What do fortune cookies, a movie, and a friend’s cancer diagnosis have in common?
That may seem like one of the stranger questions you’ve been asked, but those were three different creative ways that God communicated to me lately.
Several people told me to see the movie “Soul Surfer.” I’d heard great things about the movie, and know people who have seen it two and three times. Jon and I decided to go one night after having Chinese food, and after dinner, we read our fortune cookies.
I laughed when I first scanned the words on my little slip of paper, and reread it before reading it out loud, in case I’d imagined the fortune. The message in the cookie I’d randomly selected was: “You’ll find inspiration to reach your goal from the next movie you watch.”
I have heard it said that “coincidence” is the name for those times when God chooses to remain anonymous. Maybe fortune cookies are for those times when God chooses to be humorous.
“Soul Surfer” was clearly inspirational. For those of you who don’t know, “Soul Surfer” is based on a true story about Bethany Hamilton, a 13-year old girl who lost her arm to a shark attack. Born on Kauai into a family of surfers, Bethany grew up surfing. One morning while surfing she was attacked by a 14-foot tiger shark and lost over 60 percent of her blood.
Bethany’s survival after losing so much blood was the first miracle, but it was her faith, hope, perseverance, and courage that continue to be an ongoing miracle and inspiration to millions of people. Her first question after surgery was “When can I surf again?”
Only one month after losing her arm, Bethany was back in the water to keep pursuing her goal of becoming a professional surfer. She wrestled with all the obvious questions about her future, but she looked to God and realized that she can make a difference in the lives of others by offering hope and inspiration for people facing adversity.
As if Bethany’s attitude was not amazing enough, it was her answer to a reporter’s question that was particularly powerful. Asked what she would do if she had the chance to regain her arm, Bethany replied that she would still lose it because she can embrace more people now that she ever could with two arms.
I am watching another inspirational story of faith, hope and courage play out in real time, as opposed to coming from a movie reel, in my friend Debbie Ringler.
I first met Deb almost 30 years ago when she offered to help me. I was pushing a baby in a stroller and trying to keep a toddler in check while exploring the colorful aisles of flowers at what was then Amling’s, now Armstrong Nursery, in Corona del Mar. She and I became fast friends and have gone through many ups and downs of life together, including raising children, weddings, and the unexpected deaths of her husband and our youngest daughter.
Debbie was recently diagnosed with colon cancer, and from the first doctor’s appointment, she has looked to, and leaned on, God. She has not asked “Why me?” or felt like a victim.
“I choose to trust God and believe that He will bring something good out of this in my life,” she said. “I have asked Him to show me what I am to learn and how my journey may help and encourage others. I have chosen to face this head on and be proactive and work with my entire medical team, both medically and holistically. That does not mean however that I do not daily ask God to heal me, because I do. I am not excited about what is to come, but I am assured that God, as well as many others, will be with me and I am not alone.”
Debbie’s hopeful and faith-filled attitude has increased her circle of friends to include doctors, nurses, technicians and the many other cancer patients she encounters during her treatments and different medical appointments. Her frequent blog updates not only keep us informed, they keep us inspired.
“The best ways to handle unwanted situations is to thank God for them,” she wrote recently. “I am not thankful for cancer or the thousands of people it affects throughout the world. I do believe however your mindset and faith have a tremendous amount to do with your overall health. “
Bethany’s and Debbie’s lives have taken dramatically different turns than either planned or expected, but by trusting in God, He has given them His presence, peace and power in the process.
Cindy can be reached at [email protected].