Hello, sweet friends.
I’ve been doing something for the last few years, and it’s time to let you in on my secret.
I’ve started to write a devotional for the newly diagnosed, and I think I’m ready for my favorite friends to have a sneak peek (that’s you!). I am hoping to release a devo twice a month, but eventually the whole devo will be available for free as a download on my blog so you can forward this on to those who may need the encouragement.
Here’s where you come in. I’d LOVE your feedback! No, really, I’m serious.
I’ve looked at this devo so many times that I am ready for others to tell me if it helps at all. I just want to encourage others who have been diagnosed and they just want some hope.
So, if you offer feedback and I use your advice, I will (of course) put your name in acknowledgement section in the back of the book.
I’d love help in these areas:
~ Grammar (I’m a writer, not an editor. My brain thanks you.)
~ Change in tenses
~ Improvements on transitions
~ How the piece made you feel (I really want to offer hope.)
So that’s it.
Thank you for always being so amazing! My Preface and Day 1 are below. Feel free to offer your feedback in the comment section, or post on Facebook.
Love you guys! I pray you all are doing well!
In His hands,
I was sick a good portion of my life. 21-years, to be exact. After four near-death experiences, and 10 life-threatening illnesses (cancer, heart disease, organ failure, etc), I guess this would explain why the tagline on my blog used to read:
“Writer, Speaker, Professional Patient”
Nobody wants this title.
Nonetheless, after my health struggles had resolved, God started whispering this devotional idea in my ear more times than I’d like to admit. The notion never silenced until I sat down and scribbled my pink pen across the paper, even though most days my energy failed to equal the level I envisioned I needed to share His hope. Personally, feeling top-notch each time I sat to type was the only way I pictured writing for Him.
God’s got a funny way of nudging us to do things He knows is best for us.
I love this about Him.
But sometimes, He also allows us to face uncomfortable things in this fallen world that makes little sense at first. That is until we’re on the other side of the hurdle we’ve crashed into. Much like me, I have a sneaky suspicion your sudden illness has blindsided you, too.
This is where we are alike.
You see, what you’re reading tucked in this little book are words I wish I had read when I was diagnosed the first time with cancer when I was 25. I simply wanted someone to tell me that my health would rebound and life would return to normal.
But the truth is the mucky stuff, all the trials and drudging through, the what-if questions—it was all His supernatural way of growing me into the person I am today.
(I can say this now that tiny tubes are no longer line my arms.)
She didn’t exist 21 years ago back in 1998. I almost don’t recognize her now. She was shy in certain areas, and couldn’t write a lick. Pain transforms us into either stronger fighters, or wimpy worriers.
I have definitely been both.
The main point I hope you hear is that God absolutely loves you, because He has driven me bonkers to finish this task to encourage you. These words were a result of the numerous whispers I received sitting in Sunday service, or encouragement He offered after hearing of a loved-one’s diagnosis, or a radio announcer chiming away about a lesson she learned in Scripture that day. Messages bombarded me as He’d repeat:
“Write the devotional.”
God desperately wants to remind you that you’re not alone as you walk through this uncertain season.
How I know this is because the Lord placed a few people in my life who lifted my downcast heart when I craved some form of optimism most. And man, I needed to hear their boldness more than a million bucks. Even the day I found out my cancer had returned, those friends of mine amped up their support, saying things like my God-story was growing bigger, and one day I’d get to bring the encouragement full circle to others desperate for hope.
As much as I couldn’t think that far ahead during my despondent days, they were right.
Because now these words are for you. God works best in the bizarre, where no one else can get the glory but Him. He likes to place specific people in our path during difficult seasons to support our journey. Who’s your petitioner? Your cheerleader? Your support system to help you never give up?
If you don’t have one, then guess what? I’m your girl. You and me together will meet each morning to follow God’s Word as He leads the way.
One thing’s for sure, it took brokenness to heal me. The ever-evolving version of Dabney now shines with His goodness and mercy and hope only because of facing multiple sicknesses, where I had to allow my faith to grow bigger than my fear.
I so desire for this temporary brokenness to heal you, too.
One last thing. Throughout this devotional you will read tidbits of God’s miraculous wonders He’s performed. Honestly, I’m not anyone special. I’m some five-foot blonde who God chose to sometimes save instantaneously with a group prayer, and sometimes the healing progressed over the course of several years. More than anything, I want you to know that if God can heal me multiple times, He can heal you, too. It’s not like He only has a few get-out-of-the-hospital-free passes and hands them out sparingly to petite blondes.
May God whisper away at your soul each day you seek Him.
In His hands,
Writer, Speaker, (Former) Professional Patient
PS You will find that I use quotes from humans. Sounds odd, I know. But you need to remember that Jesus tells us to be as shrewd as snakes and as harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16 NLT).
Shrewd means: sharp, smart, discerning, perceptive, understanding.
And in order for us to be discerning, sometimes we read and learn from those who have either studied Scripture, or studied scientific facts. I love learning and quotes and evidence. So, yes. I have a quote or two from professionals who are believers (but maybe you don’t 100% agree with their theology—that’s OK, skip over those quotes), or a saying from a professional where I know little about their faith, but the science behind what is said is biblical.
I geek-out over this.
When those science-minded folks confirm what God has said all along, that’s quotable in my book.
PPS I’m going to encourage you to do a number of tangible steps, like picking up a journal (or making one) so that at the end of each devo you can jot down the thoughts God whispers. I know some of you just cringed. That’s OK. For those non-writers out there, I’ve included three lines at the end of the devotional for you to jot down notes. Start there. Maybe one day the note-taking will click and you’ll pick up a journal to record your journey.
“Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It is being sure of what we do not see.”
~ Hebrews 11:1 NIRV
At 25 years old, I sat in the ER waiting for my X-ray results since my breathing consisted of sucking in shallow gasps the best that I knew how. Knowing the why behind the incredible pressure in my chest was the only thing I cared about.
Well, that and my six-week old baby growing in my belly.
My husband and I hadn’t planned on this pregnancy, and we certainly were not in any financial state to raise a baby. And our relationship of only four years? Let’s just say we co-existed. Although this does not sound like the best way to raise a child, this little life brought a tinge of hope that maybe we could salvage our wobbly marriage.
But now this weird chest heaviness thing happened (the main reason we were in the hospital to begin with), and I needed some good news after five months of hopping from doctor to doctor to figure out why I fought fatigue and itched like my body was infested with fleas.
Now, here we were waiting again on another doctor.
This time he entered the room with a sigh, and informed us that there was no easy way to share this news, but growing around my lungs was an eight-inch tumor, roughly the size of a football, which he believed was caused by Hodgkin’s Disease lymphoma. This explained my gasping, itching, and extreme fatigue, he said.
I hugged my husband and whispered out an odd response, “I’m not crazy.”
You see, for five months I had gone to multiple doctors, praying someone could answer why I fell asleep at work and felt the need to scratch my skin off. My many physicians during that time had said the same thing, “It’s in your head.”
This was the beginning of my two-decade long health battle. Every day was a fight to have faith that God would heal me. And one day, it was over. And this is the part of the story I want you to focus on, because one day your health issues will come to an end, too.
And do you know the one nugget of truth I can tell you through all of this? That God’s Word is true, especially this sentence in Hebrews 11:1 that reminds us to believe our circumstances can change, even if we don’t understand how.
We’re not supposed to understand the supernatural steps behind our healing, we’re just supposed to have hope during the process.
That’s faith. That’s being sure. That’s believing in the thing you can’t see.
I pray this verse helps you inch your way towards trusting the Lord’s timing a little more each day.
But He is good.
Even if you feel overwhelmed by your current situation, He loves to bring beauty from ashes by opening your eyes to see life through a changed lens.
As it turns out the oncologist that diagnosed me in the ER had also battled Hodgkin’s Disease lymphoma at age 17. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Hodgkin’s Disease had affected roughly 3,500 patients a year back in 1998, so the odds that my oncologist walked my same path was only the beginning of seeing glimpses of Him in the midst of the muddiness.
God blessed me with the most compassionate doctor that could empathize with my unusual journey, almost like God was saying, “Trust me even if you don’t understand the why right now.”
And right now, God is showing up in your journey, too. Those little glimpses of goodness are tiny reminders that He’s working all things out. Today is a good day to start a healing journal to document any concerns you have, along with the different areas of your life where God shows up.
Because He will.
The amazing part of this progression is always when you look back and see how He directed you. Yes. Faith is being sure of what we hope for. It’s being certain of what we do not see, but one day will.
What are you hoping for right now?
Empty your heart out to God, sharing with Him the emotions trapped inside:
“All miracles begin as an impossible situation.”
~ Pastor Dan Plourde, Calvary Church Jupiter
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those
who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
~ Romans 8:28 NLT
“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous
blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair.”
~ Isaiah 61:3 NLT