Monday, July 30, 2012

Bearing fruit

In my back yard are two apple trees.  When they both bear, and the frosts and the bugs and the droughts and the diseases don't interfere, we have a lot of fruit to deal with.  And lately I've been pondering bearing fruit.  The question was posed by a friend: what might it mean in certain callings to bear fruit, and that got me to wondering what it means for me in my callings in life to bear fruit.

How do I bear fruit as a wife? I guess it is to remain faithful to my husband, to love and respect him, and to encourage him in the things of God.  But how do we measure that kind of fruit? I have a godly, faithful, loving husband, but I am convinced that it is more a gift of God's grace than it is anything I have done.  It's the same for my calling as a mother-- I have grown, responsible kids, with jobs and godly spouses, and raising the most adorable daughters to God's glory.  But that is not because of my flawed work with them as a mom. It is again, God's grace.  As a teacher, I try to work for God and not men, to call my students to excellence in their studies and to godliness in ther lives, and many have taken up that call.  But again, it wasn't because of me.  I was only doing what God called me to do, and He was busy using that in His bearing of fruit from those endeavors. And what of those that learned nothing at all? Can I claim them if I am not claiming the amazing young people who took what I taught them and lived it more consistently than I do?

The biggest calling i have, of course, is as a follower of Jesus.  He actually commands me to bear fruit.  But what could I do apart from what He has done? Nothing.

 So here, as the Preacher might say, is the end of the matter. Our fruit is not the point. It is all about the Lord. We are to be obedient, and that's what matters.  We are to ask the lord what His will is, and how we can best allow Him to bear fruit.  As Calvin sais:

“If we are not our own, but the Lord's, it is clear to what purpose all our deeds must be directed. We are not our own, therefore neither our reason nor our will should guide us in our thoughts and actions. We are not our own, therefore we should not seek what is only expedient to the flesh. We are not our own, therefore let us forget ourselves and our own interests in as far as possible.”

I'm sorry I don't have a source for that quote, but it does say it all.  And so, Gentle Reader, whatever the future holds for us, and whatever our calling may be, let us get about forgetting about ourselves as far as possible.  That seems like excellent and practical advice to me.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sabbath Songs

Psalm 42: 6-11

O God, my soul is in despair;
So I remember You
From Jordan's land, from Mizar's hill,
And from Mount Hermon too.
Your waterfalls, like thunder, roar
And deep to deep will call.
Your waves have all rolled over me;
On me Your breakers fall.
The LORD commands His steadfast love
To be with me each day;
By night His song will be with me;
To God, my Life, I'll pray.
I say to God, my only rock,
"O why forget me so?
Why must I grieve at all the harm
Committed by the foe?"
As if to shatter all my bones
My adversaries say,
"O tell us now, where is your God?"
They taunt me all the day.
O why, my soul, do you despair?
Why so discouraged be?
Hope now in God, I'll praise Him still.
My help, my God is He.

(You can hear mP3 recordings and get the sheet music at the above link. This is just beautiful!)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Another goal accomplished

 I have met several goals over the past few years-- things that i always wanted to do, but never had the courage to try, or things that i was not in proper physical shape to do.  Several years ago, I made it up the East Fork Trail and down Las Conchas canyon, which was wonderful.  Two years ago I hiked to the top of Pajarito Mountain and back down.  Last summer, we went down the blue dot trail and up the red dot trail into and out of White Rock Canyon and along the Rio Grande.  And today another goal was met.  We rode the ski lift to the top pf Pajarito Mountain, and then hiked the ridge and back down to the lodge. Above is a picture as we ascended the Aspen lift.  Below are my fellow intrepid adventurers on the journey to the top.  It was my mother-in-law's first time on a ski lift.  That's something special at almost 86 years of age!
 At the top of Aspen Lift, one is rewarded with this view South (below), over the Rio Grande Valley and towards the Sandia Mountains.  We had gotten this far two summers ago when we hiked to the top. But the goal to be met today was to continue hiking along the ridge line of the mountain (from ~10,300 feet to almost 10,500 feet) and see the Valle Calderas to the West (and let me tell you, doing anything at over 10,000 feet is exercise for me!) and visit the places my children loved on this mountain: the Fab Four. These are double-black diamond ski runs where they spent much of their teen years. I have spent countless hours at home or in the ski lodge waiting for them to return with stories of adventure.  And now I finally was going to see those sights for myself.  And part of the reason for all these photos posted here is that I want my boys to see their old haunts, and know that I finally got there.
 The walk was gorgeous with beautiful vistas on every side.  In the distance we could see the devastation from both the Cerro Grande fire and the more recent Las Conchas fire, but much of this upper section of the ski area is unharmed.  We passed the Mother Lift (below) and then took a spur trail that took us towards the West.
 And there we were met with the view below, looking down on the Valle Grande and the heart of the Jemez Mountains.  It was spectacular!
 Also along this walk we came across another amazing view to the South, and a bench of particular importance (below), where one daughter-in-law, after being taken on a forced march of more than a thousand vertical feet, accepted my son's proposal of marriage!
 It wasn't until we got to the final of the Fab Four, Precious, that we entered the new burned zone.
 As we passed beyond, on what used to be a forested trail, we now have vistas into the north end of the Valle as we turned down the hill and began our descent.
 The scars of the burn from Las Conchas are everywhere on this end of the ski area (below) just as they are on the eastern end from the Cerro Grande. 
 As we descended through first the burn area, and then back into the trees, we were sad for the damage and changes, and yet awed by the new beauty.  There were wildflowers in profusion, and berries, and that amazing New Mexico sky.
 While the downhill trek of a couple of miles was harder on my thighs and knees than I thought it would be, it was a glorious morning. Our two and a half hour hike was a wonderful reminder of God's many gifts in this life, and I am so very grateful!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Health Update

One of the most amazing aspects of the Christian life has been to watch how God has prepared the way for us on our journey, long before we knew where our journey would lead. I remember that sense of awe when we headed to Houston for Dave's treatments, knowing not a soul there, and found friends of our who are missionaries were speaking at a church there, and we met up with them, they introduced us to our Houston church home, and God provided in so many miraculous ways!  We saw it again in both of my cancer surgeries.  And we are in one of those amazing moments again, where the impossible is happening because God prepared the way for us before hand.  So as you read this update, Gentle reader, please know that my primary feeling in this moment (and I say "this moment" because I know feelings are volatile, changeable things) is gratitude.

A follow-up eye appointment a few weeks ago has led us into another new adventure.  To make a long story short, it appears that the auto-immune disease I was diagnosed with about 4 years ago, and which was dormant and free of symptoms at that time, has decided to rear its ugly head.  Sarcoidosis is a mysterious disease.  No one knows why it starts or really why it often spontaneously goes away. But yesterday's visit to the pulmonologist confirmed that I now have active disease, and serious complications in my eyes, so more active treatment and expertise is needed.  I also had a steroid shot behind my right eye yesterday at the opthalmologist's office to begin treating the problem there. And on Thursday, I will see a rheumatologist from UNM-- and that is where God's amazing providence and preparation for my journey is evident.

Both the ophthalmologist and pulomonologist have been thwarted at getting patients in to see rheumatologists  in Northern New Mexico.  There aren't many.  I had an appointment for four months from now which the ophthalmologist had made, but he was quite frustrated and uncomfortable with me waiting that long.  Then I sent an e-mail to a friend, and now I have an appointment with one of the top rheumatologists in the state for the day after tomorrow.  I am humbled because I know I am not more sick than others that have appointments four months from now.  And I am humbled that God would provide for me in such a way.  And I am grateful for my friend and his loving ability to make things happen for me! God is good to me as i continue on the journey He has planned for me.

As always, I appreciate your prayers, Gentle Readers.  This is not the path i would have chosen.  But I am confident that God has a better plan for me than any i would make for myself, and I praise Him for going ahead of me and planning my way.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Grandmothers are...

My son tells me that grandmothers are either lonely or exhausted.  And I'm afraid he is right!  When our grandchildren are around we are exhausted, and when they leave, we are lonely.  I am about to get more sleep, but I will not be too happy about it...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A pre-anniversary celebration

Next week, Lord willing, Dave and I will celebrate 32 years of married bliss. And while there have been seasons of something more difficult than bliss, there has never been a moment of regret that 32 years ago I married my best friend.  God has been gracious to carry us through many trials together, and Dave has born with me admirably through the years, and taught me so much!

So I came on travel with Dave to Las Vegas this week, and we are celebrating. We started the trip with an evening at the Venetian to see Phantom of the Opera, which was spectacular, and the next morning we visited the Ethel M. chocolate factory and cactus gardens, which was fun. It is a bit of a cha;lenge to figure out what to do when it is 116 degrees outside, but it has been a lovely time none-the-less.  And as Dave has been involved in meetings during the day, I have gone swimming, read, watched movies, worked on lesson plans, and generally relaxed and enjoyed myself.  Tonight we will have a lovely meal out together, and tomorrow we head to Albuquerque, where we'll have one more night in a hotel, and enjoying each others' company.  And then as a special treat, we will pick up Ben and Elsa and Ada at the airport and bring them home with us on Saturday.  What a blessing this all is! I find myself one grateful girl.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The most recent crook in my lot (or bend in my path)

Rather than give a full organ recital, Gentle Reader, let me give you a brief update on the most recent health issue.  Yesterday's trip to the retina specialist confirmed that I can't see well, but the reason was a surprise: my eyes have inflammatory cells in them.  This may mean that the sarcoidosis I was diagnosed with (but which was previously asymptomatic) is rearing its ugly head.  Or it may be something different.  But now I need to research that disease, and get on top of these symptoms. The current plan is to get a skin TB test to rule that out, and do some possible corticosteroid shots for my eyes.  But a full work-up with a rheumatologist is also in my future, I think. The good news is that my macula and retina look fine, and this does NOT look like breast cancer most likely would if it was spreading.  Thank God with me for that!

2012 has been a difficult year.  I would appreciate your prayers, Gentle Readers.  And here are some specifics:
  • That we would effectively treat the eye problems without causing further problems (like glaucoma).
  • That we would get a good diagnosis and plan for dealing with whatever this is.
  • That my oncologist, eye specialist, and rheumatologist would be able to look at the whole problem residing in this poor old body, and cooperate on a plan that would bring healing.
  • That I would remember the faithfulness of God and not sink into the Slough of Despond.
  • That God's love and salvation would be so clear before these feeble eyes that even I would see it and have ample cause to rejoice.
In God's providence and grace, I leave today for a few days travel with my dear husband.  We'll see a show tonight (Phantom of the Opera!) and I will have a few relaxing days around the hotel pool, and lovely dinners out with my favorite guy.  God always seems to provide what I need, even when I don't know I'll need it.  I hope He is providing just as well for you today, Gentle Reader.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Family time

 We have just finished 5 wonderful days (or 3 days, plus parts-of-days on both ends) and our house seems too quiet.  We had a blast with Tim, Nikki, and Emma.  And all three of Emma's Great-grandparents spent time with her, and even babysat when the rest of us went to the opera on Friday night.   We already miss everyone terribly, but look forward to heading to Arizona in August to celebrate Emma's second birthday with her. Here are a few glimpses of our time, with more photos to follow.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012


I love few things more than visits with my children and grandchildren.  They are such a huge blessing from God to me!  These cuties are arriving some time tonight, and I have been doing nothing but smile since yesterday.  I can hardly wait! They are cute, and smart, and wonderful, but more than that, they are mine, and being with them completes my family and fills my mama's heart somehow.

And it occurs to me that God, the Lord of all the universe, anticipates my being with Him like I anticipate time with my children.  He looks forward to it, and longs for it.  He sacrifices for it, and prepares for it.  Not because I'm cute, or smart, or holy, or good.  Just because I'm His. And He has decided to love me. Now that is amazing.

May we all, Gentle Readers, anticipate not just family time on this earth, but the glorious family time that awaits us in heaven, where every tear will be dried, and no one will be missing who belongs. That is truly something to anticipate with joy!