By Diane Virginia Cunio
Conference hair. I’ve experienced it. Have you?
When I left home, every hair was slicked back, sprayed with mega-hold, and cooperating perfectly. I was ready for my glamor shot!
But, somewhere between Chic-Fil’-A drive-throughs, and gas stations, my perfect hairstyle was… uh… let’s just say it was looking a little tired.
It perked right up when we made the ascent of Black Mountain. I do say it almost looked like I’d had a fright. Especially when we ascended through the mist.
And then, there was day one of Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference. Every hair was back in place, and I was ready to listen to our first keynote speaker.
Something happened while walking to class to that perfect “do.” I didn’t notice until I looked at the photo a friend had taken of me and my teacher, that a little frizz was on my locks from the rain. Okay, a lot of frizz was in my dew. Full disclosure, there was not one hair still obeying the mega-hold spray.
Then I met Torry Martin. He has a contagious sense of humor. In fact, I looked at my hair after class, and I was sure it had turned the color of Luscious Mango. I had to read his book, Of Moose and Men to make sure I wasn’t imagining things.
My hair stood at attention when keynote speaker Todd Starnes from Fox News challenged us to write for the good of our country. When I left, my hair was sparkling with stars and stripes.
Then there was the visit to the ladies in Clouds Coffee Shop. My “do” relaxed as I sipped and sat, and conversed with my new friends. I was ready, blessed by four friends who know how to love others just like Jesus does.
Then there was the day I departed. My locks drooped on the drive home. They just didn’t like the thought that the conference was over. I had to remind them that May comes every year, and so does the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s conference. I showed my locks the date for 2018—May 20th-24th. My “do” sprung into joyful locks in anticipation. I think I’m going to need to visit the Facebook page from time to time so I can have good hair days.
Thank you, Edie Melson and DiAnn Mills, for conference hair. I am most grateful. I’ll see you in 2018!
Hello VineWords Subscribers,
My devotion, “Slip ‘n’ Slides,” has been published by The Secret Place. If you would like to read it, please request the Summer 2017 edition. Their contact information is: 1-800-458-3766, http://www.judsonpress.com
God Bless You,
A CHALLENGE CAN BE AN OPPORTUNITY TO BE A BETTER PERSON.
According to the dictionary a challenge is defined as an invitation to a contest; a questioning of something; a stimulation of intellect; or a stimulating test of abilities. I see it as a physical, emotional/mental, and spiritual event.
Examples of challenges that anyone of us might face are: financial, job loss, marital or relationships, health, or retirement to name just a few. As a young person I faced several challenges, but the one that was the greatest was the physical and sexual abuse from my stepfather. In the 1950’s I had nowhere to turn and believed I was somehow responsible. I never told anyone until I was in my twenties.
I had learned from my grandmother and adopted aunt how to live a life filled with love, peace, and forgiveness. They introduced me to God and I wanted to be like them and how they faced their life challenges.
I survived the abuse. I forgave my stepfather. I turned the negative event into a positive one by helping other abuse victims.
When anyone hears the word cancer it creates fear, anxiety, and sometimes panic.
This is true no matter the language, culture, religion, or nationality. When I heard, I am sorry but the tumor was cancerous, I also felt fear and thought my life was over. This lasted about two days, but as I asked questions, did research into ovarian cancer, and turned my fear over to God then I began to see the cancer as one of several challenges I have had to face.
I prefer to use the word challenge because it does not signify negativity, but an opportunity. Just as the athlete trains for the competition, I see my training as putting my body, mind, emotions, and spirit in optimum condition to live with cancer. I have always been the health nut of the family choosing to eat few red meats, little processed foods, and lots of fruit and vegetables. I have always exercised or been involved in yoga. Meditation or deep prayer has been a daily (or more) event.
I am a retired registered nurse who specialized in holistic counseling in my private practice as a nurse counselor. I offered the client therapeutic massage, healing touch, biofeedback in addition to the one on one counseling. I pursued these same modalities for myself.
Since I was a preteen I wrote short stories, poems, and nightly wrote in my diary. I found this to be very helpful in dealing with my alcoholic parents and abuse from my stepfather. In the 1950’s there was no programs, information, or sources for those of who were being abused. It was a family secret!
I wrote and journaled for my healing and continued doing it right through today. I did not think I had any gift for writing so I did not share it with anyone. One of the positive things that came out of my cancer diagnosis was the publication of my award-winning book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir. This is the story of my cancer journey to which anyone who hears the words you have cancer will relate. Cancer is cancer is cancer. Even though our specific cancer might be different and there may some variations to our journeys, we do walk similar paths. It is my hope that my ways of training for this challenge, or coping, will help others.
Some of my healthy ways to cope are:
Daily deep prayer
Positive thinking and actions
Joyful pastimes (gardening, reading, golf, music, etc.)
Reach out to people with love
Never lose hope
I also wrote the book Outshine to bring awareness about this lesser known and too often deadly disease. Every female, no matter her age, needs to know the symptoms and act on them. Briefly, the most common symptoms are:
*abdominal or pelvic pain
*indigestion or feeling full sooner than normal
*changes in urination or bowel habits
*unusual vaginal discharge
These symptoms can appear vague and not unusual, but please pay attention to them. Keep a calendar of them, what you did to relieve them, and any results. Show this calendar to your doctor. If these symptoms persist for two weeks it is imperative to see a physician and demand a transvaginal ultrasound and a blood test called a CA125. These tests are not expensive and they are the only tools to help diagnose ovarian cancer at an early stage.
Too often physicians do not consider ovarian cancer initially when the patient presents with any or a couple of these symptoms. It is imperative that the woman know and share her family history and be proactive. Gilda Radner was sent from physician to physician until her cancer was so advanced she died young. This still happens today. Physicians, nurses, and every woman needs to know about ovarian cancer.
This cancer is not just for women over 60 years old. There have been diagnoses of preteens, those in their teens, twenties, thirties, and on up. Did you know that Olympic gymnast, Shannon Miller was diagnosed at age 34, Gilda Radner was 42, Maureen Connolly the tennis champion was 34? A teenager in Florida was diagnosed at the age of 18, a 7 year old, and even an infant were diagnosed with rare forms of ovarian cancer.
I hope you will share this information with everyone. It is only through knowledge and action that we can save the 14,000 lives that are lost every year just in the United States alone. Please feel free to contact me at my website or email listed below if you have questions or require more information.
No matter if our challenge is related to health, relationships, finances, abuse, addiction, or any other number of events my holistic approach can be of help to the reader. I talk about such things as meditation or deep prayer, exercise, diet, imagery, and laughter to name just a few. I hope the reader will find the necessary ways to cope with the stress or challenge in his or her life.
Prayer and Love
It’s said that as tears flow out, love flows in. I believe that to be
true. For the next two weeks, a lot of love flowed in. Jim and I
sobbed until our throats and stomachs ached. The week was painfully
difficult while we waited for answers; informed our kids,
family, and friends; and I made preparations for surgery and recovery.
It was the start of a journey that would have us enter hell and
then travel various peaks and valleys of hope, fear, ministry, doubt,
prayer, and an ever-closer relationship with God and each other.
I have always believed in God, even though I was raised in
a home where there was no talk of God, Jesus, or the Bible. We
never went to church, grace was only said when my stepfather’s
family was at our house for a meal, Easter was about the bunny
rabbit, and Christmas was about Santa Claus. My grandmother,
Edith, was the one who taught me about God, all religions, and
how Jesus was her Savior.
In my junior year of high school, the abuse had escalated to
a point where I knew my life was in danger. I left my mother’s
house in Long Beach, California, to live with my dad and his
wife in Hollywood, California. Starting in my preteen years, my
dad and I had become very close. He did not know about the
abuse, because I was scared to tell him the “secret.” The move
meant changing schools, making new friends, and seeing very
little of my mother and two sisters. Both sets of my grandparents
had always been very important to me, and now they were even
more so. Both Dad and my grandparents provided the stability,
strength, and spiritual and religious beliefs I needed. It was an
ending and a beginning, frightening and safe, confusing and
sane, nightmare and dream, sadness and happiness. A classmate
invited me to the youth group at her church every Wednesday
night. So began my journey in truly knowing and accepting
God into my life through Jesus the Christ. My faith has never
stopped growing, and it was the foundation for which I found
the strength and courage to face what lay ahead.
The time before my surgery gave Jim and me an opportunity to
come to a new level of grief. We talked about the power of prayer
and how our love could see us through anything. Prayer and love
had already seen us through some difficult times with family,
careers, and our own relationship.
We were overwhelmed, too, with the love and support
we received from family and friends. Every message in a card,
whether written by Hallmark or the sender, touched my heart
and soul in a completely unexpected way. I learned a lesson in
life that any birthday, sympathy, or get-well card might be very
meaningful and powerful for the receiver. Therefore, cards need
to be selected and sent with the ministry they are intended to
have. Too many times in the past, I have sent cards without
paying close attention to the words inscribed. I gotta get this in
the mail, was my thought as I quickly selected a card after barely
scanning the verse. That was not ministering to others. Rather, it
was being too self-absorbed in my own busy-ness. Being on the
receiving end of so many special cards opened my eyes and heart.
As the days brought us closer to the surgery, I learned that
friends are one of the most cherished gifts I appreciate. One
morning, I joined my dear friend, Charlotte, for a cup of coffee.
We had met twenty years ago when we worked together in the
hospital’s epilepsy unit. Sharing the same philosophy of life and
nursing, we quickly formed a deep friendship. We talked about
my upcoming surgery and the unknown challenges that lay
ahead of me. She helped me deeply explore and discuss my true
“I think my greatest fear is for Jim,” I said. “How will he be
if I die?” For over twenty years, we had lived each day as if we
would live forever, though we had buried his parents and said
goodbye to other relatives and friends. “Jim and I have such a
close bond, it’s like we’re one. We’re best friends, besides loving
each other so deeply and profoundly.”
Charlotte took my hand and said, “Jim is a survivor. He’ll
go through his stages of grief and will miss you terribly, but he’ll
survive just because of his love for you. He knows that’s what you
would want.” After a few minutes she added, “Besides, none of
us knows when we’re going to die. Just because you might have
cancer does not mean you are automatically going to die from it.”
Thank you, Diane for giving me the opportunity to share about outshining challenges.
Remember to leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of
the book, Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir. I will be giving away
It is available on Amazon and all proceeds go to gynecologic cancer research.
Karen Ingalls is a retired registered nurse, 9yr ovarian cancer
survivor/thriver, author and blogger, and public speaker. She
has won two book awards for Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer
Memoir and Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens.
Other books by Karen Ingalls are:
Novy’s Son http://www.amazon.com/dp/BO1BO2VQY
Davida: Model & Mistress of Augustus Saint-Gaudens http://amazon.com/Davida-Model-Mistress-Augustus-Saint-Gaudens/dp
Here is a beautiful message from my friend, Teresa A Montgomery in response to the devotion, Healing For The Broken hearted. (She speaks into a translator to type, thus there are few capitals or periods.) Please hear her heart on today’s subject: “No matter what you’ve gone through in your life… there is nothing impossible for our wonderful Heavenly Father. There is no damage so bad there is no pain so deep there is no hurt but he cannot tenderly and gently take away. You are so valuable to him you are a treasure. Much much more awesome than the Hope Diamond much greater than anything you can imagine that’s how he sees you if there had been no one else on this Earth but you he would have hung on that cross and suffered the beating that he suffered just for you. His grace and his Mercy endures forever and all the weeping may endure for the night joy cometh in the morning all because he is so wonderful and he loves you so much God bless you each and every one”[Top]
By Diane Virginia
The brokenhearted soul. We all know someone who fits this description. What do we do when we encounter this individual? We remember who Jesus is… And then, we lead the person to Master the best we know how. Each of us have this calling on our lives. How do I know this? Let’s look at the calling that was on Jesus’ life and how He communicated it.
Jesus’ job description is in Isaiah 61:1-3, and repeated in Luke 4:18. He read the scroll to the synagogue leaders and then said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” [Luke 4:21b] What He was communicating is that He not only fulfills this description, but that the hearers were responsible to do likewise. The synagogue leaders were informed; they heard His declaration. They saw Him heal the brokenhearted, preach the Good News, and deliver the demon possessed. They could not sit idly, and do nothing with who Jesus claimed to be. They had to make a choice. Would they decide to side with their Messiah and promote His agenda, or would they stop their ears and rebel against the Truth Sayer.
Sadly, most turned against Jesus, but some heard, like Nicodemus, who accepted Christ’s offer to be born again. Nicodemus was a secret follower at first, but he grew in his commitment, and boldly accompanying Joseph of Arimethea who begged Pilate for the body of the crucified Savior.
In 2 Corinthians 5:20-21, Paul writes about our calling; “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he [Father God] hath made him [Jesus] to be sin for us, who knew no sin that we might be made in the righteousness of God in him.” It’s not enough to just be saved.
As an ambassador of my LORD Jesus Christ, I have a choice to make. I must be willing to bind up the broken in heart, speaking life into the wounded soul, giving him or her opportunity to become whole. I can assist the wounded to become “trees of righteousness, a planting of the LORD’s splendor.” I can offer Jesus’ love so the individual can become whole within and without.
I have the power to do this because Jesus’ healing and cleansing power flows through me. I am the conduit He uses to work His miraculous and healing flow today. Today, and each new day, I make the choice to allow the LORD Jesus Christ to work His works through me. This is a gift I can give to my Savior.
Today, let’s meditate on Isaiah 61:1-3, and allow our Messiah’s words to resonate in our hearing souls, and lodge within our hearts:
“The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable day of the LORD, and the day of vengance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3[Top]
By Bishop Harry Wood
Have you ever at the end of the day said, whew, where did this day go? Furthermore, you think; what did I get accomplished? Well, thinking on this for a moment, let us look at it in a positive way. Sometimes this thought, indicates displeasure in how we measure our labor, daily tasks, and appointments.
Let me encourage us to plan our days, and prioritize what’s most important. Here are some things to think about: We all have responsibilities that are important, but sometimes a period of rest is appropriate too. Balance, with all the activities, and responsibilities is a must.
Think on James 4:14, which reads, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.”
Yes, life is short! Each day truly is a gift of God to us, so let us do as the Apostle Paul instructs, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16). Paul says: “redeeming,” which means to rescue from loss.
As believers, we should live our lives wisely, investing our time in what matters most. Our daily communion fellowship with God has to be our first priority, just as water or food is to our natural man.
As we redeem the time of each day, let the statement we propose help us to stay focused so we may be about Kingdom work! This means we are sensitive to the Spirit; and that all we do, we do for His glory, and to bless others. Surely, our lives are for a purpose; we are not running a rat race with negative venting.
Redeem your day, each day; seek Him first; and seek His guidance with your plans. He will assist us!
Written by Bishop Harry L. Wood: February 19th 2017, in His weekly church newsletter, From the Pastor[Top]
By Diane Virginia
Criticism. Each of us has endured it. Perhaps we’ve even countered it with a tongue lashing of our own and then regretted the words as we’ve seen them fuel the flame for the offender.
What is the biblical answer to responding to our critics? Let’s look at Romans 12:19-20. Paul writes, “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, rather overcome evil with good.”So, what do we learn from this verse?
First, notice how Paul addresses you. You are “dearly beloved.” That address alone should comfort us. It is reassuring to me, and I am sure to you also, that we are Christ’s beloved.
Second, wait on God’s timing. If a correction needs to be made in a person’s life, God will do it. He is patient, and His loving kindness works salvation of spirit, soul, and body in an individual, including the one criticizing you. Since only God knows the heart motive, He alone can bring correction, and He alone can bring judgment.
Third, perform acts of kindness no matter how small. The reference to “coals of fire” is a hidden gem. In biblical times, fire was ignited by coals and carried in a container on the head. One of the kindest acts a person could do was to rekindle a person’s lost flame. Kindle your enemy’s lost flame.
Jesus demonstrates for us the best example of being kind during extreme duress. Even so, He countered criticism by offering the gift of salvation.
Let’s examine the Scriptures:
“And they that passed by railed on him, wagging their heads, and saying, Ah, thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, Save thyself, and come down from the cross. Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, he saved others; himself he cannot save. Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him… And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost. And the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. And when the centurion which stood over against him, saw that he so cried out, and gave up the ghost, he said, Truly this man was the Son of God.” Mark 15:29-32, 37-39
The passersby, the religious leaders, and the thieves criticized Jesus as He hung on the cross. Did He hate them and free Himself, as He was able to do? No. Jesus stayed on the cross, completed His mission, and loved the critics. By this act of compassion, the gift of salvation was brought to fruition. Because Jesus died, paid the penalty of sin, and rose again, salvation is available to all who trust Him and confess Jesus as Lord and Savior.
While His critics railed, He extended mercy to one of the two thieves who died alongside Him as the thief asked for forgiveness. One of the soldiers who guarded the cross came to salvation by witnessing Jesus’ act of compassion. This guard noted that Jesus spoke with a loud voice, which was possible only with supernatural strength, for in Christ’s crucified state, the lungs would not be able to push air across the vocal cords with enough strength to shout loudly. Jesus did the impossible, and spoke loudly from the cross as He gave His Spirit into the hands of His Father. The soldier saw the veil of the Temple, that was torn from top to bottom, as the Son of Man submitted to His Father’s will. Thus, Jesus became for us the Living Temple we now come to.
Nothing stopped Jesus from completing His mission. Remember that, so that nothing your critics do can stop you from completing your God-given mission. You are loved by Jesus. You are His beloved. Let that be enough. In gratitude, give love to others at all times, even to your critics.[Top]
By Diane Virginia
Let’s remember the Scriptures that remind us that Jesus is worthy. When we tuck these treasures in our heart, we will become the worshipers the Lord desires us to be. Allow the Spirit of God to be your reality. Selah…
“Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” Revelation 4:11
“And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9-10[Top]
By Diane Virginia
Jesus wept, moved by Mary of Bethany’s grief. Then, He brought her through to victory. In like manner, He cares for you. He is moved by your grief, and He will come alongside you. Lean on Him, grasp His nail-scarred hand, and allow the LORD of Glory to walk with you as your Shepherd and Friend. He is the only One who truly understands.
“Jesus wept.” John 11:35
“He hath made everything beautiful in his time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11a
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1[Top]
By Diane Virginia
In your toughest times, press toward Jesus rather than turning away from Him.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me [Jesus].” John 14:1a NIV[Top]