40 Day Devotional: Day 10: Free as a bird!

ImageThis afternoon, while I was walking my dog in the cold winter sunshine, we came along some trees and bushes in the neighbourhood and there were a variety of birds cheerfully singing! One female magpie was even making her nest high up in one of those trees!

I got an instant Spring foreboding, inspite of the cold. I felt grateful and free!

“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 than food, and the body more 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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? …

 (Matthew 6:25-34 NIV)

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40 Day Devotional: Day 12: Falling down – Getting up

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at Pinterest via cubiclerefugee.tumblr.com

God loves you, even if you fall down. Just pray and get up again, even if it’s the umptieth time!

Superchick: Get up

I’m not afraid to fall
it means i climbed up high
to fall is not to fail
you fail when you don’t try
not afraid to fall
i might just learn to fly and
i will spread these wings of mine

40 Day Devotional: Day 30: Hope for dark times

Sometimes life and it’s pain can be overwhelming. I take comfort out of the fact that Jesus knew pain and loneliness too, because he was both fully God and man.

Matthew 26:36-38 GNB

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “

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Monastery Maarssen

Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee. Grief and anguish came over him, and he said to them, “The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

I want to share a beautiful, simple poem by the South African poet Helen Steiner Rice, for comfort in one of those dark times, days or moments.

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by Helen Steiner Rice from 'a collection of joy'

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Never quit – live strong

Once in a while I encounter a story that is so encouraging and motivating I want to share it with everybody.

This summer holiday I read 2001’s ‘It’s not about the bike’ by Lance Armstrong, 7-time Tour de France-winner and fulltime cancer fighter.

It’s a real pageturner and it made me re-evaluate the topics of hope, endurance and courage in my own life.

Most of the quotes below are from his book.

Don’t ever quit

Lance’s mother, a single mom, raising her only child Lance, was working as a secretary. Lance sensed that she was underestimated by her boss and asked her one day: ‘Why don’t you quit?‘. Her simple but powerful answer was

‘Son, you never quit.’

So ‘Never Quit’ became Lance’s life adage.

When he was 25, the doctors discovered an agressive testicular cancer that had already spread to his lungs and his brain. He had 12 tumors in total and was given little hope to survive.

Hope

‘When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or fight like hell.’

He chose the latter. Lance went through a stunning 4 cycles of chemotherapy and brainsurgery, fighting like hell to LIVE.

‘Don’t let go, don’t give up hope
All is forgiven
You’re breathing in, you’re breathing in
We call it living’
(Switchfoot- Needle and Haystack life)

Believe

‘Anything is possible. You can be told you have a 90-percent or a 50-percent chance or a 1-percent chance, but you have to believe, and you have to fight’

His strength to survive was so great and he believed that he could beat cancer, and so he did.
Although surviving cancer depends on many things, like sheer luck, moment of diagnosis, and a lot of things we don’t yet understand, to believe that it is possible is crucial.

Jesus said in Matthew 19:26: “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Lance’s wife at the time: Kristin (Kik) Richard was a christian and prayed.

Courage

‘ I think we are supposed to try to face it straightforwardly, armed with nothing but courage. The definition of courage is: the quality of spirit that enables one to encounter danger with firmness and without fear.’

In his book Lance says he even needed more courage to conquer the Tour de France title than to go through his cycles of chemo.

Joshua says to his mates in Joshua 10:25 “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Be strong and courageous. This is what the LORD will do to all the enemies you are going to fight.”

What are your enemies right now?

Endurance

‘Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. That surrender, even the smallest act of giving up, stays with me’

‘So when I  feel like quitting, I ask myself, which would I rather live with? Facing up to that question, and finding a way to go on, is the real reward, better than any trophy.’

This is so profound and true, I hope, believe and pray that I will start living more like that, from this moment on.

With his enormous drive and endurance, Lance also won the Tour de France 7 times in a row in his newly gained life and started the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a foundation to help cancer patients and survivors of the disease with information, encouragement and raising money for research.

Unrealized capacities

‘The one thing the illness has convinced me of beyond all doubt- more than any experience I’ve had as an athlete- is that we are much better than we know. We have unrealized capacities that sometimes only emerge in crisis.’

In 1998, I was going through my studies to become a speech-language therapist. We had a professor: Wouter, who was always fiercely debating with one of his students: Kym, in order to stimulate her to further realize her capacities as a student. He would always provoke her to stretch her limits.

A few months later, he died of bowelcancer, being under the wrong impression for too long he had picked up some parasite in Tanzania, where he worked voluntarily with deaf children.

A few months later still, it was October by then, Kym too was diagnosed with metastasized ovary cancer. I saw her for the last time in January of 1999. She came to school, with a peaceful smile on her lips, a translucent complexion and a wig.
When she told us she was going to die, she had to comfort us. She was strong and we were shattered. Later, we all got the chance to say goodbye to her.

I was going through a depression at the time and asked her for advice. She said the same as Lance: ‘ If it is one thing that I have learned, it is that we are far more capable than we know, to cope with bad things that happen. Just remember you are way more powerful than you think you are’. A month later she died. I’ll never forget her wisdom and her grace.

When our class graduated the next year, we tied her diploma to a white helium balloon and send it to heaven.

‘We believe in life.
Your life.
We believe in living every minute of it with every ounce of your being.
And that you must not let cancer* take control of it.
We believe in energy: channeled and fierce.
We believe in focus: getting smart and living strong.
Unity is strength. Knowledge is power. Attitude is everything.
This is LIVESTRONG.’

– the LIVESTRONG manifesto
* or anything else negative: addictions, the past, self-pity, procrastination, negative self-image etc

We have only one chance to live our lives in this life on earth, I encourage you as well as myself to wake up everyday thankful and eager to make the most out of every minute, don’t quit, live strong.

For me living strong is:

Be focused
Be courageous
Be strong
Be hopeful
Be thankful
Be alert
Be productive
Be creative
Be positive
Be full of life
Be-lieve

If you want to know more about the Lance Armstrong foundation you can visit: http://www.livestrong.org or follow Lance on Twitter.

I also highly recommend:
It’s not about the bike‘ his story of surviving cancer and winning his first Tour
and its sequel: ‘Every second counts‘.
Both available at Amazon.com

If you want to leave a comment to me or tell me your story please do so in the comments section below or on Twitter.
Thanks a lot!