Monday, November 30, 2009

Amazing grace

Thanksgiving is a time to remember, first an foremost, the great gift God gave us in his Son. I am so very grateful that I can have a relationship with a holy and righteous God because of what Christ did for me. That is truly amazing grace...

Thanksgiving is also a time to be grateful for family. We had a lovely Thanksgiving in Tucson, with much to be thankful for! Here we are, gathered around Tim and Nikki's diningroom table. There are four Mrs. Finnegans, three Mr. Finnegans, and the Wiersma family. What a blessing we have in family and friends!

I am, however, of all earthly relationships, most thankful for my Dear husband of almost 30 years. He continues to be my best friend and comfort for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. Many of you, Gentle Readers, know my many faults. Dave sees them even more clearly, and loves me anyway. That is a reflection of amazing grace...

And here are our four beautiful children. They are a real source of joy in our lives (Tim and Nikki on left, Ben and Elsa on right).

And here are my children striking a "Blue Steel" pose. If you don't know what that is, it is probably just as well...

And on the way home from Tucson with Ben, Elsa and Marlyn in tow, we stopped by the Hanson's to see Mom and Dad, my sister Gwen and all the Browns, and my sister Annie. What a delight to have a a few days full of family! I am blessed by each and every one, and awed by God's amazing grace to me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, Gentle Readers!

We are heading to Tucson to celebrate the holiday with both sets of children. I hope you all are planning feasts with family and friends.

I had thought to leave you with a lovely Thanks-giving-type poem, but in my quick search I ran across the following poem. It seemed so appropriate for my fall, and even for my car, loaded with canned applesauce and jam! So, here are some thoughts on apple harvest, and fond wish from me, Gentle Readers, for a lovely Thanksgiving. I'll be back to the blogoshpere next weekend.

After Apple-Picking

By Robert Frost, 1914

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing dear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.

And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sundays with Jean

...For Christ's righteousness, which as it alone is perfect alone can bear the sight of God, must appear in court on our behalf, and stand surety in judgement. Furnished with this righteousness, we obtain continual forgiveness of sins in faith. Covered with this purity, the sordidness and uncleanness of our imperfections are not ascribed to us but are hidden as if buried that they may not come into God's judgement, until the hour arrives when, the old man slain and clearly destroyed in us, the divine goodness will receive us into blessed peace with the new Adam. There let us await the Day of the Lord in which, having received incorruptible bodies, we will be carried into the glory of the Heavenly Kingdom.
~J. Calvin, The Institutes, III.4.12

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mt Lemon, AZ

Last Sunday afternoon, we left Tucson and drove up Mt. Lemon. At its highest (something over 8,000 feet in elevation) it reminds me of a more rugged version of our own Jemez Mountains. About half-way up, there is a beautiful vista looking back towards Tucson. Here are some photos of us enjoying the view.

We hit the road again next week to celebrate Thanksgiving with both sets of kids in Tucson. The Indiana contingent (Ben and Elsa) arrived thee today. It makes a mama's heart rejoice to think of the kids having a grand time together! What a thing to be thankful for!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Our best refuge

Last night was one of those weird nights. With no warning, and after a lovely day and evening, I dreamed cancer dreams all night. At 4:00 this morning, I got up briefly and then cried myself to sleep. It just felt good to cry. And my sweet husband, who was sound asleep at the time, rolled over and put his arms around me and mumbled, "It's alright". I was so thankful for that sleepy assurance! I thanked God for my best friend that very minute.

And then my mind wandered to my friend Marie, whose best friend lost his fight with cancer not many days ago. I bet she has tears in the middle of the night, but now no arms for comfort. I asked God to be her comfort, and mine. I asked that the Lord would graciously keep me from using my husband as a substitute for my Lord. Whatever the circumstances, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble (Psalm 46). He is where I should always go first for comfort.

And once again, Spurgeon spoke to the heart of the matter today:

My best security is within the munitions of an immutable Jehovah, where His unalterable promises stand like giant walls of rock. It will be well with thee, my heart, if thou canst always hide thyself in the bulwarks of His glorious attributes, all of which are guarantees of safety for those who put their trust in Him...My heart, run to Him anew to-night, whatever thy present grief may be; Jesus feels for thee; Jesus consoles thee; Jesus will help thee. No monarch in his impregnable fortress is more secure than the cony in his rocky burrow...Faith gives to men on earth the protection of the God of heaven. More they cannot need, and need not wish. The conies cannot build a castle, but they avail themselves of what is there already: I cannot make myself a refuge, but Jesus has provided it, His Father has given it, His Spirit has revealed it, and lo, again to-night I enter it, and am safe from every foe.
~ C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, November 20

May you be safe upon that rock today, Gentle Reader.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A toad for Tim and Nikki

Here is one of my latest quilting projects: a table-runner for Tim and Nikki's new house, complete with a horney toad.

Here it is finished:

And here is a close-up of the applique work in the center:

And finally, here it is in its new home:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Lots to be thankful for

Today I had a visit with my new PCP. (She happens to be the wife of my former PCP, who left the practice to work for the in-patients at the hospital, leaving a trail of sad patients behind him...But his wife is just as smart and nice and wonderful as he is, and her husband transferred us to her, so I can't really complain!) Everything seems to be on the up-and-up. She is thinking about reasons other than tamoxifen for my fatigue and muscle pains, but is OK with my desire to avoid all specialists possible, which makes me happy. One of the things we'll think about is oxygen issues at night. And she actually told me, after doing some back-muscle exploration, that I need to have a back massage. What a great thing to be told by a doctor! And how unselfish it sounds: "I have to get a back massage for health reasons..." And next week I head back to Tuscon, where I can get a great one for free from my ddil, the physiology major!

I left my appointment very grateful. She is a great doc, and I have lots to be thankful for!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tucson Zoo

Last Saturday, we took some time off unpacking to spend a few hours at the Tucson zoo. The zoo is one of Nikki's favorite spots, and she loves watching and photographing the animals. I tend to photograph the flowers, but Nikki made me promise to put up pictures of animals. So, here you go, Nikki: pictures of animals just for you!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tucson: settling in

We have just returned from our short jaunt to Tucson, and were blessed by being with Tim and Nikki as they began settling in to their new home.
There is, of course, computer equipment galore since this is Tim's house (note the four, yes 4! monitors, all working...) We trimmed up the trees, front and back. Below is a view of the back patio from the back-yard's back wall.

Nikki is already making it feel like home. The formerly black kitchen walls are now a cheery green, and she is a wonderful cook there. She is such a blessing to our family!

Tim and Dave did some repair work on the drip-sprinkler system, balanced fans, made shelves for the garage, and we all ran several errands hunting for needed items. It was productive time, and fun as well.

I know their new home will be a blessing to many!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hi-ho, Hi-ho, to Tuscon we do go...

Tomorrow my best friend and I are flying to Tucson to visit our baby boy and his best girl. I can't wait for our little adventure, and to see Tim and Nikki's new home. We'll be helping them settle in, and also enjoying each other. I'm sure I'll have lots of pictures to share when we get home. I may check in from there, Gentle Reader, but if not, I will be back next week, and beg your patience as I give full attention to family for a few days. What a blessing!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Sundays with Jean

Yet what Augustine writes is nonetheless true: that all whoa re estranged from the religion of the one God, however admirable they may be regarded on account of their reputation for virtue, not only deserve no reward, but rather punishment, because by the pollution of their hearts they defile God's works...
~J. Calvin, Institutes, III.14.3

In agreement with this idea is the statement of Augustine's: "Our religion distinguishes the just from the unjust not by the law of works but by that of faith, without which what seemed good works are turned into sins." He also beautifully expresses the same thought in another passage when he compares the zeal of such men to a runner off his course. For the more strenuously one runs who is off the path, the farther he gets from his goal, and the more pitiful he therefore becomes. Consequently, Augustine contends that it is better to limp on the path than to run outside it."
~J. Calvin, Institutes, III.14.4

Saturday, November 07, 2009

The last patient of the day...

I had decided not to blog about my uncomfortable test. But after last week, I simply can't resist.

I hate this test. To be honest, I am hating most tests these days. I think I have reached my test limit, and I just hate all of them as a pretty equal-opportunity test hater. However, I really tried to talk my gynecologist out of having this one. No go. She explained that the risk is too high on the tamoxifen to skip over the hysterosonogram every year- until I'm off the tamoxifen. That just gives me one more reason to dislike being on tamoxifen!

Well, my hysterosonogram was scheduled for two weeks ago. I arrived at the office (where they have a specialist only on Thursdays to do the procedure), and they completed the first part of the test, and wanted to proceed to the second part, when they couldn't get their lighting fixture to work. They changed the bulbs (twice), all the while with me on my back with feet in stirrups, and then determined it would not work, and they needed to order a new piece of equipment. I would have to reschedule the test for the next week. Ugh!

So, last Thursday, I head to the office again. They have their new piece of equipment, and have been using it all day with other lucky victi--er-patients. I get ready again, and they begin the first part of the test, and the whole blooming machine locks up. They reboot (twice), again while I am in an uncomfortable position, and then call and talk to a technician, who has the doctor unplug the machine and let it set for ten minutes. Then, when trying to reboot for the third time, it was still no go. So I had to get dressed and reschedule yet again. This time, the test is not until next month because there is not Thursday available for both the doc and me until December. As I'm leaving, the nurses start cracking jokes with me: "You are the sonogram jinx!" "Do you break other pieces of equipment?" We are all having a good laugh, and I tell the doc we have to stop meeting like this.

Then, as I am rescheduling and checking out, the doc comes up front and says to the scheduler, "Make sure she's the last patient of the day, just in case..."

God must have a reason that I am not supposed to get this test right now. The saga will continue next month...

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The drug of self-pity...

I ran across a profound quote on self-pit today.

“Feeling sorry for yourself is one of the strongest, most addictive narcotics known to man. It feels so good to feel so bad. Self-pity arises so easily, seems so plausible, and proves so hard to shake off.”
~David Powlison

I found this quote on the website of Jollyblogger, a man who knows about self-pity as one fighting for his life against cancer. I know the temptation of this drug, and my bet is that you do, too, Gentle Reader. May we all turn to God in this temptation, and focus on His grace being sufficient for us!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Tim and Nikki's new home

Here are a few photos from Tim and Nikki of their new home. We'll post more after we visit next week, D. V. Can't wait!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sundays with Jean

In honor of this Reformation Sunday, enjoy this hymn by John Calvin, done beautifully by Zachary Harris (don't really know anything about him, but thought this was a nice performance.) The lyrics are below.

I Greet The Who my Sure Redeemer Art, by Jean Calvin, 1545

I greet Thee, who my sure Redeemer art,
My only trust and Savior of my heart,
Who pain didst undergo for my poor sake;
I pray Thee from our hearts all cares to take.

Thou art the King of mercy and of grace,
Reigning omnipotent in every place;
So come, O King, and our whole being sway;
Shine on us with the light of Thy pure day.

Thou art the life, by which alone we live,
And all our substance and our strength receive;
Sustain us by Thy faith and by Thy power,
And give us strength in every trying hour.

Thou hast the true and perfect gentleness,
No harshness hast Thou and no bitterness;
O grant to us the grace we find in Thee,
That we may dwell in perfect unity.

Our hope is in no other save in Thee;
Our faith is built upon Thy promise free;
Lord, give us peace, and make us calm and sure,
That in Thy strength we evermore endure.