Tuesday, December 11, 2018

1 1 3

I was laying in bed this morning "worry meditating" over all that would be going on in the next 48 hours.  For some reason I tend to believe the lie that I can control what will happen and how it will happen with my worrying.  I don't like to not have everything in place.  I don't like surprises, but the journey the past two months has been filled with surprises of the not so good kind.  While going over and over things in my mind, I saw the numbers 1 1 3.  They stood out clearly.  My thought was, that is a Bible chapter, so it must be a Psalm because you can't find 113 in any other book of the Bible that I was aware of.

Later when I was worry meditating once again, I remembered the number and looked it up.  Psalm 113 is a psalm of praise to our Lord.  Praise Him and praise Him again.

"Hallelujah!  Praise the Lord!
Go ahead, praise the Lord.
All you loving servants of God!  'Keep it up!  Praise Him some more!
For the glorious name of the Lord is
Blessed forever and ever.
from sunrise brilliance to sunset beauty
Lift up his praise from dawn to dusk!"

Psalm 113: 1-3  Passion Translation

Sunday night we went to a city-wide worship at the large Lutheran Church here in town where people from several denominations gathered to sing praise and Christmas songs together.  It was wonderful and while there a pastor from a church we once attended came and prayed for me a powerful Holy Spirit led prayer.  It was just what I needed.  Thank you Jesus. 

Two hours later while at home my eyes started acting funky.  I began seeing zig-zag colored lights shimmering and moving and they took up the right side of my vision.  Then faces on the TV became distorted so I could only see fractured faces.  It was scary.  This lasted about 20 minutes and then disappeared.  Monday we headed to the eye clinic for a thorough exam.......was it the retinas?  Was it a blood clot?  Was it from the antibiotic I am on, the eye injections, or the cancer drugs?  We don't know the answers concerning the meds, but they were able to rule out the retinas or blood clots, so are calling it an "ocular migraine" without a pain.  I did have a slight headache afterwards.  One more surprise that I did not need at this time of so many things on my plate. Seriously?  Needless to say this event worked to take away the beauty of the earlier event.

Today God brought my focus back on worship and praise.  Praising Him in the midst of it all.  Praising Him for being in control when I am not.  Praising this God of ours who is a miracle making mountain moving God who walks with us every step of the way through the valleys.  Through the lows and the highs.

It is not easy, this sacrifice of praise.  It may not change my circumstances, and it maybe won't change yours, but it does shift our focus off of it all and on to the Lord our God and in praising God something does shift.  Inside of us.  God's purpose for praise is not just for His glory....to pat Him on the back.  His purpose is for us to see His glory and the power of His love for us, His kids.  Praise is a weapon of warfare in a world where Satan works hard to destroy our relationships with our Lord. Praise shifts the atmosphere around us and in us, loosing fear and worry tentacles and kicking them out and filling us with God's peace no matter what we are walking through.  Again, I will say it is not easy, but it is possible.

So today as I prep for surgery, and tomorrow as I go through the tube insertion and then surgery, and as I recover I will be praising my God.  For His grace provides.  His love covers.  His hands heal.  I pray that this day, this week you find yourself praising God for His goodness in the midst of life and whatever circumstances come your way.   It is how we connect with God.  It is how we shift the atmosphere....... It is how we fight our battles.............

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Saturday's Scribbles

Good Saturday morning to you from cold and snowy Iowa.  Our temperatures are consistently below average and I'm thinking it is going to be a loooooong winter in our corner of the world.  So grateful for our warm house, gas fireplace, and wool comforter at night.

It has been a busy week with an eye shot on Tuesday, an appointment with the urologist on Thursday, and a pre-op physical Friday morning. I went right from the physical to the cancer center where I had  lab work, an appointment with the oncologist, and two more injections. The doctor noticed more positive changes in the breast!  The treatments are working.  I will enjoy having the weekend off before surgery prep on Tuesday and surgery on Wed. to remove 3 large stone in my rt kidney.  That will require an overnight stay as they go in through my back, placing a tube in my kidney.  Then the doctor goes in through the tube to take out the stones.  Prayers appreciated.

We have been enjoying some Christmas music and a few Christmas TV shows.  It always takes me back to some of our best memories of Christmases in the past.  With the weather, decorations, cards arriving in the mail, and the music and TV shows, "It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas........."

The first year we moved to west central Minnesota, my extended family came for Christmas.  We moved in November 1989.  It was cold and snowy, but everyone came north to join us for the holiday, and everyone stayed at our house.  Yep.  Around 30 people crowded into our home with their suitcases, presents, and bodies.  Most of the kids were younger so that helped.  The basement had just been finished so we had spent 6 weeks with church volunteers building, sheet rocking, carpeting, and painting rooms before they came.  The heat vents had not been installed correctly so even tho we had the heat blaring, it was dang cold in the basement.  My brother told me there was a wind chill in the family room where they guys all watched football, and many people slept.  Yikes!

That was the same year that Joel's parents came for Christmas Day dinner and we served them pumpkin pie before they headed home.  Later, when the rest of us had pie we were stunned to realize that we had forgotten to put the sugar in the pie!  Joel's folks never said a word, just quietly ate their pie and left for home!  I would have loved to have been in on their conversation as they headed back to their place.  We have laughed over that sugarless pie story for years!

We had moved hours away from our previous call, to "the middle of nowhere" as one family member expressed so eloquently.  It was not an easy drive to get to our very small town.  But that year everyone packed up and made the trip.  It is a Christmas we have never forgotten 30 people crowded into a house with 6 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and made it all work!  Oh, and someone had strep throat so many of us ended up sick in bed with it ourselves!  It still makes me smile when I think about that Holiday gathering.

I am sure all of you have Christmas stories to share that make you smile or laugh out loud!  Stories about family, fellowship, and maybe even a few sugarless pies!  Memories held dear.  And, hopefully, many more to come!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Take A Breath

I looked at the eye specialist and said without really thinking, "Take a breath!"  And he did.  Joel told me he nearly burst out laughing at my instructions to the doctor.  "Take a breath!"

On Tuesday morning I headed in to see the retina specialist.  The eye injections are not working well, so they are giving me eye shots every two weeks using the drug Eylia one time, and Avastin the next.  The doctor calls the leaking vessel..."resistant".  They seldom see this problem, so we are hopeful that it will work quickly.  Seriously, I need a break here with this body.

So the retina specialists come from Des Moines and see around 40-50 patients in a day.  That is a lot of people, a lot of injections.  My doctor is always in a hurry.  Tuesday was no exception.  He raced in, checked my eye, numbed it a bit, then injected Novacane in it.  He said he would be back and on his way out he told the nurse to get an Eylia shot ready.  At the same time Joel and I both said, "Avastin!"  He quickly corrected himself and repeated our words.  "Yes it is Avastan today."  He left the room for a few minutes and then came rushing back in.  All I thought was, "He is going to put a needle in my eye, he needs to calm down."  So.............I said to him, "OKAY, Take a breath!"  He stopped abruptly and did just that.  Then proceeded to give me the injection.

Don't you often feel like the world is spinning at top speed.  I sure do.  Especially in this winter season of my life.  Sometimes I hear Jesus say to me, "Just take a breath".  It is going to be okay.  Rest, relax, t.r.u.s.t Me.  Take a breath..........

I have an old friend who using breath when anxiety rears it's ugly head.  She "breathes in Jesus" and breathes out the anxiety.  I have done the same thing when sleep evades me.  It is helpful.  There is a Psalm that says, "I will praise you as long as I breathe."  Breath is what keeps us going.  In more ways than one!

Joel is still chuckling over my instructions to the doctor!  I never thought twice about it.  I was advocating for myself.  He had already goofed up what med I was to receive, so I was not about to have him put a needle in my eye "on the run".

How many times a day or a week do we need to "take a breath"?  How many times do we need to rest, relax, and trust our God as we walk through circumstances or situations that threaten to steal our peace?  It would do us all good to stop and take a breath!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Expectations In The What If's

Expectation.  Positive speculation.   Affirmations of a renewed mind.  So, how do we know we have the renewed mind that the Bible talks about in Romans?  When our minds do not go to the worst case scenario as "what ifs" invade our thought process.  When we have expectations for a good outcome......when our speculations are for good and not evil.  Pastor Kris Vallotton shared in a recent sermon how he suffered from a nervous breakdown six years ago that left him sofa bound and unable to function well for over six months.  He had physically burned out from his travels and ministry and his body shut down.  God walked with him through the healing process, helping him fight for wholeness.  During this season of winter he began to study neuroscience and how the brain works in relation to the Bible's instructions to renew our minds. God knows how important it is for us to have hope.  How important it is to rely and God's promises.

It all relates to my present situation and the difficulty I have in not seeing the worst case scenarios that want to play out in my mind.  I am in a tough place.  The reality of my health concerns seems so big.  The eye injections are not yet helping my left eye.  I need kidney surgery again soon to remove the large stones in my rt kidney.  I am dealing with stage 3 breast cancer and the treatments are causing me to struggle on a daily basis physically and emotionally.   I can easily feel and see myself being knocked around by what the enemy has thrown my way.  There are days I just want to cover my head or lose myself in Netflix.  There are days I do just that.

But God.

There is a scripture that comes to mind.......2 Corinthians 4: 8-10 NLT

"We are hard pressed on every side by troubles, 
but we are not crushed.  
We are perplexed but not driven to despair.  
We are hunted down but never abandoned by God.  
We get knocked down but not destroyed.  
Through suffering our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus
 so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies."

Yeah.  hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted, abandoned, struck down.  In all honesty it is how I feel now way too often.  But what do I KNOW?

I know God is fighting for me.  (For Us All)  Every day is filled with opportunities to see His goodness.  I have lost count of the many times I have received the same scripture......The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still." I know my posts have been relentless in this message......I have needed it and I expect some of you do too.

God has promised to fight for me, for us.  Because He loves me.....He loves you.  Expect it!  He truly is so much bigger than anything we face in life.  During this Christmas season, we have an opportunity to focus on the baby born in a manger.  Born to bring us salvation and healing. Born to love us.  Born to fight for us. This is what we know.  Open the scriptures and hold tight to His promises......Born is the King of Israel!  Our King.  Our King who fights for us!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Saturday's Scribbles: Advent, Cozy Robes, and Earthquakes

Good Saturday morning to you from our corner of stormy Iowa where significant rain, sleet, ice, and  snow are falling across the northern part of the state.  Between 5 to 12 inches are expected to fall, depending on the track it takes. Joel went for a two mile walk early this morning before it all started.  December is coming in with a bang.  Another winter far from the Arizona sun.  We have resigned ourselves to this winter season of our lives, with sickness and weather. In hope we believe that it is a season we will walk through doing the best we can in the process.  Some day the sun will shine, the snow will melt, and Spring will come.

Christmas tree 2018

We have been enjoying our Christmas tree so much.  It stands tall in our living room.  Our small angel tree graces a dining room table to brighten up that room.  Decorations are everywhere, and Christmas music is at our fingertips.  Don't you just love this time of year?

I have just finished week two of the daily meds and today I am feeling it more than ever.  In fact it is a P.J. day, and with the stormy weather, it seems right.  I ordered two new bathrobes recently and the one that is like a floor length sweatshirt is so warm on days like this.  I can't imagine not having a robe to relax in.  I could not justify the cost of most robes so went online and found a company, Blair, that had robes for sale quite reasonable.  In fact, cheap!  I had a coupon and free shipping and paid less than $40 for two robes that fit and do their job well.  None of my girls wear robes, in fact our middle daughter says she thinks it is a "generational thing" to even own one.  On days like today, I am grateful to have two robes for half the price of one!

This past week our oldest son, Matt, came for a visit.  We had lunch together and spent a few hours catching up on hugs and family.  I was able to send him home with my traditional pumpkin bread and a mini poinsettia graces our table, a gift from him.  When we lived in the Philippines, poinsettia bushes grew wild.  They were so beautiful!

George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94.  I was always fascinated with his wife, Barbara.  She was a fiesty outspoken woman who loved her family and husband fiercely.  A real character.  I saw her in one photo during a White House event, and she was wearing a bright blue dress.  In today's political climate, that would not fly.........there is such a division with red and blue.  Even the White House trees are decorated with all red balls.  Everything appears to be a political statement.

How about that earthquake in Alaska...........and the 300 plus aftershocks in one day?!  Yikes!  I remember when we lived in the Philippines and had a small quake.  I was talking with the sewing girl and the door started banging and lights started swinging from the ceiling.  Our maid Nora had the kids out for a walk and I panicked.  I ran outside screaming for them. By the time I got outside it was over.  Joel was at work and said he could see a wall "waving" as it moved from the quake.  Our maid and the sew girl were not phased by it at all.   I kept thinking, where does an island go during a quake?  Down?  Ha!  Strange as it sounds, during our middle daughter's graduation in west central MN there was a brief quake.  We were aware of a rumbling noise and then a big bang.  Turns out it was a quake, but the only thing we noticed when we got home was a couple of pictures askew. 

December brings with it Advent, a time of waiting and preparing for the birth of our Savior Jesus.  I always have enjoyed this time of year.  I fondly remember our nightly devotions with the kids, lighting candles on the Advent wreath (special made in Philippines), opening up a door each night on the Advent calendar.  I loved when the family gathered together to focus on the coming birth.  I pray your December is filled with good memories of the past, and new memories for the future.  And maybe a warm bathrobe too!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Christmas 1968

As I was listening to Christmas music today, I remembered our first Christmas together as a married couple.  It was 1968, Joel was a lowly airman in the Air Force, stationed at Rantoul Illinois for 9 months of tech training to work on air testing in airplanes.  We lived in a small Airstream trailer that was not wide enough for me to lay across......and I am under 5' 3" tall.  The bathroom was small enough that we could sit on the stool and wash our hands in the sink at the same time!

It was our first Christmas away from our families, we were living on $200 a month, and had little to spend on gifts.  But we bought each other 1 gift.....I bought Joel a pair of western boots and he bought me a bathrobe.  Joel has worn boots for as long as I can remember.  I love wearing robes, and still do enjoy having a robe to change into in the evenings.  We had a tiny tree with presents from my family under the tree, adding to our own gifts for each other. I had made cookies like we did at home........ending up with so many different kinds, we actually took most of them out to the barracks to share with other airmen who could not go home.  I don't recall, but I am thinking we had the traditional turkey dinner.

We were lonely for family, but we were so thankful to be together to celebrate.  We attended a local Lutheran church not far from our trailer house for Christmas Eve services.  I don't recall if we phoned home.  We could not afford a phone so if we did it would have been a collect call!

We have spent many Christmases far from our extended families and eventually as our kids grew into adults we have spent them far from our own family.  But we have always had each other.  For 50 years now we have never missed a Christmas together.  So grateful.  Our holidays have been celebrated in Illinois, New Mexico, Utah, Minnesota, Montana, Iowa, and The Philippine Islands

This year we will spend a quiet Christmas together, and our focus will be the same...........the waiting and anticipation with four weeks of Advent, leading up to the worship on Christmas Eve, and the focus on Jesus our Savior.

As we prepare to enter the Advent season, this year I am especially grateful for the love that sustains us as husband and wife.  The years behind, the present season, and the years to come.  I am thankful for the Presence of our Savior in the midst of our celebration.  We no longer live in a small Airstream, poor as "church mice" and newly separated from our families.  We have fifty years behind us, a foundation of faith and family to sustain us.  We are blessed.