Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Meeting Ada

 One of the highlights of a lovely (if exhausting for me) weekend was meeting our granddaughter Adeline bell for the first time.  She looks much like her daddy did at this age, and is a sweet little bundle of more than 10 lbs at 6 weeks.
 Nikki, Tim and Emma joined us on Saturday, and we had quite a time of it. The cousins met for the first time.  Emma was gentle and very interested-- maybe too interested-- so we had to protect Ada just a little! (Ada's not quite ready to share the book or the ratttle yet!)
 While the travel, extra activity, and even baby-holding was pretty tiring for me, it was a treat to be with Ada and Elsa and Ben!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Lenten devotional

Looking for a way to help prepare your children to understand the meaning of Resurrection Day like you did during Advent for Christmas? Look no further.  My friend, Amy, has a lovely family devotional guide ready for use during the traditional period of Lent (starting on Wednesday.)  She gives interesting background on the various thoughts of church fathers about incorporating an idea of lent and fasting into our preparation for Easter, and then has a very accessible guide that can be used with children of all ages.  And it is just a $2.99 download from the Kindle store, making it affordable and easily accessible.  (It is also available as a paperback.) Give it a look.

And if that's not good enough, she's doing a drawing for a free download if you visit the book's blog TODAY and post a comment. What a deal!

May the Lord use Amy's words and heart for reaching children for Christ to bless many through this new endeavor!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sabbath Songs

In the Valley by Bob Kauflin

When You lead me to the valley of vision
I can see You in the heights
And though my humbling wouldn’t be my decision
It’s here Your glory shines so bright
So let me learn that the cross precedes the crown
To be low is to be high
That the valley’s where You make me more like Christ

Let me find Your grace in the valley
Let me find Your life in my death
Let me find Your joy in my sorrow
Your wealth in my need
That You’re near with every breath
In the valley

In the daytime there are stars in the heavens
But they only shine at night
And the deeper that I go into darkness
The more I see their radiant light
So let me learn that my losses are my gain
To be broken is to heal
That the valley’s where Your power is revealed

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Lay me low, and keep me there

My morning began with Spurgeon telling me this:
Afflictions are often the black foils in which God doth set the jewels of His children's graces, to make them shine the better. 
~Charles H. Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, Feb. 18 
(You can read the whole of it here.)

So as I have been contemplating my day, and even my life, and praying for others, I am holding on to the amazing amount of grace God must be causing to shine in this dark world.  As I pray for those undergoing cancer treatment, little premature babies born at 25 weeks gestation and weighing under 2 pounds, another newborn just our of the first of many surgeries, and the parents dealing with such trials, I imagine the loving eye of our heavenly Father, smiling down at this dark, rebellious planet, and seeing the shining of His grace in these lives. And I ask His grace to shine from me, too.  And as Spurgeon reminds me, 
...It was but a little while ago that on thy knees thou wast saying, "Lord, I fear I have no faith: let me know that I have faith." Was not this really, though perhaps unconsciously, praying for trials?—for how canst thou know that thou hast faith until thy faith is exercised? Depend upon it, God often sends us trials that our graces may be discovered...
May it be so in my life, Gentle Reader, and in your as well.

"Trials make the promise sweet;
Trials give new life to prayer;
Trials bring me to His feet,
Lay me low, and keep me there."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Reading again, finally...

Sometime this past weekend, I passed over another hurdle of this recovery-- I can read again!  Now, I cannot read anything too technical, nor can I read for very long, but I can read in small sections, and actually follow the meaning of the words.  The focus and energy to do so previous to these last few days has evaded me. So, I am happy that all the video watching to pass time can reduce, and I can enjoy some good reading- in moderation at least!

So here is what is on my current reading list:

On the Kindle:
  • Scripture: currently having a leisurely read-and-pray through the book of psalms.  It soothes the soul. I have been doing this and the next all along.
  • Spurgeon's Morning and Evening. This was the first devotional book Dave and i did together as newly weds, and i can't even count the number of times I have read it, or parts of it, ove the last 30 years.  The amazing thing is that I still read it at times and wonder if old Charles wasn't writing just for me. The way the fruitful labor of God's people continues to bless later generations is marvelous.
  • "Directions for a Peaceful Death" by Richard Baxter (from The Digital Puritan Vol.1). Now, don't worry about the state of my mind, Gentle Reader.  I am not reading this because I fear my imminent demise, but because Baxter was a Puritan shepherd of souls who knew how to teach his flock.  In this work, he tells the Christian how to be prepared to die well-- something we will all do.  In typical Puritan fashion, he walks the reader through a series of "Directions" to follow.  Some of my favorites: Start thanking God for your infirmities and trials, because they are the means of weaning you from the world and fitting you for heaven. And fix upon 2 or 3 promises of God that address your fears, and stick to them.  For this illness, my choices have been these: 
    • Psalm 17:8 "Keep me as the apple of your eye;
         hide me in the shadow of your wings..."  
    • Isaiah 26:3 "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,
         because he trusts in you. "
    • Philippians 4:6-7 " ...do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
On my bedside table
  • My sweet brother and sister-in-law sent me One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. So far I am enjoying her poetic style, but I am only one chapter in (and that took me two days.) 
  • The Wreath by Sigrid Undset. This is a novel about Norwegian girl Kristin Lavransdatter, set in the Norway of the 1300's, and written by a Norwegian novelist from the first half of the 20th century.  This is a long-wanted book, given at Christmas to stock me up on good reading material for post-surgery.  I am only 4 pages in, but with three books in the series, I am happy to be starting the journey.
Now lest you think I am up and rolling in my old fashion, I must confess that just today, in trying to organize my facebook account, I somehow created a "secret" group that I cannot delete, and that is not what I thought it was.  So no more trying to meddle with social media while my mind is in its current state of affairs.  But it is a blessing to have some small modicum of focus back, and to look forward to a little reading.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

Well, here it is, Gentle Readers, Valentine's Day, and my yearly tradition of sending things to my children and grandchildren, and having cards and candy for Marilyn and Dave, has been broken.  I knew on some level that it was coming, but couldn't overcome the entropy of recovery to do anything about it.  And now, today, I am sad to miss the opportunity to say "I love you" to my sweet family in a special way.  And I can't even get on Dayspring.com to send e-cards because their site is overwhelmed by last-minute Valentines like me.  Bummer!

So, in lieu of actually being a thoughtful daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, wife, mother, or grandmother, and since it is "Wednesday without words" day anyway, let me share a few pictures of my sweetest, most beloved people.  Wishing you all the love of Jesus today!
 Me with my honey, taken in December
 Sweet Adeline Bell
 Ben babysitting
 Elsa, being a tender new mom
 Emma on the llama Pampa made for her
 Emma on Tim
 Nikki with Ada

 With my sisters Jeni and Gwen at Christmas
"GG" Marilyn with Emma
My parents relaxing late on Christmas night

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What God sees...

This morning in worship, my pastor prayed that we would remember that Christ is sufficient-- that when God looks at us, He sees Christ and attributes Christ's characteristics to us.  I have known this for a long time, and been grateful for that act of grace, and for the fact that Christ bears my sin, and God sees the perfection of Jesus when he looks at me.  But the Holy Spirit applied this to my heart in a different way this morning.  As I prayed and contemplated this idea, it occurred to me that this is not some nebulous, general sort of application.  But it is specific, like all of God's promises.  When I suffer, what do I see? I see myself struggle, whine, distract myself.  I am selfish, I am lazy, I am unkind to others.  But when God sees me suffer, He sees Jesus suffer-- and He is always concerned for others, preeminently concerned with doing God's will, patient, and never complaining.  If that is what God sees when He watches me suffer, how can His response to me be anything but a tender Father's loving response to His child?  What a comfort that is when my own sin and lack of holiness is quite evident to me.

If I apply this idea further, when I am hurting, and I strike back, or dishonor Him, He is seeing Jesus turn the other cheek and respond out of love.  When I am discouraged or depressed and lack courage or hope, He sees Jesus, ever trusting, hopeful, faithful.

All of this is not to say that how i respond doesn't matter.  The beauty is that God doesn't only promise to see Jesus when He looks at me, but to make me more and more into the image of Jesus.  So the longer i battle in this life, the more like Jesus I become here-- not because I am good or pulling myself up by my own bootstraps, but because I can stand on God's promises, and His grace is sufficient for me in all things.  What an amazing gift such grace is!

All That I Need by Stephen Altrogge

In You is strength to sustain me
And wisdom enough to guide my hand
Mercy enough to forgive me
And power to finish what You began

All that I need is in You, Jesus
The fountain of grace that overflows
All that I need is in You, Jesus
You are my only hope
You are my only hope

In You is fullness of gladness
And fullness of grace for every need
Rest for the ones who are weary
And beauty surpassing all that we’ve seen

You satisfy my heart
You satisfy my soul
You satisfy my heart
O help me always know

Thursday, February 09, 2012

A reader already?

 Miss Ada is already four weeks old- I can hardly believe it!  And she is taking after daddy in some ways...
 The expression above is the one her father wore for the first three months of his life.  Who knew that expressions were hereditary?! Here she is getting a little grandma love from her Grandma Johnson.
 Here is Ada in her sling.  Her mama looks great, and is obviously doing a great job of caring for this little sweetie.
 Big stretch-  I can just imagine the baby squeeks coming from this one...
And snuggle time with Daddy.  I can't wait to hold this little girl, and will try to be patient...

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Amazing Grace

This morning, from the comfort of my chair, I enjoyed the talk that Eric Metaxas gave at the National Prayer breakfast.  I found him funny, winsome, and challenging.  Give it a listen! (HT: Amy)

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Recovery terrain

Recovering from major surgery, and perhaps particularly surgery that also throws one into instantaneous menopause, is like climbing a mountain road.  You keep climbing, and make it over one hill, and another presents itself.  It is a marathon-type event.  I have been climbing for four weeks, and there is still much terrain to cover, and most of it upwards. While i am weary, I see God's goodness in the hills i been enabled to put behind me.  Here are a few:
  • Yesterday was my last day of HBO treatments- 20 accomplished, and healing of my incisions well underway.  I am very glad not to be bumping down the road to Santa Fe and back every day, which was usually painful and always tiring. The blessings amid the bumps were the dear friends who dorve me and the wonderful conversations for 45 minutes each way.
  • I am currently doing well pain-wise on just two regular ibuprofen tablets with meals and at bedtime.  That is a huge praise.
  • I am slowly regaining much range of motion in both arms, and continue to work on stretching.  On Friday i will meet with the massage/acupuncture  therapist to begin working on my keeping my scars soft and my arms from swelling.
  • I am walking farther and farther in my 30-40 minute walks (usually 2-3 times a day). 
  • Yesterday I actually did some laundry and the day before I paid some bills.  All that activity made me tired today, but it is a start!
  • I can almost sleep on my sides- a blessed relief after weeks of having to sleep on my back.
So, I am trying to patiently climb the next hill before me on this terrain of recovery, patiently trusting God to complete the good work he has started in me. Thank you for your prayers, Gentle Readers!

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Three weeks ago today...

...I was in the ICU at Los Alamos Medical Center, waiting for word from Phoenix.  What a joy to have Adeline Bell Finnegan enter this world, after her Mama had so well carried and delivered her, and to get pictures of her little face! We have since Skyped with her a couple of times- and let me tell you, she is charming!  I am hoping to see and hold her in person in a few more weeks, once I am cleared to travel.  Happy three-week birthday, Ada-- and welcome to the world!  We are so glad you are here!