December: Good News Month!

photo_2Only Good News, Please

I think there should be a rule that you can only have good news during December and only good things can happen in December—in honor of Christmas, of course! But that is just not the way life works. Things that aren’t so good happen in December too. People get in car accidents, spouses fight, children rebel, and death steals loved ones.

For me, the doctors broke the good news rule by diagnosing me with another chronic disease: Crohn’s. Not really good news. Not life threatening and it’s something that can be managed—kind of. (Sound like it’s going to need prayer management most!) I’m just at the beginning of figuring this thing out (and I am grateful for really terrific doctors) but it certainly wasn’t the results I was hoping for … from all those icky, invasive tests in November. I thought inflammation was just an inconvenience, didn’t realize it could be so damaging. Who knew?!

Unchanging Truth

But the amazing truth is—any bad news we receive, doesn’t change the good news. Nothing can change the good news that Jesus came for us. And He came to make the bad news better. He came to make a way out of all the bad news that sin brought into the world. He suffered and died to bring us eternal life in heaven with Him. And even now, we have the incredible joy of knowing His Presence. The fact that He is with us, He loves us and He walks with us through all things makes this life not only bearable, but gives us Hope.

Healing, Trusting, Rejoicing

God could heal me in an instant. He’s done it before. (He completely healed me of motion sickness—which is the coolest thing ever! I’ll have to tell you about that sometime.) Or He could ask me to walk through this with Him, leaning on Him and obeying His leading. Either way, I trust Him and I give Him praise. “Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases…” (Psalm 103:2, 3.)

And I rejoice in the good news of His birth! No matter what else happens, He came to save me. There’s nothing better than the One you love coming for you. Through the strangest path and the most unconventional means, that’s what Jesus did when He was born as a baby on earth one night in Bethlehem. Just like the angels said to the shepherds, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy”! (Luke 2: 10)

What are the “not so good” things in your life right now that you can use as reminders of His unchanging good news?


Greatest Gifts: Forgiveness


One of the greatest gifts we can give this Christmas is the beautifully wrapped gift of forgiveness. If we’re willing to do the work of giving this gift, both the giver and receiver can be set free.

In this post, I’m not talking primarily about forgiving people for offenses that come up in our everyday relationships: unkind comments or misunderstandings. It’s important to forgive those things, of course, and it’s very important to restore any broken relationships. Maybe this is the season when you can extend forgiveness to someone and mend a friendship. That would be a wonderful gift for both of you.

The Unforgivable

But I’m talking about the deep hurts some of us have stored in a box in our heart’s attic, sealed up and marked, “Unforgivable.”

There are things that happen to us that can be considered “unforgivable.” Verbal, physical, and sexual abuse, all fall into this category. Words from important people in our lives that have warped our view of ourselves. Anything that has hurt so deep, we can’t seem to find the strength to forgive because they were just “so wrong.” And you’re right. They were wrong. And sinful. Perhaps even evil.

The Freedom

But we are still called to forgive. Forgiveness is the only way to freedom. If we don’t forgive, we will harbor a hardness of heart. Bitterness will grow up and choke us with its poison. Even if you agree with this concept, I know what you’re thinking … “But how?”

The Steps

There are 4 ‘A’s that can help us.

1. Acknowledge Forgiveness is a Continual Process. Some people have done so much damage that you have to forgive them over and over. Every time the hurt or offense comes to mind and it still stings, we have to forgive again. And we are in good company. The disciples asked Jesus how many times they should forgive someone and suggested a generous seven times. Jesus said, no, seventy-seven times. In other words, over and over.  (Matt. 18:21,22.)

2. Agree to Participate in the Forgiveness Process. The Bible tells us many times we need to forgive and show mercy. Jesus said, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,” (Matthew 6:14.) Notice He didn’t say “if” they sin against you, He said “when” they sin against you. We need to agree that God’s ways are best and yes, we will set our hearts to forgive.

3. Ask God for Grace. He will give us grace. God always wants to give us grace. When we are taking a step of obedience, He is right there to hold our hand and give us the power to do it. “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you,” (Isaiah 41:13.)

4. Articulate Forgiveness. We will make progress faster along the path of forgiveness if we will speak our forgiveness out loud. Even if it’s a whisper, when that person and that heartbreak pops up to haunt you again, say, “I choose to forgive today. I forgive you because Jesus forgave me. I forgive by the power of the blood of Jesus.”

Trust me. These steps will help. Forgiveness will help heal your heart and it will help set you free. Forgiveness is the one of the greatest Christmas gifts you can give to another and to yourself.

Have a lighter heart this Christmas. Forgive.

Is there someone you need to forgive?

For a song to encourage you in this process, check out Matthew West’s “Forgiveness” on iTunes.

Look Up!

The Sunday morning before last, I was starting to get quite the headache. We had finished worship practice and I found myself rubbing my neck and jaws because they were so tight and painful.

I knew from experience that if those symptoms continued, I would wind up with a debilitating migraine. This was not an option! Not only did I need to lead worship in 30 minutes, but I also needed to be able to frost 154 cupcakes right after church for a dear friend’s afternoon wedding!

Time to Pray

When the worship team and our pastor went in a Sunday school room to pray, they laid hands on me and prayed for healing. I started to feel better right away. The pain and tightness receded. Praise the Lord! As I stepped back into the circle and we continued to pray, the Lord showed me something else too.

I needed to look up. The tension was coming from looking down so much. I’d been baking for the wedding for two weeks, with lots of dipping and looking down for hours at a time. I had just been looking down towards my music stand in practice. My neck was saying, “Enough!”

Where Are We Looking?

In so many ways, we need to look up and when we look down too long, we find ourselves dealing with stress and pain. Where is our focus? Are we constantly looking down? Maybe part of our life is saying, “Enough! Look up!” It’s time to look up to the Lord.

“I lift up my eyes to the hills where does my help comes from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1,2). We need to get and keep our eyes on the Lord. He is our Help.

The Lord, Our Answer

He waits for us to look up and acknowledge Him. He wants to help us. He stands ready to answer our prayers, to comfort us or to heal us. He wants to intervene and to act on our behalf. He is always ready to show Himself strong and mighty in our lives.

So let’s look up and ask for His help!

What is taking your eyes off the Lord today?

October: Life Month for Me!

I have to tell you that October is one of my favorite months of the year. It’s a beautiful fall transition month, it’s Scott’s birthday month and it’s my testimony month–the month I personally celebrate the fact that I’m still here…because in October of my senior year of high school, I wasn’t sure I wanted to stay.

Dark Depression

I was so depressed I wanted to die. It’s what I thought about all month. I couldn’t come up with any good plans. (Jumping off the Golden Gate bridge wasn’t realistic because it was an hour drive north and I didn’t have a car, but I thought about it anyway.) I was practically too tired to come up with a good plan, but I still thought I should just die. I was surrounded by darkness.

I had been dealing with depression for about a year and a half, not realizing it was because of all the medication I was taking for a thyroid disease God had already healed me from. That’s right. I was prayed for in September of my junior year and God healed me. I had been diagnosed with low thyroid (it’s hereditary and my mom had it) when I was 11. I’d been prayed for many times, but this one time seemed different.

Healed? Not Healed?

We went back to the doctor, who said, yes, my thyroid was functioning, but now it was putting out too much thyroid hormone, so he increased my synthroid, put me on 1500 mg of Motrin a day, plus at least one other med I can’t recall. We assumed we were wrong about the healing and continued following this doctor’s course of treatment. We’d always been able to trust him before, but I’d never been healed by God before either.

That’s when the depression started—and the “not eating.” I denied I was anorexic for a long time. Just because I faked my way through breakfast and tossed my lunch in the first garbage can I came to at school; just because I loved losing weight and got down to 98 lbs., didn’t mean I was really anorexic. In a way, I was right. I had anorexia symptoms, but I later called it “chemically induced anorexia” because I never would have been anorexic on my own, but all the extra thyroid hormones was like being on speed (I’m told) so I wasn’t hungry. Ever. When I said I wasn’t hungry, it was true. So I didn’t eat, which made me more tired – and more depressed.

The Choice to Hang On

One night, I was huddled on the floor leaning against my bed and I started raking my nails across my wrists, making deep, red scratches, wondering how hard it would be to really break the skin and start bleeding. Then, I stopped. The ugly red lines stopped me. I pulled myself up onto my knees, almost too tired to do that, and I prayed.

“God, I can’t see You–and I can’t feel You right now. But I know You’re there. So, I’m just going to hang on.” It was all I could do, all I could say, but it was enough. I stopped thinking about suicide so much and making comments about not wanting to be here. I was still depressed, but I was one step up from the dead bottom.

I dragged through the months. I got really sick in January. The doctor took me off all my medications for two weeks, then put me back on them. I dragged through a few more months. The enemy was wreaking havoc, but I held on. I graduated high school with a 3.8 GPA, sang at the Baccalaureate service and at Graduation. We continued to minister on the weekends. Everything looked ok on the outside.

Yes, Healed!

Then, the summer after I graduated, the doctor told my mom he didn’t know what to do with me. So she found another endocrinologist and got a second opinion. He had my history and at our first doctor visit, he checked me out head-to-toe. Then, he calmly said he couldn’t find any evidence that I had a thyroid disease or that I’d ever had a thyroid disease!

I remember my mom and I sitting in the car after the appointment, stunned. Did he say what we thought he said?

I went off all medication and quickly returned to normal. I felt normal. I ate normal. Normal was good!

The Truth of God

At some point after that, I realized how terrible it would have been if I had killed myself the October prior…especially because I was already healed! What would God have said to me? That would have been really embarrassing! He probably would’ve told me I was already healed, to hang on, and sent me back. That’s pure speculation, but I think it’s a good guess, because He accomplished the same thing when He stopped me in my tracks that night and helped me hang on because He wasn’t finished with me and my time here on earth yet.

I am so grateful that I had a foundation in God and that I clung to the Truth of His Being that dark night regardless of how I felt. Sometimes we can’t feel Him or see Him, but that doesn’t change the absolute fact that He is there and that He loves us.

Even if we are in darkness, we must believe. We must cling to God’s truth. The truth is God is with us. God is for us.

God is great! He loves us. He is our strength. And I’m so glad I’m still here to proclaim that today.

In what ways has God rescued you from darkness?

God Still Heals

To Fly or Not to Fly

Growing up, I always loved airports. I just loved the atmosphere—all the people coming and going, the planes landing and taking off, the very air vibrating with the wonderful world of “travel.” I was sure I would LOVE to fly.

The first time I got on a plane (that I remember-the trip when I was 3 doesn’t count) was when Scott and I flew from San Jose, CA to Orlando, FL for our honeymoon. (Yes, we went to Disney World. We wanted to go somewhere fun!) The plane lifted off the ground carrying us up, up, up…and suddenly all I could think was, “Put me down!” Oh no. I didn’t like it. I was nervous and afraid. Every noise I asked Scott, “What was that?” Soon I didn’t feel so good either. Great. I didn’t actually throw up…on that trip.

Oh, So Sick

Since then, flying has been a trial for me. I figured it was the fear making me sick so I prayed against fear. I was still sick. Every once in awhile, I would feel fine on a plane, perfectly fine. So I knew it could happen. But then, just as quickly, I could be overcome by nausea. Once I would arrive at my destination, I would fight the dread that came with knowing each day led back to getting on a plane again to get home. Eventually I realized it wasn’t only anxiety bringing this on; I had a problem with plain old motion sickness.

Not that flying was the only time I got motion-sick. I had plenty of episodes in cars too. But they seemed random. Usually I was fine. I mean, I traveled full-time in a motorhome for three years and (after praying about it) I was never sick. I could read, crochet, walk around with no worries. But in later years, I would be blindsided by motion sickness, especially if we left early in the morning on a car trip.

The Trip That Changed It All

In February 2009, I took a trip with my oldest son, Bryn and his friend Dallen with Dallen’s parents, Gary and Deedra, to Dallas, TX for Campus Days at Christ for the Nations. (Awesome ministry school!) We had to drive 5 hours to Spokane first and then fly from there, through Denver to Dallas. Two plane rides, each way. Terrific.

The flights down were the same as always. I prayed. I tried to be calm. I brought tiny pretzels. I didn’t eat too much or too little. And I still felt sick most of the time. I was thinking on that second flight how I believe the Lord actually wants me to fly more in the future. I told Him, “Lord, I can’t show up some place, completely pale and sick and then go speak…Well, I guess actually I can and I will if You want me to, but it’s not going to be a great situation.” I survived and we arrived in Dallas.

Ask and You Will Receive

In the first service at CFNI, during worship, I thought again about arriving sick everywhere I fly to and realized (light bulb moment!) I had done everything I could do and I could not fix this. I raised my arms toward heaven, surrounded by music and voices in praise to God, and prayed, “Lord, I need You to heal me.” I sensed His Presence come down and touch my upraised hands. I didn’t physically feel anything, but I knew He was there and I knew He had touched me. I was pretty sure I was healed.

Testing Out a Healing

I was kind of excited to get on the plane to go home and see if God had really healed me. We boarded a big plane in Dallas. Lots of people. We taxied out to our runway and stopped. Then we turned and taxied back to the gate. A mechanical problem, they said. Before, that would have been “it.” I would have been sick already. Not that day. I had perfect peace in my body. We sat there for two hours. A problem with one of the engines, but not to worry; they could fix it! I knew we would miss our connection in Denver. I still felt fine. I couldn’t wait to take off and get up in the air to be sure God had healed me. We finally took off and even though I was on the aisle of a packed plane, I didn’t have a trace of nausea. Yeah!

We got to Denver. We stood in long lines. We had no luggage, but we would be put up in a motel overnight. My son had a raging headache. We couldn’t find our shuttle. When we finally did get on a short, full shuttle bus to go to our hotel, the driver was definitely incapacitated in some way. Too tired? Too much to drink? The little bus swerved all over the road. My son started to feel sick. I wondered if we would be in an accident when the driver almost took a freeway exit and pulled back at the last minute. I just laughed. I didn’t want to crash, but I was so happy that I felt fine. Perfectly, wonderfully, so-not-sick, fine.

Joy, Joy, Joy

The next day we flew to Spokane. I felt great. Our luggage didn’t arrive till later. We had to wait for it and then drive five hours. I felt fine then too. And I haven’t had a moment of motion sickness in any moving anything ever since!

Can I tell you that flying is a lot more fun when you’re not sick?! The trip is more fun when you aren’t dreading getting back on the plane too.

I just flew to WA and back to visit my parents and my brother and his family. It was great. On the way home, our little, 20-row plane bucked and bolted as we came down through the clouds. Then we edged back up a little. My head felt so funny with the pressure change, but my stomach was solid as a rock—which gives me such joy. Just getting on a plane makes me smile now because of what the Lord has done for me.

I’m so thankful to the Lord. I look forward to many flights in the future because of His touch.

If you’re wondering whether God still heals or not–take it from me–He does!

  • Hi, I'm Erica ~ a wife, a mom, a Christian speaker, singer, author, and worship leader. I love coffee & chocolate, reading & writing, music & more music, Facebook & Twitter, time with family & friends! Thanks for dropping by ~ I hope you are encouraged here.

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