COCOONING COMFORT

by admin on October 12, 2015

Hi to My Butterfly Testimony family and friends! I am so sorry I haven’t blogged for a while. I’ve been dealing with a big family move. I’m overwhelmed. And, when I get this way, I crave comfort foods, especially hot tea (chai) with milk. But God is the true source of our comfort. And that’s what I’m writing about today. So go get that hot cup of tea, and let’s get cozy together…


IN THE CHRYSALISIsolate butterflies of a handprintsCOCOONING COMFORT

LifeCycle Devotions
© Suzanne Makshanoff [2014]*.


“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5

My mom lay cocooned in the hospital’s blue blankets. As I waited with her, and watched her, I knew she was in her chrysalis. Her lover of 54 years was gone. He had left her. Not physically, but mentally. And it broke her heart.

Over the last month, we had been searching for caregivers for my dad. He has Dementia. I hate that word. The dictionary defines demented as one suffering from dementia. My father is not demented! He is ill. He had become too ill for her to care for, so we found a care facility for him to live. In two days, he was scheduled to move in. The loss of him, not so much to the facility, but the physical loss of him as her lifelong love, was just too much for her heart to bear. She was admitted into the hospital with chest pains.

This wasn’t the first time, though, for her, for me, for my brothers. Blocked arteries run in the family, and we all have stents that hold our veins open for the blood to flow. She had one more stent placed. We have lost count. More than a dozen.

A couple of hours after the angioplasty procedure, the nurses remove the sheath (a thin plastic tube in an artery) from her leg. There is a risk of a vasovagal reaction when this is done, but it is very rare. And she had never had it before. But I had. A vasovagal reaction causes the blood pressure and heart rate to drop suddenly. While my mom’s heart rate dropped into the 20s and the hospital bed tilted my mom head first, there were five nurses and a doctor tending her. My mom’s primary doctor wasn’t scheduled to be there, but happened to show up just at the right time. One nurse’s job was simply to console her. “Your alright. Don’t listen to the loud beep, it means your doing great!” She reassured her repeatedly as she stroked her forehead. Another nurse had his hands on her wound, giving pressure for more than an hour. His wrists would be sore that night.

My mom lay cocooned in comfort, with hands all around her. She was in His hands. This I knew with such calm. I should have been frantic. “Where’s her daughter?” the doctor asked nervously. “She’s sitting on the couch,” the nurse replied someone puzzled. Perhaps I should have been on my feet helping. Perhaps I should have been on my knees praying. Perhaps I should have appeared worried. But I prayed, and I was supernaturally calm.

Afterwards, my mom mentioned that I seemed really calm. She doesn’t even remember being put upside-down in her hospital bed, but she remembers I was calm. I thought about it, because it did seem unusual for me. Was it comfort from above? Certainly! And I knew that she was in good hands: God’s hands. And also, the fact that I had been through it before and overcame it took away my fear and enabled me calm in the chaos for my mom’s sake.

Perhaps this is what is meant by the verses above in 2 Corinthians, “…the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.”

And so it flows. From God to me (and the hospital staff) to my mom. Directly from God too. Our struggles, or chrysalis, confines us. But during it and from it, compassion grows and comfort flows. Overflowing love is a cocooning warm blanket that all need to snuggle up to from time to time.

Don’t let your trial be for nothing. Whatever your current circumstance, take the love and comfort that God offers you. And, when your strength is renewed, pass that love and comfort on to another. It is by recognizing God’s hands on us that we can then lay hands on another. Comfort comes from the covering of compassionate hands.

Dear Lord, thank You for your comfort during tough circumstances. Help me to see your presence through the people who love and surround me.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

To Consider:

Think about a former struggle. Reflect on the ways that God comforted you during that time.

Now, think about someone you know who is facing a struggle currently. How might God work through you to comfort that person?

Transforming Verses:
Read and reflect on Psalm 119:50-52.

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. The arrogant mock me unmercifully, but I do not turn from your law. I remember, Lord, your ancient laws, and I find comfort in them.

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An Ode to Chemotherapy

by admin on May 22, 2015

giftige FlüssigkeitIt’s my eight year anniversary from when surgery removed my cancer and my breast. After this followed chemo and then radiation. When chemo was complete, I wrote a poem called “An Ode to Chemotherapy.” It is a strange poem that I wrote for myself as a way of saying goodbye to chemotherapy. It is both real and really corny. I am not a poetry writer, as you will notice. And I never shared it before because there are parts that are graphic. The truth is that most people do not want to know the details of what a cancer patient goes through. And I don’t blame them. During my treatments, only one person asked me about the details. Most were content to know simply whether or not I was doing alright. So I never thought anyone might like to read this. However, more recently I have shared this poem with other patients who have experienced chemotherapy, and it helped them to say goodbye to chemo too. Thus, I am sharing it now. I felt a silly poem was the best way to make light of the heavy topic. If you know someone who is going through or has gone through chemo, perhaps they can add their own verses to say GOODBYE to crazy chemo!

 

An Ode to Chemotherapy

 

Stuff Stuff Stuff arm with port

Next to my heart it stops short

Chemo travels in tube through vein

To avoid burning nerve pain.

Miss Miss Miss-beating heart

Port procedure gives it a start

Doctor says that’s very rare

Just like my cancer… so unfair!

Pound Pound Pound drums my heart

This is how chemo does start

Small steroid pill packing punch

Doctors swear it helps a bunch.

Tick Tock Tick chimes the clock

Steroids don’t form a muscular jock

Instead, keeping me up at night

A sleeping pill makes it right.

Up Up Up tales in head

Steroids turn skin beet red

Chest pounding…is this an attack?

Sure I got steroids…not crack?

Prick Prick Prick in my arm

Access my port without harm

Take some blood and do a test

Checking blood counts at their best.

Drip Drip Drip here it flows

What chemo will do, God only knows

Days to kill a cancer cell

Weeks to recover from that hell.

Thump Thump Thump taps my heart

Are they ready with a crash cart?

Chemo’s bad for my heart I’m told

Although young, I soon will be old.

Spin Spin Spin twists the room

First IV will be done soon

Here comes the allergy drugs

Can I instead have more hugs?

Brrr Brrr Brrr it’s so cold

Shivering as drugs take hold

Ten others in the room like me

Can I have a warm blankie?

Nod Nod Nod falls my head

Drugs make me ready for bed

But steroids stop me from sleep

And chatter in the room is deep.

Chatter Chatter Chatter all around

So much noise, so much sound

Can there be quiet for some rest?

Don’t want to hear your health tests!

Plug Plug Plug my dear ear

I truly do not want to hear

Your tales of woe are too great

I fear this too will be my fate!

Hello Hello Hello nurses say

I get a new one each new day

They’re not allowed to get too close

Fear of patient loss and morose.

Tick Tick Tock hours for drips

Drink lots of water, in small sips

Too tired to talk, too wired to sleep

Lying still…boredom runs deep.

Love Love Love from support

Praying this process be short

Eyes filled with much much worry

Can pain be gone in a hurry?

Flush Flush Flush several times

Instructions in bathroom chimes

Poison is coming out of you

And we don’t want to get it too!

Dead Dead Dead what I heard

They were not talking ‘bout a bird

Nurses discuss a patient lost

Hold your tongues at all cost!

Short Short Short of long breath

Along with a heavy chest

Am I having a heart attack?

To the hospital let’s go back.

No No No my doc shrugs

Cancer doc says, “not the drugs”

Heart doc says, “there’s no clot”

Port doc says, “tube’s in right spot.”

Take Take Take these small pills

Drugs to care for all your ills

A dozen in my body now

At least I’m able to keep chow.

Pills Pills Pills one two three

For nausea, sleep and allergy

And something strong for bone pain

With steroids, weight I will gain.

Can’t Can’t Can’t sleep, eat or move

But slowly get back into the groove

Blood counts say “She’s not gonna die.”

Docs shout, “Give it one more try!”

Stop Stop Stop bodily function

Regardless of food consumption

Constipation is what I heard

Shutdown is the correct word.

Germs Germs Germs everywhere

Germs inside me having a fair

Beast called yeast decided to rise

Thrush on my tongue, no surprise.

Wigs Wigs Wigs to be cool

When I take kids to school

In truth they’re itchy and hot

Costumes I wear, for changed I’m not!

Try Try Try looking my best

Each time I have a valued guest

They tell me that I look well

But without charades, I’m in hell.

Red Red Red, all I see

Blood won’t stop gushing from me

I feel like Carrie at her prom

How can these docs be so calm?

Sniff Sniff Sniff odors and smells

Of every food I know so well

Once something I loved to eat

Now reeking of stinky feet!

Drenched Drenched Drenched in sweat

With young age, the harder this gets

Hormones gone in a mad dash

Not a flush, but major hot flash!

Again Again Again chemo flows

Cumulative impact makes me slow

Each treatment nearer to Death

Finding it harder to catch breath.

Time Time Time and again

As close to death as docs can

Killing this beast “Disease” that began

Long ago with the fall of man.

Stop Stop Stop the presses

Poor blood counts doc confesses

More shots to fix this intrusion

To avoid a blood transfusion.

Kill Kill Kill cells, the goal

But live or die, can’t have my soul

Chemo can kill just as cancer could

But I’m in God’s hands; His will for good.

Lord Lord Lord carry me tonight

I am in a terrible fright

Fever is high…ER should I go?

Are organs beginning to slow?

“Mama Mama Mama, play with me”

Too weak and ill, can’t you see?

“Are you going to be alright?”

Docs say, “yes”– if I fight.

Little Little Little ones, I fear

You are the ones I hold so dear

I want to live to be with you

And be there to see you through.

Truth Truth Truth what I need

So I open the Bible to read

“Will I die, Lord?” I thought

Job 42:12, the answers I got.

Trust Trust Trust His words to me

Clinging His promises sets me free

Live or die…I do not care

For I BELIEVE God’s word; He’s fair.

Yucky Yucky Yucky how I feel

I wonder why my heart stands still

Oh, wait a minute, now I see

Driving near where they injected me.

Tears Tears Tears roll off face

As I drive past another place

The church where I had my prayer

Memories of emotions are there.

Heaven Heaven Heaven is my hope

A life without pain and dope

God gives me peace and sets me free

From Depression engulfing me.

 ∞∞∞

 

 

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Waiting

by admin on April 30, 2015

Hello I Am Waiting Name Tag Patient Anticipation Late DelayWaiting. It is sometimes harder to wait for something than getting a “yes” or a “no” answer. That is certainly true when waiting for test results. Bad news is never good. But learning the truth sooner rather than later has its advantages. I am not currently waiting on test results, but on the sale of my home. And so this poem came to mind. Some of you have read it before in a former blog. Regardless, I think we all could use a reminder of its amazing message. Click here to read it: Wait

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A CATERPILLAR – CRAWLING IN THE GARDEN

by admin on March 23, 2015

Hi to My Butterfly Testimony family and friends! I am so sorry I haven’t blogged for a while. Life happened, and unfortunately, I have been crawling as of late. I have been bogged down by chores. But enough of that! I am writing this blog regardless of my long to do list. I am choosing today to put God first, trusting that He will multiply my time.

Are you ready to join me in soaring like a butterfly rather than crawling like a caterpillar? Let’s get ready to fly…


 

A CATERPILLAR

Green caterpillar on red apple

CRAWLING IN THE GARDEN

LifeCycle Devotions
© Suzanne Makshanoff [2014]*.


“One can never consent to creep, when one feels an impulse to soar.”

~ Helen Keller

Life is flying, yet I am crawling. I work hard and go nowhere, quickly. I wish I could spread my wings and fly at the speed of life. Instead, I am creeping along at a caterpillar’s pace. Why am I not content to crawl like a caterpillar? Why do I feel an impulse to soar like a butterfly? Let’s examine a couple of verses for insight:

You are not to eat any creature that moves along the ground, whether it moves on its belly or walks on all fours or on many feet; it is unclean. – Leviticus 11:42

So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.” – Genesis 3:14

Crawling on your belly is not an optimum place to be. In Genesis, Satan tempted Adam and Eve with a piece of fruit. What is it about that juicy fruit that made them want to munch like a caterpillar? It was the human condition of always wanting more. Wanting more than they had even though they had more than enough. More. And yet, more.

Perhaps we too eat dust because we covet more. Strive for more. Are discontent with less.

Some say that less is more. Could that be true?

Let’s ponder some of Adam and Eve’s actions. Yes, they disobeyed. But, why? God gave them everything. Surely they could have consulted with Him in the garden if they wanted more. But they didn’t. Perhaps the answer to this question gives answers to the reasons why we all crawl:

  • We don’t trust God’s words when He tells us not to eat from that tree. Just like Adam and Eve failed to heed His warning.
  • We misjudge our roles. Just like Adam and Eve who overstepped their role of stewardship over creation.
  • We strive for more, which blinds our judgment. Just like Adam and Eve succumbed to temptation.

I personally believe that with respect to spiritual warfare, one of Satan’s strongest weapons is keeping us busy. We work hard to afford basic items. Then we strive to have more than basics. Our kids are super busy; competing in sports, education, friendships, jobs, life. Non-stop. Finances are tight. Constricted, we work harder. Toil. Struggle. Why? Because the bite of the coveted fruit came with a price tag in Genesis 3:17-19:

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Working hard certainly is a consequence to disobedience. But Satan pushes us to strive further for his own purposes—keeping us busy like bees so we don’t labor for God or get to taste the fruits of that labor—the honey. Keeping us from having a moment’s time to even ponder about God. How does this variety of fruit, Striving, taste? Is it sweet like my favorite fruit, Honeycrisp apples? Or has it been rotted by the worm named Satan? The answer depends on whether the harvest is nurtured by God.

Are you tempted by fruit tainted by a worm? Don’t let temptation consume you. Instead, ask God each day, “Lord, what do you have for me today?” Think of what could have happened had Adam and Eve consulted God before they picked their fruit. Asking God is the only way you can be sure the fruit you pick is juicy sweet.

God intended paradise for you—The Garden of Eden—eating sweet fruit from the land of milk and honey. He has opened the gate by the gospel of Jesus Christ. The good news is that He welcomes you back into the garden. We now can indeed walk with God and ask Him for help when tempted, for God lives in us through His Holy Spirit. So slow down and take a stroll in the garden with your Heavenly Father. Read His words and taste their sweetness.

God, thank you for the salvation you offer through Jesus Christ so that I can be near you. Wash me with your Holy Spirit so I am not tempted by the wrong things that consume my time. Forgive me when I run ahead without asking you first. Let me learn to strive less and for less. Lord, help me to soar like a butterfly rather than crawl like a caterpillar.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

To Consider:

  • What is the fruit capturing your eye? Talk to God about it today and ask Him before you take a bite.
  • Take time to think about your schedule. Are their things that are keeping you from walking in the garden with God?

Transforming Verses:
Read and reflect on John 14:23-24 and Philippians 2:14-18:

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. – John 14:23-24

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice with all of you. So you too should be glad and rejoice with me. – Philippians 2:14-18

 

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Cell Phone & Breast Cancer Awareness!

by admin on October 17, 2014

 

Note: I have removed the video so that the website uploads more efficiently. To see the video, go to the Media/Resources tab.

October is breast cancer awareness month. Please share this important video with friends to spread awareness. You can go to the Media/Resources tab to download or just link to this page. Also, for every Consider the Butterfly, Emerging from the Cancer Chrysalis book purchased in October, I will donate a book to a cancer patient. See also my post below on dense breast awareness.

 

 

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Are You Dense? Be Aware!

by admin on October 17, 2014

Note: I have removed the video so that the website uploads more efficiently. To see the video, go to the Media/Resources tab.

October is breast cancer awareness month. Please share this important video with friends to spread awareness. You can go to the Media/Resources tab to download or just link to this page. Also, for every Consider the Butterfly, Emerging from the Cancer Chrysalis book purchased in October, I will donate a book to a cancer patient.

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IN THE CHRYSALIS – ARMED & PROTECTED

by admin on May 17, 2014

Hi to My Butterfly Testimony family and friends!

Are you ready to fight? Can you stand firm with your battle weapons ? Get ready to arm yourself and go to war…


 

IN THE CHRYSALIS

Armor

ARMED & PROTECTED

LifeCycle Devotions
© Suzanne Makshanoff [2014]*.


“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.Ephesians 6:13

Around our house, there are words we prefer not to be spoken. Words that damage our spirits. As a parent, I try my best to control such profanity. We teach our children not to say the “S” word or the “D” word. We don’t speak the actual words because we don’t want such words becoming a part of our lives. But there is one word that I couldn’t keep from becoming familiar in my home, the “C” word, Cancer. I was diagnosed with it in my thirties. It invaded our family talks. It invaded our lives. It invaded my breast and lymph nodes. However, it did not invade my spirit.

How was my spirit protected? I put on the protective armor of God, spoken of in Ephesians 6:14-18.

     Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist.

Satan would whisper in my ear that I was going to die. God would whisper in my ear that I would live — forever.

     Stand firm then, with the breastplate of righteousness in place.

I began to focus on life eternal, transforming my selfishness into right living by treasuring God’s plan for my life.

     Stand firm then, with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

Instead of running into my dark room and hiding, I ran to God. I made peace with my circumstances and prepared myself to accept whatever came my way.

     Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

When I first received my diagnosis of cancer, I cried and cried under the sheets at night. Fear seared my mind. One day, I chose to throw back the sheets, shield myself with faith, and trust God with my life.

     Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Although doctors’ and loved ones’ words consoled me, NOTHING took away my fear like the word of God. It was food for my soul even as my body starved from medical treatments.

     And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

I prayed about everything, from healing to a parking spot that didn’t require my weak body to walk too far. He listened in all situations, even when my heart yearned without words. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26 (NIV)

Cancer is no longer a cursed word that catches on my tongue. Instead, it is a process of change that has brought me to the most blessed words there are on this Earth–the words of God. And, ultimately, to the Word of God – Jesus Christ. Armed with His promises, I can stand firm and fight this ugly disease.

God protected me from fear during my cancer treatments. I view this protection like a chrysalis during metamorphosis. Chrysalis is defined as aprotected stage of growth.1It is the armor that protects a caterpillar during an intense time as it changes into a beautiful butterfly.

Butterflies remind me of people who, despite troubles in life, rest in the knowledge that God is the Creator—a Creator who will protect His creation as He transforms His creation exactly as He planned.

Take time to consider your own chrysalis: health, finance, relationships, etc. Trials can taste bitter when you don’t consider what God is doing in your life.

Don’t let your trial become a curse word in your mouth. Instead, taste God’s sweet nectar of grace. Whatever your current circumstance, take up the armor of God — the protection He offers. Stand firm with truth, righteousness, readiness, faith, the word of God, and prayer. You are more than a conqueror when Christ leads your battle!

Dear Lord, thank You for your protection during tough circumstances. Help me to stand firm with my battle weapons of truth, righteousness, readiness, faith, your word, and prayer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

To Consider:

Think about a former struggle. Reflect on the ways that God protected you during that time.

Now, think about a struggle you currently face. How might God be helping you to stand your ground during this trial?

Get ready to face any circumstance by arming yourself with the word of God.

Transforming Verses:
Read and reflect on Romans 8.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. Romans 8:18-19

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Romans 8:31

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. Romans 8:37

1www.merriam-webster.com


* © Suzanne Makshanoff [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Suzanne Makshanoff and A Butterfly’s Testimony with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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IN THE CHRYSALIS—WAITING FOR A GIFT

by admin on May 1, 2014

Hi to My Butterfly Testimony family and friends!

Today is a very special day for me. It’s my “survivor anniversary”. On May 1st, seven years ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was given a 50% chance of surviving five years, if I did nothing.

I fought the battle! And I am still fighting. However, I have a confession: I wanted God to heal me instantly. He didn’t. God revealed to me that there is a process to healing—a process to change. Metamorphosis.

Today’s devotion is a gift to you in celebration of life. We are celebrating not only my life, but THE ULTIMATE GIFT of everlasting life. Enjoy your gift!

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Gift box with color butterfliesWAITING FOR A GIFT
Written by Suzanne Makshanoff

LifeCycle Devotions
© Suzanne Makshanoff [2014]*.

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And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:38

“In ALL things? Really, God?” Well, that is what scripture says, so it is truth. The problem that we have with this statement is that we can’t see the future, only God can.

As I considered the butterfly, I noticed that metamorphosis involves a process of change. God doesn’t just instantly make a butterfly. We live in a time when we are so used to getting things instantly. Fast food. Fast info. Fast service. And, well, when things don’t happen fast—or rather, when we think they should happen—it rocks our world. During my infertility, the waiting for a baby was painful. During my cancer, waiting for the results of test after test was torture. I’m not a personal fan of waiting!

But, God sees time differently than we do. And He sees the future that is hidden from our eyes. The following Scripture says that beauty comes in God’s timing.

I’ve seen the heavy load God has put on men. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also given men a sense of what He’s been doing down through the ages. But they can’t completely figure out what He’s done from the beginning to the end (Ecclesiastes 3:10-11).

That is so true! When we are in the middle of our struggles, we cannot see the end. In a similar way, a caterpillar doesn’t know why it is suffering—why it is bound by its chrysalis.

The caterpillar might be screaming, “Lord, get me out of here!”

But God is saying, “No, stay in the chrysalis. I have good plans for you.”

“But it’s dark and scary! I want out! How could this be good?”

And God says, “Wait, my darling, I am making you into a creature through which the whole world will see my majesty.”

The Psalmist writes about patiently waiting for God:

Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord (Psalm 27:14).

Commit your life to the Lord. Here is what He will do if you trust in Him. He will make your godly ways shine like the dawn. He will make your honest life shine like the sun at noon. Be still. Be patient. Wait for the Lord to act (Psalm 37:4-7).

Sometimes God doesn’t immediately restore us. We think, “I am Your child, Lord, why aren’t You doing something?” When Lazarus died, the people cried out, “Why Lord did You not come? You could have healed him.” God waited until the situation was so final that He showed an even greater miracle by Lazarus’ resurrection. God wants not just to restore us, but also to resurrect our lives.

Don’t let waiting become wanton wanting. Instead, wait expectantly. Whatever your current circumstance, take the time to consider what God might be doing in your life for your good. Imagine what type of sculpture He is molding, tapestry He is weaving, masterpiece He is painting, or species of butterfly His is creating. Keep in God’s love while you wait, and you will indeed shine when it is the proper time for you to emerge from your chrysalis!

Dear Lord, thank You for reminding me that you are in control in ALL circumstances. Help me to wait on You, Lord, trusting that you love me and know what is best for me. Help me to see the good in life that You have for me. Help me to wait expectantly for Your wonderful plans to be revealed. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

To Consider:

Read the following poem “Wait” by Russell Kelfer**:

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .
And the Master so gently said, “Wait.”
“Wait? you say wait?” my indignant reply.
“Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I’m claiming your Word.
“My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I’m needing a ‘yes’, a go-ahead sign,
Or even a ‘no’ to which I can resign.
“You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I’ve been asking, and this is my cry:
I’m weary of asking! I need a reply.”
Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, “Wait.”
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, “So, I’m waiting for what?”
He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .
and He tenderly said, “I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.
“I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You’d have what you want, but you wouldn’t know Me.
You’d not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You’d not know the power that I give to the faint.
“You’d not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m there.
You’d not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.
“You’d never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart.
“The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.
“You’d never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I’m doing in you.
“So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still . . . Wait.”

Think about something for which you are waiting. Reflect on the ways that God has grown your relationship with Him during that time.

Can you think of any good “gifts” that have come out of your waiting?

Transforming Verses:

Read and reflect on Jude 1:17-21:

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

* © Suzanne Makshanoff [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Suzanne Makshanoff and A Butterfly’s Testimony with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
** ©Russell Kelfer, used by permission in print events (www.dtm.org).

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Also, to read more poems by Russell Kelfer, click Here.

 

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In the Chrysalis — Bound by Despair

by admin on April 10, 2014

Trapped man

IN THE CHRYSALIS

BOUND BY DESPAIR

Written by Suzanne Makshanoff

© Suzanne Makshanoff [2014]1

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What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.   ~Richard Bach

Bound by our circumstances can certainly feel like a curse. During my infertility, I was bound by my despair. Depressed, I often didn’t want to go anywhere. If I did, I might be required to laugh – to enjoy life. I was not in the mood for that!

During my cancer treatments, I was confined at home for a year and bound by my fear of death. Unable to move. Unable to mom. Unable to live life.

But, in a strange way, there was freedom in my bondage. All the things in life that I was responsible for were released from my charge: job, children, household, husband (what wife doesn’t think she’s in charge of hubby!). My focus became singular: survival. And I knew that my survival was in the hands of God. My relationship with God became the most important task in my life. My curse became my blessing.

I now view the words “curse” and “bless” differently. I used to think being blessed meant having good things happen in life. And it still can mean that. But the word blessed holds a simpler, yet deeper, meaning to me. To be cursed is to be separated from God. To be blessed is to be brought back into the presence of God. Christ did that for me. I just needed to feel it, know it, live it, love it.

With respect to being bound, Isaiah, prophesying about Christ’s salvation, states the following about Christ freeing mankind from bondage.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, …to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve —to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. — Isaiah 61:1-3

In Nazareth, Christ opened the scrolls in the temple to read, and stated that He was the fulfillment of this Scripture. Christ is the one who breaks us free from the things that bind us. Christ is the one who broke me free of my chrysalis of despair.

Like a caterpillar, my chrysalis was a time of immense change. And along with Change usually comes its friend Fear. But these changes ultimately brought me closer to God. Reliant on God. Seeing God. Submitting to God. Releasing to God. Loving God.

Like a butterfly, we need to trust that He is a good God with a good future for us. Let God captivate you. Let’s face it, if we were fully secured to God, our despair would repair. Tether your rope to Him.

Don’t be bound, instead abound. “For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 1:5

Abraham Lincoln expressed well the things we should and should not be bound to:

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that stands right, and stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong. – Abraham Lincoln (BrainyQuote.com)

Take time to consider things that bind you: both the bad and good things. Now ask God for help with anything that binds you from that which you wish to be set free.

Dear Lord, please repair my despair. You alone give me hope. Thank you for your comfort in dark places where fear grows thick.  Shine Your light into my soul and help me abound with Your Spirit. I want to become a planting for the display of Your splendor.  No longer do I want my roots bound. Water me, Lord. I want to grow.

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

To Consider:

The terms bound and freedom can mean so many things. Read the following poem by John F. MacArthur, Jr. and ponder the use of these words. Compare the first half of the poem to the second half. What do you think freedom and captivity look like in both halves? The world says being free to sin is a good thing. Do you agree? The world says being captive by God’s rules is a bad thing. Do you agree?

“Once I was free in the shackles of sin:
Free to be tempted, just bound to give in;
Free to be captive to any desire;
Free to eternally burn in hell’s fire.

‘Til Someone bought me and called me His slave:
Bound by commands I am free to obey;
Captive by beauty I’m free to adore–
Sentenced to sit at His feet evermore.”
John F. MacArthur Jr. (Goodreads.com)

Transforming Verses:
Read and reflect on Romans 7:4-6:

So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code. Romans 7:4-6

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1 © Suzanne Makshanoff [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Suzanne Makshanoff and A Butterfly’s Testimony with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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The Right Seasoning

by admin on April 2, 2014

Hello to my butterfly friends on My Butterfly Testimony!

Today is April 1st, and it rained last night in Southern California. This is no April Fools Day joke!

The rains brought clean air and sunshine. And I am hoping that my new devotions do the same. I am springing forward with my blog and announcing that I will be regularly posting devotions.

I am launching with a double dose of devotions. First, I wrote a devotion called The Right Seasoning for my friend Christy from The Write Season. She has a wonderful blog that is an online community for writers to share their stories with readers. Christy is a butterfly friendship, which she will define in the second devotion that I have for you today.

The second devotion is called Butterfly Friendship, which is a chapter excerpt from a new book I am writing called LifeCycle Devotions. These devotions use the life cycle of a butterfly to help each of us to consider the butterfly and emerge from struggles seeing God’s majesty in life. LifeCycle Devotions is an expansion of my published testimony Consider the Butterfly, Emerging from the Cancer Chrysalis.

LifeCycle Devotions applies to all who have faced a tough time in their life—which is every single one of us, right?!

I hope you enjoy…

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Wooden painted spoon and saltcellar  with salt  isolated on white background

The Right Seasoning

Written by Suzanne Makshanoff

© Suzanne Makshanoff [2014]1.

 

Every spring we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ with a feast. I anticipate this traditional feast and salivate over my favorite dishes. There is a traditional taste to my Russian heritage feast that I love.

But what if that taste was off? What if there wasn’t enough seasoning and it just fell flat on my taste buds? Not enough salt on my cucumber and tomatoes with lemon. Not enough seasoning on my roasted meat. Not enough flavoring in my borscht. Bland. “Pass the salt please,” is a familiar request you would hear if you sat by me.

What if there was too much seasoning, and I couldn’t swallow? Inedible.

Having just the right seasoning is key to enjoying my traditional Russian feast.

Our traditional feasts and fellowship are an important part of our lives. But even more important is sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ: Resurrection. Salvation. Lordship. Eternity.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  – Colossians 4:6 (NIV)

As you fellowship this spring and rejoice in our Lord’s glorious resurrection, remember to use the right seasoning by sprinkling some salt: the gospel. This season is about traditions that point to Christ.

My favorite chocolate, Lindt dark chocolate with almonds, is even better salted. Or have you tasted Trader Joe’s salted caramels? Yum! Similarly, each of our lives is better with a little salt. Without it, life would be bland:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” – Matthew 5:13 (NIV)

On the flip side, have you ever tasted something that was way too salty? Perhaps your kids played an April Fools joke on you and switched the sugar with salt? I’ve experienced this, and hot tea with salt is NOT good.

Likewise, some might find words about Christ hard to swallow if they are poured on too strongly. I personally can’t get enough words about Christ, but to some the gospel needs to be sprinkled lightly. Just as different foods need different seasoning, so might different people. One way to ensure just the right amount of seasoning is sharing what you know by experience. I encourage each of you, my butterfly friends, to share your life stories and how God helped you.

Salt with your story and preserve a life.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, help us to celebrate Your resurrection with just the right amount of seasoning—the right amount of truth. You, Lord, are the One we crave. Help our taste buds to salivate for Your words. Let us be salt by helping us share our stories of Your faithfulness and give us the opportunities to do so. Help us to persevere in faith so that we may taste from Your feast that You are preparing for us. In Jesus’ name, amen.

To Consider:

  • Consider sprinkling a bit of spiritual salt the next time someone asks you to “pass the salt.”
  • Have you pickled cucumbers? It is the salt that preserves the cucumbers’ freshness. Consider whose life you might be able to preserve with a little salt.

Seasoned Verses (NIV):

 “Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings.” – Leviticus 2:13

“Whatever is set aside from the holy offerings the Israelites present to the Lord I give to you and your sons and daughters as your perpetual share. It is an everlasting covenant of salt before the Lord for both you and your offspring.”           – Numbers 18:19

“Don’t you know that the Lord, the God of Israel, has given the kingship of Israel to David and his descendants forever by a covenant of salt?” – 2 Chronicles 13:5

“‘But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.’ When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, ‘Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.’” – Luke 14:13-15

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Screen Shot 2014-04-01 at 5.23.36 PM

Butterfly Friendship

Written by Christy Nueman

Inspired by and written for LifeCycle Devotions, © Suzanne Makshanoff [2014]1.

 

Why didn’t I bring my camera? I thought.

I had the chance to capture rare footage. Two butterflies becoming friends. It happened in the whisper of fluttering of wings. I would have missed it had I not glanced over my shoulder. I stood in silent awe. It was more beautiful to behold than a Painted Lady emerging from her chrysalis, I saw His ladies (two sisters-in-Christ) becoming friends in the corner of a busy coffee shop. It was a brand-new butterfly friendship created by the Creator.

A butterfly friendship is the invisible bond that forms within two souls taking flight together for a season or for a lifetime.

These butterfly blessings usually arrive in times of dire need. My butterfly friends fluttered in about a year before my darkest hour. We met after we bravely attended our first Infertility/Adoption Conference. They wept with me when I received the crushing news that I would never conceive a child. We flapped down the dusty back roads of infertility together. During those difficult years, we lightened each other’s heavy loads with sweet gestures of kindness (an email, a card, a little gift). We planned special Girls Days. Some were simple outings like a barefoot stroll on beach. And others were more elaborate affairs like a ladies tea party where we donned fancy hats and wore feather boas. Without fail these gatherings came when we desperately needed to laugh together, to cry together and to pray together. Email prayer requests became our lifeline on the rough days—and we witnessed miraculous answers to our intercessory prayers. The biggest miracle came one autumn. As leaves fell to the ground, God’s gifts fell and filled our empty arms. We all became mothers in the same month (two of through the gift of adoption and one through the gift of a miracle conception). These two butterfly friends still fly right by my side.

The phenomenon of a butterfly friendship forming is almost indiscernible. These unique butterfly friendships can begin simply with a smile-and-hello exchanged when entering a new support group. They take shape through words exchanged in witty texts that bring belly laughs or by passing her a tissue to wipe away tears. They grow by bearing each other’s burdens through bowed heads, clasped hands and hushed prayers. They sweeten when she tells you, “I’m going to be a mom!” They forever deepen sitting silently by her side at a funeral.

It’s the divine friendship that King Solomon illustrates with the brushstrokes of his wise words in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12:

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (NLT)

Do you have a butterfly friend? Perhaps you have grown weary from your long, lonely flight through life. Do you yearn for a companion to wait by your side as you emerge from your chrysalis? Do you need help searching for the sweet nectar of life? Have you lost faith in your ability to soar? Are your prayers missing the wings they need to fly to the heavens above? If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions, why don’t you ask Your Creator to give you a butterfly friend?

Once you ask, begin to seek out these friendships by going to church, a home fellowship, a Bible study or a Christian support group. The Creator loving cares for everything He created. But He takes extra special care of the crowning glory of His creation—and that’s you! And just like He brought Eve to Adam at the beginning of time, you can rest assured that He’ll bring you everything you need, including the gift of a butterfly friend.
And once this blessing has been bestowed to you—then it’s your turn to be a butterfly friend to someone else.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I know You provide everything I need, including the gift friendship. Bring godly friends to support me during this season of my life. Give me the courage to take the first steps in seeking out these friendships. Open my eyes to others around me that need my support. Help me to lean on You—my ultimate Best Friend. In Jesus’ name, amen.

To Consider:

  • What steps do you need to take to start or strengthen a friendship?
  • Think about a time when you grew weary and God sent people to support you. How did they come alongside you in your time of need?

Transforming Verses:

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”  – Proverbs 17:17

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”  – John 15:13-15

“Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.”  – Proverbs 27:9

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Did you enjoy these devotions? If so, please spread the word with your other butterfly friends and join in by subscribing Here. It will ONLY be used to notify you of a new blog post. Also, here is the information on my butterfly friend’s blog:

The Write Season is a Ministry of Words. What is a Ministry of Words? It’s an online community for writers to share their stories with readers. It is a place to glorify God with our words through the seasons of our life.

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1 © Suzanne Makshanoff [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Suzanne Makshanoff and A Butterfly’s Testimony with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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