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

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Eternal Spring

We’re up early, getting ready for our 12-hour drive to the lake house in Indiana. We plan to spend the first few days there simply resting, reading, thinking, and being restored. Some of the Michigan family will join us for Wednesday and Thursday. I love that!

I’m thankful that, while all the blood numbers we need to watch dropped since Monday, none fell into a danger zone. The CA 125 (tumor marker) will be checked again on July 9, just before I see the oncologist for the next round of chemo on July 10.

My “adopted daughter” watches for hints that I’m saying goodbye, that I’m feeling terminal. Really, I’m not. But I like the following from Victor Hugo so much that I’m going to quote it anyway. He wrote it when he was more than 80 years old. Sooner or later, it will be applicable to all of us—I hope. It’s really beautiful.

“Within my soul I feel the evidence of my future life. I am like a forest that has been cut down more than once, yet the new growth has more life than ever. I am always rising toward the sky, with the sun shining down on my head. The earth provides abundant sap for me, but heaven lights my way to worlds unknown. People say the soul is nothing but the effect of our bodily powers at work. If that were true, then why is my soul becoming brighter as my body begins to fail? Winter may be filling my head, but an eternal spring rises from my heart. And the closer I come to the end of my journey, the more clearly I hear the immortal symphonies of eternal worlds inviting me to come.”

I appreciate so much that you keep checking this blog. I’m amazed, really. I need to remind you that we don’t have a phone line at the lake; I’ll keep in touch whenever I can, but it won’t be every early morning for the next week.


Friday, June 29, 2007

News from Africa

I’m happy to report that an email came yesterday saying that Ahmed, the severely beaten young convert in western Africa, is recovering well. He said, “I thank God they were not able to kill me. And even if they did, I know where I am going. There is no turning back. Pray for me that I will be strong in the Lord and share my faith with others. I will not forsake Christ, since Christ has not forsaken me.” Despite the trauma and disappointment of his family’s attempt to kill him, he has now appealed to the headman of his extended family to help bring about a reconciliation with his father. I’ve heard that “mercy triumphs over justice.” Let’s pray it will be true in this case.

And now I have a couple of quotations from famous people to share. The first is from Winston Churchill: “The optimist sees opportunity in every danger. The pessimist sees danger in every opportunity.” (I’m wondering if “natural” pessimists can grow into hopeful people as they learn to trust God more. Have you seen it happen?)

The next is from perhaps the most-quoted source ever, “anonymous”: “Every flower must grow through dirt.” Maybe they both mean the same thing.

And now I’m off to the doctor’s office for a blood check. I’m feeling well, so I certainly don’t expect seriously bad numbers. If all is well, we’re looking forward to an early departure on Saturday for a week up north.

Thank you so much for caring and praying.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cry from Africa

Many people--from entertainers to governments to teen activists--are trying to help Africa. SIM and our partners are well into our second century of addressing needs there: clean water, AIDS, malaria, poverty, and, at the root of it all, the need for right relationships with God and one another. But just now I'm "hearing" cries from individuals on the far east end of Africa and from one on the far west end. It would not be wise to name either country.

I've mentioned before the place in east Africa where churches have been closed or burned down, and hundreds of Christians have been imprisoned, some in railway shipping containers. A couple of weeks ago, two girls were delivering a meal to the father of one of them and they were themselves arrested. The word came that they were placed in a very hard adult prison. How we prayed! This past Sunday we got the good news that a pastor and 20 others (hopefully including the girls) had been released. Thank God. But we must not forget those who are still suffering so terribly.

The other story comes from western Africa. Somehow, a few weeks ago God caught the attention of a popular musician, extremely well known in his country. On his own initiative, he sought out a local Christian leader and asked--demanded--to be taught the way of Christ. Like St. Paul centuries ago, "Ahmed" made an immediate about-face. He'd been a member of the religious group with a huge reputation for violence and killing, and we knew he was in danger. How we prayed! This morning he is in the hospital, struggling for his life. His father (his father!) led a gang that beat him severely and tried to kill him.

Please hear these cries from Africa and lift up a prayer for the dear people. Doesn't it break your heart?

We're so blessed! Thank God for our freedom. Somehow, even cancer shrinks in proportion to the everyday struggles of multitudes on our planet. I'm still grateful for your caring and prayers, and I'm feeling well this morning.

Our wonderful magazine designer (Jeremy at Relevant Media Group) finished the layout two days ahead of deadline! And it's strikingly beautiful. (This is the issue that will be mailed out in August and September from the various SIM offices. If you receive it, I hope you like it. If you don't, and want to, let me know.)

Have a great day.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mixed Signals

Last evening an "adopted daughter" called to get the real story on how I'm doing. The last few days of this blog, apparently, have sent mixed signals. I think that's because I'm a little mixed up. On the whole, I'm doing well. But there are moments when I slip into tiredness. Not to worry!

Monday afternoon I couldn't shake the fatigue, so I left work at 3:00 to go home and rest. I flipped on the public radio station as I drove, and "just happened" to hear an interview about the value of crawling under your desk at noon for a short nap. So yesterday I went to the office armed with a quilt and a king-sized pillow. At noon I spread the quilt on the floor, closed my door, turned off the lights, and lay down. A half hour later I awoke as fresh as morning. Worked the rest of the day, then came home for a normal evening. So, for my friends who are working wives and are sick and tired of coming home at end of day too tired to cook and clean up, I recommend a noontime nap on your floor.

Thank God, the blood count report yesterday didn't contain anything scary. The chemo nurse thinks things can plummet this week, so we'll repeat the test on Friday. If all is well, Chuck and I plan to go to Indiana on Saturday for a week. I'm so thankful that God continues to give me good health.

I learned last evening that my cousin, MUCH younger than me, has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. All ten biopsy spots were positive. No! No, no, no! No more cancer! I'm so sad, and I hope you'll lift him and his doctor in prayer as they make crucial decisions in the next few days. But, of course, I need to speak truth to my sadness: Cancer can be a gift and can bring gifts 0f grace to him as it has to me. (Oh! So many gifts!) I pray it will be so for him.

My cancer buddy with blood clots has gone home from the hospital. Thanks for praying for him.

You know I'm a "book grazer." Last evening, pausing for a moment by Henri Nouwen, I found this: "Prayer is the spiritual discipline through which our mind and heart are converted from hostility or suspicion to hospitality toward people. . . . Gratitude is the sign that this conversion is spreading into all aspects of our life. . . . In prayer, we learn to trust that God can work fruitfully through us no matter where we are or who we are with. As our prayer deepens into a constant awareness of God's goodness, the spirit of gratitude grows within us. Gratitude releases us from the bonds of obligation and prepares us to offer ourselves freely and fully for the work of the Kingdom."


Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Today is exactly a year and a half after the blessed day my surgeon told the nurse to pull that miserable naso-gastric tube from my nose and send me home from the hospital. It's a sweet memory I'm happy to relive. And haven't these 18 months been full of life? (I discovered a new blog by the daughter of a woman with advanced ovarian cancer. Her mother celebrates "cancerversaries.")

But now I must tell you something sad. Our precious baby bluebirds--still scrawny and featherless--vanished from their house. Just like the earlier clutch. No evidence of a struggle, not a drop of blood or a speck of down left on the nest. Maybe a snake? Several years ago, our neighbor looked out her back window and saw a long black snake with its head in the hole of her bluebird house. We never see snakes in our yard, but I can't think of any other way the birds could have vanished without a trace. The parents hung around for a mournful day or two, but now we don't see them any more. This actually happened last week, but it was a day when I was so low from the chemo that I couldn't find the heart to write about the birds. It's hard to accept death that happens before life ever had a chance. Prophets, poets, and philosophers have tried to make sense of it; I can't. But I don't like it!

Centuries ago, the prophet Habakkuk complained to God about the violence, sin, misery, injustice, and exploitation he saw all around him. He demanded to know God's purpose, and then he said (in chapter 2, verse 1), "I will climb up into my watchtower now and wait to see what the Lord will say to me and how he will answer my complaint." Wow! His questions were not idle complaints; he really wanted answers. God did answer, but not at the level of Habakkuk's questions. After rebuking the proud people who trust in themselves, God said, "the righteous will live by their faith." Note: not by "do-gooding" but by trusting.

So Habakkuk spent some time reflecting on the splendor and power of God. "I see God, the Holy One, moving across the deserts from Edom and Mount Paran. His brilliant splendor fills the heavens, and the earth is filled with his praise. What a wonderful God he is. Rays of brilliant light flash from his hands. He rejoices in his awesome power" (chapter 3, verses 3-4). Then he ends his little book with one of my favorite prayers:

"Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains." I wish I were a fiddler, because the text says this prayer is to be accompanied by stringed instruments. I can still make it my prayer every time my mind wants to grapple with dying birds or dying soldiers, chemo-fatigue, hopeless politics, or what-if-i-dont-get-well.

Interesting point about figs. Our trees never do have visible blossoms, but oh, the figs! This year the Easter freeze set them back so badly that the only way these tiny figs will ever ripen is if we get a late frost. I hope.


Monday, June 25, 2007

Crabtree Falls

I found this image on the internet; it's exactly the way the falls looked on Saturday when we hiked down to see them. Now I won't have to bother my friend for a copy of her photo.

More than a Statistic

A young man named David was seriously injured last week in Iraq. To most of the world, he's a statistic, but he's the nephew of some good friends of ours. Could we pray for him, and thousands of others, that they will experience God's grace--that their wounds won't become infected, that broken bones will knit properly, and that their souls will heal from the trauma. Also, let's pray for an end to this terrible rampage of killing.

What a World!

"God-created, God-saved, God-blessed, God-ruled. . . ." This is how Eugene H. Peterson describes the world in which we walk, hike, and drive (in The Jesus Way). It is, indeed, a wonderful world, but Peterson helps me remember that the world is not the point--God is! And the way Jesus walked in the world is the way I want to walk, but it is quite a different way from the "prevailing ways and means" of the world. As you can tell, I'm beginning to read a new book, and looking forward to having my soul shaken up and put back together whole.

Jesus said he is the "way, the truth, and the life." We usually apply the concept of "way" to the fact that by his death he made it possible for us to be reconciled to God. That is true. But the way he walked, and related, and thought, and reacted--these are all part of the "way" he calls us to. That pursuit is the worthy use of the remainder of life, however long it might be.

Yesterday our new campground friends joined us at Altapass Orchard for the Brian Gurl concert. It was fun to see them, and together we heard magnificent music. It was sad to see that entire orchard bare of apples. The freeze on Easter Sunday that so set our growing things back here wiped out entire crops in the mountains. We got home and unpacked by bedtime.

This morning I'll get my blood counts checked for possible chemo damage; report will come tomorrow. Today's task is to make corrections to the draft layout for the next magazine and work them out with the designer.

Have a blessed day.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

No Strangers in Campgrounds

I've heard that there are no strangers in campgrounds, and I believe it. Yesterday on our hike to Crabtree Falls, we met a delightful Christian woman who is midway through her clinical psychology training at the Florida campus of Trinity International University. We sat on a bench and watched the falls and visited. The hike was ranked "strenuous," and so it was--for most of its 2.5 miles. As we were considering the hike, Chuck asked if I wouldn't rather take a nap. Of course! But I thought maybe I was feeling "poorly" for lack of exercise during the week, so we hiked out. Right decision! We saw gorgeous views and felt very well when we got back. We'd forgotten our camera, but if in the next couple of days I can get a copy of a couple of photos taken by our friend, I'll send them along.

Last evening we sang along with a park ranger and her guitar, and there we met a retired couple, also from Florida, who are spending their summer camping along the Blue Ridge Parkway. He walks with a cane and has congestive heart failure brought on by recent radiation for prostate cancer. Yet they also did the strenuous hike to Crabtree Falls. Inspiring! They promised to join us for the concert this afternoon at Altapass Orchard.

Right now we're sitting on the terrace of Little Switzerland, gazing out at range after range of smoky blue mountains. Beautiful! I appreciate the use of their wireless access.

During Friday night, I woke at midnight and still felt "yucky"-- stuffed esophagus and loopy head. At 3:00 a.m. I woke up and realized I felt normal. Something wonderful had happened during those three hours as I slept. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, friends, for praying for me!

We'll be home again this evening. I hope your Sunday has been wonderful.


Saturday, June 23, 2007

On the Blue Ridge

My mom just called. They are enjoying the mountains (but are obviously cut off from internet service). She reports that she is feeling better today than she had all week. Praise God. They are about to leave for a 2-mile hike to a waterfall. To have such energy on the heals of such a difficult week is miraculous. (But, then again, I have personally always been awed by her energy!)

Thank you for your continued love and prayers on my parents' behalf.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Urgent Prayer Need

The man I call my "cancer buddy," whose lung cancer was declared in remission a few weeks ago, is back in the hospital with blood clots in his lungs and legs and fluid around his heart. We're praying that God will spare his life and restore him to health, and we'd love it if you'd also lift up a prayer for him. Thanks. Now, we're off to the mountains.

Heading for the Mountains

Today I'm feeling better. After work we plan to head up to the mountains for a weekend of camping on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I love that place. I jokingly tell people that it's mine, but they're welcome to use it if they'll take good care of it. There's no electricity, so I probably won't be able to post blogs for the next two days, unless we happen to find a place with wireless access.

There's a dear family in Michigan whose teenaged son, days before his high school graduation, got a severe headache which quickly progressed to a coma that has lasted for three weeks. There are now some small signs of hope, and having evaluated all options for care, they have decided to take him home in the next week or so. They believe they can provide the stimulation and rehabilitation he needs. The challenges they will face seem overwhelming. I wonder if you'd be willing to lift up a prayer for Micah and his family. God is fully reliable!

This need reminds me of the remarkable story of Elisha that I read recently in 2 Kings 4. First, he promised an infertile woman that she would have a son, and by the grace of God she did. A few years later the boy got a terrible headache; his mother left him on the bed (dead) in the guest room (Elisha's) and hurried to get Elisha. When the prophet got there, he prayed, then lay atop the child mouth-to-mouth, eyes-to-eyes, hands-to-hands. And God sent life back into that boy's body. Amazing! May he do the same for Micah (who is certainly not dead).

A few days earlier, I read in 1 Kings 15 about a huge stone-moving project. An enemy king had invaded Judah and fortified a border town in order to control the border. When help came, the enemy king abandoned the fortified town. That's when it gets fascinating. The king of Judah ordered every adult in his kingdom to help carry away the building stones and timbers the enemy had used in fortifying their hostile position. Not only did they deprive the enemy of materials he could have used in the future, they then used those materials to fortify a couple of their own cities. I think there are things in our lives (habits, objects, obsessions, maybe even relationships) that have in the past been used against us for our hurt. We shouldn't leave them around, available for future spiritual attack. Instead, we should find ways to turn them into fortifications for our souls.

I appreciate your prayers so much. I'm still experiencing mild nausea. More seriously, this new chemo carries a threat of damage to healthy blood cells. (The nurse was quite concerned about our travel plans. We'll test the blood every week, and will adjust our plans if necessary.) God is fully reliable.


Thursday, June 21, 2007


Thanks for your prayers. That was a little rough! Not only did Chuck post yesterday’s blog, he also insisted on doing clean-up duty after a violent expression of chemo-induced nausea. Boy, I owe him one! I stayed in bed yesterday until time to dress for the trip to the doctor, and returned to bed after we got home. So tired. The nurses were sympathetic, but they didn’t seem at all surprised. So now I’m glad this round is over, and I’m feeling much better, planning a good day at work today.

Max Lucado, in Next Door Savior, tells the heart-tugging tale of the time he took his dog along to the carwash. He hadn’t realized that it would scare the dog. He puts himself in the dog’s paws: “A huge, noisy machine presses toward us, pounding our window with water, banging against the door with brushes. Duck! We’re under attack!” Max wanted to answer: “Don’t panic. The car wash was my idea. I’ve done this lots of times. It’s for our own good.”

Max’s meditation continues:
“Ever tried to explain a car wash to a canine? Dog dictionaries are minus the words ‘brush’ and ‘detail job.’ My words fell on fallen flaps. She just did what dogs do; she wailed. Actually, she did what we do. Don’t we howl? Not at carwashes perhaps, but at hospital stays and job transfers. Let the economy go south or the kids move north, and we have a wail of a time. And when our Master explains what’s happening, we react as if he’s speaking Yalunka. We don’t understand a word he says.”

Here's where my thoughts took me: I guess some days life seems to us like a carwash seems to a dog. It’s good to remember that the sovereign God is the one who, in an act of friendship and absolute good motives, drove our shared “car” into that menacing tunnel, he has his hand on the wheel (his other hand around our trembling shoulders), and in his perfect time he will drive us on out into the light. So quit howling, and move in close to the Driver.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Still FROGin

The chemo combination yesterday (Cytoxan & VP-16) was a bit harder on Carol, so I suggested that she sleep in a bit this morning and let me do the blog today for her. We are so greatly blessed by the wonderful medical people that we have. A combination of expertise and personal caring that is amazing and so much appreciated as we travel this unpredictable road.

The Psalmist in Psalm 84 (The Message) says:

“…how blessed all those in whom you (God) live,
whose lives become roads you travel;
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!”

We can certainly relate to those verses. We have encountered valleys, but have also come upon brooks and springs of blessing along the road that continue to encourage us as we travel on. God is so good! And we are so thankful for each one of you that He has brought into our lives.

Yesterday Carol and I read in Indeed: “We can become extremely self-absorbed in a trial. We see how it will impact us, we pray for deliverance from it, and we obsess about how to work ourselves out of it. But we often become blind to God’s larger purpose. Our trials, though they seem like disasters to us, may be God’s means for bringing honor to His name.”

It is our prayer that we will glorify our wonderful God as we continue along the road that He lays out for us. Might His larger purpose be accomplished through our lives.

Chemo again today at 1:00 PM. Thanks for your love and prayers!


Chuck…and Carol too

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Absolutely his

The Cytoxan hadn’t arrived from the insurance company, so yesterday I received only one drug—the VP-16. No effects whatsoever, and I returned at once to work. The doctor had ordered another complete blood count; I wondered what could have changed since Thursday. I’m delighted to report that my white blood count (infection resistance) went up .9! It’s only been 4 days. Looks to me like an answer to prayer. The red cells and hemoglobin dropped very minutely—nobody is worried about that.

Tomorrow I’ll probably get both chemo drugs, and I’m expecting no problems. Then Wednesday I’ll get only the VP-16. The doctor wants my blood cells monitored every week. In three weeks we’ll test the CA 125 again, and then we’ll probably proceed to another three days of infusions like this week.

A friend in Hungary is studying the book of 1 Peter with her friends. It’s one of my favorite books. She sent these comments from some study notes:

“Do I believe God is in control of my life down to the tiniest details?”
“Do I believe God has me where he wants me to be right now?”

An affirmative answer to these questions certainly brings peace. She learned that Oswald Chambers, author of My Utmost for his Highest, often wrote a three-word sentence near the end of his letters, a sentence backed up by his personal life: “Be absolutely his.” My friend's notes continued: "The book of 1 Peter, with all its practical instruction, could be outlined with those three words:

Be absolutely his at home. Not yours, but his.
Be absolutely his at church. Not yours, but his.
Be absolutely his on the job. Not yours, but his.
Be absolutely his in the classroom. Not yours, but his.
Be absolutely his in every relationship. Not yours, but his."

To which I add:
Be absolutely his when hooked up to a kemo I-V. Not yours, but his.

That resolves a lot of dilemmas, doesn’t it?

I'm struggling to shake off tiredness. I'll see how the next hour goes; maybe I'll decide I need a nap, despite a wonderful night's sleep.


Monday, June 18, 2007


Thought you might like a look at this year's bluebird pair. Below is a tender scene: Daddy Bluebird is feeding a mealworm to Mommy.

Inside are the babies; sorry I can't show them.
Yesterday we walked out of church singing:
"Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace."
For contrast, I made a rhyme out of advice from hell:
"Turn your eyes upon cancer,
Gaze deep at its menacing doom;
And the light and life that you once enjoyed
Will soon fade to depression and gloom."
No! Don't look there! Turn your eyes to Jesus.
For 18 months, God has miraculously shielded me from severe side effects of a multitude of kemo treatments. I'm so thankful. And we're praying that he will do it again this week. If the white cells, red cells, and platelets drop too low, it could force an interruption of treatment. Thanks for your prayers. (I get two drugs by infusion today, and then repeat one of them Tuesday and Wednesday.)
I asked you some time ago to pray for our friend who was waiting for a kidney transplant. She learned last week that there's a lesion on her pancreas. (Now they tell her--after all these months?!) If it's cancer, she'll enter treatment for that, but there will be no transplant. Let's pray for her.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Yesterday afternoon we watched on T-V the funeral service for Ruth Graham, Billy's wife. She had certainly touched her family and her world with love! A daughter read a prayer, "Sleep," from Valley of Vision, which both Ruth and Billy often requested to hear. I'll quote part of it here:

"May my frequent lying down make me familiar with death,
the bed I approach remind me of the grave,
the eyes I now close picture to me their final closing.
Keep me always ready, waiting for admittance to thy presence.
Weaken my attachment to earthly things.
May I hold life loosely in my hand,
knowing that I receive it on condition of its surrender;
As pain and suffering betoken transitory health,
may I not shrink from a death that introduces me to the freshness
of eternal youth.
I retire this night in full assurance of one day awaking with thee.
All glory for this precious hope."

Thanks to my friend Carol for sending me The Valley of Vision.

Our Sunday school class this morning is studying the book of Nahum. In preparation, I read this verse: "The Lord is good; a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood . . . he will pursue his foes into darkness" (Nahum 1:7,8). Teacher Tom wants us to consider today that though the Lord is "slow to anger, abounding in mercy," his patience cannot last forever. Sobering.

Our bluebirds are now tending naked little hatchlings. How wonderful to have life happening in our small yard!

I printed the information about the two I-V drugs I'll be starting on tomorrow, and I read it in bed last evening. Not good bedtime reading. This stuff could be rough. But God will still be "good, a refuge in times of trouble." By his grace and your prayers, he has given me all these many months of vibrant wellbeing. I was able to work four hours in the garden yesterday--mostly trimming overgrown shrubs. (I work slowly; it shouldn't have taken so long.)

Have a blessed day.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Day of Song

Silly me! After I got to the office yesterday morning and received the report on my cancer, I grabbed my Bible to seek comfort in the Hosea verse I'd mentioned earlier in my blog--and I looked at the wrong verse. Then I said in my next posting that the reference was wrong. Sorry. The reference wasn't wrong; I was. All is well. (Scroll down to Friday for details of the cancer.)

A couple of weeks ago in Streams in the Desert, I read this: "Therefore, dear soul, in this life you are receiving a music lesson from your Father. You are being trained to sing in a choir you cannot yet see, and there will be parts in the chorus that only you can sing. . . . In the darkest night he is composing your song. In the valley he is tuning your voice. In the storm clouds he is deepening your range. In the rain showers, he is sweetening your melody. In the cold he is giving your notes expression. And as you pass at times from hope to fear, he is perfecting the message of your lyrics.

And many a heavenly singer
Among those sons of light
Will say of His sweetest music,
"I learned it in the night."
And many a lovely anthem,
that fills the Father's home,
Sobbed out its first rehearsal
in the shade of a darkened room.

It's a good day for humming hymns of praise. It looks like the morning will also be a good time for restoring a little order to our garden, which, despite recent drought, is growing out of control. I'm hoping our bluebird babies will hatch today. And our dear neighbor brought over the last butterfly chrysalis so we can watch the "resurrection." That, too, should occur over the weekend.

Have a blessed day.

Friday, June 15, 2007


1. I'm thankful for a wonderful oncologist.
2. I'm thankful that Chuck likes spreadsheets and constantly tracks the results of all my blood tests, making it easier for Dr. Boyd to evaluate and plan treatment.
3. I'm thankful that despite rising cancer numbers, I continue to feel well.
4. I'm thankful for a new plan of treatment. Next week I'll get infusions of Cytoxan and VP-16 on Tuesday. On Wednesday and Thursday VP-16 only. Both drugs can deplete blood cells and can cause other unwanted effects, so we'll get my blood tested weekly. And after three weeks, I'll see Dr. Boyd again, probably to begin another 3-day cycle.
5. More than anything else, I'm thankful to be safe in God's hands.
6. And I'm thankful for your interest and prayers.


Results of Blood Tests

Here it is. It looks not good from our perspective, so we must trust God's.

Tumor marker is up to 219.75, from 116.45 a month ago. ("Normal" is below 35.)
White blood cells (immunity) are low.
Red cells and hemoglobin (energy) are both low.
(Why do I feel so good?)

I looked up the Bible verse I quoted from a friend earlier, and surely the reference is wrong. I'll try to find the correct location and fix the posting as soon as I can.

The prayer request we beg you to join is just now is that God will give wisdom to Dr. Boyd to know how to proceed with treatment. Thanks so much.


Expecting much

Yesterday a friend closed her email to me with this Bible verse from Hosea 12:6: "Always be expecting much from him, your God." She drew attention to the verb tense, be expecting.
"It shows," she wrote, "that it's an on-going, hope-full process." Expecting much! That's only okay because God is able and willing to give much and wise enough to give what's best.

It seems that in human relationships, excessive expectations lie at the base of most of our problems. How different is relating to God!

So this morning I'll be expecting a report on my blood test that is absolutely perfect from God's point of view--whatever it is. That's not too much to expect from a good, wise, and powerful God. As soon as I find out, I'll post a short update.

Have a great day.


Thursday, June 14, 2007


"Notice the way God does things; then fall into line. Don't fight the ways of God" (Ecclesiastes 7:13). A few days ago I wrote about "ears to hear and eyes to see." It's great to use those senses to notice sounds and sights around us for our delight and instruction. But here's another use: to notice the way God does things and fall in line with his ways. That's one of the best reasons I know to regularly read the Bible. Still, it's not the only record of God's ways. We are surrounded everywhere with such a record, if only we'll notice!

I also see in Ecclesiastes 7 some very interesting advice: "It is better to spend your time at funerals than at festivals. For you are going to die, and you should think about it while there is still time." And later: "A wise person thinks much about death, while the fool thinks only about having a good time now." I'm sure this doesn't mean we should be morbid or fatalistic. But realizing that death will come helps me recognize how precious each moment of life is. It reinforces the value of asking "the best question": Is this the wise thing to do? When I come to the end of life, and especially when I meet the Lord in person, I will celebrate every wise thing I have done and will regret every unwise thing.

This morning I'll get a blood test. I feel well; it would be wonderful if that would translate into lower tumor marker numbers. Thanks for your prayers.


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wandering Mind

I've heard that the average person's mind wanders every 17 seconds during prayer--both when praying alone and when praying with others. Surely we all struggle with concentrating. So did Martin Luther. A seminary student (Veit Dietrich) reported that once during dinner, Dr. Luther observed his dog Toelpel, who was watching his master with open mouth and motionless eyes, longing for a treat. Martin said, "Oh, if I could only pray the way this dog watches the meat! All his thoughts are concentrated on the piece of meat. Besides that, he has no thought, wish, or hope."

It's a picture I can use in my own prayer journey. Keep my eyes on my Master. Realize that what I need can come only from him. And decide just how desperately I need the thing I'm asking for. (Even when praying for friends, or for the poor and needy around the world, or for the billions who still need to know Jesus, I still want to pray with this kind of concentration.

I'm sorry this is late. I tried 4 or 5 times a hour ago, but blogger was stubbornly unresponsive. Thanks for your interest and prayers. I'm still feeling well. Blood test tomorrow. And the doctor's appointment has been changed to Friday morning. We're praying already for God to give him wisdom, whatever the tests might show.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ears and Eyes

"Ears to hear and eyes to see--both are gifts from the Lord" (Proverbs 20:12). I'm sure we all know this, but I'm setting it out again this morning for fresh appreciation. Like health, hearing and seeing--when we have them--are easy to take for granted, unless something happens to take them away. So today I want to receive the gifts of ears to hear and eyes to see as the amazing gifts that they are. Receive them with deep gratitude. Use them to notice sounds and sights that I usually rush right past. Also use them to hear and see subtle signals from others that they're needing encouragement. Above all, listen and look for gentle messages from God (spiritual ears and eyes are among his best gifts).

This morning we'll have a telephone conference with the magazine designer and project manager in Florida to be sure they're on the right track for designing the layout for the next magazine. They have a new project manager, so I'm praying I can communicate well with her and that all will go well. It looks like there's a lot of turnover in that business. They always do a beautiful job for us, anyway, and I'm grateful.

Last evening Chuck went to bed early. I wasn't tired yet (imagine that!), so I finished up some work, then popped in the CD that daughter Sue had created with 905 photos collected from all the cameras in action during our week in the Bahamas. She organized them all according to days; what a labor of love! Reviewing all the pictures took me back to experience it all over again. It was lovely.

I hope your ears will hear lovely sounds and your eyes will see wonderful things today.


Monday, June 11, 2007

The Best Question

My chronological reading in the Bible has brought me to the era of King Solomon's reign. The compilers of these readings include Solomon's proverbs in this section. I've been reading the proverbs with a chastened heart. They remind me of stupid choices and behavior over the course of my long life--foolish priorities, silly arguments, failures to love. Last week I read a review of a book by Andy Stanley titled something like The Best Question. He proposes that we form the habit of asking always, "Is this the wise thing to do?" Pausing often to ask that question would slam shut many doors that we would eventually regret having walked through. Or it would lock our lips from speaking words that afterwards we would give anything to retract. It would prevent a lot of damage along the path of our relationships. And it would direct us to positive actions that bring satisfying results. God promises to give wisdom when we ask for it. I purpose to ask more.

We had a delightful time yesterday with our friend from the UK, who is here for SIM board meetings. She accompanied us to church, and then we enjoyed lunch together at our home. A professor of Old Testament, she is about to "retire" after 30 years at a seminary in London and plans to move to Ethiopia to continue teaching. Wow!

In the evening we joined four friends on the lawn at South Park for a concert by the Charlotte Symphony. Refreshing.

I'm feeling well. (I never get over the miracle of that!) I'll get blood drawn Thursday for another CA 125 test. The paperwork accompanying this new drug says it may take several months to be effective, so maybe the test isn't all that helpful at this point. But we are praying that God--with or without help from chemo--will destroy this cancer, according to his wisdom.


Sunday, June 10, 2007


A funny thing happened yesterday. I got up early, enjoyed a lovely read on the patio, went for a walk before the day got too hot, and then about mid-morning I felt a mild depression settling over me. What was that?! I lay down for a few minutes and then got up to the same sad feelings. And figured out that I was missing "something-I-must-do." Sort of a withdrawal from addiction to lists. There were plenty of things that I could do, even things I should do, but nothing that I must do. And it took me awhile to sort out my head and find my way for the day. A restful day is a good day, but it's more satisfying if you choose it to be that way--not if you fall into it for lack of something more intense.

We spent the evening with a lot of wonderful friends with whom we work at SIM, and then we had the privilege of meeting a new friend from Germany at the airport at 11 pm. He is here for the SIM board meetings, and since I'd previously "met" him via email in connection with an article for the SIM magazine, I was happy to meet him in person. That's a little late for this old girl, so a nap is on the afternoon schedule. First, though, we get to take a long-time friend from England, who is also here as a member of the board, to church and lunch.

As last evening's outdoor gathering was wrapping up, darkness enveloping us, three guitars started strumming, and we sang some familiar songs of worship. The last one was "Be Thou my Vision," ending with this beautiful prayer:

High King of heaven--my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, O thou blest Son.
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my vision, thou ruler of all.


Saturday, June 09, 2007


Death is a strange topic for this gorgeous summer morning. But I am going to die--maybe this year, maybe next, maybe 20 years from now. (You too, of course.) So when I read the following, I felt it worth paying attention to. And now I hope you'll find it worthwhile too.

“To befriend death, we must claim that we are children of God, sisters and brothers of all people, and parents of generations yet to come. In so doing, we liberate our death from its absurdity and make it the gateway to a new life.

“In our society, in which childhood is something to grow away from, in which wars and ethnic conflicts constantly mock brotherhood and sisterhood among people, and in which the greatest emphasis is on succeeding in the few years we have, it hardly seems possible that death could be a gateway to anything.

“Still, Jesus has opened this way for us. When we choose his way to live and die, we can face our death with the mocking question of the apostle Paul: “Death, where is your victory? Death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55). This is a choice, but a hard choice. The powers of darkness that surround us are strong and easily tempt us to let our fear of death rule our thoughts, words, and actions.

“But we can choose to befriend our death as Jesus did. We can choose to live as God’s beloved children in solidarity with all people, trusting in our ultimate fruitfulness. And in so doing, we can also become people who care for others. As men and women who have faced our mortality, we can help our brothers and sisters to dispel the darkness of death and guide them toward the light of God’s grace.” (Henri Nouwen in Our Greatest Gift)

I'm happy to report that the bluebirds are still tending their three eggs. They should hatch sometime next week. We have plans with friends both this evening and tomorrow evening. And we need to do a little yard work before the day gets too hot.

Thank God for so many blessings.


Friday, June 08, 2007

What if?

What if I hadn’t gotten cancer? I would, anyway, have turned 70 a couple of weeks ago. But I might be lamenting the loss of youth, wasting the wonder of being fully alive today, and failing to grasp the gifts of grace God is offering for this very season of life. Ronald Rolheiser, in The Holy Longing, suggests that the death of youth is like Good Friday. “Resurrection, too, has happened,” he continues. “You have already received the life of a seventy-year-old, a new life, different from and richer than the life of a twenty-year-old. And now you have a choice: You can refuse to let go of your lost youth. If you do that . . . you will daily grow more fearful and unhappy about aging.” However, if we let our youth go, he says, then Pentecost will happen. “We will receive the spirit for the life that we are already in fact living, the life of a seventy-year-old.” Interesting thought.

I’ve been disappointed that after a year and a half of treatment, no remission has come. But I now think I’m just as well off anyway. I know two women with my kind of cancer who recently gained a remission and have already relapsed, and along the way they’ve been more miserable than I have been. Thanks to God’s kindness and your prayers, life with cancer is sweet. I’m grateful. To be sure, I would welcome healing, and that's what we pray for.

My "cancer buddy," whose lung cancer is in remission, got pneumonia this week. Please pray for him.

Today I'll upload the files (text and photos) of the next SIM magazine for the designer in Florida to start working on the layout. After correcting and re-correcting, etc., it's time to let it go.

I'm so thankful to continue to feel well. Thanks for your prayers.


Thursday, June 07, 2007

Our mission director and his wife returned recently from visiting SIM workers in Asia. His comments about Mongolia are fascinating. “Mongolia is a nation emerging from the influence of Russian Marxism. This shaped the country until the end of the 20th century. As an architect [he is an architect by profession; this is what first took him to Africa], I found it a very depressing place, where the buildings are totally functional, utilitarian, and lacking in creativity—it has the feeling of a Russian Gulag in the 1970s. Genesis tells us that we are created in God’s image. At the very heart of God’s image is his ability to create. This creative energy in God is also part of our very being. When you take God out of a society you are also at risk of taking out of the people the creative energy he has placed in them—a sobering thought on Marxism. Thankfully, the new buildings that are emerging in the capital city show another side of the creative energy of this nation.” Incidentally, there were only four known Christians in Mongolia 16 years ago. Now the Mongolia Evangelical Alliance estimates that there are around 40,000. We are privileged to partner with this vigorous and creative church. (I told a story in the magazine a few months ago about a gifted Mongolian couple who create worship music for the growing Mongolian church.)

Over the weekend, I read something about staying fresh in old age, and one recommendation was to try at least one new thing every day. I almost overlooked my chance to do that on Wednesday. I needed to digitally scan a photo slide so it could be used for the magazine cover. But I couldn’t redo the settings on the scanner to make a larger image. I knew exactly what to do: call a techie for help. Just in time, I remembered about staying fresh. So I dug out the instruction manual and—Ta! Da!—I figured it out. Whew! Staleness averted for one more day!

Hope your day is great.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007


"Happiness is not what makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy" (David Steindl-Rast). True! My grandmother was a tiny woman with huge strength and heart. She faced the full human range of sorrow and struggle, but even now, more than 20 years after her death, her words ring in my ears: "I'm so thankful that . . . ."

So I want to speak words of thankfulness, borrowing from David in Psalm 145:

"I will praise you, my God and King,
and bless your name forever and ever.
I will bless you every day,
and I will praise you forever.
Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
His greatness is beyond discovery!
Let each generation tell its children
of your mighty acts.
The Lord is kind and merciful,
slow to get angry, full of unfailing love.
The Lord is faithful in all he says;
he is gracious in all he does.
The Lord is close to all who call on him,
yes, to all who call on him sincerely."

I'm thankful to be safely home, and thankful for wonderful hours with wonderful people. Keith returned from Boston yesterday about the time the children got home from school. (Airlines being what they are, neighbors were ready to step in if he'd been delayed.) Karin is enjoying her work in Mississippi. Her team is installing drywall (sheetrock/plasterboard, depending on where you live) in a new home on a lot that was swept bare by Katrina. (An emergency weather alert broke in on our radio listening yesterday as we traveled through Virginia. The sky immediately behind us was as black as night. We hoped we could outrun the storm as we drove south, and we did. Haven't heard yet what happened in the area, so I'm assuming it wasn't newsworthy. I'm thankful for that.)

I'm thankful to be feeling well, and looking forward to a good day at work. I'm thankful for the promises of God. I'm thankful for you!


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Long Day ahead

It seems funny to be not on the road yet. We'll hang around until the kids get on the bus. Then it will be a 12-hour drive, if all goes well, and we'll get home late. Chuck didn't sleep well last night; I can help with driving, but I'm slower.

Yesterday we took Gavin out of school for an orthodontic appointment in the morning, and Calli for a sports physical in the afternoon. (It's their last week of school, and not much happens anyway I understand.) I was struck with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for health. As I expected, the doctor said Calli was in perfect condition as far as she could tell. Then I realized how presumptuous my expectations are. It is pure grace to have good health. And to have children and grandchildren all in good health is surely a gift beyond imagining! Thank you, Lord.

I read yesterday that if you waste money, all you lose is your wealth. But if you waste time, you lose part of your life. May God help us to seize each moment--not to waste but to live fully for him. (I don't mean to never relax; intentional relaxation is also glorifying to God.) Mindless waste is what robs resources and life, with no recall or recovery once they're gone.

Have a great day.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Shine, Don't Blind

Great-grandson Joshua arrived at the lake on Saturday wearing this shirt. Yes, it's an announcement. "I'm the big brother." The baby is due the end of the year. We're celebrating already.

This year the swans have three cygnets. Look at this! The mothert is carrying them on her back!

Now we've moved into town to Karin and Keith's home, so the children can get off to school early this morning. Karin has arrived safely at the Katrina site in Mississippi and is ready to go to work this morning. Keith is in Boston.

The church service yesterday morning was wonderful. The songs reminded us how blessed we are to know God. "All of You is more than enough for all of me." They were sending a member family to Papua New Guinea for another term of working with a group of people for whom they are translating the Bible. What a cool family! And then the pastor said, "Don't be discouraged. If you're following Jesus, you ARE light. You ARE salt." It was great. His closing advice was, "Shine, don't blind. Shake [salt], don't pour." I think in his early years he had some negative experiences with obnoxious "witnessers."

We'll head home tomorrow. I'm still feeling well.



Saturday, June 02, 2007

New Appreciation for Water

The lake is beautiful this morning, but that's not the water we're appreciating. When we arrived yesterday, we discovered an intermittent problem with our electrical power. We were concerned about the food in the refrigerator, but the real difficulty came when the water pump stopped working. After we'd drunk all the bottled and filtered water left here from last time, we gained a new appreciation for water. We couldn't even wash the dinner dishes. Fortunately, by midnight the power company workers installed a temporary fix and this morning all is well.

I thought about the way Jesus promised an inner spring of living water to all who believe in him. In ancient history when nations fought wars at ground level, an invading army might simply besiege a walled city and wait for the people inside to run out of water, which would eventually force them to surrender. Hezekiah, one of Israel's kings, diverted a spring of water inside the walls of Jerusalem, thus foiling the expectations of the Assyrians. Maybe it was standing at that very spring that Jesus made his astonishing promise. The Bible goes on to say that he was speaking of the Holy Spirit, who lives in and flows out of all believers. That's a wonderful promise to claim when we feel attacked by our various spiritual enemies. I have a new appreciation for Living Water.

I also appreciate being with some of our family. James and Liz and Joshua (our great grandson) will arrive later today, and late tonight grandson Justin and his friend Laura will come. Daughter Karin leaves tonight with a group from her church to go to Gulfport, Mississippi. to work towards relief for victims of Hurricane Katrina, and on Sunday afternoon her husband Keith leaves on a business trip. By Sunday evening, everyone will be gone except for Gavin and Calli, whom we will care for until we leave on Tuesday. Don't worry; they'll be in good hands until Keith returns on Wednesday.

They say the swans are still here, but I haven't seen them yet. It's hotter here than in Charlotte! I'm thankful to feel well, and so grateful to all these folks who give time to be with us.

Once again, I need to say that I don't know if I'll be able to access the internet on Sunday.


Friday, June 01, 2007


I think “amok” describes the current path of the son of a couple whom we admire very much. I heard just a little about him last evening, and my heart is heavy for both him and his parents. His situation is bleak, but he’s not out of reach of God’s love. Would you join me in praying for that family?

I read an account of a visitor to a center for the handicapped run by the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa’s order). He saw a large banner on the wall saying, “I thirst.” He asked why it was there, and a sister answered, “That cry of Christ on the cross has become our rallying cry. Shortly before Mother Teresa died, she said, ‘His thirst is without end. He, the Creator of all, pleads for the love of His creation. He thirsts for our love.’ These words, ‘I thirst,’” continued the sister, “do they not echo in our souls?”

Yes, they echo. It’s to satisfy Christ’s thirst for our love that we serve the poor and needy. That’s why we urge lost people to turn back to Him. That’s why we pray for those who are straying (whether in “respectable” ways or in high-risk behavior like our young friend). Jesus is longing for their love. And for ours!

We hope to be on the road by 5:00 this morning, heading for Indiana and our loved ones. We still don’t have a phone line at the lake, so I’ll post another update whenever I can, but probably not early Saturday morning. I hope to be able to report on a healthy swan family.

Here at home, our neighbors have hatched and released the swallowtail butterflies whose chrysalises they were tending. I hope the new butterflies laid more eggs on my parsley plants. Some predator did away with the bluebird eggs while we were in the Bahamas (there wasn’t enough time for them to have hatched and fledged), but the intrepid parents are trying again, with three perfect little eggs in the house as of yesterday. The cardinals, thrashers, and robins are all busy feeding their chirping baby birds. So that’s the latest wildlife report from the Wilsons’ yard. Our plants are gasping for rain.

I’ve been able to work full days, though I am struggling with a bit of tiredness and mild nausea yet. It’s minor, really. I am so blessed. Thanks for your prayers.

Have a great weekend.