September 22, 2014
by Floyd
0 comments

Four Questions to Ask When Dealing With Disappointment

A young man, whom I respect, recently asked me for some insight on dealing with a situation that brought him much disappointment. He had been journaling and reflecting on his experience but wanted some help in processing it constructively. I encouraged him to ask himself four questions as a way of turning his disappointment into an opportunity for learning and growth. These questions are also helpful in processing the pain we experience in disappointment…

  1.  “What was life giving about the situation?”    Rather than asking in an accusing voice, “Why did You do that to me?” I have learned to ask, “What do You want to teach me through this, God?” To ask myself, “What was God up to? What did I learn? What good came out of it?” It is important to see the hand of God in the choices we make. To know and believe that God is guiding and using every circumstance of our lives to work in us, to shape us, to teach us. I believe these questions can focus us on what God is doing instead of what we want a situation to be.
  2. “What is it I value about what I went through?”    Learn to look ‘behind’ what actually happened. Look deeper to find the principles and values that you learned which could lead you to greater maturity.
  3. “If I had three wishes concerning this situation, what would they be?”    This is where you can evaluate the situation, take what you have learned and see how you would do things differently if it happened again.
  4.  “How do I put into practice what I have learned from this situation?”

A comment about disappointments: they are usually from unmet expectations. We can’t control every situation in life, but we can learn to define our expectations before we enter a situation. Then, if reality is different than what we expected, we can take those expectations to God and ask Him what we should do about them… Sometimes we just need to change our expectations, sometimes we need to surrender to God’s refining work, sometimes we need to realize that we did not research the situation adequately before hand, sometimes we need to simply forgive, and sometimes it’s a combination of all of the above.

There are three classical ways of dealing with disappointment and loss that hinder us instead of help us:

  1. Analyzing our disappointment intellectually. Avoiding the pain we feel prevents us from addressing our disappointment on a heart level.
  2. Blaming others. A “looking for the sin in the camp” approach to problem solving prevents us from learning and growing through a situation. It is usually a subtle way of punishing others for the pain we feel. Obviously, it does not release us to move on with our lives. We carry with us what we do not forgive.
  3. Seeing it as a spiritual matter. The devil may be at work, but he gets a lot more credit than he deserves. It is much more beneficial to discern what God is doing than what Satan is trying to do.

In my studies from the life of King David in the Old Testament, I have observed that his life was filled with disappointments. The Bible records David’s disappointments and his responses to them, honestly. I encourage you to study David’s life from this perspective.

David’s psalms of lament teach us the value of grieving loss in our lives. Grieving is only one aspect of dealing with disappointment, but it is a vital one. We cannot learn and grow if we do not know how to grieve well. Covering up or denying the pain of loss and disappointment does not make it go away. Those feelings remain deep inside us, eating away at us… Until we acknowledge our loss, embrace the sadness it brings, and accept our present circumstance, we cannot move forward emotionally or spiritually.

Worship does not only involve praise, it also means sacrifice. Bringing our sacrifice of sorrow over our loss is a form of worship that is precious to God. When I come to God and acknowledge what has been lost in my life, and present that loss to Him, it is my way of saying “I trust You. I look to You for help. I cannot deal with this disappointment by analyzing it in my mind, I need Your comfort for my soul.”

In the end, responding to God with trust in the face of disappointment is a profound form of worship… our way of bowing – mind, body and soul before Him.

September 18, 2014
by Sally
4 Comments

Cancer and Joy – Carried Over the Wall

When I was told that I had an ovarian tumor, a large almost 8 pound one, and then, subsequently, that it was malignant – my first thought was how am I going to get through the surgery and chemo treatment? It seemed like a huge, giant wall in front of me that I had no idea of how to get through or over.

Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 8.54.03 PM

My friend’s picture of Jesus Carrying Me

Right at this time, I received an email from a dear friend in Indonesia. She was praying for me and was impressed with a picture in her mind for me. She actually drew it out for me.

The thought that kept coming to me was that Jesus would help me with the “wall” I saw in front of me. My friend’s drawing, and what she shared, was that Jesus was carrying me over a wall in this season. All I needed to do was relax, trust, and let Him carry me.

That has been a HUGE unexpected joy, maybe more than joy, but certainly it was hope. I don’t have to work, earn, worry, do anything on my own. He is with me…I can let Jesus carry me.

And He is doing that, day by day. When I don’t think I can make it, when I am discouraged, I remember the picture of Him carrying me – and it gives me words to pray, “Lord Jesus, please carry me now.” And He does.

“The beloved of the Lord rests in safety – the beloved rests between his shoulders.” Deut. 33:12

September 17, 2014
by Floyd
0 comments

Adventure With God

What makes an adventure an adventure?

I got in trouble a few years back while speaking to a church in Canada.  As I introduced my wife, Sally, I said “she doesn’t like adventure, like I do…” The folks in the church had a good laugh at my expense. They knew Sally and the wild lifestyle she has lived for Jesus.

What I intended to say is that Sally is not an outdoors type, doesn’t climb mountains, hunt with a bow, other stuff I like to do. I was doing the thing a husband should never do, I was comparing Sally to me. I made myself the standard. Really dumb!

But adventure? Are you kidding, me? Sally is the epitome of adventure. She left home as young 16 year old from Texas, and journeyed by faith half-way around the world to Samoa. She lived in Afghanistan, where she gave birth to our first child with a mid-wife in Kabul, pioneered in the Red Light District of Amsterdam and shared her home with 35 long-haired drop-outs on two houseboats. See what I mean? I misspoke big time!!

What I should have said is, “what I have learned from Sally is that embracing adventure has nothing to do with personality or disposition”. She is a high introvert, neat and tidy in everything.  But, more than her personality and love for order, is her heart to obey God.

So, to try and get this right, let me say what I think of when I think about adventure…

I think there are risks involved… some danger.

Adventure means difficulty… challenge… attempting the impossible… sacrifice.

There is the unknown… Adventure is not adventure if we know all the possibilities and control the outcomes.

Then there is the element of surprise… what if? What could go wrong?

And of course, when I hear the word adventure, I also think of fun, adrenalin, wild animals in Africa, the ‘rush’ of walking through the bush with hippos on your left and lions or elephants up ahead, tangible danger!

An adventure has drama and tension, like a great movie or a good story… take away the risk, the danger, the ‘unknown’ and what you have is predictable, safe and boring… not an adventure at all!

Adventure also means comradeship… friendship. What’s an adventure without some friends to share it with?

An adventure is a mission. We were created for mission therefore we were created for adventure. God’s original plan for us was to join Him on His great mission on earth. That’s where the greatest comradeship exists.

We were made for God adventure. If we take God adventure out of our lives, then we will selfishly turn people or money into our adventure.

The Bible is full of stories of unlikely adventurers with God. I call them ‘The Unlikelys’…

• Rehab – woman of disrepute, who helped spies escape capture
• Daniel – teenager taken hostage by the ISIS of the day
• Joseph – the rejected brother who was trafficked to a foreign land
• Abraham – a sheep farmer going where he did not know
• John Mark – Paul’s rejected team member
• John – son of a self-righteous religious extremists
• Mary – who pondered a prophetic mystery
• Gideon – man of fear
• Hosea – who was led by God in the most unusual way

To take adventure out of following Jesus is to rob our life of spice. It removes the emotion from life. God’s invitation to adventure is like a fork in the road. If we say no to God everything in our life changes from that point on.

Think what would have changed if Esther had said no to the invitation from God to rescue her people?

What would have happened if the rich young ruler had said yes to Jesus’ command to sell everything he owned?

My advice? If life has become safe and stable and, let’s face it, boring, it’s time to get some adventure back! Take up the hobby you have always wanted to. Go camping, buy a bike, or take an art class. Do something fun!

And say yes to Jesus. Don’t negotiate. Don’t bargain. Just trust Him and say yes!

See where He leads!!!

September 17, 2014
by Sally
0 comments

Cancer and Joy – God’s Compensations

NO ONE WANTS CANCER! But after the initial shock of discovering I have cancer, I concluded that God was with me in this journey. Consequently, I could expect God to reveal Himself to me every step of the way, in small and great ways.

Cancer is something that all of us fear – dread – don’t want – think will never happen to us, especially if we’ve been good about check ups, doctor’s appointments, etc. Which I always had been! But, it can happen to any of us – as I’ve just found out. There are no guarantees in life – young, old, in between, there are things we all go through. There are days when I still think this is a bad dream, and I’m going to wake up. It’s still a challenge to say the words – “I have cancer.”

I’ve found in my life that I go through seasons, good seasons, hard seasons, seasons I wish I didn’t have to go through. I’m in that third category now: cancer and chemo-therapy.

I have moments of courage in facing this season, and I have moments of weakness in thinking, ‘How in the world am I going to get through this?’

It’s not at all the season I was planning. My husband and I live in South Africa. We were in the midst of planning an extended visit to the U.S. to see family and friends, especially looking forward to time with the grandkids! We hadn’t been back for a visit like this for 2 years.

Then suddenly, cancer.

As much as I wish I wasn’t in this season, I have to say I’m finding small joys along the way.

That includes friends praying for me. I feel very “carried” by them. And I feel enveloped in peace and comfort from the Lord.

I guess the thing that has been most surprising to me is the moments of joy I’ve experienced. I’m calling them my “unexpected joys.” Even though God has given me wonderful gifts of joy all through life, I needed to open my eyes and heart to receive that in this difficult season. Once I did that – wow! I’ve had lots of it. I see and experience joy daily. Joy didn’t disappear because I have cancer. In fact, I think I’m more aware of it because it’s such a contrast to the heaviness of cancer.

God is the wonderful, gracious giver of joy in every season we walk through. There are moments I actually don’t want joy. I just want to curl up and sleep, hoping when I wake up that it has all gone away. But there it is, intervening, waking my soul to His goodness.

I learned many years ago that even in the hardest circumstances in life, I can look for the little things God brings to show His goodness. They are what I call “God’s compensations.” In so many ways He reminds me that He is “just in all His ways and kind in all His doings.” I’m finding His compensations of joy all around me in this season of cancer. They stare me in the face every day.

I’ll be sharing my “unexpected joys” on this blog. Being able to do that brought an immediate, unexpected anticipation: what will God do next that I can share with you? In the midst of it all, the pain, the nausea, the sleepless nights, there is a small stream of hope flowing through this hard season, breathing life into me.

 

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”   Psalm 30:5

Cancer and Joy – The Wrap-Around Presence

September 16, 2014 by Sally | 4 Comments

Sally & Gift Bag

My Gift Bag!

One thing I certainly never thought about doing in life is the day I would walk into the chemo-therapy room – and I would be the patient. I had no idea what to expect or what would be happening to me. I had several surprises in store for me on this day that felt overwhelming.  When I was leaving home that morning, a friend met me at our gate and handed me a huge gift bag with the label “Sally’s hospital boredom gift bag.”  It contained all kinds of little items to help me get through the day. What a joy! I was so touched by her love and thoughtfulness…and it really helped: a devotional book, sweet lozenges, puzzle books to relieve the boredom, and more goodies.

When we arrived at the hospital, I quickly realized I was being treated in a world-class chemo program. Everything was very organized, very professional.

Then there was my delightful nurse, Lulu.  She patiently walked me through everything that happened to me. I’ve experienced some not so patient and not so kind nurses in my life, so Lulu was a true joy! She made me feel secure and cared for.

The steps in chemo-treatment may be mundane but they all have their place:

First. antihistamine in my bum – the right place for that!

Then a long list of IV drips, one after the other for about 6 hours:- Steroid

– Something to line the tummy
– Anti-nausea
– 1st chemo/2 bags – 3 hours
– Saline
– 2nd chemo
– More saline

The chemo immediately felt “heavy” entering my body. I could feel the effect of it all the way into my legs. I had questions  because of things I was experiencing, and Lulu answered every question. She was so kind, and caring.  What a gift she was.

Sally in Chemo Chair

The Chemo Chair

I was the 2nd person to arrive that day – and the last one to leave 6 hours later.

Most of the people in the chemo-treatment room were alone. That was a surprise to me. It was a comfort to have my husband, Floyd, with me. So many patients came in by themselves, looking frightened and desolate. Some of them looked like they were on death’s door already.

I read, talked with Floyd, napped a bit, snacked, pulled my IV to the bathroom. ☺ It all went by fairly quickly. Someone had sent me a verse from The Passion translation of the Bible that used the phrase “the wrap around presence” of the Lord. During the day I realized I felt that “wrap around” sweet sense of His closeness. A day I dreaded and didn’t know what to anticipate was actually okay. I wasn’t alone in it and He brought unexpected joys to me all along the way.

 

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”        Deut. 31:8

September 15, 2014
by Floyd
0 comments

Attention Distraction Disorder

There are many tasks a leader must do, but one stands out above the others. Leaders must focus the attention of their followers. To do that, he or she must focus their own attention. There is a constant battle for the energy and attention of leaders. If a leader does not master the challenge of “attention distraction disorder” they will not lead well.

The problem is one of concentration. Christian leaders must be able to maintain focus on three things simultaneously: focusing on yourself and your relationship with God, focusing on the wider world – specifically that part of the world you are called to reach, and lastly, focusing on the “immediate” others in your life –those you serve with.

Focusing upward – maintains your emotional and spiritual well being

Focusing inward – maintains your connection relationally to your natural and spiritual family

Focusing outward – maintains your passion for those you are called to reach

Every leader needs to cultivate this “triad of awareness.” Failure to focus upward leaves you rudderless, failure to focus outward renders you lost in a haze of busyness, and failure to focus on others around you leaves you clueless relationally.

An unfocused leader will be blindsided. An unfocused leader who does not cultivate abundance and balance in the “focus triad” will run in circles, impressed with their own busyness and unaware that others are not truly following them. Or sadly, if their followers are following, they are being misled.

Seven skills and character qualities to overcome “attention distraction disorder”:

1. Determine three to five priorities in your life in order of ranking, and proportion your time for each one accordingly.

2. Set aside time each day for personal reflection and renewal. Cleanse yourself through prayer and confession of negative emotions and reactions to others.

3. Learn to say no. The more responsibility you have the more often you have to say no – so you can say yes to the main things. Do a time map for your week to evaluate how you use your time.

4. Cultivate people around you who are able to say no to you. Find ways to hear the voices of people who are not afraid to express disagreement or differing points of view.
As leaders grow in position and power their ability to maintain diverse personal connections suffer – unless they have gathered people around them who will be honest with them.  A wise leader will recognize valuable counsel from people of every social rank within their community or organization. Without such deliberate shift of attention, the natural inclination of senior leaders is to listen only to other senior leaders in their inner circle.

5. Learn self-restraint. When confronted by problems, effective leaders are those who have cultivated inner “traffic lights.” They recognize red light, yellow light and green light signals. They calm themselves under pressure, take time to think about how to respond, and then do so with a clear plan. Leaders who learn the quality of self-restraint shift away from impulse driven behavior to deliberate purpose-driven behavior.

6. Practice creativity and innovation. Do some things differently. Think out of the box. If you want new results you will have to break away from old practices.

7. Turn off notifications on your devices. Put your phone on airplane mode during your personal reflection time. A wealth of information can create a poverty of attention.

Focused attention is the basis of the most essential of leadership skills – emotional, organizational and strategic intelligence. The constant barrage of information and the speed of decision making in today’s world makes it crucial for leaders to maintain attention and to direct the attention of those they lead.

* I am grateful for the the inspiration and many of the insights for this article to Daniel Goleman in an article he authored titled, The Focused Leader, from the Harvard Business Review, page 50, December, 2013

September 12, 2014
by Sally
7 Comments

News After Round 3

Hello all,

Some moments have felt dark on this chemo/cancer journey I’m on. Strangely, I sense the Lord’s care and peace with me continually, and yet there have been moments that feel dark because of the pain and suffering.

While praying and worshiping this morning, I realized that often the “darkness” is simply because I’m in HIS shadow!  I’m not alone, I’m not in a bad place, it’s not a sinister darkness…….He’s just covering me with His wings and protecting me, staying very close to me.  It gave me a whole new perspective!  I’m safe, I can relax in His shadow and trust in His care for me.  I love that!

I’ve been reminded that my oncologist told me each round of chemo would get harder, and I would get weaker and tireder.  I think I forgot that detail. :( Thank you for continuing to pray for me.  I definitely need it!  I’m a week past round 3 of chemo.  Round 2 was so much easier than round 1, that I think I expected (hoped?!) round 3 would be “easy” too. Not the case!  It’s been rough.  Yesterday was a particularly bad day.  I was feeling low in every way.

I was encouraged with some good news I had when I went in for my chemo this time.  My cancer marker numbers are down, which means the chemo is working and doing its job!  My white cell count was slightly higher too, an answer to prayer.

In a recent update I asked you to pray with us about Floyd going to Jordan for a strategic conference with our International Leadership Team and young leaders gathering from around the world.  They will be ministering in the refugee camps among Syrians who have had to flee their country. And they will be seeking the Lord for how we’re to respond and be involved in the needs in the Middle East.

We both feel a peace about Floyd going.  He’ll leave shortly after my 4th round of chemo.  We asked the Dr. if I could delay that round until his return, but she said that would not be wise. Because we’re seeing good results, she didn’t think we should interrupt the process that’s taking place.  So we’re setting up a system of care for me here while Floyd is away. Thank you for praying with us!  We’re so grateful!  And please, would you cover me with your prayers Sept. 25 to Oct. 5, the days Floyd is gone?   Also, please continue to pray for my right kidney to recover and start functioning.

Next week here in Cape Town is our annual staff and leadership gathering for our workers we have sent out over the last 8 years. Please pray for God’s purposes to be fulfilled for our time together as we thank Him for all that’s been done in the past year, and seek Him for the year ahead.

I won’t be able to participate, but Floyd will be part of these meetings. One of our biggest blessings in life are the wonderful people God has brought into All Nations to work with us. Such a gift. It’s always special to have these times of gathering together.

I will be focusing my energy for rebuilding my strength to get ready for round 4.  It’s nice to be half way through after round 3. :)

Blessings and love,

Sally &  Floyd

September 12, 2014
by Floyd
0 comments

The Benefits of Being Part of an International Movement

Churches and missional communities that lack affiliation with an international network suffer as a result.  Some belong to networks, true, but often they are only national in scope.  This lack of association with leaders from other countries creates cultural, strategic, theological and organizational myopia.

Lack of multi-cultural and multi-national association creates a silo affect:  members can see the strength of what they belong to “vertically” but don’t see the “horizontal” perspective, i.e., there are many other affective parts to God’s global work.  The result is they are in-grown.

Every church and missional community needs a tribe to belong to, and if they are wise, they choose a tribe with experience and exposure in the nations.  After all, the greatest growth of the church today is not the West but among the “rest.”

Many younger evangelical leaders frown on association with traditional denominations and older missionary organizations – they fear control and irrelevance.

However, it’s a different world today.  National entities in international movements are legally independent.  This allows them to raise funding, set strategies, and create fresh approaches to mission more effectively, while still benefitting from their wider tribal connection.

National affiliates in international movements don’t report directly to a centralized headquarters, but do have the advantage of being cross connected to members who work in the same areas of ministry located in different countries.  This helps local leaders spot new strategies from other nations and thus be able to seize opportunities that benefit them locally – without giving up local ownership and leadership.

September 10, 2014
by Floyd
0 comments

FREQUENCY ILLUSION – It’s All In Your Mind

I learned a new term recently:  frequency illusion.

Once we notice something that annoys, surprises or pleases us we tend to notice it more and more, even to the point of over weighting its frequency in everyday life.  The way we observe the world is through the lens of our biases, our “frequency illusions.”

Trend journalism reinforces frequency illusion.  It is a form of intellectual trolling designed to create the illusion of “breaking news”, as if trending is a moral reality.

Courageous leaders with well thought through biblical core values, see through the haze of frequency illusion that social media and “the news” creates in people’s minds.  These leaders rather call their followers to the true realities of the kingdom of God.

September 8, 2014
by Floyd
0 comments

Things You Shouldn’t Say to Cancer Patients

My wife, Sally, has cancer.  Actually, I should say, she is overcoming cancer… and doing a great job of it too.  She is finding joy on her cancer journey.  She looks for joy.  She chooses joy.  And she gives joy to others.  She has bad days and is honest about them when they come, but, her focus is on the good things that God does for her in the midst of her journey.  She and I both pray for a miracle but we also keep our focus on the goodness of God.

Sally and I are grateful for the support of loving friends.  We have a very caring family (though a long way from where we live in Cape Town – they are in the United States).  We are loved and cared for by an incredible spiritual family too.  Friends, family and co-workers have made the emotional load of cancer much lighter to carry.

I have learned that there is an emotional weight for both the cancer survivor, and the spouse/care giver.

Some people understand that weight, and help lighten the load, while others say or do dumb things to make the load a little heavier.  Fortunately for Sally and I, we have had very little of the latter,  but friends have told us stories… I thought you would enjoy these all too real faux pas.

What not to say…

1.  “My___ (sister, nephew, auntie, etc.) has cancer”.  Having someone else in your life with Cancer doesn’t help to comfort this       person nor does it help you connect emotionally with them… especially if your person didn’t survive!

My advice:  Don’t mention others you know who have cancer.

2.  “I had cancer and I found this amazing herbal remedy that helped so much.  I think it cured me!  It only cost $150 a bottle.” Vitamins, supplements and proven helps are a blessing if they are a gift.  But ask if you can give them.  Don’t promote or propose weird solutions or remedies that you or somebody else you know used.

My advice:  Don’t give medical advice.

3.  “Did you know that cancer is caused by a root of bitterness?  Is there anybody you need to forgive?  Forgiveness releases healing from cancer.”  At this point it would be hard not to feel bitterness toward you!

My advice:  Ask them to leave.

4.  “God will heal you if you have more faith.”  Enough said.

My advice:  Ask them to leave.

5.  “Wow, you lost your hair.” Duh.  If someone says something awkward about losing your hair they normally accompany the statement with rude staring.

My advice:  Be gracious and change the subject.

6.  “Did you know cancer is caused by eating processed foods?”

My response:  “Then bring me a steak from free-range beef.”

7.  “I brought you a gift.  I just love jig-saw puzzles.  I think you will love this 5000 piece puzzle of a herd of 500 Zebras!  I think it will be so relaxing for you and take your mind off…well, just enjoy it.”

My advice:  Don’t give gifts you are not sure will be helpful or wanted.  Especially Zebra puzzles!

8.  “God told me you don’t have cancer!”

My advice:  Don’t say that.  Pray for that, but don’t say it.

9.  “Drink five glasses a day of wild-grass smoothies mixed with Mongolian mushrooms.  Tastes great and it works wonders.  It does give you gas and bad constipation and stomach cramps, but it works.”

My response:  “Wild what?!!!”

Good to know:   Don’t hug a person on chemo or allow anyone to visit them who has a cold, flu, etc., or who has a family member who is sick. Chemo treatment weakens the immune system and makes a person more vulnerable.  A cold or flu can throw off the chemo treatment schedule and put a person at greater risk for the chemo not to have its intended impact of killing off cancer cells.

What to say…

Below are some things our friends have said or done for us that are a huge blessing.  Just this morning my friend Archie told me his daughter Kaylee prays for Sally every day!  Here’s a few suggestions…

1. Tell the person you care for them and you love them.  It nourishes one’s heart.
2. Say you are praying – if you are.  It always encourages us to hear that.
3. Ask how they are doing.  There are stories to tell!
4. If the person has lost their hair, compliment them on how cute they look, and move on to another topic.
5. Listen a lot.
6. Talk about life.  Laugh.  Catch up on family, and be yourself.  Talk about movies you’ve seen, books you have read, people you know in common.  Talk about everyday life.
7. Bring a meal – but ask what kind of food they like ahead of time.
8. Write encouraging notes, SMS’s/text messages, and send uplifting scriptures.
9. Give them flowers.  They fill a bedroom or house with beauty.

If you want to know more, here are three books that have been very helpful to us:

The Chemotherapy Survival Guide, by Judith McKay and Tamara Schacher.  This book was written by two oncology nurses and was immensely helpful and medically very informative.  Describes what chemotherapy is, preparing for treatment, preventing and coping with side affects, eating right for recovery, getting the support you need, relieving stress, preparing for and managing care, and living life after cancer treatment.

Caring for a Loved One With Cancer, by June Hunt.  Fifty very practical, 1-2 page chapters filled with ideas about how to care for a friend or family member with cancer.

Healed:  Strength for Care Givers and Cancer Fighters, by Angela Peterson.  More from the faith angle but without condemnation.  Uplifting.