Is there a great opportunity for you?

 

JOY HUNT
Finding joy when all is lost

My life was ransacked. The thief snuck in and stole nearly everything I held dear. I thought the locks were dead bolted, but open closet doors were clear evidence of the break-in and plundering. All the drawers were emptied and my most precious possessions were gone. If the security alarm went off, I never heard it and by the time I inspected the damage, it was permanent.

John 10:10, The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. ESV

Abundant life, yeah I know about that. In fact, I had a Facebook life. Not a perfect life, mind you, but plenty of material to make you think so with pictures from travels, adventures and celebrations. The problem with having it all is you don’t need God, or anyone else for that matter.

Mark 10:23, “Looking at his disciples, Jesus said, ‘Do you have any idea how difficult it is for people who ‘have it all’ to enter God’s kingdom?'” MSG

TOTAL LOSS

Nothing compares to the feel of a newborn baby’s feet except the look in the mother’s eyes. I delivered my last baby long before I was ready to give up long hours and all-nighters. My career as an obstetrican/gynecologist was satisfying, fulfilling and rewarding.

I lost it

Maybe I was a health food nut; maybe I just liked how nutritious food made me feel. Either way, I took care of my body and exercised, although probably a bit excessively. For me, middle age meant toned muscles and endurance.

I lost it

I married my best friend and high school sweetheart over 30 years ago. We raised a couple of wonderful kids and had a pretty wonderful life, until everything changed.

I lost it

Chronic illness destroyed my body, my career and my marriage was collateral damage, but the enemy cannot kill my soul because I am forever secure in my Father’s hands.

I lost what every woman wants and gained what every woman needs

FOUND

I decided to go hunting. Though my dad is an avid hunter, stillness, waiting and hours of quiet never appealed to me. Then I felt the call. Be still and know He is God. Wait patiently for the Lord. I felt called to go hunting, so I did. I went hunting, for joy.

James 1:2, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come our way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.” NLT

OPPORTUNITY

This has been a year of tremendous opportunity for me, an opportunity for great joy. You see, I’ve had troubles of every kind, but I searched for joy like a hidden treasure.

I found it

It wasn’t easy, I searched in unlikely places, looking everywhere, in my highs and my lows. I guess I never realized my trials were an opportunity. Has this been a challenging season for you too? Maybe, just maybe, it is actually a great opportunity. Find joy. It’s worth the hunt.

I found it

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, so if the Spirit lives in me, I ought to harvest a whole crop. The joy of the Lord is my strength and yeah, I need strength: physical, emotional and spiritual. For the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross. Yes my friend, there is joy in pain, if we endure, if we want it, if we trust God’s faithfulness.

I found it

Hunting requires special equipment and skills. Put Christ in the cross-hairs of your scope. Fix your eyes on the author and perfecter of your faith. Be patient and wait on the Lord, then keep waiting. Target practice is essential too, the more faith is exercised, the stronger it becomes. Track joy throughout the word of God. And don’t forget the most essential survival skill – gratitude. Joy fills a grateful heart. If you want to find joy, be thankful.

I found it

In the last three years, I lost nearly everything, but I wouldn’t trade what I found – JOY

I found it

Psalm 63:3, “Because your steadfast love is better than life, I will praise you.” ESV

Everyday I post what joy I’ve found on Twitter (click here to follow me). Joy is my “word” for 2017, so I’m committed to find it 365 ways. You’re welcome to find your own joy and tweet it at me with the hashtag #JoyHunt.

Join me on the #JoyHunt Click To Tweet

Thanks to KMR designs for the graphic

Where is God when I need Him?

A shadow grows above my left shoulder and I can’t breathe. Well I can, but it sounds more like controlled gasping. This is the steepest slope I’ve ever climbed. Not on my road bike, in my life. And I’m suffocating.

Where is God when I need Him?

Though I haven’t been able to exercise in two years, the residual strength in my muscles surprises me. Not to brag, but I was exceptionally fit when I got sick. My above average strength was the reason my doctor’s thought I was faking, or crazy. I’ll admit to being a little crazy, but I hate fake.

Unfinished business

My breaths came in rhythmic, audible draws as I shifted into low gear to decrease the resistance in my chain. This ride was monumental, for both of us. My riding companion was my faithful friend who has seen the inside of my junk drawers. We started this race five years ago, but we didn’t finish because she crashed; then I did.

The creeping brown bruise on the back of my left hand was evidence of the IV infusion I received three days earlier. I still swallow nine pills a day, but despite myasthenia gravis, I pedaled thirty-two miles and finished the race. No way could I have done it without my friend. Besides, my kids wouldn’t have let me anyway.

I’m right here

When the road was flat and open she rode beside me, but on the hills or in the crowd she stayed behind. Even when I didn’t see her shadow over my left shoulder, I knew she was there when I recognized her voice in the crowd. Occasionally if I couldn’t see or hear her, I briefly took my eyes off the road and glanced back. When I didn’t spot her, she reassured me,

I’m right here

The mountain I’m pedaling up now is the biggest challenge I have ever faced. I never imagined gasping for air like this. The top is shrouded in fog and I can’t always see where I’m going. Still I keep pedaling and watch for His presence.

Hebrews 13:5, “…Be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ESV

Where are you, God?

He promises to be there. Sometimes I feel Him by my side and other times He seems to lag back where I can’t see Him. My spiritual eyes are darting for reassurance and when He knows I need it, I hear His voice.

Isaiah 50:21, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.” NIV

I don’t want to walk in it

I would rather coast downhill. THIS, this is the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced. Not to brag, but I would not survive if I didn’t have some spiritual muscle beforehand. You can’t wait until you crash to put on your helmet. You can’t wait until your life turns upside down to get into God’s word.

Please don’t think for an instant my spiritual muscle is built by my own strength, I’m talking about:

The word of God hidden in my heart

The truth stored in my marrow

The history and milestones I have with my Savior

I trust Him. He has always been faithful.

Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.” HCSB

I am surrounded by friends who are cheering me on. God gives me strength to do what I’m called to do –

I’ll finish the race

2 Timothy 4:6, “You take over. I’m about to die, my life an offering on God’s altar. This is the only race worth running.” MSG

Thanks for sharing the ride of my life with me. My thoughts, words and heart are in pieces sometimes. I included lots of links in this post to help you see the landmarks I’ve passed. When you have time, I hope you’ll click on the bolded, underlined phrases for the rest of the story.

Stop trying to be a one-woman team

This problem parked itself in the middle of my life and refused to budge. Callouses covered my knees, pages of my Bible hung by slivers and my supply of index cards was bigger than Staples. My stomach rumbled from fasting and recording prayers drained ink from my pen. I collected enough advice to write my own book .

It’s never enough

I’m a one-woman ball team: up to bat, snag my own line drive, throw the ball to myself to make the out. Dust billows as I slide into the plate, single-handedly covering all the bases.

Still, I haven’t scored a single run

“I am tired coach, can you put me on the bench?”

I can’t control anything; I can’t even control myself. I beg God,

Deliver me
Help me
Change others
Solve my problems
Heal my diseases

Wait!

I forgot.

Who’s on first?

Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be provided for you.” HCSB

Maybe I only need to cover home plate.

His kingdom…

Mostly, I cry out to God about my own disheveled kingdom. Don’t get me wrong, my problems aren’t trivial; likely neither are yours, but the outcome doesn’t depend on my effort.

God whispered to my heart,

That’s enough

Actually, He is enough

You and I are not God, so stop it

Stop trying to be a one-woman show

Psalm 62:1-2, “God, the one and only-I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I need comes from him, so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, an impregnable castle: I’m set for life.” MSG

On Christ the solid rock I stand

All other ground is sinking sand

God won’t let me take one step off of the solid rock. He won’t even let me stick my big toe into the surrounding sand. He alone is able to meet my needs.

You can trust God with the outcome of your kingdom and His because He can handle it. Our position is to love Him with our whole heart. When Jesus Christ is our foundation there is unexplainable peace, in spite of it all.

Seek Him first…

God’s Word is full of promises, but let’s face it, a happy ending to every problem isn’t one of them. Thankfully, we are never separated from the love of Christ, even when life spins out of control, the cancer comes back, the diagnosis is confirmed, the pink slip is delivered, the divorce is final, the money isn’t enough or the death certificate is signed. God is still God, He is still on His throne and His love never fails.

Romans 8:35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” NIV

It’s game-over when God’s sufficient love is truly better than life. Nothing else matters; not your circumstances, not the outcome and not your kingdom or mine.

Psalm 63:3, “Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you!” NLT

Quit running yourself ragged

Peace rules when the glove comes off; so I quit. No, I won’t quit reading my Bible, praying or clinging to scripture. I’ll quit fighting for myself and my kingdom, because God says seek Him and He will fight for me. Are you exhausted from trying to fix it all? Maybe you need to quit too.

I was never enough anyway

My problem is still parked in the middle of my life, but God said He’s enough, and He is. Now I’ll spend more time praying, reading and worshiping, but I’ll be refreshed rather than depleted. What about that problem parked in your life? God can handle it, but you may have to get out of the way..

Besides, there’s no such thing as a one-woman team 

By the way guys, there’s no such thing as a one-man team either.

Looks like my number is up

Looks like my number is up

I was wrecked. Hot tears flowed from my eyes and lava oozed up from the cracks in my soul. I should have let the call go to voicemail. Gulping for a breath between sobs, I answered the phone anyway. Probably not a good idea; people are not used to seeing me like this. Normally, I am the cheerleader giving a pep talk. It’s not like my mind to wander to such dark places. But after all I have been through, I simply cannot imagine going backward.

At least I had sense enough to cancel my radio broadcast. It surely wouldn’t do to sniffle on the air, although when I did eventually record, my co-host barked several times.

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When you are hanging on by a thread

 

My Right Side Up Life (1)What are you about to lose if something or someone doesn’t change?

  • Marriage?
  • Job?
  • Wayward child?
  • Aging parent?
  • Freedom?
  • Health?
  • Faith?
  • Hope?
  • Life?

HANG ON

Trying to keep faith. Wanting to believe God is enough. Praying gut-wrenching prayers and claiming all the verses that promise results. It’s tiresome.

I don’t have a problem believing. The waiting, oh the waiting, is the hard part.

Romans 8:24-25, “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. ” NIV

THE END OF THE ROPE

Really, it is the not the end of the rope, it is the end of self. How will I know God is enough unless He is all I have? Perhaps that is precisely why it’s necessary to lose our lives in order to save them. Because of my insufficiency, I see His sufficiency more clearly.

Often I pray, “Be with me God.” Everything else is loss. Knowing God and His presence makes everything else seem like garbage. Everything. His love really is better than life.

So it’s worth this hanging on.

Hanging on for dear life.

Hanging by a thread.

Philippians 3:8, “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” ESV

SCARLET THREAD

A strand of three cords is not easily broken. So hold tight to your marriage, fight for your kid, cradle your parent’s hand gently, struggle for your sobriety with everything in you, push for your health and never give up hope, faith or life.

When you can’t hold on anymore, reach for the hand with a firm grip and let Him hold onto you.

When you can't hang on to Jesus, let Him hold on to you. #faith #rtp Click To Tweet

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held ~ Casting Crowns

Psalm 63: 8, “I hold on to you for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post.” MSG

CLINGING TO HOPE

The effort to hold what is dear is a paradox. Holding on with both hands doesn’t leave a free hand to hold onto Christ. So holding actually requires letting go. Be assured, He will hold on to you. His arm is strong and mighty.

Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ESV

HE OFFERS PEACE IN THE STORM

The boys in the furnace found it.

Daniel 3:17, “The God we serve is able to deliver us….But even if He doesn’t…” NIV

Job found it.

Job 13:15, “Even if He kills me, I will hope in Him” HCSB

 I found it. 

2 Corinthians 12:7,9, “I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness” MSG

Can you?

FOOL PROOF SECRET TO SUCCESS

There is a secret. A prayer that never fails.

Not the turmoil prayer. You know, the one that goes something like,

“Please God do such and such or please don’t let this or that happen.”

Admit it, we all pray them. It’s a tug-of-war: my way vs God’s way. Problem is, I don’t know the end of the story.

He does.

Want peace?

Pray this,

“Whatever Lord.”

That’s it. Works every time. Perfect peace trusting His perfect heart and His perfect plan. It’s fool proof. Thy will be done. Wait, do not misunderstand. This is the hardest prayer you will ever pray. You will come away bruised and bloody. When Jacob wrestled with God, he limped away with a dislocated hip.

He will wound you…

Hosea 6:1, “Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, and He will heal us; He has wounded us, and He will bind up our wounds.” HCSB

But you don’t know the end of the story…

You never know who is hanging on by a thread. I’d love for you to share this.

While you were praying, I was putting

While you were praying

 

It’s not funny.

Oh I attempted a little humor, but really, it’s not funny.

All the way around it was an epic fail.

 

On Christmas Eve, I had a tingly itch on my back. When I scratched, my fingernails felt like a hot razor on my skin. Then I felt a linear ridge where two weeks of pain were attributed to an injured rib from an eye-bulging, incessant cough with no identifiable cause which had plagued me for eight weeks. I lifted my shirt and looked in the mirror to see reindeer tracks on my side. See that’s a joke, but since I am obviously terrible at jokes let me explain. As a consequence of taking powerful immunosuppressants to control my disease, I developed shingles.

I thought of a clever play on words (in case you didn’t know I like words) so I posted on my  Facebook wall,

My new favorite Christmas song is Shingle bells Shingle bells.

I was trying to be funny and the pain wasn’t too bad

It was a rare December day with phenomenal weather; abundant sunshine, little wind and record-breaking, seventy degree temperatures. I must have gotten the super juice with my last IVIG infusion because myasthenia gravis was behaving quiet nicely too. As an added bonus, my son was home from college. Life was good. So after I posted, I headed to the golf course and managed to play four holes.

Meanwhile replies to my Facebook post blew up. As I read them I envisioned a community wide prayer vigil cranking up.

And I was on the golf course

1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.” KJV

Apparently my post evoked visions of me writhing in pain, valiantly trying to keep my chin up and encourage others with my, albeit limited, wit. Realizing I mislead people, I attempted to paint a clearer picture, so I posted a silly update,

Well after further testing it appears I was actually run over by a reindeer in my sleep.

I expected all manner of comments about drinking eggnog or vermin in my yard. Nope, people were still praying for me. Honestly, the pain was not intense. Tendonitis in my elbow, migraines and a ruptured disc in my neck caused far greater suffering. Only a few people recognized my flailing effort at hilarity and one suggested Rashing through the Snow, as an alternative to Shingle Bells.

Then it got ugly

It was an ambush. Either someone whacked me in the back with a sledgehammer or the virus viciously invaded my spine. My valor quickly turned to whimpering and suddenly I would have traded shingles for ten migraines. Maybe I deserved it; probably so. Prayers, uh yeah, I desperately needed them now. The curtains closed on my satirical routine. Since I am a lousy comedienne anyway, I suppose I will stick to more serious matters. I should have known years ago when I offered to draw my kids a map to the dishwasher and they told me, “Sarcasm does not become you.”

That’s too bad. Occasionally I like it

Forgive the hint of snarkiness, admittedly my sense of humor is a little warped and my posts aren’t always taken the way I intended. Sometimes I am teasing and taken too seriously. So to set the record straight, I do not have cancer, I do have shingles. The prognosis is good, however my funny bone is terminally ill. Sorry, I’ve got to stop. If it’s any consolation, my golf game was terrible. A foreboding discomfort in my back affected my swing. I guess I probably deserved that too.

Please pray for me

In all seriousness, I truly covet your prayers. I had no idea how much I needed them. Your prayers and encouragement mean the world to me. Please keep praying for me. Pray for my strength. Pray the words of my mouth would be pleasing to the Lord. Pray for world peace  and pray for your lost neighbor. But don’t worry about a few red bumps, I’m trying to laugh it off.

Colossians 4:4, “Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.” NIV

Humor me and laugh. Don’t take life, or me, too seriously.

And next time, you play and I’ll pray for you

Deal?

Philippians 1:4, “Always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer.” HCSB

If you have a specific prayer request, email me privately: vickie@vickiepetzhenderson.com. I am dedicating January to pray for you.

Praying for you with joy #Phil1:4 #prayhard Click To Tweet

I expected my orange to be orange

I expected my orange

I’ve never been afraid to kill a plant. Let’s just say there have been many botanical casualties under my watch, or lack thereof. The plant-loving workers at the greenhouse probably cried whenever I left with my selections, knowing the move to my house was likely terminal. While strolling through the greenhouse looking for my next victim, I stopped abruptly and cranked my head around to identify the source of an intoxicating scent. Inhaling deeply I honed in on a skinny tree vaguely labeled “citrus tree.”  Unsure if a tropical tree could even grow in Arkansas, I loaded it up and took it home.

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