Monthly Archives: November 2010

Mia’s Miracle Part 2 – A Silver Lining!

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “every cloud has a silver lining” and I’m sure you’ve probably had your own share of clouds. Over the past years, I’ve learned that when the clouds come, it’s critical to control our thoughts and our speech. There is incredible power in our words and if we act and speak optimistically, even amidst the darkest clouds – we will find the silver lining.

“Your love is faithful, Lord, and even the clouds in the sky can depend on you.” Psalm 36:5 (CEV)

As you read in Mia’s Miracle entry, God has been incredibly faithful to my family. That’s because He specializes in taking the darkest clouds in our lives and then He gently filters His light through every aspect of them to dispel the darkness and fulfill His purposes! What man intended to be the destruction of Joseph, God intended to save an entire nation. When cancer threatened my granddaughter, God had a plan to show my family just how important it is to get God’s Word to thousands of children – not just Mia.

It is no wonder that two years after Mia’s illness, when the Canadian Bible Society approached my husband and me to create something that would be Bible engagement for kids, we accepted the challenge wholeheartedly. We had already seen first-hand what the Scriptures could do in the life of a child, and we were eager to create something where other children could be influenced by God’s Word.

Because they are passionate about getting God’s Word to the next generation, CBS initiated the online world of YAHERO – where more than 6,000 children have already visited as virtual Bible explorers. To date, more than two million dollars have been invested into this project and for two years we have worked alongside a team to create this world where kids can play safely online and become engaged with the Bible in a format they already love and understand. Let’s face it – we parents are the digital immigrants – children are naturals in this online environment and so there needs to be a Christian alternative.

YAHERO www.yahero.com is reproducing the truths that God wants established firmly in children’s hearts and we’re using Scripture to do it! We know from our own experiences that children are alive spiritually, humble, sensitive, teachable, trusting and naturally faith-filled.

My husband Dale and I feel blessed to have been used by God to create the first Bible-based online virtual world for kids. God has an amazing way of weaving the paths of his children together to accomplish His purposes on the earth and we are thrilled to be partnering with ministries and organizations like The Canadian Bible Society, the PAOC, Faith at Home, Winning Kids, FaithLife Financial, the Assemblies of God, Tyndale House Publishers and others to get God’s Word to kids.

Here are some things that you can do to help YAHERO:

  • Check it out and share it with all the kids in your life www.yahero.com visit the resource section to see our videos etc.
  • Write to info@yahero.com to request Free Trial Scratch Cards for your friends and your church
  • Pray for all of the current Yaheroes and all those that are still to come – that they will become engaged with God’s Word while having incredible fun
  • Pray for the YAHERO team that God will give us creativity to create exciting quests and games for kids and that He will bless the work of our hands
  • Check out the ministry and awesome resources from Mark and Maria Holmen www.faithathome.com who are passionate about sharing YAHERO and the principles of Deuteronomy 6 with families

“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (NIV)

In closing, let me share a sweet moment with you…

As you begin to know me better, you will see that my journey has not always been gentle. But you will also see clearly that I have never walked alone. The creator of the universe, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the One who is mighty to save has been with me every step of the way – dispelling clouds and uncovering silver linings.

A few nights ago I heard a little voice calling from downstairs, “Mam-ma, Mam-ma (rhymes with Grandma), will you come and lie down with me – Olivia’s sleeping and I need you.” (My daughter and her family are living with us for six months until their house is built) I peeked my head into the room and gently pulled back the covers, crawled in and wrapped my arms around darling Mia – our little miracle. I told her how precious she is and how much Jesus and Mam-ma love her. I told her that God has such a wonderful plan for her life and then together we thanked Him for making her “all better”. I rubbed her back and I prayed that every cell in her body would flourish with health forever and then she asked me to quote her “hospital” Psalm, which is 121, and so we said it together. Then, as if remembering the nights when we snuggled on a cot in a hospital room, she asked me to sing the “Mam-ma song” a fun little ditty that I made up:) As I sang, she snuggled in as close as she could get and peacefully drifted off to sleep – and once again I was enveloped by the silver lining!

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Mia’s Miracle…

Okay – buckle up because this is a long one! There is just no good way for me to give you the short version☺ For those of you who have either already heard this story or actually walked on this journey with me, I’m sorry but you are going to hear it again.   I will never cease to praise Him and I must share the story with those who have not yet heard.

I have learned that God’s Word is life’s most powerful anchor. It comes to us from the one who gives life and makes our lives meaningful. His Word speaks deeply into our souls and it is what sustains us during life’s most difficult moments.

In 2006, my family found itself stranded somewhere between faith and despair. At 17 months of age, my granddaughter Mia was diagnosed with a stage 4 cancer called neuroblastoma. This cancer affects approximately 65 children per year in North America. Within days we could see the result of large tumors pressing on her eyes and face and we were terrified.

I’ll never forget the day when my 22-year-old daughter and I met with the chief oncologist at McMaster Children’s Hospital for the prognosis report.  He used words like, widespread metastasized disease, lesions from the top of her head to the bottom of her feet, the cancer was in her bone marrow – it was everywhere. He said the pathology report indicated only a 10% chance that this cancer would even respond to treatment and then he told us that we should prepare ourselves because she probably would not see her second birthday.

I admit that as I hugged my weeping daughter, I felt defeated; this Doctor had just told us that there was virtually no hope for Mia to recover. But then God’s spirit welled up inside of me and I said, “Dr. Barr you do all that you can medically, and we’re going to trust God for a miracle.” He shook his head and said, “Oh Grandma, this is a pediatric oncology floor, everyone in here wants a miracle.”

I knew in that moment, that this was just the beginning of a battle where we could either cower in fear or stand firm in faith. I remembered two other things that day. One is a magnet on my fridge that says, “Women are like tea bags – you never really know how strong they are until they get into hot water.” Well, we were in some hot water and with the help of our God; we were about to learn just how strong we could become.

The other thing I remembered was the Bible story of a young shepherd boy named David who faced a giant named Goliath. David trusted that that the battle was the Lord’s and he stood firm in faith – knowing that God would deliver Israel. For the next 14 months of in-hospital treatment, my daughter, son-in-law and our entire family banded together to face a giant called cancer and we too stood firm in faith.

Bravery beads are given to oncology patients throughout North America for every needle poke, surgery, blood transfusion etc. In 2006, Mia gathered enough Bravery beads to fill five long necklaces.
• 134 beads represent blood transfusions
• 6 beads represent chemotherapy treatments
• 12 beads represent radiation treatments
• 1 silver bead represents a stem cell transplant at Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital

It was in the darkest moments that we found our strength in God and in the fact that hundreds of people were accepting the burden to pray fervently for Mia’s Miracle.

During that time, we spent countless hours pouring God’s Word into Mia’s young heart. My cousin gave me a CD of a man reading Scripture and when Mia could hardly speak, she would point to the CD player and say, “man” We quickly realized that she preferred the “man” reading Scripture to other children’s CD’s that we had been playing for her and we began to play the “man” night and day.

We watched as God’s Word literally fed her spirit and miracles began to happen. Little by little tumors began to disappear, her surgeon was able to get the entire primary tumor out of her abdomen, the stem cells they infused into her system created new bone marrow, and she didn’t lose her hearing and her sight as they warned us she could.

Today, Mia is six years old and in grade one. I’m thrilled to tell you that she is completely free from cancer (Thank you JESUS!). Her oncologists say there is no medical explanation and they continue to be amazed every 6 months when her tests come back clear.

Yes, she is still listening to the “man” reading Scripture to her at bedtime and she is a living testimony to what God can do when we stand firm in faith – not just believing what we can see, but knowing what we believe about God and the amazing promises found in His Word.

I’d love to hear from you! If there’s a time in your life where God has intervened in a miraculous way – share your journey and inspire others in the process!

Part two of Mia’s Miracle – A Silver Lining will follow on Monday.


Back to Basics…

Before posting this entry, I was hoping to have found a photo I remember seeing of me as a 4-year-old in my jammies – kneeling to pray. My dear mother has been searching for the elusive photo all day to no avail, so I’ve decided to fly without it – you get the picture:)

As a little girl, I actually remember kneeling to pray every night. But then as I got a little older, my Mom or Dad would come into my room to tuck me in and we’d just pray while I was lying down. I don’t know why the kneeling stopped – it just did.

I didn’t pray less and I’m not inferring that He heard less because I wasn’t on my knees. However, 43 years later, His still small voice has told me to get back on my knees by the side of my bed morning and night – and the results have been amazing.

  • I have more energy even though I’m getting up earlier
  • My prayers seem more fervent and heartfelt – I’m going boldly to His throne of grace and bowing humbly and I tell Him this every time we meet
  • I am encouraged in my spirit – and lately I’ve had reason to feel discouraged
  • My heart feels tender and my attitude is sweeter
  • I am more excited about serving others – I tend to be a server but now I long to go the extra mile

I can’t explain it and I really don’t feel compelled to try. I will only guess that it has something to do with my posture before God. I’m not suggesting that He hears my prayers better if I kneel – only that something seems to happen when I posture myself before Him humbly. Maybe it’s more about the posture of my heart but nonetheless, it hasn’t hurt me to be back on my knees!

Or possibly this is just one of the basics worth revisiting. It’s been good for me and now I wouldn’t miss the time on my knees with Him for anything. But I’m curious to know if this is just something He’s asked me to do, or if it’s something He may be challenging others to do too.

So…ponder this thought and let me know what you think – getting back to the basics may be the best thing we ever do!


Being Her…

In my ladies Bible study, we’ve been studying the Proverbs 31 woman. I’m sure I can’t be the only one who has thought that this woman is an impossible act to follow. In fact, I admit to not really wanting to read that chapter more than once:) But through the study, I’ve learned that if we think like that we don’t stand a chance of growing into what we could be. Think about it, if we can’t follow HER example why would even try to follow Jesus?

There’s no point to being a follower or envisioning what could be, if such great examples discourage us on our journey. So…I’ve decided to adopt a new stance on this Proverbs 31 gal and I am actually trying to imitate her – laughing in the process.

She…

  • Lives life with intent to do good always & influence those around her
  • Is transformed inwardly so it’s natural for her to build up her house
  • Makes good choices automatically – lots of practice
  • Has an eager attitude to go the extra mile
  • Sets the tone in her household & girds herself with discipline
  • Tackles tasks as if she’s doing them for God not for man
  • Speaks life to her family – she’s worthy of their confidence and trust
  • Willingly makes sacrifices so her husband can fulfill his calling
  • Uses creative skills to make financial contributions to her household
  • Has people in her life to help her – she doesn’t accomplish everything alone
  • Sees that God’s vision for her life is attainable

Her in a bathrobe…

It was a normal morning, I got up early, had my prayer time, grabbed a shower and plucked grandson Owen out of his crib in the next room, before he woke up Dale. My daughter and her family are living with us until their house is built in February. So…there are nine of us here – yes, it’s a bit chaotic:)

I hear Sarah getting the girls up, I change Owen’s diaper and he immediately points to his high chair and grunts – typical male:) I give him half a banana and start in on the lunches. He inhales the banana and so I start throwing things on his tray – mostly lunch foods I’m packing. A red pepper stick, a piece of cheese and a cucumber – not really breakfast food but he doesn’t care – he’s hungry!

Then, I remember I have blueberries in the fridge and he loves them, so I go to get them and the container falls – blueberries are all over the kitchen and wobbling into the family room. Just then, Hannah’s cat sees little balls all over the floor and she begins stepping on them and batting them around. Olivia comes up the stairs all ready for school and says, “Mam-ma why did you throw blueberries on the floor?” I sigh and ask her for her help to pick them up. She giggles and starts to re-fill the container. I pause, look at the floor, listen to Owen grunting for more food and I don’t much feel the Proverbs 31 gal.

Okay, I had the discipline to get up and the good intentions to care for my family but the tone in my kitchen was escalating and there were more smashed blueberries on my floor than in Livvy’s container. I clearly had a choice to make. So…I started to laugh – popping blueberries into my mouth faster than Olivia could pick them up. (The 5-second rule gets moved to 60 if you’re at home.) We kept at it and before Sarah got up the stairs, the mess was gone, eggs were scrambled and Owen was finally full.

I share this story to encourage you because even though we are trying – stuff happens. Blueberries spill, kids are always hungry and we must learn to appreciate the opportunities to get back up and try again. Remember, just two short chapters before Proverbs 31, the writer says, “Where there is no vision, the people parish.” (KJV) If we try to live our lives without a vision of what could be, we will always wander and we will always wonder what we would have achieved if we could have been HER.

Guess what girls? We are HER – just in process. The power to choose well, with vision and an eager attitude lies in OUR hands!

Can you share a Proverbs 31 moment gone wrong? Did you try again?


A Band of Mothers…

I’ve been thinking about how we mothers are really a unique group of fearless soldiers – fighting for the well being of our families – trusting God for wisdom and common sense in the process. Then, I remembered a TV mini-series that my husband watched a few years ago called The Band of Brothers. This miniseries detailed the exploits of Easy Company during WWII and it described in detail how the characters faced injury, death, moral, mental and physical hurdles. However, they faced them not alone – but as a band of brothers.

Over the years, a faithful Band of Mothers have poured into my life and probably into yours.  I like to think that together, as a Band of Mothers, we will share the stories, the lessons, the foundational truths and the influence they’ve had in our lives and in the lives of our children.  By doing so, we band together to show our children and grandchildren character born from an overcoming faith. Remember…you don’t have to have birthed a child to have “mothered” someone. Some great “mothering” comes from those who have never had children of their own.

My Band…

Bonnie: My mother – a godly woman who loves the unlovable like no one else I’ve ever met. She rescued hundreds of drug addicts from the streets of Spain and she showed me how to persevere against the odds, to put others first and to love God’s Word.

Earlene: My mother-in-law that now prays with her Savior in heaven. She was an amazing prayer warrior and because of her influence, I am on my knees morning and night talking to my loving Father. I miss her phone calls and her heart-felt prayers.

Penny: My aunt who was really more of an older sister. She taught me to love my kids unconditionally and to start traditions that will live on long after we are gone. i.e. Every year, my kids get a Hallmark Christmas ornament. When they leave home, I get to keep my favorite and we pack up the rest to hang on their trees.  She’s in heaven and I know it’s a better place because she’s there!

I’d love to hear about a mother in your band so please share.

Note: Watch this spot over the next week and you may even see your name – smile.

P.S. It’s a great exercise to make a list of all of the women who have influenced your life over the years and to thank them. What a blessing for them to hear how they’ve touched us!


First…

Ever since I can remember, I have loved the Scripture in Luke 2:19 where, Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. By definition, to ponder is, “To weigh in the mind with thoroughness and care.” Not just casual thoughts, but purposeful moments spent weighing what God envisions for our daily lives and then taking time to mull them over and to do something with them.

While my  journey has not always been gentle, I have never walked alone. My ponderings are all made possible because of my faithful traveling companions.

Without the love of my husband – I would falter
Without the friendship of my children – I would fade
Without the guidance of my parents and my pastors – I would flounder
Without the laughter of girlfriends – I would faint
Without the grace of my Saviour – I would fail

My prayer for you as you ponder life’s moments with me, is one of anticipation for all that God wants to do in our lives. Together, we will trust when we can’t see His hand and we’ll learn that He can touch our hearts like no one else.