Saturday, June 30, 2012

Rich relational blessings

This week we have enjoyed the company of long-time friends Greg and Lauri Moore and their son, Nate.  It is such a blessing to renew fellowship!  And next week, Tim, Nikki, and Emma will spend much of the week with us.  The following week, I head on travel with Dave for most of the week, and we arrive home and pick up Ben, Elsa, and Ada at the airport to stay for a week.  What a joyous season!

I may not be getting the chores done that I thought I would, but I am definitely having more fun with friends and family than those chores would bring!  I hope you, too, Gentle Reader, are enjoying a season of rich relational blessings.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Plodding by faith

Coming off of a high-dose prednisone is always a little iffy emotionally. Add to that having to deal with both the insurance company and a prosthetics supply company, neither of which seem to either know what they are doing or be able to articulate to me what I am supposed to be doing, and the combo is ripe for stretching the limits of my emotional stability.  I have little patience in general with people who do not understand how to do their job, or with customer service field operatives who do not have a clue about how to deal with the customer.  But add that prednisone in the mix, and I have to be extra careful not to rip into the incompetent insurance "specialist" who can't seem to discover what a gradient compression sleeve is categorized as under my plan, and therefore can't determine or explain my benefits to me, or the prosthetic supplier who can't seem to figure out how to get said sleeve ordered unless I can tell them what my insurance benefits are.  So here I am, in my lovely catch-22: the insurance can't tell me-- the prosthetics folks can'r order unless the insurance tells me.  I have already gotten one sleeve-- can't someone just look up how we did that and employ the same method to get the second one? And how hard can it be to tell me if I am eligible for more than one for each side in a calendar year?  This does not seem like rocket science to me, but after months of trying to wade through this quagmire, I have accepted the fact that everyone I talk to is incompetent, and I will not know what is covered or not covered until it is or isn't.  That is an unsatisfactory set of affairs, but it reflects reality, and I can't just bang my head against it forever.

There are lots of life lessons in this little tangled affair. Look at how important I am to myself, for one thing.  Nothing is quite as important as me getting what I want-- not the feelings of the folks I am wrangling with on the phone, certainly.  And how often in life do we actually get any guarantees about future events?  But I digress...

Despite the frustrations on the sleeve front, all signs of the hives are gone, I am returning to more normal sleep patterns, and I am resuming activity with some sense of returning strength and energy.  The truth is, God is in charge, and so all must be right with the world, despite the visual cues that might point otherwise.  So I plod along by faith, believing God is in good charge of all despite what I see, even in charge of things like gradient compression sleeves and insurance policies, and am thankful for returning health and continued blessings. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

A lovely visit

 Last evening and this morning, we had a brief but lovely visit from my sister, Jeni, and an old college chum, Mike.  We hadn't see Mike in about 30 years, and found him to be the same kind-hearted, easy-going guy we had known back then (he played piano and sang in our wedding, and was my brother's best-man.)  We enjoyed the overlook at White Rock Canton in the dusk, and lots of catching-up talk. And early this morning, Jeni and I had some girl time as we hiked along the Canyon Rim Trail before breakfast.  it was a very short but very sweet time, and I hope we get to see them both again soon!

Sabbath Songs

Christ for the World We Sing by Samuel Wolcott, 1869

Christ for the world we sing,
The world to Christ we bring, with loving zeal,
The poor and them that mourn, the faint and overborne,
Sin sick and sorrow worn, whom Christ doth heal.

Christ for the world we sing,
The world to Christ we bring, with fervent prayer;
The wayward and the lost, by restless passions tossed,
Redeemed at countless cost, from dark despair.

Christ for the world we sing,
The world to Christ we bring, with one accord;
With us the work to share, with us reproach to dare,
With us the cross to bear, for Christ our Lord.

Christ for the world we sing,
The world to Christ we bring, with joyful song;
The newborn souls, whose days, reclaimed from error’s ways,
Inspired with hope and praise, to Christ belong.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Muons, music, and mountains

 Have I mentioned recently, Gentle Reader, that I love living in my quirky hometown?  Here is a little slice of life from Los Alamos, NM: home of the atomic age, home of the highest per-capita library useage in the country, and home to me and my family for more than 28 years.

Last night for our weekly date night, Dave and I headed to  the Bradbury Science Museum.  There, we talked with two set of scientists. The first discussed their high voltage electromagnetic field array, complete with demonstrations, and pieces of steel that the magnet has broken.  Then we moved on to the next group, who had a mobile muon detector.  I had never heard of a muon before!  It is apparently a sub-atomic particle that is similar to but denser than an electron.  They are given off when cosmic radiation hits certain object, and this mobile unit can measure them, though  the guys there told us that there are other scientists at the lab that do not believe they are actually measuring muons.  My own scientist said quzzically, "When something is that little and lasts so shrt a period of time, how can you tell?" What a great place to have such interesting expertise at our fingertips, and to talk to scientists who are as giddy as children at Christmas to discuss their exciting discoveries.

We then went on to dinner at my favorite spot anywhere to get chicken fried steak and fried green beans.  OK, so I did NOT say it was a healthy place, but it is great comfort food.

And then on to Ashley Pond in the middle of town, where we heard very interesting music from some excellent musicians: the Guy Forsyth Band. There were twinkle lights in the trees as we watched the sun set over the Jemez mountains, and children dancing in the grass as we listened to roots music, tin-pan-alley, New Orleans-style jazz, rock/country, and even a little Gershwin.  What a lovely small-town summer evening!

And then this morning, we headed up to the ski hill to walk the cross-country ski trail.  We had not been up there since the Las Conchas fire, and while we enjoyed the exercise, the wild flowers, and the butterflies, it was sad to see the changes the fire has wrought.  What used to be a totally shaded hike up to a beautiful meadow, is now cleared of most trees.

 The ground is covered with a black, fine silt that is soft and gets all over everything, requiring laundry and showers after hiking through it!

 Though it is burned and changed, there is still a beauty there that pleases the soul. 

So now, refreshed and revived, I need to work on the mundane things in my house.  But our evening and morning in our hometown have been wonderful.  Come visit, Gentle Reader, and we'll show you around!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Good news/Bad news

Today's good news for me: no sign of the hives, and a marked improvement in the congestion, still no sign of cancer, and small signs of continued recovery from 6 hard months.

Today's bad news for me: the steroids seem to be getting the better of me, interrupting my sleep, and making me a little shaky and scattered. The resulting stupid errors and mistakes this morning as I try to sew or work on teaching items are insanely irritating to me-- which may have something to do with the steroids as well.  But the emotional roller-coaster they cause is all I need to encourage my sin and blind me to the truth of God's providential care and love.  *Sigh*. Wretched man (or woman) that I am, who can save me from this body of death?

Today's bad news for us all: sin is alive and well.  It leads to more than selfishness, but to a broken world filled with broken people inhabiting broken bodies. That is bad news.

Today's good news for us all: Christ Jesus has conquered sin and death, and when he comes again for His own, these light and momentary afflictions will be as nothing compared to the huge weight of His glory which He will lavish upon us for eternity.That is good news, indeed!  As I remind myself, Gentle Readers, I thought I would remind you as well.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Some backyard neighbors

 A few weeks ago, we discovered the above hummingbird nest in our pear tree.  It is about 1.5 inches from branch to top, and has about enough room for a half-dollar in the center.  It also had two lovely, tiny jelly-bean-sized eggs in it a few weeks ago.

 When we returned from our trip to Arizona, all that could be seen inside were dark feathers.  And not wanting to ruffle any, we let the nest be.  But at the end of last week, we got a glimpse of the occupants:
 Two sweet, tiny hummer babies are sunning themselves back there, and we are leaving their mommy to do her work unhindered.
What a lovely reminder of God's care for us as we watch Him provide for these little ones.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Relay accomplished

Last evening, Dave and I completed our first Survivor's Lap at the Relay for Life.  It has been a worthwhile experience, complete with quirky and amusing details, a few tears, and some excellent reflections.

We attended the Survivor's Dinner with my friend Carmen (who gave me the idea in the first place.)  Carmen told me that when she thought about all the relay people walking all night to raise funds for research and patient services, she figured the least she could do was to show up.  Indeed! In addition to being a great time to catch up with her, meet other cancer survivors in the community, and enjoy a good meal, we heard my our oncologist speak about what led him into the field of oncology, and share the experience he had with his father's death from cancer.  It helped me to get to know him better.

Following the dinner, we all donned our purple "Survivor" tee shirts, and little side-saches that said "Survivor!" (this is the closest I will ever come to being a beauty pageant contestant!) and queued up behind a couple of elderly bagpipers (and no, I am not kidding.)  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, but the photo above is from last year's Relay, and will give you some idea.  About 50-60 or so of us, with about three people younger than Dave and me, lined up and began walking behind the bagpipers- all of us in various states of health from pretty healthy, to those using walkers, canes, or needing support from others.  The bagpipers begam playing as we walked the two blocks or so from the dinner to Ashley Pond.  They played almost in time with each other, and most of us could keep up pretty well with them.  The police stopped traffic for us.  People moved out of our way.  To be honest, I just felt weird at this point. While I am not a shy, retiring wall flower, this kind of attention is something I am decidedly uncomfortable with! Once we got to Ashley pond, the luminarias that are part of the remembrance of Relay surrounded the pond, and we walked around the pond with the luminarias on the water side and in the grass around us.  On the sidewalk there were some little puddles from watering the grass there, and the dear Survivor with a walker in front of us kept taking out the luminarias as she tried to miss the puddles.  We must have presented a rag-tag view to those who gathered and honored us with their applause and smiles. 

As I walked around the pond, and looked at those luminarias, most with names, dates of birth and death, messages of missing, I became profoundly grateful:  Grateful that Dave has lived to see his granddaughters.  Grateful that with three cancers between us, we are survivors. Grateful that with two cancers behind me, I have still not walked the tough roads of chemotherapy or metastatic disease. Grateful for God's constant care and provision.

Near the end of our trek around the pond, we saw our dear friends, the Baers.  They were smiling and applauding us, and it made me cry.  They, and so many others of you, Gentle Readers, have been such a support to us through this life.  Thank you! Between us, Dave and I raised almost $350.  But more than that, our hearts were lifted, and we were able to give back a little, somehow.  Thanks to each of you who helped us accomplish our first Relay!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Reaching for the relay goal

Well, despite the continuing struggle with hives, Lord willing, and if the creek don't rise, I hope to complete the survivor's lap at the Relay for Life tonight.  Dave has raised more than his goal-- many thanks to all who gave to that effort!  I am just over half-way to my $250 goal, but I am very thankful to all who have helped me make it that far.  And there is still time if you would like to help me hit that goal!  You can donate any amount at my page here. I'll let you know how it goes by posting an update next week.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Living in altered reality

Last week I managed to nurture a respiratory virus in this amazing body of mine.  In its amazing fashion, it produced many antibodies to fight the virus.  And in my amazing fashion, I am allergic to the antibodies I produce to fight respiratory infections.  I am literally allergic to myself. So the most violent case of hives I have ever encountered is at work in my members- every square inch of them.  And due to that, I am currently on high doses of antihistamines, steroids, and albuterol; hence, my contemplations regarding living in an altered reality. Any of you who have ever been on that combination of drugs know that it will rock your world in a rather fuzzy way.

2012 has been some year: breast cancer, instantaneous menopause, lymphedema, on-going eye issues, and now this little episode.  But in the midst of it all, the thing that has really altered my reality is Jesus. As dreams and goals die off or get altered, as disappointments, struggles, pain, and discomfort push their irksome way into days otherwise planned and previously occupied with more appealing stuff, the shift that Christ accomplished keeps me getting up in the morning (or some time during the day). I have been translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, and nothing can ever be the same.  The hardships that come can be both painful and disappointing.  But it is Him that gives me songs in the night, and wakes me fresh every morning, and even replaces my old, dead dreams, with new ones of His own making.

I hope Jesus has rocked your world, Gentle Reader. And if you want to know how that can happen, drop me an e-mail and I'll be happy to explain.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I can talk a good talk about trusting God, but then throw a little curve my way-- say a stinking virus, a few migraine headaches, or a serious case of the hives, it doesn't even have to be life-threatening--- and I can actually feel justified in being mad at God.  At least from the comfy perspective of my own sinful heart I can smugly ask God, "Really?  Are you serious?".  But this morning Spurgeon reminded me that such thinking is faithlessness.  And weighing myself by anything other than God's word is fruitless.  And when I weigh myself by His word, I come up wanting, and throw myself back on the grace of Jesus.

Read the following from Spurgeon's Morning by Morning for June 12 below, Gentle Reader.  May it convict you as it did me:

"Thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting."—Daniel 5:27.
T is well frequently to weigh ourselves in the scale of God's Word. You will find it a holy exercise to read some psalm of David, and, as you meditate upon each verse, to ask yourself, "Can I say this? Have I felt as David felt? Has my heart ever been broken on account of sin, as his was when he penned his penitential psalms? Has my soul been full of true confidence in the hour of difficulty as his was when he sang of God's mercies in the cave of Adullam, or in the holds of Engedi? Do I take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord?" Then turn to the life of Christ, and as you read, ask yourselves how far you are conformed to His likeness. Endeavour to discover whether you have the meekness, the humility, the lovely spirit which He constantly inculcated and displayed. Take, then, the epistles, and see whether you can go with the apostle in what he said of his experience. Have you ever cried out as he did—"O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death"? Have you ever felt his self-abasement? Have you seemed to yourself the chief of sinners, and less than the least of all saints? Have you known anything of his devotion? Could you join with him and say, "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain"? If we thus read God's Word as a test of our spiritual condition, we shall have good reason to stop many a time and say, "Lord, I feel I have never yet been here, O bring me here! give me true penitence, such as this I read of. Give me real faith; give me warmer zeal; inflame me with more fervent love; grant me the grace of meekness; make me more like Jesus. Let me no longer be 'found wanting,' when weighed in the balances of the sanctuary, lest I be found wanting in the scales of judgment." "Judge yourselves that ye be not judged."

Monday, June 11, 2012

Postponing the celebration

Every year for my birthday, Dave asks me what I would like.  For at least the last 15 years, I have answered, "Treat me like the Queen of the Universe for a day-- no cooking, cleaning, or  making my bed; no doing anything that i don't want to do!" That probably tells you a good deal about my selfish heart, Gentle Reader, but try not to think too badly of me! 

Today is the day I was supposed to get my Queen of the Universe treatment- Dave had planned meals, my favorite cake, and delightful surprises, and my parents were coming to take me to lunch.  That is serious queeen treatment!  But Dvae and I, for only the second time in almost 32 years of marriage, both have some kind of virus, and we are miserable.  We have hardly slept since Friday night due to congestion and fever, and now I have a painful cough as things begin to break up.  While I think we have turned the corner and are headed for health, our poor old bodies are still recovering.

So, being the Queen of the Universe that I am, I declared today NOT my birthday at all.  We are postponing the festivities until I can enjoy them properly.  So while I am enjoying the sweet and thoughtful birthday wishes from everyone, I am thinking of them as the prelude to my birthday.  After all, what is the point of getting up to 52 birthdays if you can't postpone one every once-in-a-while?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sabbath Songs

Something I am longing for:

All will be made new by JJ Heller

Ashes, ashes, we fall down
It always feels too soon
But when we walk on golden ground
All will be made new

All will be made new
Life is but a dream at best
Morning's coming soon
Kingdom come will bring us rest
All will be made new

All will be made new

All sorrows and sighs
Will fade away into the night
And all will be made new

All will be made new

Saturday, June 09, 2012

Relay for Life

Well Gentle Reader, I am less than a week from my first Relay for Life event, and I am half-way to my fundraising goal.  Dave has exceeded his more modest goal already- and thanks to all of you who have made both of those things happen!

The Relay for Life funds many worthwhile causes, including hospitality houses where out-of-town patients and family can stay during treatment, and many support services for patients, such as wig and post-mastectomy items for women facing breast cancer treatment.  I am excited about helping!

Yesterday I stopped by a Relay booth to sign up for a survivor's dinner prior to the survivor's lap on Friday night.  The woman at the booth grabbed my hand, and said very sincerely, "Congratulations on surviving, and thank you for helping us encourage more survivors!"  It brought tears to my eyes. It really has been quite a year...

If you are interested in helping support this cause, you can donate to my efforts here.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Friday, June 01, 2012

Recently completed projects

I have a few recently completed projects to share. They are travelling with me to Arizona this weekend, so I thought I'd show you what creative things I have been up to, Gentle Reader.

 This little quilt is going into a gift basket to go to a friend of Nikki's who is going to help us take some group photos while we are together in Tucson, Lord willing. 

This little altoid tin beow is in my purse, just waiting for the perfect moment when Emma is fussing or we are waiting somewhere or killing time in a restaurant.  When Emma needs distracting, I'll pull it out...

Now, doesn't that seem like the perfect thing for a grandma's purse?  I found this idea on Pinterest, and made it up in about an hour.

I am looking forward to seeing all of my kids and grnadkids this weekend.  It makes me happy just to think about it!  I hope you have something to look forward to this weekend as well, Gentle Reader!