Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 STARTS WITH A PET


It is 4 hours before 2013 settles itself in.

Do I have any resolutions? No. I plan on living through this coming year; I guess that is as ambitious as I will get.

2012 was a year of happiness and of struggle. Aren’t most years like that for everyone? 

And while it is human instinct to dwell on all that I do NOT have because of cancer, I will not give the devil the satisfaction of pointing out what he has taken from me. He loves getting the recognition. He will not get it from me.

I do not know what 2013 will hold, but I know Who holds my future in His hands. Without the Lord as my refuge and strength, I could not wake up day after day. I am so grateful to my Savior for his promises and his comfort. I am so grateful to my husband and son, both men of unwavering faith in my healing....the two of them are my oxygen and my sunlight.

I have my next PET scan 3 days from now. By Thursday afternoon, I will have an idea of what the next months will mean for me. I pray for good news, and I know God is good and faithful no matter what the news is. I wait on Him until He finishes writing my story.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

NUMBERS


I have always tried to read through the Bible every year. Sometimes it takes me more than one year because I skip days and get sidetracked with other devotionals and such. In the past two years, my chemo brain has not lent itself to study of any kind, but this fall, I made the commitment to start again.

I LOVE Genesis and Exodus. I could read the stories of Joseph and Abraham and Moses over and over. My intent is always to study one chapter each day and really meditate on what God is telling ME in that chapter. In the first two books, I get so involved that I read multiple chapters. It is better than any biography.

But then, Leviticus. Leviticus weighs me down every time. Too confusing. Too technical. Too many details of ancient Hebrew offerings, laws, punishments and ceremonies. I admit to skimming here.

I just finished Numbers. The many pages of census taking is laborious for me and feels irrelevant (knowing that the leader of Simeon’s tribe is Shelumeil son of Zurishaddai does not make me a better Christian). More rules for offerings that I usually skim. But then, yes, “the story” continues. The Israelites leave Sinai and journey on to take the Promised Land God has told them is theirs. God gives the promise…..they seek its fulfillment.

Numbers has struck a chord with me in a whole new way as I read it through eyes (one with an annoying detached vitreous, mind you) that are colored with cancer. This book really spoke to me this month as I read it. I too am between a promise and its fulfillment.

Numbers is filled with cycles of rebellion and belly-aching from the nation of Israel. They complain about everything from manna to the prospects of defeating the foreigners inhabiting the Promised Land, to the way Moses is handling his job. There is repentance and then as the Israelites cry out in desperation for forgiveness, God gives it. As soon as they sin again, God withholds His blessings until their impatience and irritation and lack of faith get the best of them and they repent. The cycle was to be repeated for centuries.

What spoke to me? God’s promises are fulfilled because of FAITH and ENDURANCE. I have to give those to my Father God. That’s what He asked of His chosen people. It is all He asks of any of us. He basically promised Israel everything they could ever want, IF they would simply trust Him and be patient for the promise to be fulfilled in His time.

God was looking for their faith and their character in that span between the promise and the fulfillment. That’s what He demanded. Be holy. Worship Me and only Me. Obey My commands. Stay in relationship with Me. Wait in faith that I will do what I said I will do. I cannot lie. Persevere. Trust Me with your whole heart.

It is exactly what God is asking of me. God has promised me healing through His Word. He cannot lie. I believe it is mine. It has not manifested itself on a computer screen, but that means nothing in the world of faith. I have a promise. I await its fulfillment. God reminded me through Numbers that he wants my patience and my faith without any complaining. I am determined to give my God exactly that.

THE LORD BLESS YOU AND KEEP YOU; THE LORD MAKE HIS FACE
TO SHINE UPON YOU AND BE GRACIOUS TO YOU; THE LORD TURN HIS FACE TOWARD YOU AND GIVE YOU PEACE.
Numbers 6:24-26


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

GETTING BETTER


Healing is on its way, both for the bronchitis/laryngitis and depression. I hate that I got that gene; my grandmother and her father both had to deal with it. But I know how fine life feels when the sun comes out again. People who have never walked in the darkness of depression can never fully appreciate the joy of what a normal mundane day can feel like. It is coming.

We went to Fargo for Christmas Eve and had a really nice visit with my parents. It was a quick trip, but a fun one.





I came home to the news of yet another friend dying of lung cancer. That makes 5 deaths of neighbor/cousin/3 friends dying in less than a year of the same disease. It is hard on my heart, but I stay faithfully believing in the promises in Scripture that reassure me that healing is coming.

A happy new year to all of you who still peek at this blog. I do not have much to offer anyone in these posts, but it is therapeutic for me, and so I continue. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

TRUST


My life with lung cancer has been a game of Jenga, only the pieces are not wood, they are crystal. And this weekend, when it toppled over, it shattered. Pieces of myself, my husband, fears, anxieties, strivings, physical problems, energy……EVERYTHING shattered. It was a weekend where my neediness was just too much for my caregiving husband, a weekend where all the energy it takes to hold fast to faith and belief in healing nose-dived, a weekend where the dark tunnel swept down again to engulf me.

After an act of surrender, I am left to sweep up the remains. It is not easy when you are besieged with physical illness every other day. It is not easy when yet another friend (from Minnesota) has just died from lung cancer. It is not easy when the tunnel presses down and squeezes out fears that I would be best off in some mental institution. (Satan has tried that lie out on me many times and I buy into it every time)

I read in a devotional that faith is an act of will and belief is an act of the mind. I have had both, in great quantities, praise God. But the energy they both take has taken a toll. It has brought me to a place of TRUST. It is not the same thing. Trust is rest. It is an act of the heart, an act of love. The only thing I have to give right now is trust. Abiding. Resting. Trusting. It is a quiet act, a humble act. It is a place that is maybe where I should have been long before this.

I can’t read any more books about healing. I don’t have any more energy to rebuke Satan’s attempts to keep me afflicted all the time. All I have left is my Bible and a simple, “God, I love you, I worship you and I trust you.” I have lost none of my complete faith in healing. I have taken God at His Word and believe it shall be so. But I feel as if I have strived too hard to keep it at a level that almost made it into “works.” It has never been about the amount of faith I have….as if my working toward it would make it so. It has always been about grace. My healing is about what HE has done on the cross. That, and that alone. And, like salvation, all I need to do is simply accept it in faith. Jesus took my disease to the cross and redeemed it. I only need to sit back and trust Him. Abide in Him. Rest in Him.

Trust is hard. It requires a Type A person to do nothing except rest in the arms of her Heavenly Father and say, “Daddy, you promised me healing. And I will wait here in your arms until you make that known. I trust you to the ends of the earth that you are who You say You are. I rest here.”

And so it goes. Plodding through the dark tunnel once again. Learning to trust. And nothing more.

Prayers for this new phase of my life are welcome. It is a hard time of year to walk in the fog.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

MINI JOYS

I can't seem to make it through one whole week without some physical problem. I am SO SO SO tired of fighting for health. On Sunday, I came down with bronchitis and by Monday morning, I had no voice. I still have a bad case of laryngitis...can't even squeak. Tonight I have a bad toothache (where is your brother when you need him?). I have reverted back to my childhood, rubbing Mentholatum on my chest and putting a hot rag and heating pad on me (where is your mom when you need her?) and drinking hot tea. What a weenie I am.

I have not spoken in 36 hours, am bored out of my wits laying on the sofa with trash on daytime TV, only so many hours my distorted eye can read a book, and coughing into thin air. I vacillate between self-pity and anger, helping neither my health nor my faith.

Late this afternoon I decided I needed to find some little joys that have popped up the past few days (before the latest assault). And so between Tom Brokaw's newscast and making myself a salad and hamburger for dinner (another reason for grousing....I was supposed to be with Dick at his work Christmas party tonight), I wrote down the following:

* Lighting all the living room candles and tree lights at night and listening to my favorite Christmas CD's...

* Picking out and wrapping presents for families who are challenged at Christmastime. I'm so grateful that my church family reaches out...we all get far more than we give...

* Getting a Christmas card and picture from someone who I haven't heard from in years and seeing how much their kids have grown...

* Having cranberries in the stores again after 10 months....must stock up...

* Being grateful that our family puts little emphasis on gift-giving which translates: NO PRESENTS STRESS...

* Slowly perusing holiday sweets recipes, and wishing I had the creativity to replicate those platters, but not caring that I can't....I just like to look...

* Gazing at my nativity set and reflecting on the great gift of Jesus to humankind....

And so, with my list of mini joys woven into my heart, and with Mentholatum fumes rising from this keyboard, I say goodnight, but I wish my dad were here to tuck me in. I AM a weenie.


Monday, December 3, 2012

MY AARON AND HUR

The Israelites, while living in the desert for 40 years, were attacked one time by a tribe of Amalekites. Moses, their leader, told his designated successor Joshua to gather up Israel's best warriors and go fight the foreigners. The next day Joshua left to do as he was told, and Moses proceeded to take his brother Aaron and Hur with him to the top of the hill so he could lift his hands in prayer to the Lord. 

Hur is believed to be Moses' brother-in-law, but all we really know about him was that he was a "man of influence" and one of Moses' aides and right-hand men.

As long as Moses held up his hands, Joshua and his army were winning the battle, but whenever Moses lowered his hands, the Amalekites started winning. We know the effort it takes to keep one's hands lifted in the air for a long period of time. There was no human way that Moses could do this for a day, perhaps let alone an hour.

But the Bible shows us what two friends can do to turn the tide of events on your behalf. Exodus (17) tells us that when Moses' arms grew too tired, Aaron and Hur held them up---one on one side, one on the other. And we read that they held up his arms UNTIL SUNSET. We are talking HOURS here. Aaron and Hur enabled an entire nation to taste victory over an oppressor as Joshua and the Israeli army defeated the Amalekites. 

This story never fails to stir my soul, for you see I also have an Aaron and a Hur in my life. While I have felt the prayers of so so many friends, family, and mere acquaintances over the past 27 months, it has been my Aaron and Hur who have held my arms up.

Julie Rolfes and Mary Ruth Armstrong walked into my home a few weeks after my diagnosis and changed the course of my life. I had never met Mary Ruth before. Julie was prompted by the Holy Spirit to bring her. They came and taught me about God's will for healing and about standing on God's Word for healing, and about the redemptive blessing of healing Christians have because Jesus took both sins and sicknesses to the cross.

They prayed fervent prayers for me and left. Only to return Every. Single. Week. for an entire year, at least every other week for another year, and now, as often as we can get together every month, to pray. Their commitment to me was (and is) beyond anything I could have ever expected. 

We have prayed through tears and we have rebuked satan in anger. We have wept and laughed and pondered and claimed God's promises together. And not once, for 27 months, have they let go of my arms. When another physical assault has left my faith shaken, they have lifted my arms up a little higher. They are at the other end of a phone every single time I have needed their prayer and counsel. They are in my living room the moment they sense my arms are starting to lower. These two women WILL NOT let the Amalekites in my life have victory. God has given them supernatural strength in order to give it to me.

JULIE AND MARY RUTH
DECEMBER 3, 2012

I love these two sisters-in-Christ with all my heart, and I am so deeply grateful that they are my Aaron and Hur. They have laid down their lives for me. I have been blessed beyond words through their devotion to my complete and total healing and restoration. And the celebration can't come soon enough for the three of us!!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

THANKSGIVING 2012

       Thanksgiving has come and gone and Sam is back at school. We had a great 4 days together. Played games, watched football and a movie, got our tree picked out and decorated and saw a few of Sam's high school friends. It was relaxing and slow-paced, just how we like it!


Sam with good friends Laura, Patrick, and Kayla.....love the sounds of laughter
coming from the basement rec room again....





Sam made the pecan pie for Thanksgiving dinner (I contributed the crust) and it was  great!

Resting our bellies after dinner

Sam's and my annual Thanksgiving cut-out cookie making (with one eye on the football game!)








My favorite son


Got our tree up and decorated

I am trying to learn life all over again with only 1 good eye. This vitreous detachment has made my vision a source of constant irritation and frustration. Grief over the loss has become just sadness over what I will not have again. Even if it improves, I will not ever have the eyesight I once had unless God heals it. But I am trying hard to cope, and I do rejoice when 10 seconds goes by without the "greasy contact" floating by. It is usually an every 3-4 second occurrence. Thank you all for your prayers and encouragement!

Friday, November 23, 2012

AND IT JUST KEEPS PILING UP

I thought there would be a season where all the physical problems would end. I have fantasized that at some moment, all of the adjunct issues I have faced in 2 years (on top of the cancer) would wean themselves out of my body forever. I cannot even begin to list the number of things that have happened to this tired body since my diagnosis. But the end is not in sight. I have had yet one more issue to face. A vitreous detachment in my right eye last Saturday. The optometrist told me that some people find some improvement over 6 months to a year, and that the hyper-sensitivity to the distortion of vision every few seconds will get easier to tolerate over time. All I know right now is that it is a huge loss for me. I so value my 20/20 vision with contacts and glasses, and to have that compromised, especially for an avid reader like myself, feels like a heavy load to carry right now.

I can spend time saying, "Why ME? Why one more thing? Why such a big thing?" but it gets me no where. God didn't "send this" into my life to teach me something. I am just so so weary of facing yet another problem, and one that, indeed, has no cure. Except for God's healing. And that is what I am having faith in. I have faith for my right knee and my cancer to be healed. I now have to add distorted vision to my laundry list. Jesus was an expert at healing the blind. This should be no stretch for Him. It is in that faith that I can even move forward right now. Everything I do in my life is based on vision, and it is not good right now.

I would covet your prayers for tolerance right now. Prayers that I could cope with layers of issues that always threaten to pull me down. Prayers that God's grace would provide some sort of peace over this until healing comes.


Thursday, November 15, 2012

OZ


I can’t tell you how many times in my life my dad has called me to tell me that The Wizard of Oz was on TV. “Are you watching?” he asks me every time. And then he asks me how many times is it that I have seen this movie? I have no exact answer to his query, but I can safely say that between the DVD that I own and the TV showings, I have probably now seen it 30 or 35 times.

Based on the 1900 novel by L. Frank Baum, the 1939 fantasy adventure is a movie I have always loved. I love the munchkins, the black-and-white that magically turns to color in Oz, the Scarecrow (Ray Bolger) who I always used to pretend was a relative because my mom is a Bolger, the horses that change color, the whispered squeak of Tin Man when he attempts to say oil, the melting witch. I love it all. I know the script by heart.

My favorite line in the whole movie is when Scarecrow says goodbye to Dorothy and tells her that he knows he has a heart because he feels it breaking. The wizard (aka a Kansas-born balloonist named Marvel) then says to Scarecrow, “Just remember, my sentimental friend, that a heart is not measured by how much you love but by how much you are loved by others.” The adage elicits tears every time I hear it.

In the past two years, I’ve realized there is another line in the movie that speaks truth into my life and faith into my heart. The quaking quartet are standing before the animated image of the great and powerful Oz, attempting to speak to him, and he continues to berate and terrorize each of them. When Lion falls to the floor in a faint, Dorothy yells at the wizard, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself, frightening him like that, when he came to you for help.”

The wizard’s voice booms out, “SILENCE, Whippersnapper! The beneficent Oz has every intention of granting your requests.”

The music changes key and floats skyward. Trembling is calmed by four timid smiles fixed in wonder.

Oohh. I am listening to this line for perhaps the 35th time; but I am hearing, really hearing these words for the first time. Through ears that have heard, “You have stage 4 lung cancer.”

The Wizard of Oz will give them courage, a heart, a brain, and a trip home.

For 27 months, I have come to God for help in the same way Dorothy and her trio of friends came to the wizard for help. I have pleaded with Him for help to cope with chemotherapy and its side effects, physical problems ranging from pleurisy to leg pain to vertigo to kidney stones that have assaulted me on a nearly daily basis. I have begged Him for help with fear and frustration and anxiety and with utter exhaustion from this entire yellow brick road trip they call metastatic cancer. More than anything else, I have asked, and asked again, for healing.

And my God has spoken to me in a voice louder than Professor Marvel’s.

He has said to me, “Be silent, daughter! Your beneficent God has every intention of granting your request.”

Oh, my.

"What's that? What'd he say?" Lion sits up and takes heart. This wizard says he can give him some courage? Some genuine chutzpah? He can DO that?

What? What did God say?

He has every intention of granting my request.

Seriously? He can do that?

I weep at the promise.

I have trembled before the throne and have heard Him answer me. He will grant my request. Healing is mine. How do I know? It’s all in the Bible.

God honors faith (not hope); healing was the hallmark of Jesus’ ministry, therefore it is God’s will, since Jesus came to do God’s will on earth; Jesus tells me that whatever I ask in the name of Jesus, if I believe it will happen, I will have whatever I ask. Matthew confirms what the prophet Isaiah foretold, that Jesus took sickness as well as sin to the cross. My cancer was redeemed on Calvary.

My Healer, my beneficent Healer, has every intention of granting my request.

No caveat?

“Bring me the broomstick of the Witch of the West and I will grant your request.”

Just as Tin Man, Lion, Scarecrow and Dorothy had a condition on their promise, so do I. I know God wants me to trust Him implicitly with my life. I know He wants me to rest in Him, feel His grace, hold fast to the truths in His Word, and stand on faith. Stand on the promise that I cannot feel, see or hear, but know is coming. Rebuke Satan in His name every time he tries to mess with my faith. Abide. Just abide in Him.

And wait for my deliverance.

He tells me neither the time nor place that my hot air balloon will land back in Auntie Em’s wheat field. But my faithful, compassionate, sovereign, amazing, beneficent Father God has every intention of granting my request.

And I don’t even need to melt a witch.



Monday, November 5, 2012

TWENTY-ONE

Sam,
Happy birthday, buddy. Today at 11:21 a.m. you turn 21! It feels like your life has been a fast-forward movie. Wasn't it only yesterday that you were dragging around "Clownie" and "Euchie" and watching Thomas the Tank Engine videos? Ah...the lament of every parent on earth....it all goes too quickly.


November 5, 1991
The best day of our lives!

Legal significance aside, today you slide into the next season of your life, adulthood, where you will spend most of your years on earth. I would not want to shock you by being mum on the subject of you turning 21, so, here are some random thoughts (in no order of importance) from your ol' mom:

Being an adult now makes you wholly accountable for your choices and actions....can't blame the inexperience of youth anymore! So choose wisely. Think through your actions. Remember who you are. Keep your nose clean (and yes, you are obligated to pass that Hiebism down to your own kid someday)!

As a Christian man, Sam, you represent Jesus in everything you do. You and the way you live your life may be the only "gospel" some people "hear," so live with honesty, kindness and humility. Perform your job with excellence and integrity. Let people see Jesus in you. Pray with passion, stay in the Word, and draw close to the Lord every day. He is everything you need.

Being an adult means doing your part in preserving our country's natural resources. Reduce. Reuse. Refinish. Recycle. Be "green" when you can be. Don't overlook a good thrift store!

Adults take the initiative to always write their thank you notes. No matter what pop culture says, hand-written notes are still the societal standard for good manners. It will never be outdated. Make it a habit.

Responsible adults vote. Follow the issues and candidates and exercise your right to vote. It is a privilege of living in a democratic society.

Give glory to God for your successes in your adulthood. Even when doing so might go against the grain of a co-worker or boss. God honors those who honor Him. Be swift to give Him credit for favor, because all good things come from Him who gives exceedingly and abundantly more than you will ever be able to ask or imagine (Eph 3:20).

Be extra compassionate and understanding with older people and children. They won't readily forget your actions.

Mature adults are kind to the innocently ignorant. (Another Hiebism to pass down.) We are all ignorant of some things. Don't let any traces of arrogance about your gifts and strengths allow you to lose sight of that.

Being an adult means living like one. When you get your first apartment in 2 years, keep it clean and organized and full of the things you love, and it will then be a home and not simply a bed and shower.

Tithe 10% of your income. Even when doing so puts a burden on your budget. You can't out-give God. Being a responsible adult means that you never spend more money than you have. Credit card debt is crippling. Pay off your credit card in full every month. Live well below your means at all times, and you'll always have a necessary financial cushion.

Being an adult means you aren't unduly influenced by either public opinion or private bias. Make your decisions about your life based on what you feel is best for you (and what you are sensing God is telling you to do). That said, be willing to accept advice from others. If you don't want to heed it, fine. Dad and I have been around the block a few times and actually have some accumulated wisdom. It's yours for the asking.

Be bold and assertive as you seek your future jobs. I created my own first two jobs by convincing 2 institutions that they really needed my skills. I was able to write my own dream job descriptions. Don't be afraid to go to the top and market yourself. Be scrappy and confident about your expertise.

You've maybe heard the adage, Always measure your wealth not by the things you have, but by the things you have for which you would not take money. Profoundly true.

Being an adult means that you call your mother. Often.



Sam, you are probably thinking, Oh, man, Mom, I've already heard all this stuff. If so, well, great, then I know you were listening to all the mom-sermons over the years!! I'm sure I still have a few more in me too!!

From baby to college guy, I have loved every age of yours. Each has brought joy in different ways. And now I am the mom of Sam, the young man. (Whoa...just writing that word brought bittersweet tears to my eyes!)

I have so much respect and admiration and love for the man you have become, buddy. As you plunge ahead with gusto into the next season, always know that God is already there with great plans for your future. Dad and I got to shape and guide you all these years, and now we get front-row seats watching you take the stage.

You know I will always have your back, support your decisions, and be a soft place to fall. There are no words in the English language to tell you how much I love you, but it is at least "ten million miles from Pluto."

Happy Happy Birthday Sam,
Mom


 
Sam ordered French Silk Pie for birthday cake!!

A big smile for his big birthday gift....tickets to go see Keane, his favorite band,
in Kansas City in January. They are coming to the US for a short tour.


Can our kid really be 21???


Sam rehearsing for our old age!!


The three musketeers



Friday, November 2, 2012

SACRED

     With just 3 days before my son’s 21st birthday, I will reprint a column I wrote in April of 1996 (Sam was 4 years old) when I was a monthly columnist for a regional magazine. As I look back at all the columns I have written about parenthood, this is one which always reminds me of how amazing motherhood has been.

            It was four in the morning when I got the last of the bedding into the washing machine. The 3:00 a.m. “eruption” from our four-year-old came from both ends and was a major mess. Even bedmates Thumper and Winnie-the-Pooh needed a Maytag bath.
            After we cleaned Sam up, Dick headed to the den and I tucked the boy in next to me. I snuggled him close to me and he quickly fell back to sleep. I spent the remainder of the night awake, dodging little arms and legs that thrashed from dreams unknown.
            Lying in the dark watching my little guy sleep, I felt very aware of the importance of this role of “mama,” of how mothering has become the very stuff of my life. It hasn’t been so much a job I acquired as a special role I continue to earn and develop.
            I did not feel anything like a mom lying in a hospital bed four years ago holding my newborn in my arms. But as I washed the pale face of my sick boy in the middle of the night, I felt like a very real mom.
            My mothering means consistency and affirmation and nurturing. It means selflessness and direction and teaching values. It means lots and lots of that very vital “being there.”
            The older I get and the longer I am a mom, the more I admire mothers who have made mothering their career. While most women struggle with the great balancing act, these women have figured out without too much angst that being a successful stay-at-home parent can be as challenging and as rewarding as a successful career. Full time motherhood holds exhaustion, but also magic. I have never talked with a woman who says she wished she had worked more and spent less time with her babies.
            Birthing a child is just the beginning of the adventure of motherhood. I am not a mama just because I pushed a 5 lb 12 oz baby from my womb. I am a mama because I have instant hugs and Big Bird Band-Aids for scraped knees, because I ignore my aching, drenched shoulder as I rock my fevered child, not wanting to move lest he wake up, and because despite a dinner to prepare and a heaping pile of laundry to do, I choose to play trains, build Lego forts, sculpt snowmen and turn myself into a tickling lion.
            Most parents would not consider vomit and diarrhea at three in the morning an honor to deal with, and I am no exception. But I have been given the privilege of mothering this one little boy throughout his life….and I only get one shot at it.
            I feel honored that God has entrusted Sam to me. I know that I am one of the two most important people in his life and there is something very sacred about that.
            Last week Sam ran up to me, hugged me tightly and said, “Mama, I’m really lucky to be your son.” I don’t get a bi-weekly paycheck anymore, but I am rich beyond measure.

     As Sam steps into age 21 on November 5th, I can only look back and say what a treasure it has been to raise this boy to manhood.  I hope, as all moms do, that I did a good job. On his birthday I may have some words of wisdom for my newly adult son....but for today, I have only gratitude to the Creator of Life for allowing me to love and shape and nurture and guide the one child I was given. I was, and still am, rich beyond measure.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

SIN

If we could be saved by keeping the law, then there was no need for Christ to die. Galatians 2:21

            I sure am glad I sit among sinners every Sunday. Most are redeemed sinners, but sinners nonetheless. We are much like alcoholics on the wagon, don't you think? They call themselves recovering alcoholics. Always an alcoholic. Always a sinner.
            There are times when I think about sin more than other times. It is a valid subject to revisit, methinks. It always points me back to God’s holiness. I grew up believing that there were two categories of sin, mortal and venial. You could get away with the small sins and still be okay with God, but don’t cross the line into the biggies. I accepted this, as I had never read the Bible to see what God actually says about sin. Clearly, that man-created doctrine holds no biblical truth, and sadly, keeps its followers from admitting their sin and asking for forgiveness.
            How clear God makes it in His Word that there are no rankings of sin. James 2:10 tells us that the person who keeps all of God’s laws except one is as guilty as the person who has violated all of them. You steal a pad of paper from work and in God’s eyes, you may as well have committed adultery. Taking the Lord’s name in vain is on the same level as premarital sex. Little white lies? Sin. (There are no exemptions in the Bible for "little" or "white.") Wishing your neighbor's new mini-van was yours? Even when your own van is 16 years old, whistling and rusting out the bottom, coveting is sin. Those judgmental remarks you make about a friend, or that unforgiving, critical spirit toward your spouse? Sin. Allowing money, sports, TV---any number of pursuits---to become "idols" in your life? Sin.
            God says it many different ways in Scripture. SIN IS SIN. Every one of them cuts us off from a relationship with God. He has not handed us a broad definition of righteousness. Wiggle room, there is not. It is staggering to think of how short I fall of God’s commands and instructions blueprinted throughout the Bible. God says the entire human race falls short right along with me (Romans 3:23).
            My understanding of the character of God and what it means to live out a Christian life has evolved over the 30 years I have lived as an evangelical Christian. I have come to know Him through my life circumstances in many different ways; His love, faithfulness, goodness, His still, small voice. The past two years He has revealed Himself to me as Healer. I am always on the learning curve with my Lord. He has always revealed Himself as I have needed something from Him.
            But I think it has been the understanding of God’s holiness that has changed me the most, and it took me years to really digest this reality. It was when I began to comprehend God’s holiness that he slowly revealed to me my own unworthiness (past, present and future) before Him. It was not until I could stand before God and claim my sinfulness that I truly could grasp what an indescribable gift I had been given by a perfect Redeemer. It is that raw unworthiness before a holy God that allows me to understand WHY I badly need a Savior to forgive me and offer me salvation.
            Dick once sang an old spiritual in a men’s quartet. I remember the words to the chorus:                        
     What sins are you talkin’ about?
                        I don’t remember them anymore.
                        In the Book of Life, they’ve all been torn out.
                        I don’t remember them anymore.

            And so I am grateful that my church family is just a bevy of redeemed sinners. Grateful to know that we "Christian folk" can own our sinfulness and still be loved and valued. Grateful to know I have sisters and brothers in Christ who will pray for me if I struggle. And best of all, because of what Jesus has done to save us, I get to hang out with them all for eternity too! In that amazing space where God will tear out every page of our sins.

                      

Thursday, October 25, 2012

HIT HARD

I had a phone message from my friend Linda in California the other day being concerned that I wasn't blogging, and was I OK.....

Blogging has taken a low priority as I am climbing out of a really nasty 2 weeks. If the devil has had designs to torment me, and we all know that he lives just to do that, he has been doing a good job trying. Within a week's time, I was beseiged with physical issues that to me have been a direct hit from the enemy. They don't add up in the natural realm. Sudden onset vertigo (while trying on bras in Target, no less.....I wasn't on a Tilt-a-whirl), sudden onset nausea which lasted 5 days, sudden onset bladder infection, another chemo-induced bowel impaction requiring a trip to the ER), sudden onset chest pain that has gotten worse......all within 6 days.

The barage left me wilting emotionally and I spun down into depression, a place that I have been before and a place that I loathe. But it is impossible to talk your way out of it. It is a day-by-day journey. Thankfully each day is better than the one before it.

The dark side is not winning. Satan is not going to keep me from healing, or from praying for the sick, or from a ministry in divine healing. And I am prepared, as the Bible warns, for more attacks as long as I want to do good things for God's glory.

And so, my friends, I am slowing coming around. It will take a bit more time, but this round, I know a Healer God, and His promises do not fail. Whether for cancer or for depression.

I thank you for your prayers that I can endure these gray clouds and rise up to find the sun again.

Monday, October 8, 2012

D-DAYS WEEKEND


We had a great weekend. It was Dakota Days here (homecoming for the university) which means the big D-Days parade down Main Street. Only a handful of floats, lots of small town marching bands, and every organization in town represented in some way. The parade is a parent's nightmare and a dentist's dream (read: nearly every child can accumulate a Halloween's worth of thrown candy at the parade). It was a bitterly cold morning, but midwesterners know how to bundle up. There is just somethin' special about a small town parade. This year's lasted over 2 hours. I got a couple good pics of Tom Brokaw and his wife who were the grand marshals of the parade. They are both alumni.



TOM AND MEREDITH BROKAW


UNIVERSITY MARCHING BAND







Sam came home for the weekend, and 2 of his best high school friends came home as well, so he not only got some good sleep and home cooked meals, he got to see his buds. You should have seen THEIR collective candy haul!!

The three of us also got to attend a wedding reception for the daughter of our friends, who married out of state this summer and had a local reception here. It was a lovely event and because Tara and her new husband are both Dordt people, Sam met up with a bunch of his friends who attended.


SAM WITH BEST BUDDIES PATRICK (U of MN) AND KAYLA (UNL)
AND KAYLA'S BOYFRIEND ADAM (UNL)
  
HOME FOR D-DAYS!!!



THE KIDS WATCHED THE HUSKER GAME AT KAYLA'S HOUSE
WITH HER PARENTS JILL (MY DEAR FRIEND) AND HER HUBBIE SCOTT
  
KAYLA'S BROTHER JAY



CODY, NOT INTERESTED IN THE HUSKER GAME!

We got to watch the Vikings WIN together on Sunday before Sam headed back to Dordt.



 2 BIG VIKING FANS

A BIG W FOR THE VIKES ON SUNDAY CAUSES SMILES!!!


The only mar in the weekend was a big one.....our sewer system backed up and flooded the laundry room and bathroom downstairs. It makes me cringe to think of what may need to be done. Dirt was coming out of the shower drain. As I write this, the plumber is here looking at it. He said that the drought this year (ours is severe in this county) has caused MANY basement back-ups because the roots are going crazy without water. We are holding our breath to see what needs to be done (worst case scenario, having to dig up the whole line to the street).

My right leg is worse all the time; hip and knee pain are just not getting any better with my exercises. I continue to pray that I will have some relief.


Monday, October 1, 2012

ANNIVERSARY 29

I clearly remember the moment I knew I wanted to marry Dick. The subject had never come up between us, and wouldn’t for well over a year, but there was a moment….

We were sitting in front of a waning fire at his house, and I offered to go downstairs to get more wood. He handed me the log carrier and I went to the basement. I filled the carrier and started up the steps. Halfway up, the wood shifted and the entire bundle went crashing down the steps onto his laundry room floor. As I heard his footsteps above me coming to the landing, I was prepared for a sarcastic comment about women hauling wood (and I hate sarcasm).

What I got was a gentle, quiet, “Do you want to try it again?”

I was prepared for cynicism, irritation, or some sort of male claim that HE better perform the task at hand. What I received was understanding and grace. And in that moment I knew that I wanted this man to be the father of my children.

Twenty-nine years ago today, I married that man. And he is every bit the awesome dad to our son that I knew he would be. Even more importantly, he has been a husband full of clear integrity, gentle strength, and daily love, with an amazing servant heart. He has been my rock not just through cancer, but for 29 years.

Ministers allude to “becoming one” during a marriage ceremony, but I don’t know that all marriages are lived out like that. Ours did. There are times that I'm not sure where I end and Dick begins. Despite all of the usual bumps along the way, we melded into one. A strong three-stranded cord of my husband, myself, and God.

We are not big on celebrating anniversaries with expensive gifts, dinners in fancy restaurants or weekend trips away. But every October 1, we are big on thanking God for the blessing of each other. And this year, for the promise of healing that will take us to that 30-year mark next fall.

Happy anniversary, Richie. I love you past the moon and stars, forever.


Friday, September 28, 2012

PAIN

I am slowly getting to the point of wondering if the chemo is worth the painful side effects. I have faith that God will heal this incurable cancer with or without chemo, so, I ask myself, why am I living like this? My pain threshold is pretty high.....always has been.....but my knee and both legs are so painful every step, every hour, every day, that I find myself pulling back from life. Pain really does change you. I try not to complain about it-----Dick gets the brunt of my frustration----but I am starting to wonder about quitting the drug. As the pain intensifies, the decision gets easier.

I have worked every day this week, and am very ready for the weekend. I need a couple days to vegetate.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MIKE


HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY BRO!

I don't know how he felt about the arrival of a baby sister......I've never asked
Mom and Dad if he ignored me or liked me. All I know is that he was
my buddy growing up, my nemesis in the turbulent teen years,
and my beloved buddy again today. I love him with all my heart.

Have a great day, Mikey!!






Wednesday, September 19, 2012

TEARS

Most days, faith is easy. Most days, my heart is strong in belief that total healing will be mine. Some days, like yesterday, faith feels heavy. It felt like a scab I had to pick at, or a puzzle piece that would not fit into the puzzle of my life. Tears fell on sofa, bed, loveseat and dining room table. I felt like I could not cry enough to ease the burden. It was a day I felt I had to help God, and I knew I was just too tired to help Him. Two years of waiting has made me tired. Help God. Yeah. That's how much of a meltdown there was at our house yesterday. My best friend Susan reminded me that if we could do it (whatever "it" is for all of us......healing, salvation, peace, restoration.....) ourselves, we would not need a Savior. He doesn't want or need my help. I've known that for 2 years, but yesterday, the devil convinced me I wasn't doing my part.

Susan reminded me that the only thing I needed to do was to rest with confidence that God has no condemnation for the wavering moments. And then Richie. My sweet husband, who absorbed all of the tears and spoke truth to my searching heart. He reminded me that a day of tears is OK. He reminded me that my only job is to abide in Christ....that in abiding is where the fruit is. He reminded me that my faith and my trust really ARE strong, even if a day of floundering pops up. He read healing Scriptures to me as I blubbered. He reminded me how much healing I have experienced so far. He read to me out of our healing Bible study....truths that I know I know. He was my tear-catcher yesterday. I hope he knows that I would not be alive today if not for him and his faith.

On my own, all I could hear yesterday were the insidious lies that the enemy wanted me to believe. I heard tiredness and guilt and impatience. I heard whispers that I should "do better," but then my husband walked on the scene, and all I could hear were the footfalls of grace.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

DAY AT DORDT

We had a real nice Saturday afternoon over at Dordt. Watched the end of the girls' soccer game and all of the boys' game. The Jamestown College Jimmies swept the Defenders, but the day was beautiful, and we got to take Sam out to dinner before he had to get back and study. He's got a big week coming up.

There was a girl on the Jamestown team with the last name Wahl and her hometown was Jamestown, so I made an assumption she was a daughter of either my classmate Doug Wahl or one of his brothers. I knew Craig and Steve and Doug and Wade, graduated with Doug. So I decided to approach the girls' team on the bleachers after their game and asked the group which of them was Kara (yes, I know, I probably embarrassed her). I asked her if she was related to Doug Wahl and she said that Doug was her uncle. She was the daughter of Steve, who was a year older and dated one of my good friends for awhile. I got to write down my name for her and tell her to greet her dad and Doug for me. She was a sweet girl.

I am sitting at a soccer match in a small town in Iowa, and meet the niece of one of my high school buddies. Go figure.

It was fun for me to see the bright orange Jimmies bus, reminding me of the campus which I grew up passing nearly every day. We only lived a handful of blocks away. Am very proud to have grown up in Jamestown and graduated from JHS! I didn't go to Jamestown College, but if they had been playing any other team but Dordt College, I would have been cheering them on!!




Sam in his element, in his broadcasting "booth"


Saturday, September 15, 2012

HOPING IN CORTISONE

My knee has no meniscus tear. The MRI revealed wear and tear of the cartilage behind the kneecap, which although is normal aging, seems a bit premature to me. I walk 2 miles every day, rain or snow, but I was only a runner for about 5-6 years....I want to think that the wear and tear would not have started quite yet!! It could be part of the reason for the pain, but the bottom line is, the doc doesn't know what is causing the locking up of my knee and the pain with weight bearing. He injected the kneecap with cortisone on Thursday and we are going to see if that, along with 10 different exercises for strengthening the hip and knee will help.

Richie and I are headed over to Sioux Center today for the soccer game against Jamestown College! Sam will be field-side broadcasting play-by-play for the live webcast, so we can sit near him, chat during breaks, and take him out to dinner. His only request from home: 7-layer bars. Mom complied.

Off and running...