12/15/12

The Dog Days of Winter

Our dog, Daphne, had a crippling malady:  she was terribly afraid of gunshots.  There would be times that she would show up at the back deck door just shaking because there were shots being fired in the distance.  Our best remedy was to let her just inside the door to lay on her rug.  Then she was fine.  The fourth of July or New Year's Eve were a nightmare for her and no matter what we tried to break her of this fear it continued to plague her.  Hence, she was a runner.   When we weren't home to be that calming rescue for her she would take off running wildly trying to get away from the noise.  She had run just a couple of months ago and her sister Lucy went with her.  They had been found, down the river road almost to town and a kind soul had taken them to the dog shelter.  So I had to go and get the both of them out of jail.

We all knew that one day her blinding fear would be her undoing.  So the call came on Monday morning that Daphne had been hit by a car on the winding river road and did not survive it.  In essence, her fear had killed her.  We miss that stinky dog (we often called her "stinky" instead of her name because she really didn't smell good) realizing that even in this dog was a reflection of God's kindness.

I looked up the word "fear" in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.  Believe me that there are numerous places in the Bible where it talks about fear.  There is the good kind of fear which is fearing God and then there is the other.   I am sure the enemy of our souls uses this kind of fear to cripple us and render us useless.  After all he is the father of lies and counterfeits all things good to make them ugly and distorted.  Humanity is saddled with this distortion because of the Fall so it is a constant battle to believe what is true and good.  Fear hides in the corners and the shadows being ready at any moment to jump out and bind us.  It takes combat-like readiness to stand against it because if we don't it will sneak up from behind and grab us to take us down.

It is no surprise, then, when the angel told Mary "Fear not" that there was the possibility that she was afraid.  I have wondered if Mary repeated those words to herself throughout her life.  Did she tell herself not to be afraid when it was found out by her village that she was with child before her marriage?  Did she tell herself not to be afraid when giving birth to God's son in a cattle stall?  How many times in her life would she have been able to tell herself not to be afraid?  I don't want to presume to know what went on in the mother of Jesus' mind.  But I can tell you the warfare that goes on in my own mind.  It is a battlefield of telling myself what is true instead of what I fear.   Throughout my day if my mind is wandering, racing and giving me thoughts of panic it is the words "do not be afraid, I bring you tidings of great joy" that will bring me back to a sanity not of myself but given to me by the One who is the tidings of great joy.

Because of God's immense gift I no longer need to fear because perfect love casts out fear.  1 John 4:13-18 says it like this:

"By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.  So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us.  God is love and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.  By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.  There in no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear."

Perfect love casts out fear.  I know that God's love for me is perfect.  Now I just have to remember to believe it and walk in it.  Hence the warfare with the enemy who would daily remind me that there are things in this world to fear.  Yes, there is ugliness in this world but Jesus came to redeem a world for Himself.  This is where I belong ~ this kind of now and not yet.  The days or nights might be battlefields of fear but I can go forward in that battle because Christ has gone before me and always, always makes a way.  As I look to Him and realize what He has done for me the fear isn't so gripping and crippling.  Each day is an opportunity for me to grow in the knowledge of that love.

Even in the dog days of winter the sparkling truth of the gospel shines through.  Christ came to earth, humbled Himself for His own glory and for our salvation.  Glory be to God in the highest!




11/28/12

Happily Ever After

I was barely 19 when he asked me to marry him.  He was shy of being 19 years old himself by 3 months, something of which he enjoys teasing me about.  We had only been dating about 3 months before he asked me and 6 months later we were married.  Kids started coming a year later and married life just happened.  I was thinking yesterday (it was our 36th anniversary) of what Jane Bennett said in "Pride & Prejudice" about Mr. Bingley:  "He's everything a young man ought to be".   This is my husband, Dan.  He's everything a man ought to be and more.

Sometimes I feel guiltily happy because Dan is mine.  But I don't ever want to change my life with him for anything.  As long as he is near the world seems better than what it really is.  Even the hard things in life are better shared with him.  He is the knight in shining armor that slays the dragons and he brings home the bacon so that our lives are better.  We have lovingly called him the "Camp Director" at times because he does take care of everything (there was a time that he really was a camp director for our church and this is where that title came from).

All three of our married daughters have chosen men that are similar in some ways to their dad.  I love my son-in-laws and see in them the character worthy of leading my daughters and grandchildren well.  We might not always agree in certain things but this one thing is true:  godly men make manly men.   I and the women in my family are surrounded by them.  This causes us to feel safe knowing that our men stand between the onslaught of the world and us.  They try to shield us women from the worst of it.  And when they can't shield us from everything they make sure they get the worst of it so that we are better off than they are.  Ours are everything that men ought to be.

Our men aren't perfect and Dan would be the first to tell you of his imperfections.  But honesty and integrity are trademarks and this can be counted on.  I would be a fool to tell you that Dan or my son-in-laws were born this way.  The truth being that God has placed His hand on them and called them into the service of the King.  This is their heritage and they bare it knowing that their future has meaning and substance.  For God, family and the Kingdom of Christ call to them and they stand ready to serve, sacrifice and be slandered if need be.  This is not an easy place to be and is fraught with many hardships and heartaches.  In fact, to trust in what scripture says and to act on it can cause and has caused trouble for my man (I'm sure it is the same with the son-in-laws).  My dad was also one who acted on what he believed.   I'll say it again ~ godly men make manly men.

This is a tribute to my husband.   It is also an overwhelming praise to the Lord for His mercies to me as a benefactor of His grace shown to me in being married to Dan.  I certainly don't deserve him but, then again, none of us deserve any mercies from the loving hand of God.  Happily ever after stories, and good stories for that matter, are filled with the highs and lows of life.  And in the end they are not tragic but glorious.   This is our future and I am ever so happy to walk through it with the man the Lord has given to me.  He is a godly man and my manly man.

Happy Anniversary, my love.

11/18/12

Broken but Working

I was cleaning out the flower beds in the front of the house a few weeks ago.  It's that time of year when everything needs pruning and the leaves need to be picked up.  There is always something to be done and, I find that if I can do just a bit at a time much can be accomplished.  I used to be able to do it all in one fell swoop but that isn't the case anymore.  Most things now are done in bits and pieces ~ piece-meal if you will.  But it gets done and accomplished nevertheless.   On this particular day I had put one foot into a higher flower bed only to have my knee lock in a painful position.  As I was yelling in pain I was also laughing at the ridiculousness of my situation.  Here I was, straddled from one point to another, not being able to move because the knee had locked up.  Thinking to myself, "For crying out loud!  The body is just plain falling apart!".   My mind tells me that I can still work like I was in my twenties or thirties but my body is telling me, "Ah, not so much".

What does God do with a broken down worker?  From the outside it is the strong and beautiful looking ones who seem to take on the world, those whom we want to follow.  It does seem strange to look to the one who is crippled but calls you to "come and storm the castle with me".  This doesn't seem to exude confidence in us no matter how inviting his words are.  The images that we see everyday remind us that we don't measure up.  So we try harder and harder to fit that measure, thinking if only. . . . .

Truth be told, though, everyone is broken in one way or another.  Outward appearances are deceiving because for some the brokeness that they experience can be masked by a good outward appearance.   For most of us there is at least one thing that keeps us from feeling ahead of the power curve.   We live in a broken world with fractured bodies, minds or emotions.  Loneliness might be the thing that brings you to the edge while for someone else it is the rejection of a broken relationship.  Depression, abuse, mental anxiety can cause a host of broken pieces that, seemingly, can't be put back together again.  We don't have to have a great fall like Humpty Dumpty to realize that it's going to take a lot more than bandages and positive thinking to put us back to the place where we feel whole and able to accomplish all that we think we need to accomplish.  If we can be honest with ourselves and admit to the brokeness in our lives this can be the beginning of seeing the surpassing power of God.

Ken Sande once said that, "Christ breaks us to free us . . . to ultimately use us".  Again, I ask the question ~ "What does God do with a broken down worker?".   He finally has something pliable to mold and shape into a vessel that brings Him glory.  No longer are we able to depend upon our own strength to accomplish anything for the Kingdom.  We are now jars of clay,  being fashioned into something beautiful and fit for the Master's use (2 Corinthians 4:7).   What is really true is that which is unseen and eternal.  This gives us hope as we view the broken down pieces of our lives.

Pastor Andrew told the story today in his sermon about Itzhak Perlman, the brilliant violinist who has been crippled by childhood polio.  In this particular story Mr. Perlman was playing a most difficult piece in front of an audience when one of his violin strings broke.  The symphony stopped, realizing that it was close to impossible to go on but Mr. Perlman instructed the symphony to continue and he finished the difficult piece of music with three strings.  The crowd was silenced by the accomplishment of Itzhak Perlman and then erupted in spontaneous applause.  His response when asked was this, "All my life I have attempted to make music with that which remains."

We might not have all the strings of our life finely tuned but we can use that which remains for the glory of God.  His power is made perfect in our weakness.  Our temptation is to see our weakness more than His power.  May He give us true vision to view the eternal as we live out in the temporal.




10/18/12

Shall We Dance?

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing, and have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!              ~ Psalm 30:11-12

When Dan and I were young and first married we went to a little church next to our home town filled with Jesus people on fire for the Lord.  We used to sing a song taken from the above verse.  I can still see my cousin leading worship with his arms raised and keeping time with the tempo of the song.  The pastor would be wailing on his guitar inevitably to break a string or two.  Another friend would be playing the organ (we didn't have key boards then) and she could hardly contain herself sitting there.  The man playing the bass would be rockin' and the drums..... well, they were loud.  The people in the congregation would be clapping and many were foot stomping.  A happy time for a happy people.  We were happy because we knew we were broken but we also knew that there was One who had come and healed our broken bones and put a song in our hearts.  The band was good and talented but that wasn't what caused us to sing with abandon and clap wildly.  The Great Musician had come to us and we couldn't help but dance to the music that He had placed in our hearts.

Not everyone can hear the music of heaven.  This is sad but true.  It's a different melody than one hears in this world.  It also takes a lifetime of training to hear the full orchestra.  The training can be strenuous and hard at times but produces a musical ear to hear the melody that is so sweet.  Of course, there are also many who fake dancing to the music of heaven because it looks like fun.  But unless you actually hear that song of the Great Musician the training will become too difficult and there won't be any motivation to continue.

Once you have heard the Song you will see it and hear it everywhere.  I can go out on my back deck and look up at the trees and see them swaying in tempo.  Even in the rain and storm the crescendo of the thunder is like heavenly cymbals giving praise to the Creator.  It is all around and it is no wonder that the psalmist was always encouraging many to give thanks and praise to God.  One only has to take a breath of air to realize that we are but a whisper and then the next breath comes reminding us of the tempo of life rising and falling.

There is something about dancing that is freeing.  I am talking figuratively here but I did read an article by Andre' Seu once as she talked about dancing.  She mentioned that once you get on that dance floor you forget yourself as you move one foot after another.  This makes me think that it is in the forgetting of and abandoning of ourselves to something else that gives freedom.  For the Christian there is only one dance that we follow because of the Song.  For the Christian Jesus is the Song of heaven and He is the One who teaches us to dance with abandon.

There is a song from the musical "The Music Man" that struck me in a different way that what was intended.  Here are the words:

There were bells on the hill but I never heard them ringing,
No, I never heard them at all till there was you.
There were birds in the sky but I never saw them winging,
No, I never saw them at all till there was you.
And there was music, and there were wonderful roses,
They tell me in sweet fragrant meadows of dawn and dew.
There was love all around but I never heard it singing,
No, I never heard it at all till there was you.

Jesus, the Song of heaven, gives eyes to see what wasn't seen before and because of that you can't help but join in the dance.  And once you taste of that heavenly Song there is no going back.   There is no going back because nothing else ever satisfies the longing of the soul who yearns for the freedom of dancing.


9/21/12

Seasons

The days are getting shorter, not in actual minutes but daylight hours.  There is a crispness in the evening air that let's us know that fall is upon us.  The leaves are turning to various shades of golden/amber and rust.  I'm starting to think more and more about soups and chili.  Soon there will be a fire in the fireplace.  Or, better yet, burn the brush pile and have a bonfire.  Again, it is time for change.

I'm thinking of that song sung by the Byrds that goes like this:

"To everything turn, turn, turn
There is a season turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven."

Seasons.... Naturally we have four of them.  But in a lifetime of the soul bought by Christ the number is dependent on God and the design He has on their life.  We are meant to change and to grow.  Sometimes with the growing first comes a dying.  Actually, not to be morbid, but I do feel like I have been in a season of dying.  Obviously, there is the aspect of the health issues that I have faced but also there has been some dying of hopes and dreams.  If I didn't believe in the Providence of God this would be a sad state of affairs to be sure.  But "for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven" (Ecc. 3:1).  So, as in all things, I want to make sure that my focus is on the King of the seasons and not the seasons itself.  Sometimes this is easier said than done and there are moments when I have to speak to myself instead of listen to myself.  There is a time for everything and Ecclesiastes tells me that, "He has made everything beautiful in its time" (3:11).

So, looking to the future, next Tuesday to be exact, I have one more chemo treatment and then I'm done.  I would appreciate your prayers here as my blood counts are borderline whether they give me chemo or not.  This is to be expected as the effects are cumulative.  I do have some numbness in my fingertips and toes, also to be expected and hopefully will return to normal in time.  We are looking at the end of one season and looking forward to a new one.  This is not just for me but for my family who has gone through this time also.  I am hopeful that what we have experienced in this season is for our good and meant to bring about gospel change in our lives.

Our God is for us so that moving forward is done without fear or anxiety.  I say that today and tomorrow I might have to remind myself of it.  Either way it is true and the Lord will do what is right.  Seasons come and seasons go but the Word of the Lord will stand forever.  I might find disappointment in what I wanted at a particular time but there is never disappointment with the Perfect One.  It all boils down to this:

". . . . whatever God does endures forever, nothing can be added to it nor anything taken from it.   God has done it, so that people fear before him.  That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away." (Ecc. 3:14-15).

The season is changing and our hope is in the King of the seasons.

9/12/12

For the Glory of the Lord

She was ours the moment she was born but we didn't get to see her until she was 2 weeks old.  Although a tiny baby she still  had a head full of hair.  This was something that most of her siblings didn't have except one.  We tease her about getting her out of a slot machine as she was born in Las Vegas in the middle of September.  It was the miracle of birth doubled with the miracle of adoption.  To think that before the foundations of the world was created Lydia Justine was in the heart of God and destined by the Sovereign One to be a Morse.  No mistakes here as God's purposes were in full swing.  He would glorify Himself by creating a life that would one day turn to her Maker and say, "thank you", "take my life and use it for your glory".  Augustine, the early church father, said it so well when he said this ~ "You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee."  The Westminster Confession of Faith says that "the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever".   This she does as she grows spiritually into the woman that the Lord has called her to be.

This is our baby girl/woman who is turning 16.  She was the last to be home-schooled and the last one to learn to drive.  Now she is half running the house as I go through the health issues of the moment.  Lydia has a dry sense humor that always keeps us laughing.  But she is also a deep thinker even though one might not know that as she tends to be the quiet one.  There has always been drama and passion in this daughter of Eve but as the Lord has laid hold of her life there is the stirrings of something grand for the kingdom of God.  There is a purpose and a plan and we are the expectant observers of this musical symphony.  As she takes each step toward the Savior we marvel at the gifts and talents that she has been endowed with.  Lydia has always been a button pusher (in more ways than one!) but now we can hardly do anything technical without her help.  I'm even wondering now how I will put her picture on this blog post without her doing it.

This baby daughter  of ours is smart but doesn't think so, talented but struggles with the wanting to do more, kind in so many ways (just ask the nieces and nephews) and beautiful especially when she smiles.  All of these things are gifts to her from her Creator and as she uses them well she is glorifying the One who called her to Himself.  What a delight for us as parents as we get to watch this movie of her life and be a part of it.  She is the daughter of our old age but is the one who reminds us to get out of our chair and dance (maybe not literally but figuratively, although Dan did say to me once that he would dance at her wedding!).  We will do things for her and her good that would not even come into the mind because of her and our age.  This also is a kindness from the Heavenly Father as He knew what we needed and what Lydia needed.

In many ways I am excited for Lydia as she starts a new chapter in her life.  No longer will she be at home with me doing school.  She starts Clark College (a community college in Vancouver) in less than two weeks.  She will also be driving and is talking about getting a job.  I know that this will be an adjustment for me as up to this point we are usually together.  So, where I am excited for her, I am also nostalgic of the past thinking of so many memories.  Here is one that brings a smile to my face every time:   Lydia was about four years old when she learned how to ride a bicycle.  At the time we lived in LaCenter, WA and had a large circular drive.  She would go around and around this drive singing at the top of her lungs.  Her head would be thrown back with her little pom-pom piggy tails singing "Lead on King Kong eternal instead of "Lead On O King Eternal".  As she was singing, her little hands on the handle bars would be going back and forth so that her bicycle would be zig zagging all the way around the driveway.  I wondered what else she heard at church that got transcribed into something else.

For her birthday we would love to give her the moon.  But she will have to suffice with dinner out and then a trip to Sun River in Bend, OR.  We are ever so grateful for God's good gift to us in our youngest daughter.  Lydia is a very special one and is definitely a treasure.  This becomes evident to anyone who spends time with her

Dear Lord, I pray that you will continue to give to our daughter those things that you have destined to make her more Yours each day.  Give grace where needed and direction before each step.  Help her to be a shining light of your glorious gospel in which will give her joy.  Thank you for her and the delight that she brings to so many.  We love You for how You have blessed us with such a precious daughter.  She has been and continues to be a kindness from Your hands.

8/24/12

He is Stronger

       "Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might."  
                                          ~ Ephesians 6:1

The double- drug chemo day was this last Tuesday morning.  I hadn't slept well the night before so I actually slept for most of the infusion.  But there was something that I did notice before I fell asleep that caught my eye.  A good portion of the people that come in on Tuesday (the day I always go in) are the same. There can be some new faces that I haven't seen before but many are the same ones every week.  One woman in particular I have admired because she seemed to be the picture of grace.  She was always nicely dressed having a beautiful head scarf tied neatly or a wig.   She was always put together well and often smiling.  This last Tuesday morning she came in with nothing on her head at all and was that way for the whole of her time there.  I don't think that anyone was shocked but my thought was, "Wow ~ she is brave!".  What was it that she was trying to say by not wearing anything to cover up her bald head?  Little did I know that this was her last treatment.  I found that out as she started to leave and rang the bell that the nurses have put out for those who have completed their chemotherapy.  As we all clapped for her I saw her pause but not turn around.  She walked quietly out the door.

What is the definition of someone who is strong and brave?  We all like heroes.   I wonder if, instinctively, we know we need to be rescued.  We admired those who have done something extraordinary and have survived it.  And I'm sure that most of us secretly wish that we were stronger and more brave.  Most of our good intentions break down in the face of reality.  So we look to something else to help us be what we cannot be in and of ourselves.    Failures and hurts of the past can cause fear of the future and, therefore, cripple us to move forward.  Wasn't it Elizabeth Elliot who encouraged us to "do the next thing".  Even Martin Luther, the great reformer, said to "sin boldly" (Please understand what is meant here.  The emphasis is on being bold not on sinning.  Do something with boldness and if you sin, repent and go on).

Today is Friday which is one of the days where the chemo hits me.  I'm not feeling particularly strong and, therefore not too brave either.  So I look to that Someone who is mighty and more than able to lift me up and cause me to put the next foot forward.  Through Him we have been given the tools to wage the battle of this day.  Therefore, in all circumstances, the shield of faith is mine and causes me to look to Jesus who is the Author and Finisher of this wondrous faith.

I don't know that I will ever go without something on my bald head.  But I do want to be strong in the Lord.  So with that being said, I'll leave you with this song written by Henry Smart in 1836:

"Lead on, O King eternal, the day of march has come,
henceforth in fields of conquest thy tents shall be our home;
through days of preparation thy grace has made us strong,
and now, O King eternal, we lift our battle song.

Lead on, O King eternal, till sin's fierce war shall cease,
and holiness shall whisper the sweet amen of peace,
for not with swords loud clashing, nor roll of stirring drums,
but deeds of love and mercy, the heav'nly kingdom comes.

Lead on, O King eternal:  we follow, not with fears,
for gladness breaks like morning where'er thy face appears;
thy cross is lifted o'er us; we journey in its light
the cross awaits the conquest; lead on, O God of might."

                                   

8/7/12

Yearning For More

 I was born in the middle of the U.S.  Actually, it was western middle, Minnesota to be exact (You have to say the name with a slight lilt at the end to be correct).  It is a beautiful state with farmland that stretches on forever.  One can drive the gravel roads in the country for a long time and still see fields of whatever has been planted.  Last time I was in Minnesota I marveled at the green of the fields as it was early spring.  Of course making my home in the Pacific NW I'm a lover of green so when I looked across the fields it was like the ocean moving in the wind.  It was all green, absolutely breathtaking and wonderful.

The downside of Minnesota for some is the cold of winter and the humid air of summer.  There are also those pesky mosquitoes that can almost carry you away.  I was young when my father decided that the cold winters were too much for him.  He packed us all up and we moved west.  Even though I was young (5 years old) I do have some good memories of this land of ten thousand lakes.  My memory was jogged a couple of weeks ago when my sister posted a picture of our swimming hole.  There was a small stream that ran in back of the barn.  This is also where the cows roamed and drank so we shared this swimming hole with them.     My memory of this time was feeling the cool water and the mucky bottom of the stream.   We didn't seem to care what was mixed up in the water.  All we knew was that we were no longer hot and sticky but wet and cool.  This was the best that we had at that moment and I didn't want for more.  If someone were to tell me that there was so much more to swimming I wouldn't know what they were talking about because I was happy to be in the wet, cow-mingled water.  I was content not looking for something better and so I sat on the side of the stream with the 'mud' squishing through my toes.

Now I live in the state of Washington which borders the Pacific Ocean on its west side.  I can take a drive and in a little over two hours be sitting in the sand looking out at the ocean and not see the other side of that ocean.  It is majestic and awe inspiring.  I am often overcome with a sense of the  power and glory of God sitting there looking out at the expanse of water deep and wide.  It can be 90 degrees in the Vancouver/Portland area and in two hours drive west the temperature can drop 15 to 20 degrees and be so pleasant you forget just how hot you were.

When I was five I didn't have the knowledge of an ocean with the salty, foaming tide.  But I am older (much older) now and have experienced both.  With what I know, which scenario do you think I would choose on a hot summer day?  Its pretty obvious and you would probably choose the ocean too.  Now, I don't want to disregard my memory of the above picture (I'm the one standing on the sideline) because even now it is a good memory for me.  I'm just saying that I probably won't be going swimming in a mud hole anytime soon.  I would like to keep this memory fond ~ thanks!

Transition if you will with me to a thought that has been whirling around in my head of late.  As some of you know we are looking for another church home.  In our pursuit it is our hope to worship and hear God's Word preached well.  Sometime this happens and sometimes it doesn't.  But what strikes me is the little that people will be content with when there is so much more to be heard, rejoiced in and applied.  This is such a sadness to me and yet I only have to look at my own heart and life to realize that so many times I'm happy with swimming in a mud puddle when I could be at the beach.  I know that the Lord has so much in store for us because Scripture talks about the "riches of His glory" and "an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison".  We are called a "chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:9).   Why is it, then, at times I feel like a disinterested observer when there is so much more to be had?  It's not that I just see a problem but that I am a contributor to it also.

C.S. Lewis once said, “If we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desire not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, we are like ignorant children who want to continue making mud pies in a slum because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a vacation at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

The bottom line is this:  I yearn for more.  But I also realize that in myself I can't accomplish that which I yearn for.  God help me and change me!  Remove me from the satisfaction of the cow pond and let me exult in the things that you delight to show me.  I am comforted when I read in Psalm 107:9 "For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things." And I am also encouraged when Psalms tells me "I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!" (119:32).   So for now I will trust in the One who causes the yearning in my heart.  Then I will be glad and give thanks knowing that it is Him who started the process anyway.

Update:  Today was chemo day and the last of session four.  Today I'm feeling fine but I think that I am realizing that there is a cumulative effect on my restless legs and knees.  Some days are better than others and on the others it causes sleepless nights with some pain.  Oh well ~ I know that it could be worse and what I have to deal with is bearable because I know that He doesn't give more than we can bear.  I don't have chemo next week as we are gong camping and will have a week off of treatment.  If all goes well I should be done with treatments by the end of September.  Again ~ there is much gratitude for all of you.  Your prayers and words of encouragement are great treasures to us.  Thank you!




7/21/12

The Sheep Dogs

I used to think that as my life progressed I would eventually be able to just sit on the deck drinking my tea and exhale.  The thinking was that life would be so good that I could sit back and enjoy it.  It wasn't long after that kind of thinking that God made me grow up a little bit.  Now, to be truthful, I do get to sit on my porch or deck drinking whatever and realize that life is very good.  God, in His amazing kindness, lets me breath air.   In fact, my daughter Lydia and I sat on the front porch last night as we watched the lightning light up the sky (And, yes, it rained, in July, here in Washington state.).

Being on the down slope of life it has been helpful to realize that there are always ups and downs.  I knew this to begin with but experience is an excellent teacher.  And being the teacher that it is forces us to look harder at the moments of our lives.   I used to think that I was an optimist as my personality tended to lean in that direction.  But then I wondered if I was more pollyannish because I didn't think large thoughts and that the well didn't go so deep.  Well, in God's sovereignty, I married a deep well.   And I do believe that God is all about drilling wells that go deep.  Now I like to think that I'm more of a realist with hopeful anticipation.  But that thought will be on a good day thinking good thoughts about God and life.  On other days when the battle in raging in my heart and I am fighting for joy personality traits don't even matter.

What does matter is God.  Coming to grips with the fact that life really isn't about me after all but about Him.  It's His story and I am just an itsy bitsy tiny speck in the grand scheme of things.  You would think that this fact would make me feel small and inconsequential but the opposite is true.  In one aspect I do feel small, am small.  God can run the universe without my help or opinion and has for much longer than I can imagine.  But then I watch the night sky light up and hear the rolling thunder and am overcome with the awareness of a Supreme One who has condescended to me.  So even though I am small and inconsequential I feel cherished and important.  It is an amazing grace extended to me in  Christ and I am finding the older I get (and possibly more feeble) the more it means to me.  When I read in Psalm 16:5-6 "The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup, you hold my lot.  The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance." I can say a hearty "Amen" and sit on my porch and exhale.  When God is my portion all of life is pleasant even when it seems difficult.

A theologian once said that God has two sheep dogs called "Goodness" and "Mercy" and as I read in Psalm 23 goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.  Just like a sheep dog chasing after and protecting the sheep so will God's sheepdogs follow me.  Now I may wonder what goodness and mercy look like because there are many times that life doesn't seem to pleasant.  Nevertheless in God's economy this is what it is.  So next week when I go in for the two drug chemotherapy, knowing that this will also produce a number of days of flu like symptoms, somehow the Lord's sheepdogs will follow me.  I may not understand it or feel it but knowing that this promise is mine in Christ gives me hope for the future.  Even now I know that I have a beautiful inheritance.

As an update:  I didn't have chemo this week as the oncologist knows that I will want to take a week off in August (confusing, I know but somehow it works out).  So I have felt pretty good and have been able to get much done.   I am half way through my six sessions of three.  This means the first week being where I receive both of the chemotherapy drugs followed by two weeks of just the one drug.   We have family around and tomorrow will celebrate with the church family the beginning of a new season.  One in which it seems like loss but, again, in God's economy the possibilities are more than I can see because goodness and mercy are following us.

"Teach me, gracious Lord and Savior,
that with my cross thou sendest promised grace so that I may bear it patiently,
that my cross is thy yoke which is easy, and thy burden which is light."
                                                                                                                 ~ Valley of Vision

Romans 15:13








6/18/12

Destiny Maker

It was a little over ten years ago that I first heard the song.  This was the time that I also was in the midst of chemotherapy treatment for the first go around with cancer.  It was also in the midst of what we viewed of as the "terrible five".  Five years of trials that we described like being at the ocean, swept under by the waves and only getting enough time to come up for air just to be swept under again.  This was a difficult season in our lives but, looking back now,  I can view it as God ordained and fruitful.  We have some faithful friends that, during this time, invited us down to Mesa AZ for a visit because, in their words, sounded like we needed a break.  So we packed up and took a plane and landed in the sunshine.  We were cared for not only by our dear friends but also by their church family.  We were physically worn and emotionally fragile.  Spiritually, we were at a low point not sure of what to do or which way to go.  So when I heard the song that particular Sunday morning at their church it was like a blast of wind driving into my very soul.   I could not, for the life of me, get the words out of my mouth to sing.  But I knew it was true and it resonated deep.  From that day forward to this day it still has an affect on me.  It is one of those firm stakes in the ground that I go back to over and over again because I need to.

I was reminded about this song this last Lord's Day as we listened to the preaching of the Word.  The pastor mentioned the title of the song in his sermon.  The song that he mentioned is "In Christ Alone".  Ten years ago I didn't think much of choruses as we were firm believers in just singing hymns.  I love the hymns and thought it couldn't get better than that.  But the words to this song/chorus is powerful.  Just as powerful as the hymns that we would sing.  You can hear the song here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ApS9W26eDs&feature=related

There is a particular stanza that jumped out at me all those years ago.  It's in the last verse and goes like this:  "From life's first cry to final breath Jesus commands my destiny".  All of the song is amazing and true but ten years ago seeing those words on the screen sucked the air right out of me.  It's not that I didn't know that or believe that but it was one of those moments where it changed me.  I believe in the Sovereignty of God and that His purposes cannot fail.  This has helped so many times throughout the years knowing that God sees me, knows my name and commands my destiny.   In the moments of fear, anxiety or discouragement this phrase has a way of bolstering and making firm something that is not of me but of Him.

Last week, as I sat in the lounger at Compass Oncology, I watched the nurse hook me up to all the bags of medicine that would eventually be coursing through my veins.  I heard the tick, tick, tick of the monitor gauging how much should be dripping through.  How many tickings of time have their been for me up to this point and the Lord of the Starfields has commanded them all.  Spurgeon once said in the devotional "Morning by Morning" that "The same God who directs the earth in its orbit, who feeds the burning furnace of the sun, and trims the lamps of heaven, has promised to supply thee with daily strength.".   It is a true and biblical statement that adheres to whatever God commands He will also give the grace to fulfill.  So as my life gets into a steady rhythm of good days and not so good days I so want to be trusting that He will give what is needed.   Paul even says in Ephesians that He is "able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think".

I have probably sung "In Christ Alone" hundreds of times.  And there are still moments that I can't get the words out.   Always it resonates deep down giving encouragement for the tomorrows knowing that my gracious heavenly Father commands even my destiny.

Gratefully ~ I Thessalonians 5:24




6/7/12

Being Known

June 3rd found us attending a different church.  To make a long story short, we have found it necessary to close the doors of our little church that my husband was the pastor of.  This is heartbreaking, to be sure, and a hard providence.  But God is still God and He works good things in the hard providences of life.  So, this last Sunday morning we were sitting in the third row of  another little church.  We would normally sit farther back but as we were running a bit late there was no room in the back.  One of the reasons that we chose to go to this church was that our son was playing in the worship band.  Our oldest daughter and her family also came so we weren't totally unfamiliar to everyone.  People were friendly and at one point there was a time to turn around and greet those around you.  This we did, sharing names and places.  As I turned back around to sit down my thought was:  "What was that person's name?"  My mind was totally blank.  Not only could I not remember the lovely woman sitting behind me but I couldn't remember the name of the man sitting to the right of me.  Argh!  This has been a problem for me for years.  I have tried numerous tricks to remember people's names.  Sometimes it has worked but then you have to remember the tricks in order to remember the names.  I guess that this is something that I'll have to keep working on.

I was reading in Romans 16 the other day where Paul gives personal greetings to many in the church.  This was heartwarming for me as from there my mind wandered to many in the church (not only those who attended our church but to other churches as well) who have served the church in particular capacities and have loved the church and its people.  I could also go down a list of names commending them for their gift to the Body of Christ and how they sacrificially gave themselves to the work of the Gospel.  These people and names I do remember as I go over what they have done in the name of Christ.  There is a familial relationship that is bonded by the fellowship of Jesus and not easily broken by circumstances.  From there the concentric circles expand like the life lines on the inside of a tree.  So are the people whom I hardly get to see but are, nevertheless, remembered because of past history and the ties that binds.  I am so very grateful for all of you.  Many are the relationships that have been sweet and encouraging.  There is not enough thanks to be given for what I/we have received from you.

As I was thinking and reading how Paul remembered certain people I started thinking about all those 'begats' in the Chronicles of the Old Testament.  It has been said that all these names are important and I believe it.  Seriously though, I can't be the only one who is tried while reading them and cheats by skimming over them.  But there they are ~ hundreds of names right there in God's Holy Word  (conviction is present as I write these words!).  God's Word is recording people's names.  He knows them and makes others know them even down through history.  Why would He do that if it wasn't important and for some benefit.  To be known by God and called by name is a bit of heaven here on this earth.  Every facet of the chosen, our joys and sorrows, are seen by the everlasting eye of God.  All those hairs that have fallen from my head were numbered (Matt. 10:30) and the many tears that have been shed over a church closure have been stored up in His bottle (Psalm 56:8).  He sees us ~ what a marvel!  This brings such comfort to a weary soul and therefore produces a joy that cannot match words.  It is no wonder that we can sing this hymn:

"When peace like a river attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, It is well with my soul."

Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, merchant, chief all have to ask this question:  Does God know me?  Has He called me by my name?  Do I belong to Him?  If the answer is "no" then there is need to fear.  But if the answer is "yes" then all is well.  There is reason to be glad for everything that is needed has been given to us in Christ.  There needn't be fear for the future when we remember that Christ goes before us.  So, I can press on like the apostle Paul knowing that Christ has made me His own (Phil. 3:12a).


*Update ~ Today is Thursday and usually the day that the chemo hits me.  So I'm a bit weak but not uncomfortable.  I keep having to say, "huh?" to those who talk to me as I have some ringing in the ears and not hearing so well.  Which, sad to say was a problem for me anyway but for now I'm blaming it on the chemo, okay?  I want to keep thanking so many who have let me know that they are praying for me/us.  Even if I don't respond to your notes I so appreciate you and your kindness (and I do remember your name).








5/23/12

The Will of God and Spiritual Worship

It was probably in the early 70's that I went, along with other ladies, to a Christian women's retreat.  I don't remember where it was other than some place in Washington.  I can't even remember what the guest speaker spoke on.  But I do remember going with an anticipation of finding out, really, what the will of God was for my life.  I so wanted to do what God had for me and was afraid that I would miss the mark.  So, at this retreat, I remember standing in a long line of women waiting to be prayed for by a godly woman named Anita Berquist.  Funny that I can remember her name when I'm having a hard time recalling her face.  I knew that any happiness that I could have would be that which comes from God.  I also could sense that this woman who was going to pray for me was close to God, knew Him better than me (of course) and could direct me in a good way.  As my turn came and I poured out my heart to this woman she kindly prayed for me.  I'm sure that I cried (see my last post) as the emotions were so high.  Then she referred me to Romans 12.  Here it was ~ the great secret that I was to find out.  I was looking for specifics:  Was I to get married or stay single?  Was I to become a missionary to some foreign land working among impoverished peoples?  What direction was this scripture, this voice from God, going to take me?  So as I quickly went back to my room, threw open my Bible, this is what I read:

     "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."  (This is only vs. 1 & 2.   I encourage you to read to the end of the chapter).

Sad to say, this wasn't what I was looking for.  I was disappointed because it wasn't specific enough.  It is shaming to admit it now.  How could one be disappointed in the Word of God?  But there it was.  I didn't know where I would be next year let alone next week.  I didn't know what I was supposed to do with my life.  Its safe to have an itinerary of life so that as it happens you can check it off to make sure that all is accomplished.  This is what I wanted ~ a check list.  

Well, life happens.  And after almost 40 years of trying to live sacrificially I have come to this conclusion: it's messy and somewhat uncontrollable.  All the check lists that I have made for myself throughout the years have gone by the wayside as I have come back to bending the knee to His divine plan.  Because He does have a plan.  After all this time living a life of spiritual worship looks like sacrifice and thanksgiving in the messiness of life.

I wonder if we don't get so distracted in the "doing" of life that we miss the "being" of life.  This goes along with working hard for God and missing the relationship that we can have with God.  I had longed for a life of devotion to the Savior but, many times, had missed the closeness of just being with the Savior.  Now, looking back, I can see how the Lord has lovingly brought me through many things to work out that which my soul had longed for all along ~ Him.  Because the living and the sacrifice is always tied to the loving and gratitude for Christ.

There is a stanza in a hymn from Isaac Watts that says:   "love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all."  In the years of being a "follower of the Way" I have come to realize that the sacrifice or demand of life really is an honor and a privilege because His love is so amazing.  I think that this is spiritual worship.  Not that we have it all figured out and our life is in order but that He gives to us what we need and He takes from us what He wills so that He becomes everything to us.  Hard work and sacrificial living can be a delight and a joy if done in light of God's love.

Because of God's mercies we are able to present our lives as a sacrifice, holy and acceptable.  The possibilities are limitless and the future is full of hope.  In light of what we have been and are going through, even in this last month, it could look a bit overwhelming.  But if looked at through the scope of spiritual worship it's all good.  God's mercies still shine through.

I have gone through two chemotherapy sessions so far.  The first one I had a few down days with some aches and pains but no nausea (yeah!).   Yesterday was the second session and I feel fine today but then  last time it didn't hit me until Thursday.  The doctor has said that since they only give me one of the two drugs this week that it should be better.  We shall see and I will take it as it comes knowing that the Lord will always give the grace to do what has to be done.  This brings gladness to me as I present my body as a living sacrifice in this season of life.

I have been so blessed by all of you who have come alongside to pray and give words of encouragement.  There is a feeling of great indebtedness for all the kindnesses that I have received.  This gives evidence to God's grace and mercy even in this time.  Thank you so much!

Romans 11:36




5/7/12

Just Having a Moment

It's the moments in a day that make up a life and each memory that we have consists of moments from the past.  Some moment/memories brings a smile and a warm feeling to our hearts.  Others bring the cloud that threatens rain.  We brace ourselves for these moments, putting on a game face and maybe holding the umbrella of survival.  And then again some moment/memories surprise us.  I remember standing in the grocery aisle picking out who knows what when I started to weep.  Right there in the grocery aisle ~ no hiding or pretending that I had something in my eye.  It had probably been ten years since my dad had passed away and yet there I was, blinded by the buckets of wetness that was coming from my eyes as I missed my dad.  This did pass and I was able to compose myself once again.  I'm sure those who saw me quickly forgot about the woman who was having a melt down.  But for me this moment turned memory had been etched into the folds of my mind.

It might have been from this memory that I started using the phrase, "just having a moment".  Because, you see, there have been many moments when the emotions just could not be contained any longer and have spilled over.  This can lead to some awkward moments when people don't know what to do with me.  So, through the tears I put up my hand and say, "No worries ~ just having a moment."  Sometimes I can even smile or laugh while crying which helps to bring the tensions down and the awkwardness of the situation to a minimum.  It used to really bother me that the emotions were always so close to the surface.  Now, it is a resignation of the fact.

Everyone has emotions and everyone will cry in their lifetime.  Jesus wept.  The apostle Paul writes as someone who has much emotion.  And why wouldn't he?  Christ appeared to him as one out of season and in a miraculous way.   For the Christian to understand and experience, even in the smallest detail, the grace and wonder of Christ's love for us should bring such emotion as to render us undone.  Nothing compares to this.  Can you imagine the apostle Paul speaking to crowds in a monotone saying this:
      "Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?  Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?  For from him and through him and to him are all things.  To him be glory forever. Amen"

To be sure there is much to weep over in this world.  Everyone has felt the ache of sorrow and pain.  But God has promised to turn our mourning into dancing.  There is a day coming for every believer that all tears will be wiped away.   Even now our God gives grace and peace to live each day in the sunshine of His favor.  So when those rain clouds threaten to give way, go to Jesus.  He is the source of all life and He withholds nothing but lavishes us with His kindness.

It is okay to have emotions and cry.  Some of the best moments with Jesus is the crying that comes from gratitude.  And while you are crying put on some dancing shoes.  Then,  do a little singing and dancing in the rain.

As an update:  We had to be at the hospital at dark thirty in the morning today as I was scheduled to have the port put in.  I'm happy to say that all went well and we were home a bit after noon.  It's still a bit sore (understandable) but I was able to enjoy the sunshine and even get a nap.  Chemotherapy starts on the 15th.  Thank you for your prayers.  I know that He hears!




4/26/12

Promises

Corrie Ten Boom once said, "Let God's promises shine on your problems."  And also, "Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God."  I would have loved to have met this woman in person.  When things start to weigh me down and the future looks unclear she comes to my remembrance and I realize that I have never endured anything like she has.  From there the mind might wander to others that have gone before me and I eventually end up in Hebrews 11.  Hebrews 11:38 says this, "of whom the world was not worthy".   Back up a couple of verses and you will find that their lives consisted of hardships and trouble.  Many stories in the Bible are just that ~ hard.  But if one is to look closely we can see this thread of the Almighty interweaving a theme of redemption and restoration.

"The Lord has promised good to me, His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be, As long as life endures."                  

Verse 3 of the hymn Amazing Grace encapsulates many promises given to us in the Bible.  Now, I'm not going to say that everything is sunshine and lollipops.  But if Christ is Savior and Lord it puts a whole new color and depth to the circumstances that come to us.  It is a matter of perspective.   Corrie Ten Boom endured life in a concentration camp and still saw evidences of God's grace even there.  So, it's not so much what we go through or what happens in our life but whether we can see God in the midst and thank Him for His providences.  There are always mini miracles happening if there are eyes to see it.  Believing in the promises of God is foolish and simplistic to some.  But to those who trust it is the bed rock and foundation of who we are.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)  "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."  (Jeremiah 29:11)  We can't predict the future and at this moment the scenario of our lives might not look too great.  But through the lenses of eternity and God's promises there is hope for tomorrow.  I believe it!

Since I have last written on this blog I have had a PET scan that has come back clear (praise God!).  However, I am still scheduled to start chemotherapy on the 8th of May.  Another doctor's visit next week, wig shopping with my sister-in-law and hopefully much grandkid time.  Much to do and life to live.  I trust that God will give me and those around me what is needed for the days ahead because He has promised.  And there it is.


4/11/12

Rain and the Fight for Joy

It is another rainy day here in the Pacific NW.  This isn't an uncommon reality for those of us who live here.  For the most part,  we don't realize how dreary it is until the sun comes out to remind us how wonderful it can be.  It is very green here in the spring time with other colors mixed in.  And when the sun does shine the colors seem to become even more vibrant.  Green happens to be my favorite color and I wait to see the trees leaf out in the various shades of perfection.  I thought at one time of trying to count the different shades of green that I saw but gave up as there were too many.

It has been said that here in the PNW depression for many is a problem.  Too much gray and not enough vitamin D that comes naturally from the yellow orb in the sky.  And yet we stay here in this soggy climate for reasons known to ourselves.  When we lived in Maryland I had a friend ask me what it was like to live on the other side of the continent.  My reply was, "When it is good there is no place like it, absolutely breathtakingly beautiful.  The downside is that it rains a lot." In truth, that really isn't so bad when you consider that other parts of the United States have some major things happening that bring such devastation (although we do have Mt. St. Helens in our back yard).  I suppose that one tends to love and appreciate where they are planted.  We can complain about it but outsiders better beware as we will defend this region of our abode like a she-bear does her cubs.

What does any of this have to do with joy?  Well, one might consider that it takes effort to wake up on a gray day with a spring in your step and a song in your heart.  That might be why we in the Pacific NW are such coffee snobs.  We love our cup of liquid sunshine.  Just give us a few and soon we will be smiling and ready for the day.  But seriously, for some, it does take great effort to find that joy that will get you through the bad news that you receive on a rainy day.  This is why finding joy needs to come from something other than one's surroundings or what we can conjure up inside ourselves.  Ultimate joy comes from a Person and not from the warmth of the sun's ray.  Maybe this is one of the perks in living in such a soggy place.  On those rainy days we are forced to find joy in something other than our surroundings and how we feel.  But make no mistake ~ this can be a battle.

Yesterday Dan took me to my appointment with the gynecology oncologist.  The sun was kind of shining when we went in.  On our way out of the appointment it started to rain.  Although, not terrible news (it always can be worse) it wasn't the news that we had hoped for.  It turns out that there were cancer cells in the margins of the colon that was removed.  So, the next step is to get a PET scan to see if there are any other cancer cells present.  Either way the doctor is recommending chemotherapy just to be sure.  Like I said ~ not the news I wanted to hear.  So,  on this gray rainy day in April I am fighting for joy and looking to the One who gives generously.  Psalm 16:11 says, "You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore."  Everything that is needful He has already given in Christ.  This brings great joy and peace recognizing that He is before all things, and in Him all things are held together (Colossians 1:17).

I'll leave off with a hymn that has meant much to me through the years.  Here it is:

Whate'er my God ordains is right: his holy will abideth;
I will be still whate'er he doth, and follow where he guideth.
He is my God; though dark my road, he holds me that I shall not fall:
wherefore to him I leave it all.

Whate'er my God ordains is right, he never will deceive me;
he leads me by the proper path; I know he will not leave me.
I take, content, what he hath sent; his hand can turn my grief away,
and patiently I wait his day.

Whate'er my God ordains is right: though now this cup, in drinking,
may bitter seem to my faint heart, I take it, all unshrinking,
My God is true; each morn anew sweet comfort yet shall fill my heart,
and pain and sorrow shall depart.

Whate'er my God ordains is right: here shall my stand be taken;
though sorrow, need, or death be mine, yet am I not forsaken.
My Father's care is round me there; he holds me that I shall not fall:
and so to him I leave it all.

4/1/12

Rest

"Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  ~ Matthew 11:28-30

For those of you who haven't received the updates from Dan via Facebook here it is in a nutshell (sorta).  Surgery, on the 22nd of March, went well although longer than the surgeon anticipated.  My recovery from surgery also took longer (3 hours) as my blood pressure was too low.  The surgeon was able to remove the cancer that was attached to my colon and put me back together.  We were later to find out from the pathology report that the cancer was indeed ovarian.  Monday, Dan will take me back to the surgeon for a check up.  From there we are assuming we will meet with an oncologist to determine further course of action.  The hope from here is that surgery took care of the problem and no further course of action will be required (except for me to heal).  This might be somewhat Pollyanish on my part so we will just have to wait and see.

I was able to come home on the 28th.  My family had been so busy cleaning, organizing most everything that pertains to our household and property that it was such a delight to arrive at home and see all that was accomplished.  And the food ~ oh my!  So coming home has been a particular joy for me as I watch all the beehive activity from the lazy-boy recliner.  I continue to heal and wait for the body to kick into normal mode (seriously ~ surgery gas pain has got to be the worst!).  I'm also supposed to rest which I do think that I'm doing relatively well.

But . . . I was caught doing the laundry.  Just a little bit and really the clothes were already in the washer.  I just had to push the buttons.  Well, I guess that I did fold some of the clothes in the dryer too.  I think that I might have also put some dish cloths away.   To rest is not as easy as one would imagine.  The mind is always going and the eyes are always seeing something.  What does it mean to really rest?

Dan left this morning for Sunday worship.  I cried just a bit as I knew that I needed to stay home and rest.  But I longed to go with him.  This is one of the few times that I have not been there to hear my husband preach.  I love to hear him preach God's Word.  I feel like I become more alive, more of who I am supposed to be.  There is the realization that it isn't the man so much (although I would rather listen to him than any other) but the message.  It is the Word that brings me life and causes me to change.

Considering Matthew 11 this morning I was once again reminded that it isn't the "what" we rest from but the "who" we rest in.  That's why I can be down hearted on my way to church for any number of things only to find rest for my soul as I have had my focus turned to Christ sitting in Lord's Day worship.  His yoke truly is easier than resting in a lounge chair.  As the focus is turned away from me and toward my Savior all the pain of surgery and the uncertainty of the future comes in line with a yoke that is easy.

God, grant me the grace to turn to Christ when I am feeling a heavy yoke.  Help me to exchange the yoke that I produce for the One you gave me.  Then, and then only, will I be at rest.

3/22/12

Family & Friends

It's late and I should be in bed but I wanted to write one more post before my surgery tomorrow.  Actually, I'm not that tired and my mind is thinking of many things.  Daughters calling,  one coming from out of town and another one making dinner.  A son who is hovering at home when he could be elsewhere.  The wagons are circling.  Hugs from mothers and a sister's concern.  More calls from a brother, dependable, along with his wife, my other sister.  And then there are the friends; glorious treasures of God's grace who wait, hoping to serve because that's what they do when the wagons circle.  I am extremely grateful this night to think of the army of saints that holds us up with their prayers.  Others have come alongside because you have asked them to.  They also have become partakers in this golden cord of prayer.

And then there is my favorite, my husband, who is always watching and caring.  He is a wagon master himself in how he plans and directs the rest of us.  This man that I love is strong, yet tender when it comes to the heart and his Savior.  I know that I am blessed beyond many for I experience his graces daily.

So my last thought tonight is one of overwhelming gratitude.  I know that all good gifts come from the Father above and He is generous in His blessings.  As I lay my head down tonight it will be with praise to the God who is my helper, the upholder of my life (Psalm 54:4) and who gives peace (Psalm 4:8).

I understand that tomorrow will be hard but I don't count it any harder than what many of you experience in your own lives.  It is one more day to face and by God's grace He will supply what is needed.

I am thankful ~

3/19/12

Held Together

Today was an information laden day. Dan took me to yet another doctor's appointment and much has happened and going to happen. In all honesty it can be quite overwhelming and if I didn't remember that God is over all I am most certain that I could/would crumble. There is great comfort in scripture for all scripture is God breathed, and profitable for making one wise. I am comforted by Colossians 1:17 which says, "And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together." We are part of the "all things" that are being held together by the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. No out of control or running amuck when the Lord is our God.

So here is the news that we knew was coming (just didn't think it was coming so fast). Tomorrow Dan will take me in the morning to have another procedure done. The surgeon wants to do an endoscopy to look around some more. Then, on Thursday, I have been scheduled for surgery. This seems to be a fast tract for sure but I am at the whim of a surgeon's schedule and there was an opening. But maybe the reality is this: God goes before us making a way because He holds all things together.

God is all sufficient for the road ahead. I want to remember this at each moment when the feelings go haywire. Let me end this post by quoting from "The Valley of Vision":

"The world is before me this day, and I am weak and fearful, 
but I look to thee for strength;
If I venture forth alone I stumble and fall,
but on the Beloved's arms I am firm as the eternal hills;
If left to the treachery of my heart I shall shame thy Name,
but if enlightened, guided, upheld by thy Spirit I shall bring thee glory.
Be thou my arm to support, my strength to stand, my light to see, my feet to run,
my shield to protect, my sword to repel, my sun to warm."

Thank you, dear friends, for reading and praying.

3/14/12

Must Keep Moving Forward

I read in a blog this last week of a letter a young man sent home to his parents in WWI.  In this letter he described how in the battle one would be shot if they retreated.  This young soldier paralleled that with the Christian walk.  Our Lord has called us to the battle.  It's not always the same for everyone but we all battle in one way or another.   Here is a great reality ~ we never battle alone.  The Prince of heaven, who calls us to the battle, not only leads us but also comes behind us all the while being in the midst of the conflict we face.  We have been given tools for this trade, weapons for this warfare.  So it matters not that we understand or comprehend the call to fight.  It only matters that the Captain of our souls is in charge and that we can depend on Him to lead.  For there are dragons in the land and many times we don't even recognize them.  Charles Spurgeon says this, "The duty of every soldier in the army of the Lord is daily, with all his heart, soul and strength to fight against the dragon."  And, "Let us sharpen our swords tonight and pray the Holy Spirit to nerve our arms for the conflict."  You must also know that you will get wounds, get knocked down and maybe even trampled on.  The truth remains, though, and it is quoted in Psalm 18:28-30:  "For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness.  For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall.  This God -- his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him."  Christ goes before us and has given us the weapons that we need (read in Ephesians 6).

This would be enough  to do what we have been called to do.  But in the kindness and mercy of God he has also given us the church, particular members, to hold each other up and remind us of who we follow and fight for.  This is a tangible evidence of grace.  I have seen it and experienced it.  For this I am beyond grateful. All of you who have come alongside of us being ministering spirits are evidences of God's love and grace.  For so many prayers and encouragements cannot be bought or sold.  It is an incredible gift that has been given by God's saints.  These are many of the things that I remember when the battle is fierce.  I hear the song "Onward Christian Soldier" as I pick up the weapons and enter the fray again.

We are not alone but are many.  Not only are we many but we follow the ultimate Warrior who will not fail.  The battle truly is the Lord's and He is and will be victorious.


*Health update:  Dan took me to my doctor's appointment yesterday.  To make a long story short this doctor is sending me to another doctor.  So I have an appointment this coming Monday to discuss, most likely, surgery.  We want to get this nasty stuff out of me and put me back together again.  I most sincerely want so many of you to know that I sense the power of your prayers on our behalf.  Definitely a precious gift!

3/6/12

Joy through Pain

Dan and I will often go into our little town of Woodland to get a cup of coffee at the Starbucks located inside the Safeway store.  We go to this Starbucks because there is a young woman that works there that we have gotten to know and she is quite delightful.  A couple of weeks ago we stopped by and she asks the question, "Pastor Dan, what is Lent?".  You would think that I would have a good grasp on what Lent is growing up in the Lutheran church.  But, sad to say, I don't think that I was a particularly smart child as I don't have any recollections and have had to figure this out later in life.  So as we are in the season of Lent and because I have been thinking about it I thought that I would share some thoughts with you.  Lent, according to the church calendar, is the forty days before Easter not including the Sundays.  This is where you will hear someone say that they are giving up this or that for Lent (jokingly, I have told Dan that I will give up squid for Lent).  But seriously, as I think about the time of preparation for Easter, which is where we celebrate the resurrection of Christ, I am reminded this is where Jesus served the disciples at the Last Supper.  He washed their feet telling Peter that this was necessary to be a part of Him.  As I reflect upon my own black heart and actions there is the realization that I was/am doomed if Jesus has not come to me, served me in His sacrifice.  As each day in the season of Lent goes by there is ample opportunities for me to recognize my emptiness, dependence and need for a Savior, THE Savior.  So with each sacrifice (giving up) or suffering that comes I really want to be able to turn and offer it to the Lord so that His will is done in me.  This is easier said than done but hardships and heartaches have a purpose in the kingdom of God.  Lent is the emptying of myself so that Christ can come and dwell and shine His light into the darkness of my heart.  I definitely need Him, am desperate for Him.  Because without Him there will only be this void of darkness and me having to dwell with me.  Easter is coming and with it the joy of remembering what was accomplished.  Jesus has saved me from me.

3/1/12

An Update

I had read a quick post from my cousin that she wrote on Facebook this morning.  And as Dan and I were coming out of the doctor's office I recited what she had posted.  Her post said that as she had awakened this morning what went through her mind was, "Our great God, our great God".  God, indeed, is great and no matter what we face each day that statement won't change.

But we did hear some good news today.  The results of the CT scan showed nothing abnormal.  The cancer didn't even show up on it.  Now we do still know that because of the pathology report that there is cancer present.   The next step is to see a  oncological specialist in the Vancouver area.  So the referral has been sent and I will wait to hear when the appointment will be scheduled.

Again, so many thanks to all of you.  We feel so incredibly loved.  More news will be coming when we know more.

2/27/12

What's Really True

     I woke up in a panic at dark-thirty this morning.  My heart was racing and I was a bit disoriented.  It just took me a few seconds for my wits to come back to me and realize that all was okay.  I could hear the steady rhythm of my love breathing next to me and this helped my own heart to slow down and relax.  It was then that I sensed the Beloved's whisper and scripture come to my mind.  "The Lord is my shepherd.  I shall not want."  Yes, Lord ~ everything that I need comes from Your hand.   "He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul." Again I respond with a "yes".  You are the One who calms the panic of my heart gone wild.  I felt like responding in praise as I started to recount the many blessings from the Lord.  Family, friends, provisions.  A myriad  of pictures going through my mind of memories stored and loved.  As I laid in bed recounting, a song came to mind.  My son had just led worship at our church that day with this song (as with others).  I was and am impacted by the truths of these words:
 
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
Your perfect love is casting out fear.
And even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life,
I won't turn back, I know You are near.
And I will fear no evil,
For my God is with me.
And if my God is with me,
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?
Oh no, You never let go, through the calm and through the storm.
Oh no, You never let go, in every high and every low.
Oh no, You never let go, Lord, you never let go of me.

What is true?  God is near and will not let go.  I can say, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life".  I know this to be true as I know that I will take a next breath.  Therefore, (don't you just love that word) each day is an opportunity to trust in the One who is near.  We can boldly move forward, in His grace, knowing that this too is a gift from a kind and loving hand.

So, still no news from the imaging department for when I can get a CT scan.  Hopefully, we will hear today.  As news comes in I will let you know.  Thank you so much, everyone, who is praying on our behalf.  This is tremendous kindness to us.
 

2/23/12

What's in a name?

I suppose that most of you can understand why I named this blog "Inkling from the Shadowland".  But I thought that I would tell you what my thoughts are anyway.  In truth, Dan is the title maker in this house. He usually is the one that comes up with the good names.  So when Lydia wanted to get started on this blog we had to start with a name.  I had been thinking of the word "shadows" but that is about as far as I got.  When commenting on I Corinthians yesterday I was thinking about how we live in the shadows.  C.S. Lewis talks about the shadowlands saying that we live in a dream but the morning is coming.  One of the definitions of shadow is something without substance.  And then the word inkling means a hint or intimation.   This life we live on earth often seems too real as we see, touch, taste and feel everyday the joy and sorrow that makes up this reality.  But, in fact, it is not our home even if so many times it feels like it is.    Hebrews 11 talks about those who have gone before us "looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God" and "having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth."  Their desire was for a better country, a heavenly one.  We, like them, have lived and live in the shadowland, longing for the reality of heaven.  Where there will be no more tears, hurts, sick bodies and broken down relationships.  We are in the training ground being prepared for the next true life.  The morning is coming and it will be a splendid holiday.

2/22/12

Dimly Lit Mirror

This is the first post of my new blog.  My daughter, Lydia, has designed it all for me as I am really challenged in the area of computers.  Actually anything electronic can be a frustration to me.  Anyway ~ the purpose of doing a blog was, at least, two-fold.  I know that many are going to want updates on my health issues.  But mainly I have felt for some time now that the Lord might be leading me to do this.  I don't have any great wisdom or spiritual insights but I do love the Savior and I want as many to know this as possible.

In I Corinthians 13:12 it says this, "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully,  even as I have been fully known."  Last Thursday Dan and I went to hear the results of a biopsy done on me.  The doctor was so kind when he told us that the pathology came back with cancer cells.  He left to give us time to take it in.  We cried.  We have been down this path before and had hoped not to do it again.  But God's ways are not ours and even though we can't see clearly as to what He is doing we can sense the lovingkindness of our Savior who fully knows us.   This might just be a bump in the road or it just might be a very difficult journey.  Either way He goes before us to make a way. This is our hope, comfort and peace.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for the many prayers on our behalf.  We are blessed.