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

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Day We Cease to Dream

“The day we cease to dream is the day we begin to die.”
I read this the other day in a newsletter for seniors. I said a couple of weeks ago that I need a dream for ten years from now. I’m still thinking about that, but I certainly don’t feel that without it I have begun to die. Maybe for now it’s my short-term dreams that keep me feeling really alive. The gathering in 2+ weeks with my siblings and their spouses. Then the week after that getting to see various members of the family who live up north. And my work; it’s so fulfilling that deadlines actually feel more like good dreams than stressful deadlines.

That same senior magazine told about Nola Ochs, who is graduating from Fort Hays State University in Kansas with a degree in history. No big deal, except that she’s 95 years old! She plans to get a job as a storyteller on a cruise ship. Now that’s a dream! What a way to stay engaged with life! (I’m not sure she needs a history degree to do that job; her 95 years of life should count for something.)

So I’ll keep dreaming, whether short-term or long-term, and I’ll also continue to make my voice heard against the systems around that world that either wink at or else actively encourage slavery. That’s gotta stop!

This morning I'll get blood drawn for a complete blood count; I'm pretty sure it will be good, since I'm feeling so well. Based on past experience with this chemo, next week is when the blood counts might drop too low. I'm praying they won't. I see the oncologist next week, and the next round of chemo is scheduled to begin on Monday, August 13. I so appreciate your prayers for favorable blood counts as well as for a big drop in the cancer (CA 125) number. God is able, and he is very good.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Wonderful Weekend

We had a wonderful weekend with Lisa, and now she's about halfway back home by train. Her train departed just before 3:00 this morning. I appreciated her visit so much. I slept a little later than usual this morning, so I'll be brief here.

Yesterday I quoted a Bible verse about praising God as long as I live. Later, as we were singing "Amazing Grace," the final line caught my heart. "When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we've no less days to sing God's praise than when we'd first begun." It encouraged me to remember that "as long as I live" refers not only to life in this body on this earth, but rather to Life forever with God in eternity. That is how long we may praise him!

There's nothing to report these days on the cancer front. I'm feeling quite well, and so thankful for your caring and your prayers.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

How About a Walk?

"How about a brisk morning walk," suggested Lisa when I got up. She was already awake and reading! So we're just now back from the walk, and she and Chuck are skewering meat and vegetables to grill for lunch. Her second cousin and her husband, who live a couple of hours away, are coming for the afternoon, and we're happy to see them. Lisa brought integrated menus and recipes for about six dinners, and she gave Chuck a fun cooking lesson last evening. Next time chemo wipes me out, we won't be eating left-overs or pizza from a box!

Yesterday afternoon we strolled through the Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens. In all the years we've belonged there, I've never seen it looking as good as it does right now. What a pleasure.

Because I struggled so severely with breathlessness before my surgery (and still do mildly at times), I particularly notice Bible verses related to breath. For example, Psalm 104:33: "I will sing to the Lord as long as I live, I will praise my God to my last breath!" And the next verse gives the motivation: "May he be pleased by all these thoughts about him . . . ." His pleasure--that's enough reason to do anything, isn't it?


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Lisa Is Here

Lisa’s train was scheduled to arrive here at 2:00 a.m. Saturday; her train finally pulled in a bit after 3:30. I typed this last evening and now I’ll post it before I go back to bed. You’ll know she arrived safely and all is well. Maybe we’ll be able to sleep in. We’re so excited about the 48 hours she’ll be here with us. (Yes, we’ll be returning to the train station at 2:00 a.m. Monday.)

Remember the young musician in West Africa who was beaten almost to death because he had become a Christian? There’s a group still intent on killing him, so he’s in hiding. News like this makes me so thankful for the freedoms we enjoy, and it also puts me in a deep-thinking mode. Why should some people have to suffer so much for their faith? Well, it’s always been like this. In preparation for the Sunday school lesson (Zechariah 7 and 8), I also did a little reading in a related section of Ezra 6 (verses 6-12). King Darius back east, by now the absolute sovereign of the known world, is writing to the secular governor of the region surrounding Jerusalem, where a ragtag bunch of returned Jewish exiles are trying to rebuild the Temple. Amazingly, Darius tells the governor to help them in every way, including feeding them and paying all the construction bills. What’s this pagan, idol-worshiping foreign king doing, anyway? Why?

Then I remembered that Darius had been converted to the worship of the one true God (Daniel 6:25-28), after God preserved Daniel’s life all night in a pit filled with hungry lions. Daniel did a lot of good things in his long and faithful life, but the very most helpful thing may have been getting thrown to the lions. (Reason: he refused to obey the king’s orders to stop praying to the true God; in fact, he persisted boldly and publicly.) He was willing to die for his faith, but in this case that didn’t happen. And it all resulted in Darius’ conversion and subsequent support of the Temple reconstruction, with all that that meant for the spiritual lives of the people of God. I can’t be glad when a Christian brother or sister is persecuted. But I can pray that God, by his grace, will turn it all around for good.

Have a great weekend.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Opportunity to Make a Big Difference

Yesterday I learned about a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in the world. I promised I wouldn't impose my anti-slavery campaign on you, but here I am asking a favor of you. The International Justice Movement (IJM) in Washington DC is one of the organizations that's having a genuine impact. They conduct investigations around the world in order to rescue victims of injustice and gain evidence against their abusers, bringing them to justice. They also partner with local aftercare providers to help victims heal and recover. Now they're in the final stretches to win a $100,000 grant from Rezoom. They need people to go to every day from now until August 10 and simply vote for International Justice Mission. It's really simple; you will need to choose a "username" and a password. Register once, and from then on all you have to do is vote every day. While you're at the site, you can read more about IJM too. Or at What a painless way to help this group rescue victims of sexual exploitation and bonded slavery. Thank you.

Daughter Lisa is coming in early tomorrow morning for the weekend. I am so happy about that. Grateful to feel well enough to enjoy her company. Lab reports show that my blood counts haven't dropped severely.

I wasn't able to get an update on neighbor Michael last evening. I'll keep trying.

Have a great day.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Positive Thinking

I positively think drugs cost too much! It's easy to overlook this when our wonderful health insurance company covers so much of our expenses. (We're very thankful.) Yesterday I went to the drugstore to pick up a prescription the doctor suggested I take at the next chemo to prevent nausea. Getting it that way put the high cost right in front of my face; even our small percentage co-pay was astounding. So I asked the druggist to return it to the shelf, and he sweetly agreed. I think a few minutes of "head-in-toilet," if necessary, are better than that. Sorry, folks. These are raw facts, but if this is your nearest exposure to cancer (I hope so), you might as well hear things as they really are. Don't worry; I already have a lot of anti-nausea resources, and I'll be fine. Just because a fancy new (expensive) drug hits the market doesn't mean I have to take it.

Our mission publishes a book every year for our members to use in daily prayers. It contains profiles and prayer requests for each country where our people serve, and it also lists those people in their locations and ministries. The personnel department takes care of the lists of people, and this year, again, I'm updating the country profiles and prayer requests. As I was working on that project yesterday, I was conscious again of how privileged we are to be serving here. God is good to give us this joy at this stage of our lives.

I'm reading in the Psalms again. Here's 49:15: "But as for me, God will redeem my life. He will snatch me from the power of death." That's a promise for today's living. It's also a promise for the day--whenever it comes--when it's time to leave this earth; even then, the "power of death" will yield to his wonderful, forever life.

Our neighbor Michael, a young father, had 4th stage prostate cancer 5 1/2 years ago, and it went into remission after surgery and radiation. Now tests show cancer has returned, and there's something showing on a lung scan. He and his wife meet the doctor today. They're actually praying that the cancer is in his lung (treatable) and not in his abdomen--where he's already exhausted all possibilities of further treatment. Could we pray for God to touch that family with his peace and healing?

I positively think today holds all sorts of possibilities; may God redeem each moment for our good and his own honor.


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pray for the Taliban

The Korean hostages in Afghanistan are all Christians (18 women and 5 men), voluntary humanitarian workers, most from the same church in South Korea. Could we pray that God's peaceable voice will speak to the Kaliban leaders, showing them the value of releasing their hostages without killing them. The negotiators are apparently doing their best, but of course God is far stronger than they are.

I had blood drawn yesterday for a complete blood count--not to measure the cancer, only the blood count. Last month some of the counts dropped very low before the bone marrow kicked back in and did its noble work. We're praying again for those counts to be protected. I woke up last night with a sore throat and had a momentary fear that my immunity had failed, but I prayed and this morning my throat feels fine. I'm pretty sure I'd have forgotten to be thankful for good health without that reminder that it's not to be taken for granted.

Would we know that the major chords were sweet,
if there were no minor key?
Would the painter's work be fair to our eyes,
without shade on land or sea?
Would we know the meaning of happiness,
would be feel that the day was bright,
If we'd never known what it was to grieve,
nor gazed on the dark of night? (from Streams in the Desert July 23)

I appreciate your prayers so much!


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

An Unavoidable Imperative

As Chuck and I read the indeed devotional yesterday, we came across an encouraging--truly astounding--truth. The background was the time that Jesus went with his parents to Jerusalem at the age of 12 (Luke 2:49), and Joseph and Mary lost him. After three anxious days, they found him in the temple, and here's what's amazing. Jesus couldn't accept that they were anxious; "Didn't you know," he insisted, "that I had to be in my Father's house?" Asks indeed, "Where else would he be? The temple is his home." Moving on to today, the truth is startling. Now we are his home, his temple, his Father's house. He must be here; his very nature requires it. In dark nights, when the devil whispers dark lies, the believer can say (aloud if necessary), "Jesus is here, right here, inside me. He has to be." (I tried it last night.)

I don't plan to impose on you my efforts against modern slavery. I'll be writing letters, making phone calls, buying fair-trade or boycotting products--along with thousands of other people. I thought I'd simply list here a few websites, in case you're interested. (If you want book titles, click on Comments below and ask for them.)

One comment about boycotting: Christian leaders in China acknowledge that imprisoned believers there must often do forced factory labor. (How else could prices be so low?) These leaders do not recommend boycotts; they ask instead that every time we buy or use a product "Made in China," we remember to pray for the Christians who suffer for their faith. (This doesn't go on in all of China, but in some provinces.) Once again, prayer is our first resource.

Chuck and I walked last evening, and then I walked with a neighbor from Uzbekistan. Most evenings here are delightful, even following very hot days. This morning, the new class of SIM workers from the USA will "graduate," and we'll be there to celebrate with them. (I got to teach one of their orientation classes, so I feel I know them a bit. They are wonderful folks.)

I'm continuing to feel well. Thanks so much for your prayers.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Latest Hatch

Four more frogs have moved into our home. Aren't they sweet? We let them remind us to Fully Rely On God. (We have enough now.) Thanks to all who identify with us in our intention to trust God fully.

More frogs

Fully Rely On God

Yesterday's Sunday school class focused on the prophet Zechariah. Two verses in chapter 4 encouraged me a great deal. Verse 6 says, "This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel (Tom said to put our own names there [to Carol]): It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord almighty." And verse 10 says, "Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin." I'm afraid that for most of my life, I relied on my own "force and strength," and when all is said and done, it will turn out that very little of value was ever said or done! But now I'm surely not feeling powerful, and yet I have this desire that my life should bless others and bring glory to Christ. I also want to add my weak voice to thousands of others in the fight against modern slavery. So I took courage from yesterday's lesson--not to think I can accomplish anything in my own "force and strength," but to Fully Rely On God and trust him both to lead what I should do and to accomplish his own purposes by his own great ability.

Last evening we heard a masterful organ and oboe concert at Calvary Church, part of the American Guild of Organists summer series. After an amazing hour of virtuoso performances of classics I love, the organist played "Battle Hymn of the Republic" during which images of soldiers and Iraqis and coffins were displayed on the screens. Many of us were weeping. It gave me courage to remind us, again, to pray for our troops and for all who are being deeply hurt by wars, wherever they are.

It was a full and sociable weekend, and I'm warmed and encouraged. Also feeling well.

Bless you all.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Can't Rely on Feelings

Earlier this week I felt so low that I could have believed I surely couldn't live very long. Today I feel so wonderful that I could believe I'll live as long as any of you. Feelings aren't reliable, are they? I need to return a borrowed book this morning, Lion and Lamb, by Brennan Manning, and before I do I want to share some good words from it (page 61):

". . . our expectations are our greatest obstacle to union with God in the present moment. It is Jesus who writes all the lines, all the words, and all the letters of our lives. Do I really know what is best for me? My vision is so shortsighted, my horizon so limited. Surrender is a practical application of a confession--what we pray each day in the Lord's Prayer, Thy will be done. Abandonment is the triumph of trust in our lives. . . .

"The two pivotal words in the teaching of Jesus are both A words--Amen and Abba. Amen meaning Yes and Abba meaning Father. Saying yes to our heavenly Father's will is the essence of the entire moral teaching of Jesus."

So I've already told you I'm feeling wonderful, and it's true. We're taking a couple of teenagers with us to church this morning, and then having a guest for lunch. Yesterday I did some SIM work and sorted through some messes of mail and correspondence that had been stacking up here. I'm always behind! What else is new? I need to figure out a way (or find time) to keep in touch with the friends who either can't or don't want to use the internet.

May God bless your Sunday.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

"You Have Been Called"

“Picture yourself in a hospital bed. The fog of anesthesia has begun to wear away. A doctor stands at your feet; a loved one holds your hand at the side. 'It’s cancer,' the healer announces.

“The natural reaction is to turn to God and ask him to serve as a cosmic Santa. 'Dear God, make it all go away. Make everything simpler.' But another voice whispers: 'You have been called.' Your quandary has drawn you closer to God, closer to those you love, closer to the issues that matter—and has dragged into insignificance the banal concerns that occupy our 'normal time.'

“There’s another kind of response, although usually short-lived—an inexplicable shudder of excitement, as if a clarifying moment of calamity has swept away everything trivial and tinny, and placed before us the challenge of important questions.

“The moment you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change. You discover that Christianity is not something doughy, passive, pious, and soft. Faith may be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But it also draws you into a world shorn of fearful caution. The life of belief teems with thrills, boldness, danger, shocks, reversals, triumphs, and epiphanies.”

Like it? It’s exactly what I would have said, if only I could write as well. You can download the entire article, “Cancer’s Unexpected Blessings,” by Tony Snow at

Please take a look, regardless of your politics. It is so beautiful.

I know for sure I’m alive again. Yesterday I worked a full day, and even fought for the privilege of taking my turn to clean the office kitchen. I felt so well, and got so much good work done. I’m very grateful. I know God is answering your prayers for me. Thank you, from my heart!


Friday, July 20, 2007

Planning to Live

Last evening I received an out-of-the-blue phone call from a dear woman whom we met many years ago through a Christian seniors' bed-and-breakfast network. We'd lost track of her and her husband when they changed their email address. She's a person who walks in tune with God, and she followed his nudge to call me. You know that my general outlook during this journey with cancer has been "planning to live, prepared to die." Well, as I was bringing her up-to-date (she hadn't heaard of the cancer), I think she discerned that I've unwittingly switched the order of those two options. (Maybe I'm tired of all the chemo, the pills, the uncertainty.) But she was having none of it. "Carol," she said, "I don't think I can accept your saying that you might die." She was gracious, and our conversation moved on, but I've thought more about it, and she's right. I'm straightening my head around and both planning and preparing to live. I need a dream for ten years from now. (Of course, I am still committed to Fully Relying On God, and whatever he chooses is right and good--whenever.)

On Tuesday when the nurse found out that I was still struggling with nausea, she injected a liquid directly into my I-V, and I think I fell asleep before she walked away. Apparently, after the infusion was finished, I “woke up” and she gave instructions about which drugs I should take the next day, yesterday, to prevent a recurrence. I went home and directly to bed, where I stayed until time to return for more chemo at 9:30. Thanks to the Atavan injection, my short-term memory failed me, and I didn’t take anything yesterday morning. I wasn’t nearly as sick as the day before, but the yucky feeling returned. Now I have the instructions written in ink on paper, and I think anyway I’ll remember to do the right thing. I suppose everyone in long-term chemo-therapy reaches this point where there are entirely too many strange drug names to keep track of, and I have to humble myself to the point of admitting to the nurse that I’ve forgotten what she said, and will she please say it again? Those nurses are incredibly affirming and wonderful—never make me feel stupid.

That reminds me of the first “blessed” in Jesus’ sermon on the hillside: “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” Poor in spirit is usually defined, colloquially, as knowing you can’t cut it by yourself. So a stubborn person like me spends most of a lifetime proving—impossibly—that I can do it. Failure, cancer, and aging turn out to be a threefold grace if they bring me/us to the point of being poor in spirit. Blessed!

I heard yesterday that the temperature in Iraq is reaching 120 F. I know how my mood turns when I'm that miserable. Let's pray for our military friends over there. They can't afford bad moods! May God give them grace.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Last Day of Chemo--for now

I’m glad to be at the “last day” for this round of chemo. No doubt the month will fly, and we’ll begin another round even before I feel like it. Yesterday the nurse was concerned about my nausea, and whatever she slipped into the I-V knocked me out for the rest of the day. Sleep is so sweet! (Losing the nausea ranks right up there too.) I need to express thanks that I’m feeling no pain. No nausea this morning either.

God is good. Our lovely collection of frogs reminds us to FROG--Fully Rely On God. What else can we do? What else would we want to do?

I’ve been just holding on these past 48 hours; no profound thoughts to pass along. Only intense gratitude to you who carry us in your prayers. Thank you.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Blood Count Improved

Thanks to all of your faithful prayers, Carol's blood counts went up without any special intervention. Yes, her bone marrow did it's work and she was able to have the full chemo program yesterday. This morning she is quite tired, in fact is back to sleep now, but she tells me that she is feeling well otherwise. Thank you Lord! Today we have another infusion scheduled at 10:30, however this will be a little lighter, being only the V-16 while yesterday she had both the V-16 and Cytoxan. We were delighted to find her white count went from 2.7 to 5.4 and the immature white count from 1.0 to 3.4. We are thankful for this answer to prayer!

Recently I was reading Ecclesiastes 11 in The Message, and quickly related to these verses:

"Oh, how sweet the light of day,
And how wonderful to live in the sunshine!
Even if you live a long time, don't take a single day for granted.
Take delight in each light-filled hour.
Remembering that there will also be many dark days
And that most of what comes your way is smoke."

Yes Lord, help us to delight in each light-filled hour and not take a single day for granted. And as we face those inevitable dark days, help us to stand faithful and to glorify you!

We just can't thank you enough for standing by us as we travel this winding road together.

Love to you all,

Chuck...and Carol too

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Is it Time?

I freely admit that I wasn't clever or knowledgeable enough to discover the widespread scourge of slavery in our day. Since the release of the motion picture, "Amazing Grace," about Wilberforce's perseverance in shutting down the slave trade in the British empire, several magazine articles have drawn attention to this modern scandal. But suddenly, the subject is everywhere--books, more magazines, blogs, and personal conversations. I pray that this means it's God's time to use people and their resources to make a big dent in slavery of all kinds. (Several people and organizations, including International Justice Mission, have been fighting slavery for years; I don't mean to imply that it's blown up to this massive problem without anyone's noticing. It's simply that it's been far too easy for me and for most of us to let someone else take action.) Someone emailed me yesterday to say that a local anti-slavery group is forming soon. I got a fund-raising letter from the Intervarsity chapter at Michigan State (I was active in I-V at MSU many years ago), and they're planning a week's campus outreach in the fall with a focus on human trafficking, asking, "Why is the world like this?" Whatever action God might lead me to take, surely the first and best thing I can do is pray.

Today, my battle is against cancer. Chemo is scheduled for 10:30, and I believe my blood counts will be sufficiently high to allow us to continue. Today, the first of the 3-day cycle, I'll get the meanest drug, so I won't be surprised if I need to come home and rest after it's over. Thanks for praying that the chemo will target and destroy the cancer cells.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Not Waiting

Yesterday I wrote about waiting—waiting on God, waiting for him to bring growth and understanding through suffering and perplexities, waiting for dawn to break after a long, dark night. Then our Sunday school teacher Tom showed us from Haggai 1, verses 2 & 8, that sometimes God tells us to quit waiting and do something. “This is what the Lord Almighty says: The people are saying, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house—the temple.’” . . . “Now go up into the hill, bring down timber, and rebuild my house. Then I will take pleasure in it and be honored, says the Lord.” Don't wait to do “kingdom business,” Tom said, which could be visiting a sick friend, sending a needed note of encouragement, forgiving an offense, or sharing with the poor. If we want to give God pleasure, we should quit waiting (saying “the time has not yet come”) and get doing the thing(s) that we’ve known for quite some time that God wants us to do.

I’ll tell you what’s been on my mind: the fact that there are at least 27 million people around the world living in slavery—more than all the slaves during the 400-year trans-Atlantic slave trade. They are everywhere—including an estimated 200,000 in the U.S. Some of today’s slaves work in factories, others on farms, while some are sex workers. Two-thirds are women and children. I know I can’t be a William Wilberforce. I can’t even go to Sudan as Baroness Caroline Cox has famously done to buy and release slaves. The question is, what can I do (in addition to boycotting chocolate)? This week, I aim to find out at least one action I can take for positive change.

I’m definitely feeling better. Yesterday I so enjoyed Sunday school and the worship service. After lunch and some personal correspondence, I put away the laundered linens from last week’s guests. Then I decided things might start to grow on the kitchen floor so I washed it. I was still finishing that when friends called to invite us to join them at the ice cream shop (don’t worry; I ordered healthy). While we were there, our cousin’s daughter, who lives a couple of hours away, called to say she and 3 friends were in town and could they come to our house? Of course. The visit was sweet, and we persuaded them to eat supper with us. Even after cleaning that up, I was not exhausted. I’m thinking my blood counts will likely be in the healthy range by Tuesday so we can proceed with chemo. We’ve been praying for that. (There won’t be another blood test for the cancer until a month from now, to give the next round of chemo time to work.)

Did I tell you our friend in dialysis learned that the lesion on her pancreas is NOT cancer. So she’s now officially on the transplant list for a kidney. We thank God.

We’re continually thankful for you who so faithfully pray for God to heal me. Thank you so much.


Sunday, July 15, 2007


Busyness--always rushing to get things done--can be an addiction that hides from us the truth of what's going on in our souls. To this I plead guilty! The Bible speaks a great deal about waiting. "Wait on the Lord," it says. That sounds almost quaint. Spiritual waiting requires down time, quiet time, eyes-open-mouth-closed time. I feel as though these months of waiting to see what the cancer will do to me, or else what God will do to my cancer, are a kind of enforced waiting that can open new insights and bring benefits of growth if I will respond hungrily to the waiting.

Sue Monk Kidd asks, "What has happened to our ability to dwell in unknowing, to live inside a question and coexist with the tensions of uncertainty? Where is our willingness to incubate pain and let it birth something new?" (I think the answer to her question is that we hide behind busyness, but it was, of course, a rhetorical question.) Thomas Merton said, "The imagination should be allowed a certain amount of time to browse around." And finally, a quote from a novel by Susan Howatch: "Our identity is being forged in the crucibl of whatever sufferings turn otu to be inextricable from the particular journey of each person . . . into fullness of life."

It would be interesting to list all the ways in which circumstances impose waiting on each one of us. It would be even more interesting to see, by faith, the growth that waits for us if we'll dive intentionally into the depths of the waiting and look up to see the face of God. (Could this even mean sometimes turning off the car radio and entering redemptively into a stop light's enforced wait?) Hoo boy! These are heavy thoughts. I do want to learn to wait well.

We had lots of family members traveling yesterday, and we're thankful for safety for each one. Daughter Sue's flight to Knoxville (she's to be a nurse for the youth conference Jeremy is going to) had a layover here, so we picked her up and enjoyed an early lunch together. She brought fresh photos of our great-grandson Joshua, whose family had been with her the day before. He's so grown up. Karin and her children arrived safely back in Indiana, and her husband returned from a business trip a couple of hours later. Jeremy and his bicycling bunch arrived at the day's destination, and now have only two more short days of travel to Knoxville. A couple of days ago, a motorist came from behind--distracted, obviously--and saw the bikers almost too late. They heard the scream of his brakes just before he passed them, skidding sideways, in the turn lane. Gasp!

Now I can't wait any longer; it's time to get ready for church. Have a great day. I'm remembering that the words we hear, say, and sing as we gather in church reveal our view of God. (Maybe that's true all day every day.)

Have a great day.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Preparing for Tomorrow

This is an amazing thought: almost everyone who reads this will be free to go to church tomorrow! No fear of being arrested or stoned. No intimidation. Simply free to go to church and worship the One who above all deserves our praise and love. So here's a thought to guide us as we prepare for church tomorrow. It's from Christopher Ellis.

"The gathering of Christian worship is where Christians express what they believe in a forthright and explicit way. In worship, Christians articulate what they believe, and express it in ways which are often memorable. They use their own words and they use the words of others, often passed down from previous generations. They use actions and gestures to express what cannot easily be put into words. Most importantly, they bring themselves, their hopes and fears, their guilty feelings and their concerns, their gratitude and their longings, their self-examination and their seeking for that which is beyond them. In short, they come to worship God, to seek some kind of communication with divine reality and to ask for help, both for themselves and for a desperately needy world.

"In this event of worship we find exposed what the Christian community is concerned about--what it values, what it takes for granted, what it regrets and where it wants to go."

In that light, I plan to pay even more attention tomorrow morning to the words I say, hear, and sing.

I'm aware of more fatigue that usual. I guess that goes along with low blood counts. Otherwise, all is well.

Karin and children are about to leave for their 12-hour drive home. We'll surely be praying for their safety. Sue has a 3-hour layover at the Charlotte airport today; we'll spend the time with her.

Have a great day.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Making Music

A friend who is fighting his own battle with cancer sent the following story. It's been around awhile, but yesterday it came to me with special sweetness, so although it's long, I thought I'd pass it along. I hope you too find it encouraging.
"On Nov. 18, 1995, Itzhak Perlman, the violinist, came on stage to give a concert at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. If you have ever been to a Perlman concert, you know that getting on stage is no small achievement for him. He was stricken with polio as a child, and so he has braces on both legs and walks with the aid of two crutches. To see him walk across the stage one step at a time, painfully and slowly, is an awesome sight.He walks painfully, yet majestically, until he reaches his chair. Then he sits down, slowly, puts his crutches on the floor, undoes the clasps on his legs, tucks one foot back and extends the other foot forward. Then he bends down and picks up the violin, puts it under his chin, nods to the conductor and proceeds to play. By now, the audience is used to this ritual. They sit quietly while he makes his way across the stage to his chair. They remain reverently silent while he undoes the clasps on his legs. They wait until he is ready to play.

"But this time, something went wrong. Just as he finished the first few bars, one of the strings on his violin broke. You could hear it snap - it went off like gunfire across the room. There was no mistaking what that sound meant. There was no mistaking what he had to do. We figured that he would have to get up, put on the clasps again, pick up the crutches and limp his way off stage - to either find another violin or else find another string for this one. But he didn't. Instead, he waited a moment, closed his eyes and then signaled the conductor to begin again. The orchestra began, and he played from where he had left off. And he played with such passion and such power and such purity as they had never heard before.
"Of course, anyone knows that it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings. I know that, and you know that, but that night Itzhak Perlman refused to know that.You could see him modulating, changing, re-composing the piece in his head. At one point, it sounded like he was de-tuning the strings to get new sounds from them that they had never made before. When he finished, there was an awesome silence in the room.
"And then people rose and cheered. There was an extraordinary outburst of applause from every corner of the auditorium. We were all on our feet, screaming and cheering, doing everything we could to show how much we appreciated what he had done. He smiled, wiped the sweat from this brow, raised his bow to quiet us, and then he said - not boastfully, but in a quiet, pensive, reverent tone - "You know, sometimes it is the artist's task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left."
"Who knows? Perhaps that is the definition of life - not just for artists but for all of us. Here is a man who has prepared all his life to make music on a violin of four strings, who, all of a sudden, in the middle of a concert, finds himself with only three strings; so he makes music with three strings, and the music he made that night with just three strings was more beautiful, more sacred, more memorable, than any that he had ever made before, when he had four strings.
"So, perhaps our task in this shaky, fast-changing, bewildering world in which we live is to make music, at first with all that we have, and then, when that is no longer possible, to make music with what we have left." (I'm sorry I don't know the identity of the author of this beautiful story.)
Good news from our Nassau friend with lung cancer. His new scan shows the larger tumor has shrunk drastically, and the smaller one has become too small to measure. (Earlier in the year he was treated at the MD Anderson Cancer Center by a combination of proton radiation and chemo.) Also, our friend on dialysis who needs a kidney transplant learned yesterday that the lesion on her pancreas is NOT cancer. We hope that means she will soon be placed on the transplant list. We're thanking God for these two big answers to prayer.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Gifts of Grace

For a long time now, I've had little to say about my health other than, "I'm feeling well." Now that there's a bit of news, I get afraid that it's boring to keep reporting on my health. Ah well....

Three big answers to prayer: The results of my Complete Metabolic Panel came back "perfectly normal." (This was to check on whether the repeated chemo is damaging organs such as liver, heart, etc. It's not. Thank the Lord.) The nurses did some creative thinking and arranged the August doctor-and-chemo appointments so we'll be free to travel to the reunion with my siblings and their spouses. Yeah! (That is, assuming no more detours occur.) And yesterday I felt so much better than the day before, it was like spring after winter. I got a fair amount of work done, in contrast to the day before.

So we continue to pray that my bone marrow is churning out new healthy white cells.

The Body Worlds exhibit was amazing. The human body is indeed a splendid work of a wise and wonderful Creator. One of the first sights upon entering the display is a huge banner quoting Psalm 8. "What are mortals that you should think of us, mere humans that you should care for us? For you made us only a little lower than God, and you crowned us with glory and honor; You put us in charge of everything you made, giving us authority over all things . . . ."

There were sobering reminders of the importance of healthy living, such as several lungs of smokers. I realize this is a common enough sight, but it's useful nevertheless. Overall, one is struck by the exquisite design that knits all our systems into a beautifully functioning organism. Another banner quoted St. Augustine: "The human body is so beautiful in its design that one might think the Creator was even more interested in beauty than in function." (That's not exact, of course, but I think it's the essence of what he said.) We were all glad we went.

I hope you have a great day.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007


After a long wait in the chemo chair yesterday, the blood counts came back from the lab, and the doctor didn't like them. The white cell count had dropped so low that he decided to postpone chemo for a week, giving my bone marrow time to "do its thing." A week seems a short time to make such big repairs, so please pray with us that it will happen. I've gotten in the habit of living an almost normal life, so we had big plans for a reunion with my siblings, their spouses, and a cousin in August. I know this is selfish, but I'm also praying that this detour doesn't mess up the calendar.

Since I couldn't get chemo, I went to the office, but I soon discovered that I was pretty useless. It felt like sheer fatigue; my brain refused to engage. It occurred to me that I might be more depressed or discouraged than tired, but I couldn't shake it off, so after a couple of hours I went home. After a short nap, Karin and her kids were back from their excursion, and we enjoyed the next hours together--Scrabble, pizza, and a humorous movie. This morning I feel better, and we plan to go to Discovery Place to see Body World.

Why depressed? The reality is that I've sailed through 35 courses of chemo without a hitch. That's the surprising thing, not that this time we hit a bump. Everyone hits bumps. I heard about a woman whose children have all died but one, and that one is dying, all of cancer. The grandchildren appear to also have the cancer gene. And the woman's husband couldn't handle the stress and bailed out. One wonders how she even gets out of bed in the morning! Surely she needs our prayers.

My chronological Bible has me in the Proverbs and Psalms just now. "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord," it says. I do have breath, and I do praise the Lord. He is good, and He is right.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Rising, more slowly

The CA 125 report is 258.77. That's an 18% rise from three weeks ago. That doesn't sound good, until I recall that the rise last time was 89%. So this might indicate a good trend towards stabilization. I know we're all praying for the numbers to drop, and drop, and drop. Let's not stop. Thank you so much. How can I find words to thank you for your caring, prayers, and encouragement? Both Chuck and I are deeply grateful.

Which Side of the "BUT"?

Author Thomas Jones says there are two constants, our problems and God's promises. Here's one way to look at them: "I know God promises to take care of me, BUT I don't see how I can cope with this problem." And our mind locks on the right side of the BUT.

Or we can make a simple but life-changing switch of focus, like this: "I don't see how I can cope with this problem, BUT I know God promises to take care of me." There! Land on the right side of this one, and we'll be okay no matter what problems we face.

Yesterday I handled the most urgent emails waiting for me at the office, and deleted bunches of junk ones. We surely enjoyed last evening with Karin and kids. This morning we're eager to learn the results of the CA 125 test. Then we'll see the oncologist, and will most likely proceed to the next round of chemo.

Bless you!

Which Side of the "BUT"?

Author Thomas Jones says there are two constants, our problems and God's promises.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Home Again

It was a long day of travel, but we all arrived in good health and good spirits. I'm pretty impressed with what good travelers our grandchildren are. I hope this week will be tons of fun for them.

My cousin is recovering well from last week's surgery, and thought he'd go home from the hospital either yesterday or today. He's still planning to escort his bride-daughter down the aisle this coming Friday.

Eugene Peterson, in The Jesus Way, warns that it's easy to deceive ourselves about faith. God wants to give himself to us on his own terms, but we "are far too full of self-interest and self-deceit. We are too devious in devising ways of cooking the books to document the evidence that serves our illusions. . . . Christianity is a perpetual breeding ground for violence, abuse, superstition, war, discrimination, tyranny, and pride." Well! That's humbling. So our faith needs to be tested, as was Abraham's, and as was the faith of all those who "finished well"--both in the Bible and in history since.

He says it's only in testing that we discover whether we choose the way of awe and worship, or if we're simply trying to reduce God to a sort of idol designed for our satisfaction. Someone at our beck and call, whom we can manipulate into doing what we demand. The test will tell us. "Untested faith does not yet qualify as faith. Untested faith, having the appearance of faith, the feeling of faith, the language of faith, may be only wishful thinking, or an adolescent illusion, erotic dreaming, satanic delusion, a cultural cliche, a cover for self-sovereignty--whatever. . . . The test is the catalyst in which our response to God, the raw material of faith, is formed into a life of faith. Or not." In the end, we're glad for the test, because by it we learn the truth about ourselves.

I can think of many times in my long life when I was entrusted with a test of my faith and I flunked the test, choosing instead the easy way or the self-gratifying way. I'm in good company there--think of Abraham, David, and even Moses at times. Real faith takes time to grow. Tests help. I surely don't want testing to dissolve what I was calling faith into "romanticized sludge or pietistic ooze," to use Peterson's words.

A test of another kind happens this morning, a blood test for CA 125. It will reveal the truth of my cancer at the moment, whether it's progressing or regressing. My response to the report tomorrow morning will reveal truth about my faith, whether I'm responding to God on his terms or wanting to use him as an idol to meet my wishes. (He is good and right--all the time.)


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Bald again.

I kept feeling annoyed by loose hairs tickling my neck and face the last couple of days. Yesterday I reached up to try to remove a loose hair, and my hand came away with a fistful of hair. So today Karin did me the favor of shaving it all off--again. Even though it had begun growing back 15 months ago, it remained baby-fine and extremely sparse, so I'd never been able to go out without a hat or wig anyway. So no tears! I guess this new chemo is pretty powerful. I'm praying that it's as destructive to the cancer cells as it is to my follicles.

I've been spending time at the computer every day here at the lake, and yesterday I finished writing (or editing in a couple of cases) the complete first draft of the next edition of the SIM magazine. What a great feeling. This way, even if the chemo limits my work for a good part of the coming week, I won't be behind my schedule.

I read a lovely thing in 2 Chronicles 30:22 this morning. Hezekiah, the king of Judah, had led the people in a significant revival of worship of the true God, including a massive celebration of Passover, which brought an atmosphere of great joy throughout the city. Then this: "Hezekiah encouraged the Levites for the skill they displayed as they served the Lord." That seems a worthy example for all of us, especially if we're in a position of leadership or supervision of others. I hate to think how many people get only negative feedback at work or in their home. As though their paycheck were the only affirmation they need! If people around us display skill in their service, whatever it is, let's encourage them!

I won't be able to post a blog tomorrow, as we'll be traveling all day. Monday morning we should be at home and back in normal communication. I'll post a message, then go get blood drawn for a CA 125 test, and then go to work. I hope we can get tickets for "Body World" at a convenient time for all of us.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Good Day

Good Day

Sue came yesterday, and she just left. It was such a sweet 24 hours. Good news: Karin and the children are returning to our home with us on Sunday for a few days. The presenting reason is so they can go to the “Body World” exhibit at Discovery Place. I’m looking forward to seeing it with them. By means of a process called “plastination,” they show actual human bodies in various presentations. One I heard about is a precise preservation of all the blood vessels in the human head, with everything else removed to give a clear view. Sounds awful, but I understand it’s awe-inspiring. The German woman who owns the exhibit spoke on the radio a few weeks ago. Her late husband invented the plastination process. She said that when the show was in Japan, a young woman came to her and confessed that previously she had made three suicide attempts because she felt so worthless and insignificant. “Now,” she said, “after seeing how magnificently my body is created, I promise you I will never, ever again try to destroy myself.” I’m sure it will be wonderful to see. It will also be great to have part of the family with us for most of the week. I hope I’m not too disabled by the chemo scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

Yesterday the kids enjoyed hours and hours behind the boat. Today will probably be another yard work day. And reading day.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Life at the Lake

My cousin is having surgery at 2:00 Central time today to remove his cancerous prostate. We’re praying that the anesthesiologist will “get it right,” that the surgeon will have steady hands, and that God will be doing his healing work in it all.

Karin’s friend’s nephew is staying for the rest of the week. He’s pretty excited about that. Yesterday saw some serious boarding and tubing on the lake. Daughter Sue will arrive before lunch today, and Jeremy and his friends need to leave soon after lunch. Friday morning Jeremy and several others begin a 10-day bicycle road trip from Jackson, Michigan, to Nashville, Tennessee, for the International Youth Congress. There, Jeremy will have the privilege of giving a report about his time in Africa last October through April.

Chuck and I took a canoe ride yesterday, as well as a morning and evening walk.

Peterson’s The Jesus Way continues to stretch my mind and my soul. He’s talking about Abraham as the “father” of the way of faith. “What did these writers [Paul and others] see in Abraham that they named faith? Was it not this lifetime of internalizing the commanding and promising but invisible God and then stepping out on the road in obedience? Was it not this readiness to leave wherever he was and leave whatever he had in order to embrace the vision, the covenant, the command? Was it not a life of responsive openness to God and a matching indifference to whatever conditions he found himself in? Was it not a lifetime disposition to receive God rather than to satisfy himself?”

The cool thing is that all the biblical stories of people who walked the way are so cryptic that we can’t possibly use them as a template for our lives. Each of us needs to listen to God’s voice—soft though it usually is—to discover His way for our walk each day. (I’m not talking about the Way to eternal life; that Way is Jesus for every one of us.)

I’m also reading This Immoral Trade about slavery in the 21st century. Get ready to be disturbed; I’ll write about that sometime soon I’m sure.


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Helping us celebrate

Yesterday, a law school classmate of Karin's left this message: My nephew has come for a visit, and we don't have any family around to celebrate July 4 with. May we share yours? Of course they can! So she and her husband and nephew have been here since dinnertime yesterday and right now they're grabbing a quick breakfast in order to get out on the lake while it's still calm. Later today Jeremy and two friends will join us; I think we'll have a fine day.

I read a helpful book titled Corner Conversationg by Randy Newman, published by Kregel. It's a gentle approach to answering the most common objections to faith. Now Gavin is reading it, and he likes it too. His usual preference is for high-adventure fantasy, which I also like. He and I share a lot of books.

And now I'm back to Eugene Peterson's The Jesus Way. May I quote a little?

Way: a simple noun designating a road that leads to a destination, but then opening up as a metaphor that ramifies into many and various "ways"--not only the way we go, as in the route we take, but the way we go on the way whether by foot or bike or automobile. The way we talk, the way we use our influence, the way we treat another, the way we raise our children, the way we read, the way we worship, the way we vote, the way we garden, the way we ski, the way we feel, the way we eat . . . . And on and on, endlessly, the various and accumulated "ways and means" that characterize our way of life. p. 22)

Yesterday we spent 2 1/2 hours removing weeds and overgrowth from the various flower beds around the house. Oh, it looks so nice now. And the work was good for us all. I'm so thankful to feel this well.

I think I've mentioned Robin, the musician with whom I used to work in women's conferences. She lives only a few minutes from here, and yesterday she came for a really sweet visit. What a treat!

To my fellow U.S. citizens, Happy 4th! To my British friends, sorry about that. To all, have a great day.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Growing up

The babies are getting bigger, though they're still pretty downy. Daddy is somewhere around, but he didn't make it in the photo.

The message at church yesterday was about worship. The speaker made a wonderful connection in three different locations in the Bible. First it commands us to sing praises to the Lord. Then in the very next verse it talks about the way we treat other people. Both the praising and the loving service are acts of worship to God, who deserves it. Isn't that cool?

Hope you're having a wonderful week.


Beautiful Day

It's fresh, not too hot, sunny, and beautiful today. We need rain here, maybe worse than in North Carolina. I've been thinking about the long dry season they experience every year in Africa, and how they long for rainy season. Ground that had appeared totally dry and barren suddenly sprouts green and lovely when the rains start. Spiritually, too, it often seems as though situations and people are totally dry and barren, and then God sends the rain of his Spirit--and everything changes. That is the truly beautiful day.

Jeremy and a couple of his friends are coming on Wednesday to stay overnight. Sue plans to come Thursday and stay until Friday. Yes!

We're sleeping well, feeling well, and getting a little exercise doing needed tasks. So thankful for all the privileges and gifts of life.

I'll be back when I can.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

A Good Way

This morning I read in Hosea 12:6, "So now, come back to your God. Act on the principles of love and justice, and always live in confident dependence on your God." Isn't that good? It seems I may have already quoted the same verse at some time in the past, but today it struck me again as a very good way to live.

News about my cousin: his c-t and bone scans indicate the cancer hasn't spread. That's good news. But on the scale of 1-10, the aggressiveness of his cancer is a 9. This weekend he must decide whether to go for a second opinion, or to stick with his local surgeon. His daughter is to be married in 13 days. Their faith is strong, but of course this is a tough time.

Thus far we haven't seen our swans. The weather is gorgeous, and it's very restful here. Looking forward to church in about an hour. Grandson Gavin just returned from a week of camp in Florida with the youth group. He's bubbling with enthusiasm.

I'm feeling well. Slept a few hours yesterday as Chuck drove.