Devotionals, Writer's Spot

Secrets to Thriving By Elaine Mahaffey

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Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’ Matthew 1:23

Immanuel…God with us. This four syllable biblical word describing the baby Jesus is a staple for Christmas carols, sermons, and cards. I have probably heard the word Immanuel numerous times every Christmas season of my life, yet until recently I have probably not understood it’s depth of meaning.
​Somehow grasping for hope causes us to search for meaning…the meaning of life, the meaning of death. In the midst of Stage IV metastatic carcinoma, what does “God with me” mean? As a Christ-follower, faith assures me that He is WITH me, in the good times and the bad times, in sickness and in health, in celebration and in defeat. But exactly what does WITH mean? Perhaps the WITH of God explains the peace I have felt in the midst of cancer treatment. Or does the WITH of God answer the unexplainable joy, or the unwavering hope that God is in control of my life? His WITH for me means His very nature permeates my thoughts and reactions when I am scared of hearing scan results, or when the pain of the tumor in my leg reminds me that I am living with cancer. The “with” of God enables me to not only survive this time of my life, but even to thrive during this time.
​God often reminds me that He is Immanuel to me. He is with me and is in control of everything. Ten years ago, I received a Christmas cactus as a gift. I parked it in our master bathroom where I would remember to water it (even cacti need some water!). The cactus sits all year looking rather nondescript. In fact, it’s rather ugly. But every year in late November or early December, beautiful amazing red flowers appear.

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I remember four years ago when I was going through my first breast cancer. I glanced at the beautiful cactus one day and made the comment to Bob, “How does that plant know it is December!” Immediately the Lord reminded me that He is Sovereign over everything. He tells the Christmas cactus that it’s time to bloom! So why would I have to worry about ANYTHING.
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
​​​​​​Matthew 6:25-34
I can thrive in the cancer battle because He is Sovereign Immanuel. The “with” of God knows and orchestrates every day of my life.
​I also thrive because of encouragement of family, friends, and even those people I hardly know. Encouragement is powerful and fuels strength to fight. It comes in many forms…through cards, promises of prayers being offered, surprise gifts of blouses that will fit my arm plagued with lymphedema, or even through my grandchildren. Every now and then God surprises me with unexpected encouragement. I smile as I think of a recent gift:
My morning began as usual. On Tuesday mornings Tucker arrives around 8:30 and then we head out to Ladies Bible Study around 9:15. This morning was like any other…nothing out of the ordinary. Until I changed his diaper. As I leaned over him to complete the task, Tucker looked up at me, and in his innocent, charming toddler voice, said, “Grammy, you look like a princess!”
You can imagine how shocked I was to hear those words. In these cancer-laden, chemo-driven days, I often don’t feel like a princess. I limp. I have one arm almost twice the size of the other. I have gained weight due to steroid infusions and increased appetite. My “princess” days seem to be over. One of my fears in my reoccurrence of cancer has been that my grandchildren may not remember their Grammy as vibrant and full of life, but chemo-destroyed, old, sickly. I try as hard as possible to seem as normal as possible in the abnormal.
Tucker made my day that day. I realize that the comment was probably spurred on by the “princess-type” sleeves of my new blouse, but I can always fantasize that he really saw his grandmother with the blind eyes of love and not the clouded eyes of the world.
​​“…but let us encourage one another…” 1 Thessalonians 4:18
That we would all live this way.
​​Encouragement feeds thriving.
To more than survive in life’s most difficult challenges, I believe we must experience the “with of God,” being thankful for any encouragement He sends our way. People encourage me, but the Word of God, His Son Who made His dwelling among us, and the Holy Spirit encourage me even more. I could not live in peace, joy, and hope without this assurance. I love the theme for our upcoming women’s renewal event. I hope I am living testimony to the truth of God’s Word:
God has made known to us the secret to THRIVING… “That secret truth, which is for all people, is that Christ lives in you, the hope of glory.”​​Colossians 1:27
I want to thrive in the midst of cancer…not just survive…that He may be glorified!

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Elaine Mahaffey

A previous and most excellent post by Elaine about her diagnosis of bone cancer: When What’s New is Hard 

Click here to find out more about THRIVE:Gathering 2016 where Elaine has been a featured speaker.

Devotionals, Home

What’s New? Part 1

Look! I am about to do a new thing! Now it sprouts! Do you not perceive it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.    Isaiah 43:19 (LEB)

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New things!

new opportunity, new job, new friend, new town, new faith, new peace, new love, new adventure, new mission

The Israelites needed a new thing in their current situation, alright! When Isaiah speaks these words of hope they are in a desperate season in their history.  They are captives, who had lost all they thought they would keep forever and were longing for the blessings God had promised.  And God was offering them a fresh start.  Promising them a new thing. How about you? Are you open to a new journey with God?  A fresh start?

new
1. not existing before; made, introduced, or discovered recently or now for the first time.

2. 
already existing but seen, experienced, or acquired recently or now for the first time.

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New mercies every morning

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning.    Lamentations 3:22-23

Whew…. Can you perceive those new mercies waiting for you to unwrap each day?

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New creation

 

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old has gone the new has come!   2 Corinthians 5:17

Are you or do you want to be a “new creation”? Do you want to be far different from what you were before?  Would you like some qualities in your life that were previously non-existent?

God’s word tell us 3 gems about the “new” in these verse:

1.  Your God does new things

2.  God gives us new compassion for each day

3.  God makes us into a new creation when we invite him into our lives.

Good bye old- hello new!!!

He who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  Revelation 21:5

Listen to the words from the one who sits on the throne. Saying… I bring all things into a new and better condition.  Even when the new is unknown and difficult.  Sometimes we get so stuck in our current condition that we fail to realize that it’s not the “better condition” that God has planned for us. Sometimes we are so content with our life that we can’t imagine being in a new and better place.  But, look around…  each day the King of all Kings invites us to feast upon his new compassions. Not yesterday’s leftovers.  The invitation is there…. “because of his great love for us” that NEVER ends.  (Lamentations 3:22)

These beautiful verses from the Holy Bible show us new things God will do in this new year. It is the beginning of March and the newness spring brings is just around the corner. Soon, we will look out our windows and see fresh life budding all around us.  If God’s word is true, which it is, then we can be sure that new things are in store for us this year.  Can you see them? Do you perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19)

Feel like you are wondering in the wilderness? Or are you excited about a new adventure?  God tells us that he makes a way.  He’s the God of new things.  Your God makes things exist that did not exist before.  Your God creates things that have not yet been discovered.  Your God takes a human and makes a completely new creation.  Something has to die so that you can acquire a beauty you had never know before. Pride dies for humility, hate dies for love, cruelty dies for mercy, agitation dies for patience, fighting dies for peace, sorrow dies for joy, fear dies for courage and on and on his power goes.

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The old has gone…

New has come…

Humility     Love     Mercy    Patience     Peace     Joy     Courage    Hope    Freedom

Open your eyes- see, notice Him

See the new he wants to do in and through you this year.

image     He who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.Revelation 21:5

His words are “trustworthy and true”.  So, get into his word and discover all the new he has for you.

Seeking and finding,

Kalyn

The new- Part 2 coming soon.

Reflect:

Try the S.O.A.P. method with the scripture listed in the reading.

S for Scripture
Take time reading and allow God to speak to you. Highlight, underline or place a mark in the margin of your bible next to the scriptures that stand out. When you are done, reread the verses you marked, look for one that particularly spoke to you that day, and write it in your journal.

O for Observation
What do you think God is saying to you in this scripture? Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you and reveal Jesus to you. Paraphrase and write this scripture down in your own words in your journal.

A for Application
Personalize what you have read by asking yourself how it applies to your life right now. Perhaps it is instruction, encouragement, revelation of a new promise or corrections for a particular area of your life. Write how this scripture can apply to you today.

P for Prayer
This can be as simple as asking God to help you use this scripture, or it may be a greater insight on what He may be revealing to you. Remember, prayer is a two-way conversation, so be sure to listen to what God has to say! Then, write it down.

Women’s ministry fellowship idea:

Invite the ladies in your fellowship to a New Things party.

Ideas:

Ask them to bring something new to them that they treasure and be ready to share with the group about the item.

Ask them to wear something new (within the last year) earrings, shirt, socks, shoes, lipgloss.  See if the group can guess what’s new on you.

Make a new recipe to share with the group and bring copies of the recipe for others to keep.

Learn a new word and its definition the week before the gathering, then share it with the group.

Learn a new bible verse and write it on index cards to let those who the verse ministered to take the card home.

Share the scriptures listed above and ask the ladies to tell what they heard to be new in each verse.

new

n(y)o͞o/
adjective
1. not existing before; made, introduced, or discovered recently or now for the first time.

2. 
already existing but seen, experienced, or acquired recently or now for the first time.

Laura Story
Events

MVNU WOMEN’S CONFERENCE- Laura Story

Women’s Auxiliary Spring Conference    March 13-14, 2015

Register Here: http://www.mvnu.edu/cgi-bin/forms/womensaux.php

imageSpeaker: Laura Story

Laura Story will share stories from her first trade book scheduled to release fall 2015. When God Doesn’t Fix It: Lessons You Never Wanted to Learn; Truths You Can’t Live Without will include Laura’s journey from life expectations through shattered dreams and on to the incredible truths that she uncovered in her study of God’s Word. She will offer information from a friend who understands, important biblical insights, and hope that God has not forgotten.

 

 

Schedule:

Friday, March 13
4 p.m. Registration Begins
7 p.m. Evening Session
Saturday, March 14
8 a.m. Registration Begins
9 a.m. Morning Session

The MVNU Women’s Auxiliary exists to accomplish the following: Provide scholarships for MVNU students