Why you don't need to be defined by your past

10:48 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. John 10:10 (MSG)

It’s strange to think that two years ago, Xylon was ending a month of isolation in hospital after his stem cell transplant. 

I remember how throughout that time I felt so helpless. 

Every day I would leave him alone in the hospital. Lately, as Xylon and I went through the scare of possible recurrence (that turned out to be nothing) I’ve been thinking of those times. 

And I’ve been thinking of this verse I memorized in my childhood:
“Cancer comes only to steal and destroy but I have come to so that you can have life, real and eternal life, more and better life then you have ever dreamed of.”

Okay, the bible doesn’t say cancer, it says thief, but cancer sure feels a lot like a cat burglar who takes what it wants and leaves destruction.

What I like about this verse is that it doesn’t end with the thief. 

The words that come immediately after promise that Jesus has come so that we may life, and a better life than we ever dreamed of.

Every time I read these words hope shines through.

In this world, our troubles and sufferings might win but in God’s realm our story always ends with life.

Jesus wants you to know life as he imagined it. (tweet this)

I don’t know what that life looks like but I know that it is more joy, freedom, love and grace then I have ever experienced. 

I love that Jesus spoke about life right after death because so often in the midst of suffering and grief I forget that the “thief” doesn’t have the last word. 

The other night Xylon and I sat with a friend who recently went through a divorce. She related how for so long she felt that “divorced” defined her but she’s learning that isn’t who she is. 

Xylon told me later how he sometimes feel defined as “cancer survivor” but that’s now who he is. 

more lifeI don’t think that is how God sees our friend or Xylon as "divorced" or "cancer survivor" either. 
I think God calls them:
Daughter
Son
Beloved
Redeemed
Captivating
Alive to live for God

I don't know what your "cancer" is, or what the thief has stolen from you, or what label you have begun to think defines you, but I do know that this is not how the story ends. 

What you have lost is not the final word on your life, God has more for you. (tweet this)

I know because I’m realising that no matter how our stories begin, when Jesus is involved they always end with life, life and more life. 

Ponder: What has happened in your life that has been a thief and stolen something from you? Do you have hope that God can restore what has been stolen with life, life and more life?

Prayer: Lord, I believe that you can give me hope where the thief has stolen from me. I thank you for life, life and more life that will spring out of places that I thought were dead. Amen

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When you're confused about why and who God heals, do this instead

7:57 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

Taking a good look at [the ten lepers], Jesus said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.”
They went, and while still on their way, became clean. One of them, when he realized that he was healed, turned around and came back, shouting his gratitude, glorifying God. He kneeled at Jesus’ feet, so grateful. He couldn’t thank him enough—and he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:14-16 (MSG)

Xylon fingered some bumps on his right hand side, "I think I've got shingles."

I slid across the bed and stood next to him fingering the raised bumps, "It looks like shingles. You better get to a doctor tomorrow before we are away for a week."

I said it casually but fear had already made its way into my voice.

You see almost four years earlier Xylon had shingles, and a few months later he was diagnosed with lymphoma, a cancer that attacks the immune system.

We knew until Xylon's next scan over a month away from then that we would be fighting the enemy of our souls and the shadow of death that cancer opened the door too.

We prayed right there that night that the devil would not steal our rest or our joy from the next 10 days of holiday. 

We were headed to the exact place where a year earlier Xylon had stood and experienced God healing him. The place where Xylon tells people he knew he no longer had cancer – not because of medicine – but because God heals.

Then we returned from our holiday and Xylon went for his biannual PET scan.

This is where the part about God healing my husband gets messy. 

The next day the Oncologist phoned. "It looks like there has been a recurrence. You need to see a Haematologist about treatment options."

'Not this, not again,’ we thought.

The Haematologist gave us hope. Told us a biopsy would confirm whether or not it was cancer, that there was a 35% chance of a false positive on the PET scan.

We fought for joy. We tried to remember that we believed God had healed Xylon. We spoke about how all those weeks before we’d felt that the enemy of our souls was out to steal our joy, to take credit from God. 

A week ago, we got the results of the biopsy and they showed, “No cancer”. 

It would be easy for me to say, “I knew all along that it would be clear because I know God healed Xylon.” 
It would be easy to say but it’s not true. 


I let fear win many times while we waited for the results.

I know healing is complex.  

I know God doesn’t heal everyone and I don’t understand why. 

I love how Abby Norman puts it that her feelings about healing are more jumbled and complicated then she ever expected. I get that.

And I still doubt. I still wonder if what Xylon felt as God healing him truly was his creator reconfiguring cancerous cells. I guess it shows that maybe I don’t really trust God with our lives as much as I think I do. 

But I’m not beating myself up about it. I don’t think God would want that. I think he would want me to like the one leper out of ten who realised they were healed and ran back to thank Jesus. 

One leper out of the ten who didn’t wonder if this healing was forever. 

One leper out of the ten who just saw healing in the moment and couldn’t wait to say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

One of the ten who says, “I don’t understand it but my heart is full of gratitude.”

One out of the ten who kneels at Jesus’ feet and can’t thank him enough for his gift of healing.

And there is the part of me who asks what if Xylon’s scan wasn’t clear? What would I be writing then? How would I fight back with joy then? 

I hope like Margaret Feinberg I’d be able to say that "Praise wins the battle. Every. Single. Time." (tweet this)

Ponder: What are your feelings about healing? Have you experienced healing from God before? Are you still waiting for him to heal?

Prayer: Thank you, thank you, thank you, God.


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How to laugh in the face of the fear

1:30 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

She is clothed with strength and dignity,
and she laughs without fear of the future. 

“She laughs.”

This has long been one of my favourite bible verses.

She laughs without fear of the future.

Recently, as it seemed that Xylon's cancer had recurred, (please read this post from last Thursday for an update on Xylon's health and #prayforzero), I struggled with this verse as I spoke to God about what the future might look like. 

I asked God, "How? How can I laugh without fear at the days ahead?"

How can I laugh in the face of cancer?
How can I be fearless in a world where people are shot because of the colour of their skin?
How can I have courage to [fill in the blank with a plethora of terrifying things]?

My husband and I have been speaking about fear a lot in our house lately: a possible 4th diagnosis of cancer tends to do that.

Xylon told me how he lay awake in bed one night talking to God and how he felt all his fear disappear: his fear of dying, his fear of the cancer coming back, his fear of not being there for me.

And then Xylon said he realized that fear is not from God.

The enemy of our souls is fear. 

It reminded me of something I once read about how we become subject to our fears. How the fear we had finds a way to rule our lives. 

It shook me when I read it years ago, it shakes me now.

I don't want my future subject to fear.
I want my future to be subject to God.

Which brings me back to walking the dog in the field below our house and asking God, "How? How do I laugh without fear of the future?"

I didn't get an answer that day but I'm working on it. I'm massaging the message into my soul. 

I'm praying that when fear creeps in that God will help me fight back with joy

I'm reminding myself that my master is love, not fear. And that there is no fear in love.

To be honest, I'm not yet laughing without fear but I am learning to look it in the face and say, "Fear, you're not wanted here." (tweet this)

And I think that is a start.

Ponder: Where are you on the journey of living without fear of the future? Please share your stories and tools in the comments.

Prayer: Fear, you are not wanted here. In Jesus name I'm telling you to leave. God, in the place of fear I ask you would flood my soul with love and help me fight fear back with joy. Teach me how to laugh without fear at the days ahead. Amen.

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In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Thursday.

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Why I know God is real (Xylon writes his own health update)

1:09 pm Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

A note from Wendy: I asked Xylon if he'd share on my blog today. The last few weeks have been an emotional roller coaster ride for us. Hearing yesterday that the biopsy showed zero cancer was the best news I think we may ever have received. We are so grateful to God for this undeserved mercy. 

We have been so touched and humbled by people all over the world who have joined in #prayforzero. Your encouraging words and prayers have made a difference. Thank you. 

Here's some of what Xylon has been thinking and feeling during this time:

Romans 5vs4
We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! Romans 5:4 (MSG)

The scan was a horrible experience, again. 

From the moment I made the appointment, it didn’t feel right. Having to fly to Johannesburg to do my bi-annual cancer check up scan, I fought with the nurse about arrival times. I didn’t want to be there.

While doing the scan, everything felt dark. They wanted a follow up ultrasound. When I saw the words “ultrasound-liver”, “ultrasound-spleen” and “ultrasound-neck”, my heart sank. 

But that was nothing compared to when we got the news that the disease has recurred. That’s what our oncologist said. Then he went on to talk about treatment options. I first thought, ‘what a horrible job he’s got’. 

Then my world came crashing down.

After a day of depression, I talked with Wendy about refusing further treatment and rather looking into alternative methods. Ultimately, what it lead to was a whole lot of broccoli, and trust in God that He healed me before, and a belief that because of that, there is no ways the cancer could be back. 

I don’t understand God. 

In recent years, I’ve re-written who God is in my head several times. But it’s never changed who He is in my heart. {tweet this}

Who is GodI haven’t been great at giving God the attention He deserves. Yet here He was, creator of the universe, screaming out for my attention. Little old (not that old) me. 

God used several people - people I have never met - to tell me to have hope and confidence. My faith grew. 

By the time the follow up biopsy results arrived, I knew the doctors expected cancer, but I had so much faith in God that it would be negative, I didn’t even flinch. 
I lie. 
I’m human. 
I was super nervous. 
But I had a belief that is difficult to explain. 
I just knew the results would be negative. 

When I was young, I had a friend who died of cancer. I asked a youth pastor at the time how God could allow for this to happen as my friend loved God so much. The young pastor told me God wanted my friend to die having faith. That has always bugged me. That God sucks and I don’t believe in him. What the youth pastor should have said is, “I don’t know, Xylon.”

I still don’t understand God. 
I’m re-writing Him in my head. 
I only have a few opening lines followed by several blank pages. 
All I know is, God is real. 
How else can God ask a person I have never met to pray for me on the day the doctor said the disease has recurred? 

God is screaming out for my attention.
I hope I will listen more than I have in the past. 

Ponder: Why do you believe God is real? 

Prayer: Lord, help me to shout your praise even when I am hemmed in troubles. Keep me alert to whatever you are doing next. Amen.

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In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Thursday.

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The difference encouraging words make

2:30 pm Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

Note from Wendy: My computer (and I) had a bit of a meltdown today so I haven’t been able to do any graphics for today’s post but I’m sending it out anyway. I will also be taking a break from posting a devotional this Thursday and Monday (11 & 15 June) and will post again on the 18th. 

So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 (MSG)

There were times at the oncologist ten days ago when I just wanted to put my fingers in my ears and hum. 

"So many young people with dreadful diseases," the surgeon says. I want to yell right there in his office that hasn't been redecorated in 15 years.

I am never far from crying these days. Tears have made their home in my eyes.

The last two weeks have been hard. All the medical stuff alone would have been hard but the travel for work has made it almost unbearable.

This week doesn't promise to be much easier. Xylon has his surgery on Tuesday, spends the night in hospital and then early the next week we should get the results.

In the tough moments of the last week I've loved knowing that so many of you are praying with us, for us.

I'm so grateful for everyone who has let me know they are part of #prayforzero.

It's so great to know that we are not alone, that there are people I've never met in the USA, Australia, Kenya and India praying hopeful prayers with us, praying get-them-through-this prayers for us.

During my 5th flight in 7 days I read a few chapters in a book I'm reading on prayer by Xxx. He wrote about meeting Pope Francis and asking him  what prayer meant to him. And he wrote how when the pope left he turned to author and said, "pray for me". Twice.

We are all in need of prayer. {tweet this}

The same night I read a blog post by Holley Gerth where she wrote about how it's okay not to have it all together. Even if you're the person everyone else always relies on. 

It's okay.

I've been so encouraged by all the people praying for me that I thought what if I turned my page into a place of prayer today. If you need prayer just leave a comment. You don't need to give details if you don't want too. 

Then take the time to pray at least one other person who has commented. And then leave a comment for them to let them know you're praying.

Ponder: When was the last time you let someone know you were praying for them? When was the last time you prayed on someone else's behalf?

Prayer: Lord, I pray for all my readers today. May they find you in unexpected places and may you pursue them in surprising ways. Take them to the place of your greatest blessing for their lives. Amen.

Prayer: God, we don’t know what to do, but our are eyes on you. Amen.

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{Get my book}
In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Thursday.

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7 reminders not to give up hope

3:30 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25 (NIV)

Hope is a fragile thing. (tweet this)

Hope is hard to wrap your heart around. Just when I think that I’ve got it, that hope has found a place right there next to Jesus I begin to feel hopeless. 

The last few weeks there have been times when hope has been the only thing getting me through. 

Xylon and I have been clinging to hope. He's been reading the bible for mentions of it and sharing them with me as he finds them. 

Last night he told me about this verse he saw on my mom's Facebook page: 
For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 

I guess that’s why I write so much about hope on this site because I know that most days hope is what I need to see tomorrow. I imagine many of you feel the same way. 

One thing I’ve learnt in the three years since Xylon’s initial cancer diagnosis is that when the rest of the world is saying there’s no hope, Jesus is standing there saying, “They’re wrong.”

When everyone else is questioning if Jesus really cares about the hard things we’re going through, I listen for his voice declaring, “Don’t listen to them; just trust me.”

When everyone else is saying, “You have no hope!” Jesus is saying, “I am your hope!” (tweet this)

As I listen to the whispers of Jesus I find hope rising in unexpected places. 

If you need a whisper of hope today may you find it in one of these devotionals: (tweet this)

If you’re wondering if Jesus is still reckless with hope then read this.

If it’s hard to believe that hope is coming I wrote this for you. 

If you can’t seem to crack the secret for finding and keeping hope then follow this link.

If you’re falling to pieces and need hope then this one is for you.

If curling up under a duvet seems like the best thing to do then I hope you read this post by Ruth Garner with your head on the pillow.

If you’ve made a mess of life and need hope then read the words my Dad wrote.

If life is heavy and hard to take then read this and discover 5 things you can do about it.

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{Get my book}
In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Thursday.

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Photo Credit (Creative Commons): Field of Daisies: xlt.lv Barefeet: Merra Marie Curtsy: Danielle Moler | Design: Wendy van Eyck