisible just because I didn’t have Gloria Vanderbilt jeans or a Dorothy Hamill haircut.   Suddenly the need to feel noticed trumped the simple joy of just doing what I loved.

Visiting other blogs became a struggle.  I would see AMAZING blogs with gorgeous photography, TONS of comments and hundreds of followers.  And I’d feel inadequate.

And, oh dear, blog awards were a struggle.  A blogger with 55 followers typically doesn’t get nominated for many awards.  But I would graciously visit all those nominated blogs trying to choose someone to vote for.  But rather then learn from them or be encouraged by what the nominated bloggers had to say, all I could see was my own blog…with all its perceived inadequacies.

During that time, blogging became a burden.  I wasn’t writing because I loved it. I was writing because I wanted other people to love it.  And when they didn’t, I felt crushed.  I lost my joy.  And my purpose.

There’s a little bit of wisdom that someone once shared with me that I had completely lost sight of.  I’ve shared it over and over with my daughters and other folks over the years.  Now I had to listen to my own words.

“If you’re not enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.”

My identity is not found in my blogging.  Or anything earthly or worldly.  Because no matter how big a tower I build in my own strength or wisdom, it will never be enough.  And it’s that way by design.  If my purpose and my joy are not wrapped up in doing all things for HIS glory, joy and contentment will be illusive.  And that’s a good thing.  When joy and contentment are illusive, we are more inclined to cry out to our REAL source of joy.  There will never be feelings of inadequacy over even the smallest of towers that we allow Him to build in our lives.

I don’t know what towers you’re trying to build.  I’ve had to learn this lesson over and over again through the years.  And I know I haven’t learned it for the last time.  In fact, a couple of weeks ago when the blog awards were announced, I found myself having to revisit this lesson!  We are human.  And prone to tower building.

Now, mind you, blog awards are not bad things.  They provide an opportunity to tell a blogger that has touched your heart in some way that you appreciate them. They provide an opportunity to expand the circle of people that you can learn from.  It’s not the awards themselves that are flawed.  It’s our hearts.  If the Lord has used these awards to reveal something to you about your heart, don’t ignore it.  It won’t go away.  He won’t let it.

And for that I am very grateful.

But This I Call to Mind…

…and therefore I have hope.

It’s just a segue…the lead-in to one of the most oft-quoted verses in all of scripture.

“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

It’s no wonder that Lamentations 3:22-23 is such a “popular” verse.  It provides such rich encouragement to the child of God.  It gives assurance.  It reminds us of God’s compassion and His faithfulness.  It comforts.  It fills us with hope.  It’s the stuff of great hymns.

But a few years ago, I was struck by verse 21.  And the little word “but.”

But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.”

That little word and the realization that it signaled the importance of what preceded it, caused me to take a deeper look at the first part of Lamentations 3.  Though by this time, I had heard (and sung) the words of the latter part of Lamentations 3 more times than I could count, it dawned on me that I knew little of what led up to perhaps the greatest words of hope the scriptures had to offer.  I read the deep groanings of a desperate man, God’s man, the prophet Jeremiah.  I was surprised to find a bitter, hopeless man, overwhelmed by pain and despair.

“I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of the LORD’s wrath…”

“He has made my skin and my flesh grow old and has broken my bones.”

“Even when I call out or cry for help, he shuts out my prayer.”

“He pierced my heart with arrows from his quiver.”

“So I say, “My splendor is gone and all that I had hoped from the LORD.”

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.  I well remember them,  and my soul is downcast within me.”

Then, in the midst of the suffering, in the middle of the trial, Jeremiah breathes that word.


Despite all the suffering, and in spite of all the pain, Jeremiah found the strength to remember.  He chose to call something else to mind…something that he knew would bring him hope.

“But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.”

It’s so easy to let our sufferings overwhelm us.  It can be so easy to believe that there is no way out of the despair and the hopelessness.  But God has filled us with the knowledge of His faithfulness and he has given us the ability to choose to remember.  Trusting in his faithfulness is an act of the will.  It’s something we must choose to do.  And like Jeremiah, when we choose to remember his faithfulness in the midst of our struggle, we are filled with hope.

(Many thanks to a dear friend who reminded me yesterday of just how faithful God has been.)