CANCER: “My Diagnosis Led Me to Worship God”

cancerCancer: A cancer diagnosis surprised Heart2Heart counselor Donna Hart, PhD. Her first question was, “What in this do You want me to learn?” The Lord’s answer: worship. Donna’s article appeared first here on her website and is used with permission. Donna also adds an update below to her cancer diagnosis. To all who prayed for her, thank you. –LAM

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I was doing well and just starting the deeper research of chapter five of my dissertation. The chapter was on endurance. I prayed the Lord would lead me to the best resources for the research.

Not many days later the doctor called to say the results from the breast biopsy tested positive for cancer. I had had these done before all with negative results so when I got the call I was taken by surprise. We know nothing is a surprise for God and that His hand was allowing this for me.

My first question after the fog cleared was to ask our dear heavenly Father,

“What is in this You want me to learn?”

I got a most curious and surprising one word answer, “worship.”

I am “Miss Independent” and very used to caring for other people; I’m very low maintenance when it comes to needing help from others.

God Provides a Friend

The first person the Lord provided to help me was a good friend who happens to be a nurse. She declared that she was going with me to all doctor’s appointments and surgeries. She said it would be important to have another set of knowledgeable ears to listen. At the time, she was walking through her own deep valley of trial: while she was on a road trip a while back, she looked down for a moment and ran a red ligh. This resulted in a fatality.

During my cancer journey, we walked together; she ministered to me as I ministered to her. I learned that trials are more endurable when walk through it with a friend.

God’s provision is so sweet in the loving hands of another.

Through the process of multiple cancer surgeries, my friends would go walking with me because that was the only exercise allowed. They walked with me outside on the miles of bike trail near my home and inside when the weather was inclement. We would talk and grow closer in our relationship.

God Provides Praise Music

The Lord blesses us with His love through the voices of other believers.

The days I walked on the treadmill I would listen to the Vertical Church Band. Do they realize how many songs they have written about heaven? What a gift to me from the Lord to get my heart focused on the right things. I thought, it does not matter what happens, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21)cancer. I will worship You, Lord.

My treatment included four rounds of chemotherapy, four hours each, three weeks apart. My favorite sisters went along with me for this journey. We sat, relaxed, chatted, and knitted. What a blessed treat from the hand of the Lord: sweet friendships to make a trial a joy.

I did not know I was going to be my own dissertation research on endurance. As I sought references for my paper, the Lord brought me to an article on Counseling Suffering by John Piper, and I shall never forget his words, “The Lord is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.”

The world is watching: Are we a testimony that the Lord is good and enough, no matter what the trial?

The Lord was with me every step of this journey, teaching me to be less self-sufficient and more dependent upon Him knowing He works all things together for good.

Life After Cancer

Now years later and cancer free, I celebrate that the Lord is a continued song in my heart. I remember His words to me every time I would get my eys off Him and onto the circumsitons, “Iwhat crucified for you.”

Those words are a memorial reminter that He is with me, and I have nothing to fear. He started a goood work and He will finish it.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6

Question for You!

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COUNSELING: Would you like counseling from me or Donna? Please let me know, and we’ll connect. Counseling offered in person and by Skype.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

The Amazing Power of Generosity

generosity

The amazing power of generosity. . .heals. 

Has a friend generously listened to you? Who has noticed that you need a helping hand? Or, when you show generosity to a friend or stranger? Perhaps you sent a Get Well card to a relative or wished Happy Birthday to a Facebook friend.

Your generosity matters. It helps to heal the hurting. Here’s an amazing story of generosity. Read on.

Homeless. Need Food. Please Help. 

Pulling up to a red light, Kate noticed a young man clutching a sign. It read, “HOMELESS. NEED FOOD. PLEASE HELP.” The icy wind reddened his hands. She knew what she had to do, even though it inconvenienced her.

She drove to a store, bought men’s gloves and returned to the sign holder. She rolled down her window and handed them to him.

And she prayed for his mother.

Kate has a grown son too. Addicted to drugs. Sleeping somewhere. She couldn’t warm her own child but she could show Jesus to a stranger.

Debbie Macomber shares this true story in her book One Simple Act: Discovering the Power of Generosity. A sister in Christ and fiction author, she understands the need to give love. She’s dyslexic and her third grade teacher told her mother, “She’ll never do well in school.” And she didn’t.

But her love of words and her parent’s encouragement, and later her husband’s, gave her the boost to sign up for a writers’ conference in New York, and — to use a cliche — the rest is history.

Finding Hope Through Generosity

This post isn’t about Debbie or Kate. It’s about you and overcoming your struggles in Jesus’ power. I want you to find hope and healing. One thing I learned:

Sometimes to find healing you need to reach out to a hurting soul and help her.

Here’s an example: A woman I counseled by Skype — whom I’ll call Sandy — spied a lady dumpster-diving for food scraps behind a fast-food joint. She maneuvered her car from the drive-thru lane and into a parking spot. Sandy had bought two lunches, one for herself and one for the lady. She handed one bag of food to the lady. She said, “I don’t want your food. I don’t take no charity.”

Sandy put the bag of food just inside the dumpster and walked back to her car, glancing backward to see what the lady would do.

She took the food.

Now Sandy and the lady made a game of sorts. Sandy places food by the dumpster when she sees the lady and the lady eats. Sandy feels she is making a difference. She feels less alone.

Generosity Reveals Jesus to a Hurting World

This simple act of generosity reveals Jesus to a lady and to a hurting world.

You can show Jesus too, like Kate, like Sandy, like the little boy who gave his little lunch to a big Jesus who multiplied it and fed 5,000 men and probably as many women and children. The boy willingly gave what he had and received so much more.

“There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”  Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, about five thousand in number. (John 6:9-10, NIV)

This boy’s generosity is forever told worldwide. How blessed he is.

When you and I are kind to others, we are blessed too.

The take-away:

Be generous. Show Jesus. Give thanks. You belong to Someone big who cares. Your generosity takes your eyes off yourself and on Him.

Do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. (Hebrews 13:16, NIV).

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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Self Care Isn’t Selfish


self care

With self care, a woman flourishes. Yet we women often stumble into a dangerous trap: self neglect. 

A while back, I counseled a woman who felll into self-neglect after months of caring for ill relatives, one after another. She ran their errands, took them to the doctor, cooked and cleaned and cared for them. Then she hit extreme exhaustion that brought of depression. Her adult son cared for her!

When you neglect yourself, it’s tough to be the mom-friend-worker-wife God desires. You may become anxious, angry, moody, and self-absorbed. You may also become physically and spiritually weak. Self care is taking care of yourself emotionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually. It is whole health wellness.

In this short article, you’ll discover:

  1. Self care is not selfish.
  2. 7 signs of self-neglect.

Self Care Is NOT Selfishness

There’s a Grand Canyon-sized difference between selfishness and self care.

As mentioned, self care is taking care of your emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual needs with a heart motivation of loving God and loving others. Wouldn’t you agree healthy self care is good since your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20, ESV

On the flip side, selfishness is putting yourself above everyone else. Your needs, your wants, your everything prevails. This is neither healthy nor caring.

Jesus prioritized the most important attitudes and actions:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:25-28, NIV

7 Signs of Self Neglect

Neglecting self care may signal a need to show greater care of the temple of the Holy Spirit, and in turn, God. Are any of these true of you?

1. You want to lose excess weight.

2. You have fatigue because you lack sleep and exercise.

3. Your emotions are frazzled.

4. You lack laughter.

5. You spend little meaningful time with friends in real life.

6. Your financial budget spells stress stress and more stress.

7. You think God doesn’t love you or care or is too busy elsewhere.

If you’ve gotten off track, you can choose self care out of love for God. You can lose weight, get great sleep, start walking, have better emotions, laugh again, spend time with friends, get financial peace, and know that God loves you.

God promises to change your heart. Why not choose selfless self-care?

Just for You

Downlself careoad: Get this New Priorities and Planning download.

Counseling: Would you like biblical help in making better choices–emotional or spiritual? Contact me and we’ll set up a time to talk in person or by Skype.

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Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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Got a Struggle? Try Christ-Centered Counseling!

struggle

DO YOU HAVE an ongoing struggle with a family member a friend? Is stuff from your past interfering with your present? Addicted to something, even a good thing like ministry work? Are you lonely or sad or fearful or angry?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then counseling may be your answer to peace and contentment for your struggle. Specifically, biblical counseling.

Core of Biblical Counseling

 Biblical counseling is all about helping people:

  1. God’s Word truly helps people who hurt.
  2. Biblical counseling is intense discipling. A window — no one needs biblical counseling year in and year out.
  3. God’s people can counsel effectively.

I received my training through the Pastoral Care to Women program at Western Seminary, Portland, OR, and have had further training through Association of Biblical Counselors and through the Assoication of Certified Biblical Counsleors.

In-person biblical counseling is not always possible; sometimes Skype counseling is best. This one reason why I offer a free initial phone consultation. Then we can decide your counseling needs and decide which direction the Lord wants you to go. To set up the free initial consultation, simply contact me. 

An experienced, certified biblical counselor, I will guide you to discover the solutions for your struggle. Together we’ll pray. We’ll laugh. Sometimes we’ll cry. We’ll look to loving truth in Scripture to change your heart and change your life! 

Counseling by Skype

I counsel some people over Skype or FaceTime. This works well for many people. I’ve counseled women and couples as far away as Australia and Hong Kong. Learn more about the advantages of Skype-counseling here. They include cost savings and convenience! Skype-to-Skype calls are free!

Advantages of Biblical Counseling

Biblical counseling is caring and effective, and looks to God for his answers.

In additions, itis highly affordable and convenient. Together we uncover the root issues of a problem you struggle with. You get practical, God-honoring solutions.

Do you know that you will improve how you think, feel, and do as God changes your heart’s desire?

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Proverbs 4:23

Isn’t it amazing that God empowers you to live full and godly lives that please him? 

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3

Do you want everyday victory when you continue to follow Christ’s way?

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it hat no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.Colossians 2:6-8

 Your Next Step

Contact me for your no-cost 20-minute introductory session by phone or Skype. I’d love to answer your questions and together decide whether biblical counseling is a good fit for you and to help to find a real solution to your struggle.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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How to Heal Father Wounds

Dads are important to kids growing up healthy.

Living without a dad is tough. Experiencing a dad who hurt you is unimaginable.

Did you know your heavenly Father loves you best of all?

In my early 30s I wrote a poem titled “Shadow Man.” Tears stained the lined paper. Full of grief, I poured out my pain while I wrote it and every time I read it and I leaked.  I’d share the poem it here. So personal, I hand-shredded it many years ago. It was “for my eyes only.”

Have you experienced pain so raw, so real, that you cried until you had no tears left? Or perhaps you want to feel something you can’t. Is you pain pushed down and bottled up?

Please know that your heavenly Father wants to heal your father wounds. You aren’t alone. There is a loving solution I outline near the end of this article.

Many girls grow up with fathers who were absent in one way or another.

Others have loving, involved dads. If you are among the girls with fathers who were there for you emotionally, physically, and spiritually, you are blessed.

When Fathers Wound Their Girls

Others — me included — have father wounds.

Some dads slapped their young ones or punched them. This is criminal. They should go to jail, the sooner, the better.

Other dads slipped into their daughters’ rooms under the cover of darkness and did unspeakable things. This is sick. Beyond sick. If this describes you, you are not at fault for his sin. He is.

Some dads left the family. Divorce, separation — these legal terms fail to capture the pain of a dad’s absence.

Or maybe — like my dad — your dad was there physically but absent emotionally.

The Effect of AWOL Dads

I cannot begin to describe how much my dad’s emotional absence confused me and set me up for depression and anxiety as an adult. Thank God, my early 30s ushered in an intense time of healing. I found the strength to forgive my dad. He never asked for forgiveness. I gave it to him anyway. I had to. For my sake.

He truly didn’t realize how much he hurt me. He didn’t intend to.

Back then, I needed to know he loved me, that I reigned as his princess. His there-but-not-there-ness crushed what I thought of myself. It mangled what I thought God himself thought of me.

But you know what? Years ago, I decided years ago to follow the apostle Paul’s instruction, “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13). What is ahead for me is heaven. My “now” is loving my kids as best as I can, together with my husband, because this is God’s desire. Mine too.

A Turn-Around

Now my dad and I have a great relationship. I cannot explain the reason why. In my heart I believe it’s God’s healing.

He phones me. I phone him. (He hasn’t joined the ranks of Facebook. . .yet, and doesn’t know how to text.) When my brother died a year and a half ago, we began having lunch together almost weekly after my Saturday counseling sessions at my office in greater Chicago. First grief and a need to make sense of a tragic death filled our conversations, then pretty boring but important things surrounding legal matters, and finally jokes and laughs as God healed my dad and me. In our loss, we grew close.

You may know this bible verse: “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25).

This is what I’m experiencing in my relationship with my dad. What the locusts ate, God has given back.

What to Do When You Still Hurt

May I encourage you to try three solutions?

  1. Read the Bible often, even daily. Good places to begin are the Psalms, the Gospel of John, and Philippians. God’s words bring comfort and hope.

    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4, NIV).

  2. Confide in a trusted Christian friend or counselor. Talk with her privately. Tell her what’s going on and ask her if she can make the time to listen well, pray with you, and share healing Scripture.
  3. Contact me for biblical counseling. I counsel women and girls in person and by Skype. I offer a free phone consultation to help you decide if biblical counseling is what God wants for you.

Sharing hope for your heart,

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Blessed, Daughter, Saint, and more!

In this delightful, four-color ebook, you’ll discover the precious names God calls you. Today so many Christian women don’t fully know their wonderful identity in Christ. Isn’t a time to know yours? Filled with scripture, photography, personal stories, and encouragement!

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