Lana Elder

I'm believin'!

Relying on God….with thanks to you all!

I am praising God again for your prayers and His answers. My port is working! When I went in to have it tested it just starting working correctly. No other explanation from the doctor but obviously you all were praying and now it is working! So praise God for answering that prayer! I also had my second bone treatment on Friday and even though I did have a fever afterwards I didn’t have the accompanying bone pain and so I’m very thankful. Overall, I continue to feel pretty good with tiredness being my only other side effect. But that only seems to last a few days anyway.

As I was reading my Bible this week this verse stood out to me:

“We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and He will deliver us. On Him we have set our hope that He will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many” (2 Corinthians 8-11).

I know my troubles are not even close to comparing to Paul’s but I can certainly understand how he valued and appreciated the prayers of the saints lifting up his situation before God and how he had to rely fully on God. It also reminded me of all of you praying for me and encouraging me. And I am so thankful for each of you.

My schedule is to have chemo every week for three weeks and then a week off with no treatment. So this is my week off! Yea! It also happens to be the weekend of my 23rd wedding anniversary. A dear friend gave us a gift and asked us to to do something special with it, so my wonderful husband has planned a weekend in New York with tickets to see “The Lion King” on Broadway. I am so thankful for this friend’s gift, and also for a great husband who helps me as I go through all of this. He continually encourages me and has gone with me to each appointment, helping me to make the best decisions. He makes my life fun and it’s always a joy to be with him. Besides being a great husband he also continues to be an awesome dad, taking on some added responsibilities these past few months. So I am really thankful for this weekend to celebrate 23 years together!

And I’m thankful for friends like you all, who continually show us your care and concern, from praying and bringing meals, to sending cards and gifts that help us in so many practical ways. You really have helped to lift our burdens throughout this whole experience.

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Look to the Lord and His strength

“Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.” Psalm 105:4

Shortly after I was first diagnosed with cancer I told Eric I was going to write a book about my experience and call it “Cancer Doesn’t Scare Me, But Chemo Does.” It was going to be the story of how God had healed me of cancer and how thankful I was that I didn’t need to have chemo. But I just had my second chemo treatment yesterday and so I will either have to change the title of my book or the storyline. 🙂 The verse in Psalm 105:4 that I quoted above really summarizes how I’ve had to live each moment of the last few months. Although chemo was not my first choice in how I wanted to be healed of the cancer in my body, I do believe after seeking God that this is the path that He has for my healing. I also want you to know that so far the chemo treatments have not been as bad as I imagined they would be. I have had very few side effects and for that I am very thankful.

Thank you all so very much for praying for me. I know your prayers continue to make a difference in my healing and even in the effects of the treatments I am receiving. I continually thank God for faithful friends like you all who lift me up and encourage me each week.

I do have two prayer requests for this week. The port I had put in about a week and a half ago is not working properly. I will have to go in for a dye test this week to see what might be wrong. Please pray that it is something that can be fixed easily. I also have my second bone treatment this week. The last time the medicine made me sick for a day or two so we are trying a different medication this time. Please pray it works and I don’t feel like I’m growing new bones. 😉

Thank you again for being faithful in praying for me and my family. I’m praying that the Lord is your strength for whatever you’re going through, too.

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This is the day that the Lord has made

Dear Friends, I wanted to let you all know my first chemo treatment went well. The medicine made me tired, but other than that I’m feeling very good. Thank you all again and again for praying. I’m also remembering Psalm 118 that Jesus referred to on the night of His last supper. Part of the Psalm says (in verse 24), “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” If Jesus could rejoice in what He went through today, certainly I can too. I am incredibly blessed to have Him as My Savior and to have you all as my friends. Happy Good Friday.  Love, Lana

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He Restores My Soul

Praise the Lord!  You guys are the best prayer warriors!  Your words of encouragement bless me so much and I know God hears and answers your prayers.

Today I had a brain scan and the results showed that it’s clear, meaning there’s no cancer in my brain!  The Lord brought this verse to my mind from Psalm 23:3 that says, “He restores my soul.”  This news definitely helped to restore my soul after all the other reports.

I’d love your prayers again tomorrow as I get ready to start chemotherapy in the morning (Friday morning at 9:00 a.m. Central time).  I’m praying that the chemo would be the right chemical composition that would bring healing to my body and not harm it in any way.  Thanks so much for joining me in this prayer.

Love,
Lana

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PET Scan Results

Dear friends,

We’ve been praying for wisdom and clarity from God about what to do next, and today we got more of both.  My PET scan results came back this morning and showed that unfortunately the cancer is still there in my breast, liver, lungs and bones.  It also shows that the cancer has spread throughout my skeletal system, not just the three main areas in my spine and pelvis that showed up on earlier scans.  So it made it clear to me to proceed with putting in a port today to make it easier for treatments.  That in itself was a big answer to prayer for me as I was unsure even this morning if I should proceed with that surgery.  The surgery to put in the port went well, and I’m now at home recovering.

I heard a pastor say that whenever Satan sends his fiery darts our way, to just say “Thanks for the ammunition!” and send them back at him by praising God in midst of the attack from Satan.  So I’m saying, “Thanks for the ammunition!” and will keep on praising God no matter what.

I still have an MRI scan of my brain on Thursday and am scheduled to start chemo on Friday.  My prayer is that the chemo I take will be the exact chemo that would put the cancer in my body into remission.  I’d love to have have you join me in that prayer, and hope you’ll keep sending your praises to God for whatever you’re facing as well.

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Always Have Hope

With Easter coming up this week I felt God put a message on my heart to encourage you to always have hope and never give up on God.

I heard the story recently of a seminary student who was struggling to keep going. He was tired, exhausted and ready to give up. He fell asleep in class one day and didn’t wake up until everyone else had gone home—except his teacher.

His teacher gently woke him up and said:

“Go home, eat a good meal, get some sleep and don’t make any important decisions in the next three days.”

The student followed his advice, regained his strength, and is now leading a worldwide ministry.  He said his teacher’s advice was some of the best he had ever received.

Three days can often mean the difference between victory and defeat.

I think of the story of King David in the book of 1 Samuel.  From almost the moment that David was anointed by Samuel to be the next king of Israel, King Saul, the current king, wanted David dead. If you read in 1 Samuel 17, you’ll see that shortly after Samuel anoints David to be the next king, David kills the giant Philistine, Goliath.  From then on, King Saul seems to have it in his heart to kill David. Throughout the rest of the chapters in 1 Samuel, Saul pursues David in an attempt to kill him.

Life has got to be difficult when your king wants to kill you.  Can you imagine if the President or King or Prime Minister of your country wanted you dead?  But every time King Saul tries to kill David, God continues to protect him.

One of the most devastating times in David’s life takes place when David escapes to the land of the Philistines to avoid being destroyed by Saul. While David was gone on one of his fighting expeditions, the Amalekites raided Ziklag, the town where David and his men and their families had settled.  The Bible says:

“David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it, and had taken captive the women and all who were in it, both young and old. They killed none of them, but carried them off as they went on their way.
 
“When David and his men came to Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God” (1 Samuel 30:1-6).

I try to imagine what it must have been like to be David. God had anointed him to be the next king, but his life at first was nothing like royalty. King Saul was constantly trying to kill him—and then this happens. Everything David owns is burned and his wives have been captured. David and his men weep until they have no strength left. His own followers were now talking of stoning him. All hope seemed lost.

I think I would have given up. Looking at the situation from my human perspective, I would have said, “That guy Samuel the prophet was wrong. I certainly have not been chosen by God to do anything. Everyone is against me. God is not for me. If He were for me, my life would not look like this. I am just going to go back to tending sheep.”

Thankfully I’m not David. Instead, the Bible says, “David found strength in the Lord his God.” David didn’t lose his faith in God through all of his trials. If he had, we would never have known about one of the greatest kings this world has ever had. But David persevered. He inquired of the Lord and chose to pursue his enemy. Amazingly, they found an abandoned slave of an Amalekite who was left for dead because he was ill. The slave was able to lead David and his men to their families. The Bible says:

“David fought them from dusk until the evening of the next day, and none of them got away, except four hundred young men who rode off on camels and fled. David recovered everything the Amalekites had taken, including his two wives. Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back” (1 Samuel 30:17-19).
 
Okay, now that’s why this guy is so famous! David was certainly known to be a fighter, and in this instance, he doesn’t disappoint us. In the very next chapter, just three days after David’s most intense battle to save everything dear to him and to those around him, he gets the news:  King Saul has died.  The Bible says:

“After the death of Saul, David returned from defeating the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag two days. On the third day a man arrived from Saul’s camp, with his clothes torn and with dust on his head. When he came to David, he fell to the ground to pay him honor.
 
“Where have you come from?” David asked him.
 
He answered, “I have escaped from the Israelite camp.”
 
“What happened?” David asked. “Tell me.”
 
He said, “The men fled from the battle. Many of them fell and died. And Saul and his son Jonathan are dead” (2 Samuel 1:1-4).

In the next chapter, David becomes king of Judah, and eventually he becomes king over all of Israel.  What’s significant to me is that his life really changed in a matter of days—three days to be exact. I think of how downcast David must have been up to that point, “greatly distressed” as the Bible says, when his belongings were burned and his people were captured.  Then just three short days later he had it all back again, and not only that, but the king who had been pursuing him was finally dead. Life certainly was looking better for David.

This, of course, reminds me of another story in the Bible when things didn’t look too good, but God turned things around in a miraculous way—in just three days. It’s the story of Jesus.

Jesus was a man who, much like his great ancestor David, was destined to reign as king.

As the angel told Mary in Luke 1:32-3:

“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.”

I wonder how His mother felt on that day the angel visited.  And then I wonder what she must have felt on the day she saw him crucified. Here was her beloved son, destined to be king, yet hanging dead on a cross. How could this be? All hope seemed lost.

But for God, time is relative.  Hope is eternal.

Jesus had a lifetime of doing incredible things here on earth.  He healed the sick.  He raised the dead.  He walked on water.  He encouraged people to forgive and to do what is right.

He told stories to encourage people to use their gifts and talents today, not worry about tomorrow, and not to judge others. He talked about what were the most important matters of the law, like justice, mercy and faithfulness.  He criticized hypocrisy.  And yet with all of His miracles and powerful teaching, there were still leaders who wanted Him dead. They pursued Him much like King Saul pursued David to try and kill him. And in Jesus’ case, they succeeded—or so it seemed.

But just like David, Jesus never gave up His faith in His heavenly Father. Jesus trusted His Father to do what was best, even when He was carrying His own cross to His death.  Jesus prayed:

“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

Jesus, just like David, “found strength in the Lord His God,” even spending His last night on earth in deep and earnest prayer.

And His Father did not disappoint Him.  Even though it may have looked hopeless, hope was never lost.  It never is.  Even after Jesus’ death on the cross, hope was just around the corner.  Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead!

Jesus’ death on the cross turned out to be part of God’s plan.  As Jesus Himself said:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

I wanted to tell you these stories to encourage you that hope is eternal.  Even when things may seem to be at their worst, God can turn them around in a matter of days, hours, or even a moment.

You may be a seminary student and ready to give up.  Don’t!  Go home, eat a good meal, get some sleep and don’t make any important decisions in the next three days!

You may have thought you were destined for great things in your lifetime, but now you’re hiding in caves.  Even the king seems out to get you.  You may think it would be better if you just gave up your dreams and gave in to despair.  Don’t!  Don’t lose hope now, as God’s most important miracle for your life may be just around the corner.

You may be facing an impossible situation, one that seems irreversible, incurable or unchangeable.  You may be ready to give up on God altogether, perhaps even considering turning away from Him for the rest of your life.  Don’t!  I can’t guarantee you what the outcome will be, but I can guarantee you that God will always be there for you, if you’ll keep putting your faith in Him.  Never give up on God.  As David said in the Psalms:

“Wait and hope for and expect the Lord; be brave and of good courage and let your heart be stout and enduring. Yes, wait for and hope for and expect the Lord” (Psalm 27:14, Amplified Bible).

Let’s pray…

Father, I thank you that we can always come to you even when all hope seems lost. You always have a plan and you know what’s best. Help us to trust you in all things.  Whether it’s three seconds, or three days, or three years or more, help us to trust You today and every day until we see what You have in store for us just around the corner. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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