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

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Refiner's Fire

I certainly don't want to come to the end of my earthly life (whenever that happens) still sheltering in my soul all the selfishness and foolishness that I accumulated on my way to adulthood. And still, if I could, I'd choose to protect myself from any painful situation that God might design to clean me up and make me more like Himself. So since I don't really have enough wisdom to know what's best for me from the eternal perspective, I want to choose again and again to accept whatever He sends, and to seek the glory of God and the refinement of my spirit through it. I read the other day in Streams in the Desert about a refiner of gold, and that's what got me thinking along these lines.

"The metallurgist . . . subjects the precious metal to a hot fire, for only the refiner's fire will melt the metal, release the dross, and allow the remaining, pure metal to take a new and perfect shape in the mold. A good refiner never leaves the crucible but stays near so the fire will not become even one degree too hot and possibly harm the metal. And as soon as he skims the last bit of dross from the surface and sees his face reflected in the pure metal, he extinguishes the fire." (Arthur Tappan Pierson). The prophet said of God in Malachi 3:3, "He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver."

Isn't it comforting to know that when the fire is hot, the Refiner is near?

My mouth feels somewhat better this morning. I'm thankful for enough energy the past two days to make excellent progress on refining the magazine articles I'm currently working on, plus accomplish a couple of other assignments. I come home at the end of the day tired but feeling fine.

Tomorrow, as early as possible, I'll post the result of today's CA 125 test.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Mail that cheers

Yesterday we received an envelope from Nigeria containing several hand-written notes on lined paper. Early last summer, we'd read a newsletter from an SIM worker inviting people to provide scholarships for young people to attend the "Youth Alive" camp co-sponsored by SIM and the churches of Nigeria. Chuck and I liked the idea, and sent some money. Can't even remember now how much it was, and we certainly didn't miss it after it was gone. But what an investment! Sarah wrote, "Because of you my life is changed. I'm praying to God to help me to live a holy life and to share love with other people around me." David says, "The camp was like a home; they fed and treated us well. I learned how to make palm sandals and I played soccer. The palm sandals I learnt will help me to be financially independent. I made a decision to not follow the patterns of this world, but to follow the Lord." And there were several others. Chuck and I had tears in our eyes as we reflected on the privilege of sharing our abundance with those who have little or nothing. (I tell this not to make us look good, but rather to encourage us and others to keep on giving. I'm sure the order of things was set up by the Creator so that when we do the right thing, it does us far more good than it does our beneficiaries.)

Once again the lining of my mouth feels burned off. Seems to be a stage in the process of this chemo. It's happened before, we've prayed, and it's cleared up. Thanks for praying.

We have frost this morning. Lots of green tomatoes are still on the vines, so I draped sheets over them last evening, and I hope they survive. Now it's supposed to warm up.

Have a great day.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Pallet Carrying

Yesterday we heard a beautiful message about relationships, and the speaker built upon the amazing story in the Gospels of the paralyzed man whose friends carried him on his pallet to Jesus. When they found that Jesus was blocked in by crowds, they climbed to the flat roof of the house, dug a hole through the clay and dust, and lowered the pallet practically onto Jesus' lap. Jesus forgave his sins and healed his paralysis, and he WALKED out of there! "That," said the speaker, "is how God intended relationships to work." We do whatever it takes to help our friends. It seems amazing that a paralyzed person, unable to circulate in society, had at least four friends, doesn't it--one for each rope? Anyway, the story reminded me of you wonderful pallet carriers who so faithfully pray for me. I don't know why you do, but I'm inexpressibly grateful to you. (This week we're praying for the CA 125 numbers to drop from last time's 261--test Wednesday, report Thursday.)

A friend who needs sinus surgery is seeing the anesthesiologist today to decide whether it's safe to proceed to surgery with her current severe lung congestion. We're very concerned, and we're praying for God's wisdom for her.

Yesterday in my chronological Bible reading, I came upon Jesus' insistence in the Gospels that he really will come back (Mark 13, Matthew 24, and Luke 21). People love to argue and speculate about prophecy, but it seems to me the important thing is to remember and look forward to Jesus' return. I mean, he promised! He has never lied. "Keep a constant watch," he said. I find that hope highly encouraging.

I'm feeling well, and looking forward to a productive week. I hope your week will be good as well.

Love and prayers,

Sunday, October 28, 2007

It’s almost like a resurrection--I felt so much stronger yesterday than I had the day before. I’m very thankful. I’m also thankful that we got almost 2 inches of rain in the past couple of days. We’re still in major drought conditions (13+ inches deficit for the year), but things look greener already. And I’m thankful for wonderful friends and neighbors. One of our dear friends went to the hospital Friday with chest pain (he has some stents, so it’s cause for concern). He passed his stress test yesterday and went home, so it looks like he’s okay after all. We’re grateful for this answer to prayer.

A good friend wrote about losing his friend to cancer. The writer is a deep and clear thinker, and I appreciate his words. “Fred has accomplished the hard part. We all have to go through this. But for him it is finished. Yet it’s also the beginning. I have imagined dying as crawling into a narrowing dark tunnel toward a black wall. But I have also imagined crashing through that thin veil like the Colts players burst out of the tunnel and crash through that big paper wall onto the brightly lit playing field in front of thousands of screaming fans. (Did you guess he lives in Indiana?) Through the deep, frightening darkness into glory. Is that what it’s like?”

We’ll all find out someday, won’t we? Meanwhile we live every moment by God’s grace and with our hearts full of wonder and gratitude.

Have a blessed Sunday.


Saturday, October 27, 2007

How Can I Say Thanks?

Thanks for all your prayers. God answers your prayers by giving me grace for the down days and then gives me lots of "up" days in between chemos. I'm thankful.

I'm also thankful for the Lord Jesus Christ, who is my only hope for this life and the next. I've begun to wear a cross necklace every day, as a reminder of this wonderful hope. I'm thankful.

I'm thankful for my wonderful doctors and nurses. Yesterday morning I had barely sat down so the nurse could disconnect my pump when my stomach emphatically rejected my breakfast. Instantly I was surrounded by caring nurses; one provided an emesis pan in the nick of time, another came running with crushed ice, and another brought a moist washcloth. I watch them behave this way all the time, expressing compassion and care for all of us patients. I didn't stay sick long; in fact I enjoyed my fish dinner. I'm thankful.

I'm thankful for music. At 2:35 this morning I was lying in my comfortable bed trying to go back to sleep when all at once a song came ringing through my brain. It took me a moment to remember that it was a song Jeremy brought back from Niger last April, "There Is a Higher Throne," by Keith and Kristyn Getty. I'm sure I sent you the words back then, but I'll repeat the refrain here:

Hear heaven's voices sing,
Their thunderous anthem rings,
through emerald courts and sapphire skies
their praises rise.
All glory, wisdom, power,
strength, thanks, and honor are
to God, our King, who reigns on high, forevermore.

And I'm thankful to feel much better this morning. I think I'll put in some time at the office today, although it's Saturday. Yesterday afternoon I simply couldn't find enough energy, except to get up to run a a couple loads of laundry and then return to bed. Today is good, and I'm thankful.

Finally, I'm thankful for Chuck. He keeps such excellent spread sheets of all my medical happenings--the treatments, the results of blood tests, scheduled appointments. On top of that, he battles honorably against repeated errors by our insurance company. I'm thankful.

Hey, this feels good. I think I'll keep collecting "thanks" every day, at least until our Thankgiving Day.

Have a thankful day.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Eager to Unhook

This morning I'm eager to get rid of the chemo pump again. By the third day, I'm pretty tired of being tired, and longing to be back to my current normal. At the same time, though, Ii want to continue to endure this treatment, because if it fails to fight my cancer, I'm not sure there are other options. So I'm happy that it's Friday, and within a few hours the chemo pump will empty itself and I can go get it unhooked.

We just learned that a friend in our Sunday school class has been diagnosed with kidney cancer. There have been many wonderful answers to prayer in that class, and we're praying for another miracle on behalf of this friend. Have I told you that our Nassau friend, who had lung cancer, has now been tested and found to be cancer free. This is a wonderful miracle, and we're thankful.

Rule #10 of the Dead Sea Rules is Don't forget to praise Him. After the Israelites had crossed the Sea on dry land, God allowed the walls of water to collapse and destroy the Egyptian army as they pursued their former slaves. As the Israelites watched their amazing deliverance, they burst out into songs of praise. So yesterday, as I though about this rule, I really wanted to fill the day with praises to God. A few weeks ago my daughters gave me a new Ipod, and grandson Justin spent several hours loading it with his favorite music. It made it very easy for me to fill my mind and heart with songs of praise to God for all his goodness.

I hope once the pump is off I'll feel well enough to go to the office this afternoon. I got some work on the new magazine done here at home yesterday, and I'm eager to pull things together for the next steps in the process.

Have a blessed day.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

So Good, so far

Apart from fatigue, I'm feeling well this morning. Got through some fever and "sweats" during the night, but no digestive upsets at all. I'm thankful. Yesterday's blood count showed the hemoglobin at 10.5. The nurse says if it drops any lower they'll want to give me a shot of aranesp. They used to give it even as high as 13, she said. I'd be glad for it, except that last week I read some research linking that type of shot to congestive heart disease. I guess that's why they've dropped the level for administering it. At this point, I'm thinking I'd rather deal with tiredness than with the risk of heart disease. So I'm praying that it won't drop any lower.

Rule #9 of The Red Sea Rules is View your current crisis as a faith builder for the future. The author recounts a story he heard John Bisango tell about the time when his young daughter asked him to build her a dollhouse. John nodded, promised to build her one, and then returned to his book. Glancing out the window later, he saw his daughter, arms crammed with dishes and dolls, making trip after trip until she had a great pile in the yard. He asked his wife what she was doing, and she replied, "Oh, you promised to build her a dollhouse, and she believes you. She's just getting ready for it." John reported, "I tossed aside that book, raced to the lumberyard for supplies, and quickly built that little girl a dollhouse." He liked her childlike faith in his promise.

The Bible is full of promises. Some of them clearly applied specifically to the person or group they were given to, but many are applicable to all believers. And some of those strike deeply into our hearts as we read them in the presence of God. These are the ones I want to make note of and hold onto both in the present crisis and also in whatever crises the future holds. God is faithful to keep his promises.

We've never seen the oncologist's chemo room as filled as it was yesterday. So many of the patients are young. So many are suffering far worse than I am. Lots to pray for.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Unique and Mysterious

Rule #8 of The Red Sea Rules is Trust God to deliver in His own unique way. The author says, "There are no cookie cutters in heaven. God doesn't have standardized, same-size-fits-all solutions to our various problems. He treats every situation as singular and special, and He designs a unique, tailor-made deliverance to every trial and trouble." That explains a lot, doesn't it? And brings us back to bedrock: we Fully Rely On God alone--his wisdom, his purposes, his glory. Never mind how he solves other peoples' problems. His solutions for me are unique, mysterious, and fully okay.

A praying member of this blog network wrote yesterday that her closest friend urgently needs prayer. The friend has cancer of the appendix--a disease so rare there are only 600 documented cases. Hers had spread about the same as mine had. But whereas I recovered quickly from surgery and went home after six days, she has spent two weeks in intensive care and is still struggling. We don't know her name, but God does. Please pray for her.

Please also pray for Fran, whose breast cancer now appears to be very invasive. She's having a much-dreaded MRI tomorrow, where they tell her she'll have to lie stll for 30 minutes on her stomach with her hands reaching over her head. That sounds hard; she thinks it's impossible, especially in the closed tube of the MRI. Please ask God to give her strength and healing.

Last evening I prepared three dinners, one for then, two for during chemo which starts at 10:00 today. I'm so thankful that we didn't catch the very bad colds we were exposed to in Indiana. God answered that prayer.

Have a blessed day.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Home Again

We tried a new route for part of yesterday's trip home, and got here in 11 hours instead of the usual 12. We're thankful for safety, and for getting home early enough to unpack and read the mail before beginning the rest of the week. I hope to get the important things done today at the office before chemo takes over most of the rest of the week.

Rule #6 of The Red Sea Rules is "When unsure, just take the next logical step by faith." (The Lord said to Moses, "Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward" --Exodus 14:15.) I chose a couple of stories from this section.

Sir William Osler, a medical student, was worrying himself up to a nervous breakdown when one spring day in 1871 he read these words of Thomas Carlyle: "Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand." Osler went on to become the most famous physician of his day, organized the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and was knighted by the king of England. I suppose Carlyle's wisdom continued to guide him: Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.

Then there was Isobel Kuhn, one of my lifelong heroines, a missionary to China during and after World War II. When the communists came, 1,000 missionaries with the China Inland Mission were trapped behind communist lines. But Isobel and her young son escaped on foot across the snow-covered Pienma Pass. They finally arrived in Burma--without money, unable to speak the language, and half a globe away from home. "I cannot tell you the dismay and alarm that filled me," she wrote. But then she made two decisions. "The first thing to do is to cast out fear. The only fear a Christian should entertain is the fear of sin. All other fears are from Satan sent to confuse and weaken us." So she refused to be afraid. Her second decision was to "seek light for the next step." She didn't know how to get out of Asia, but she would concentrate on figuring out what to do for one day at a time to provide food and funds, to find a safe place to stay, and to seek a way to communicate with the outside world. Eventually she, as well as the 1,000 other missionaries, made it safely home--one footprint at a time.

No matter what we're facing today, we can surely, by faith, take the next logical step.

What a treat it was to see our great grandson Joshua Sunday afternoon, as well as his parents. They won't be able to come to our famiy Thanksgiving, so this visit will have to fill up our hearts for some months. The new baby is expected in a couple of months.

Blessings for your day,

Sunday, October 21, 2007

People-Rich Days

These five days have been “rich” in people. We’re so blessed. Also rich in beauty; we’ve driven through areas that are radiant with fall colors. Here at the lake, surprisingly, the trees are still loaded with green leaves—very unusual. It’s so warm that the kids went canoeing yesterday.

My mouth sores are almost totally healed. We’ve been exposed to a couple of bad colds/coughs, so we’re praying for protection.

I’ve been marking some ideas I want to pass along from The Red Sea Rules, by Robert Morgan. This one is in connection with rule # 9 – “View your current crisis as a faith builder for the future.” (The Bible verse it’s built on is Exodus 14:31: “Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord . . . .”) Now the quotation from the book:

“Faith is making reasonable assumptions. When we take our morning shower, we assume there’s going to be water, preferably hot. When we eat our cereal, we expect it to be healthy and wholesome. Driving to work, we proceed through green lights, assuming they are red for intersecting traffic. Every single day we live by faith . . . Even the sincerest atheist lives by faith, not only in his atheistic philosophy, but in the very processes and procedures of everyday life.

“For Christians, faith is making reasonable assumptions about God’s care and control over our lives, based on His scriptural promises. We may not understand every circumstance or appreciate every event. Sometimes we’re backed up to the Red Sea with the Egyptians in pursuit. But God has given us promises, and we disappoint him when we question his ability to keep his Word. . . . ‘Anyone who comes to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him’ (Hebrews 11:6).”

It is reasonable to assume that God is intermingling all the circumstances of our lives for GOOD, since that’s exactly what he promised.

We’ll be traveling all day tomorrow, so it’s unlikely that I’ll have a chance to send a blog. So, until Tuesday . . .

Have a blessed day.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Prayer for Healing

What a beautiful evening we enjoyed with more than 40 friends whom we’ve known a long time—some of them for 49 years. It was such a sweet gift that on the very day we’d planned to be in Michigan, the “Ol’ Timers” group scheduled their fall dinner. Folks bragged about their grandchildren and great-grands, and we prayed for those facing medical challenges. Now we’re in Indiana and looking forward to a weekend with family and good friends.

On Chip Stam’s weekly email about worship, he posted the following prayer last week. (He’s in treatment for cancer himself.) This prayer is by Timothy Dudley-Smith. I find it a helpful guide when I don’t know exactly how to pray.

My Father,
there is so much I would have
different--and which I believe
you would have different too. I want
to make a start. I think it must begin
in me. But where?
Lord, help me.

And there are others . . .
There are friends and neighbors I feel
so powerless to help. People I love,
dangerously near the rocks, far from their true home, possessed by many demons of our modern world. How can I help them?
How can I serve them better?
Lord, help me.

My own deep places--the
unremembered scars which limit me today; the unhealed wounds that make me less than whole--
Lord, help me.

My faith is not great, Lord. Indeed
I do not always want true healing.
There are attractions in a certain
undemanding invalidism. But I want
what you want. I trust you where I do not trust myself.

So be my bread of life, Lord Jesus.
Nourish, sustain, and heal.
Help me according to your will.
May my dumb spirit testify,
my weakness mend,
my blind eyes see,
my heart rejoice.
Lord, help me. Amen.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

True Suffering . . . Rare Faith

We arrived in Michigan after a safe and pleasant drive. It's wonderful to see Sue and Jeff and grandson Justin. This evening we'll have dinner with a bunch of tried-and-true friends from our past life in East Lansing. On the way there, we'll stop to see my cousin and her daughter and new grandson.

A couple who served in Africa with SIM have been walking through what looks to us like hell. Two years ago the wife had an “incident” while bike riding in Germany, and she has not recovered. In fact, it seems that almost all of her body has failed, with unbelievable needs for care from her faithful husband Ben. We marvel! Something remains in her mind that keeps her faith strong. I can't help passing on this a story that came from the husband this week:

He asked a local care agency for early evening help, and they sent a middle-aged woman named Joni. She was a big help. Of course, the husband talked about God, and Joni said she didn’t believe in him, but had practiced Buddhism in her past. She had been abused as a child, concluding that either there was no God, or if there were, he didn’t care about her. They continued to talk about God throughout the first week, and then during the second week they invited her to attend a home church meeting at their house. Joni came, and announced that she was not a believer. But later that night, she had a dream, in which she saw an open door with total whiteness beyond. She heard a voice saying, “Walk through the door.”

After only two weeks with the SIM couple, Joni was called back to care for a previous patient, but before she left their home, she said she wanted to pray with them and would “walk through the door.” Just imagine! God used that short time to bring Joni into eternal life. The following Sunday she sat with our friends in church. Ben writes, “A long time ago, Moses told God that he couldn´t speak, but God told Moses that He would use him anyway. My wife is not able to speak very well, yet God has used her anyway, and another fellow earthling has escaped the hurt of Satan into the healing of God. We may think that God is absent in our trials, but he certainly is not. We may not see him, but he is there.”

I may not be able to get online on Friday; we'll see.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

We’re leaving very early this morning to go to Michigan and Indiana to spend a few days with our children and grandchildren. And on Sunday afternoon, we’ll see our great grandson and his parents when we connect for a couple of hours at a restaurant near their travel route. It will be so good to see almost everyone. (Jeremy will be in Mississippi, so we have to wait until Thanksgiving to see him.) We plan to drive back home on Monday.

Somebody asked for all ten rules from The Red Sea Rules by Robert Morgan, so here they are. As I continue reading through the book, I’ll probably add details from time to time.

1 – Realize that God means for you to be where you are.
2 – Be more concerned for God’s glory than for your relief.
3 – Acknowledge your enemy, but keep your eyes on the Lord.
4 – Pray!
5 – Stay calm and confident, and give God time to work.
6 – When unsure, just take the next logical step by faith.
7 – Envision God’s enveloping presence.
8 – Trust God to deliver in His own unique way.
9 – View your current crisis as a faith builder for the future.
10- Don’t forget to praise Him.

My mouth sores are somewhat better. I’m thankful.

Monday and Tuesday I completed the first draft of the next SIM magazine and sent the individual articles to the various sources and directors for their feedback. I'm so grateful to be at this point in that process.

Have a great day.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Rule Four: Pray

Still going through The Red Sea Rules and here's Rule Four: Pray. "When Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord" (Exodus 14:10). The author, Robert Morgan, says sometimes in his life he's had only two options: panic or pray.

We feel that way right now about Fran's cancer. The surgeon told her yesterday that the type they've now found is "treacherous." After such a glowing early prognosis, this is hard to accept. We continue to pray.

I've been sailing along so well that it feels odd to have a bump in my journey, but I'm starting to get some pretty serious mouth sores. The oncologist says they're common with the type of chemo I'm getting now. I have "magic mouthwash" to ease the pain, but still it's getting hard to eat; and I'd be very grateful for your prayers for me in this regard as well.

Blessings for your day,

Monday, October 15, 2007

More Strategies for Difficult Times

Lisa's train pulled out just after two this morning. What a sweet visit! Yesterday's weather was gorgeous, and so was our trip to the mountains at Blowing Rock.

I mentioned that I was rereading The Red Sea Rules, 10 God-given Strategies for Difficult Times. I already shared the first rule: Realize that God means for you to be where you are. (God had specifically instructed the Israelites to camp at the Red Sea, where Pharaoh's army soon had them "trapped." This one is tough for us to do, partly because we often blame ourselves for our tight spots. God is still in control.) Here's the second rule: Be more concerned for God's glory than for your relief. (In Exodus 14:4, God promised that he would gain honor over Pharaoh.) We should ask not, "How can I get out of this mess," but "How can God use this situation for his honor and glory?" And here's rule #3: Acknowledge your enemy, but keep your eyes on the Lord. (That was good advice for the Israelites, and for us too.)

I'm feeling well (so thankful), and planning on a good day at work.

Have a great weekend.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Good Seeds . . . Good Heart . . . Good Crop

This morning in Sunday school we'll study Jesus' stories in Matthew 13, including the one about the Planter who scattered seeds (which he identifies as his words) on different kinds of soil (human hearts). The first soil he mentions is packed hard and the seeds don't penetrate at all. That's probably what happens on the days when we fail to read his words or be quiet and listen to him. The second soil is so shallow that when the heat comes (trouble and persecution), the tender plant withers. I don't experience that, but I surely do empathize with young believers in societies where that kind of heat is harsh and deadly to faith--like our friend in West Africa whose family is trying to find and kill him for his faith in Jesus. The third soil is more familiar: too many weeds (cares and preoccupations) crowd out the growth of a good crop. And the fourth, which I know is Jesus' preference, is soft, good soil that produces a good crop. I was thinking how to describe a good crop, and I came up with three factors: (1) good deeds that relieve the pain and trouble of others; (2) growth in character and similarity to Jesus; and (3) helping other people love the words of Jesus and come to love him. I'm sure Teacher Tom will blow my mind open as he usually does when he teaches the Bible.

Yesterday as the day wore on I felt better and better. I guess chemo simply takes its time to wear off. Last evening a good friend, who is also Lisa's friend, came for dinner. A week ago Chuck and I had bought a new cookbook of African recipes, so we tried Mango Couscous and it tasted as good as it sounds. This afternoon we're driving up to Blowing Rock to meet another dear friend for lunch. She's been a Bible translator in Central America, Congo, and Botswana. Now her husband works with Samaritan's Purse in Africa, and since he's traveling back today, we'll miss seeing him this time. More than 20 years ago, Lisa babysat for their first son, and has continued to be their friend. We're really looking forward to this time together.

And not looking forward to Lisa's leaving us again tomorrow morning--too soon! What a sweet 2 days it's been.

Could you join us in praying for South Sudan? It was devastated by decades of civil war, and in 2005 they signed a peace accord with the government in the north which had been bombing, taking slaves, etc. A couple of days ago the southern leaders pulled out of the peace agreement citing border problems. SIM is in South Sudan trying hard to rebuild the church and nation; we need to pray that the fragile peace will hold. It's impossible to imagine the suffering the people there have endured, and continue to do so. Thanks for praying.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

More on Fran

In case I updated the blog below after you read it, please scroll on down; there's news about Fran, which needs our prayers.

Do all the good you can . . .

Wednesday evening an eighth-grade football player in a neighboring town caught a touchdown pass in the end zone, then collapsed on the sidelines and died before morning of a massive brain injury. A close friend described him as an enthusiastic Christian who was smart, funny and athletic. When the reporter asked his mother to describe him, she paused for a moment and then read her son's motto which he had hand-written in the front of his Bible:

Do all the good you can
in all the ways you can
to all the people you can
for as long as you can.

It seems to me that our poor world needs a lot more people doing as this young man did. I'm sorry he's gone!

I had quite a slow bounce-back this time from chemo. After getting the pump off at noon yesterday, I still spent the rest of the day sleeping. And I allowed Chuck to convince me to stay in bed while he went to the train station. Now he and Lisa are still asleep, and I'm feeling much better. Thanks, again, for all your prayers.

I just got a phone call from Fran, who had cancer surgery a week ago. Yesterday her surgeon told her he hadn't yet received the pathology report, but when he called the pathologist he learned that there might be bad news. He thinks he sees evidence for lobular carcinoma, and if that's the case, more extensive surgery and treatment will be required. Please pray for her. I hate it that she's alone to deal with such bad news. She hopes for more accurate information on Monday; I'm praying that it will be better news.

Have a great weekend.


Friday, October 12, 2007


Today Carol will have the chemo pump removed, and her energy level will begin to improve. Earilier this morning she told me that she would be able to do the blog, but has drifted of into some much needed sleep, so I will send a short note out to all of you that so faithfully check on us each morning. We thank the Lord each day for you dear family and friends that faithfully stand by us with prayer and encouragement!

I was thinking about the rich fool that Jesus talked about in Luke 13:13-21. I have heard numerous sermons about the riches aspect of this passage, but today my thoughts go to a couple additional thoughts in those verses.

"But God said to him, 'you fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get it all?'

Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God."

The sudden death of our friend Ben reminds me of the urgency of building our relationship with God moment by moment. Not waiting for the day when we have the "time". It is easy to get so busy in doing many worthwhile things, but neglecting our relationship with God. I have been thinking about my "score" if quized about that.

With that in mind, I had better get to my daily Bible reading and talking to God before the activity of the day gets under way.

Our love to you all,

Chuck...and Carol too

Thursday, October 11, 2007

More miracles

Our friend with the kidney transplant went to the hospital Tuesday expecting to be admitted due to her rising creatinine levels. Instead, she learned that they were heading downward again, and by evening they'd sent her home. We'll keep praying until she reaches the desired 1.5 level.

Yesterday my own blood count levels were all in line to again receive chemo -- my 43rd. Several of the factors tested are edging lower from treatment to treatment, and we need to continue praying that God will protect them from getting dangerously low. Chemo went very smoothly and on our way home at 4:00 we received a phone call from four friends we'd known in Michigan who are in town and wanted to see us. Believing that I felt better yesterday than I would today, we met them for a lovely dinner at 6:00. They're all older than me, two on canes, three with hearing aids. How we appreciated seeing them.

I've reserved today to rest, but I hope I don't need to spend the day in bed. It's funny; even without any digestive upset (thank the Lord), this chemo has a dehydrating effect. I keep drinking water and V-8 juice, but I still feel dried out.

Chuck had to get up at 5:00 this morning to go pick up donated bread for the mission. It's amazing how he keeps going! He is so thoughtful in caring for me. He brings in our garden solar-powered illuminated turtles to brighten our bathroom on the nights after chemo. Every night, all the time, he lights up the frogs in our bedroom to remind us both to fully rely on God.

Yesterday a neighbor friend told me that Chuck's latest blog has been guiding her in a medical decision. It was this: we have confidence in our doctors, but we place our faith in God.

Blessings for your day.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Surviving Floods

It's strange to think about floods when we're in the middle of a record-breaking drought here. But all across Asia this year (and in other places as well), floods have been so deep that crops have drowned -- crops that many millions of people were depending on for this year's food. In 1973, a million people starved to death in Bangladesh because floods drowned their rice. Can we even imagine suffering on such a huge scale? Millions of people live their entire lives at a subsistence level, and one bad episode in their environment can totally wipe them out. I hope the world will be more responsive to the need for aid this time. But here's a cool thing I heard on the radio yesterday: researchers are developing a rice strain that can "hold its breath" for up to two weeks while submerged. They add a gene called "sub 1," and the rice plants survive a flood. I hope it proves to be safe, and can soon be used to prevent starvation by flooded crops.

Then I got to thinking about the times we feel under water. Where's our "sub 1"? Of course, I go to Isaiah 43:2: "When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown!" Know what? Even if we die, God is with us. And we will not drown, but rather emerge into real life forever. Verse 3 says, "For I am the Lord, your God, your Savior." And verse 5, "Do not be afraid, for I am with you." These are good words with good hope.

So today's chemo won't drown me, even though I may feel under water for some hours.
Thanks for your prayers.

Yesterday I loaded a beautiful movie; it should show up as a black square just below this. If you click on it, you'll see something faith-building. It's the SIM statement of faith enhanced by gorgeous images and music. Maybe you'd like it as a devotional tool. (It doesn't work very well with a slow internet connection. Sorry.)


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Beautiful Statement

Most Christians agree on the essentials of our faith, and we hope they are tolerant of differences in non-essentials. SIM's Statement of Faith is the basis of our life and work. Here it is, set to music and images. I hope you'll enjoy it. (Click on the black triangle at lower left; click twice if necessary.)

Thinking about value

Daughter Lisa is coming for the weekend. I'm so excited about seeing her again. She's traveling by train, which arrives here about 2:00 am on Saturday and departs about 2:00 am on Monday--if it's on time, which is rare. Would I groan about being up and dressed and in the train-station part of town at that hour? It all depends upon the why! Surely not when someone so wonderful as Lisa is the why. I was thinking about that early this morning, and into my mind came a quote of Friederick Nietzsche from Philosophy 101: "With the proper why, a man can endure almost any how." I don't mean to make a big deal about a couple of early morning train runs. But you can see where my mind is going. All of life is a series of choices: lying in bed or keeping a job, giving up or continuing to battle cancer, watching mindless T-V or reading a book, risking a relationship or bridling my tongue, focusing on what's transitory or worshiping God.

Jesus knew a jewel trader who found an exquisite pearl for sale. It was so desirable that it outshone all his other treasures, which he gladly sold in order to purchase the pearl. "That," Jesus said, "is what the kingdom of God is like." It's always a good idea to sort out what's really valuable before investing life in something that will eventually sift through our fingers like sand.

I'm feeling very well. Lots to do today before pulling back for chemo tomorrow which will likely keep me quiet for 2 1/2 days. And then Lisa comes!

Our Nassau friend who had lung cancer is flying to Houston today for a PET scan; we're praying it will show a clean lung. And our Sunday school friend with the new kidney has hit a bump: her creatinine levels are rising dangerously and putting her back in the hospital. Please pray for her too.


Monday, October 08, 2007

Thanks from Fran

Fran asked me to be sure to thank you all for praying for her. She's surprised by how energetic and well she feels after breast cancer surgery Friday morning. Actually, this is exactly what I expected for her, and I'm very glad and grateful.

It was difficult to face afresh that our friend Ben is really gone. But it was so good to see his wife and four grown children. They are all so gorgeous, and sweet and tender like he was. I often joke, "Life's uncertain; eat dessert first." But you know what? Life really is uncertain. There he was Thursday afternoon, vibrant and full of life, riding his tractor at his mountain hide-away. The next moment he was pinned to the ground underneath the tractor. And sometime during the air evacuation to the hospital, his spirit left his body. His son was also at the mountain, and found him only two minutes after the accident, so he was able to call for the air ambulance at once. More important, he was able to hold his hand and encourage him.

I'm thanking God for making a way for me to get antibiotics yesterday morning. I'm better already, and fully trusting that my white count will go to a level that allows us to proceed with chemo on Wednesday. Since that is now a 3-day process, the timing is critical.

More than a year ago I read The Red Sea Rules by Robert J Morgan. That's where I found the FROG idea (Fully Rely On God). The other day I got the book out again. Its subtitle is "10 God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times." The author found these "rules" as he studied the experiences of Moses and the Israelites during their flight from Egypt and got trapped at the Red Sea. The first "rule" is: Realize that God means for you to be where you are. In Exodus 14:1-2, the Lord clearly instructed Moses to tell the people to camp on the shore of the Red Sea between mountains on either side--precisely where the Pharaoh's army could trap them. Promise: God will always make a way for his trusting servants, even if he must split the sea to do it. 1 Corinthians 10:13: "You can trust God. He will not let you be tested more than you can stand. But when you are tested, he will also make a way out so that you can bear it." This continues to be our experience.

I'm so thankful for you.


Sunday, October 07, 2007


God opened a way for me to get antibiotics to treat the infection mentioned in this morning's blog (below). I think by starting today, the infection should be cleared up enough by Wednesday to not interfere with chemo. I'm so thankful!

Good Question

Most evenings at bedtime, Chuck switches on the tiny light that illuminates the frog sculpture on our lamp table and asks, "Are you frogging?" It's a good reminder to Fully Rely On God. Some nights I have to answer "No, but I will now." Last night I was mentally listing all the concerns I need to discuss with the doctor. That's a good thing to do before I see him Wednesday, but not a good thing to do at bedtime. Consciously relying on God is better.

I'm sure I've developed a urinary tract infection. That would interfere with a chemo treatment, so we're going to try to get a prescription for it today, and hope we can find a doctor who doesn't have hours' worth of patients ahead of us. First and always, we ask the Lord to drive out the infection, just as we do the cancer.

Today's Sunday school lesson will be from Matthew 11 and 12, including this wonderful invitation: "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke fits perfectly, and the burden I give you is light." One of the study questions asks: "Does your habitual use of words fit the description humble and gentle? If not, your inner person still needs to keep learning what Jesus is offering here." Yup, I do.

Have a blessed day.

Saturday, October 06, 2007


We first climbed Hanging Rock 11 years ago. Afterwards we looked for a place to camp for the night, but every place was full. We had almost given up when I saw a tiny board sign by a narrow lane that said, "Campground." We turned around and drove up the winding lane to the top of a "bald," a bare patch on top of a wooded mountain. Sure enough, there was a campground, and they squeezed us in. At dusk the mountain folks drove in with fiddles and guitars for pickin' and strummin'. During a lull, someone asked us where we were from, noticing our Yankee accent I guess. Hearing I'd spent my childhood in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a lovely woman came rushing over to say her grandmother had lived there. Well, the conversation continued, and we agreed to meet her and her husband for breakfast the next morning. After a LONG and wonderful time at the table, they said, "This is too good to end. Please stop at our house on your way back to Charlotte." (Their home is in a city about 2 hours from us.) We did, of course, and have been friends ever since.

We made plans to join them for lunch after church this coming Sunday. Last evening a message on our answering machine asked us to call their house as soon as possible. To our great sorrow, we learned that the husband had been killed in a tractor accident on Thursday. We feel a terrible sense of loss personally, and of course the greatest loss is what's being felt by his widow and children and grandchildren. I can't tell you how sweet and dear these people are. So now we'll be driving up there on Sunday as planned, but to a funeral home rather than a restaurant--to grieve rather than rejoice. He never hid his strong faith in Christ, and we believe we'll see him again in heaven.

Thank God for hope!

I'm thankful for all of you who continue to pray for my tumor marker numbers to drop, and for the many notes and calls of celebration at yesterday's encouraging news. Let's ask God to cut those numbers by another 100 points next time (that would be 161), and eventually to pull them down to normal.

Thanks for praying for Fran's surgery. I was the "family member" who got to debrief with the surgeon afterwards, and he is positive that the cancer was totally contained and is now gone. Praise the Lord. I spoke with her at home last evening, and she was cheerful despite a certain level of pain. (Why do doctors and nurses insist on calling it "discomfort"?) Another friend is staying with her.

You can see by the posted time that we slept longer than usual this morning. (By the way, Blogger forgot to set their clock back for daylight time, so the posted time is always an hour earlier than real.) A friend from Michigan is stopping in for a visit this morning, and this evening we're having dinner with friends.

Have a good day.

Friday, October 05, 2007


I just talked to Carol at the hospital. Fran's blood pressure is wonderful and she is in radiology getting all marked up for the surgery which should be taking place very shortly. Pray for skill and wisdom for the doctors as well as a quick recovery for Fran.

We are again awed by the goodness of God with a new CA-125 reading of 261.86 which is a 35.91% reduction from her last test on 8/8. We are reminded that this is ONLY a marker, but the indication is that she will continue to bless us with her love and encouragement for some additional time.

Your calls, emails and notes of encouragement are a tremendous blessing to both of us! May the Lord continue to be your encouragement as you are obedient to Him in your daily challenges and opportunities.

Love to you all,

Chuck...and Carol too


Carol is on her way to the hospital with our friend Fran and will stay with her until her son arrives. Thanks for joining us in praying about her blood presssure which is now in a safe range for the surgery.

Later this morning I will have the results of Carol's CA-125 test that was taken yesterday. And I will put a short blog up here with the results so that we can together praise the Lord for His goodness. God is good!!!

Trust is a topic that often comes to my mind during our winding road experience with cancer. Could it be that we often slip up and put our trust in the wrong places? Guilty, I am sure! I have come to realize (most of the time) that there is a vast difference in confidence and trust. We put confidence in our medical people, CT scans, reports and yes, even a CA-125, but we MUST put our trust fully in the Lord.

I like the New International Version (NIV) of Proverbs 3:5-6:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight."

Could it be that we find our paths winding when our trust is not fully in the Lord, or possibly there are times when our view of the path is not straight because we have our eyes on the Lord's provisions for us instead of the Provider? Okay, I think I may be starting to get the point...and we have numerous frogs around the house to remind us to FROG; Fully Rely On God. Can I use age as an excuse? Certainly at my age learning always comes slower. Ouch!

Thanks for your prayers. After this exercise, the path today is looking straighter as I realign my trust in the Provider.

Love to you all,

Chuck...and Carol too

Thursday, October 04, 2007

...the wings of the wind

In a letter from my mother's cousin, I learned something new about my great grandmother, Maija Kajsa. Her favorite Bible psalm was 104: "O Lord my God, thou art very great . . . who makes the clouds his chariots, and walks upon the wings of the wind . . . who looks upon the earth and it trembles." Isn't that beautiful? (I was only nine when she died, and although she and I talked a great deal, towards the end she would often lapse into Swedish, so I suppose it's not surprising that I didn't know her favorite psalm. I love knowing it now.) Through last night, whenever I woke up I found this thought at the front of my mind: "Be still, and know that I am God."

Our friend Fran's blood pressure returned to normal (thanks for praying), so she's having surgery tomorrow morning. I'll be leaving at 6:30 to take her to the hospital and will stay with her until her son gets there in the afternoon. So Chuck has agreed to post tomorrow's blog, and then, after he gets the report on today's CA 125 tumor marker, he'll post that too.

So in a couple of hours my friend the nurse will access a vein and we'll watch a vial slowly fill with precious red fluid. I always wish I had miracle eyes so I could see the cells and discern what's been happening regarding the cancer. It's been two months since the last test, and we're pretty curious.

Thanks so much for your prayers.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007


I've been doing research on the work of SIM in southern Sudan, seeking to rebuild the church and nation following decades of devastating civil war. Everything is needed! Most people live with some degree of sickness caused by contaminated drinking water. There are no roads over which to bring well-drilling equipment. We'll work towards establishing water purification systems for the communities near the year-around rivers. In the meantime, the Sudanese in our schools and other programs get a LifeStraw. This is so amazing that I thought you might like to know about it. Developed by a Danish company, it costs about $3 US, purifies enough water for a person for a year, and prevents such diseases as typhoid, cholera, dysentery, and diarrhea. Missionaries from Ethiopia, Nigeria, and several western countries are working together in southern Sudan in an integrative program of basic education for adults (there's been no school for an entire generation) and at the same time training them to teach others, medical clinics and training, safe water, agricultural and community development, all in the context of landmines and desperate poverty. Refugees are streaming back, and it feels like "now or never" for South Sudan. A small thing like LifeStraw is part of this massive undertaking. (

Yesterday the mail brought the completed design files for the magazine I was working on, so now I've got it uploaded on the SIM internet for printing and distribution by our many different offices around the world. It will finally hit mailboxes in November/December. I'm very thankful for our creative designers at Relevant Media Group in Orlando who make it look so good.

And I'm very thankful to be feeling so well.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Song in the Night

I awakened at 2:51 this morning with beautiful music ringing in my head: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts; Heaven and earth are full of Thee, Heaven and earth are praising Thee, O Lord most high." Maybe you remember that song from summer campfires. It was a wonderful moment of remembering and worshiping, before I fell asleep again.

In 1995, my mother and I took a retrospective journey into Mexico, and in Monterrey we were offered overnight hospitality in the home of Harvey and June Schneider. To this day they've kept in touch with me, and they publish a weekly 'Moment to Consider.' Here are some thoughts from the latest:

God created us with eyes to see the magic of his world. He placed each of the hundred million receptors within our eyes for this purpose. He also put 24,000 fibers in each ear to vibrate the sounds we hear. Our bodies can move thanks to 500 muscles, 200 bones, and 7 miles of nerve fibers. He gave us 13 million brain cells which help us store every action, perception, sound, taste, and smell we've experienced since birth. Helping our brain to control our body, we have 4 million pain-sensitive structures, 500,000 touch detectors, and 200,000 temperature detectors. On top of all this, he gave us powers to plan, create, laugh, imagine, love, and pray. And above all, he gives us his love and his constant presence. Amazing!

I can't wrap my understanding around all those numbers and marvels, but I can enjoy the gifts of body that make it possible to embrace and perceive the wonders of life and of God.

Our friend Fran, whose bronchitis delayed her breast cancer surgery, is now scheduled for this coming Friday. Her blood pressure, though, has gone alarmingly high (she's never had BP problems before), and if it's not down by today her doctor will again postpone surgery. She surely needs our prayers. She's peaceful; already, that's an answer to prayer.


Monday, October 01, 2007

Intentional Acts of Kindness

A few years ago, someone started a push to commit "random acts of kindness." Almost two thousand years ago, Jesus called on us to do intentional acts of kindness, specifically to give a drink of cold water in his name to a thirsty person. This was one of the topics of our Sunday school lesson yesterday. The amazing thing is that Jesus is apparently so eager to do good things for us that he actually committed himself to giving a reward to the one who performs such a kind act--an act that requires neither special talents nor outlay of funds--simply a drink of cold water! It seems so small and insignificant that it's too easy to overlook, but it's obviously very important to him. So today it would be worthwhile to be on the alert for individuals who are thirsty (for water, for encouragement, for an act of kindness) and then intentionally do the thing they need. But do it because of Jesus; that's specifically stated in Matthew 10:42, "And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of my followers, you will surely be rewarded." Why do we get so preoccupied with our to-do lists and overlook opportunities to do intentional acts of kindness?

The effects of the chemo last week appear to be over, and I'm hoping for a "normal" week, asking God for a significant drop in the CA 125 test on Thursday (results on Friday).

I hope you'll have a blessed day.