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"You Still ROC"
Encouraging Yourself through Sickness
By Teresha A. Sutton, Philip McCorkle
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2016 Teresha A. Sutton
All rights reserved.
God is With Me
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness" (Isaiah 41:10, KJV). Another translation of this same scripture says; "I've picked you, I haven't dropped you." Don't panic. I'm with you. There's no need to fear for I'm your God. I'll give you strength. I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you (Isaiah 41:10, MSG). God has the whole world in His hands, including you! But, why do we sometimes feel like God has forgotten about us or seem so far away? In sickness, so many doubtful thoughts plague our minds because we feel as if God has forsaken us. We even question if it is His will to heal us on this side of eternity. Will I make it through this? How will my sickness affect my family? Will I still be able to work? What will I look like? How will I feel?
Have you ever felt this way at one point or another in your life? In fact, we should be asking God, "who am I that for are mindful of me?" (Psalm 139:13-16 NIV), states that "for you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be". These scriptures encourage us to know that we are always on His mind and he knows right where we are and he loves us more than we can comprehend. Well, you may ask, if God is indeed with me, why would he let me go through a sickness such as this? God handcrafted us. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord (Psalm 37:23); do you think he made a mistake? Never!
On July 24, 2014, I decided to schedule a "take care of me" day. This time of year was particularly unusual for me because I generally scheduled all of my appointments in January, which is my birthday month. I had scheduled all of my doctor's appointments which included a visit to the dentist who gave me a good teeth cleaning and a bi-annual checkup and he said, "See you in six months." My next stop was at my primary care physician's office. As we laughed and chatted about life, he checked me over and told me that my blood work was excellent and that he would see me next year. I had such a sigh of relief, as I always knew that if anything were ever wrong in my body it would definitely show up in the blood.
After leaving my second appointment at the primary care office and traveling to my third appointment to see my gynecologist, I called my mom to give her the good news about my lab results. When I arrived at the office, I checked in at the front desk as usual and updated some paperwork that the receptionist had given me. I waited about twenty minutes before being called back to see the doctor. After changing into my gown, I hopped on the table to be examined.
My gynecologist and I have a great relationship and we often talk about many things during my annual office visits, especially our children. As she examined my right breast, we continued to talk. I am nervous but praying that she would hurry up. She pulls the gown back up over the right breast and comes around the table to examine the left breast. Continuing to talk, she abruptly stops and says, "I feel a lump in your left breast". Flooded with emotions, I thought the worst. It had just been a year that I had lost my precious aunt and cousin five days apart, to breast cancer. The memories were ever so fresh as I was still processing and healing from those back-to-back losses. Breathless and faint, my thoughts were suspended in space. She took my hand and made me feel the lump. I immediately snatched my hand back as if I had just touched a hot stove because the lump was so hard and large. It measured 6 cm. I asked myself "how could I have missed that?" She asked me to get dressed as she made a phone call. I assumed she was making an emergency mammogram appointment for me. Instead, she was scheduling me an appointment to the Breast and Cancer Center, which was a block away. She handed me the script as I became instantly paralyzed.
Stuttering, I asked the doctor if I could walk to the center or did I need to drive. She said "you can walk its right at the end of the driveway." As I tried to approach the Center, my steps were like a baby just learning to walk. My knees were shaking and I felt helpless as I looked up to see the words "Breast and Cancer Center". I immediately turned around and got back in my car. "I can't do this I screamed! Oh God, not cancer!" With tears flowing down my face, I phoned my mother and then sent a text to my closest friends asking them to pray because at that time, I could not. I told them that I had just been sent to the Breast Cancer Center for testing. It took me about thirty minutes to reach the Center that was only a few steps away. Still crying, in shock, and speechless, I finally made it to the Center. I thought I was only going to get a routine mammogram, but my tests included two mammograms, an ultrasound, and a biopsy one right after the other. My God, what is going on I questioned?
Anxiously awaiting the biopsy results, the doctor asked me to get dressed and come into his office. While trying to unlock my knees, I finally made it into his office. He said, "I know you are upset right now and you may not be able to immediately process what I am about to tell you, so I will write everything down for you." With my thoughts still suspended in space, his first sentence was "it is likely malignant!" With fear I asked, "What do you mean likely?" he said, "Ma'am I have been a cancer doctor for over forty years and I know what I am talking about, however, let's wait to see what the pathology reports says on tomorrow." Before I knew it, I blurted out "I trust you," but as I was about to correct myself, he grabbed my hand and said, "No! You always put your trust in God first!" I believe God wanted me to know that he too was a believer.
My Pastor once preached a sermon on how storms were not designed to kill you, but to prove you. God is making your situation into a situation you can handle. Surely, there were many incidences during this storm of sickness where I felt like this was designed to take me out. I finally came to realize that storms often come from many directions, but it's how we maneuver through them that dictates our outcome. During my journey, I had to surround myself with positive people and emerge myself with quotes that impacted my life. My spirit had to be feed with words that could sustain me. Such quotes included:
"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass ... its learning to dance in the rain (Author Unknown). I had to learn that the storms would pass and the rains would subside. However, they both are necessary ingredients to build character. There is purpose in every painful situation we must encounter. We must seek to find the good in it. We must realize that there is nothing that we will ever face that will catch God by surprise. Surely, he's the God of the storm, and in his own time and at his own command, the storm has to cease. "Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood, and now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less" (Marie Curie). Although we may not truly understand God's plan for us, we must trust his path. "The ultimate measure of man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy" (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr). Your greatest strength can be found in your weakest moment. Face the giant!
Scriptures remind us that God is with us because He declares in (Psalm 139:1-6 NIV) "You have searched me, and Lord You know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely". We are never out of God's sight. Therefore, our sickness is not a surprise to him. Is there anywhere we can go to avoid him? Absolutely not! The Message Bible speaks of this passage as David describes God's presence this way; "If I climb to the sky, you're there! If I go underground, you're there! If I flew on morning's wings to the far western horizon, you'd find me in a minute-You're already there waiting! Then I said to myself, Oh, he even sees me in the dark! At night I'm immersed in the light!" It's a fact that darkness isn't dark to you; night and day, darkness and light, they're all the same to you." (Psalm 139:8-12) God is EVERYWHERE! Yes, even in sickness, he's sovereign and will bring good out of every bad situation. You see, although we cannot choose life's battles, God uses adversity to demonstrate His great power and love for us. He knows that we can handle them before we believe that we can. He knows our end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). Unfortunately, pain and suffering merely are a part of life.
How did I know God was with me in this storm? Various indicators proved that God was with me because first, I am writing this book to encourage others which says, that I'm still alive and have a sound mind. Secondly, I couldn't always trace him, but I could sense him nudging me on what to do next. The truth is I didn't always feel him, but I knew he was present. One significant act of him being with me was when he told me earlier in the year to obtain quality health care insurance. I had been without insurance for about eleven years because I was self-employed and could not afford it. At the same time, President Obama had implemented his Obama Care Act which forced Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty. Once again, I launched out and tried to find an affordable policy that would meet my health needs as well as my monthly budget. To my excitement, there was a perfect policy tailor-made just for me. I applied and obtained that policy in April 2014 and to my surprise, I was diagnosed with triple negative, stage two breast cancer three months later. Whew, God is always on time! Had I not listened and obeyed His prompting of this very important matter, I would not have received the five-star cancer treatment that was available. It's the little things that help you through the big processes. I was blessed with a team of great doctors, nurses, and staff members that held my hand and genuinely hugged and treated me like I was part of their family and not just another sick patient. They reassured me that I could get through this nasty disease. We cried and laughed together often. I received phone calls not just from the staff, but from the doctors themselves on a regular basis, they really cared! If God wasn't with me, he wouldn't have shown His great love and care for me.
God is Listening
Father, in the name of Jesus, I confess your word concerning healing. You told me in Psalm 107:20, that you sent your word to heal me. Please breathe your healing presence upon me now. The life of God flows through me and brings healing to every fiber of my being. No weapon of disease or sickness shall prosper. In the name of Jesus, I declare that I have a blood brought right to answered prayers. I thank you Father because you hear my prayers and supplications. Exodus 15:26 tells me, "If I will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and will do that which is right in your sight, and will give ear to your commandments, and keep all your statures, you will put none of these diseases upon me, as you brought upon the Egyptians; for you are the Lord that healeth me". I come to you asking for forgiveness from anything that I may have done intentionally or unintentionally that was displeasing to you and toward others. As I forgive them, I forgive myself. Father, I also ask for forgiveness from every sin that I have brought against my body and against your word.
I thank you for your grace and mercy that are new to me every morning. It is because of your love and kindness that I am still here. Even on my worst days, you are still good. Help me to grow spiritually and physically as I walk through this journey of sickness. I will not die because you promised never to leave me. Though this storm is enormous, I pray that you will teach me what it is that I am to learn from it. You are the God of the storm and I am your property. I choose to remain stable and fixed under your shadow. No evil shall befall me. I thank you because your power is strong enough to attack my disease. I confess the word of God over my life now. In Jesus name, AmenCHAPTER 2
Did you feel ugly or ashamed after your diagnosis? Did you become angry or bitter with yourself or God? Did you pray or did you enter into a deep depression? Did you stop and encourage yourself, I sure didn't! Encouragement was the last thing on my mind. In fact, I became cynical, bitter, and angry with God and myself. I asked the questions, Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I even thought of my sickness as punishment. My faith was greatly tested as I distanced myself from God. One of my greatest desires is to be happily married and the very thought of cancer had abruptly invaded that thought. My heart was shattered and my dreams dimmed as I thought of being single forever. Who would want me because of my scars? Yes, I thought like this during this devastating time.
As each treatment wreaked havoc on my body, I prayed for a rescuing grace. I wanted him to do that quick, supernatural miracle in me and get me out of this storm. He did, in His own time, but it wasn't as expeditiously as I wanted. In fact, my treatment plan lasted for about eleven months. Surely, I knew I would be one of the ones exempt from having to go through all the treatment plans, but once again as devastating as it was, I had to fight till the very end. I fought extremely hard day after day to maintain my commitment of self-affirmation but too often, I failed as I didn't always believe in my own words.
I had to train and remind myself daily that "healing is a matter of time, but is sometimes also a matter of opportunities" (Hippocrates, 460 BC-370 BC). It was necessary for me to maximize each day as an opportunity to tackle my emotional healing before I could even deal with my physical healing. Encouragement had to come from within; no one could believe for me. I had to mix the ingredients of encouragement, faith, hope, patience, endurance, cheerfulness, gratefulness, thankfulness, self-worth and bake in the oven of my soul.
John C. Maxwell defines "encouragement as an essential nutrient of growing a positive attitude and improving life, and providing that encouragement benefits both the giver and the receiver(s)." Quite often it is easier to encourage someone else, rather than yourself. The most powerful warriors are patience and time (Leo Tolstoy). In many instances it seems easier to give up and believe the negative than to fight to believe the positive. "Each person comes into this world with a specific destiny; he has something to fulfill, some message has to be delivered, and some work to be completed. You are not here accidentally, you are here meaningfully. There is purpose behind you. The whole intends to do something through you" (Osho). I fought through layers of doubt and discouragement during my first few weeks of sickness. My mind was on the battlefield as I was confronted with both fear and faith. Truthfully, fear constantly knocked me down and won most of the time. There was very little fight left in me. It became the norm for me to go to my appointments only to want to come home and just lay in bed feeling sorry for myself. I felt that I was the only one going through such a devastating experience and became jealous of others that seemingly were going on living their lives happily ever after.
There were many people who showered me with love and kindness and many words of encouragements during my battle. I wanted so badly to believe them, but too often, I felt like they were just trying to make me feel better. My mind was saying, "but it's not you and unless you have walked in my shoes you can't feel my pain." I entertained bitterness, anger, depression, and thoughts of feeling ugly and ashamed. I was raised in church all of my life and it was customary for us to be taught to praise our way through every storm. We had to believe and thank God no matter what. I've been through some rough storms, but definitely this was a storm like no other. I remember mentally saying "God, please help me." Those were the only words I could say for the first few months. It seemed as though, I had forgotten how to pray. The words just wouldn't come out of my mouth. This journey for me was so personally devastating that I often could not articulate the pain. I had begun to harbor bitterness toward God and others and surely could not accept the fact that my life was so abruptly interrupted.
Excerpted from "You Still ROC" by Teresha A. Sutton, Philip McCorkle. Copyright © 2016 Teresha A. Sutton. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 God is With Me, 1,
Chapter 2 Mirror Meetings, 13,
Chapter 3 Speak Life, 23,
Chapter 4 Don't Give Up, 31,
Chapter 5 Expect to Win, 41,