What to Do When You Don’t Like Your Life Season

What Do You Do When You Don't Like Your Life Season? Cry yell scream get depressed? None of those things are going to change things. God tells us in Ecc. 3:1-8 that there's a time for every good and difficult season under heaven but read and discover how God and mentoriing can help you survive this season!

We’ve all heard it said, “There’s a time for everything.” Or “You’re just in a season, it will pass.” In fact, it’s Scriptural—

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”—Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

The good and pleasant seasons sound wonderful and just what God wants for us, right? It’s so easy to think that God couldn’t possibly want what we perceive as a bad or unpleasant season for us. And yet this Scripture passage tells us that God made both, and while we’re alive, we’re going to experience every season—the good and the bad—under heaven.

Pastor Rick Warren often says that life is like a roller coaster: if you’re going up and experiencing a good season, brace yourself because in about three weeks you’ll probably find yourself going down into an unpleasant season, screaming all the way!

We try so hard to hold onto those feel-good seasons, and there’s nothing wrong with that—we should have times of joy, dancing, laughing, loving, and peace. But when the not so good times roll, we need to remember that God has not left us. He’s walking right beside us through the mourning, weeping, uprooting, and war seasons, and that’s when a mentor is so helpful to remind us that she made it through her tough seasons and we will too.

The focus of my book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture has Forgotten is for us to remember how good God has been in all the seasons of our life. God never abandons His children. This is a message we need to share with each other and with the culture, especially during these challenging times we live in today.

Reasons for Not Liking our Life Season

Usually we don’t like our life season because:

It’s painful or uncomfortable.

We’re jealous and like what someone else’s life looks like more than our own life.

We’re living with the consequences of our, or someone else’s, behavior or decisions.

We’re discontent or discouraged.

We’re not sure if God still cares about us.

What would you add to the list?

We all have difficult seasons we want to end. Or maybe we’re in a wonderful season that we never want to end. Many life seasons we have no control over, even though advertisers and the culture would try to make you believe differently. They set us up to fail either way by thinking if we just drink the right cola, take the right pill, own the right car, use the right cosmetics and anti-aging products, eat the right food, reach success . . . every season of our life will be heavenly. The aging clock is going to stop and somehow God made our life to be different from everyone else’s life.

But that’s a lie and those who buy into it will never be content because everything God lists in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is a season that everyone will experience.

What to Do When We Don’t Like Our  Life Season

We probably feel like crying, screaming, maybe yelling, getting depressed, ignoring, or trying to get out of it. If we’re honest, we’ve all been there.

But soon we realize that the only thing that works when we don’t like our life season is to ask God how He wants us to deal with it, and then listen carefully to how the Holy Spirit speaks to us. It’s that still small voice we hear guiding us when we cry out to God. We might not know how to get through the season, but God does. So often He’s talking, but we’re not listening.

Someone on a friend’s Facebook post asked how my Christian friend knew what God wanted. Did he have a direct line to God? I thought, Yes he does! Every Christian has a direct line to God the world doesn’t understand, and one we don’t use nearly enough: praying to Jesus who hears every word and the Holy Spirit who intercedes for us even when all we can do is groan.

For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5

26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

While writing this post, I met a woman whose husband has cancer. As she shared her story, I heard in my mind hug her and pray for her. Mind you, we had just met, and I had already told her I would be praying for her husband and their family since I understood having had breast cancer three times. But as she kept talking, I knew I was to pray for her now. So I said, “Let me pray for you,” and stepped forward to hug her; but she didn’t realize that I meant right then. I knew God meant right then! She needed it and she was so grateful.

I had tried to talk myself out of it, and how many times is God trying to tell us what to do “right then,” but we’re dismissing His words of wisdom to see us through this season and on into the next one. That’s when a mentor can step in and do just what I was able to do for this woman, even though we barely knew each other. Can you imagine how much comfort can come from two women who have a personal mentoring relationship?!

God doesn’t want us going through any season alone, but He also doesn’t want us listening to anyone who isn’t giving us biblical wisdom. That’s why in Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, every season has Scripture to study together that applies to the various issues women might experience in that season.

Being a mentor, or a mentee reaching out to another woman for guidance, doesn’t mean the mentor has all the answers or the Bible memorized. It just means she’s willing to search God’s Word and pray together for Him to tell you both what to do in the life seasons you might not like right now; and then, you both reach out and help someone else going through something similar.

And that’s exactly what Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 tells us we need to do when we’re going through a life season we don’t like!

What to Do When You Don't Like Your Life Season? Find a mentor who has experienced it already and let her support and encourage you. Read some helpful tips on how to survive those unpleasant life seasons.

Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness is available now for order or Kindle or signed by the author.

Author Bio

Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 19 books. Her latest release is Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness.

She is also the author of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; The Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Dear God, He’s Home!; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; Face-to-Face Bible study Series; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.

She is the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries.

Visit Janet and sign up for her Monday Morning blog and online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com

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I Didn’t See This Coming!

I’m back! I’m sure that many of you who are used to receiving my Monday Morning Blog wondered what happened to me the month of April. I’m sorry that I didn’t have time to explain, but I was completely unprepared for the events that knocked me down so fast and hard. I didn’t have any warning myself.

Let me explain. If you’ve followed me for a while, you will remember that on Christmas Day I tripped on a rug and landed head first on a wooden chest. So I started 2017 with 5 staples in my head, a concussion, and a constant ringing in my ears. I wrote about that experience on January 9 in the blog post 8 Reasons to Make 2017 the Year of New Connections, when one of the opening sentences was, “You know how we make our plans but the Lord directs our steps.” And the next week in, What If You Didn’t Get to Say Goodbye I wrote, “I don’t remember ever having an accident like that before.”

I did not see that accident coming or the length of time it would take to recover from the concussion. By February, I had come to terms with the fact that I would probably live the rest of my life with the ringing in my ears as an array of doctors told me there was probably no hope it would ever go away. Many people told me their stories of living with this distraction and all the many cures, but I am an easily distracted person so I knew it wouldn’t be easy for me to overcome, but with the Lord’s help, I will not be shaken.

Then I started feeling bad the beginning of March in a part of my body unrelated to the concussion—my lower stomach, from my navel down. After several weeks, it got worse so I started the round of doctors, ending up at an urologist who did a CT scan revealing I had kidney stones and gallbladder stones, but he was sure my pain was coming from one kidney stone that looked to be lodged in the top of my bladder. He sent me home for the weekend to drink gallons of water and lemonade, but nothing had changed by the time his office called to check with me on Monday, the last Monday in March and the day of my last blog post to you.

Two days later, on Wednesday at 6:30 AM I was being prepped for surgery to remove what we all thought was one stuck kidney stone. I told everyone I would be back in my office Thursday, including my publisher as we were working on the cover for my new book Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Everyone I knew who had ever had kidney stones assured me by Wednesday night I would be feeling great!

Well I wasn’t feeling great. I opened my eyes after surgery and felt twenty times worse! What?! I cried I was so disappointed and one of the nurses said, “Who told you that you were going to feel better?” All my Facebook friends, and I just assumed it would be an easy surgery. Wrong!!!

It turns out I had “dozens” of small stones stuck in both ureters—the tubes that come out of your kidneys. Yes you read right, I had been walking around with dozens of stones!!! So that meant cameras, wires, surgical tools all had invaded both ureters to scrape out the dozens of stones, as well as removing any left in my kidneys. I came home with stints in both ureters, excruciating cramps and pain, and was knocked flat on my back for weeks.

As many of you know I’ve had breast cancer surgery three times, so I am not a wimp and I have a very high threshold for pain, which is how I went so long with all these stones; but I was in agony after this surgery. The recovery has been so much slower than I could have ever expected. There were times when I couldn’t even pray except to groan, which the Bible tells me the Holy Spirit interpreted those groans to God for me.

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Romans 8:26

Analysis of the stones showed the cause was a medication I was taking for a neurological condition, so in the midst of all this, I had to transition off those meds and onto a different one that made me nauseated, dizzy, and knocked me back down again.

So that’s where I’ve been this past month. But I made it back to church today and once we get these medications figured out, I pray the rest of the year will be better.

Points to Ponder

One Sunday morning, I was sobbing in pain and my husband asked what could he ask the church to pray for during their time of “Praise, Prayer, and Share.” The only thing I could say was, “Hope.” But I told him don’t say that or people will think my faith if faltering, but what I meant was hope that I was going to wake up one morning and feel better. I think he asked for prayer that there would be a turn for the better in my recovery.

He came home from church that morning with a gift bag from a sweet woman who serves our church by sending get well cards and gifts when a parishioner is ill. She had no idea of my plea for hope. In the bag was this cup!

Interestingly, the day before surgery I had turned into Crosswalk.com, who I write for regularly, a blog 10 Ways Not to Help a Suffer. Crosswalk posted that blog exactly one week after surgery. The blog talks about things not to do when someone you know is suffering, with the corresponding ten ways to help someone suffering. My church family, small group, and small mountain community were the example of everything to do to help someone. They showed up at the door with meals, sent cards, called faithfully, and prayed continually. As I walked into church today, I was greeted over and over by “It’s so good to see you back and I was praying for you!”

My next article assigned by Crosswalk is “How to Remain Hopeful When the Pain Won’t Stop.” I’ll let you know when that posts because I will share more of what kept me going and hopeful this past month.

Two days after surgery, the copy edits from my publisher arrived for me to review. It would be my last chance to make any changes or corrections and to review the changes their editors had made. When I let the product manager for Mentoring for All Seasons know about the surgery and it would probably be a few weeks before I could look at these, she quickly extended the April 21 deadline to today May 1. During the month, she checked in to see how I was doing, and often I was miserable. She continually sent me prayers along with this sweet graphic.

So while the health issues this year caught me completely by surprise, I know that God is never caught off guard and He sustains me. The word He gave me in both the concussion and the recovery from this surgery is: I will not be shaken.

God willing, I will be back next week. Thank you for those who prayed for me that knew about this, and the many Facebook friends who let me know their prayers and thoughts were with me. I was so blessed to see all of your comments when I felt up to checking in on Facebook. I pray if any of you are suffering, you also know that our hope is in the Lord who never leaves our side.

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Life Without A Bucket List

October Ushers in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

This month marks fourteen years since I was first diagnosed with breast cancer, October 2002. I’d like to say that I had surgery, radiation, took Tamoxifen for five years, and that was the end of it. But that’s not how my story goes. I was diagnosed with a recurrence in October 2008, and again in June 2011 right after we moved to Idaho, and this summer I had a MRI-driven needle biopsy–praise God it was benign. I don’t know why. I only know that God is not through with me yet, and that is why I write, and that is why I speak, and that is why I evangelize and try to mobilize the Christian community to take a stand for Christ and give purpose and meaning to the years the Lord has spared me.

breast-cancer-cover3-252x300

I wrote, Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey after my first diagnosis. It was the book I wished I had going through the battle myself and many women tell me it’s as if the Lord and I are walking right beside them.

Gloria Gaddy, who shares her story in the book, recently wrote to me:

10 Years ago I purchased this book, read it like my Bible, slept with it and prayed every day that God would heal me, He DID !  Now I am breast cancer free no more chemo meds and doing very well.  I might have to pick my book up just to remember how it brought me over.  Every time  someone is attacked with cancer it’s another opportunity for God to show up.

As a gift to my breast cancer sisters, and to any of you who have friends or family with breast cancer, we’re offering a special price for the month of October for Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer at our website shop, and I personalize and sign each book.

You might also find this excerpt from the book helpful for knowing what to say and what not to say to a woman fighting the breast cancer battle. The Top Thirteen Things to Do or Say and NOT to Do or Say to Someone with Breast Cancer

Life Without a Bucket List

Kara Tippetts was a young mother who lost the breast cancer battle, but starting with her diagnosis she wrote openly about her journey in a blog. Now, a year after her passing in March 2015, And It Was Beautiful: Celebrating Life in the Midst of the Long Good-Bye brings a collection of Tippetts’ insights, taken mostly from her popular blog. Great care has been taken by David C Cook’s editorial team to present her thoughts with as few changes as possible in order to capture her distinct voice and unique way of arranging words.
      I thought it would be too hard for me to read And It Was Beautiful, but I couldn’t put it down and got permission from David C Cook to share her chapter on “Choosing a Mentor” in my new book Mentoring for All Seasons.
      In this post, I’m sharing with you the excerpt, “Life Without a Bucket List.” Like Kara, I consider every day of life a fulfilled bucket list, and as I lay my head on the pillow each night my husband Dave prays, “Thank you Lord for another day of life. We don’t take that for granted.”

An excerpt from And It Was Beautiful by Kara Tippetts

© 2016 Kara Tippetts. And It Was Beautiful is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved.

Kara Tippetts 1_Jen Lints Photography

I can confidently say that I don’t live with a long list of things I want to do, see, or complete before I’m done in this place. I carried a dream for years of having a farm. I was in love with all things Wendell Berry. I could picture it, the life of routine created by the land and its rhythms. But beyond that I’ve never longed for having a list and checking things off. I’m happy with my old cars, my simple wardrobe, my lack of fancy things and vacations. Don’t get me wrong, I do love a good concert, but I also love an organic dance party in my kitchen. I love great food, but I also love a hot dog over the fire pit in my backyard. I love a hike in the mountains, but I also love a walk around the block with my people.

Last week, when I heard I may have another long road to travel on this journey, I turned to Jason and cried. I told him how day after day this place is losing its grip on me. Driving down the street this place sometimes feels so slutty, so wanting my money without a care for my heart. Billboards blare at me what to buy, what to think, how to vote. But the tie that binds me here is relationships. Sickness makes those bonds more real, more important. It’s people who grip my heart.

Suffering has a way of exposing our theology, certainly our practical theology, where what we believe about God collides with where we live. My heart always hurts a little when someone hears my story and begins to question God’s goodness. I have found that suffering makes my faith more childlike, more simple. Our ideas of God are not necessarily made bigger or more grandiose through suffering, but they are simplified as we wade through the unknown of what comes next. Last week, in that unknown, I was smooching on Lake and the thought hit me that I won’t be around to help him navigate his first heartbreak. I was in a public place and I nearly lost my footing because of the fear that gripped me in that moment. I looked up and saw my growing girls and was almost suffocated by the thought of who will help them during the awkward years of puberty. Shouldn’t it be me? That’s the way it’s supposed to be, right? Can’t I stay and be here for them when they need me?

The truth is none of us know the length of our lives. So we pray for daily bread and say thank you when it comes. For today I have a little boy who will cross the room to give me a hug. I have a baby girl who gives me ten kisses when I ask for five. I have a preteen who still holds my hand in public, in front of her friends even. I have a second born who loves to tell me every tiny detail of her day. I have a guy who makes coffee just like I like it. A bucket list? No, I don’t need one. I’m so rich. It’s relationships that matter. And for me, paying attention to the precious gift of today is the only thing on my list.

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Kara Tippetts’ life was dramatically changed in 2012 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She shared her journey on her popular blog, www.mundanefaithfulness.com. She was the author of The Hardest Peace and the co-author of Just Show Up. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, is parenting their four children and leading the church they founded in Colorado Springs, CO.

And it was Beautiful

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Remember the special October price for Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide For Women on the Breast Cancer Journey.

Who’s Your Boss?

MRI registration form

Saturday, I woke up dreading the MRI I would be having later in the day. I’ve noticed that every time I have a problem lately, doctors want an MRI. I don’t like closed in places, so going into that MRI tube is one of my least favorite things. I have to take something to relax, put a washcloth over my eyes, and have Christian music playing in the earphones they put on you. And pray a lot and have many people praying.

So hubby and I showed up for my appointment at what was a new hospital to us. I’d usually had tests done through the other hospital in town. I walked up to the registration desk and the receptionist said, “Oh yes here is your paper work right here. We just need you to fill in where highlighted and sign the form.”

Expecting to have to fill out all the usual questions, I was delighted to see most things already typed in, and I just needed to put in a cell phone number and verify my address. And then  . . . I saw it . . . I can only say I took in a deep breath and for a moment just stared at the form.

Next to “Patient’s Employer” these words were typed in caps on the form “AUTHOR/SPEAKER FOR GOD.” I hadn’t previously filled out any paperwork for this facility online, over the phone, or in person; but there it was staring back at me on the hospital form!

Several things quickly crossed my mind as I had an instant flashback of my new book Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, and all the ways I talk about recognizing, remembering, and celebrating our amazing God. The thoughts came in this order, along with a quote from Forsaken God?

  1. I need to take a picture of this form. I never want to forget this!

“Pictures are a great way to remember the attributes of God and his goodness in performing miracles and blessed experiences.”

  1. This was a witness to whoever filled out this form! Where had they got this information? They could have so easily just put Author/Speaker, but they added “For God” and put it all in caps! How did this happen? I need to share this with everyone who asks how the MRI went.

“The God of past miracles is the same God of today’s miracles. His wondrous ways should still command our awe-inspiring respect. Look for miracles in your life and in the world around you. Remember them and tell the spectacular, miraculous stories of God’s goodness over and over!”

  1. Never think something like this is just a coincidence.

God is perpetually at work in a believer’s life, whether or not we recognize him. I firmly believe there are no coincidences, only God-incidences and divine appointments. When I hear people speak of serendipity, I kindly reply that was God, not karma or chance.”

  1. God is making me aware of His presence. He wants me to know He will be with me and comfort me in that MRI tube.

“God shows his presence in memorable ways to us too, but how well do we recognize him? We’re always in his presence, “The Lord is with you when you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you” (2 Chron. 15:2).”

  1. You can be a bold witness for God in everything you do and say, even on a medical form!

“People say I’m bold about my faith and it surprises me that’s considered an unusual trait … because shouldn’t every Christian be bold? Our faith isn’t a secret to hide; it’s the answer to the world’s woes. Unfortunately, Christians often worry more about offending the world than offending God. Bold doesn’t mean obnoxious. It simply means not being afraid to speak the truth, even in the face of adversity: “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Cor. 3:12).”

Who would do that? Who did that? Only God knows. I always fill out forms, or when asked, my occupation: “Christian author/speaker.” When asked the name of my business: “About His Work Ministries.” And when asked who is my employer I write, “The Lord” or “God.” Somewhere in the Boise medical system, I had used these terms on previous forms and this facility arrived at SPEAKER/AUTHOR FOR GOD. I’ve never phrased it that way, but I think I will now!

The receptionist told me to carry the form with me everywhere I went that day! You can be sure I did.

A Similar Experience

In Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer, I tell a similar story that happened when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002. The Breast Care Center sent forms to fill out, and for occupation, I had started to write “self-employed,” but I heard the Lord nudge, “Janet, you aren’t actually self-employed. I AM your employer and Boss. After all, your ministry name is About His Work Ministries.” So I did put my employer was “The Lord.”

That form went with me everywhere during my surgery and treatment, and I had so many people letting me know they had the same “Boss” I did. It opened up so many doors of comfort and conversation, and I became best friends with the patient advocate, Grace, who said, “Interesting Employer.” I said, “Yes, is He yours too?” Grace said, “Absolutely,” and we became co-workers for Christ and breast cancer awareness.

Where Does God Want You to Acknowledge Him?

We believers who have given our lives to Christ, should recognize that being a Christian is our identity that surpasses all other life roles.

What do I hope you will take away from this blog post?

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.—2 Timothy 2:15

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.—Romans 1:16

I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.—Philippians 1:20

On a Side Note

If you have read Forsaken God?, I would love to hear how God is using it in your life. Two women from different generations, one a young brand new believer and one a seasoned elderly Christian approached me at church this morning. I share this with you for you to know that wherever you are in your faith, I think you will find this book relevant. Also, as we read more and more about the moral chaos in our culture, you can find peace and conviction in remember the God of the past is also the God of the future.

Here is a post from Facebook today, Sunday May 15:

God truly blessed me this morning. Before church started, a young new believer who is getting baptized this month, came up to me holding Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten and told me, “I can’t put it down!” Then she stood up and told the entire church what a good book it is. I had never met her before today.
After church, a sweet elderly, seasoned Christian woman gave me a hand-written note a portion of which reads: “I have appreciated so much your book “Forsaken God?”. It is full of truth and honor for our God…it is such a sweet savor….”
Thank you Lord that the message of Forsaken God? reaches all generations and for giving me the encouragement I needed today to press on writing the next book.
Forsaken God? speaks to Christians in today’s culture … I hope you will not only read it, but apply what you read…God had me write it for such a time as this! Here’s the link to check it out if God leads you to do so…

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Choosing a Mentor

Kara Tippetts 1_Jen Lints Photography

I was asked to review Kara Tippett’s book, And It Was Beautiful. I knew a little of Kara’s story that she was a young Christian mom of four and author who had lost her battle to breast cancer, but during her valiant fight she blogged her thoughts. Not just about the cancer but what was happening in her life, her thoughts, her struggles, her joys. Being a three-time breast cancer survivor myself, I wondered if it would be too painful for me to read Kara’s book, but it was just the opposite . . . I couldn’t put it down. Yes, it was sad, but her writing seldom made me sad. Instead, I got a chance to meet a very special woman who loved the Lord, her family, her church, and her friends and she left them and us a treasure in her blogs, which were more like having a chat with her.

When I came to the chapter titled “Choosing a Mentor,” I knew I had to share it with you. I received permission to share her words in this blog and in my new book releasing next year: Mentoring for All Seasons: Women Sharing Life’s Experiences and God’s Faithfulness. Enjoy!

Choosing a Mentor

By Kara Tippett

Apart from the Holy Spirit, it has been the mentors in my life who have made the longest-lasting, deepest impact on who I am as a person. Some mentors were women I specifically asked to mentor me. Some were women who opened their lives wide open for me to watch. But both nurtured new strength in me. Here are a few things that have served me well in finding a mentor.

First, do they love their family well and speak with love and admiration of their husbands? Can these be areas of tension and struggle in a family? Yes, but I look to see if their overall desire is to move toward a spouse and children, and not away.

Second, do they speak vulnerably about weakness, or are they more concerned about appearances? I have found this area to be critical. I struggle to share openly with someone who wants to appear they have it all figured out. I look to see if they are willing to speak openly about where God is challenging them, and are open about themselves without bashing others.

Third, and most important, do they seek Jesus in their moments throughout the day, especially the mundane? Do they see their neediness and weakness, and are they able to be wrong and be corrected by Scripture?

When Jason [her husband] was a youth director, we had the privilege of seeing kids who truly loved Jesus. From that observation, we often sought out their parents. We wanted to sit at their feet, eat at their table, and watch how they did it. I love to watch someone discipline with kindness. I love to watch someone including their children in the events of the home. I love watching someone loving their spouse creatively. And I really love to see women involved in community building. You can receive a lot of mentoring just by watching.

Common interests help as well. I have had mamas show me a craft, women who love to write as well as read, ladies who love to garden, build a fire, and cook, and women who just cannot get enough of their Bibles. I often try to enter the life of a person who might be a good fit as a mentor in a place of common joy. I want my mentors to be my friends, as I want to befriend the women I mentor.

Things to be wary of? Be careful of people who like to gossip. Be willing to be flexible. Mentoring relationships take on so many different looks. Sitting down across from one another with Bibles open every week? That’s an awesome model, but it’s certainly not the only one. Look for someone who will promote freedom in Christ, not tie you up in a load of legalism.

Finally, as you search for a safe place, be a safe place in return. God loves seeing us seeking Him together.

An excerpt from And It Was Beautiful by Kara Tippetts bolding added.

© 2016 Kara Tippetts. And It Was Beautiful is published by David C Cook. All rights reserved. Shared with permission.

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Kara Tippetts’ life was dramatically changed in 2012 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer. She shared her journey on her popular blog, www.mundanefaithfulness.com. She was the author of The Hardest Peace and the co-author of Just Show Up. Since her death in March 2015, her husband, Jason, is parenting their four children and leading the church they founded in Colorado Springs, CO.

And it was Beautiful

Why Don’t We Ask for Prayer?

I'm not lucky                                            And How Many People Have Prayed For Me!

The day before my mammogram last week, I realized I hadn’t asked anyone to pray for a good result. This wasn’t just a routine mammogram. I’ve had breast cancer three times in 13 years, so I have a MRI or mammogram every six months, and there have been times when it was every three months. It’s been four years since a mammogram showed cancer, so why was I feeling apprehensive?

What Stops Us Asking for Prayer?

Maybe it was because I have a new book releasing in February that I know Satan is not happy about—Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten. We were under such spiritual attack while I was writing it, what would Satan do next to try and stop me from sharing the message of this timely book?

Maybe after so many mammograms and MRI’s over the past thirteen years, I thought surely, people had tired of praying for these tests. After all, I had been cancer-free for four years. How could I ask . . . again . . . when there was no reason to expect the test not to turn out fine?

Maybe I feared that no one would pray.

Maybe I knew so many people who needed prayer more than I did.

Maybe I didn’t want to draw attention to a health weakness.

Maybe I dreaded the question of why I chose the type of treatment I did. That question plants doubts, instead of comfort.

It’s a Privilege to Pray for Each Other

But in the back of my mind was the nagging thought: I was cancer-free for six years before the second recurrence, and only two years between the second and third round with this dreaded disease. So time passing isn’t reassuring to me.

I wrestled all day with whether or not to ask for prayer. I kept dismissing the thought and then the Holy Spirit would prompt me again. That made me wonder, even more, why was the Holy Spirit so persistent that I ask for prayer? What did He know, that I didn’t know?

Finally, at 10:00 that night, I put this prayer request on Facebook and got ready for bed:

I’m having my 6 mo. diagnostic mammogram tomorrow. I’ve wrestled with the Holy Spirit all day about His prompting me to ask my peeps for prayer for a continued “all clear.” So here I am again….asking you to pray with me that it’s the Lord’s will that I will remain cancer-free. Thank you dear ones who see this. Appointment at 10:30 am MT.

By the time I turned out the light, thirteen night owl Facebook friends had posted that they were praying. Wow! I slept peacefully.

The next morning, 180 “likes” on my prayer request post and over 70 friends had left a message that they were praying for me. Here were some of the comments:

Praying for you, Janet. Never be afraid of asking for prayer from others.

God will bring you reinforcements when you need them.

Don’t wrestle! Just ask! Praying!

God never tires of our repeated requests. May you sense His presence with you.

Don’t know why you wrestled so much, that’s why you have friends in the Body of Christ for support and encouragement. Of course, I will pray NOW!

Thank you for sharing because I would love to ask the Lord for “the all clear”

That’s the reason I’m on Facebook . . . to pray for others.

Yes, people actually thanked me for asking for prayer and giving them the privilege of praying for me! I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of love, caring, concern, and prayer flooding the Holy of Holies on my behalf.

Some FB friends were praying who I don’t know personally, be we’re brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Battle Belongs to the Lord

Looking back, I realize I wasn’t only wrestling with the Holy Spirit. There was a spiritual warfare going on. Yes, the Holy Spirit was prompting me to ask for prayer, but Satan was provoking me with all the reasons I shouldn’t ask for prayer. That battle went on in my head and heart all day long, but praise God, the Holy Spirit prevailed.

I knew that I had done the Lord’s bidding when I was scrolling down Facebook “home” on my phone as we headed the hour and a half to town for the test during a terrible rain and windstorm. I came across a friend who hadn’t read my prayer request, but her post that day was simply Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

I kept that verse on my phone screen all the way to the mammogram, and I knew it was the Holy Spirit’s way of confirming I had won the spiritual battle. The prayers kept pouring in on my phone and I was at peace. I don’t know how the test would have turned out had my friends not flooded the heavens. Did that change the outcome of the test? I won’t know that until I get to heaven, but what I do know is that I will never hesitate to ask for prayers again, and I hope you won’t either.

When the test turned out “all clear,” I posted this message to all my praying faithful’s:

A BIG cyber hug of gratefulness for the many many many peeps who prayed last night and today for my 6 mo. mammogram and ultrasound. If you didn’t see my message on the post…ALL CLEAR and I didn’t have to have the ultrasound.

As many of you know, I’m a 3x breast cancer survivor, the latest 4 yrs ago, so I have of a mammo or MRI every 6 months for the past 13 yrs, and usually it’s no big deal, but this one did seem big. So I can’t stop thanking God and all of you for petitioning Him for me.

You are all amazing and I pray I’m half the friend to you that you are to me. Please let me pray for you sometime too!

PS I celebrated by going wild at my hair appt!!! I have lots of fun red highlights:) Merry Christmas dear friends.

The praises and “likes” for that message started pouring in and filled my heart with gladness and joy!

When I call on JesusSpiritual Inspirations

Asking for Prayer is a Testimony and a Witness

Someone needed to see the body of Christ respond to my public prayer request. It wasn’t just me who needed confirmation that prayer warriors never tire of praying.

Maybe it was you with an “unspoken” prayer request you need to share with someone.

Maybe it was the many who read my Facebook posts and saw the outpouring of prayers.

Maybe it’s someone reading this article.

Only God knows for sure, but often we have not because we ask not. We’re so sure that things are forgone conclusions, that we don’t bother God with prayer…or “bother” our friends.

My dear friends, many of you have prayer requests, right now! Especially at this time of year. Won’t you share them here so I can pray with you and anyone who is reading this blog can lift your request to the most High.

Three times in thirteen years, we prayed the tests would not reveal breast cancer, but three times, they did. But 35+ times we’ve prayed for those same tests, and it was an “all clear.” I’ll take those odds to my knees any day . . . how about you?

Side Note:

I wrote Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey, while recovering from my first occurrence, I had to write a difficult chapter: “It Could Come Back.” Here’s some of what I wrote when I had no idea that, indeed, cancer would return two more times:

Dear God,

Would everybody be there for me again or be burned out on breast cancer and not able to deal with it anymore? Oh Lord, I cannot imagine how lonely that would be. It was so hard the first time; it must be devastating to relive it. In many ways, cancer is like living with a time bomb. You don’t know if it is defused or if it’s ticking away, ready to catch you off guard and blow your life apart again . . . maybe this time actually taking you to a place of no return. I have to admit these thoughts go through my mind at random times.

Lord, I must put my complete faith and trust in You. I will do everything the doctors tell me to do when they tell me to do it . . . no playing games with this . . . and I pray You continue to protect me and restore me to complete health. However, if there should be a recurrence, I also pray my family and friends would rally back around me, and You would give the doctors the same wisdom and insight You did the first time. Let them catch it early again—breast cancer will not win the battle for my life. Confidently Yours, Janet*

God has answered that prayer through two recurrences, and so I encourage you to ask for prayer and keep on praying for those you know in need of prayer.

*Excerpt from Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer

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Breast cancer book

Love Your Body–How Cancer Changed My Diet

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Wow, it’s already the last Monday of the month and that means it’s Love Your Body Monday! Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I reviewed what I wrote in Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer regarding the dietary changes we made after my breast cancer diagnosis, surgery, and radiation:

My husband and I joke that my recovery entailed revamping our entire kitchen! I took great delight in learning about juicing and eating raw and organic, which meant I researched and bought a juicer, smoothie maker, high-speed blender, food processor, toaster oven that dehydrates, special containers for ripening and keeping raw fruits and veggies—just for starters. We no longer used the microwave, so I also bought stainless steel pots and pans, and two sets of dishes that were oven proof for heating up leftovers in the toaster oven. Our kids say, “Mom, every time we come you have a new set of dishes!” I thought to myself, Why not? Who knows how many more sets of dishes I will enjoy in my lifetime?

Next, I had fun researching and comparative shopping in health food stores that carried organic foods. This was quite a project as I did comparative shopping, read labels, and learned my way around. Now instead of dreading shopping, it is exciting and fun. I can hardly wait to try a new healthy recipe or a different way of food preparation.

Breast cancer book

*I emphasized in bold the points I am going to talk about here.

So let’s look at some of the changes I made and why I made them.

I’ve already talked quite a bit about eating organic and reading labels, so I’ll refer you to the previous Love Your Body blogs I wrote for more information. Just type in a topic or Love Your Body into “search this blog” or go to the blog archives and the last Monday of each month features a Love Your Body blog post.

Juicing

Currently the focus seems to be on green smoothies, and they’re great as long as you’re not using high fat/high calorie ingredients. Debbie Alsdorf had a recipe for her Morning Green Smoothie in her 90 Days to Physical Renewal blog.

Here’s a simple explanation of the benefits of juicing:

Most people don’t eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables to provide a substantial amount of vitamins and minerals, but you can obtain the maximum benefits by juicing them. Much of their nutrients are in the fiber, which the body expels. When we juice fruits and vegetables, these nutrients release from the fiber and we are able to drink highly concentrated nutrients, which enter our bloodstream quickly.

Fiber and other foods added to smoothies offer a different kind of nutrition because fiber is essential to health, so be sure to continue eating raw fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains in conjunction with fresh juices to gain the maximum amount of nutritional value from what you eat.

Very few people eat sufficient quantities of raw fruits and vegetables. Juicing provides a quick and easy way to increase your consumption of these foods. I have an Omega juicer which allows me to juice wheat grass. Hope I didn’t lose you there…but wheat grass is an amazing source of nutrients and is delicious juiced with an apple and lemon. Even hubby likes it!

I also drink a “green juice” every morning made of greens like wheat grass, Spirulina, barley grass, and chlorella. You can find organic green juice powders that you mix with water or fruit juice in health food stores. I order mine from Purium Health Products. Drink green juice first thing in the morning on an empty stomach for maximum benefit.

Bountiful Basket Organic

Eating Raw

Cooking fruits and vegetables destroys some of the nutrients and we throw most of the nutrients down the sink when we boil foods. The closer you can eat your food to its natural state, the better. So we eat lots of organic raw fruits and vegetables in salads. I put everything into green salads including all kinds of fruit right along with the tomatoes, mushrooms, and cucumbers! I always get compliments on my salads, which I take to potlucks in case I can’t eat anything else.

If you can’t afford organic, buy a natural veggie wash and wash ALL produce before eating. If you had to pick one item to eat organic, make it strawberries. They are heavily treated with pesticides and absorb it all!

The more plant-based food you eat the better!

We No Longer Use the Microwave

I have not used a microwave for cooking for fourteen years. It’s not because I’m worried about leaking radiation, but just as I mentioned above, heat destroys nutrients and the microwave cooks things at a very high temperature. Also most food products made for the microwave are processed with preservatives.

This was a huge shock to us at first since I actually had two microwaves when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. But my husband unplugged the portable one and put it in the trash and we ignored the built in one. So that meant I had to learn how to cook on top of the stove again. I don’t trust any of the nonstick or Teflon pans, so I use stainless steel pots and pans and a toaster oven for broiling, reheating, and making toast.

I also try not to use plastic storage containers, but switched to glass or Pyrex. These can be sanitized and don’t absorb food or odors and go nicely into the toaster oven or conventional oven. Check out some of your plastic containers—they often are stained or melted from being in the microwave or dishwasher. Toss them and replace with glass.

Snacks and Water

I make my own “trail mix” with a variety of organic raw unsalted nuts. I always start with almonds, cashews, and walnuts, and then I might add pistachios, shelled sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, macadamias, or pecans. Sometimes I add dried unsulphured fruit, but usually it’s just a mixture of nuts which I take with me everywhere and keep on my desk in my office!

If you can’t go raw nuts, Dr. Oz says in his book, You On a Diet, that it’s OK to cook them at 275 deg for 9-12 minutes to roast without damaging the good oils and nutrients. Remember that raw nuts have not been processed so keep any extras in the refrigerator or freezer.

I also always have a stainless steel water bottle with me filled with fresh filtered water. I don’t ever remember in my younger days drinking as much water as I do now, but once you start, you’ll find your body craves it. I have a “Contigo” brand water bottle that keeps ice solid and water cold in the heat of summer. Be sure to clean the tubing and mouthpiece on your bottle regularly because mold accumulates in those areas. I found small bottle brushes to get into those little areas in the infant section of Wall-Mart.

I once had someone at church ask me: What’s in your bottle you always have with you?” She looked a little surprised when I said, “Water.”

You’ll need lots of water when you exercise too. Exercise is so important to any healthy eating regime.

Exercise saying

I hope you’ve all had your annual mammogram this year, and if not, make the appointment. Mammograms have saved my life three times and I do believe that the changes we’ve made in our diet have helped me maintain a healthy active quality of life.

How about you? Are you intrigued by any of the changes we made?

Could you live without your microwave?

Willing to try juicing or green juice?

To read any of the past “Love Your Body” blog posts, just type in Love Your Body in the search bar on the right side of the website or go to the last Monday of each month in the archives.

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Love Your Body with a Healthy Happy Heart

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Love Your Body Like God Loves It

Today is Love Your Body Monday, the last Monday of the month. This weekend ushers in February so I want to share with you a post about heart health since February is National Heart Disease Awareness Month.

You may be unaware that heart disease, not cancer, is the leading cause of death for women. Many of you know that I am a three-time breast cancer survivor, and I’m happy to say that I do have a very healthy heart, which I attribute to healthy eating and exercise. But my dear friend Grace Marestaing, who mentored me through breast cancer and to whom I dedicate my book Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide to Women on the Breast Cancer Journey, died in her sleep from Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) after surviving a double mastectomy and chemotherapy. Grace had no idea she had CHF.

Pamela Christian was only in her 40’s when she miraculously survived sudden cardiac arrest and now devotes her life to increasing awareness to save physical and spiritual lives.

Pamela was working in ministry for over ten years when she literally died before defibrillation revived her. When she speaks about heart disease, Pamela asks her audiences, “What do faith and life insurance have in common?” Then she explains, “Both need to be fully in place before there’s a crisis.” From her own experience, she works to help people grasp the fragility of human life and the reality of life hereafter.

Pamela answers some questions about her near-death experience:

Pamela, you’ve been in ministry for over 20 years, but something happened in your life that greatly intensified your ministry work, tell us about that.

Yes, that “something” was a sudden cardiac arrest. I got up like any other morning, only that day I had the chance to play tennis with three women I’d not played with before. I thought the symptoms were simply a bad case of nerves. However, over the course of about twenty minutes, as my symptoms worsened, it became apparent it was much more than nerves.

You actually died. If it weren’t for the quick response to the 9-1-1- call and the Emergency Medical Professionals who witnessed your sudden cardiac arrest progression, ultimately defibrillating you, you wouldn’t be here today.

That’s exactly right. They documented that my heart completely stopped. I was flat-lined for about one full minute or more and during that time, my soul and spirit entered a different dimension, one that I can’t possibly describe because there are no human words to express the glorious, euphoric dimension. I can only refer to it as the threshold of heaven. I knew I was in the center of God’s sovereign care. I had no sense of any external limits, just that I was in the very center.

There was a white light off in the distance, but it didn’t beckon me. It was incredibly peaceful—again no adequate words to describe the feeling. I was aware that I was a wife and mother and not on earth or with my family, but I knew they were also in God’s sovereign care. So when the paramedics zapped me with the defibrillators, and I could sense being drawn back to my body, I felt agitated that anyone would disturb me. I didn’t want to leave that experience.

You’ve since expanded your ministry to include a heart-disease awareness effort. I love the name “Bless Your Heart.” Tell us a little more about that.

After my experience, I set out to learn more about cardiovascular disease and I learned that it, not cancer, is the leading cause of death for women. Next month is February, national heart-disease awareness month, so I’m grateful for this opportunity to share. Bless Your Heart is an awareness campaign with the slogan, “Helping Women Everywhere, Become Aware,” because with awareness we can save lives. I had no clue that my mild symptoms were the onset of sudden cardiac arrest. For most women, the symptoms are so mild that we dismiss them.

People need to know too, that sudden cardiac arrest is very different from a heart attack. Until recently, sudden cardiac arrest was sudden cardiac death—no one survived. Now with the increased accessibility of defibrillators, about 5% of witnessed victims who receive defibrillation survive.

You’ve written a power-packed E-book entitled Bless Your Heart, Your Health and Your Life – A Lifestyle Plan that Puts You in Charge. Briefly tell us about it.

Pamela Christians book

Learning that proper information, diet, and exercise, can prevent many deaths from cardiovascular disease, I had to make the information available. I’m happy to offer a PDF version of my booklet to one of your readers today. It’s available on Kindle and through my website store.

With your near-death experience, most people would slow down, but you’ve increased your ministry work. Why is that?

I know that God created humans with a temporal body, eternal soul, and spirit. When the day comes that we die, our soul and spirit will live on somewhere else. I’ve studied the major world religions and New Age, and I’m confident that the Bible and the Christian faith provide the only reasonable explanation for our existence. Sadly, Christian faith in America is on a steady decline as people succumb to the lie that truth is relative and all roads lead to the same God and heaven.

Having tasted the reality of heaven, I must spend my time helping others discover the only legitimate Truth—only belief in Jesus Christ leads to heaven. That’s why I wrote my first two books in my Faith to Live By book series, Examine Your Faith! Finding Truth in a World of Lies endorsed by Josh McDowell, and released late 2014, and Renew Your Hope! Remedy for Personal Breakthroughs, endorsed by Dr. Charles H. Kraft and others.

The reviews have been exceedingly gratifying. It’s available at all major retailers and on my web site pamelachristianministries.com. My desire is to help many more people discover and live in life-giving truth and it’s eternal hope.

No one wants to live his or her life based on a lie. But, unless we intentionally examine what we believe and why we believe it, we could very easily be deceived and not know it. Unless our hope is firmly rooted in truth, we are without hope.

Since the human soul and spirit are eternal, and what we believe in this life determines our destiny, shouldn’t the single most important quest in life be discovering the Truth?

Thank you Pam for all you do and for sharing your heart with us today.

Warning Signs of Cardiovascular Disease

All women need to be aware of the warning signs of cardiovascular disease and learn how to help save lives. Visit Pamela’s Bless Your Heart Campaign website.

Pamela’s print books are available at all major retailers.

You can hear her amazing story at blessyourheartcampaign.com.

Win a Free Book

Pamela is offering a free PDF version of her booklet Bless Your Heart, Your Health and Your Life – A Lifestyle Plan that Puts You in Charge to one of you!

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If you have received this blog via email, click here to the online blog post. Scroll to the end of the post to the “leave a comment” silver circle on the right and a comment box appears for you to leave your comment.

Pamela Christian

For over twenty years, Pamela Christian has been helping people in matters of faith. Ministry for Pam began as Teaching Director for Community Bible study, followed by speaking at retreats and conferences where invited, coast to coast. Expanding her ministry included hosting live Christian talk-radio in two major markets and work in commercial television. With a certificate in apologetics from Biola University, membership with the International Society of Women in Apologetics and Christian Women in Media, all of Pam’s work is to compassionately help people discover and live in the same life-giving truth that she has been blessed to find. Her fervent interests are faith, family, friends and food, so it is not unusual to find her dotingly planning gatherings and cooking to bring all her passions together. She and her husband live in Orange County, CA, with their two grown children and families living nearby.

Love Your Body–Read Labels

Love your BodyIn February, I announced that the last Monday Morning Blog of the month would be Love Your Body the Way God Loves Your Body. If you haven’t read that post, stop and read it now, or review it before reading further. In that blog, I explained that my first career was as a Registered Dietitian and it saddened me that some people pay more attention to what they put in their cars then what they put in their own precious bodies—God’s temple.

It’s Not All about Genes!

Some of you know that I’m a three-time breast cancer survivor, but otherwise, I’m extremely healthy—as is my husband. Even though both sides of my family struggled with heart disease and diabetes, my annual lab results in all areas are so pristine that my doctor said at my last physical that he could probably stop ordering the blood tests! I said no, I love to see the results of our healthy-lifestyle.

My husband’s father had quadruple bypass heart surgery and died from heart disease too early, and Dave’s mother had numerous health issues related to obesity. However, at 68 my husband’s doctor told him that he was healthier than 98% of the men he saw in his practice. Neither of us take medications, except I take thyroid for hypothyroidism—low thyroid.

I don’t tell you this to brag, but simply to point out that I often hear: “It’s hereditary; I can’t do anything about my condition, so I might as well eat what I want.” That’s a fallacy—Dave and I are healthy proof. Yes, genes do play a role, but knowing what you’re dealing with gives you a head’s up on being proactive rather than feeding into a generational cycle.

How the Thompsons Eat

I have always fed my family healthy foods, but when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I stepped it up a notch. I believe my breast cancer and recurrences are the result of cell damage from X-rays I had during puberty when I wore a body cast for debilitating scoliosis. I had X-rays to my chest throughout puberty and they weren’t as sophisticated as today’s are. After my first breast cancer surgery and radiation in November 2002, I wanted to do everything I could to recover quickly and get back About His Work. So we converted to eating organic and raw.

I’m not obsessive about eating organic, but I buy organic and raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, and some meats. We don’t eat pork or red meat, except for lamb occasionally, but we do eat chicken, turkey, and wild fish. The only oils are organic: olive, grapeseed, and coconut.

On our Love Your Body Mondays, I’ll share more specifics, recipes, cooking ideas, and frugal shopping tips, but I’m going to start with helping you know what you put in your body.

Read Labels

I read every label; if I don’t recognize an ingredient, I don’t buy the item. I avoid soy because of my breast cancer and some soy mimics estrogen in the body. The FDA has allowed the food industry to add soy indiscriminately to much of our food. “Soy lecithin” is one of the most ubiquitous additives in our food supply. It’s used primarily as an emulsifier and you find it in everything from salad dressings to vitamins. The soy portion comes from soybean oil extracted from soybeans. You can avoid the brunt of soy lecithin by eliminating most processed foods, but read the labels.

Sadly, most labels are ambiguous. The FDA is supposedly making labels more user-friendly, but the food industry is marketing against the higher cost of making new labels, and it will be easier for us to see what’s in our food. It might take a while before we see a change, so here are some tips to get you started now:

Front of Package

1. Don’t be fooled by words like “healthy,” “all natural,” “fat free,” “wholesome”, “sugar-free.” For a detailed list read “16 Most Misleading Food Labels” (they actually give 19!).

“Natural foods” and “all natural foods” are widely used terms in food labeling and marketing with a variety of definitions, most of which are vague. The term is assumed to imply foods that are minimally processed and do not contain manufactured ingredients, but the lack of standards in most jurisdictions means that the term assures nothing. The term “organic,” however, has an established legal definition in many countries, including the United States, as well as an agreed upon international standard. Therefore all natural and organic products are not the same. In some countries, the term “natural” is defined and enforced. In others, such as the United States, it has no meaning.—From Wikipedia

2. Don’t trust “Organic” labeling unless it has a certified insignia:

certified organicorganic labelsorganic

 

If the box states “organic ingredients,” read the label to be sure all the ingredients are organic. Also all “organic” foods are not necessarily good for you—organic sugar is better than nonorganic sugar, but sugar is still sugar and just because it’s organic doesn’t give it a free pass. It still has “wasted calories” with no nutritional value.

Label on Back of Package

1. Check the serving size. Often it’s only ½ cup. Who only eats a half cup of ice cream or cereal? If you eat 2 cups, you need to multiply the nutritional breakdown, including calories, by four!

2. Listed ingredients go from highest content to lowest. So if water is the first ingredient, the product is mostly water. For example, a lemon drink that touts “made with lemon” may list lemon juice as the last ingredient. Or it could even be lemon flavoring.

3. If you don’t recognize an ingredient, don’t buy it. You don’t want to put an unknown into your body…do you? Write down the ingredient and look it up when you get home. Chances are it’s a preservative, which you want to avoid.

4. Natural food sugar isn’t listed separately from added sugar in the nutritional breakdown. Reading the ingredients shows added sugar and its position in the list of ingredients. Even if it’s organic sugar or maple syrup, it’s still sugar with no nutritional value…just calories.

Avoid anything with high glucose corn syrup. Especially check children’s snacks.

I sent my husband on a mission of finding a barbeque sauce that didn’t contain high fructose corn syrup. He read every label on the grocery store shelf, and there was only one.

5. Check the sodium level, and again, that’s per the label’s serving size.

6. Avoid everything with saturated and Trans fats.

7. Look for added soy, which could be in the form of soybean oil or soy lecithin. No one needs the amount of soy added to our food.

8. Choose wild fish, not farmed.

Buy Fresh, Be Healthy

When possible by fresh and avoid packaged, processed foods, then you don’t have to worry about labels unless you’re looking for organic. Then you do need to look for the certified organic emblem. Beware at farmer’s market, because they may tell you they don’t use pesticides, but you’re only taking their word for it.

It may take you longer to shop at first, and it’s probably not a good idea to have the kids around; but soon you’ll know what to look for and which foods to avoid. You may think that buying organic is more expensive, but when you see all the products you aren’t buying, you’ll actually reduce your food bill and increase your health.

Happy shopping! Tell me how the experience goes and what you found on labels.

Why do you spend your money on junk food, your hard-earned cash on cotton candy? Listen to me, listen well: Eat only the best, fill yourself with only the finest. Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words. I’m making a lasting covenant commitment with you, the same that I made with David: sure, solid, enduring love. — Isaiah 55:2-5

Lessons From A Life Well Lived

Jan Holsclaws celebration sunriseSunrise from Jan and Jim’s backyard the day we celebrated Jan’s commencement to her Heavenly home!

I met Jan Holsclaw when she and husband Jim were speaking at Idyllwild Bible Church. Dave and I have a cabin in Idyllwild and were at IBC the same weekend the Holsclaws were visiting. At that time, Jim and Jan worked for Wycliffe Bible Translators and they were giving a report to IBC who helped support their ministry.

Jan spoke of her battle with ovarian cancer that was in remission. After the service, I introduced myself to Jan as a fellow cancer survivor and gave her a copy of my book Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer. Jan and Jim live in Florida, so an email friendship developed over the miles. Jan often referred to our “chance” meeting as a divine appointment.

A Team of Rope Holders

Sadly, it wasn’t long after we met that Jan’s cancer returned and she was in for the battle of her life . . . for her life. Jan and Jim started email updates to a team of friends and family they called their “rope holders” from the story in Mark 2:3-5 and Luke 5:18-20 where friends tied ropes to a mat and lowered a paralytic man through the roof of the house where Jesus was preaching. Loving friends displaying their faith in Jesus—that’s what Jan’s rope holders were to her too.

So over the next few years, Jan and Jim sent the rope holders email updates of Jan’s journey through extensive and ongoing chemo and treatments, and we lifted Jan and Jim before the Lord. We prayed for their specific requests and rejoiced in their good days and praises.

The doctors told them to do all the things they wanted to do and see family as much as possible. Use the time they had wisely, and that’s just what they did. Jim retired from Wycliffe, and during Jan’s good times or breaks in treatment, they traveled to see their children and grandchildren spread throughout the United States and China.

Lesson: We need each other. Learn how to “receive” well. Life is precious. Live like you’re dying.

 

A Praise Journal in the Midst of Crisis

Jan started a “Thankful List” which she often shared with her rope holders. When I asked her about it, she said:

How does it encourage me? When I’m down or discouraged or sad or ‘tired of the cancer/chemo routine,’ if I start adding to my “thankful list” it doesn’t take long before my focus is no longer on “poor me,” but on the Lord and on how incredibly blessed I am. I can literally sense my spirit being lifted into His presence. It’s sort of like a 180 degree turn around. Absolutely amazing. Even when I think to myself… “I can’t think of ONE thing for which I’m thankful” . . . all I have to do is START WRITING, and then my mind is filled with TONS of things for which I’m thankful.

“I Will Trust You” was the subject line of a rope holders’ email on February 6, 2014, as Jan’s health was rapidly deteriorating. She continued to tell us how much our prayers and emails meant to her and Jim:

Again, thank you SO MUCH for your precious words that touch us so deeply, and often bring tears. You simply can’t know how much they mean, and how they minister to us…over and over and over again! We’re trying to keep our hearts focused on Him, reminding ourselves that whatever we find out, He is with us, He’s holding us close, we need not fear and we can trust Him. A song that has been SO meaningful to us in the last few days is Sovereign by Chris Tomlin.

Lesson: If your faith is a little shaky today, listen to praise music. Jan and Jim found comfort in the YOU TUBE version of Sovereign.

 

On February 7, 2014, Jan wrote to her rope holders—

The sobering part of it all, is that when I now return to a chemo that has worked in the past, there’s generally only a 20-30% chance that it will now be effective against the cancer.

Still Jan finds things to be thankful for—

I am SO THANKFUL for:

A good appetite. (And I don’t want to EVER take that for granted!)

Restful sleep at night.

My wonderful, godly doctor.

My amazing husband who cares for me 24/7.

Our precious kids, their spouses, and our grandkids.

God’s Sovereignty and His tender, loving care.

Our incredible team of rope holders (YOU) and your touching words of encouragement.

Lesson: If you’re going through a tough time, start a Thankful List. It’s hard to stay down when you’re looking up.

Jan with her therapy dog Wally Jon

February 24, 2014 Jan with her “therapy dog” Wally Jon

How to Live Well for Jesus and Die Well in Jesus

March 4, 2014 the rope holders received an email from son Jon, “Finally Free!” Saturday March 8, thanks to the technology of “Streamline,” I watched the Celebration of Jan’s Life. Jan didn’t want a sermon; she wanted casual dress, her favorite music, and a chance for everyone who wanted to share their memories at an open microphone.

We heard from friends, neighbors, hospital staff, fellow ministry servants, and her doctors. All had the same message: Jan showed us how to live well for Jesus and how to die well in Jesus. Here was some of her legacy shared at the celebration:

  • She showed us how to behave in suffering. Not to be inward focused but to reach out and let her rope holders know how much she needed them.
  • There was a width and breadth of ministry during her last seven years. Her mission: May God get the glory and win the day, every day.
  • She taught us how to be a gracious “receiver.” When she was well she gave, but when she was ill, she could receive our help.
  • Jan loved life and fought it through to the very end.
  • She loved her family so much and taught us how to be better wives, moms, and grandmothers.
  • Jan had faith and trust and gave thanks in all circumstances.
  • Jan and Jim didn’t just talk about the Lord, they lived out their faith.
  • From a hospital staff member: they were always encouraging to the hospital staff—even the lady cleaning the floors. They left their mark on the staff.
  • A neighbor who saw Jan and Jim walking hand in hand while she did her morning run soon was getting hugs and friendship from Jan.
  • Her doctors considered it a privilege to be in the presence of patients like Jim and Jan. They ministered to their doctors during the doctors’ tough times and struggles.
  • Jan taught us how to die.
Lesson: How we live our life in good times and hard times is a ministry—it’s our legacy.

Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

1 Corinthians 15:54-56 (NLT)

Jan and Jim 48 year anniversary

Jan and Jim on their 48th Anniversary August 2013