Saturday, May 31, 2014

Strange paths

I am often surprised by the strange twists my path in this world takes. But there is a pleasing unity to the whole when I look back at it. That helps me to look forward with hope.

Friday found me at the medical center being diagnosed with acute diverticulitis and an abcess on my bowel. We have hopefully found these in time to successfully treat them with antibiotics at home.

As I look back, I realize the tender care of a loving heavenly Father who was willing to disappoint me (today I am missing a sweet niece's wedding and reunion with family) in order to keep me off the road and with good medical care as this has unfolded. God is good.

And as I look forward to things planned and hoped that may not now be able to happen, I am working at being content in His love and care, and leaving the details to Him. May we both be successful at such rest, Gentle Reader.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Stuck between

I love to look at the backs of quilts.  There is often a beauty to the quilting that gets lost or masked by the colors of fabric on the front, and a plain background on the back often makes the patterns and the stiches stand out.  And of course between the top and the back is the batting-- that fluffy middle that does the yeoman's work of a quilt, giving lift to the quilting and warmth to the one being covered with the quilt.  That batting gets pretty smashed in between the layers.

I suppose it is part of the human condition to feel stuck between things. That seems to be a recent theme of my life: with a myriad of brilliant and wonderful doctor-specialists, I sometimes feel picked to pieces, each doc wanting to deal with his or her own part, but not with me as a whole.  I feel torn between my beloved family members all over the country, wanting to be with them, but being far from some and close to others.  But it never seems to be right.

That is, of course, because of my biggest in-between. I am in this fallen world and don't belong here, and not yet in nor fit for my home in heaven.  There is an old song by Glad that says it well:

The depth of your dreams, the height of your wishes
The length of your visions I see
The hope of your heart is much bigger than this
For it's made out of what might be

So now picture your hope, your heart's desire
As a castle that you must keep
And all of its spelndor, it's drafty with lonely
This heart is too hard to heat

when I get lonely, now that's only my sign
That some room is empty in me, and that room is there by design
If I feel hollow, well that's just my proof that there's more
I need to follow
And that's what the lonely is for
That's what the lonely is for

But you could seal up the pain
Build walls in the hallways, close off a small room to live in
But then those walls would remain
And keep you there always
You would never know why you were given,
Why you were given that lonely
Why you were given that empty in your heart
Why you were given that hollow
That's just your proof that there's more you need to follow
That's what the lonely is for

Feels like a curse, not a blessing
This palace of promise
When the empty chill makes you weep
With only the thin fire of romance to warm you
These halls are too tall and deep

When I get lonely, well that's only my sign
Some room is empty in me and that room is there by design
If I feel hollow, well that's just my proof that there's more
For me to follow
And that's what the lonely is for
For me to follow, that's what the lonely is for

So, on this crushed-between-the-layers kind of day, Gentle Reader, I am clinging to the God who designed me and trusting He knows what he is doing in my life, and in yours.

“I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world; but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am”
― John Newton

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Good news

Yesterday we headed to Albuquerque for my eye exam, prior to next week's infusion.  We got some very good news!  Every test showed improvement, and we have started the "remission" clock ticking.  What does that mean?

  • My birdshot auto-immune eye disease is at a stable point.  While we still have little vestiges of leakage from my blood vessels, it is difficult at this point to tell what is due to permanent damage, and what is not really leakage at all.   It is possible these 'shadows" will continue to improve as we continue treatment, or they may be with me forever.  But basically there is nothing active going on in either eye: no active lesions, to active leakage. Words fail me to describe the difference between the original FA imaging done in October of 2012 and the last one.  What was chaotic and blurry and misshapen blood vessels has become very clearly defined, normal-looking blood vessels. It is amazing! 
  • My sight has returned to 20/20 in my left eye, and 20/25 in my right eye- (with my glasses, of course!) and that is a huge improvement.  As a matter of fact over the last 2-3 weeks, i have noticed a substantial improvement in acuity.  Praise God! And just going through the tests was much less painful.
  • My sed rate and inflamation markers have continued to drop as of my last blood work, and I hope to  see more in next week's blood work!  I am regaining energy and feeling much better than I have in a very long time. Additionally, my night vision has improved, my contrast vision has improved, and my cataract has become less bothersome.
  • Now that I am at this "remission" point, we may still have to tinker with my medicine dosages and intervals, but basically I will stay at something like this every-day cellcept and every 8-week remicade infusion schedule for about 2 years.  If everything is still stable at that point, we will try to wean me off of my drugs and see if I can maintain the remission without them.  I recently read that about 20-25% of birdshot patients who reach remission stay there, while about 75% have one or more future flare-up. periods of remission can last anywhere from weeks to years.  And some birdshot patients never reach remission. So I am blessed. 
I am very grateful for a good doctor, a great husband with both loving support and good insurance, and an amazing God who lifts me up just when I need it the most.  Thanks, Gentle Readers, for your continued prayers and support.  

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday without words

These photos from a hike on 5-10-14 with the parental units in Las Conchas Canyon, Jemez Mountains, New Mexico-- about 30 minutes from my house.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

God's process

Two days ago it was spring and blooming things were starting to look lush and promising.  Today it is snowing.  If there is one truth about the climate that everyone can agree upon, it is that it changes in unpredictable ways.

I am also in a season of walking with friends as they lose their parents.  That is partly due to my own age rising to the mid-fifties.  And as it does, my body changes in ways I don;t appreciate.  Most of us don't like these changes.  The one constant, perhaps, in this veil of tears, is change.

And then I read this yesterday:

 "...[H]e calls us to a life of constant work, constant growth, and constant confession and repentance. Making us holy is God's unwavering agenda until we are taken home to be with him. He will do whatever he needs to produce holiness in us. He wants us to be a community of joy, but he is willing to compromise our temporal happiness in order to increase our Christlikeness. Any time we find ourselves in difficulty or trial, it is easy to think we have been forgotten or rejected by God. This is because we do not understand the present process. God is not working for our comfort and ease; He is working on our growth. At the very moment we are tempted to question his faithfulness, he is fulfilling his redemptive promises to us. After all, it's not like there are only some people who really need to change. Change is for everyone, and God is always at work to complete this process in us."

~How People Change by Timothy Lane and Paul David Tripp, pp. 6-7

Indeed.  It struck me to the heart.  When I rail against change, I am railing against and failing to understand the important process God is working in me or others.  There is a whole theology of suffering in this one paragraph.

So today I am trying to rejoice, but hold joy lightly; trust in God's process when I don't see it or understand it.  I hope you will come along with me, Gentle Reader, and watch what God will do.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Spring projects

I completed a couple of sampler quilts this spring, and since they have now been gifted, I can share.

"Lavender Sampler" was made for my sweet niece, Hallie, on the occasion of her high school graduation.  Well done, Hallie Jane!  I enjoyed both piecing and quilting this one.

And several months ago, my mother-in-law, Marilyn, gave me blocks she had completed around 10 years ago, deciding she would never use to complete a quilt.  She thought maybe I could use them. So I put the blocks together and made a nice throw-quilt for her and gave it to her for Mother's Day.  She did a good job with her blocks, don't you think?

I have also completed a couple of picnic quilts for up-coming weddings-- look for pictures after the events.  And now I am working on a baby quilt for Baby Carys, grandchild #4, due in June. I have had a productive spring!

As I make these quilts, I pray for the people I am making them for.  And though I am often far away, I treasure the idea of them wrapping up in these quilts and me being a little part of their lives in that way. What  a privilege to live a life that allows me to be creative and have the leisure to sew away.  I am grateful to God and to my sweet husband who funds these sewing adventures!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Some of my favorite moms

Today I am praising God for his provision of mothers.  He hard-wired them to be selfless, loving, and tender-hearted. And I am grateful, especially for these moms today:

 My mom and Dave's mom: so grateful for their examples of love and service over the long haul!

Elsa: mother to our Ada, calm, steady, caring, smart, funny.

Nikki: mother to our Emma and Ezra, creative, caring, full of life, thoughtful.

I am extremely grateful for these wonderful mothers in my life!

Thursday, May 01, 2014


I have recently found myself counting my blessings over and over again: hope of improving health; children and children-in-law and grandchildren and extended family who are doing well and love me; a rich life of service and contemplation; and possibly the world's best husband.  I do not deserve these things any more than the woman in Nigeria whose children were taken by terrorists, or the lady in Honduras watching her children die of hunger and untreated disease, and ignorance.  And yet, here I am, with blessings overflowing.

I am just thankful.

I will bless the Lord at all times;
    his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
    let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
    and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
    and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
    and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
    and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
    around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
    Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints,
    for those who fear him have no lack!
The young lions suffer want and hunger;
    but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
~Psalm 34:1-10