Sunday, November 30, 2008

A tree for the season

On Friday, Dave, Tim and Nikki set out on the annual tree-hunting expedition. This was the first time Nikki has hunted for and cut down a mountain tree, and she was really excited to experience it!

There was freshly fallen snow in the Jemez, and the weather was brisk but beautiful!

Here are the intrepid adventurers with their find.

The guys lugged it through the woods.

They loaded it on the truck.

And returned through the lovely Southern Rockies to our home. Stay tuned for some photos of the decorating fun!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving fun

Yesterday morning, we met up with my brother-in-law Kirk, and Tim and Nikki, at a rainy and cold park in Albuquerque, where they all ran a race and I cheered them on. It was cold and soggy, but fun, and both Tim and Dave won their age categories.

After that we drove up to Edgewood in the East mountains, and enjoyed a feast at my sister Gwen's house. We played Wii and Yatzee, watched Miracle on 34th Street, and ate lots of delicious food. It was a great time with family!

And though there was threatening weather all around us, we made it home safely and enjoyed the late evening with Tim and Nikki. So even out Thanksgiving Day brought many things to be thankful for.

On the docket for today: Dave and the kids are up int he mountains hunting for a Christmas tree. Photos and updates on that soon!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Some things I'm thankful for

I am truly thankful for many things in this season. After about 6 months of treatment, I am currently without breast cancer. What an amazing God we serve! And here are just a few of the things I am most thankful for...

We have many good far-away friends, who have blessed us and made us so thankful. Here is a representative photo of our friends the Lawrences. They left us for Maryland, and the hole they leave can never be filled. But we long for the times we can spend together, and for the time in heaven when we are together before the throne of God forever! That's something to be thankful for!

And our local friends and church family are a continual source of blessing. Here we are with our friends Kendall and Kris Hollis, and Robert and Kelley Baer at a recent concert with our friend Jim (see more about Jim below.).

My parents are healthy and well, have quit smoking after decades, and are enjoying their retirement nearby. Here they pictured with our friend Jim Fielder (of former Blood, Sweat and Tears fame, who now plays with Neil Sedaka), who got them tickets to a recent concert he was performing in here. They are a joy and a blessing to have here.

This last year I have gained two wonderful daughters-in-law. This has been such a tremendous blessing to me! I will get to see Nikki for Thanksgiving, along with Tim and my parents and my sister Gwen and her family) which is a wonderful blessing, and Ben and Elsa will also join us for Christmas. As I was speaking to Elsa on the phone this week, and sharing our plans for Thanksgiving, she said, "Well, I'm jealous of Nikki because she gets to spend more time with you now that they are in Tucson." Can you imagine a daughter-in-law saying a sweeter or nicer thing? My cup is over-flowing! I am rich in God's blessings when it comes to my children and their spouses!

So, I am grateful to God for my husband and family, my church family, my friends, and mostly, my savior, Jesus. He continues to carry me, and make a way for me all the way to heaven. What's not to be thankful for?!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In the instant of waking

"If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome."
~ Anne Bradstreet

At church on Sunday, no less than 5 different, dear friends asked if I felt well, since I looked so tired. Yes, I feel well, but I am very tired. I had somehow hoped it didn't show so much how very weary I still am. But it does, and who better to notice than my brothers and sisters in Christ?

I need to pull out my old friend Henry Scudder and review his pointers for starting the day with God. It seems that the mornings are toughest for me, and no matter how well the night has gone, I struggle not just to wake up, but to face the day without tears and feeling overwhelmed.

In the instant of awaking let your heart be lifted up to God with a thankful acknowledgment of his mercy to you. For it is he that giveth his beloved sleep, who keepeth you both in soul and body while you sleep, who reneweth his mercies every morning. For, while you sleep, you are, as it were, out of actual possession of yourself, and all things else. Now, it was God that kept you, and all that you had, and restored them again, with many new mercies when you awakened.
~Henry Scudder, The Christian's Daily Walk (Sprinkle Publications, 1984) p.29

So for this season, I guess I am preparing to welcome days of more energy ahead. But in the midst of this season, I need to discipline my thoughts and not allow them to run away with me and rob me of proper thankfulness to God for his mercies. So, starting again tomorrow, I will make my first thoughts of God, as the Spirit enables me.

Won't you join me?

Friday, November 21, 2008


I am not really feeling a lot better, but the last couple of days I have had the hope of feeling better, which is a decided improvement! God has been so gracious to give me rest and encouragement! Just today I had a wonderful phone call from my friend Jan who lives in France, and then found our friend Katie at my front door for an impromptu visit, watched Dave deliver a great chemistry class, and had a wonderful conversations with several friends and one of my daughter-in-laws. What a blessing these things were! I didn't get much rest in, however, so now I am tired, but tired in a hopeful, grateful way. I was reminded of the riches found in Romans Chapter 8, especially verses 22-24:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Hope that is seen is no hope at all. So not seeing something has a hidden blessing attached: the hope that it will come. God is good to give us hope.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I rise again

I have said before here that this would seem to be a season of death and disease in our lives. And so it continues, with the death of my Uncle Joe yesterday, my father's only brother, and the death of one of his cousins the day before. So, I found it poignant to find that Kris had posted the following John Donne sonnet today:
Thou hast made me, and shall Thy work decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste;
I run to death, and Death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday.
I dare not move my dim eyes any way;
Despair behind, and Death before doth cast
Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it towards hell doth weigh.
Only Thou art above, and when towards Thee
By Thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
That not one hour myself I can sustain.
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art
And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart.

~John Donne, 1635

Donne was so perceptive: I run towards death, it runs towards me, despair behind and death before and terror all around. This is a season when such sentiments ring true. And yet, Donne knew the importance of fixing his gaze on Christ:
Only Thou art above, and when towards Thee
By Thy leave I can look, I rise again

What a blessing of grace that God gives us leave to fix our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. He draws us like a magnet unto Himself, and in the light of that radiance, the darkness and terrors of death lose their strength. He sustains us.

Please pray that my uncle's wife, JoAnn, and his children and grandchildren and siblings, would be so sustained and visited by God's grace.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Slow progress

Last night a friend asked me if I was noticing any progress in my health. My immediate answer was, "No." But I don't think that is strictly speaking, true. Today, for instance, I went grocery shopping by myself for the first time in a month. I have simply not been able to face doing that before now. So that must indicate some progress, right?

Slow progress is hard to deal with because it requires patience. As a young Christian, foolhardy and naive, I prayed for quite a while for patience. Well, God has been good to answer that prayer, but the progress there has been slow, too, and the lessons hard for me to learn. God has been infinitely patient with me, however.

Another prayer from early on in my Christian walk had to do with the elderly saints at our first church in Maryland, some 28 years ago. These folks had walked with Jesus for so many years that you could see Him shining through their faces. Dave and I prayed and prayed that such a thing would happen to us: that we would shine with Jesus. That has been slow progress, too. I am still hopeful that one day it will be true.

One of the things I didn't know as I prayed those earnest, early prayers, was how things like patience and Christ-likeness come about. Usually it is through suffering. If I had realized that, it would likely have cut my prayers short. Thank God, that in His providence, I was young and enthusiastic and stupid on that score. Because I prayed those prayers for years, and now God is going about answering my prayers, as He does all prayers, in the way that is best for me and will bring Him glory.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
~2 Peter 3: 8-9

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

On being tired

The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.
~Isaiah 50:40

Words fail me when I try to express how tired I feel. I think this is body-weariness, not spiritual or emotional depression, though, of course, my emotions are swayed by how I feel physically. To deny our feelings would be to deny that we are incarnational beings, both spirit, breathed of God, and physical body. So our emotions flow with our bodies, and we sometimes have to fight to remember the truth through the body weariness!

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
~Isaiah 40:29-31

I think I am doing well over-all. "The plan" from my endocrinologist is simply resting and re-scanning everything in 6 months. That seems to be everyone's plan: mammograms and scans in March sometime. I will see my primary care doc in December to discuss the auto-immune issue (sarcoidosis) and see if I need to do any follow-up on that. But I think this time is primarily for recovery. My poor body needs it: I still can't sing a whole hymn due to the strangeness in my throat and neck after the last surgery; I am still peeling a bit and having mild pain from my radiation; and mostly, I am just tired to the bone.

The physical tiredness that makes me feel as if I will never contribute any good gifts to the world of men or the cause of Christ again is my spiritual battle ground these days. I am trying to wrap my mind around the truth that I need to rest right now, but that I will likely not have to rest for the all of my life. It is so easy to become discouraged when you are too tied to accomplish anything. I guess this is a good lesson for me, a self-revelation of how much I find my worth in the things I do, instead of finding my identity where I should, in Christ. I need to embrace this time in my life, and wait on the Lord for my strength to return. Can I do that in peace and security, or will I keep fighting it because it's not the way I want it to be? I hope and pray I can be given the grace to rest in my God.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
~Hebrews 12:2

So, I am preaching to myself again. These are the words that sustain me.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
~Galatians 6:9

May God give me the strength to rest in Him.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Drooping hands and weak knees

DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
~Holy Sonnet #10 by John Donne

Yesterday brought yet more shocking news to us. A cyber friend for whom we have often prayed, died suddenly of a heart-attack, leaving behind his two sons, the youngest of which is still finishing his senior year in home schooling. It seems we have been surrounded by death, and fears of death, for months now. It is one of those exhausting, battle-rich times of our lives. And it leaves me longing for the peace of heaven, where every tear is dried and we are with all those brothers and sisters who form the church universal. It also leaves me so tired of the fight. Then, this morning, I was reminded by my daily bible reading what my calling is amidst this weary wilderness of life:

3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. 14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
~Hebrews 12:3-14

Oh Lord, give me the strength to lift my drooping hands, and strengthen my weak knees. And send your special blessing on Robert and Connor, who are orphaned, and need you to be their Father.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


I enjoyed time with my dear husband on our little road trip to Tucson over the weekend. I am somewhat discouraged by the lack of energy and the way I have been feeling, but Dave always encourages me patiently, and challenges me to fix my eyes on Jesus. What a blessing Dave is to me!

I got my preliminary blood work back from the endocrinologist yesterday. She says it is a "physiological response" and I should "proceed with the plan as discussed at my last appointment." I think the "physiological response" means that the high cortisol levels are due mainly to the stress my body has been under. Duh. But the "plan as discussed at my appointment" is a complete mystery to me, since I can only remember planning to do blood work. So I have a call in to that office to try to figure out what plan I'm supposed to be doing. I also have a call in to my primary care doc, to see what he thinks about everything, but his wife (also a wonderful doc) is having a baby today, and I bet he'll be out-of-pocket for a few weeks. And I am just not sure I want to drag through everything with anybody new. So I am thinking this lets me live in the land of recovery and denial at least until after Christmas...

I think the breast cancer is behind me for the moment. I will have mammograms in March or so, and more scans probably next fall or something. But I'll have to change my label from "Cancer Journey" to "Health Updates". That sounds good to me. I am rejoicing in this good news, yet very aware that health is a fragile thing, especially as we approach 50 and, as my friend Kelley says, "Our warranty expires..." I am battling weariness, but hope I can rest and recuperate now for a while. God is good to give me this time!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tucson travels

Dave and I enjoyed a lovely trip to Tucson over the Veteran's Day weekend. In the photo you can see Dave and Tim and Nikki playing cards at the computer table which was serving as their dining table. We were able to find a wonderful consignment shop and get some lovely pieces for this room (see the photos here). We were also able to transport their mattress and box springs, so they have a bed. We are amazed that out trusty old Toyota Sienna, now carrying over 150,000 miles, could fit so much stuff, and make 24 miles to the gallon on the trip!

We attended Rincon Mountain Church on Sunday, and met with divine appointment after divine appointment. The people in front of us were Calvin College grads whose son is now an engineering student at Calvin. The next person we met was a physical therapist-- Nikki's line of work! Then, we were introduced to a newlywed about Nikki's age, who invited the kids to the young married's fellowship. There is quite a group of former CRC folks there, including the pastor, so that makes Nikki feel right at home. And finally, there was a young man who looked familiar to the kids, and they introduced themselves to him to discover he was a Calvin grad who ran with the cross-country team the year before Tim got there. He is now doing his medical residency at U of Arizona! The sermon was excellent, by the assistant pastor as the pastor is currently in Africa. I think Tim and Nikki just felt that they had come home!

Tim is loving his job so far, and Raytheon is treating him very well indeed. He is the lead test engineer for a small team of 7 people who are doing missile redesign work. But the regular hours of 9-hour days (with every-other Friday off), and the 35 minute commute, is tiring him out a bit. We think he will adjust over time.

It was a real blessing to be in Tim and Nikki's home, and to know they are close enough (7.5-8 hours away) that we can see them for holidays or long weekends. They are off to a terrific start: Tim is leading his family well, and Nikki is being a wonderful wife to Tim!

I must admit this all made me sad that we have not been in Ben and Elsa's home yet. We have had to cancel that trip twice, but hope to get there before too long. And they will be home, along with Tim and Nikki, for Christmas this year. What a joy!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Hitting the road

Today I am hitting the road. I know I won't be able to do most of what I wish I could, but I am looking forward to it, nevertheless.

Today I will head to ABQ, and check into a hotel and watch old movies while I await my dear husband's return from travel. Then tomorrow, we will head over to Tucson to help Tim ad Nikki get settled for a few days. It should just be fun to have the change of scenery, and some time with the kids.

And I love road trips with my dear husband. We talk, sing, listen to audio books, and just enjoy each other. After 28 years of marriage, he is still the person I'd most like to be with in the whole world. He is smart, and gentle, and funny, and it is so peaceful to be with him. I can't wait!

I don't know if I will have internet access over the weekend, and we won't be back until the middle of next week, so there may be a little break here. I am expecting blood work results next week in relation to my cortisol levels. I believe this first test will tell us whether my pituitary is involved or not. Then we will go on from there, depending on what the test shows. I'll post updates when I have them, and as always, I truly appreciate your prayers!

Thursday, November 06, 2008


Bright and early this morning, my dear friend, Kelley, arrived with these beautiful roses for me, before she went to church and taught my composition class for me. I don't deserve friends like Kelley, but I am oh so grateful for them!

This afternoon our chorus rehearsal was just packed with parents and grandparents and friend of the chorus. We worshiped God together, enjoyed fellowship together, and I was the recipient of much love and concern. I am grateful.

I am also exhausted. As much as I will miss the homeschool chorus, right now I see that God is providing for me to rest a bit more, and I am grateful for that, too. God is so much better to me than I deserve!

Another friend that I am grateful for is undergoing triple-bypass surgery tonight. If you would, please pray for L. D. tonight, and her dear family, and ask God to protect and heal her. She is a servant and a blessing to many, and her family needs her.

As I head to bed tonight, I am overwhelmingly grateful for the many blessing of the day, even those that have been painful.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Thinking about today and tomorrow

Today we have a new President-Elect. Though I disagree with many of Mr. Obama's policies (some of the vehemently), I plan to afford him the honor due to the office of President of the United States. Several things I have read on the election refected my thoughts pretty well. I thought Michael Novak had some good things to say. And I thought that Al Mohler had some excellent things to say. But my favorite may have been from George Grant, who posted a list of post-election commitments:
1. Pray more. 1 Thessalonians 5:17
2. Listen first. James 1:19
3. Work harder. Colossians 3:23
4. Serve others. Galatians 6:9
5. Defend life. Proverbs 24:11-12
6. Grumble less. James 5:9
7. Do justice. Amos 5:24
8. Love mercy. Micah 6:8
9. Walk humbly. Proverbs 15:33
10. Rejoice always. 1 Thessalonians 5:16
11. Trust Jesus. Revelation 19:6

Today I am pondering that verse in Proverbs that reminds us the heart of the King is in the hand of the Lord, and I am pretty sure that applies to Presidents as well.

And tomorrow I will be doing a difficult thing: ending, at least for a time, a ministry that has been my joy and passion for the last 12 years. The Los Alamos Homeschool Chorus has been a challenge and a joy to me, as we on the board have sought to train hearts and voices to worship God and serve others. Due to a one-two punch consisting of my ongoing medical issues and the moving away of our accompanist (he is a local pastor, and has accepted a call at a church several hours away), it would seem that the Lord is leading us to call it quits for the time being. We probably could have borne either of these events, but for them to strike together is a bit overwhelming. So tomorrow will be the last rehearsal for LAHC. I am trusting God's leading in this, and hoping that His strength will be so evident in my weakness that He will be glorified and His people will be blessed, even in the ending of something that has been wonderful.

All this thinking about today and tomorrow reminds me of that wonderful old hymn, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" by Thomas O. Chisholm:
1. Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee.
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord unto me.

2. Summer and winter and spring-time and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.


3. Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thy own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Monday, November 03, 2008

A mother's encouragement

I am a music teacher by training. One of the occupational hazards in being a music teacher is that you tend to drag your children (and even your dear husband) into musical performance situations with you throughout their whole lives. Sometimes, they were dragged kicking and screaming. I have often wondered if that would prove to be a blessing or a curse to my children.

This coming Christmas, both the boys and their wives will be home for the holidays. When we were talking to Ben on the phone this past weekend, he mentioned that he had done an arrangement of "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent", and suggested all on his own that perhaps our family could present it during the Christmas Eve service at church. This was enough to warm the cockles of any music-teaching mamma's heart! Then, today he sent me the arrangement (for piano, two guitars, and three-part vocals), and it is beautiful-- interesting and haunting and utterly appropriate for the text and the original melody. I can't wait to perform it together! (If anyone out there has Finale Notepad {a free download} and wants to hear it, let me know!)

I feel as if Ben has risen in the gates and called me blessed!

I'm sure it's not unique to homeschooling, but because we are responsible for so very many areas of the lives of our children, the dread of "ruining" them somehow can be an intense and intimidating one. This is one of those precious moments when I glimpse the fact that God has been doing good work in the lives of my children, and I haven't been able to thwart Him. What an encouragement that is!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

God loves me enough

These beautiful orchids were sent to me by my friend Angela for Reformation Day, the day we remember the courage of Luther to stand against the world for the sake of Christ. They are beautiful, and so was the call of the Reformation: reformed by Christ and always reforming!

Last night as I woke off and on, I found myself wrestling with God. I mostly slept well, but at some point in the middle of the night, I found myself arguing before God and asking Him to draw me close to Himself, to give me confidence in Him, to hold me and keep my feet from slipping. I pray this prayer a lot, being painfully aware of how easy it is for me to be self-centered, and how I can forget God without even noticing. And as I begged God to be my God, somehow the truth dawned on me anew that God loves me enough to send what will work His best for me, no matter how painful it may be for me. He loves me enough to inflict pain that He then bears for me. And He always bears more pain than He inflicts (see more on this idea here- with thanks to RG.) He loves me enough to sacrifice His only Son.

This morning, in my one-year-through-the-bible reading, these passages stood out to me, from Jeremiah 32:37-41:
Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me. I will rejoice in doing them good, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.

God loves me enough to make such promises, and keep them. That should be enough for me.