Thursday, October 30, 2008

Stupid things

Some times things happen that are tragic. Sometimes they are just stupid. A couple of stupid things have happened to me-- by my own commission-- over the past 24 hours, and they have lead to a somewhat stupid day.

First of all, I had gone two entire days with only ibuprofen during the day for pain, no percocet. I had been taking just one percocet at bedtime. This had gone well. So, last night, I decided just to take ibuprofen at bedtime. It turns out that this was stupid. I had aches and pains all night, tossed and turned keeping both myself and Dave awake, and now feel both stupid and grumpy, not to mention exhausted. Once I had allowed enough time to elapse after taking my ibuprofen to take some percocet, I was into the fasting hours for my morning blood work, and it was too late. Ugh!

And my second stupid act: although it occurred to me through the stupor of sleeplessness and aches and pains that I should not swallow my pain pills after midnight, it somehow did NOT occur to me to keep myself from popping in a sugar-free cough drop when my throat became too dry to swallow. This is a side-effect still with me from last week's surgery, and I think is mostly due to the swelling still present, and residual effects from the anesthesia tubes. About 3:00 this morning, when I couldn't swallow, I thoughtlessly grabbed a cough drop off my night stand and popped it into my mouth. About 15 minutes later, it came to me in a clear and forceful fashion that caused me to sit upright in bed, that this was a mistake, and I went to spit it out. But alas, when I called the lab in the morning, I had, sure enough, ruined my chances of getting my blood work done today. So, I didn't take my pain pills, and still couldn't get my blood work done. We'll have to try again tomorrow, and remember to remove the cough drops from my nightstand before bed tonight. Double ugh!

It's the stupid things that wear you down, isn't it? I suppose there is a good spiritual application here somewhere, but honestly, I'm too tired to think of it. My spiritual goal for the day is to read scripture, and keep from throwing my grumpiness all over the people I love.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Three Mrs. Finnegans and some updates

We have had three Mrs. Finnegans around for a few days! We enjoyed a lovely visit from Sunday morning through Wednesday morning with Tim and Nikki, and having three Mrs. Finnegans at our evening fellowship confused some of the children! Tim and Nik are off to Tucson today, apartment hunting tomorrow, and then Tim starts his new job on Monday.

I got good news in the form of my final pathology report on Monday: the diagnosis of sarcoidosis is confirmed, and no cancer was found. Now I need to figure out what we do about the sarcoidosis, but I am hopeful that not much will be required immediately, and that it may resolve on its own, as often happens.

I got not-so-good news from the endocrinologist on Tuesday: I saw her to get the results of a test I did for her last month. It wasn't want I wanted to hear, that everything is normal and I am done with medical stuff. Instead, I have high levels of some hormones (cortisol and cortisone and creatinin ). She feels we need to figure out what is causing these elevated levels. She mentioned four scenarios.
1. The least problematic is that this is some sort of natural response to stress in my body-- that can apparently happen sometimes. This would require no treatment, just rest and relaxation. I could handle that...
2. It could also be the adenoma on my adrenal gland secreting the hormones. If this is case, we would need to do surgery to remove the adenoma.
3. It could also be the sarcoidosis in my adrenal glands, causing them to produce too much. This would require treatment for the sarcoidosis, which I believe is large doses of steroids.
4. There also could be something going on in my pituitary gland that is causing my adrenals to over-produce. Not sure what we do if that is the problem, but don't really want to find out.

Bummer. I just feel tired and weary of the whole thing, and don't want to think about any of it any more, to be honest!

Dave reminded me yesterday, after our visit with the endocrinologist, that the Lord really wants me to know that He is sufficient for me in anything. I resisted the impulse to retort to him that I would rather just go to the Bahamas, or as my friend Valerie said, "Stop being so holy, and let's go get ice cream!"

But, Dave is right: Christ will be sufficient, even as I weaken in my abilities. May His strength be seen there.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The opportunity to depend on God

Recovering from surgery, and indeed months of treatment, is such a prolonged process, requiring sometimes more patience than it appears I have access to. I grow so weary of being weary... But I have actually done a few little jobs today, and required a bit less pain medication. God is good to give me little signs of improvement!

But I long to be able to work all day without having to take medication or naps. This leaves me wrestling with my impatience. Sometimes it manifests itself in anger at those around me-- the very people who are serving me the most. Then I need to get on my knees and repent of that. More often, I just feel discontent and uneasy. Then I have to struggle with the truth that Christ is sufficient for me. My worth can't be found in what I do, but in what Christ did for me. This sends me to my knees again, begging and demanding God to be sufficient for me, as He has promised, to get me through the next hour, or the next night.

Plenty of time on my knees is a good thing in the end. Being at the end of your own strength is good place to rediscover the power of God. But usually I would much rather be self-sufficient and independent. Isn't God good to break me of that horrible habit and give me such opportunities to trust Him?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Feeling a bit better

I think I have finally gotten into a good recuperative pattern in life: take pills, eat, walk, nap. Repeat three or four times each day.

Thanks for all your prayers: I am sleeping better and feeling better, though I am still on quite a bit of pain medication. I am trying to go with the flow and let my body heal.

Yesterday, as I was struggling to get the right amount of pain meds and rest, I felt depression settling over me. I examined my day and my life, and knew that there was no good reason for feeling depressed, and so I decided to fight it. I tried to remind myself of the truth, and fill my moments with distraction and godly thoughts. And I fought it until bedtime. But God was good to allow me to sleep last night, and awake with that burden lifted from me. I know this is an answer to your prayers! So thank you!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Some poetry from Ben

My sweet eldest son, Ben, is a poet. He knows that sending me his poetry is a sure way to brighten my day. So yesterday, he sent me some wonderful pieces. And since I am in a drug-stupefied state due to post-op medications, this is one of those days I have a hard time putting a coherent sentence together. It is a perfect opprotunity to share Ben's beautiful words with you!

A Sonnet for my Wife
How can I start, with what sincerest words
should I presume to some humility
or sadly boast of all my faults and failures,
or maybe calmly raise the possibility
that mine are not the hands that I would wish
to feel your fragile faith or touch your trust,
that I am fallen, broken, a work unfinished
shaped by shameful sins and lowly lusts?

While I am earthware, dust and gilded wire,
my frame and substance all corruption, you
lift your eyes and pray refining fire
because your love for me is pure and true.
You are clay the same as I, but bold,
bravely, humbly daring to be gold.

A Meditation on Alpha and Omega
At the first
beginning, in the first fall,
endeavored to
force even High
God to fail.
in the end,
just as in all eternity the flame
kindled is never quenched, just
like when Christ would be humble
man himself,
no death could hold the
omnipotent incontrovertible
plan or grant
rest beyond the
seventh or the last day.
Time, the
unrelenting, unsleeping
vampire, could not tire or
wear down even the theos-
xenos-sarkos, God the flesh-guest. He rose as
young as he went down, and ascended; the number of
zeroes in eons means nothing to him.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Top ten lessons learned (or re-learned) this week

1. God is sovereign, and answers specific prayers specifically.
2. The Spirit that dwells in Christ dwells in me, and takes me into surgery, under anesthesia, and back again in peace.
3. Never believe a surgeon when he tells you that the recovery from a procedure where they poke around in your chest cavity and remove things is "No big deal."
4. Always read the directions on your pain medications carefully, and feel free to take the full amount if you are in pain.
5. There are instances where finding out you have an auto-immune disease can be seen as "good news".
6. Calls from children to tell you they are coming to visit over the weekend and e-mails from children with beautiful poetry they have written are excellent "pick-me-ups".
7. The greatest earthly blessing I have ever known is a godly husband.
8. Following closely on the blessing scale behind my dear husband are loving parents and family, and wonderful, serving friends.
9. There are days that you know you are facing successfully because others are praying for you.
10. God is good, all the time-- much better than I deserve.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Chris is Home! ... and Surgery is over!

First of all, thank you all for praying for Chris. It was and is truly appreciated.

And next (which should have been first) Praise God from whom all blessings flow! Everything went well this morning, no complications.

Chris is home from the hospital and is recovering well. The surgery went very smoothly and the surgeon said that the lymph node was easy to find and he successfully removed it. We received a preliminary pathology before we left the hospital. It looks as though Chris has sarcoid ... no cancer or any malignancy of any kind. So good news.

We should receive the full and final pathology report next week and we will let you know if there is any change in the diagnosis.

Thank you all for your prayers, they were and are greatly appreciated. I will provide a more detailed update later, but wanted to let everyone know that the surgery went well and the diagnosis is an answer to our prayers.

To our sovereign God who never leaves us or forsakes us, be all of the honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen


Monday, October 20, 2008

Miscellaneous items and some prayer erquests

Well, Gentle Readers, it is the end of a busy day. The day has been filled with getting things done that I wanted cleared up before my surgery tomorrow. And now, my lists are clear, and my day is all but done, and God has been good. I have a few things I wanted to update you on and share with you before I turn off my computer for the evening.

First, Tim and Nikki should be getting their start on their move to Tucson later this week they will be visited by the moving company, and then they will head for the Southwest. If all works out, we will get to see them for a few days on their way through, which would be a great blessing!

Second, I have been blessed today by many godly friends-- friends who are taking over my classes, sending me notes of encouragement, friends who are bringing meals. God's family is an amazing thing. And so are our real families (who have done the same.) I feel very blessed.

Thirdly, Gentle Readers, I feel compelled as I look over the last several posts to remind you that I am telling myself what I need to hear. I know some of you are listening in, and you are welcome, but I am talking at me first and foremost. It's only my own sin I am rebuking!

Lastly, here are a few specific prayer requests. I really appreciate your support in prayer!
*Please pray that I would rest in the Lord and sleep well tonight, an that my surgeon would do the same!
*Please pray that my surgery would be on time and not delayed in the morning.
*Please pray that the procedure would be simple and uncomplicated.
*Please pray that we would get a clear diagnosis, and that it would be something benign.
*Please pray for my waking-up process, and that I would be at peace in the Lord.
*Please ask the Lord for grace sufficient for me, that I would not bring Him shame by fearing or despairing.
*Thank God with me for His body and the support they have been to me.
*Thank God for my family, especially my tender and caring husband.
*Praise God that He is ruling and reigning right now, whether my path ahead is easy or difficult.
Soli deo gloria!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Meeting joy on God's terms

"It is when your soul has been blasted bare, when you feel raw and undone, that you can be better bonded to the Savior. And then you not only meet suffering on God's terms, but you meet joy on God's terms. And then God...when I cry to Him out of my affliction, happily shares His gladness, his joy flooding over heaven's walls filling my heart in a waterfall of delight, which then in turn always streams out to others in a flood of encouragement, and then erupts back to God in an ecstatic fountain of praise. He gets your heart pumping for heaven. He injects His peace, power and perspective into your spiritual being. He imparts a new way of looking at your hardships. He puts a song in your heart."
~Joni Erickson Tada, "Hope...The Best of Things", Suffering and the Sovereignty of God, p. 197

I read the above passage last night, and it resounded with me as true. Then this morning, our pastor preached a strong sermon from Zechariah Chapter 8 on the fact that Christ is ruling and reigning now, and His design for His people is good. If we believed that and acted upon it, how different our lives would be! (It was an excellent sermon: I recommend it. It should be available to listen to here soon.)

There were hurting people all around me this morning. People with chronic illness and terrible disease, people preparing to lose family members to death, people struggling with jobs and finances and deep hurts and deep issues of sin. One friend asked, "How do we get through this?" Here is how we get through this. We call out to God in our affliction. And we keep after Him until He has blessed us with His peace, His power, His perspective. We fight for it every minute of every day. And one day, we will be with Him, and we can lay the battle down, and be refreshed for all of eternity.

Joy is not having our trials removed, though it is fine to request that in prayer. Joy is not having your prayers answered how you wish them to be answered. Joy has nothing to do with our circumstances. Joy is knowing that Christ is ruling and reigning and acting for our good. Joy is living in His peace, His power, His perspective. He is our joy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Warning: brain on overload...

I thought I was doing pretty well yesterday. We arrived at the surgeon's office at about 10:30, and I was checking in with the receptionist while Dave found a seat and settled in to grade some chemistry homework. At the counter, the receptionist was making sure the information she had in her computer about me was correct.

"Your primary care physician is Dr. Matt Fay?" she asked.

"Yes," I replied.

"And I have two phone numbers here: 672-2732 and 670-6644?"

I was puzzled.

"I have no idea what his phone numbers are," I replied.

She gave me a strange look from behind her computer. Then it hit me. Those were MY phone numbers. I hadn't recognized them. Quickly I told her yes, those were my phone numbers, and I was sorry. Even though it was morning, it had already been a long day. I went and sat next to Dave, and had to laugh at myself. I guess the stress is taking a toll even when I think I'm doing pretty well.

I think it's a good thing somebody else is teaching my classes for a few weeks...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Approaching surgery #3

I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD,
the praises of the LORD,
according to all that the LORD has granted us,
and the great goodness to the house of Israel
that he has granted them according to his compassion,
according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
For he said, “Surely they are my people,
children who will not deal falsely.”
And he became their Savior.
In all their affliction he was afflicted,
and the angel of his presence saved them;
in his love and in his pity he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
~Isaiah 63:7-9

Today I am fighting the fight of faith, the place where the proverbial rubber meets the road: telling myself the truth instead of listening to myself. This passage from Isaiah is one of my favorites for telling myself what is true. It's just that some days it's harder to hold on to it than other days. Some days the conflicting voice in my heart would shout out the truth, and it's hard work to quell it.

I met with the cardio-vascular/thoracic surgeon today, and he convinced us that we need to proceed with surgery. The lymph nodes in my chest and abdomen have grown and become more "active" on the PET-scan, and he felt we needed to make sure there is nothing dangerous there. He basically agrees with my oncologist, my primary care doc, and my radiologist friend. So everyone is pretty agreed, including Dave and me, though we are wanting to kick and scream a little along the way.

The surgery will be a mediastinoscopy, and the surgeon is very confident after seeing my scans that one of the problem nodes will be easily accessible and identifiable. He also feels confident that we will get some kind of positive results that will help us determine what is going on, since, in his experience, a node in this part of the body (where my trachea branches into my bronchial passages, near my aorta) always yields a result and tells him what is going on. We didn't tell him that we are the type of family that specializes in breaking these kinds of rules, and defying the odds...

So, on Tuesday, I have my third surgery related to this cancer go-round. To be honest, I hate surgery. I know no one likes surgery (or at least no healthy, normal person!) I really hate surgery. I really didn't want another surgery. I wanted this all to be done and to be able to move on. But I am not getting what I want. And as I am tempted like a spoiled child to stomp my foot and demand my way, I keep hearing the voice of my friend Terry, who, on the day his daughter was murdered, said, "If this gospel isn't true today, it is never true." And even though things are not going how I would like them to go, the Gospel *is* true. And that truth really does change everything. Christ died for me. He rose from the dead, and reigns in heaven, and He has a plan that is bigger than this cancer stuff, that stretches into eternity.

So when the fear of the unknown and pain approaches, and panic starts climbing up around the edges of my heart, I talk to myself, and tell myself the truth. Sometimes I am weary or not watchful, and I find I have been listening to myself instead of speaking to myself. That's when panic or pity can take root without any effort. And dislodging those weeds is much tougher after you let them grow for a while! It's just that this kind of gardening is so tiring some times. May God's strength be shown in my weakness, and may His glory be manifested in this frailty.

This is my father's world

This Is My Father's World by Maltbie D. Babcock

This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.

This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I ope my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.

This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A good day

Today was a good day. I got to spend time in worldviews class and chorus with my students, and speak to some of their moms who are my friends. It is a blessing to exercise one's calling.

It also looked like a good day compared to yesterday. Nothing majorly bad happened yesterday, but it was one of those days when nothing went quite right: I discovered some of my blood work was lost, I TWICE lost my place on my mP3 player, making me do slow-motion fast forwarding for about 30 minutes to retrieve my place, and I had to share hard news with dear friends. It was just a long, frustrating and exhausting day!

Today was also exhausting, but somehow felt quite different. Everything felt right. Even though I was still tired, it felt like I was doing what I should be doing. it was fun and easy and good.

That has me pondering the fact that God was the Lord of yesterday, just as much as He is the Lord of today. And He will be the Lord of tomorrow, too, as I head to the surgeon and make lots of decisions. I need to learn to see the frustrating days as opportunities to learn at the feet of the Lord, and to appreciate the good days as great blessings from a gracious God.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

This is my life (for now)

This is the view Dave and I had as we sat in our car and ate lunch on Saturday on our way to Pagosa Springs, CO. It was a rather stormy, tempestuous day, to go with the emotions in my heart! Despite the clouds and cold and showers, we enjoyed God's beauty, enjoyed being together, and had a lovely weekend. We had a restful, relaxing time, inter-mixed with heart-felt talk and prayer, and enjoyment of God's lovely creation. I am so grateful for my dear husband, and our mighty God!

In addition to talking and praying with Dave through the weekend, we also talked to our amazing friend Greg (the radiologist) and my smart, amazingly caring primary care doc, Matt. Greg gave us lots of good questions to ask the surgeon, and helped calm me down. Matt gave me his advice from a holistic perspective, and advised that I ask lots of good questions of the surgeon, but wrap my mind around going ahead with the surgery. So I am trying to come up with questions, and be prepared to hand off all my responsibilities again for a while.


It's relatively easy for me to get myself emotionally prepared for trial for a set amount of time. It's tougher to keep to the program when it drags on. I get tired of it. So I have to work at remaining thankful, and reminding myself that this is my life, and God has planned it all this way. And I just need to keep moving forward, remembering that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it, even if that is a tough road. And it has to be a tough road, in fact, since I am so difficult to train! And I had better start being grateful that God continues the work, even when it's painful for me.

So, I met with my dear friends Ann and Kelley today, who will hold on to my composition class for a while, and be ready to take over my worldviews class. How can I remain ungrateful when I have such selfless friends? And tomorrow I'll tackle other questions, get cd copies of my scans, and research things a bit more. And onward we go.

Please pray:
*That there would be nothing going on in my lymph nodes, and we could become sure of that in a simple a way as possible.
*That the surgeon would be wise and give us excellent advice.
*That I would keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.
*That my students would receive excellent educational experiences, and come to know Christ better, whether I am with them this year or not.
*That I would rest content in God's good plan for my life, despite this crook in my lot, and know contentment at the feet of Christ.
*That God would uphold Dave as he keeps our boat afloat at work, keeps up with his chemistry teaching and church responsibilities, and tries to care for my needs into the bargain.

Monday, October 13, 2008

I month anniversary

Happy 1 month anniversary, Tim and Nikki! May the Lord continue to grow and bless each of you!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The act of prayer

The act of prayer teaches us our unworthiness, which is a very salutary lesson for such proud beings as we are. If God gave us favors without constraining us to pray for them we should never know how poor we are, but a true prayer is an inventory of wants, a catalogue of necessities, a revelation of hidden poverty. While it is an application to divine wealth, it is a confession of human emptiness. The most healthy state of a Christian is to be always empty in self and constantly depending upon the Lord for supplies; to be always poor in self and rich in Jesus; weak as water personally, but mighty through God to do great exploits; and hence the use of prayer, because, while it adores God, it lays the creature where it should be, in the very dust.
~Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening; Morning, October 11.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

In Memoriam: Erin Bjorklund (1987-2008)

Remember these things, O Jacob,
for you are my servant, O Israel.
I have made you, you are my servant;
O Israel, I will not forget you.

I have swept away your offenses like a cloud,
your sins like the morning mist.
Return to me,
for I have redeemed you."

Sing for joy, O heavens, for the LORD has done this;
shout aloud, O earth beneath.
Burst into song, you mountains,
you forests and all your trees,
for the LORD has redeemed Jacob,
he displays his glory in Israel.

~Isaiah 44:21-23

Friday, October 10, 2008

A bit more bad news

Today has been one of those days...

My scan reports weren't horrible, but they weren't what we wanted, either. The pesky lymph nodes that were problematic last spring, and caused me to have my second surgery, have become slightly more pesky over the last 6 months, growing a little, and becoming more "active" on the PET-scan. So my oncologist is sending me to a thoracic surgeon next week to discuss the merits of removing one or more of the nodes from near the area where my trachea splits into my bronchial passages. This would likely be done either through a procedure called a mediastinoscopy, or possibly a bronchoscopy. Part of our job when we speak to the surgeon will be to get his take on the need to proceed immediately or not, and the best route to take to figure out what these lymph nodes are doing.

Though I am well down this cancer road, days like this kind of take the wind out of me still. My brain gets fuzzy, and feels like I'm on overload. And through the fog I have to fight to be reasonable, contact a myriad of doctors offices to nail down details, and keep putting one foot in front of the other in life. And I need to fight to trust God. I can feel that little hint of panic and despair trying to leap up around the edges of my heart, and I must kill it or be killed by it.

Despite this, all around me are signs of God's providential care. Perhaps the most obvious is that Dave and I had already planned to get away for a few days this weekend. So as we try to process and pray about the next step I need to take medically, we get to be together in the mountains of Southern Colorado, enjoying the fall change of leaves, and maybe experience our first snow. God has provided us with some time to reflect and pray before the next set of changes occur-- whatever they might be. That is a sign of real grace.

So, I don't really know what the future holds, but as the old saying goes, I *do* know who holds the future. Please join us in praying:
*that we and our medical team will be wise in plotting a course
*that I would be able to trust and honor God in this
*that whatever is causing this would be either benign or easy to treat
*that this weekend Dave and I would be able to encourage and uphold one another, and enjoy some excellent time with the Lord as well as each other

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Reflections on the day

It is the close of a busy day. By 11:00 this morning, I had gotten my blood drawn, gotten my flu shot, and had a hysterosonogram. Thank you to all who prayed for that procedure. It was a bit unpleasant, but relatively quick, and very bearable. And the end result is that there is already some thickening and irregularity of my endometrial wall due to the tamoxifen. They want me to have the procedure done again in about a year. I am wondering what my chances are of my NOT getting uterine cancer if there are changes after only 4 months on the drug. That question must wait until I see the oncologist tomorrow. I hope she will also have my scan reports and blood work for discussion.

The morning left me tired, but I had time for a quick nap before directing chorus and having try-outs for ensemble. I love being with my students. Even when I am exhausted, and I have to do difficult things (like turn down kids who would love to sing in the ensemble), I am energized by being with my students. What a blessing, and what a lovely distraction from the cares of life. In God's providence, He has provided just what I needed, as always.

This morning Terry Stauffer blogged about the providence of God. Terry and his wife, Juanita, are the friends whose daughter was killed in September. Terry said:

There have been many evidences of God's prior work of preparation. Some may be offended that I would even talk like this, but a God that does not know the future or who is not sovereign is no comfort at all.

You can read his entire, excellent post here.

We, too, have seen God providing for us, and making a way, before the trials and tribulations hit us. I knew, for instance, that He was preparing me for something weeks before I was diagnosed with my cancer. He was calling me close through the things I was reading, in prayer time and reading with Dave, and in the music He was sending my way in seemingly random ways. When Dave's cancer hit us almost 15 years ago, we had been going through Henry Scudder's The Christian's Daily Walk. God knew we needed to be prepared, and He went before us.

If God is sovereign, He is sovereign over my cancer now and in the future. The gospel will be just as true on a day I receive devastating news as it was on a sunny, lovely day full of blessing. I pray that in my times of pain, either physical or emotional, that I can wait on Him still, and see his mighty hand of Providence making a smooth place for my feet. And may I say with Job, "Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him..."

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

God is God, and I am not

This morning, my friend Randy posted about the trinity on his blog. This put me in the frame of mind to ponder the mysteries of our God and our faith relationship to Him: that He is God, and I am not. That He is so "other" in some ways that I cannot approach understanding, and yet He is close, too. There is much mystery at the heart of our faith.

I continued that pondering as I ran across this amazing set of photographs from photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand. (Thanks to T.C.) He captures a beauty in this earth that we so rarely see. Yet God placed it there, in obscure places hidden from human eyes. He must love beauty, and create it for His own pleasure, not just ours. Only He is big enough to create beauty where no one will see it. And if He creates beauty in the physical realm where we don't see it, what kind of beauty is He creating in other places that we can't see?

This morning I've been struggling with a migraine-- something I have had mercifully few of since my cancer diagnosis. But it is going to be one of those weeks: unpleasant tests, waiting for results, getting results, and dealing with migraines. If I were God, I would plan it differently. But I am not.

This line of thinking reminded me of a wonderful article in Christianity Today by the late Tony Snow, found here. Who would think that blessing could come of disease and death? Not me. Only God. Only He is big enough to imagine such things.

And this morning, as I struggled to wrap my mind and heart around God's biggness and ability, and my smallness and inability, I got an e-mail from a friend I have never met face-to-face. The Lord had placed me on her heart, and for reasons she didn't understand, she was praying for me this morning. Ah. Only God.

God is God, and I am not, and I am grateful for the comfort that brings.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Family Update

What's up with the Finnegans lately? Well...

Tim and Nikki (pictured here with Dave and me at their rehearsal dinner almost a month ago) had a wonderful honeymoon in Hawaii, and are now homeless... They are moved out of the condo they were renting from Nikki's aunt in Grand Rapids, but Nik's aunt has been king enough to let them leave all their belongings in half of her garage until they can get the movers there. Raytheon has all of Tim's clearance paperwork, and hope to have him ready to "start" on October 20, but can't approve them actually doing anything until the temporary clearance has been received-- usually about 2 weeks. So, Tim and Nik are depending on the kindness of family in this in-between time. They are spending a couple nights with Nikki's cousin Andrew in Grand Rapids, then will probably spend 5 or 6 days down in Bloomington with Ben and Elsa as they await word from Raytheon. Once everything is ready to go, it will probably go very quickly, and we hope to be helpful and meet the kids in Tucson to help with the move.

Ben and Elsa seem to be doing well. Ben is working hard enough that he stayed home last weekend to prepare a presentation and write a paper while Elsa enjoyed homecoming at Hillsdale. They also recently enjoyed a Jason Gray concert in Terre Haute. I hope to get all the details soon. And I am still hoping to get to Bloomington for a visit sometime...

Dave and I are both teaching this year, though it's been a bit of a rocky start for me. Dave is teaching high school chemistry, and I am teaching worlviews, composition and chorus, Lord willing! I started chorus and worldviews last week, and hope to pick up composition soon.

Today I am doing a non-invasive procedure at home to test for hormone secretion from the small mass on my adrenal gland. I suspect this will come back negative, and it is really more of an irritation than anything else. (If you want the details, see here.) Thursday I have my hysterosonogram, Lord willing. I'll be glad to get that over with. And Friday I see the oncologist to hopefully get some blood test and scan results. My hope is that there are no new items to follow-up with, and no sign of cancer.

Thanks for your continued prayers for all of us!

Monday, October 06, 2008


Yesterday I wrote a little about hope. That is a message we need as God's people in a weary and broken world.

We received news yesterday of another death of a young girl. This young lady, Erin, was from our town, and we have known her family for many years. She apparently had too much to drink at college on Friday night, and was killed when she was hit by a train as she walked along the tracks. What a tragedy and an unspeakable loss for her family. Please pray for this family.

In the last month, within the limited scope of my acquaintances, I have lost a 16 year old student to cancer, a 14 year old girl to murder, and now a 21 year old to foolishness. It is striking how different the circumstances of each loss are. But every one is absolutely devastating for their families.

The Word of God givers us hope, even in such times. In Lamentations it says:

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:21-23

S.A. has a great post on this hope. May we cling to these promises, and speak them to each other!

Sunday, October 05, 2008


This afternoon the clouds lifted after a night of blessed rain. There is a chill in there, as there should be as we close out the first week of October. As the clouds began to lift, the yellow aspens in the Sangre de Cristo mountains were obvious in the spotty sunshine. And there, above them, was the first snow of the year, softly coating the pine trees, and shining bright on the ski runs above Santa Fe.

The first snow of the year always makes me sentimental, or nostalgic, or melancholy. It reminds me that time is passing. It calls to mind the coming of winter, the drawing into the warmth of home against the cold and dark. And that reminds me that time has already passed, and the little ones drawing near my hearth and making my home warm are now making homes of their own. I age. The world ages. There is a constancy about this changing of seasons, but also interposed on that comforting routine is something slightly sad. I feel the truth of Isaiah's words, somehow... the grass withers, the flower fades... and I can relate to the withering and the fading.

But Isaiah's words don't end there. He ends with the thought that while we wither and fade, the Word of our God stands forever. That's a thought to hold you through winter and help you hope for Spring.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Remembering Emily

Yesterday was the memorial service for Emily Stauffer in Edson, Alberta. God has given grace to Terry and Juanita sufficiently enough that they, in their weakness and pain, have been faithful witnesses to God in the midst of this horrible event.

You can see video of the memorial service under the "CTV video player) located here.
You can also read a few news stories here and here.

As everyone leaves after this weekend, the family and friends return home, and the news people return to other things, the real trial for the Stauffers will begin. Their "normal" life has been changed forever, and the trial of their lives will be to walk with God in the days ahead. Terry said, on the night of Emily's murder, "If this Gospel is not true today, then it is not true at all." The Stauffers are finding it True. Please keep them in your prayers.

Friday, October 03, 2008

In Memoriam: Emily Joy Stauffer (1994-2008)

What then shall we say to these things?If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised— who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

"For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
~Romans 8: 31-38

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Another set of scans behind me

Yesterday I completed another PET-scan, and a chest-abdomen-pelvis CT-scan. Barium doesn't really taste too bad, if you just didn't have to drink such a volume of the stuff! I am glad it is behind me. Results should come when I see the oncologist on October 10.

Next week I have couple more tests to complete (one is to check on the adrenal mass I've had since the last PET-scan, and one is to check my uterine walls...what fun!) Then I am hoping for a real and true break from tests and appointments for a little while. If they find anything else on these tests, I tempted to say, "Go fishing in someone else's body for a while, and leave mine alone!"

Today I taught both worldviews and chorus for the first time since I bowed out of everything in April. It was wonderful to be with the kids again, and the parents. I am weary this evening, but happy. God has been very good to me.

Please praise God with us:
*For the tests that were completed
*For the opportunity to return to teaching
*For increasing strength and stamina for me
*Increasing return of health to the radiation site
*For being the covenant-keeping, promise-fulfilling God that He is

Please ask the Lord:
*To allow my tests to all be negative, and my time of cure/remission to begin
*To continue to cause the radiation site to return to the new normal
*For all of life to return to the new normal, and actually begin to "feel" normal
*For my classes to honor God, benefit the students, and bless the parents
*For my energy to continue to improve
*For our friends Terry and Juanita, who will have the memorial service for their dear daughter, Emily, and bury her tomorrow. (I wrote about Emily's death here and here.) Please ask God's special presence and the peace that passes all understanding to be theirs in Christ. You can read Terry's most recent post here.