Sunday, December 16, 2012

Then Pealed the Bells More Loud and Deep:


Friday morning driving in the car, I heard a beautiful choral arraignment of one of my favorite Christmas songs, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day". The words have been circling through my head since and I wanted to share them with you.

Penned on Christmas Day 1864 by the American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, this song carries a rare message of hope. 

Contextually, it is important to realize that nearly every day in the year 1864 was marked in blood by the battles of the Civil War. This raging in the streets and backyards of tottering nation is a reality current generations cannot fathom. Our hearthstones have been rent by other earthquakes - but not this scale of war. We have not had our houses shattered. We have not had thousands of the bodies of our dearest strewn across our suburbs and home fields. 

In the preceding years Longfellow's personal life had been devastated by the loss his dear wife to a tragic fire. He himself had been badly burned trying to rescue her from the flames. Later his son, a lieutenant in the Union army, was severely wounded and crippled in battle. These events are the roots of his questions. Questions relevant to us today. 

On hearing the the belling carols mingled with the dichotomous percussion of the deathly cannons, Longfellow wrote from his heart:
(The original poem, complete with all seven stanzas)

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead; nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!"


~ ~ ~

Dearest friends, 
May the bells resound more loud and deep in your heart this Christmas.
May you know that God is not dead; nor doth He sleep!!!
May you choose the right and by His grace prevail,
May you embody peace on earth, good-will to men!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The applause of falling leaves

Snuggling into soft flannel sheets at night
Owls dialoging under an autumn moon
Tangles in my hair
Fresh cranberries
Being afraid and shy
God - always big enough
Slippered feet
Daddy's big hands untying knots in my back
Library books
Jennie's silly faces through the window
Finding Yellow Shafted Flicker feathers
Night sweats
Waking up to birdsong
When God steadies me
Her suitcase with pomegranates and persimmons
Wearing hats with Christy
Paper lanterns and lights
Family visiting from afar
The applause of falling leaves

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Health Update


Dear People :)

I realized that it has been over 2 months since I last gave a health update. And for you dear folk, who have been so earnestly lifting me up in prayer, it is not very considerate of me. Forgive my extreme tardiness please.

This fall I have been learning so many things! Learning about nutrition and how to make decent raw food. Learning about herbs, supplements, juicing and all sorts of alternative cancer treatments. Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I thought that simply eating a primarily vegan diet and staying fairly active covered the basis of preventative health. I have since learned that being vegan did not mean that I was getting good nutrition.

Many of you have been asking questions about what I am doing - so here is a little summary.

These are some of the general ingredients of a typical week - (not in order of priority :)

A solid chunk of time with God each day - reading, praying, journaling
1 hour of sun - weather permitting
1.5 -3 gallons of fluids total each day - (this includes the quarts of juiced veggies)
Juicing - greens and carrots
About 90% raw whole food diet
Nutritional / herbal supplementation
High dose Vitamin C infusions 3x a week
Hyperbaric Oxygen therapy 3x a week
Fever treatments 5-6x a week
Contrast hydrotherapy daily
Charcoal / clay poultices 4x a week
Jogging 4x a week
Rebounding (mini-trampoline jumping) daily 30-45 min.
8-9 hours of sleep
Spending time with family and friends!

(all possible because of the great team support from my family)

So far, the biggest change I have noticed is that my mental clarity has really increased. I had no idea how much chemo brain fog I really had last year until I started eating raw! It is such a blessing to be feeling better!

In early October my chest x-ray was clear - this means that no large solid tumors are showing up (x-rays don't show the small stuff). This means that the cancer is not growing as fast as my Dr. expected. The tumor markers in my blood work had increased.
During the middle of October my hemoglobin dipped low - all the way down to 7.0 (12 is normal) and it directly correlated to my energy ebbing quite low. But both have come back up some and seem to be holding steady.

I do not know what my future is - only where it is - His hands. But I do know that He is graciously answering the many prayers by giving me more time so far. For this I am grateful. For the precious time that it gives me with those I love so much!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Alpine Heights of His Heart


My family gave a musical vesper program at my grandma's church a few weeks ago. What I shared that evening included excerpts from a book by a shepherd on the 23rd Psalm that I read earlier this year. This book is filled with practical insights from every day sheep husbandry that has greatly deepened my understanding of this wellknown psalm. It is on my "highly recommended" list. 

Here is a bit of what I shared from the chapter on the Valley of the Shadow of Death:

 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Many shepherds take their flocks on long drives to distant summer ranges during the summer. The sheep move along slowly, gradually working their way up the mountains behind the receding snow. By late summer they are well up on the remote alpine meadows above the timberline.

With the approach of autumn, early snow settles on the highest ridges. . . Finally, toward the end of the year as fall passes, the sheep are driven back to the ranch headquarters where they will spend the winter. It is this segment of the yearly operation that is described in the last half of the poem.

During this time the flock is entirely alone with the shepherd. They are in intimate contact and under his most personal supervision day and night. All the dangers of rampaging rivers in flood; avalanches; rock slides; poisonous plants; the ravages of predators that raid the flock or the awesome storms of sleet and hail and snow were familiar to David when he wrote this. He had handled his sheep and managed them under all of these adverse conditions. Nothing took him by surprise. He was fully prepared to safeguard his flock and tend them with skill in every circumstance.

In the last verses there is a grandeur, a quietness, an assurance that sets the soul at rest. “I will not fear, for you are with me. . .”

Many Christian people speak of wanting to have mountain top experiences with God. Often we get an erroneous idea about how this takes place. It is though we imagined we could be “air lifted” onto higher ground. On the rough trail of the Christian life this is not so. As with ordinary sheep management, so with God’s people, 

One only gains higher ground by climbing up through the valleys.

There is a second reason why sheep are led to the mountain tops by the way of the valleys. Not only is this the way of the gentlest grades, but also it is the well watered route. During the journey the flocks experience intense thirst. How glad they are for the frequent watering places along the valley route where they can be refreshed. As Christians we will sooner or later discover that it is in the valleys of our lives that we find refreshment from God Himself.

A third reason why the rancher chooses to take his flock into the high country by way of the valleys is that this is generally were the richest feed and best forage is to be found along the route. The shepherd wants to be sure there will not only be water but also the best grazing available for the ewes and their lambs. Generally, the choicest meadows are in these valleys along the stream banks." 

~A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

In my own life journey, specifically with cancer, I have found this to be solid true. In every dark crisis and challenge God has proved his consistent and gentle care. 

It may be hard for some to imagine how refreshment could be found in what, from all outward appearances, seems to be a dangerous and dismal place. As a human, I instinctively fear darkness – but with God I am secure - even joyful. As David wrote in another psalm, “ Not even dark is dark to you. Night will shine like the day.” 

Though there are hard decisions to make. But though there is grief - I am not afraid of cancer. 

God is with me. 

The dangers of the journey are not unknown to Him. As we walk along together I am in wonderment at His tenderness, surprised at His provision for the smallest needs, and joyful in His love. 

The view from the trail is stunning. 

May all your valleys become passages to the alpine heights of His heart.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Unhindered Impression

Today in the mail I received a warmly written card from a dear sister very far away.

Inside on a slip of delicate paper I found this penned gracefully in purple:

"The saint who is intimate with Jesus will never leave impressions of himself, but only the impression that Jesus is having unhindered way, because the last abyss of his nature has been satisfied by Him. The only impression left by such a life is that of the strong calm sanity that our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him."

~ Oswald Chambers
My Utmost for His Highest - January 7

Deeply, I am challenged by reading this. For more often than not I am all hindrance instead. . .

To have every crumb and corner of myself filled with His presence.
For transparency. For Him to have unhindered way.

For these things I pray.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Counting Blessings with Pictures ~ Part III



 



  



The waves seeping back into the sea through the rocks makes lovely music. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Counting Blessings with Pictures ~ Part I

So this past midsummer a trip was planned to visit Jennie's sister and brother-in-law in northern California. After learning that the cancer had returned, I debated for quite some time whether I should still go out. I decided to go although I did choose to shorten the trip by a few days. 
It was a wonderful blessing! My heart was refreshed by walking through great quantities of God's inspiration. Some of the most stunning and ruggedly beautiful country I have ever seen. The next couple posts will be a small kaleidoscope of our trip together. Most all of the pictures were taken by Jennie - I was too busy wandering about or having wonderful conversations with dear friends. 
~ Enjoy!

sisters :) 

Bug's Beach 

 One of those rare sunny days along the coast!


Tidepool hopping - no pictures of the graceful blue-green anemones and lovely purple and gold starfish due to camera safety regulations.




The lights of San Francisco from Muir Beach overlook

Monday, September 3, 2012

Choosing Joy

"I don't have any good news for you today." My oncologist came - all slumped,

He explained the PET/CT results - metastasis to my lungs and multiple lymph nodes. We talked about treatment options and he printed out the information on the standard set of chemo therapy. Lots of questions.

"So with this level of metastasis how much time do you think I have?"

"6-12 months. . . it's hard to say." There were tears in his eyes.

The past couple of weeks have been a blur. I have been praying for wisdom for many complex decisions. Doing the research. Spending time with family.

The EBUS procedure to biopsy on one of the nodules in my lung was positive for cancer (The same type as last year).
The Echo was normal and showed a strong heart.
Sifting the research on clinical trials - made easier by amazing spreadsheets put together by friends.
A second opinion visit at Vanderbilt offered little new information
A trip to National Institute of Health for further insight into clinical trials.

After much prayer and thorough investigation into many options, I have decided not to pursue traditional medical treatment and have chosen instead an alternative therapy approach. Including lots of juicing and a mostly raw diet, charcoal and clay treatments, hydrotherapy, daily jogging, and lots of sun. So far energy is increasing and I feel more energetic than I have this entire year so far.

Each day God has been hugging my heart with the most beautiful blessings. Each day a journey of choosing joy.

So what is one to do when the doctor says you only have 6 months? Some would consider it a death sentence. How do you live with a deadline? If my days are numbered how shall my life count?

Some people have bucket lists to be filled up with souvenirs of experiences. But while life experiences are gifts, to make a gift a goal seems a narrow purpose. Should our focus be on pouring out rather than gathering in? Giving to others gifts of the heart. . . of eternal value?

As my friend Ann wrote;

"Because not only have we been given the most fantastic story of Grace to share, but the only thing worth gaining is the memory of the giving of yourself — and that will outlast time."

On August 6, 2012 I remember that I wrote in my journal, "God, please teach me how to live like this. Poured out in free flowing gratitude to You."

Truly, the most ancient man has only lived a brief breath of history. And what takes our breath away  - they are the moments worth counting. Moments measured in quality - not quantity.

Wealth is measured in joy. And I am the richest person on earth!

"Blessed is the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, the God of our salvation!" Psalm 68:19

Monday, August 13, 2012

Completeness

In this fallen world -

Where drought crumbles all hope of fruitful harvest. . .
Where some would just as soon cruelly kill a life as save it. . .
Where epidemics eliminate entire populations. . .
Where orphan hearts ache. . .
Where everything is incomplete. . .

What does it mean to be complete in the middle of all of this?

Complete - Definition

  1. Whole - having all the necessary parts, elements or steps - or everything that is wanted
  2. Having reached the normal or expected end, to be fully carried out - a complete period of time
  3. Absolute - being the greatest degree of something, highly proficient
  4. Perfect - having all the necessary qualities or abilities for a certain role
  5. Insect metamorphosis - characterized by the pupal stage between the motile immature stages and the adult



How can a human live in completeness?


And He said to me, 
"My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Corinthians 12:9



". . . A life centered in God is a life of completeness." 
p. 41 Education

Sunday, August 5, 2012

My Grandma


When I was little - I most strongly associated my grandma with good books. Mostly because she would always bring books for us grandkids every time she visited! Through the years I have learned more of the dimensions of her character and beautiful heart. And this is just a little glimpse of one of my favorite people. . .

(photo by my mom)

My grandma is adventurous, fun-loving, and the most practical and hard working person I know. I love listening to her incredible stories of God's provision in hard times. Some of my favorites coming from the years she and Papa worked in Brazil. This next picture is when we were walking down an old road out in the jungle together. A wonderful memory in which we walked with multiple Blue Morpho butterflies floating their iridescence down the trail.



Her name is Ardis Opal - and she is
an organizational genius.
Prepared for everything.
And can mend or fix anything!

She really enjoys playing softball.
She really doesn't like broccoli.
She likes the color purple.
And she loves time with her family!

I love -
Her neatly written lists for everything and spotlessly scrubbed house.
Her marked up Sabbath school lessons filled with good notes.
How she underlines good magazine articles and cuts them out to share.
How much fun she and her siblings have when they get together!

I love -
Listening to her sing - because her heart has walked the words.
Meandering along footpaths as she points out different bird calls.
Listening to her chattering along in Portuguese with an English accent.
And her little intonations of delight when she sees something she likes.

I love -
That she would rather finish a meal with something salty than sweet.
Her canoe camping pictures from Canadian wilderness treks.
Our relatives in Brazil - who are family because of her big heart.
Her steady faith through each stage of life - even widowhood.

I love -
That God bloomed surprise for her in an unexpected place and my grandma fell in love - head over heels in love! And that this past April she married a wonderful man. Their journey together this year has spilled beauty over into the lives of all around them.


I love you Grandma!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Portraits of Cheerfulness









I want to plant sunflowers every year!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

In Anticipation :)

Spending some quality Nathan time this weekend has been super! I treasure every minute - but we agree that isn't quite the same without Shaila :) We miss you lots!

I'm so excited that I get to see her next week at camp!

These pictures were taken of all of us weeks ago the morning she left! 
(I'm really behind in picture posting due to a reformatted computer)




Sunday, July 8, 2012

Life Serenade




Joyful hymns from many fingers.
Breathing in the White Mountain panoramas.

Wildflower grace.
Reflections rippling quietude around a canoe.

Loon music dancing through night shadows 
harmonizing with the star mingled moonlight.

Creative lifewords by Emily and Jacob
And maple syrup lessons in heart refinement.

Golden feathered finches breakfasting on
Heavy headed sunflowers blessing the sunrise.

Digging new potatoes ten feet from the back door, 
feasted upon with oven roasted garlic and garbanzos.

A blackberry loving horse who snoops 
unashamedly into the picking basket.

Drinking green smoothies in between 
measures of Motzart piano sonatas. 

When windstorms zap electricity and offer 
gentle lamplight and and porch serenades to fireflies.