Scott and I will be traveling the next couple of weeks in the States for some ministry related meetings. We were blessed for the opportunity to stop for a couple of days in France on our way. I've just posted a bunch of photos on my Facebook page if you'd like to take a peek.
Jaco and Inge and their boys are going with us to the US as well to meet with the AOM board, so we ask for your prayers as we all travel.
The last couple of weeks have been tough. For those of you who haven't
heard, two weeks ago our teammates' three-year-old son was life-flighted to
South Africa after an accident that resulted in a serious head injury. After a
week in ICU, he passed away last Wednesday morning. Today was the memorial
service in South Africa. In many ways, it’s still hard to believe sweet
little Reiner is gone. And sometimes it’s hard to understand why God didn't
It’s reminded me of a time in my own life when I asked so many of the
same questions. Many years ago, after struggling with infertility, I got
pregnant, but had a miscarriage and lost our baby. While I can't even begin to
compare that loss with Reiner's death, I remember clearly the depression and
panic attacks that followed. God seemed so far away. I remember crying out to
Him. I remember being angry and frustrated, wondering why He’d allowed this to
happen. Doesn’t the Bible say "ask and it will be given to you?"
I knew of God’s promise of rest to the weary and peace for the soul in
need, but God instead became a distant figure who had left me to deal with my
own humanity and confusion.
A friend came to me one day and challenged me to dig deeply into
the word of God to discover for myself who God is and to develop an intimate
relationship with Him. I was forced to answer one challenging question: Did I
believe God was in control of everything, including my own life? If He wasn’t,
there would be no reason for me to continue to follow Him. If He was in
control, then I needed to let go and trust Him completely with my life.
Healing takes time, and the road wasn’t easy, but
I learned that with His power we can overcome our grief and doubts and
begin to live a life filled with His spirit. He has promised to be our strength
when we are weak, to give us hope when we are hopeless, and to love us when we
feel unlovable. It’s never relying on our own strength to get us through
difficult times, but leaning on the mighty arm of God and being continuously
filled with His Spirit. Isaiah 41:10 tells us not to fear, because “I am with
you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
I Peter 4:12 tells us not to be surprised at the painful
trials we are suffering. But through Christ and the workings of His Spirit, the
void can be filled. James tells us that we are blessed when we persevere under
trial, because if we love him, we will receive a crown of life.
(James 1:12) With God as our strength and heaven as our goal, the journey is
After a week in the ICU, our teammates' son, Reiner passed away in South Africa. The outpouring of prayers for this family has been incredible. We ask for your continued prayers for Jaco and Inge, Ernan, Lander, and their extended family as they face this difficult loss in the weeks and months to come.
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 .
Today I would like to welcome Shirley Corder to my blog. Shirl and I have been friends for many years, after meeting first on line. She runs a South African Christian writers group where she has encouraged many writers in their publishing journey. I'm so excited for her, because today is the official launch day of her book Strength Renewed.
Strength Renewed is a book of 90 meditations based on actual incidents that happened during Shirl's cancer journey, tied in with relevant scriptures. It is written in chronological order, but each story stands alone, so they may be read in any order. Each devotion includes three questions to help the reader relate the message to her own journey. Strength Renewed was written primarily for patients and their loved ones, but it will also be helpful for those walking alongside the patient as family, friends, or part of the medical team.
During Shirl's own battle with cancer, she spent much time in the botanical gardens near her home, watching a pair of Vereaux's eagles and wishing she could rise and soar over the cancer valley. Isaiah 40:31 says that those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. This became a favorite verse for Shirl and is the foundation verse on which she based this book.
Read through my interview with Shirl, then find out how you could win a copy of this book. If you know of someone that this book might minister to, please pass on the links.
LISA: What challenges did you face as a breast cancer patient?
SHIRL: Sjoe! Where to start? Apart from the usual side-effects of treatment which are widely publicized, there were a number of unanticipated things that blind-sided me. I found myself feeling inferior to normal people who didn't have cancer. I felt insecure in company, and felt as if everyone looked down on me because of my diagnosis. I think a lot of that was caused by the number of people who felt they had to tell me why I had cancer. Although these were all things I could do nothing about, they implied it was something I had done or failed to do so it was really my own fault. But also, I had always been an efficient, active person and the fact that I was no longer efficient and often lacked the stamina to do things told me (even if no one else thought of this) that I was no longer capable.
LISA: What challenges did you face as a survivor?
SHIRL: Getting my strength back. I looked forward to the end of treatment, expecting to immediately feel better. I didn't. Only a month after I finished treatment, my oncologist explained to me that the chemo was still in my system, and it would continue to work in cycles for some time. I wish I'd been warned about this in advance.
Also getting over the sense of insecurity. I grappled with a sense of failure and found it extremely difficult to admit that something normal was too hard for me. On a number of occasions I dug in my heels like a two-year-old and said, I can do this myself and a short while later I had to crawl back in tears and say, I couldn't do it. Please will you finish it for me?
Praise the Lord for a super-patient husband, who would drop what he was doing and sort out what Iíd left unfinished. (Like the shopping cart sitting in the middle of the shop! Like the half-cooked shepherd's pie! Like the dog standing shivering with half her hair trimmed! Like . . . you get the picture!)
LISA: Today, you're a published author. When did you start writing?
SHIRL: From the age of 14, I started writing songs and skits for the church, and for a period I wrote quite a bit of poetry. But then a few years before I got cancer, I felt a strong nudge to do a correspondence course in creative writing. I never had any dreams of being published so I can only think this was one of the ways the Lord prepared me for what was to come. During cancer treatment, I did quite a bit of journaling, and a year after treatment I knew the Lord wanted me to start sharing my story through publication.
LISA: Can you share briefly your road to publication?
SHIRL: The first article I ever wrote for publication was a meditation for The Upper Room and included an anecdote from my cancer treatment. To my amazement and delight, TUR picked it up and published it. I had several published with them before moving onto other markets as well, such as The Secret Place and a number of others initially in the USA and UK, but subsequently in South Africa as well.
In 2004 I attended the Sandy Cove Christian Writers conference as a result of a scholarship awarded by the Christian Writers Group (CWG). Although I didn't sell a manuscript, I learned a tremendous amount about the writing process. I started my first website as well as an online group for Christian Writers of South Africa, now known as CWOSA.
About six years ago, I sensed a clear call from the Lord that I would one day write a book of devotional messages for people going through the cancer valley. For the next few years, I collected ideas and continued to hone my writing skills. Three years ago, I knew the time had come, and I started work on the book.
At that point, Cec Murphey contacted me and offered to sponsor me to a second writers' conference. I immediately knew this was for Rise and Soar, the working title of my devotional book. Sure enough, I met Vicki Crumpton of Revell/Baker there, which eventually led to the publication of Strength Renewed which launched this month.
LISA: How has having breast cancer impacted on your life over the years?
SHIRL: Before cancer I was an active registered nurse. After cancer I became a full-time writer. Apart from this complete career change, cancer also changed my attitude and my priorities in so many ways. I became a better listener, more patient and understanding with others, and I find it easier to drop everything and come alongside a person in need. There was the BC (before cancer) Shirley and the AC (after cancer) Shirley. And I definitely prefer the AC version!
LISA: What advice would you give to the public regarding breast health awareness?
SHIRL: Be aware that breast cancer is horribly common. (1 in 8 baby girls will grow up to get breast cancer and those are old statistics.) Yet people must also realize that many of these statistics will be survivors! The key is to catch the disease in its early stages. People must also be aware that men get breast cancer, and even more rarely, some adolescents. Although male breast cancer is not common, it has a higher rate of fatality as it is often discovered too late.
All adults should do regular self-examinations in the shower or bath, when their hands are soapy. Ladies should do them each month at the same point of their menstrual cycles. All women must have regular annual mammograms from the age of 50 or younger, depending on medical advice. Breast cancer is one of the cancers that may run in families, so those with a history of a parent or sibling diagnosed with breast cancer must be especially diligent in watching for any suspicious lumps or thickening in the breast.
LISA: Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing with my readers, Shirl. Shirl has a lot of great information, encouragement, recipes, and more on her blog, so be sure and visit her here.
NOW LET'S HEAR FROM YOU!
Please share with us a favorite Scripture that encourages you when times are hard. Leave your answer and email address under comments below and you will be entered into a draw for a free book.
Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.
Best-selling Romantic Suspense Author Lisa Harris Step Away From Ordinary. . .
I love to read a great story, travel to new places, study the world around me, spend time with friends and family, and write stories from my heart. I want to learn to love God and people more, give passionately, and live life to the fullest. You can follow my journey as a writer and life in Africa.