Thursday, October 31, 2013


Today is Halloween.
So I've never been much of a fan of this so called "holiday".

Well, maybe when I was growing up, I liked it because going to a Catholic school, we always got the next day off for All Saints Day. So we could go out trick or treating and come home and not worry about having to get up for school. I vividly remember one year when I had my good friend Angela spend the night. We stayed up late and ate ALL of our candy that night. Funny, I don't remember getting sick, but the thought of it now, causes me to shudder.

I probably had an aversion to Halloween because I think I'm missing out on that "creative" gene that so many have. And when you have kids, they want you to be creative. Its a good thing I had a husband with a bit more of  creative bent than me. Todd as Dracula was one of the best costumes ever!! No one, and I mean , no one knew it was him.

So now that I live in a place where there are hardly any neighbors around, I don't have the fun of watching kids come to the door trick or treating. THAT was my favorite part of Halloween: watching the kids and their costumes and seeing little ones try and say "trick or treat".

This year is the first year that I will not get to be with Kellen and Jax on Halloween. That makes me sad, but Jax had me close my eyes two weeks ago, while his Mom helped him put on his spider man costume so that I could see him and be surprised. I will miss them tonight.

But today I got the most wonderful treat.
I got to spend almost two hours with Bob and Claudia Mitchell.

Bob Mitchell was in the very first Young Life club. He has been around since the beginning.
He went on staff when he graduated from college and has been everything from an area director to being the third president of Young Life.

I was first privileged to meet Bob and Claudia in the fall of 1977 after he had become President.
It was at Woodleaf for our Bay Area regional meeting.
What's amazing to me is that I now live at Woodleaf. And Mitch is the one who found the property for Young Life to buy 48 years ago.
Mitch is one of the funniest people you will ever meet . And his gift of story telling is unmatchable.
But what has drawn me to this dear couple is their love for Jesus Christ.

So today, instead of having to sit thru a (boring for me) business meeting, I got to spend time with them all by myself.  This is not the first time this has happend, and hopefully will not be the last, but oh how wonderful it was.
We shared stories of our family and our own physical battles.
The best part of our time was talking about Jesus and what He has done in our lives, what He means to us, and how that no matter how old we are, He can still use us.

I think Mitch just turned 84 in July, and although he can't see well-or hardly at all, and his short term memory is almost gone (both due to strokes he has had) and Claudia , who will turn 80 next February and has had 2 knee surgeries and a spinal fusion this past year, their passion and love for Jesus continues to grow and grow.
We laughed and we cried together as we shared life.
We talked about how getting old isn't fun, and yet that God keeps us alive to continue to allow us to know more of Him and then gives us the privilege of sharing that with others.
We marveled at how little we really know of Jesus and can't wait for eternity to know HIM fully.

We talked about being grateful and having joy in the midst of pain and suffering.
We just talked about Jesus and the richness of knowing Him.

The three of us agreed that we need to do everything we can to encourage those younger than us to spend time in God's Word. That somehow, the importance of the Bible is not what it used to be. That we need to keep telling the younger than us generations, how wonderful and amazing and NEW, God's Word is every single day.

Mitch has always been one of the godliest men I have ever met.
And I have always wanted to emulate Claudia for how well she serves and loves Jesus and her husband.
What an enormous privilege the LORD has given me to sit under their wisdom and their passion for Jesus the past 36 years. How they have spurred me on to be obedient to Jesus; to live for Him.

What a gift it was to be with them today. To share how real God is to us. To know we would be nothing without Him. To share joys and pain and know how to pray for each other. And for me, feeling somewhat discouraged that I am not as useful to the LORD in my 60's, being reprimanded by these two, that God will use us until He calls us home, was exactly what God wanted to tell me today.
So it might be Halloween to you, but I need no tricks tonight. I was given the best treat ever!!
Thank you Mitch and Claudia for loving Jesus, for loving so many of us, for serving until He calls you home.

Sunday, October 20, 2013


Your perspective can change in an instant.

I found this to be true this past August, when I got the call that my ultrasound was suspicious for malignancy.
It took another month to have my thyroid removed. Only to be followed in six days by another surgery, because the type of cancer they found can spread.

I really didn't even recover from the first operation before I had the second, which turned out to be much more extensive. One month later, I still have the incisional pain and nerve pain that can come from nowhere.
I can't wait for the day when clothes that rub against the incision don't cause some discomfort and for when I can where a seat belt without having to pull it out in front of me so it won't touch the incision. I also am anxious to go to bed at night without some pain medication and will relish the day when I can sleep on my right side again.

This past week has been a very emotional one for me.
It seems that finally my "emotions" have caught up with all that I experienced in the past five weeks. I can easily cry without much of a reason and have no control of how or when the tears may come. And I really really don't like that.
I was hoping that the news of the genetic marker and other test that came back negative would relieve this emotional upheaval, but as of yet, it hasn't. Add to that some family stuff, and I found myself not wanting to go to church today.

I know I needed some extra time with Jesus. But I am frustrated and don't understand why He won't answer some of my prayers.
I knew I needed to continue reading the book I have been reading off and on for a month by Joni Eareckson Tada on suffering.

If anyone can understand suffering, it is Joni. 
Imagine being in a wheelchair for over 45 years after sustaining a neck break that resulted in quadriplegia when you are 17 years old.
I have no business complaining; and yet I do.
This melancholy that seems to have taken residence in me is almost a joke when I consider that as of now, I am cancer free, and I have many friends who are battling (or thankfully in remission) this awful awful disease.

Joni's book is called:

Place of Healing: Wrestling With the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God's Sovereignty 

and it has challenged me, ministered to me, and made me realize that what I have endured is so little compared to others.
You know how people tell you to remember "there is always someone who is going through something much worse"- they are so right.
No matter how bad things may seem, no matter that we might think we can't go on and what we are going through is not how we want to live or envisioned our life like, there are literally thousands and most likely millions, who have it much worse than we do.

In Joni's case, it isn't enough that she has been stuck in a wheelchair and quadriplegic, the reason that she began writing this book is that she was going thru intense physical pain in her hips and back for months upon months. 
As a nurse, I wondered how she could possibly feel this pain so deeply and then I remember that her nerves still work. I can't fathom the pain, the frustration and the prayers that she has cried out to God with begging Him to relieve her pain. And wonder why God would allow her to experience this on top of everything else.
She reminds herself and the readers that its not for us to always know or understand the reasonings of God.
He has His reasons. He is working things out for His purposes. And He doesn't have to explain to us or heal us.

That can be a bit hard to comprehend. Our finite mind cannot begin to understand the infiniteness of our Father.
Who am I to question what He ordains? I am not the puppeteer who can make things go my way and have Him do what I want.
Today in my reading I read once again about heaven.

It is in heaven that we will be whole and healed. It is in heaven that we will spend eternity. Pain free and without any tears. All the physical pain, the emotional anguish, the impossible trials that robbed us of all our senses, will be gone forever. I'm quite certain we won't even remember them.
Why is it that we think this earth is all there is?
This is just our journey into eternity.
Eternity is where we "will really live".

We will live with Jesus forever.
That is enough to be grateful for. For now and for tomorrow and the next hundred months of tomorrows.
Joni challenged me today in what she said. To paraphrase her words, she said something like, for every thought or sentence you speak talking about your problems or your health, spend ten sentences on how God has helped you, nurtured you, carried you, strengthened you, empowered you.

What a change of perspective.
Instead of dwelling on me and my pain or troubles, dwell on the LORD. His goodness, His grace, His love, His ability to hold us in the worst of times.
Once again, I am reminded that IT IS ALL ABOUT JESUS and not really anything about me. 
I needed that change of perspective. Do you?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

There were others BEFORE, there will be others AFTER

It is not that I don't like what they say, because I really really do.
It is not that I don't respect their opinions, because for the most part, I agree with them wholeheartedly.
It is not that I don't think they write with passion and eloquence, because they certainly do.
And it is not because I think they can't change the world, because they are.

But all the bloggers out there?? All the women who write with purpose and passion who have huge amounts of followers,  those who are challenging so many of us to be the women God envisions us to be, be women who work tirelessly for social justice. Who basically write for their generation?

I think they might have forgotten the generations before them.
When I was in my 30's and early 40's - there was no internet. So that means no blogosphere. 
But do they think that we didn't care? That we didn't think about these things? That we didn't do what we could? 
WE DID. We just didn't have the internet to tell everyone about it.

Did not the Women Of Faith conferences challenge and move us? Did we not spend time in bible studies learning what is really important?
Did we not care about social justice issues?
YES, we did.

My complaint is that they might think they are the only ones who have felt like this. That they don't realize how many blazed the trail before them without a huge social media following.

So now as a woman in my 60's, I know that I have more time to work on these things than I did when I was raising my children and working part time.

I wonder how much  traveling to tell others what they have written affects their families? I know what they say is terribly important. I just wonder if they are missing out on the most important role they will ever play: being mothers.
I truly believe what will be most important in God's eyes is how I did with my children and husband. Did they know they were loved and cherished?
Yes, I know my work as a nurse was important and that I ministered to many patients. I know that I was a very good Young Life leader and led some great campaigner and small groups and challenged young teenage girls to follow Christ. And I discipled many many gals thru the years and that was an incredible blessing and gift. And I believe I was doing exactly what God wanted me to do.
But nothing is more important that what I did at home.
Yes, I cared about the poor. And I cared about the homeless and believe I taught my children that too. I wanted justice for those who were marginalized. I took to heart World Vision and what they did. We have sponsored many many kids in third world countries since we got married. ( My children used to joke that they could have "more" if we didn't have so many kids on our mantle that mom and dad supported!). But more than anything I wanted and aspired to be a woman who sought Jesus with all my heart, mind and soul.

Now my biggest role is to be a grandmother. To love those little ones in the next generation and to encourage my kids to be the best parents they can be. Maybe these younger gals are on to something: that I need to spend more time encouraging both generations to get their priorities in alignment with God's; that together we can influence an army to be who God intended them to be.

I often share on my Facebook page things that Rachel Evans, Jen Hatmaker, Ann Voskamp  and Shaunna Niequist write and I read what others post and am ever so grateful that these younger women are influencing their generation to fully pursue the passions God has given them. I believe they are writing what is on their hearts and have unbelievable compassion for so many that are marginalized. 
I have read Shaunna's books, I have read 7, I have been greatly inspired and challenged by One Thousand Gifts and read Rachel's book on living a year of biblical womanhood. They are all amazing.

But I think this generation of 20-40 year olds need to read the writings of Kay Warren and Lynn Hybels and Carol Kent. And spend time in God's Word thru Beth Moore and Kay Arthur's studies.
I just want them to know from the generation before them, that we too, had all those dreams, desires, passions and we wanted to obey Jesus just as much as they did.

Maybe I am jealous that they get the acclaim, when I had to buy and read what others wrote to inspire me to know, love and seek Jesus more. I just want this younger generation to KNOW and remember ( and I truly believe they do) that it is ALL ABOUT JESUS. 
I  know so many gals who spend more time reading blogs than actually pursuing Jesus. The blogs are great. Actually they are outstanding. But do you spend more time reading them than being with Our LORD? If you do, I think your priorities need to re-adjusted.
Yes, the blogs will help you and inspire you.
But when life throws you curveballs and you are thrown into one fierce trial after another, the blogs are not going to carry you through. JESUS WILL.
So my biggest challenge today is to spend more time with Jesus, because HE ALONE IS THE ONE WHO HOLDS YOU IN HIS ARMS.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Am I learning from this cancer?

It has been 3 weeks today.
3 weeks since my second surgery. You know the one that left a huge scar across most of my neck.
I feel stronger each day.
Today I actually spent 23 minutes on the elliptical machine; 20 minutes at level 8 and 3 minutes of a cool down. The makers of my elliptical machine should give me more than 3 minutes to cool down. I think I need at least 6.
Level 8 is where I normally go on this machine. But the two times I tried it last week, I could barely do level 7. So today I am feeling a bit accomplished.

I know I will probably pay for it later. I'll probably need a nap in a little while; but I'm OK with that. I'm feeling pretty good considering its only been 3 weeks since my friend Tom ripped open my neck to see if any of this medullary thyroid cancer had spread.
Yes. It still hurts. I get shooting nerve pain at least five times an hour. But Tom says this is a good sign because that means my nerves are healing. I still get swollen. I wonder if someday I might share the photos I've taken weekly to see the progress of my scar.
Seat belts are a killer. In reality, they save lives. But in my case they sit on parts of my incision and it just doesn't feel good. I'm thankful for pain meds. I wish I didn't need them still, but I do. I don't take very many of them but I do still need them; especially in the late afternoon and evenings. And someday I will get to lie on my right side again and not feel pulling and discomfort.

These things are all temporary.
I still am easily moved to tears. As a nurse, I know this is normal after surgery, but as a patient, I want this to stop. I want to be stronger than the tears. I know I am...but still.

Has cancer changed me?
I imagine so but not sure of all the how's just yet.
I just know I am grateful to be alive. I am forever grateful for how the LORD has sustained me and my family.
In this past week, I have heard of two different families that Scud and I love, who are undergoing tremendous struggles and challenges in health issues.

I wonder why.
Why is it that I have lived a fairly long life, only in recent years, have I had any major health issues, that I am OK?
It is not for me to know the answers. 
It is not for me to question God.
I wish sometimes that I could take on the cancer issues of some dear friends and let them have my kind.
But I don't get to decide that.
What I have to do is to learn what God wants to teach me through this and how I can use this for His Glory?

So many times I am such a slow learner in the lessons God wants me to know. This is one time I don't want to be. But do I have any choice? Not so sure that I do.

What I do know is that life is precious.
We've all heard it said that you don't know what's coming; that our life could change in a minute.
From the moment I first heard it, I have loved Tim McGraw's song, Live like you were Dying.

What if I lived like that? What if you lived like that?
The petty things that annoy us would seem so insignificant.
The people that bug us would not be a concern.
How we live and love each day is what matters.
Am I doing the best job I can loving the people God has put in my life?
Do I appreciate the giftedness in others and cheer them on? Instead of being jealous?
Do I rejoice when others rejoice? and weep when they weep?
Because that is how Jesus wants me to live.
To think of others as more important than myself.
To care completely and to love deeply.
And to seek God with all that is within me, because HE alone is the ONE who I need to answer to.

I guess I am learning a few things from this thing called cancer.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

40 years, already?

I will never forget the day.
It is as clear in my mind today as it was then.
I woke up to my little brothers screams.
My mind was foggy as I had been out late the night before with my friends. But I heard his screams.
I raced out of my bed in the only downstairs bedroom of our house, up the stairs to see him.
I didn't believe him.
I told him he was mistaken.
But he was right.
Our mom had died in the middle of the night.
We had no idea, no clue whatsoever.

I last saw her the day before when she was off to play bridge with some friends. And I was gone before she came home.
The day before that, my mom and I had a very long conversation about what it meant for me to say I was now a "christian".
She didn't get it at first. She said that as Catholics, we were Christian. That the United States was a christian nation.(boy, has that changed.)
I explained to her that everything she believed was true. That Jesus was God's son. That He did come to earth to die for our sins. And that He did rise from the dead on that first Easter morn.
What was different for me was that Jesus wanted to be involved in my life every single day. That He wanted to be involved in our daily decisions; the big ones and the little ones. It was a very good conversation, and I shared with my mom what I did and told her she could do the same. She wanted to think about all we had talked about. 
I never knew what she thought. Never knew what she decided. It took me a long time to deal with that.

Today is 40 years.
Forty years ago, my mom died.
I have lived now almost two thirds of my life without her.
She has missed the BEST moments of my life.
She wasn't there when I graduated from nursing school. But she was instrumental in me going to nursing school. It wasn't until after she died, that I decided I wanted to be a nurse. That maybe I could help others and their families.
My mom missed me falling in love and marrying Scud.
She wasn't there when I had each of my children. In fact, she only met two of her 15 grandchildren.

That is sad to me. She missed the greatest gifts I have been given in my life: Scud, Kristi, Todd, Katie and Ryan, and now Kellen and Jax. As of yesterday, when my great niece Dylan Madysen was born, she now has ten great grandchildren.

My mom wasn't there to help me, support me in the toughest moments of my life and of my siblings.
My life changed forever the moment my mom died.

It was then that I truly knew of God's faithfulness. It was then that I learned the MOST important thing or lesson that I ever learned in my life; that God is THE ONLY ONE in my life who will ALWAYS be there for me. That lesson has turned my life upside down. It has been a hard one to comprehend. I have wrestled with it and struggled to really believe it, but deep inside the core of me, I know this is true.

God has blessed me with so much, but my relationship with Him is what really steadies me and grounds me. It is this relationship that has kept me going in the darkest of times. Losing both my parents, watching my kids struggle, getting a cancer diagnosis  and so much more. I am so grateful for God's faithfulness and His love and Grace and Mercy to me.

I can't believe it has been 40 years.
40 years of God carrying me when I didn't think i could go on.
40 years of wondering how my life would have been different if my mom had lived longer.
40 years. 
I still miss you Mom.