Carol Wilson Update

Stage 4 Cancer brought many challenges--and also a host of loving and praying friends. Almost-daily postings to this site are to help my friends walk with me through this journey, and to express my gratitude to them and especially to God...On 7/8/08 Carol passed through that final curtain of death and is now healed. We thank God for her life and "arrival"! Chuck

Monday, April 30, 2007

Hurling Anxieties

Most of us know that the Bible says, in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” The problem, says our teacher Tom, is that the words slide through our minds with little impact because they’re so familiar. The word cast really means hurl (think shotput). It’s a vigorous verb. Notably, God doesn’t demean our anxieties, or say, “Tut tut, surely you’re not anxious!?” No, he acknowledges that we get anxious, and he tells us what to do with our anxieties. And if they come back, we can hurl them on God again…and again. What do I have to do to obey this? I think first I need to own the anxiety, to pick it up and admit that it’s mine. If I’m in denial, because after all it’s not very spiritual to be anxious, I’ll never grab it firmly enough to hurl it away. It seems I may have been denying or glossing over my anxieties lately. Digging less deeply into life, stepping gingerly over the surface, ignoring the anxieties that God knows exist in the presence of this kind of cancer. I guess that’s why I stopped praying for my own healing (hoping the prayers of others would be enough). Sunday school yesterday morning was a healthy dose of reality for me, and I’m thankful.

Our friend who needs a kidney is seeing some progress. A woman in our class has offered to donate a kidney if she matches. Tomorrow the patient goes to Wake Forest to learn if it’s a match. Would you help us pray for her? Also tomorrow I’m scheduled for another kemo. I’m asking God to direct it to the cancer cells and destroy them. I am so grateful for your prayers.


Sunday, April 29, 2007


One of the special events of yesterday was a benefit jewelry show. Now, you know I wear little jewelry, and Chuck wears none at all (smile). So what made it special? Our dear friend, whose ministry was the beneficiary of the show. When we first met her, about 10 years ago, she weighed about 450 pounds and could scarcely do anything. Then, with God's help (and Weight Watchers and the YMCA), she took off the weight and even made an appearance on Oprah. She never misses an opportunity to give glory to God. Sensitive to the suffering and isolation of obese people, she formed an organization called HOPE: Helping Overweight People Embrace (embrace themselves, life, others, and God). Right now she's in the process of expanding the ministry into all the YMCAs in this city, and other locations are also eager for her help. Isn't it inspiring to see people turn their personal tragedies into avenues of hope for others?

I'm happy to report that the bluebirds are still laying claim to the bluebird house. Oh, I hope we'll have a family there soon. And yes, I did get tomato plants into the ground yesterday. While we were at the market buying them, we realized we were close to the strawberry fields, so we went and picked some berries. What a treat! Delightful distractions like that interfere with the Saturday task list, but who's to say what's really important? Now we have those juicy sweet temptations to serve to our surprise breakfast guests this morning. (A dear friend from Florida is traveling with her daughter between two funerals, and they stayed in Charlotte last night. A few minutes this morning is our only chance to see them, and we grabbed the opportunity.)

I'm newly aware that I must personally be fully engaged in praying for my own healing; I'm afraid I was coasting on the confidence that others were doing that work. I'm sorry I lose my way so easily. It just seemed easier, I guess, to be praying for other people and ignore my own challenge of the moment. Both...and.... That's the principle!

May your Sunday be blessed.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Still Thinking of Me

When I woke up this morning, my mind went to Psalm 139:18, which in one newer translation says, "When I wake up, you are still thinking of me." I wrote about that here a few weeks ago, and it encouraged me again today. Often I berate myself for letting my thoughts get tangled in trivial things, not even aware of God for awhile. Yet he is not forgetful of me. I'm once again putting both feet firmly on his grace and his memory of me!

Yesterday I heard a beautiful woman tell about her serious burn accident and what she has done with the experience. It happened in Bolivia, and eventually she was flown back to the States for treatment. Recovered, she started a ministry called Burn Care International to help burn victims in the developing world, starting in Bolivia and expanding to Afghanistan and some countries in Africa. (She's not on the web yet.) She provides training for medical people, and also trains seamstresses to sew the pressure suits so vital to prevent disfiguring scarring. She seems glad for her tragedy, because it opened the door for her to help so many. I'm impressed that she didn't wait to form a big organization. She simply got started. Incidentally, the burn patients in Afghanistan are often women who attempted suicide by fire, or women whose fathers tried to burn them because somehow they caused shame to the family. There's a thick wall between our privileged existence and that of our sisters elsewhere, isn't there?

I'm thankful to feel well, and I plan to use today to eliminate some clutter from our home. Not my favorite occupation, but it seems worthwhile this morning. I'll also go get some tomato plants and put them in the ground.


Friday, April 27, 2007

Boasting about Babies

Well, the first “boast” is about our middle “baby,” Karin, who is now in her 40s and completing her first year of law school. She learned yesterday that she had been selected for the moot court competitive team for her school. We take no credit for this achievement, but we’re proud of her nevertheless.

The next “boast” is about a flock of baby chickadees in Lisa's decorative birdhouse just outside our kitchen window. Their lively little mother keeps busy feeding them, and they’re becoming very demanding. Earlier this spring, sparrows apparently scared off the bluebirds that were checking out the bluebird house, but now there’s a handsome male hanging around the house again, so we’re hoping for a late family there as well.

After work yesterday we planted begonias in our front beds. Now we're getting a beautiful rain. I wish we had tomato plants in the ground!

Now, some serious thoughts about time, from a message by Jeremy Begbie. He points out that it took God time to create the world; that time is built in as part of all that the Creator made and called good. We tend to think that if something doesn’t happen right away, it's some sort of failure. But good things take time. “Lord, how little I appreciate the time you have given me. I do all sorts of things to try to speed up, and yet sometimes you want to slow me down. I want to be efficient. You want me to glorify you whatever the circumstances. I tend to see suffering and trauma as thwarting your design, yet they may be at the center of your design, as they were in the cross.” Let’s slow down enough today to think about this rare gift of time, and to seek to know what God wants to do with the time he has given us.

I'm grateful for a good night's sleep.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Does the Bible Really Say That?

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Chuck is really enjoying his one-year Bible in The Message paraphrase by Eugene Peterson, and a couple of days ago he read this to me. But does the Bible really say that? I recognized it as the favorite verse of my friend Joyce, who died of cancer several years ago. It’s at the very end of Matthew 6.

A day earlier, he read these startling words: “Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.” (That’s from earlier in the same chapter.)

I didn't sleep very many hours last night, though I went to bed about 8:00. First it was the kemo-induced "poundy head," then opportunistic "details" demanded attention. I really love all my responsibilities, but I need to do them in the daytime, not at night! This time, no encouraging songs came to comfort me. Finally, near morning, I got a picture of a small child drawing near her mother to be comforted, and I remembered that Jesus gave the name "Comforter" to the Holy Spirit. So I prayed, "Holy Spirit, I need your comfort now." That was my last conscious thought until the wake-up alarm sounded. I'll be okay, and if I need more rest, I'm free to come home during the day for it.

For new readers, I should explain my spelling of chemo-therapy. Last year my two young grandchildren sent cards, in which they both wished me well with the "kemo." I thought it was cute, almost like a cartoon character, and much less toxic-sounding than "chemo." So I've been writing about kemo ever since.

Blessings for your day,

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Good Morning

This was Sunday's lunch -- only one of the wonderful meals Lisa prepared for us while we were in Washington DC. It was a thoroughly pleasant weekend.

Our Michigan friend brought us a frog-shaped cookie jar filled with notes written by other friends back in Michigan. Even the note paper was printed with frogs. So much love there! You can imagine the happy moments we spent reading the notes.
My blood count yesterday showed improvement on several fronts: My white cell count (fights infection) is higher than it's been since October. My hemoglobin (carries red cells for energy) is 12.3, higher than it's been since early February. I'm so thankful. The doctor advises, and we concur, to continue another cycle with Taxol. Kemo went smoothly yesterday, and I'm feeling great this morning after a long night's sleep.
Yesterday morning Chuck read this to me:
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” He is really enjoying the one-year Bible in The Message paraphrase by Eugene Peterson. But does the Bible really say that? I recognized it as the favorite verse of my friend Joyce, who died of cancer several years ago. It’s at the very end of Matthew 6.

A day earlier, he read these startling words: “Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.” (That’s from earlier in the same chapter.)
This morning I get to participate in the meeting of the group that will award cash scholarships to aspiring writers on behalf of the Evangelical Press Association. I wish we could help them all; there's a lot of dedicated talent among the applicants. It was enlightening to read their entries. And then, if I'm still wide awake in the afternoon, I'll be back at my desk refining the draft of the next SIM magazine.
I hope your day is great.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Holding Steady

Briefly, the doctor recommends, and we concur, that we move ahead with another cycle of the taxol--three weeks on and one week off. The infusion went well, and I'm heading for an early bedtime. My loving neighbor just spent a few minutes over here encouraging me. I am blessed.

I'll be back here in the morning.


What's Really Important

A cross, a pulpit, some seating, and the presence of God. This is where Church meets in Doro, South Sudan. It's a place where the people have experienced great suffering--not only in the recent 30-year war, but long before. In fact, a missionary couple died here during World War 2. Now SIM workers and our partners are re-opening the clinic there (naming it in honor of that couple) and helping the Sudanese church to start new churches, including the one pictured here. When life crowds us, it's helpful to reflect on the faith and courage of the people in the world's hot spots. That helps me focus on what's really important, and it also reminds me to pray for them.

And this comes from a friend in Asia: "Looking back I praise Him! Looking around I serve Him! Looking ahead I trust Him! Looking up I expect Him!"

What a beautiful evening we had with our Michigan friends! (They brought encouraging notes from many other friends as well.) Now they'll be busy volunteering at SIM for a few days.

We're trusting God for wisdom for us and for the oncologist as we meet today to decide how to proceed with treatment. It's a great day to Fully Rely On God.


Monday, April 23, 2007

The Lamb

Yesterday morning, the church service was a feast of Scripture and music and joy. The reading for the third Sunday of Easter was from Revelation 5, giving power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing to the Lamb that was slaughtered. The preacher said that the story of the Lamb is the whole story of history, including the terrible losses and pain of last week. (He referred to the murders at Virginia Tech, the deaths of the innocents in Baghdad and Mogadishu, and even the loss of thousands of acres of God's created rain forest last week and every week--this in honor of Earth Day.) "The Lamb," he said, "is still standing, and so are all of God's promises. God will ultimately be victorious over evil." We can walk through pain praising Him because He walks with us and redeems us by His blood.

We feel refreshed and blessed by our weekend with Lisa in Washington DC. We're thankful for a safe trip home, and looking forward to God's help for the challenges of today. Eight friends from Michigan are arriving today to do volunteer work at SIM. We're excited about seeing them. This is a nearly annual event--what fun.

I'm not thinking or talking much about the cancer having broken through again. I've done enough internet research in the past to substantiate what the oncologist says, that there have been no medical breakthroughs for ovarian cancer. In fact, all of the kemo drugs (six different ones so far) that I've received are designed for some other type of cancer, mostly lung and breast. So all I know to do is to keep praying for wisdom and for God's healing touch, to continue to do what I can about exercise and nutrition, to live fully each day, and watch to see what God will do. Please pray that Dr. Boyd will have God's wisdom for our consultation with him tomorrow. "The Lamb is still standing."


Sunday, April 22, 2007

Beautiful Morning

Another gorgeous morning. We’re missing our Sunday friends back home, but surely thankful for this good time with Lisa.

On yesterday’s Embassy Row tour, we learned about the tragic scandals in the pampered lives of the wealthy people who built many of the mansions in the years between 1890 and 1930. The tour guide said, “It was an era when too much was never enough.” Too sad!

At lunch on Lisa’s patio, a neighbor from across the courtyard stopped in for a visit. She, like three out of four people in DC (Lisa’s guess) is an attorney. It was delightful. Then we went to the National Portrait Gallery and Luce’s Museum of American Art. They’re only a block away from Lisa’s condo. And wonderful. It’s hard to find, but up on the 3rd floor mezzanine, there’s a Conservation studio, where they repair frames, paintings, and sculptures. Fascinating and thought-provoking. Videos of the various conservators express the value of art for our lives and the high importance of protecting and restoring it. By the time they kicked us out at closing time at 7:00 pm, we were tired enough to quit anyway. (I’d love to go back sometime.)

Almost time to leave for church. This afternoon we will drive back home. We have a full day planned tomorrow. And Tuesday we’ll meet with the oncologist to discuss what to do next.

Have a great day.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Nation's Capital

We’ve been given a perfectly beautiful weekend. Our trip yesterday was safe, thank the Lord. You can be thankful that I don’t plan to describe the final 90 minutes that we spent in a virtual 3-mile “parking lot” just before we got to Lisa’s house. That would be the big city at 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. We’re so happy to be here with her and her schnauzer Maggie.

Today we’ll take a walking tour of Embassy Row, and then visit the recently reopened Portrait Gallery; and if energy permits, we’ll stop in at the Smithsonian Craft Show.

I took advantage of several hours in the car yesterday to read a stack of newsletters from SIM workers. As always, I’m struck by their creativity, faith, and perseverance.

Lisa, having earned her Master of Social Work degree a year ago, now counsels homeless people who have decided to reclaim their lives. She has a 53-year-old client who is about to graduate from high school! (Really graduate, not only get a “graduate equivalent” thing.) That’s something to celebrate.

I hope your weekend is great. God is good.


Friday, April 20, 2007

Light, Space, Zest

Chuck here filling in for Carol this morning. I awoke rather early today and was praying for many of you friends and family members, thanking God for your encouragement and support while you face many challenges in your own lives. Hopefully Carol will be able to get a little more sleep this morning without me tossing around.

The other day as I was reading The Daily Message (Eugene Peterson), I came to Psalm 27, “Light, space, zest – that’s God! So, with him on my side I’m fearless, afraid of no one and nothing.” WOW, that sure is something to get your mind around! I still like the traditional translation “light and salvation”, but this opens my mind to an even broader view of God. So why do we ever fear anything? Could it be that we just don’t get it? We can’t really comprehend the greatness of our God? I’m sure that is it for me. I keep wanting to put Him on my level of understanding, which is actually ridiculous. Thanks for stretching my view of you again God!

This morning we head for Washington DC to spend the weekend with daughter, Lisa. It is always a thrill for us to spend time with our wonderful family. No special plans, just a rich time of sharing and spending time together! I assume that we will be able to connect to the internet, but our only option will likely be Wi Fi and if that happens to be down, you may not hear from us until Monday.

Some weeks ago I mentioned an Open House/Reception for Carol on May 26th at SIM here in Charlotte. Thanks for all of your messages and reservations coming from several far-away states. As of yesterday, we still had a couple rooms available. So if you need housing, let me know. That is a busy weekend for the area and motels are either filled or filling quickly.

I trust that you have a wonderful day and weekend. Let your mind play with the thought of the God of our salvation as light, space and zest.

We love you all!

Chuck…and Carol too

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Good News / Bad News

This striking image came in my email yesterday. The reminder of our Savior’s loving sacrifice encouraged me. It looks like He has the entire human population of all ages (including you and me) in His view, even as He hangs there suffering and dying. It may also represent the perspective of the Father, the Holy Spirit, and the angels as they watched the saving work of the beloved Son.

Yesterday brought both good news and bad. First, the bad. Or it seemed bad. My CA 125 numbers have stopped dropping. I know it’s not what we’ve been praying for. Except that we’ve been praying for God’s will and God’s glory. So He gets to decide what’s good and what’s bad. I won’t stop battling the cancer and I won’t stop living life fully, as long as He gives me breath.

The good news is breathtakingly good. Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the 2003 congressional ban on “partial birth abortion.” I don’t know how many actual lives it will save, because statistics are hard to find on how many of those barbaric procedures are performed. But every one prevented means an innocent, nearly-born infant is spared an enormous weight of terrible suffering. We have a family story about a similar procedure.

On February 13, 1914, my grandmother (a very tiny woman) was trying to give birth to her first child, my mother (who weighed in at 10 pounds). My grandfather drove to a nearby town to get the doctor, who eventually gave up and said, “Carl, this birth is impossible. I’m going to have to crush the head of your baby in order to save your wife’s life.” Grandma was already under ether and didn’t get a chance to vote in the matter. But Grandpa said, “No, I know my wife. If you kill the baby, she’ll die anyway of sorrow. You must keep trying.” I don’t know details of the next hours, but I know how it turned out. My mother was born healthy, my grandmother lived and bore five more children (one of whom died soon after), and my grandfather’s wisdom prevailed. I guess you can figure out that there would never have been a “me” if Grandpa had weasled in that dreadful moment.

We’re driving to Washington DC tomorrow to spend Saturday and part of Sunday with daughter Lisa. Can’t wait! Next Tuesday afternoon we’ll see the oncologist to discuss how to proceed.


Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Yes, the CA 125 has gone up about 1 point. (A month ago it was 88.13.) A one-point rise isn't very significant, but it does show that the taxol is no longer reducing the cancer. Please pray for wisdom for the oncologist and for us. (Our hope isn't in medicine anyway, is it?)

Thanks so much.

End of Chocolate Boycott (sort of)

A few weeks ago I learned from an SIM worker who is an advocate for children at risk that about half of the chocolate sold in the world is made from cocoa beans harvested by slave labor. So I announced a personal chocolate boycott in my blog. Yesterday I received a package from my cousin—four large fair-traded chocolate bars. Two are organic from the Lutheran World Relief (cocoa from small farmers in Peru and Dominican Republic). The other two are “Divine” brand, certified fair-traded, of cocoa from Ghana, probably available at a health food store. Thanks, Ammie. I’ll take them to our family outing in the Bahamas in May and share them with that part of your extended family. Now if we could just persuade Nestle and Hershey and Cadbury…! (

Here’s a story told by the late Peter Marshall, one-time chaplain of the U.S. Senate. A servant of a wealthy merchant went on an errand to the market. Suddenly he felt someone brush heavily against his shoulder. Somewhat offended, he turned toward the person who had jostled him, and found himself staring into a pair of eyes that spoke of death. Panicking, he dropped everything and ran home. His master met him and asked what was the matter. “Oh, Sir! Someone in the marketplace rudely brushed me, and when I faced him, he looked like the angel of death. He also had a look of shock on his face, almost as if he wanted to grab me but then backed away. I am afraid, sir. I don’t want to go back to the market.” “Saddle my horse and ride to the village of Samara,” the master said. “Stay there until I notify you that it’s safe to return.” The servant rode off, and the master went to confront the stranger in the market. “Who are you?” he demanded. “Are you the one who scared my servant?” “Yes, I am. I wasn’t trying to scare him; I was just so surprised to see him here. I am the Angel of Death, and I was merely passing the time here before heading to my assignment. You see, I have an appointment with him tonight in Samara.”

I don’t intend to be fatalistic, but I do believe there’s truth in this fable. We can ride as hard as we like to get to Samara, but some day we’ll turn the calendar page to the date that God has pre-written as the day He’ll call us home. “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before even one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16). And that will be a good day, too.

Thanks so much to all who are praying for my cancer numbers to drop again. As soon as I get a report this morning, I’ll post a short message on top of this one.


Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More Hope

The subject of hope has captured my attention. No wonder a hopeful song was echoing in my mind when I woke up for awhile at 1:20 this morning:

Just think of stepping on shore, and finding it heaven;
Of touching a hand, and finding it God's;
Of breathing new air, and finding it celestial;
Of waking up in glory, and finding it home!

"Hope" is one of God's many names. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13).

English seems inadequate here. Yesterday I said, "I hope my cancer numbers won't stop dropping." That's a very unsure hope--maybe wish would be a better word. But in the dozens of sites where the Bible talks about hope based on God, it's an absolutely sure thing. Like this: "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" (Hebrews 12:19). Yesterday the wind here was wild and exciting. Sometimes life becomes like a wild and dangerous wind; an anchor for the soul is essential and wonderful.

Blood test this morning, then I "hope" for a productive day of writing and editing. This "hope" is a good one, but not exactly an anchor (stuff happens). I also "hope" for God's peace and purpose to be actualized in life here, today, and that "hope" is an anchor I can lean my entire self and survival on.

Have a hope-filled day.


Monday, April 16, 2007


"We have enough people who 'tell it like it is.' Now we could use a few who tell it like it can be." I thought of that quote by Robert Orben yesterday morning as we were studying 1 Peter 3:15, "Always be ready to give an explanation for the hope in you when people ask about it." Teacher Tom warned us that if we're always glumly predicting disaster, pointing out the flaws in society and the hopelessness of our situation, there's slim chance anyone watching will ask us about "the hope in us." Maybe it makes us look more intelligent when we can discern what's wrong, and maybe there's even a time for that. But I think that telling the whole truth requires a conversation laced with hope. Not blind hope, but sure hope that springs from knowing God--His power, His promises, and His record of redemption. Some say you're born either an optimist or a pessimist. Maybe. But could a pessimist grow in hope as she grows in knowing God?

Six good friends joined us for supper and conversation last evening. Lovely. In the afternoon Chuck and I walked the trails of the Daniel B. Stowe Botanical Garden. Despite the killing freeze of the previous weekend, panoramas of beauty remain among the fountains and green leafy backdrops.

Tomorrow I'll get blood drawn for a CA 125 test, and we'll probably have results Wednesday morning. Sure, I speculate. What if the cancer numbers quit dropping, or start rising? I hope they don't. But I have a hope bigger than that, a sure hope, that whatever the test reveals, God is absolutely in control, totally good, and fully reliable.

Robert Alden said, "There is not enough darkness in the world to put out the light of even one small candle." I love to visualize all our flames of hope lighting the way for people who need light. So be ready to explain it!

In sure hope,

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Call Back!

I found a poem that illustrates why I like to read about people who have walked the Christian pilgrimage ahead of me. (I also like to listen to them in person, but I'm reaching an age where there aren't so many "older" folks left.) Anyway, here's the poem by an unknown author:

Call Back!

If you have gone a little way ahead of me, call back--
It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track.
And if, perchance, faith's light is dim, because the oil is low,
Your call will guide my lagging course as wearily I go.

Call back, and tell me that He went with you into the storm,
Call back, and say He kept you, when forest's roots were torn;
That when the heavens thundered, and the earthquake shook the hill,
He bore you up and held you where the very air was still.

And if you'll say He heard you when your prayer was but a cry,
And if you'll say He saw you through the night's sin-darkened sky,
If you have gone a little way ahead, O friend, call back--
It will cheer my heart and help my feet along the stony track.

Come to think of it, if it happens that I've been on this track longer than you have, I'd be very pleased if you could hear my voice "calling back," assuring you that God is fully reliable and will go with you, keep you, hold you, hear you, and see you at every turn of your road.

My eye hardly hurts this morning, and I'm feeling quite rested, looking forward to discussing the subject of hope at Sunday school. We have a good time with friends planned for this evening.

I hope your weekend has been restful and wonderful.


Saturday, April 14, 2007

Because He Is Risen

Still celebrating Christ's resurrection, I thought I'd pass along these words. All day I want to think about the "endless dance of his ability," and the "shortened shelf life" of selfishness.

Because he is risen
Spring is possible
In all the cold hard places
Gripped by winter
And freedom jumps the queue
To take fear’s place
as our focus
Because he is risen

Because he is risen
My future is an epic novel
Where once it was a mere short story
My contract on life is renewed
in perpetuity
My options are open-ended
My travel plans are cosmic
Because he is risen

Because he is risen
Healing is on order and assured
And every disability will bow
Before the endless dance of his ability
And my grave too will open
When my life is restored
For this frail and fragile body
Will not be the final word
on my condition
Because he is risen

Because he is risen
Hunger will go begging in the streets
For want of a home
And selfishness will have a shortened shelf-life
And we will throng to the funeral of famine
And dance on the callous grave of war
And poverty will be history
In our history
Because he is risen

And because he is risen
A fire burns in my bones
And my eyes see possibilities
And my heart hears hope
Like a whisper on the wind
And the song that rises in me
Will not be silenced
As life disrupts
This shadowed place of death
Like a butterfly under the skin
And death itself
Runs terrified to hide
Because he is risen
Gerard Kelly

Last evening I was reading some portfolios submitted by journalism students to the scholarship committee of the Evangelical Press Association. A couple are so good they left me breathless. Some of the others still have some learning to do. All, though, are encouraging in that they want to use their gift for writing to reflect a Christian outlook in the world of media. I wish them well. (And I'll vote for the two best to get the cash.)

Does anybody know if kemo can cause eye damage? I've been aware of growing periodic pain in my left eye, and whenever I have a "runny eye day," that's the one that runs. Guess I'll do some research, and talk with the doctor when I see him on the 17th. And especially pray.


Friday, April 13, 2007

God Makes no Mistakes

Mistakes and failure are natural events in our lives. If we’re unwilling to risk them, we freeze our creativity and stifle our possibilities. But imagine this: God never makes a mistake—never fails. My Moody classmate Virgil Reeves sent this poem:

My Father’s way may twist and turn,
My heart may throb and ache;
But in my soul I’m glad to know,
Our God makes no mistake.
My cherished plans may go astray,
My fondest hopes may fade away;
But still I trust my Lord to lead,
My Father knows the way.
There’s so much now I cannot see,
My eyesight’s still too dim,
But come what may, I still can trust,
And leave it all to Him.
For by and by the fog will lift,
And all things clear He’ll make;
Through all the way, though dark to me,
He made not one mistake.
A.M. Overton

We arrived in Greenville a few minutes before noon yesterday, and it seemed only about ten minutes later that someone exclaimed, "It's six o'clock already." Our meal, our conversation, our singing around the piano--all those sweet moments flew away. But we're warmed by wonderful memories.

This cancer journey begins to seem a chronic thing. So far from an all-out assault on an Everest-like mountain, it's more like slogging through mud. I think my struggles are similar to those everyone in "ordinary" situations faces: the battle to think straight, the need to eat right and exercise faithfully (I want exactly the opposite of what's good for me), and the discipline required to resist the call of the trivial and focus, instead, on God and people. Simply stated, I need prayer for my attitude, my habits, and my focus. Did I say simple?

Thanks for caring and praying.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Still Learning

Last evening we went to a cancer support group because my oncologist was the featured speaker. His topic was "New Developments in Cancer Treatment," and as I expected, he had nothing to report about new treatment for ovarian cancer. But his talk was interesting, and I learned something. I could get genetic testing, and if I turn out to be among the 50% of women who get ovarian cancer but don't have the genetic marker for it (BRCA1 or BRCA2, I think), then our daughters could assume that it doesn't "run in the family." The other possible outcome would, of course, create a dilemma for each of them, wouldn't it?

Another member of my Moody graduating class has sent a couple of helpful emails. I’d like to pass along his list of 10 ways to appreciate and make use of the spiritual resources available during a terminal illness. (Note: If I hear that a friend has been diagnosed “terminal,” I probably wouldn’t send this list, because one never knows when’s a good time to talk about it. So hang on to it if you think it’s useful.)

1. Recognize and accept that terminal grief normally moves from shock, disbelief, and denial through bargaining and depression to acceptance and peace.

2. Terminal illness forces us to face the reality of what has always been inevitable.

3. Recognize the healthful and helpful therapy of tears.

4. Understand that your illness may be forcing your family and friends to confront their own mortality, causing them to express high levels of fear and uncertainty.

5. Discover spiritual resources and reserves that help you discover new richness and fullness in your “terminal” life.

6. Enlist the support of a few trusted friends to walk with you through this journey.

7. “Terminal time” is time for getting your house in order. Reconcile with God, family, “enemies,” and your unfulfilled dreams.

8. Define your wishes for the stuff you’re leaving behind.

9. Practicing the presence of God in your “terminal time” will give spiritual resources to meet your physical needs.

10. Expect bad days or hours when your peaceful acceptance swings away to anxiety. Talk about it with those you trust, and wait patiently for it to pass.

These days I’m functioning so well that I’m not consciously calling myself “terminal.” But even if God gives me 20 more years, these 10 principles work for everyday life as well.

Today we are driving to Greenville, SC, for lunch and hugs with friends from Michigan. Oh! Friends are treasures!


Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Kemo was painless and smooth. Thank God. I slept long and soundly in the afternoon, and now I feel caught up and I'm looking forward to a good day at work. My face has the usual day-after-kemo flush.

During the celebration of our 50th anniversary graduation reunion at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago in February, one of our classmates offered to be a “hub” for communication among the class. Last week we heard from a guy who couldn’t attend due to continuing effects of a stroke three years ago. He can’t walk easily or speak clearly, but continues his ministry of encouragement by writing. He says the stroke didn’t affect his mind, but his son says, “That’s what you think!” (I’m sure my family and friends would say the same about me. I blame “kemo brain.”) Anyway, I want to pass along to you a short paragraph from Lin’s letter:

“Oftentimes, when people try to sympathize with me, I remind them of the Westminster Shorter Catechism concerning the effects of sin. ‘The effects of sin are: loss of communion with God, coming under His wrath and curse, the miseries of this life, death itself, and the pains of hell forever.’ Of that list, the least important is often regarded as the most significant—viz, the miseries of this life. The miseries of this life are momentary.”

It’s all a matter of perspective.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Higher Throne

I mentioned on Sunday that Jeremy had brought a wonderful new song back from Africa. The tune and harmony are beautiful, and the words themselves are full of worship and hope. It helps me continue to celebrate the future that Easter has made possible.

Higher Throne

There is a higher throne
Than all this world has known
Where faithful ones from every tongue
Will one day come
Before the Son we'll stand
Made faultless through the Lamb
Believing hearts find promised grace
Salvation comes

Hear heaven's voices sing
Their thunderous anthem rings
Through emerald courts and sapphire skies
Their praises rise
All glory, wisdom, power
Strength, thanks and honor are
To God our King who reigns on high
For evermore

And there we'll find our home
Our life before the throne
We'll honor Him in perfect song
Where we belong
He'll wipe each tear-stained eye
As thirst and hunger die
The Lamb comes as our Shepherd King
We'll reign with him.
By Keith Getty & Kristyn Lennox

Our Nassau friend had a bad reaction to his chemo again last week. We’re praying they’ll regulate his pre-meds so the infusion doesn’t affect him so seriously. I am so thankful for the hope I have this morning that again, by God’s grace, my kemo (at 9 am) will go smoothly and I’ll bounce back for another good week. Thanks so much for your prayers.


Monday, April 09, 2007

Cure for deadly virus

Yesterday was a wonderful Easter. Our home seems empty and silent now with the family back in Michigan, but we’re thankful for great memories of their time here. It was beautiful to see the love with which neighbors, SIM friends, and members of our Sunday school class welcomed Jeremy back from Africa. He is so grateful to all who prayed for him and his African friends during those 6 months.

Thwack! Thwack! For several minutes at the close of our Sunday school class, the solemn pounding of nails into wood was the only sound heard. After a meditation on how the cross provided the cure for the sin virus—thus sparing God from having to destroy the virus carriers (us)—teacher Tom gave us a few silent moments to reflect on the past day or two and recall an actual sin we’d committed in deed or attitude. Then we wrote it on a scrap of black paper and filed past a cross to which a couple of class members symbolically nailed those sins. And we recalled joyfully that Jesus voluntarily gave Himself, then was restored to life, to which He now invites us as well.

Yesterday’s newspaper contained this beautiful paragraph by Mary Frances Schjonberg: “The events of Easter morning don’t mean that Good Friday never happened. His resurrection didn’t rewrite history; it rewrote the future. And the future is rooted in love and forgiveness and hope. Not that nothing bad will ever happen but that God will never abandon us no matter what happens and that God will always transform the darkness and death into light and life.” I love that contrast between rewriting history and rewriting the future. It’s easy to despair over our history, things we should not have done but did, or things we should have done but didn’t. And a dark voice glooms, “Too bad you can’t rewrite history. You’ve ruined the future of those you hurt.” But Jesus’ resurrection sings, “I’ve rewritten the future into love, forgiveness, hope, light, and life.”

A good long night’s sleep made up for the busyness of the past week, and I’m thankful for a new day. I need to make good progress on the next SIM magazine before time out for tomorrow's kemo.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Risen Indeed

"The Lord is risen."

"He is risen indeed."


With these words Christians have greeted one another on Easter mornings through the centuries. It happened in our house this morning, and now I'm passing it along to you.

We didn't keep a dark mood yesterday (didn't intend to). The "kids," who range in age from 19 to 23, chose the activities. First the flea market, then lunch at CeCe's Pizza, then Imaginon, the children's theater. There we found the teen video production studio available, and the kids donned costumes and danced and emoted their way through a hilarious drama. I haven't laughed so hard in weeks. Back at home, we played games and colored Easter eggs. The very best was a half hour or so of singing worship songs. The boys took turns on the guitar and it was sweet. Jeremy brought a new song home from Africa, "There is a Higher Throne." I want to get a copy for myself. It's beautiful.

We'll all celebrate Resurrection together at church, and then (sobs) they need to leave for Michigan. My heart is happy. If I'm tired today, it's probably not the fault of cancer or kemo; and I'll take a nap if I need to.

Have a wonderful Easter Sunday.


Saturday, April 07, 2007

Dark Anticipation

Years ago I read a book about the Trapp family singers. Maria von Trapp said that in her childhood home, the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter was a very dark day. They didn't open the blinds. They didn't eat. They scarcely talked. Then Sunday morning, all heaven broke loose. Their celebration of resurrection was all the more bright in contrast with the darkness of the preceding day. We know how it all turned out, but still I think it's helpful to emotionally enter in to the horror of the death of Jesus. His followers assumed all was lost. The Bible seems to indicate that He was having His own private war with the demons of hell. I wonder if the angels in heaven kept silent as they watched and waited for the accomplishment of redemption. And what were the Father and Holy Spirit feeling? What am I feeling? Gratitude for salvation, for sure!

We're thankful that so many members of the family are here; what fun we're having. The "young" ones will sleep for awhile yet, and then we'll organize an expedition. They need to head back to Michigan right after church tomorrow.

And I'm still feeling well. Thank you for your prayers. Today we need to call our Nassau friend and see how his second chemo went last evening. We've sure been praying.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Good Day

It is only because we now know what happened on Resurrection Sunday that we can call today Good Friday. It surely seemed unspeakably bad to Jesus' friends at the time. But not to Jesus! He was not a grim victim. Hebrews 12:2 says that all during His horrible shaming and suffering, He was thinking about the joy (for Him and for us?) that would result from His sacrifice to redeem us. I was thinking about the emotions and personal desires that flow out of knowing such a wonderful Savior, and I realized that I was practically quoting Galatians 5:22:

Reminds me of something Martin Luther said between groans of pain as he lay dying. "These pains and troubles here are like the type that printers set. When we look at them, we see them backwards, and they seem to make no sense and have no meaning. But up there, when the Lord God prints out our life to come, we will find they make splendid reading." I realize that modern technology has replaced the science of type-setting, but I remember it well. In college I worked at a luxury book bindery and had the tedious task of setting type for the personalized gold-leaf titles on the spine. Fifty years later, I can still read text in a mirror (backward) almost as easily as normal text. But life's struggles are harder to read, I admit.

Today, though, is a Good Day. First because of Jesus' death and resurrection. Also because of the safe arrival at 5:00 am of daughter Sue and family plus Jake, Jeremy's friend. What a reunion that was, after their 11-hour drive! Now everyone is asleep, and I also went back to sleep for awhile.

I appreciate your prayers so much. I'm feeling the fatigue that results from the drop in hemoglobin again, but I can live with that.

Love, joy, and peace to you!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Amazing Guy

Jeremy is here. Ten pounds lighter, but in good health. We are so thankful for God's protection and faithfulness through all the challenges of these six months. His family is coming tomorrow, and they'll all return to Michigan after church on Sunday. Thanks for all your prayers for him. (Photos and details at

Reading Judges 7, I was impressed by Gideon's reckless obedience to God. God had appeared to him and called him to drive out the enemy Midianites, whose cruel exploitation had driven the Israelites to hide in mountain caves. So Gideon summoned 32,000 warriors, and they followed him to a point where they could see, in the valley below, an army "like a swarm of bees," with camels "like grains of sand on the seashore--too many to count." God told Gideon his outnumbered army was still too large, and he should dismiss everyone who was timid or afraid--and 22,000 went home. But the remaining 10,000 were still too many for God's taste, and He told Gideon to further reduce his army to only 300. Otherwise, He said, "the Israelites will boast to me that they saved themselves by their own strength" (verse 2). The most amazing human action in this entire drama appears in verse 8: "So Gideon collected the provisions...of the other warriors and sent them home." Simple, bold, astounding, trusting obedience.

I suppose everyone who ever went to Sunday school knows about the victory God gave to Gideon's army. And a lot of people make silly applications of the fleece challenges Gideon had put to God at the end of chapter 6. Gideon wasn't "putting out a fleece" to determine God's will; he already knew that. He was firming up his faith. Once he was sure of God's power and His trustworthiness, obedience was logical--even if it seemed humanly outlandish. None of us will be called to lead an army. But there's so much injustice and lostness around us that God wants to remedy through us. The best preparation we can make is to know Him well enough to trust Him, as Gideon did. In other words, Fully Rely On God.


Wednesday, April 04, 2007


I'll get to lead morning prayers for SIM tomorrow. We'll sing this song:

Yes, Lord, Yes, to Your will and to Your way;
Yes, Lord, Yes, I will trust You and obey.
When Your Spirit speaks to me, with my whole heart I'll agree,
And my answer will be "Yes, Lord, Yes!"

"Yes" was the constant attitude of Jesus towards His Father throughout His life, and especially during the week leading up to His crucifixion. "I delight to do Your will, oh God," He said. With His help, we can say the same. It surely simplifies life.

Kemo went smoothly yesterday. Again I kept my feet in ice water as much as possible, hoping to minimize further nerve damage. It seemed to help last week. We had friends staying with us, so were especially happy to finish earlier than usual and get home in time to have lunch with them. I was awake several hours last night. Maybe I have too much on my mind, but more likely it's only "kemo head." I'll come home for a nap today if I need to. (I have several loved ones with chronic insomnia. Whenever I can't sleep, it's my reminder to pray for them.)

Jeremy's departure from Niger last evening was in doubt due to a terrific dust storm, but the plane did leave about an hour late. Assuming he made his connection in Paris, he is now enroute to Atlanta. He's due in Charlotte about 4 this afternoon. His lemon meringue pie will be waiting for him. His grandparents will too!

Have a great day.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Still thinking of me

When I awoke this morning, God was still thinking about me. And about you! (from Psalm 139)

Last week I heard someone refer to CS Lewis' novel, That Hideous Strength. It's been ages since I read it, so I dug out my dog-eared paperback and started reading it on our trip. I won't try here to explain the plot. He shows brilliantly how people with evil intentions can manipulate language to cloud truth and deceive seemingly intelligent people. Now, however, I want to share a simple and charming conversation from page 113.

"That's why Camilla and I got married," said Denniston as they drove off. "We both like Weather. Not this or that kind of weather, but just Weather. It's a useful taste if one lives in England."

"How ever did you learn to do that, Mr. Denniston?" said Jane. "I don't think I should ever learn to like rain and snow."

"It's the other way round," said Denniston. "Everyone begins as a child by liking Weather. You learn the art of disliking it as you grow up."

"I'm sure I hated wet days as a child," said Jane.

"That's because the grown-ups kept you in," said Camilla. "Any child loves rain if it's allowed to go out and paddle about in it."

Well! I think it would be good to unlearn some of the dislikes I picked up in moving out of childhood, and instead learn the art of liking all kinds of "Weather" again.

Kemo is at 9 this morning. I have the sense that my battle with cancer has moved into a crucial phase. I so appreciate your prayers.

Jeremy is scheduled to fly out of Niger tonight (that will be late afternoon in the States). We appreciate all your prayers for him too throughout these months and now as he travels.


Monday, April 02, 2007

When I Waken

The dear folks at Bluffton made us feel so welcome. Steve and Annie Chapman, by their music and words, reminded us how precious family relationships are. Traveling with friends was fun and encouraging. It was a refreshing weekend. We're so thankful to God for keeping us safe and well.

The Sunday school teacher we heard at Bluffton Church referred us to Psalm 139:17, "How precious it is, Lord, to realize that you are thinking about me constantly! I can't even count how many times a day your thoughts turn toward me. And when I waken in the morning, you are still thinking of me!" I'm going to try to form the habit of waking up each morning with this thought: You are still thinking of me. (God doesn't need to be reminded, but I do.) J.I. Packer, the eminent theologian, says that he recites a litany of simple truths several times a day. His reason? We "leak." We might know the fact that God loves us, but events in our lives poke holes in our remembering. So I remind myself, "God is still thinking of me."

Bob, our Nassau friend with lung cancer, was summoned to Houston to begin treatment last Thursday. The clinic had told him they couldn't start until this week, so he and his wife had returned home to Nassau for the interim. Packing for three months on one day's notice was hectic. JD Anderson Clinic must run 24 hours a day; his treatments are all in the evening. He had a terrible reaction to the first chemo treatment Friday night. Please pray for Bob. Thanks. Makes me realize again how blessed I've been through so many uneventful kemos.