Miracles that stunned doctors

A feel good story:

For years, Greg Thomas would sit on those very steps and pray when he walked his dogs along the country lanes in rural Minnesota. But in May 2009, he learned that the searing headaches, earaches, and jaw aches that had plagued him for the past year were due to inoperable head and neck cancer. It had progressed so far that the doctors told Greg’s family to start planning his funeral.

“I was sitting at the church one evening, pouring my heart out to God,”  Greg says. “I kept looking at the building and the shape it was in. I said, “Before I leave this earth, Lord, I’d like to do something for you.”

Greg decided that that something was to fix the peeling paint and the leaking roof, the mangled steps and the rotting floorboards. He approached the church’s association with a deal. He would completely repair the building on one condition: “That I get a key to the front door so I can go in any time to worship.” He warned that it would be slow going–he had just gone through three rounds of chemotherapy along with 40 sessions of radiation and had lost 66 pounds. They said yes, anyway.

Incredibly, as Greg scraped paint and replaced boards, he felt himself growing stronger every day. The more he worked on the church, the better he felt–he didn’t even need the strong prescription pain med’s his doctor had prescribed. “My oncologist was blown away,” Greg says.

“She said, “What ever you’re doing, keep on doing it.”

As Greg continued to rehabilitate the church, medical scans revealed some startling news. His tumors were shrinking. Four years and 23 days after Greg’s diagnosis, his doctors were able to remove his feeding tube–the one they’s said he would have for the rest of his life–and he ate solid food again. Today, Greg’s tumors are gone. He is considered officially in remission and no longer needs follow up tests.

And the church? After five years of Greg’s labor of love, it has been restored to its former glory too. Greg finished his main project this past summer, but he will probably always be involved in maintaining its beauty (he still wants to replace some windows for example). Greg held his third annual open house there near Christmas, inviting the entire community.

“While I was restoring the church,” Greg says, “God was restoring me.”

 by Gretchen Voss

Readers Digest/ April 2015 (pg. 98-99)

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God doesn’t always call on the strong…

Excerpt from Regina Brett:

We’ve all heard the stories.

Elvis Presley once got an F in music and was told to keep his day job driving trucks.

Michael Jordan was cut from the high school basketball team…

J.K. Rowling lived on welfare before Harry Potter made her a billionaire.

Beethoven’s music teacher said he was hopeless at composing.

Winston Churchill flunked the Royal Military Academy entrance exam twice and finished last in his class.

Lucille Ball got sent home from acting school for being too shy…

Thomas Edison was fired twice for not being productive enough.

Babe Ruth held the record for the most strikeouts.

Walt Disney lost his job at a newspaper after he was told he lacked imagination.

Van Gogh sold just one painting his whole life.

Abraham Lincoln suffered from depression, failed in two business ventures, and lost eight elections. Tell that to the Lincoln Memorial.

The failure of those great successes convince me that our weakness is often the flip side of our strength…Our strengths and weaknesses are usually directly related. For the longest time I resisted embracing my strengths because to do so would make me confront my weaknesses. It was a long time before I learned that God can use both. It took me even longer to learn that sometimes God chooses us for out weaknesses, not for our strengths.

I find it a great comfort that, all through the Bible, God doesn’t always choose the strong. He picks the flawed and the weak and transforms them. A person like Moses, [who did not feel he was a good speaker] is chosen to lead people from bondage to freedom. David,[a child was given strength to kill Goliath and later become king], Then there’s Jesus, who included among His 12 closest followers a man who lied to Him, a man who doubted Him, and a man who betrayed Him.

My favorite Christmas passage starts with “Fear not.” Those two words mean God is going to do something powerful with someone weak. I love that moment in A Charlie Brown Christmas when Linus offers to explain the meaning of Christmas to his friend by quoting the Gospel of Luke:

Fear not: For behold I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

I’ve heart it said that we should read the Bible as if we are each of the characters in it. One year the priest of my church, Father Tom Fanta gave a sermon as if he were the innkeeper who closed the door to the holy family on that first Christmas Eve. He acted the part from the beginning to end, from his smug refusal to his shameful remorse.

He said that we are the innkeeper who shut the door and made no room for others. We’re too busy to talk to that friend who is in the middle of a messy divorce. Our lives are too filled to make room for volunteering at a woman’s shelter or babysitting for a friend.

We are those shepherds, busy tending our sheep–our jobs, hobbies, families–afraid when God comes to us, whether in the form of heavenly angels or earthly ones–friends, family, and strangers, or in the shape of problems and crises. We balk when called to go somewhere unfamiliar or somewhere undesired, some detour from our carefully constructed career paths or highly scheduled calendars.

We are like Joseph, who could have quietly left Mary instead of getting into a relationship that might demand more of him than he wanted to give. We prefer the normal, the steady, the predictable–something we can control. We plan our lives and in the planning are careful not to leave any room for God to come in and screw it all up.

We are like Mary, who, first greeted by the angel, was scared. Would we really want God that close? “Fear not,” the angel proclaimed.

What would happen if God called us to something higher. It sounds good–for a second. Until we count the cost. What if it means moving? Earning less money? Going back to school?

When God called Jeremiah, he wanted to decline; he claimed he was too young for the job. Moses wasn’t so hot on being hired to corral the Israelites through the desert to the Promised Land.

A priest once told me he was unsure before his ordination whether he was strong enough to become a priest. Then someone asked him,  Are you weak enough?” Saying yes to God isn’t about being strong, but about being weak and saying yes anyway.

Mother Teresa once said that she wasn’t called to be successful; she was called to be faithful.

If your answer to the question “Are you strong enough to serve? is no, maybe you’re asking the wrong question, Are you weak enough to serve?

Brett, Regina. (2012). Be the Miracle. New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing.

HOW TO HELP…(Reprint)

We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.       

  Luziano De Cresceno

“What do I do now, my friend?”

1. Snail mail Letters or cards make me feel so happy and loved.

2. Send comics/jokes/uplifting short thoughts to me so I can laugh or feel good inside.  I often bring them to treatments, or surgeries to cheer me up!

3. Read and keep up with my blog/ or start and keep my blog because that will help me not have to tell my story over and over again. That is so hard for me. (Look in archives)

4. Set up calendar care (read archive post) This will make life so much easier for me. (This handles meals, childcare, rides, etc.)

5. Make a cross off treatment chart. (look at my blog post for the example)

6. Small meaningful gifts: scarves for cold neck or head, nail polish, pajama bottoms, music, books on tape, magazines, treats, candy, food, mashed potatoes, etc. Serve how you feel most comfortable.  I will appreciate anything.

7.  Go wig/hat shopping together. Or buy your friend a new hat! (Funny or useful)

8. Bring over surprise comfort foods without too much seasoning. (Burns my mouth) I love bread, soup, mashed potatoes, bland things like rice, smoothies, ice cream.

9. Bring over simple lunch (like soup) and stay for a few minutes depending on how I feel.

10.  Hand or foot massage (with or without lotion)

11.  Don’t try to sell a product to me unless I ask.  I have heard about them all!

12. Look up information for me when I am too stressed to read about it all.

13.  Send or record a sweet…mantra I can say to myself at treatments. I use scriptures from the Bible. Jesus Christ is my master healer!

14. Bring things that can calm my nerves (color book and crayons–this has known calming effects for adults too)

15. Make a quilt, afghan, or pillow case I can take with me to treatments or surgery.

16. If you want to make something for me, I will so appreciate your time as well as the thoughtful gift.

17. Offer your gook-luck charm.  I promise I will give it back. I need your strength to get me through!

18. Flowers always are uplifting.  Be aware of the ones that need care.  I may not feel up to it.

19.  Help me around my home. I will hate to ask but I need help. I have no energy.

20.  Help with my kids schoolwork, extra items I am too tired to deal with.

21. Help fold laundry. Or do my wash.  I will love you forever!  It keeps on coming…

22. Just visit.  (But be sure to watch my signs.  I may be too weak to talk)

23. Go to chemo therapy treatments, doctors appointments, and radiation therapy with me.  I will say no.  DON’T drop me off.  Insist you come in.   I will appreciate having support right next to me even though I present myself as tough.

24. Help drive me to other places, like the grocery store.

25. Shop for me.

25. Stay with me.  Sometimes being alone is not fun.

26. Watch movies with me while I lie on the couch.

27. Plant some flowers in my entryway. I may be too tired to take care of them, but it would cheer me up as I enter my home.

28. Supply warmth.  I am cold.  Cancer makes you cold physically and emotionally.  Warm microwavable rice packs or water bottles would feel lovely.

29.  Go with me to my information appointments.  I may not be able to handle all of the information.  Please take notes for me.

30. Offer to organize my medical stuff.

31. Place a sign on my door that says; ‘Please do not enter if  you are feeling sick, stuffed, or have a cough’  I must keep my home germ free.

32. Offer to keep the supply of hand sanitizer up to date.

33. Make a surgery basket or box that would cheer me up.  I most likely will have scary surgery and I need an uplift. (magazines, candy, card, etc.) Check on me after too.

34. Use your talents that you feel most comfortable to help serve. Someone once came and read children’s stories to me.  I LOVE children’s stories.

35. Do something for a local cancer center that offers ideas to do, for example: Bake for breastcancer, locks of love, shave  your head for…, run or walk for…marathon or bike-a-thon- for…Tell me  you have done for cancer and I will be speechless.

36. Be aware that I may not be myself and may not be able to talk to you during certain times of my treatments. Not because I don’t want to but because I won’t have any energy.

37.  Most of the time my white count is very low, which makes me very susceptible to getting sick.  Please keep your little ones at home. They have more germs that grown ups and don’t know when to cover and cough.  If I get sick it could be fatal.

38. Share music you love that can uplift me.

39. Share thoughts, recordings or stories that can uplift me.

40. Draw with me or for me. Coloring is theraputic as an adult as well as a child.

42. I may not be able to read at certain times, but offer a good story. Read to me if you have time.

43. Be a check-er-inner. (look at past blog post)

44. Be a shoulder to cry on.  I need to cry a lot!  Come to stock tissues.

45.  Do not be judgmental.  I am battling more than what is on the outside. I am very sensitive, but cannot be bothered by worrying if I have hurt your feelings.  It is too much for me to deal with.

46. Please take my kids.  I feel so terrible they have to see me like this. Could you do something to help them forget for a little while…

47. Please feed my partner or my family when I am having surgery.  They are so weary!

48. Please don’t think that after all my treatments are done that I don’t need any friends anymore.  I will always have to worry about cancer.

49. Love my animals for me. Take them to the doggy park, or whatever…

50.  Please remember that I am not Cancer.  I am a human with tender feelings.  I feel anger, fear, frustrations, loss, and so many other feelings. I want to have a regular life like you. Let me talk of other things.

51. Send me a text message every week, during treatments, at the waiting room, etc.

52. Send me an e-mail. Or 2 or one each week….

53. KEEP REMINDING ME, I CAN DO THIS!  I will get better!

54.  PRAY FOR ME! I need you my friend.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 1 John 4:11

Quick Look for Friends

We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.       

  Luziano De Cresceno

A list to answer, “What do I do now,” as a friend.

1. Snail mail Letters or cards make me feel so happy and loved.

2. Send comics/jokes/uplifting short thoughts to me so I can laugh or feel good inside.  I often bring them to treatments, or surgeries to cheer me up!

3. Read and keep up with my blog/ or start and keep my blog because that will help me not have to tell my story over and over again. That is so hard for me. (Look in archives)

4. Set up calendar care (read archive post) This will make life so much easier for me. (This handles meals, childcare, rides, etc.)

5. Make a cross off treatment chart. (look at my blog post for the example)

6. Small meaningful gifts: scarves for cold neck or head, nail polish, pajama bottoms, music, books on tape, magazines, treats, candy, food, mashed potatoes, etc. Serve how you feel most comfortable.  I will appreciate anything.

7.  Go wig/hat shopping together.

8. Bring over surprise comfort foods without too much seasoning. (Burns my mouth) I love bread, soup, mashed potatoes, bland things like rice, smoothies, ice cream.

9. Bring over simple lunch (like soup) and stay for a few minutes depending on how I feel.

10.  Hand or foot massage (with or without lotion)

11.  Don’t try to sell a product to me unless I ask.  I have heard about them all!

12. Look up information for me when I am too stressed to read about it all.

13.  Send or record a sweet…mantra I can say to myself at treatments. I use scriptures from the Bible. Jesus Christ is my master healer!

14. Bring things that can calm my nerves (color book and crayons–this has known calming effects for adults too)

15. Make a quilt, afghan, or pillow case I can take with me to treatments or surgery.

16. If you want to make something for me, I will so appreciate your time as well as the thoughtful gift.

17. Offer your gook-luck charm.  I promise I will give it back. I need your strength to get me through!

18. Flowers always are uplifting.  Be aware of the ones that need care.  I may not feel up to it.

19.  Help me around my home. I will hate to ask but I need help. I have no energy.

20.  Help with my kids schoolwork, extra items I am too tired to deal with.

21. Help fold laundry. Or do my wash.  I will love you forever!  It keeps on coming…

22. Just visit.  (But be sure to watch my signs.  I may be too weak to talk)

23. Go to chemo therapy treatments, doctors appointments, and radiation therapy with me.  I will say no.  DON’T drop me off.  Insist you come in.   I will appreciate having support right next to me even though I present myself as tough.

24. Help drive me to other places, like the grocery store.

25. Shop for me.

25. Stay with me.  Sometimes being alone is not fun.

26. Watch movies with me while I lie on the couch.

27. Plant some flowers in my entryway. I may be too tired to take care of them, but it would cheer me up as I enter my home.

28. Supply warmth.  I am cold.  Cancer makes you cold physically and emotionally.  Warm microwavable rice packs or water bottles would feel lovely.

29.  Go with me to my information appointments.  I may not be able to handle all of the information.  Please take notes for me.

30. Offer to organize my medical stuff.

31. Place a sign on my door that says; ‘Please do not enter if  you are feeling sick, stuffed, or have a cough’  I must keep my home germ free.

32. Offer to keep the supply of hand sanitizer up to date.

33. Make a surgery basket or box that would cheer me up.  I most likely will have scary surgery and I need an uplift. (magazines, candy, card, etc.) Check on me after too.

34. Use your talents that you feel most comfortable to help serve. Someone once came and read children’s stories to me.  I LOVE children’s stories.

35. Do something for a local cancer center that offers ideas to do, for example: Bake for breastcancer, locks of love, shave  your head for…, run or walk for…marathon or bike-a-thon- for…Tell me  you have done for cancer and I will be speechless.

36. Be aware that I may not be myself and may not be able to talk to you during certain times of my treatments. Not because I don’t want to but because I won’t have any energy.

37.  Most of the time my white count is very low, which makes me very susceptible to getting sick.  Please keep your little ones at home. They have more germs that grown ups and don’t know when to cover and cough.  If I get sick it could be fatal.

38. Share music you love that can uplift me.

39. Share thoughts, recordings or stories that can uplift me.

40. Draw with me or for me.

42. I may not be able to read at certain times, but offer a good story.

43. Be a check-er-inner. (look at past blog post)

44. Be a shoulder to cry on.  I need to cry a lot!  Come to stock tissues.

45.  Do not be judgmental.  I am battling more than what is on the outside. I am very sensitive, but cannot be bothered by worrying if I have hurt your feelings.  It is too much for me to deal with.

46. Please take my kids.  I feel so terrible they have to see me like this. Could you do something to help them forget for a little while…

47. Please feed my partner or my family when I am having surgery.  They are so weary!

48. Please don’t think that after all my treatments are done that I don’t need any friends anymore.  I will always have to worry about cancer.

49. Love my animals for me. Take them to the doggy park, or whatever…

50.  Please remember that I am not Cancer.  I am a human with tender feelings.  I feel anger, fear, frustrations, loss, and so many other feelings. I want to have a regular life like you. Let me talk of other things.

51. Send me a text message every week, during treatments, at the waiting room, etc.

52. Send me an e-mail.

53. KEEP REMINDING ME, I CAN DO THIS!  I will get better!

54.  PRAY FOR ME! I need you my friend.

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 1 John 4:11