Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Don't Get Angry at God

“I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33)

Too many believers today encounter difficulties or troubles and then go off in a huff, angry at God. We begin to doubt God’s love and presence in our lives. We question why a God, powerful and all knowing and able to create the universe could not prevent the heartache we are feeling.

This verse from John specifically tells us that we WILL have trouble in this world. It doesn’t state that we might have trouble or we won’t have trouble if we are serving God. Again, it is specific to instruct us that there WILL be trouble, trials and tribulations as long as we walk this earth and have breath in our lungs. Yet the very next sentence uplifts our hearts and tells us to TAKE HEART!

The vital difference being that as believers, we must KNOW His Word and realize that God knows what is best in every life situation. God does not make us sick or break our hearts. God does not bring strife and hatred into relationships. God does not rob us of financial security.

1 Peter 5:8 reveals to us: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.”

Don’t get angry at God the next time that things don’t go just the way you had hoped and planned. This Scripture tells us that it is our adversary, the devil, who roaming around, attempts his best to destroy lives. Don’t let this make you fearful as we are assured that God always has the upper hand over the devil.

If God allows the devil to tempt us, God will always give us a route of escape from being ensnared in sin. If God allows the devil to bring tribulations such as He allowed in the case of Job (illness, loss of resources, loss of family members), we must remind our self that in the end, “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first” (Job 42:12).

All too often, when the going gets tough, God’s children run from Him, blame Him, doubt Him, and get just downright mad at Him. And look what the end could bring to us, if we just remain obedient and faithful to God – more blessings after the tribulations and troubles than our minds could comprehend, just as Job was rewarded in his latter days.

Remain faithful. Remain vigilant. Remain in love and obedience to God.

Tiny Bubbles

It is fascinating to me that the treatment I receive is a blood-based product where the immunoglobulins are taken from thousands of blood donors. Yet, when I look at this clear, bubble-infused IV bottle, blood is the last thought to cross my mind. I thought you might like to see a photo of what I receive every four weeks. And if you are not a blood donor, please consider giving the gift of life to people like me who depend on these donations for survival.

A Willing Heart

No trait is needed more by God’s servant than a willing heart. Learned and earned gifts and talents can take one far but unless one is willing to stop and listen for the still small voice of God’s Holy Spirit, then failure is eminent. A willing heart yields self to service when asked. A willing heart disregards the factual and embraces the spiritual. A willing heart never melts with fear or apprehension when asked to, “Go”, by the Creator.

When unforgiveness, strife, hurt, and anger are allowed to fester and take root in one’s life, scar tissue that is unyielding to hear and answer God’s call is formed. By embracing God’s powerful gifts of love and forgiveness, that scar tissue can be excised – fully removed—from a life and new tissue of hope and a willingness to serve is created.

All too often in our lives we witness a life that God had created for good and for Godly business. It is flourishing in service for the Kingdom. Lives are being served and touched by this servant of the King. Suddenly it is uprooted and damaged by difficult life scenarios. Sickness, financial disaster, relational problems, anger, addiction, bitterness or failure strike and harm. God's servant's charted course appears to be upended. Panic, fear, desperation, or anger at God begin to erode the servant’s faith in God and in his or her own assignment.

Satan has succeeded—for a moment. Christ is the eminent Victor and with restoration, that once fertile life of each willing servant can be renewed. Over and over throughout the Bible we are witness to the enemy’s sly tactics when it comes to derailing servants of God in the midst of Kingdom business. And over and over, we rejoice at the victory achieved by God's servants facing challenges posed by the enemy of this world.

A Prayer for My Grandson

Precious Lord,

I praise You this day for the gift of my grandson. I marvel at the miracle of his perfectly created body – each finger and toe numbered precisely. I stroke each curve of his tiny face, sculpted by the Maker’s hand. His mind is active and learning, absorbing information at an astonishing rate. How fearfully and wonderfully he has been made. Thank You, Lord for this priceless, precious baby.

Draw His heart toward You. Place a desire in his heart to know You and serve You all the days of his life. When trials and tribulations come his way, be ever present to give him strength. When blessings come his direction, let him thank You for Your goodness.

I ask that Your richest blessings cover him and the years of life that await him. Grant him perfect health and soundness of mind. Surround him with the love and devotion of his parents to raise him and love him in a home filled with peace and happiness. Direct all of his steps on the paths he should pursue.

Wrap Your loving arms around Him, Father. Let Him know how much you love him and how much I love Him. When I am gone from this earth, let my words, my prayers, my love for him, and the time I have given to him, all remain fresh and alive in his memory and in his heart.

You are an amazing Heavenly Father. You are the Perfect Creator. I praise You for this little life.

In Your Priceless and Precious Name I Pray. Amen.

A Different View

I am receiving my immunoglobulin IV therapy as I type and blog. Everything has gone well this morning. And so far, I have not gotten sick from it. Thank You, Lord.

Given that it is flu season, I am in a private room today versus the large chemo room. My doctor is trying to keep me from catching the flu or other viruses, thus the room with a different view and a different atmosphere.

My heart grieved this morning. I learned of the death of another patient. We've sat in these chairs together for several years. She was boisterous and eccentric but had a huge heart. Not long ago, after she had received several bad reports, I purchased a book on building our faith and eliminating fear from our lives, and brought it to her. She wept with gratitude. I pray she is dancing on streets of gold today.

In my observations from this tiny, quiet room, I have realized the camaraderie and companionship that is reaped from receiving treatment in the larger room. The encouragement that we offer to each other is absent. Sharing of knowledge and experiences with my cancer companions, traveling the same frightful road, doesn't occur in this one-patient setting. It is quiet. Dreadfully quiet. I am eager to return to the room filled with laughter and not the hum of the furnace and the drip of the IV that I hear in this room with a different view.

The Year in Review: 2008

As the curtain closes on 2008, a time of reflection opens wide. Another year of life has been granted. Life experiences have been lived and loved. Adventures have awaited us. Heartbreak has invaded our space. Yet, my family and I have once again emerged as victors.

We are all alive and coping as well as we can with the variety of health challenges that we face. Our family has increased in number, and hopefully in love. Death has been averted. Economic challenges have been dodged.

Every four weeks throughout 2008, I received the IV treatment to help support my immune system. In 2008, I only had three serious infections that required hospitalization in the ICU. That is quite good for me. I pray that 2009 will be a year without visits to my least favorite place on earth – the hospital.

My Blog was birthed and breathed into existence by my written words. It will remain a documentary of my life as I struggle for healing and embrace the prospect of Heaven. Written words have been therapeutic and healing for my spirit. Some heartaches and heartbreaks are best mended when reflected upon with words. I pray that the Blog will continue to encourage others who face life challenges. I marvel at the number of viewers from nearly 30 states and multiple foreign countries that are logging in and reviewing my life battles and celebrations. Hopefully, each reader will learn more of God’s love and involvement in our lives.

January 2008

The year did not begin with a bang. I rang in the New Year from a bed in an Intensive Care unit. I was very ill with a systemic fungal infection. The celebration was nonexistent from the confines of an eight by eight ICU room. On television, I watched the festivities in Time Square and a small portion of my heart rejoiced at being alive to welcome another year, yet another slice of my spirit mourned all that leukemia had robbed from me. I was released from the hospital a few days later and continued with daily IV’s at my oncologist’s office until January 17. Thankfully, my life was spared, once again, from a very serious infection.

We celebrated the 24th birthdays of our twin daughters in January. With each celebration of life that we host for them, my mind quickly returns to the day our tiny, premature baby daughters were born. They fought diligently to survive low birth weights, a heart defect, a cleft palate, hemorrhages in their brains, and numerous other complications. We were told that they would most likely be learning disabled. God worked and healed and molded their minds and bodies into lives that have generated four college degrees between them and they are both working on Master’s Degrees. They are my earliest miracles that I witnessed in my early Christian walk.

My period of being quarantined at home began this month. It is a long two to three months when I cannot leave the house and can only have limited visitors at home. Cabin fever does not begin to describe the monotony and loneliness that invade these days and weeks and months that I am kept inside, away from flu carriers.

February 2008

February was a long, boring month as I remained at home. Family and friends marveled at the kindness and generosity of my family physician that made house calls for me during this time. It is a caring physician who will make house calls in this day and age.

March 2008

Early March brought a welcome vacation for my husband, our oldest daughter, and me. I had been quarantined at home for over 3 months due to the flu season, so the release from “prison” was a delight. To add to the excitement of the vacation, our oldest daughter was on spring break from college and her husband could not leave his job, so she decided to go along with us. We spent a week at Orange Beach. We marveled on our drive there, as we encountered a rare, late spring snowstorm through Kentucky and Tennessee. The snow was eight inches deep and even on the Interstate, we could only drive 20-30 miles per hour. We saw three snowplows flipped on their sides on a 30-mile stretch of Interstate. After a slow, scary start to the trip, we welcomed the warmth and sunshine of the ocean.

In March, we were told a bit of news that shocked and surprised us. We were going to become grandparents! After the initial surprise wore off, we began preparing for the arrival of a new family member. We all assumed it would be a baby girl and began referring to “her” as Bella (short for Isabella), since we had three daughters, but later discovered that it was a baby boy. Our daughter called me on the day of the sonogram and told me, “Mom, it’s a fella, not a Bella!”

April 2008

Preparations began at our home for the arrival of our new grandson. We knew the plan was for me to serve as his Nanny, so we decided to prepare a nursery for him at our home. We shopped and painted and shopped some more as we prepared a special place for him in our hearts and in our home.

May 2008

May brought the graduation of our oldest daughter from Indiana State University. She received her Bachelors Degree in Nursing. It was a weekend replete with celebration and family. We watched as proud parents do, as she walked across the stage and received her diploma from the University President. All three of our daughters now had their Bachelors Degrees, as well as two Associates Degrees. Now they all continue to work on their Master’s Degrees.

June 2008

We celebrated the 23rd birthday of our youngest daughter this month. With only 15 months separating her from our twin daughters, they have always looked and acted a lot like triplets. Their relationships are close-knit and caring. I hope and pray that the three of them will be tightly bonded for their entire lives. It comforts me to know that when I have traveled onto my Heavenly Home, that they will have each other’s love and support.

One of my most frightening experiences is when I become ill and my trusted physician is out of state. This scenario occurred in June. My doctor had traveled out of state for a family wedding and I became ill with an infection from Klebsiella pneumoniae. I was in Intensive Care, nervous and fearful, with my doctor so far away. Klebsiella can have a 50 percent chance of killing when it is contracted. I was blessed with a compassionate, bright physician who was covering for my doctor. He provided exceptional care and once again, the Lord pulled me through a difficult infection.

July 2008

I began my quest to photograph over thirty covered bridges in our area. July’s warm, humid days made trekking to the bridges a challenge, but the beauty of summer sunshine and lush green grass made for picturesque photos. I have managed to photograph all of the bridges in their summer glory and in the brilliant fall colors. I await winter snows to capture the bright red bridges basking in a blanket of white.

July was a difficult month as I tried to seek out the path of treatment. Weight loss and other concerning symptoms worsened and we decided to make a trip to Ohio State to consult with a leukemia specialist there. He is a young, brilliant doctor and I trust his insights. I had met with a radiation oncologist to discuss radiating my spleen to reduce its size and hopefully, improve my platelet counts. The OSU specialist disapproved with this plan, which was disappointing after I had spent so much time with the consultation, travel and research. The OSU doctor recommended a clinical trial with an experimental drug since I have gone through most of the other available treatments. After much prayer and pondering, I decided to postpone enrollment in the trial until further data becomes available.

August 2008

August proved to be my most difficult month, physically. I began losing large amounts of blood. I became severely anemic and had difficulty breathing. A secondary cancer was suspected but I give all praises to God that the biopsy was normal. Eventually, I ended up back in Intensive Care. I was so sick and battled back to life after much medical intervention and prayer. Numerous tests, procedures, and scans were required. I knew that our first grandson was due anytime, and I am certain that the knowledge of his arrival helped me to fight through another difficult period.

Our middle daughter passed her examinations this month and received her Registered Dietitian credentialing. We were very proud of her achievements and accomplishments as she continues to care for geriatric patients.

My grandmother turned 85 years old this month.

September 2008

One of the exceptional highlights of 2008 was the arrival of our grandson in September. After a long, challenging labor and delivery, he joined our family. He gave us a couple of scares shortly after his birth, but he has emerged as a healthy, spunky, very big baby. I wept as I held him for the first time. Living long enough to raise our three daughters seemed like such an insurmountable feat while battling leukemia, and to have lived long enough to become a grandmother was a miracle in itself.

September also arrived with the knowledge that our son-in-law had lived for an entire year with his new kidney he received in September 2007. It was a perfect match and he has yet to show one sign of rejection or complication. God truly blessed with a priceless gift from a selfless family. We rejoice at the new life that it has given to our son-in-law.

October 2008

Our oldest daughter passed her credentialing examinations for nursing. We are proud of her achievements and we are certain that she will be a competent, caring, compassionate nurse for her patients.

My new career as a Nanny began in October. Lil Man’s Mommy returned to her career and Lil Man returned to Grammy’s. He fills the days with hecticness, laughter, and great pleasure. I pray that my body can remain healthy and strong enough that I won’t be fired from my new career!

My husband and I celebrated our 26th Anniversary this year. Our life together has been filled with many difficult times; however, we have managed to remain dedicated to each other. He has cared for me for over twelve years of cancer. I know so many cancer patients who have their spouses abandon them due to the diagnosis. That is heart-breaking to me. I know my husband has made many sacrifices for me during these twelve years and his Heavenly reward will be great for all that he has done to provide for me and to care for me.

November 2008

For most women, getting older is not a pleasant experience. With years, comes the arrival of wrinkles, extra pounds, grey hairs, failing eyesight and other dreaded characteristics. However, for me, I celebrate getting older because it means that I am still LIVING! My fortieth birthday was a big celebration. I was delighted to see Number Forty-Five arrive this November and to think of hitting the big 5-0 is a hope and prayer that I hold in my heart. I have learned that wrinkles, grey hair and the need for trifocals are much better than kicking the bucket!

Thanksgiving was celebrated at our home with our three daughters, sons-in-law, and Mr. Lil Man. We had much to thank God for this Thanksgiving. He has been faithful and true to our family. He has not forsaken us through difficult days. He has maintained joy in our hearts and lives despite difficult burdens. He has provided all that we have had need of throughout the year. He is our Hope for the future and our Help for today.

December 2008

We took a short trip to Indianapolis for a weekend with our oldest daughter and her husband. We enjoyed Christmas shopping and other holiday activities. We have learned the preciousness of the moments parents are able to share with their grown children.

The year came to a close with our family celebrating Christmas – the first one with our newest family member. Traditions such as baking cookies, making our Christmas Kolach Bread, attending Christmas Eve services with the girls and their in-laws, and Christmas morning brunch all continued. The story of Christ’s birth and arrival on earth never grows tiring. I marvel at God’s love for us as He sent this precious Babe to a sin-filled world to be our Savior. I am amazed at the world’s push to remove every sign of CHRIST from CHRISTmas. There would be nothing else to celebrate with such joy as the birth of Jesus.

May the Lord bless, heal, protect, and provide for all of us throughout the upcoming year.

Healing Resources

Many people ask me what I read and study to remain faith-filled, hopeful, and without fear and doubt during a battle such as the one I am fighting. These resources are my constant companions that I read and believe to increase my faith.

Holy Bible

Christ the Healer by Bosworth. This book on healing is filled with Scriptures and testimonies of healings from the early 20th century. It completely revolutionized my perception of God's role in illness and healing. This book is quite old but most Christian Bookstores can order it when requested.

God's Creative Power for Healing by Charles Capps. This small yet powerful mini-book instructs the reader on the value of speaking, reading, and hearing God's Word as regularly and routinely as we take medications for healing. This is a book I have given to many other Cancer patients.

Healed of Cancer by Dodee Osteen, mother of Joel Osteen. Mrs. Osteen was diagnosed with liver cancer more than 20 or 30 years ago. She applied the Scriptures and faith taught in this book and was healed and remains alive and well even today.

Beth Moore Bible Studies. I have completed many of Beth Moore's Bible Studies. They are uplifting and focus on topics such as keeping our minds free of doubt and fear during difficult times. Her teachings are anointed and encouraging.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Request for Prayer: December 29, 2008

Please uphold me in your prayers tomorrow. I will have my last IVIG treatment of 2008. As always, please pray that it will cause no harm to my body, specifically to my lungs, kidneys and liver. Please pray that I will not have an anaphylactic reaction to the treatment. And since this is the treatment produced from thousands of blood donors, please pray for the product to be pure and infection-free.

I will be at the oncologists' infusion center from 8:30-5:00 tomorrow. Thank you for your prayers. With God's help, I hope to live to see the arrival of yet another new year.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Invisible Mother

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?' Obviously, not.

No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?'> I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated Suma Cum Laude -- but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She's going; she's going; she is gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read, no, devour the book. And I would discover what would become for me, life changing truths. No one can say who built the great cathedrals, we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, 'you're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

'Great Job, MOM! We never know what our finished products will turn out to be because of our perseverance.

Costa Rican Prayer Requests: January 2009

Pray for kids to sign up for camp!

Pray for boldness for leaders as they invite their younger friends to camp, and for kids to understand that their leaders really do want to spend time with them.

Young Life Service Project—El Salvador, April 4th-11th
WyldLife Camp—La Montana Camp in Costa Rica, April 24th-26th

Please continue to pray for my friend, Jessie, who is a missionary in Costa Rica. I would like to add to her above prayer requests, that we pray for her safe travel as she returns to Costa Rica after her visit to the states. I was delighted to see Jessie at Christmas Eve Services. Her joyous heart and beautiful smile continue to lighten the room around her. The people of Costa Rica are blessed to have her in their midst as she reflects Christ's love to each person she meets.

Winter Sunset

This winter sunset beckoned me outside this evening.
The crooked brushstrokes across the sky were brilliant and beautiful.

Looking For a Sunset Bird in Winter
by Robert Frost

The west was getting out of gold,
The breath of air had died of cold,
When shoeing home across the white,
I thought I saw a bird alight.
In summer when I passed the place
I had to stop and lift my face;
A bird with an angelic gift
Was singing in it sweet and swift.
No bird was singing in it now.
A single leaf was on a bough,
And that was all there was to see
In going twice around the tree.
From my advantage on a hill
I judged that such a crystal chill
Was only adding frost to snow
As gilt to gold that wouldn't show.
A brush had left a crooked stroke
Of what was either cloud or smoke
From north to south across the blue;
A piercing little star was through.

Ringing in the New Year: The Bell

I am God’s child (John 1:12)
I am Christ’s friend (John 15:15 )
I am united with the Lord (1 Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price (1 Cor 6:19-20)
I am a saint (set apart for God). (Eph. 1:1)
I am a personal witness of Christ. (Acts 1:8)
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matt 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation ( Rom. 8: 1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven. I am significant (Phil 3:20)
I am free from any charge against me (Rom. 8:31 -34)
I am a minister of reconciliation for God (2 Cor 5:17-21)
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 2:18)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms (Eph. 2:6)
I cannot be separated from the love of God (Rom 8:35-39)
I am established, anointed, sealed by God (2 Cor 1:21-22 )
I am assured all things work together for good (Rom. 8:28 )
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit (John 15:16 )
I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Eph. 3: 12 )
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life (John 15: 1-5)
I am God’s temple (1 Cor. 3: 16). I am complete in Christ (Col. 2: 10)
I am hidden with Christ in God ( Col. 3:3). I have been justified (Rom. 5:1)
I am God’s co-worker (1 Cor. 3:9). I am God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10)
I have been redeemed and forgiven ( Col 1:14). I have been adopted as
God’s child.
Ephesians 1:5
I belong to God
Do you know
Who you are?

A New Babe this Christmas

Christmas with our family added the excitement of a new member this year. For several years, since our own daughters had "grown up", we had been without a little one in our family. Lil Man's arrival in 2008 changed all of that.

His squeals and presence made our Christmas different this year. We had little clothes and toys to purchase for gifts. A visit to Santa returned to our family's holiday "to do" list. And our family photo added a new life this Christmas. Lil Man's Aunties and Uncles doted over him and bought favorite toys for him as well.

Each Christmas Eve, our family attends Christmas Eve Services at church. The pastor calls the children forward to sit at the altar and he shares a children's message with them. My heart warmed and my eyes filled with tears as our Lil Man (along with his Mommy) went forward to sit and hear his first Christmas sermon. I was transported to the days when our three little girls participated in Christmas programs and played the piano at church.

The cycle of life continues in our family. From the life of our daughters, new life has emerged. Our family has grown once again. We have another life to love and to cherish.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Prayer for Today: Christmas 2008

Dear Father,

Thank You for the life you have given to each of us to celebrate the birth of Your Son’s birthday, yet one more year. We are grateful beyond words. We celebrate our Savior with hearts filled with love.

Let us read and reflect on the Words that detail the arrival of our Savior.

Luke 2

The Birth of Jesus

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

This passage of Scripture is the basis of our Salvation and we ask, Lord, that You will keep Your Word alive and active in our lives during 2000. Bring healing to our bodies and broken relationships. Grant wisdom and discernment to those facing difficult decisions. Direct the work of the doctors and researchers who seek a cure for this disease. Fill our hearts with forgiveness when we are hurt. Allow love to rule in all that we do, think, and speak.

We rejoice over our relationship with You, Lord. Allow us to speak and portray Your love and desire to save the lost to all those around us during the upcoming year.

In Jesus’ Mighty Name we pray. Amen and Amen.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to my family and friends.

It is an amazing miracle for me to share another Christmas with my loved ones. I recall the Christmas of 1997 when I doubted that I would live to experience another Christmas with my husband, daughters, and other loved ones. I recall the deep, abiding sadness that saturated my heart as we took photographs by our Christmas tree and I wondered (doubted) I would be alive for another photograph.

However, the Lord had different plans for me. And now, over 12 years since I was diagnosed with leukemia, I am still alive. Those very young girls are now mature, educated, beautiful young women. I have been blessed with sons-in-law and a grandson added to our family of five. My husband and I have now shared 27 Christmases together. Last night we hung the same knit stockings that we had used on our very first Christmas.

More than a decade of Christmas photos around the tree have been taken. Years of celebrating Christ's birthday as a family in church on Christmas Eve have been granted to our family. Memories and moments with my family have been one of the most precious and priceless gifts I have ever been granted.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The True and Absolute Reason for the Season

M essiah, the Anointed
E mmanual, God with us
R eedemer of Israel
R ock of my salvation
Y ahweh, I am Who I am

C hrist Jesus our Lord
H is dear Son
R ock of my strength
I that speak in righteousness
S hepherd
T he first Begotten
M y Refuge in the day of affliction
A living stone
S on of the Living God

A Prayer for Today: December 19, 2008

Precious Lord:

I am reminded of Mary’s song:

"And Mary said:
' My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name'."

We do not need to be special or rich or exceptional for God to use us in mighty ways. Mary, a humble maidservant, was chosen by God to bear the Savior of the world. I am encouraged, Lord, when I read this passage of Scripture. I am certain that You are no respector of people and that you can take each of our humble lives and use it for mighty purposes in Your Kingdom. We bow before You this very night, humbled in Your presence, seeking Your anointing on our own lives, so that we might be used for Your purposes and plans. Purpose in our hearts and spirits that we be yielded to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The celebration of Christ’s birthday is fast approaching. Prompt us to pause and reflect on the true meaning of this most holy time of year. Help us not to be consumed by the demands and hecticness of the holidays.

We are full of heartfelt praises this week. We are grateful for each day you grant to us; for each breath of air with which You fill our lungs; for each beat of our hearts; and for the privilege to celebrate the wonderment of Your Son’s birth once again. Let us never take a breath for granted, Father.

Hearts are in need of mending. From a spiritual perspective, I ask that You touch hearts in need of a Savior. Send laborers into the lives of our unsaved loved ones, friends, and co-workers. Soften those hearts and open their minds and lives to receive Your gift of salvation. Hearts are broken physically and in need of a touch. I ask for a special healing touch on our own daughter’s heart as she returns to her cardiologist on Monday.

I love You, Father. You are my everything. Thank You for hearing each and every prayer and answering each prayer in the way that You know is best. We continue to trust in You alone.
In Jesus’ Precious Name I pray. Amen.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hedge of Protection

"Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land." Job 1:10

Imagine one day awakening to discover your home, your possessions, your children and your health were all gone? Almost impossible to even imagine such devastation, isn’t it? Yet this is exactly what Job faced. Job was “….blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil.” His possessions and position were impressive. Yet, when an attack of the enemy came, his world was shaken to its very core.

It is important that when we consider Job’s service to the Lord over 3000 years ago, we note that a very real spiritual darkness and force was at work to misplace and upset one of God’s servants. It is all too easy to point fingers at God when our worlds are upset and our hearts are ripped in two. Yet, as God’s children we must step back from the very hurt and heartache that is impeding our Christian walk and remind ourselves of the darkness that attempts to envelope us. Return to the first Chapter of Job. Satan’s attack on Job, his family, his health, and his possessions is plotted, planned and executed by a very real enemy.

“And the Lord said to Satan: 'From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’ Then the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’ So Satan answered the Lord and said, ‘Does Job fear for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’ And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Behold all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person’.” (Job 1:6b-12)

Several noteworthy points beckon our attention. Satan is a very real force to be dealt with in the spiritual realm. If you believe he is dressed in red and rarely leaves his hellish domain, you are mistaken. Here Satan had an outright discussion with God. He had been checking out the scene on earth. Satan knew who God's servants were. He knew who served the Lord and who didn’t. He knew who had what, said what and did what.

On the other hand Satan was very aware of the Lord’s protection around Job. He recognized a hedge of protection around a man, his family and his property when he saw it. Does that not inspire you to engage in spiritual warfare and enlist the Lord’s army of angels to entrench your property, loved ones, and self with His hedge of divine protection?

Just as it was thousands of years ago in Job’s age, that kind of hedge protection is available to believers today. In the 1990's our family went out to dinner with our best friends. From the natural viewpoint of life, that seemed like an innocent enough event. Our conversation that night turned to divine protection. And to hostage situations. And to everyday dangers we face in everyday places. That night I was reminded and prompted to fervently pray for protection for my family.

The following day my husband called and told me to turn on the television. There was a hostage situation that had erupted at a restaurant next to his office. Not only had he been protected and had not entered that restaurant as he often did each morning, but also God’s faithfulness had prompted us to have this discussion on hostage situations the night before.

To this day, when I look at the photos he took of sniper teams on top of his office on that day, I am reminded and rejoice of God’s protection. What we anticipated as only being a night of pizza was designed by His hand to prompt us to pray for that hedge of protection around our family.

The Perfect Gift

For me, I am ahead of schedule. I still have a week left until Christmas and all of our shopping is finished. I've walked malls and searched for the perfect gifts for my children and grandchild. I've Googled and searched the Internet for other perfect gifts. Fed Ex and UPS have delivered right on time!

Yet, today I began thinking if I could only give one gift to my children and grandchild, what would it be? What would be the one gift that would be everlasting? What gift would fit each of them, despite the differences in size? What gift would be life changing and purpose giving?

The most precious and priceless gift I could ever give my children and grandson is the Word of God. It will never change. It will never go out of style. It is as valuable today as it was thousands of years ago when men were divinely inspired to write these Words. His Word can heal their bodies, save their souls, direct them to a plan for eternal life, spare them from hell's fires, encourage them when they are discouraged, guide them in making vital life decisions, and tell them about the Heaven where I will one day live.

His Word is priceless yet available free of charge with the advent of online Bible resources. His Word is powerful yet gentle and meek. His Word has saved my soul, healed my body, conquered discouragement, been my companion with loneliness has threatened, and reassured me when everything else in my life fell apart.

His Word has a lifetime "warranty" -- it will never change or fail you. His Word offers a great "reward" program. His Word, when imprinted upon our hearts, can never be stolen, broken, or lost.

His Word is truly the Perfect Gift. Today, I wrap it up and send it to my children, grandchild, and all those lost and seeking a Savior and eternal life. And I will seal it with this tag:

TO: My beloved children

"And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. "
Jeremiah 29:13

Request for Prayer: December 18, 2008

I am waiting on reports from a urine culture. Last Christmas, I spent Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day plus another 4 weeks either in Intensive Care or at the oncologists' infusion center receiving IV antibiotics and antfungals for a urinary tract infection. I pray that the culture will be clear so that I can spend Christmas with my family. Please agree in prayer with me.

Also, my red blood cells, platelets, and hemoglobin all dropped this week. I know with God all things are possible, so I am asking him to allow my marrow to function and produce the blood cells despite the high percentage of cancer in my marrow.

A Baby Changes Everything

The Faith Hill song, "A Baby Changes Everything" is touching and inspiring. Each time I hear this song, I relate to the changes that the Baby Jesus' birth brought to my life and every other person who has accepted Him as Lord and Savior. But I also reflect on the changes a baby brought to our own family this year.

Here is a link to a live performance of this song:

Teenage girl, much too young
Unprepared for what’s to come
A baby changes everything
Not a ring
On her hand
All her dreams and all her plans
A baby changes everything
The man she loves she’s never touched
How will she Keep his trust
A baby changes everything
And she cries, oh she cries
She has to leave, go far away
Heaven knows she can’t stay
A baby changes everything
She can feel it’s coming soon
There’s no place, there’s no room
A baby changes everything
And she cries and she cries
O she cries
Shepherds own they got their
Star shines down…
Choir of Angels say
Glory to the newborn king
A baby changes everything, everything, everything, every day
Hallelujah x4
My whole life is turned around
I was lost and now I’m found
A baby changes everything

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Stranger on a Shuttle

Public transportation moves in motion people around the globe. Airliners race across the heavens leaving handwritten trails in the clouds. Trains transport on tracks through the cities and the cornfields. Daily, different strangers are suddenly placed in a seat very near to everyday missionaries. Small talk usually unfolds. How is the weather? What is your destination? What are you reading? Small talk fills moments. God talk fills the heart. Everyday situations as common and ordinary as a ride on a plane, train, or bus can become a God-breathed opportunity to share God's love. It is up to each believer to decide if he will fulfill the Great Commission or push it under a stack of newspapers on his lap.

One evening, I found myself departing on a shuttle from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, It had been a long three days of tests and treatment talk from the physicians. I was far from home and my body and mind were exhausted. The shuttle would take me to BWI (Baltimore-Washington International) Airport for my flight home. Tucked away in my purse and carry on baggage was this everyday missionary’s most important possessions. My Bible was my constant travel companion and comforter. I carried small booklets on healing and God’s promises. Business-sized cards with the prayer of salvation rested in my purse. On one trip when a good friend accompanied me, we sat down on our flight to Bethesda and almost simultaneously said, “We’re on a mission from God.” Refusing to focus on our concerns and problems, but remaining focused to find and share with the lost, enables one to overcome the pity pitfalls that can beckon when life circumstances are rough.

As I reclined my head back and buckled in for the usual high-speed ride to BWI Airport, I noticed among the commuters, a man with his son in front of me. Their facial expressions and demeanor were broken. I knew that they had boarded at the National Cancer Institute with me so I assumed that either one of them had cancer or they had just left someone there with cancer. Time passed. Horns honked and tempers flared on I-95. Small talk was made among the passengers. The man asked if I had cancer. And conversation ensued.

He proceeded to tell me of his diagnosis of multiple myeloma. His doctors had “predicted” that he would live less than 6 months. His young son’s eyes were filled with confusion and fear. I listened and prayed. My hand reached into my bag and I began to share the hope and promises of my Heavenly Father. Don’t give up. Don’t listen to the reports of mortal men. Jesus died on the cross for our spiritual and physical healings. Hang on. Pray. There was so much to say as the Interstate 95 miles ticked off on the speedometer of the shuttle. I told him to look to God. To read these books – yes, you can take them with you. They will explain so much. The airport was fast approaching out the windows. He smiled. His son’s eyes resonated with a spark of hope. This everyday mission wished them well and proceeded to my terminal.

I was thankful that evening that I had those books with me to share. I prayed that hope and healing would grip the lives in that family. I asked the Lord to spare this father’s life as I thought back on the blonde headed little boy. After returning home, I would wonder a few times how the father was doing. Time passed—six months to be exact. And a return trip to Bethesda was scheduled for me.

Another Thursday clinic visit came and ended. Fourteen hundred miles were traveled once again. The wait for the shuttle back to the airport passed slowly as I longed to return to familiar places and faces. As I boarded that shuttle, to the amazement of my eyes, there sat that father and son I had encountered six months early. The little boy's father was alive and looked much healthier than he had on that first shuttle ride when Jesus was introduced to Him as Savior and Healer. Around his neck was a large cross necklace. I don’t believe he recognized me and I didn’t feel impressed to remind him that I was the everyday missionary who had shared materials and God-words with him and his son six months earlier.

I knew at that moment God had allowed our paths to cross for a moment to reassure me of my mission and to remind me of His all encompassing plan of salvation, love and hope for each man, woman, boy or girl whom His hands created.

My Favorite Christmas Carols

Christmas carols fill the air in my home and in my car during these weeks leading up to Christmas. I have some favorite carols that I would like to share the lyrics with you. Most are meaningful and rich in words. A couple of these evoke tears each time that I hear them. All offer praises to our Lord and Savior, the true reason for this season.

I believe with the birth of our grandson this year, this song is even more poignant to me. To think as Mary rocked and nursed her tiny Son, what she must have been thinking to know that she held the Son of the Living God in her arms. What an awesome privilege! What an awesome responsibility!

Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will one day walk on water?
Did you know
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered
Will soon deliver you
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Did you know
That your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know
That your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little boy
You've kissed the face of God
Mary, did you know?
The blind will see
The deaf will hear
And the dead will live again
The lame will leap
The dumb will speak
The praises of the lamb
Mary, did you know
That your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Did you know
That your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know
That your baby boy is Heaven's perfect lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding
Is the great I Am

I can recall singing this carol at Christmas Eve church services for many years. One Christmas Eve, shortly after I learned that I was ill, I prayed and asked God for a Christmas Eve snow. As we sat in our pew at the Christmas Eve service, singing "O Holy Night", I glanced out the stained glass window to see the most beautiful snow falling that my eyes had ever witnessed. It was fluffy and the flakes gently fell to earth, but more importantly, each snowflake reminded me that God had heard my prayers for something as simple as a Christmas Eve snow and had answered. Sparing my life from leukemia would be no different for the Great and Mighty God.

O Holy Night!
The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine! O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
Led by the light of faith serenely beaming,
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
O'er the world a star is sweetly gleaming,
Now come the wisemen from out of the Orient land.
The King of kings lay thus lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friends.
He knows our need, our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King! Before him lowly bend! Behold your King! Before him lowly bend!
Truly He taught us to love one another,
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains he shall break, for the slave is our brother.
And in his name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
With all our hearts we praise His holy name.
Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we, His power and glory ever more proclaim!
His power and glory ever more proclaim!

I recall my paternal Grandpa (who was the master of early exterior Christmas decorating) humming and playing this carol outside at our Christmas light display. I've always imagined being the humble little drummer boy and playing the very best I could for the newly born King. God's heart must have been moved by the little drummer boy's humility and desire to praise the Lord.

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A newborn King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,
So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come. Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That's fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,
Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum? Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,
Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.

This contemporary carol is heart-touching for me. The words elicit the picture of a young boy trying to buy a new pair of shoes for his dying mother. Enough said. One Christmas Eve this song was sung during our Christmas Eve services and I never wept so hard in church ever before.

It was almost Christmas time
There I stood in another line
Trying to buy that last gift or two
Not really in the Christmas mood
Standing right in front of me
Was a little boy waiting anxiously
Pacing around like little boys do
And in his hands he held
A pair of shoes
And his clothes were worn and old
He was dirty from head to toe
And when it came his time to pay
I couldn't believe what I heard him say
Sir I wanna buy these shoes for my Momma please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry Sir?
Daddy says there's not much time
You see, she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes will make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful
If Momma meets Jesus, tonight.
He counted pennies for what seem like years
And cashier says son there's not enough here
He searched his pockets frantically
And he turned and he looked at me
He said Momma made Christmas good at our house
Though most years she just did without
Tell me Sir
What am I gonna do?
Somehow I’ve got to buy her these Christmas shoes
So I laid the money down
I just had to help him out
And I'll never forget
The look on his face
When he said Momma's gonna look so great.
Sir I wanna buy these shoes, for my Momma please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry Sir?
Daddy says there's not much time
You see, she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes will make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful,
If Momma meets Jesus tonight.
I knew I caught a glimpse of heavens love as he thanked me and ran out.
I know that God had sent that little boy to remind me
What Christmas is all about
Sir I wanna buy these shoes for my Momma please
It's Christmas Eve and these shoes are just her size
Could you hurry Sir?
Daddy says there's not much time
You see she's been sick for quite a while
And I know these shoes will make her smile
And I want her to look beautiful
If Momma meets Jesus tonight
I want her to look beautiful
If Momma meets Jesus tonight

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Three Months Old

It is difficult to believe, but our Lil Man (grandson) turns three months old today. He is growing by leaps and bounds and growing dearer to our hearts everyday. Everyday brings a new smile or coo. His Mommy vows he called out, "MAMA" to her tonight!

He loves to play peek-a-boo and he is taking an interest in morning Sesame Street shows. I cannot believe I have returned to days filled with Sesame Street, nursery rhymes, and dirty diapers. It seems like only yesterday our three little girls were knee high and filling every moment with their care.

We looked through old photographs the other evening and found some of Lil Man's Mommy. What a resemblance! I had told all of our family how when I rock Lil Man and look down into his big, brown eyes, how I see his Mommy. No one realized how accurate this observation was until we pulled out the old photographs.

It is embarrassing to admit, but my camera's memory cards (which will hold nearly 1500 photos) is nearly filled. That only took three month's to achieve! I know he will despise his Grammy when he is 16 years old and I am placing HAPPY BIRTHDAY advertisements on television and in the newspaper with photos of him in his elf outfit!

Request for Prayer: December 9, 2008

Please keep me in your prayers. We are awaiting lab results. When blood was drawn on Friday, the pathologists contacted my doctor and told her that the lymphocytes did not appear like my "normal" cancerous lymphocytes. Now, there is an oxymoron for you -- normal, cancerous lymphocytes!

We are waiting to pick up the slides from the lab and then they will be sent to Ohio State pathology for review. I am prayerfully hopeful that this will be (yet another) local lab error and nothing serious.

Thanks for your continued prayers.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Reminder to Self: God is My Provider

In a time of economic upheaval, lay-offs, foreclosures, and corporate downsizing, fear is standing on every corner. Today we have a job and it might be gone tomorrow. The value of 401k accounts, stocks, and other investments is sliding down a slippery slope. However, still central in all of this mass confusion and chaos, is a Savior who is never changing and always near.

As a lay-off threatens our own household, I confess that I have allowed fear to replace faith. I had a temporary faith lapse and seemed to forget Who the ultimate Provider is in my life. It is not an employer. It is not the paycheck. It is not interest from investments. My next day’s needs and my next week’s survival are all under the control of my Lord and Savior. He, alone, will meet all of our needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

He has bluntly reminded me in Matthew 6:24-26:

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

I asked His forgiveness as I struggled, stressed, and stammered at the prospect of a life without a household income or insurance. God knew that I had fallen and messed up, yet I know He has forgiven me for stumbling. Thank You, God, for being a forgiving God.

Now, I must move forward in faith. If the next paycheck does not arrive or if there is no insurance to care for my extensive medical needs, He knows all about that. He will never leave me nor forsake me.

As times become more and more difficult for many families, let us be reminded of:

Isaiah 43

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“ Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the LORD your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Memories from My Childhood

My paternal grandparents were pioneers in the area of exterior illumination at Christmastime. I would estimate that by the late 1960’s, their large front yard was notorious for their Christmas lights and displays. I know their efforts were striking as I have vivid recollections of these decorations and all of my grandparents’ efforts that were dedicated to this project. My grandfather died when I was only about 9 years old and I have retained these vivid memories for nearly 36 years.

My Grandma’s brother would dress up as Santa and greet children who came to enjoy the display. Brown paper bags filled with hard Christmas candies and oranges were given to the visiting children. Newspapers and television stations featured our front yards. Decades later, people still ask if we live where the enormous Christmas display could be found.

The white buckets of jeweled tone bulbs remain fresh in my mind’s eye. Grandpa would purchase his C9 bulbs after Christmas, when deep discounts lured him into stores. I would help him to sort the bulbs into white, 5-gallon buckets. A bucket was assigned to each color. To this day, I don’t ever recall seeing so many Christmas light bulbs in one place. We would take these buckets around the yard on cold, snowy, wintry nights and replace burned out bulbs. I remember the cold weather he battled and the dedication that he had for his beautiful Christmas display.

I recall the paint and the sawdust in my grandparents’ basement that evolved into a virtual Santa’s workshop each fall. Their decorations were ahead of their time and the abundance of plastic Santa’s and Snowmen that decorate yards of today. Grandpa would saw out of plywood various displays and Grandma would pain them and all their intricate details. I am amazed as I write these words, how many details I can recall of these creations.

A life-sized nativity graced the south end of our yards. The large stable was filled with straw and a bright star rose above the stable. Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the wise men and the stable animals were all present.

A choir girl played the organ, moving back and forth with one of Grandpa’s motorized inventions. Four choir boys cut from Grandpa’s saw and painted with Grandma’s paintbrush stood beside the organ girl. Record players were wired with Christmas music to the front yard. I marvel at the technical aspects of their display, in an era before the electronic gadgetry that we all use and understand.

Four elves held the letters N-O-E-L. And a North Pole display featured a motorized Santa Claus, who had a hammer in his hand that rotated, “building” toys for the good girls and boys. Elves with their own workbenches surrounded Santa.

I always loved the years that Grandpa would switch to all blue lights. While the jewel-toned brilliant bulbs were festive and bright, even as a child, I treasured the soft glow of the blue bulbs on the newly fallen snow. And even as a child, I knew Grandpa’s display of Jesus’ folded, praying hands with a banner that read, PEACE ON EARTH, was special and sacred.

I would give anything to find Grandpa and Grandma’s patterns or the actual decorations. I know most were sold after Grandpa died. And they have probably rotted away. Nevertheless, I am absolutely amazed at the vivid details I can recall of the beautiful displays. The decorations may have deteriorated; however, they live on in my heart and memories.

A Christmas Letter from God to His Children

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival. Although I do appreciate being remembered anytime.How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own.

I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth just, GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER. Now, having said that let Me go on.If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can and may remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grapevine if you wish. I actually spoke of that one in a teaching explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgot that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it.

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing your boss complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile it could make the difference. Also, you might consider supporting the local Hot-Line since they talk with people like that every day.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary, especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name. You may already know someone like that.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and entire families in your town who will not have a "Christmas" tree, nor will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them (and I suspect you don't) buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Marines, the Salvation Army or some other charity that believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

P.S. Don't forget; I am GOD and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember, I LOVE YOU.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Costa Rican Prayer Requests

I received the most recent prayer requests from my friend Jessie, who is a missionary in Costa Rica. Please join me in prayer for God to meet these and all needs that she might have.

Specific things to pray for:

My grandfather George Becker passed away last week. Please pray for my mom and her family, and my grandpa's wife Drue. Thank God that we can be confident of our salvation and know that my Grandpa is at the party in Heaven!

This is the last week of programmed activities and it is FULL! Decision talks will be giving on Wednesday and Friday; leaders will be celebrated and appreciated at a Christmas party on Thursday; Service Project Parent informational meeting on Thursday. Pray for energy, creativity, and significant conversations.

Students that will be moving - switching countries and schools over Christmas break - pray that God would raise up Christians to invest in their lives wherever they go.

In The Right Place, At the Right Time

Nothing happens by chance. I know that God ordains the life events of His children. I've learned as I walk with the Lord not to become anxious or upset if plans do not work out or are changed. I know that He knows far better than me as to what I should be doing.

Today, I wandered around the oncologist's infusion center, still trying to find "my" ideal treatment chair (since the move from the old infusion center). I pondered and debated if I would rather sit near a window (it was snowing outside, so I determined that a window was a high priority). Thus, after some deliberation, I claimed my space and unpacked.

Soon after, another cancer patient arrived. Initially, he sat quite some distance from me but then decided he wanted a seat where the television was more visible. So, he decided upon taking the chair next to mine. I always try to share what God has done for me during my cancer battle with other patients. I've taken books on healing for other patients and offered prayers for many. My mind wandered, trying to determine what my calling for today was going to be.

The man spoke and told me he had just been diagnosed with leukemia. My spirit leaped as I knew precisely why I was in the specific chair I had chosen. And to be more specific, he was diagnosed with the exact type of leukemia I had.

Instantly I knew that virtual stranger in a way most of us don't know strangers. I knew the fear and apprehension he was feeling. Only being diagnosed two weeks earlier, I related to his confusion about treatment options, available drugs, side effects, life expectancy, and whether he was going to lose his hair or not. The same confusions and fears that I had possessed years earlier.

He then popped the question. "How long have you lived with this leukemia?" he asked me.

Then I replied, "With the Lord's help, I have lived for 12 years."

Words cannot detail the expression of hope that filled his face. He smiled and asked me, "Did you say that you have lived 12 years with this leukemia?"He told his daughter when she arrived about his new found hope. He picked up his cell phone and called several family members and friends. He told them about how long I had lived and that he was going for 12 years and 1 day!

Today, I was definitely in the right place, at the right time.

Reflections From A Day in the Treatment Room

Years of battling cancer have come with the good, the bad and the ugly. I have sat more hours in these treatment chairs than I care to calculate. I was "relocated" last month, as my oncologist's infusion center was moved to a new cancer center. My same recliner made the move but it has been a puzzling transition for me. The sights, smells, and sounds of the old office are gone. And with this relocation, a part of me and this cancer battle were left behind.

A relatively young 33 year old mother of three entered that old cancer center, filled with much fear, apprehension about being able to raise our three daughters, and little knowledge about the disease that was ravaging my body.

A more mature 44 year old mother of three grown daughters and one newly born grandson made the transition to this new center filled with less fear, less apprehension, and much more knowledge about the disease that continues to ravage my body.

Memories of the friends I made at the former cancer center who lost their battle with this bitter foe, traveled with me to this new cancer center. I can still hear many of their voices and see their faces. I have been blessed to have lived this long, yet, in turn, I have witnessed cancer steal all too many lives.

My oncologist recently informed me that I have lived longer than any other patient he has ever treated with this type of leukemia. While this comment was encouraging to me, it also deposited a sliver of fear in my heart. If no one else has lived this long, how much time remains for me? If no one else has lived this long with this disease, why am I still alive and fighting?

I know God always knows what is best and we shouldn't question Him. Nevertheless, at times, I wonder and I ponder why I remain alive to sit another month in this treatment chair? I know God loves me no more or no less than the fellow leukemia patient who died from infection. I am certain that God numbered our days before we took our first breath, yet I reflect on why my days were more numerous than the young colon cancer patient who succumbed to his disease.

Twelve Days of Christmas

This was posted on one of my leukemia support groups today. I, too, had always been curious about the meaning behind this famous Christmas carol.

From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.

-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.

-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.

-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.

-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.

-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.

-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy,
Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.

-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.

-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.

-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.

-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.

-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.

Request for Prayer, December 1, 2008

As I type, I am receiving my IVIG treatment. I will be here for about 8 hours today. Please pray that it will only help and not harm me. Also pray that I will not have any serious reactions to this treatment.

Disclaimer: I am very groggy from the pre-medications I take with this treatment, so what I type today may not be meaningful or even accurate.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Snowy Conclusion to November

A white blanket of snow welcomed me this morning.

Disco Elves

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Saturday, November 29, 2008

One Word Answers

My daughter sent me this quiz. You can only answer with one-word answers. Copy and paste this and try it yourself!

Yourself: exhausted
Your partner: husband
Your hair: curly
Your Mother: dedicated
Your Father: dedicated
Your Favorite Item: books
Your dream last night: none
Your Favorite Drink: Tea
Your Dream Car: Jaguar
Your Dream Home: Beachside
The Room You Are In: Great
Your Ex: none
Your fear: snakes
Where you Want to be in Ten Years? alive
Who you hung out with last night: husband
What You’re Not: healthy
Muffins: tasty
One of Your Wish List Items: health
Time: priceless
The Last Thing You Did: typed
What You Are Wearing: pajamas
Your favorite weather: cool
Your Favorite Book: Bible
Last thing you ate: Salad
Your Life: stressful
Your mood: serious
Your Best Friends: precious
What are you thinking about right now: pain
Your car: MKZ (do initials count as a word?)
What are you doing at the moment: resting
Your summer: hot
Relationship status: married
What is on your tv: news
What is the weather like: chilly
When is the last time you laughed: Thanksgiving

Black Friday

I made the mistake of venturing out yesterday, on Black Friday. For those unfamiliar with the term Black Friday, it is the Friday following Thanksgiving in America. The day is commercialized and focused on enticing holiday shoppers to come out in droves.

I stood, astonished, in the center of a mall. As news of economic concerns and alarm about credit availability, foreclosures, and the stock market fill every newscast and newspaper, the crowds seemed oblivious to these concerns. Shopping bags were bulging. Credit cards were swiped. An economic downturn was not obvious yesterday.

We are just a spoiled, materialistic society. For moments yesterday, I thought of those in our country and around the world who are in search of their next morsel of food or a roof to provide shelter from harsh weather. Little to them, does having the most stylish handbag or piece of jewelry, matter.

My own heart longs for a simpler life. Too much house only results in more time required to clean and organize it. Too many personal treasures rob us of money, add debt to credit cards, and take up space in our minds and lives.

I was reminded of this Scripture:

Matthew 6:19-20:

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;
but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

A History of Thanksgiving

The Pilgrims left Plymouth, England, on September 6, 1620. Their destination? The New World. Although filled with uncertainty and peril, it offered both civil and religious liberty.

For over two months, the 102 passengers braved the harsh elements of a vast storm-tossed sea. Finally, with firm purpose and a reliance on Divine Providence, the cry of "Land!" was heard.

Arriving in Massachusetts in late November, the Pilgrims sought a suitable landing place. On December 11, just before disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they signed the "Mayflower Compact" - America's first document of civil government and the first to introduce self-government.

After a prayer service, the Pilgrims began building hasty shelters. However, unprepared for the starvation and sickness of a harsh New England winter, nearly half died before spring. Yet, persevering in prayer, and assisted by helpful Indians, they reaped a bountiful harvest the following summer.

The grateful Pilgrims then declared a three-day feast, starting on December 13, 1621, to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends. While this was not the first Thanksgiving in America (thanksgiving services were held in Virginia as early as 1607), it was America's first Thanksgiving Festival.

Pilgrim Edward Winslow described the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving in these words:

"Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling [bird hunting] so that we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as... served the company almost a week... Many of the Indians [came] amongst us and... their greatest King, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought... And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet BY THE GOODNESS OF GOD WE ARE... FAR FROM WANT."

In 1789, following a proclamation issued by President George Washington, America celebrated its first Day of Thanksgiving to God under its new constitution. That same year, the Protestant Episcopal Church, of which President Washington was a member, announced that the first Thursday in November would become its regular day for giving thanks, "unless another day be appointed by the civil authorities." Yet, despite these early national proclamations, official Thanksgiving observances usually occurred only at the State level.

Much of the credit for the adoption of a later ANNUAL national Thanksgiving Day may be attributed to Mrs. Sarah Joseph Hale, the editor of Godey's Lady's Book. For thirty years, she promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day, contacting President after President until President Abraham Lincoln responded in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of November as a national Day of Thanksgiving.

Over the next seventy-five years, Presidents followed Lincoln's precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day. Then, in 1941, Congress permanently established the fourth Thursday of each November as a national holiday.

As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving each year, we hope they will retain the original gratefulness to God displayed by the Pilgrims and many other founding fathers , and remember that it is to those early and courageous Pilgrims that they owe not only the traditional Thanksgiving holiday but also the concepts of self-government, the "hard-work" ethic, self-reliant communities, and devout religious faith.

--Author Unknown

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving Table

The table is set and awaits the arrival of the people most loved and dearest to my heart. Each place setting represents a life that I love with all my heart. I rejoice that we can join together around this table to celebrate another Thanksgiving. Many of our family members have struggled or are struggling with serious health conditions. Each year that we can return to our Thanksgiving, my heart rejoices at the goodness of God to sustain us despite serious health conditions.

A Thanksgiving Prayer for 2008

Psalm 100
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures for ever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Dear Lord,

We prepare to gather with loved ones to celebrate the holiday of Thanksgiving. We praise You and thank You for all that you have done for each of us this past year. We are grateful beyond measure for You and Your presence in our lives. We come before You and enter your “gates with thanksgiving, and Your courts with praise!”

My heart is directed to remember those less fortunate than us. Most of us will be blessed with family, food, fellowship, and fun as we celebrate Thanksgiving. However, there are many who will suffer with sadness this holiday season as they celebrate their first holidays without a loved one who has passed away. Comfort these families, Father. There are others who are struggling financially as the world’s economies are shaken to the core. Remind each of us to place our faith and trust in You, our Provider. Provide food for the hungry, work for the jobless, health for the hopeless, and comfort for those crying.

Tonight, I come before You and seek Your will and your blessing on each of individuals and families who are facing difficult situations. You are a very big God and we are trusting in You!
Thank You, Father, for those who are away from their families to defend our country and our freedoms on this Thanksgiving. These solider and their families are making such sacrifices for our country. Protect each life. Provide for the needs of families left behind. Somehow allow these families to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving.

We love You, thank You, and praise You, Precious Father. In Jesus’ Name I pray. AMEN.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008

I am grateful for a President who is not ashamed to acknowledge the Almighty God.

"Thanksgiving is a time for families and friends to gather together and express gratitude for all that we have been given, the freedoms we enjoy, and the loved ones who enrich our lives. We recognize that all of these blessings, and life itself, come not from the hand of man but from Almighty God. "

– – President Bush, Thanksgiving Proclamation 2008

Sweet Potato Casserole

For almost everyone who tastes my sweet potato casserole, they love it and ask for their recipe (with the exception of our son-in-law). Just in time for your Thanksgiving cooking, here is that recipe:

3 cups sweet potatoes, drained and mashed
1/3 cup butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 cup coconut
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Cream sweet potatoes. Soften 1/3 cup butter and add sugar and remaining ingredients (excluding topping ingredients). Place in greased 9 X 13 baking dish.

Make topping: Melt butter. Add remaining topping ingredients. Crumble over sweet potato mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Dancing with the Angels

The song DANCING WITH THE ANGELS is a favorite of mine. It is a great reminder for when we lose a loved one, if they are secure in their relationship with Christ, they will be dancing with the angels in Heaven.

Here is the You Tube link to the song:

memories surround me
but sadness has found me
i'd do anything for more time
never before has someone meant more
and i can't get you out of my mind
there is so much that i don't understand
but i know

you're dancing with the angels
walking in new life
you're dancing with the angels
heaven fills your eyes
now that you're dancing with the angels

you had love for your family
love for all people
love for the Father, and Son
your heart will be heard
in your unspoken words
through generations to come
there is so much that i don't understand
but i know

you're dancing with the angels
walking in new life
your're dancing with the angels
heaven fills your eyes
now that your're dancing with the angels

we're only here for such a short time
so i'm gonna stand up shout out
and sing hallelujah
one day i'll see you again

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Birthday Reflections

Today I turn 45 years old. This is a milestone that doctors never believed that I would reach. In 1996 when I first became ill, our daughters were 12, 12, and 11. I recall stepping out of our car and the three of them were waiting with my Mom to learn what my bone marrow biopsy report revealed. As if it were yesterday, I can see their faces as I told them, as they met me at our car, that I had leukemia. I can also recall the days following that announcement where we all cried and prayed a lot. I had been given a prognosis of living 3-5 years and I knew that wouldn’t enable me to raise our girls and attend their high school graduations.

The first year after my diagnosis of leukemia was filled with confusion, turmoil, concern, and much prayer. With each slight bump in my white count, I would panic. Each enlarging lymph node seemed to be carrying my death notice. Little by little, I learned to trust God more and depend less and less upon medical science. We traveled to New York and Columbus and Washington, DC hoping to find a cure or a key to a longer life for me. It became apparent as I educated myself about the disease and my file cabinets filled with scientific journal articles, that there was NO cure for this type of leukemia.

Having been a strong-willed and minded person all of my life, that somehow spurred me on and made me resilient and determined that I would trust God even more with my life. That He would be my Healer and my Sustained became my life mantra. Slowly, the fear and panic associated with each doctor’s visit or bone marrow biopsy, subsided. I realized that God was (and is) my only Hope for surviving with this disease.

As the years passed, drug reactions threatened my life on several occasions and my immune system was quickly annihilated by chemotherapy and the disease process. Time in the Intensive Care unit increased. Yet, through Christ’s strength and encouragement, I continued to survive life-threatening infections and complications. I will never forget the night I was in Intensive Care, very ill with pneumonia, and I asked the Holy Spirit to reveal one verse to me that I could embrace. It was around midnight and I opened my Bible to Proverbs 9:11: “For by Me, your days will be multiplied and years added unto your life.”

That Scripture changed my life and my way of thinking about a terminal illness. It instilled in my heart and my mind that no disease, treatment, or infection has the authority to take my life, one day before God ordains. He is multiplying my days and adding years to my life – not medical science, not treatments, and not doctors. God has remained faithful to this verse that was revealed to me in that Intensive Care Unit.

I am the proud mother of three daughters and a grandson. I have attended high school graduations, college graduations, weddings, and the birth of a grandson. I am forever grateful to my Lord and Savior for allowing my life to continue to see this, my 45th Birthday. My husband and I have celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. I only desire the simple things of life – a life rich and replete with family, good friends, and memory building.

Although my body is so broken and so full of pain and suffering, I am still able to walk, talk, think, and speak. Life is good and today I celebrate the wonderful years that I have been blessed with to enjoy and savor. Happy Birthday to Me!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Lil Man is "A Goo" Boy!

I noticed that I had not posted an entry about Lil Man for sometime. It appears that the Blog has less content being added now that my daily Baby Bootcamp continues. Lil Man is a joy and a blessing. He smiles and melts my heart. His new favorite word is something like, "A goo". I looked in Greek and Latin dictionaries to see if he was throwing a new foreign word at his Grammy, but could not locate this entry. I believe it is best translated, "I love my Grammy. She is "A goo" Grammy!" Works for me ......

Today, I told Lil Man about what a lover of Christmas his Grammy is! Everyone knows that I decorate trees in nearly every room of our home and begin planning for the holidays weeks before the special day. Today, I put on Lil Man's Christmas sunglasses and read him a book about Santa. He said it was "A Goo" book! I took inventory of his closet today and he already has 7 Christmas outfits at Grammy's. We will be doing alot of dress-up. One of my favorite outfits is an elf costume for a 3 month old! It even has built in curled-up-on-the-toe elf shoes. He is about two feet tall -- the perfect height for an elf.

I love the snow and always walk in the first snowfall. We had our first snowfall, albeit a light one, on Monday. As I saw the first snowflakes floating across the morning skies, I told Lil Man that it was time to get bundled up so that he could take his first snow walk with his Grammy. He was oblivious to the cold and the snow, as I told him how much his Grammy adores fresh snowfalls. He thought it was, "A goo" walk!

Tomorrow, he will accompany me to the doctor for the first time. He promised me today that he will be "A goo" boy at the appointment! I will take him at his word since it is my birthday and I know Lil Man will do his best to make it "A goo" day for Grammy.