Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sabbath Song

Mercy Speaks by Jesus' Blood
by William Gadsby, 1838
Mercy speaks by Jesus' blood;
Hear and sing, ye sons of God;
Justice satisfied indeed;
Christ has full atonement made.

Jesus' blood speaks loud and sweet;
Here all Deity can meet,
And, without a jarring voice,
Welcome Zion to rejoice.

 Should the law against her roar,
 Jesus' blood still speaks with power,
All her debts were cast on Me,
And she must and shall go free.

Peace of conscience, peace with God,
We obtain through Jesus' blood;
Jesus' blood speaks solid rest;
We believe, and we are blessed.

You can hear a lovely revision of this on RUF's Online Hymnbook website here.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Health Update: I'm almost one in a million...

The windings and turns of my recent health struggles have made it difficult to post updates here of late.  It has been difficult to know what to say as we have gone round and round about a diagnosis for what ails me and how to treat it.  And it has been difficult to find the time amid the myriad of appointments, tests, and travel.  But a little clarity is emerging slowly, so I can now give at least a partial update, and some specific prayer requests. I know many of you are faithful prayer warriors, Gentle Readers, because I see answers to those prayers, and God has been so very good to me in this process.

My breast cancer remains non-existent, praise God! I continue on the drug arimidex to keep my recurrence chances low.

My eyes have continued to be bothersome, and here we have made some progress. We have a firm diagnosis of a rare auto-immune disease called birdshot chorioretinapathy.  This is rare enough that I'm not really one in a million, but there are only about 4 cases in every million people. I will be starting immune-suppressant therapy this weekend, and hope to stop progression of the disease.  Left untreated, this always leads to blindness, but treatment with various drugs can often halt the disease's progress.  And I have found  an excellent physician and we have caught the disease very early. So my hopes are high that we can get this under control.

My continuing fatigue remains mysterious and discouraging.  I also have some funky blood work, and neither it nor the fatigue is explained by either the eye problem or the arimidex I am taking.  So my rheumatologist is continuing to monitor blood work, and the possibility of sarcoidosis is not yet off my table. But the Lord is holding me, and He gives me hope in Him, no matter what the crook in my lot is.  (And if you want to understand what I mean by the crook in your lot, or the bend in your path, and how we ought to respond to such things, listen to the excellent sermon by Rick Steele here.)

If you have not grown weary of praying for me, here are some specific prayer requests:
  • Please pray that I would tolerate the immune-suppressant well, with few side effects, or that I would be able to bear what side effects I have.
  • Please pray that the drug would be very effective in treating this disease.
  • Please pray for the fatigue I feel to lift.  A friend who is also an autoimmune disease sufferer recently sent me this link which does a good job of describing the fatigue if you are interested in understand more about those of us who look fine but are fighting illness. (Thanks for the link, Becki! Dave and I now talk in "spoonfuls".)
  • Please pray that my immune system would be restored, and that I would not continue down the path of constant illness.  And if God determines I need to travel that road, please pray that I would honor Him there, and figure out what it means to glorify and enjoy Him on that journey.
Thank you, Gentle Reader.  I am grateful for you!

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Living as broken actors on a broken stage

I was told earlier this week that my medical case is "complicated". It certainly is. But my life is complicated- and so is yours, Gentle Reader. We navigate a world where we don't always understand the suffering that comes our way, or that defines the lives of others.  We are, indeed, broken actors, living on a broken stage, and that brokenness is sometimes horrific, sometimes dark, and always complicated. We all need to remind ourselves what the presence of a sovereign God, a perfect Father,  means as we evaluate our complicated lives.

Today a dear friend sent me the talk below because she found it so encouraging as she faces her complicated life.  And it has been an excellent and deep reminder to me of the transcendent and transforming power of God in the midst of our brokenness. I hope you find it encouraging also.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

A couple of realizations

This afternoon I found myself on the phone with the diagnostic lab, then the insurance company, then the lab again.  This is just common fare for anyone managing a complicated medical life.  As I was on hold (which is also simply a fact of my life,) I found myself thinking, "Be kind, be forthright, sound assured, don't get angry."  And then realization number one hit me.

I have spent a good deal of my life trying to learn enough to feel self-assured when I speak to people, hoping to attain that wisdom and grace of full age that makes me a joy to talk to and a knowledgeable conversationalist, whether we're discussing Chaucer or philosophy or insurance claims.  And now that I'm well into my fifties, and should be there, I have somehow slipped right past my powerful years and into my dotage.  Now, instead of self-assured and powerful, I need notes to remmber what I want to say, and have to shore up my emotions so I won't slip into old lady tears.  And then realization number two hit.

The vision of age with grace and wisdom, or powerful maturity, is probably the same old illusion I've always had of whatever stage of life I'm not in. The reality is only that I am me, always and anon. Whatever stage I'm in, I always want to be in a different one because I am such a flop at the one I'm in. I simply can't escape me, and i never live up to my own expectations.

So, instead of trusting in my powerful reason or steady voice or amassed wisdom, or whatever greener grass calls to me from afar, when will I just stop it and start trusting Christ no matter what? Now THAT would be wisdom, Gentle Reader!

Monday, October 01, 2012

The delights of teaching

I was recently reminded by a friend that we have much to be thankful for as teachers.  This year is something like my 34th year of teaching, and  I am teaching 37 wonderful students online at Veritas Press Scholars Academy, and I am teaching four wonderful students in my local Worldviews class. And it is a privilege.

In teaching  my 2-year worldviews class 5 or 6 times over the last 12 or 15 years, I am always thankful for the opportunity to reach the hearts of some of my students.  This class changes me, and it sometimes changes them, all by God's grace.  One of the components of class is to bring an item for "Worldview in our World" (WioW).  These items are often picked up at the whole foods market in Santa Fe, the Mecca for New Age folks, or in ads from the Santa Fe Reporter, or bumper stickers seen about town.. the idea is to bring in something from the real world that reveals a worldview or conflicts with a Christian worldview, and discuss where that item, person, or quote is coming from in terms of its worldview and presuppositions. But this current crop of kids is taking WioW to a whole new level.  What they bring to class are the conversations they are having at the local community college, in parking lots, and on their sports teams.  These students are applying what God is teaching them, and I am blessed enough to be the tool of sharing , and to watch as the Holy Spirit matures them.  How amazing is that?! These kids take what I teach them, and do it more consistently and bravely than I ever will.  What a delight to see!

So, Gentle Readers who are called to be teachers/leaders/mentors for young people, don't let the dark times of teaching discourage you.  When you are swamped with essays to grade, or overwhelmed by scheduling conflicts, or are dealing with difficult students or parents, remember the delight of this high calling.  You can be used by God to change lives forever, and thus change this world for Christ's sake.  And that is a delightful calling indeed.