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

Friday, November 30, 2007

Big Jump

We need to pray for Dr. Boyd, as he will be making a decision about further treatments to recommend when we see him next Tuesday. The CA 125 jumped up to 521. A month ago it was 354, and a month before that it was 261. (This is the most drastic increase we've seen.) Looking back, we feel sorry about all the money and time spent on treatment that did no good. But there's no way to know that without trying. Maybe there's still an effective treatment out there that we haven't tried yet. If so, let's pray that the doctor will think of it.

Meanwhile, of course, we continue to put one foot in front of the other. Thanks for your love and prayers.



The lab worker somehow missed the instructions that accompanied my blood sample, so didn't run the CA 125 test. We may have to wait until Monday for results. Not to worry. Two Bible verses come to mind:
Matthew 6:34--"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
And even better:
2 Corinthians 12:9--"My grace is sufficient for you."

Whether the numbers are up or down, whether we get the report today or next week, all is well. Really.



Waiting is among the most common human experiences, but we don’t usually handle it very gracefully. We much prefer instant-everything. In the November Renovare newsletter, Richard Foster says, “In waiting we enter into the cosmic patience of God. We begin picking up the deep rhythms of the Spirit, the heartbeat of God. We begin thinking in terms of years and decades rather than minutes and hours. Thomas Kelly writes, ‘I find God never guides us into an intolerable scramble of panting feverishness.’”

Then in Kelly’s final book, “A Testament of Devotion,” he says, “Life from the Center is a life of unhurried peace and power. It is simple. It is serene. It is amazing. It is triumphant. It is radiant. It takes no time, but it occupies all our time. And it makes our life programs new and overcoming. We need not get frantic. He is at the Helm. And when our little day is done, we lie down quietly in peace, for all is well.”

I think wisdom like this can only come from one who has lived a long time and has learned the spiritual art of waiting. I certainly haven’t mastered it, but I want to.

Isaiah says it best, in chapter 40, verse 31: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Just now I’m waiting for the CA 125 report. Whether up or down, I plan to affirm that God is good and wise. As soon as I get word, I’ll post a new update here.

Learning to wait,

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Road Signs

This morning I’m going in for a CA 125 blood test. I’m praying the nurse will be able to access a vein easily. And, of course, praying for lower numbers on the tumor marker.

At the SIM Retirement Village in Florida lives a 91-year-old former missionary who has had both legs amputated due to disease. He designed a leaflet describing the highway of life, with “road signs God has given to keep me from going into the ditch.” Here are some of his road signs:

“It’s not what happens to me, but how I respond to it, that makes the difference.”

“The rainbow of God’s promises often shines brightest through tears.”

“Amputation of both legs above the knee is not the end of the road; it is only the end of my legs.”

“I’m not trapped in a human body; it is only my temporary residence in which to glorify God while here on earth.”

“I’m not confined to a wheel chair; I’m just enjoying the freedom it gives me.”

“The circumstances in which you are right now are always the best for God to be glorified the most.”

He acknowledges that the highway of life can be rugged at times, and he expresses gratitude to those who have loved, prayed, and encouraged him during the rough times. To that I say “ditto.”


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Preparing for Christmas

Once again, Christians are scolding our culture for trying to delete Christ from Christmas. It's a pity, of course. Still, I think we need to take responsibility for keeping Him central in our own lives and homes, rather than expect our culture to make it easy for us to be Christ-centered.

Here's a conversation starter: talk about the original Santa Claus. He was named Nicholas, and was the Christian bishop of Myra in the early 300s. He had inherited his father's wealth, and he understood the heart of Christ--that blessings received are to be shared with the needy. Times were tough, and a family with three daughters had no money for their dowries. This almost certainly meant no marriage, with only one career choice: prostitution. Nicholas discovered the family's difficulty the night before the first daughter came of age, and he tossed a bag of gold through an open window of the home. When the second daughter was about to come of age, he did the same. When it came the third daughter's turn, Nicholas learned that the father planned to hide next to the window to discover the benefactor. So instead, the bishop climbed to the roof and dropped a bag of gold down the chimney.

After he died of old age on December 6, 343, the people of Myra continued to provide for those in need. They gave gifts anonymously, attributing them to the late Bishop Nicholas. Before long, the bishop--who had worn liturgical robes of red and white-- was canonized as Saint Nicholas, protector of innocents, and secret giver of gifts. His story surely reflects the spirit of Christ. Pass it on. Follow his example.

Chemo went well yesterday. While several of the blood factors continue to move downward, the only one in trouble is the hemoglobin. The insurance company had not yet approved the hemoglobin-building shot (requested a week earlier, supposed to take 24 to 48 hours for pre-approval). But a conscientious nurse at the insurance company rushed approval through so I was able to get it before leaving the doctor's office at noon. I think over the coming weeks I should start to regain some energy. Friday morning we should have the report on the CA 125, which will give us some idea of what's happening with the cancer.

I spent a few hours at the office in the afternoon cleaning up my email Inbox. Today I think I'll work most of the day. I slept almost 11 hours last night. Try it! It's wonderfully restorataive.

Thanks so much for your love and prayers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

"Our bodies disappoint"

Chuck thought you might like to see "the kids." Justin and his beloved Laura are on our left. Then Calli (13), Julianna and Jeremy, and Gavin (15). The house rang with laughter and fun. We had a party to celebrate the engagement of Justin and Laura, Jeremy's birthday (just past), and Gavin's birthday (coming). Oh! How quiet our Carolina home is without them!

While we were away I finished reading 1 Corinthians, and I can affirm the truth of chapter 15, verses 42 and 43: "Our earthly bodies, which die and decay . . . now disappoint us." On the one hand, our bodies are the crown of God's marvelous creation, and the more we learn about their intricate design, the more we bow in wonder. Still, as time goes by, and the effects of aging or the attacks of outside enemies like cancer take us down, our bodies do disappoint us! But now let me quote those verses in their entirety: "Our earthly bodies, which die and decay, will be different when they are resurrected, for they will never die. Our bodies now disappoint us, but when they are raised, they will be full of glory. They are weak now, but when they are raised, they will be full of power." This hope reflects the truth stated a page earlier, at 1 Corinthians 15:20,23: "But the fact is that Christ has been raised from the dead. He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again. . . . Christ was raised first; then when he comes back, all his people will be raised." I am taking great comfort these days from these wonderful promises.

We're thankful for safe travel yesterday, despite rain all the way. Now I'll get another chemo treatment this morning if my blood tests are satisfactory. On Thursday I'll have blood drawn for another CA 125 test to see what's been happening to the cancer during the past month.

Meanwhile, I'll need energy to pull together the final details of the next SIM magazine so I can submit it to the designer next week. And it's time to decorate for Christmas--a task I love.

It seems like I've been away a long time. Sorry for the gap in updates.


Monday, November 26, 2007

Safely Home

It's Monday evening and we're safely at home. The last few days at the lake were so filled with wonderful people that I didn't take time to go into town and find an internet connection. We enjoyed one another so much, and I felt well. I'll post a real message tomorrow morning.

Friday, November 23, 2007


We woke up to snow-covered beauty this morning. The sun is out sometimes, and the snow is melting. It was lovely.

Through the night as I would wake up momentarily, an Asian saying kept running through my mind: "If you keep a green tree in your soul, a singing bird may come." What does it mean? Green implies growth, so I think it means we need to keep greening and growing our soul. But how? The answer to that depends on what the soul is, Who created it, and for what purpose. I think you can guess how I answered those questions, even as I was drifting back to sleep. My soul is the "real me"--the essence that relates to God and to others and endures forever. God made it, and while many of His purposes remain wrapped in mystery, He surely intends for us to enjoy loving intimacy with Him and others, to be authentic, to care, to tell the truth, to be channels of hope and joy. (I'm not trying to be profound here--these are simply the thoughts that came to me last night.)

How may I "green and grow" my soul? Surely through honest communication with my Creator. And with others too. And with myself. When the singing bird comes, may it find a green and growing branch on which to sit and sing!

It's noon on Friday here. Grandsons Justin and Jeremy with their girlfriends are coming in this afternoon. Also a colleague of Keith's is joining us for dinner with his wife; they're from Singapore. We're looking forward to having them here.

Internet access is only a sometime thing here.

Have a great weekend.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I realize you don't all live in the U.S., but I wish a very happy and thankful day for everyone anyway.

Happy Thanksgiving

I realize you don't all live in the U.S., but I wish a very happy and thankful Thanksgiving Day for everyone anyway.

We've just returned from Elkhart, Indiana, where we met Lisa's overnight train from D.C. She said it was a pleasant trip, much better than trying to fly on a holiday. She has reserved for herself the privilege of baking the thanksgiving pies for today.
Our trip yesterday was uneventful, and we're so thankful for the Lord's protection.

I appreciate your prayers. Despite the anemia, I think I have enough energy to enjoy this time with our dear family.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Now thank we all our God

On this day before Thanksgiving, my mind turns to songs of thanks. Here’s a wonderful one After quoting the song, I’ll tell the story behind it.

Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom His world rejoices;
Who, from our mother’s arms,
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God
Through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts
And blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace,
And guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills
In this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God
The Father now be given,
The Son, and Him who reigns
With them in highest heaven.
The one eternal God,
Whom earth and heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now,
And shall be evermore.

Martin Rinkart (1586-1659) wrote this hymn of thanks in the closing days of the Thirty Years War. A pastor in the walled city of Ellenberg, he saw all the other pastors either die or flee. The city became overrun with refugees, causing famine and epidemics—one of them, in 1637, killing 8,000 people including Rinkart’s wife. He personally conducted 4480 funerals, sometimes as many as 50 a day. (This reminds me of the burden on pastors in southern Africa in this present AIDS crisis there.) Three times Ellenberg was besieged, once by the Austrian army and twice by the Swedish army. And yet, this hymn reflects Rinkart’s confidence in God’s providence, despite the perplexities and ills hinted at in stanza two. (If you worship in a church that follows a liturgy, you’ll recognize the final stanza as a version of the familiar Gloria Patri.)

And now, since I’m not sure I’ll have access to the internet for the next several days, I’ll quote stanza two of a Thanksgiving hymn that I often heard sung in Swedish as a little girl:
Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered;
Thanks for what Thou dost deny;
Thanks for storms that I have weathered;
Thanks for all Thou dost supply.
Thanks for pain and thanks for pleasure,
Thanks for comfort in despair;
Thanks for grace that none can measure,
Thanks for love beyond compare.

I watched my parents and grandparents live that bold thankfulness in their daily lives.

My chemo yesterday went well and I’m feeling fine. Thanks for praying. My hemoglobin has dropped to 9.9, so I should have gotten a shot for it, but that required pre-approval from the insurance company, which takes 24 to 48 hours. Can’t wait for it, so I’ll just deal with it until next Tuesday when I’m scheduled again for chemo. We can pray against the fatigue. Good news: the white cell count improved by .5! (That’s the one that really would prevent treatment if it dropped too low.)

We’re leaving in a few minutes for our long drive to Indiana, trusting God for safety.

Carol … for Chuck too

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

It would have been enough

I'm feeling well and trusting God for blood counts that will allow us to proceed with treatment this morning. Chuck's mouth is slowly improving; we surely didn't expect the surgical removal of one broken tooth to cause this much trouble!

We plan to leave early tomorrow for Indiana, where we'll see most of our family at some point over the long Thanksgiving weekend.

The Jewish people have a "Thanksgiving" tradition in their Passover ritual. Someone will recite one of God's wonderful deeds in the past, and the people respond by singing "Dayyenu," which loosely translates to "It would have been enough for us." Even if God did only that one thing, it would have been enough for us to keep on praising Him forever. But of course, He is unable to stop with only one gracious act. He keeps on blessing.

As Christians, we could also sing "Dayyenu." Even if Jesus had only come as a human to teach and heal, it would have been enough to deserve our praise forever. But He did more; He went to the cross, identifying with us in our sins and washing them away. That would have been enough for us! Then He went further and rose from death, destroying its power over us forever. Could we ever have imagined a God who would do all this?

These thoughts are based on the latest edition of "A Slice of Infinity," by Jill Carattini of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. She titled it "Crescendo of Thanksgiving." Her closing paragraph says, in part:

"God is always moving beyond our imaginings. . . . As we live further into our conversions, as we tell the stories of God's acts in our lives and in history, as we remember again the unfathomable mercies of Christ, might our gratitude be heard across the land, a rising crescendo of thanksgiving for the one who is worthy of our praise."

Can you hear it?

Giving thanks,

Monday, November 19, 2007

Comfort and encouragement

Yesterday, in my chronological reading through the Bible, I came to Paul's letter to the Christians in Thessalonika. He'd spent such a short time with them after they came to faith, and now he's concerned about all the things he hadn't had time to tell them. So, a letter. And here's what he said in regard to their loved ones who were dying, some of them as martyrs: "For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bing back with Jesus all the Christians who have died. . . . For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Chrisians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words" (chapter 4:13-18).

So then I wondered about people who don't find these words comforting and encouraging. What if someone insists on healing or rescue, and a long life here for himself or his loved ones? And I realized that this is a call to check on our values and priorities. The promise of "remaining with the Lord forever" really is the most comforting and encouraging thought imaginable.

A few weeks ago I asked you to pray for S.R., a friend with multiple physical problems who is mostly confined to bed with her windows darkened. This morning she's seeing a new doctor, and would so much like to begin to find answers. Could we pray for her? Also, Chuck needs prayer because the swelling in his mouth from the oral surgery is causing quite a bit of pain. And for me, I guess the prayer request is that my blood counts (especially white cells and hemoglobin) will be high enough to proceed with treatment tomorrow. Thank you so much.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

If you have ovarian cancer . . .

From time to time, friends tell me they've referred women with ovarian cancer to this blog. If you're one of them, I think we need to stick together. (Isn't it amazing how much attention breast cancer gets, and how little is said about ovarian?) Please click on the word "comments" at the bottom of this posting. You may remain anonymous--no need to give your name or any other personal information unless you want to. If you write, I'll answer you by a comment on the same page. I believe we can encourage one another. Thank you. (Here's a quick summary of my story, in case you're new to the blog: I had surgery almost two years ago for stage 4 ovarian cancer. Doctors offered no hope of a cure. I've now had 46 chemo infusions, and I'm still functioning quite well. Chemo effects come and go. I'm indebted to all the friends who are praying for me. God is the source of my life, and He is my only hope. I'd love to hear your story.)

Thanks to all who prayed for Chuck; his mouth is much better today. And last evening he even made a gentle attempt to brush his teeth.

Speaking of brushing teeth, here's an amazing story. Some friends of mine have gone to share Christ's love with an ethnic group in Asia of 10 million people and not a single church. These people serve a religion of fear and hopelessness. So my friends recruited a bunch of Christians back home to pray for them during the two minutes they brush their teeth every day. A week ago, after a group meeting, one of the Asian women said, "Every morning when I am brushing my teeth I stand there in front of the mirror and ask God what I should do. I feel like I need to choose to believe the teachings of the Bible or the teachings of my people. It is very hard choice to make." She says she is asking God to make the truth known to her, and she believes wholeheartedly that she is willing to follow whatever path is true--even though the social consequences of turning to Christ would be huge. I think it's so cool of God to carry the tooth-brushing motif all the way to that remote location in Asia! And I'm wondering about my own empty brain while I'm brushing my teeth!


Saturday, November 17, 2007


Yesterday, someone asked me to name a few things I'm thankful for. That was easy! But, nevertheless, a good exercise. I think I've never known a more thankful person than my grandmother Esther. She was tiny, overworked, often vexed by physical illness, but the words I remember best from her mouth are, "I'm so thankful for . . .." Last Tuesday we attended the "commencement" ceremony for the new class of workers accepted by SIM USA (they'll be going to many different nations after their preparations are ready). The speaker urged them to develop the habit of gratitude, and he said thankfulness is like a muscle--it grows with exercise. Now, this morning's reading in "Indeed" quotes Robert Cordeiro: "Ungrateful people live under the deception that they are always entitled to more. The food is never prepared well. The weather is never to their liking. The policies are inadequate, and the leadership is incompetent. When we begin to develop gratefulness, we'll find that our vocabulary changes. We stop saying, 'I have to . . .' and start saying, 'I get to . . . .' Gratitude adds a sparkle to our lives -- a genuine joy that comes from viewing things God's way." Okay! Let's watch for blessings today and be grateful.

Chuck had oral surgery yesterday. I feel terrible that I failed to ask prayer for him. The procedure was much rougher than the surgeon had expected, and Chuck had a lot of pain. We're both thankful that he's better this morning, and we're praying for no complications. I'm feeling well, and the mass under my arm has almost completely disappeared.

Snow fell last night in the North Carolina mountains, and the ski runs are open already (No, I won't be going). It's pretty cold here too.


Friday, November 16, 2007

Words at Risk

A friend forwarded an electronic newsletter she'd received from Ravi Zacharias International Ministries; this article is written by Jill Carattini. She mentions that the little smiley emoticon :-) was proposed 25 years ago by Scott Fahlman to soften the haste and harshness of online communication. (Email really has made us more careless in the use of words, hasn't it? And texting, which I haven't gotten into, is even worse.) Jill concludes that we ourselves become less distinct and human when our words are weakened. She claims that one of the first steps to slavery is loss of language. That shocked me, but then I realized that when humans are trafficked and sold to someone in a foreign country who speaks a strange language, it has a profoundly dehumanizing effect. Finally, Jill quotes C.S. Lewis (in "The Death of Words"): "When . . . you have killed a word, you have also blotted from the human mind the thing that word originally stood for. Men do not long continue to think what they have forgotten how to say." So this is a plea for words: love them, protect their meaning, THINK about them, and especially honor the words of God. (Actually, God's words are not at risk. He Himself is committed to their endurance. But our humanness is diminished by our disregard for His words.)

I'm continuing to feel well, though I'm tired. Yesterday I left work a couple of hours early because I was so bothered by house-cleaning I'd been neglecting and didn't have the heart to tackle in the evenings. So this morning I said to Chuck, "The bathroom looks clean even in the dark." I guess it's all in my head, but I really do feel better with a layer of crud removed. I'm sure I'm good for a full day's work today.

We're preparing to travel to Indiana next Wednesday to spend Thanksgiving with our children and grandchildren.

Have a blest day.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Never Give Up

Last evening we attended a presentation on hospice and palliative care at our church’s cancer support meeting called “Harbor of Hope.” I certainly won’t need hospice any time soon, and maybe never. But it was a very informative and helpful seminar. Did you know that Medicare A pays the full cost for hospice care? That was good to learn. But on reflection, I think the best moment was when Gail, our minister for congregational health, read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18:

“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are quite small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.”

I try to live on that basis.

Yesterday was a good day, and I worked almost a full day before I had to leave in order to get to the session at church. The only visible sign of yesterday’s chemo is a very flushed half-face. (The first day it was the left side, and yesterday it was the right side. No one understands it, but it’s widely recognized that chemo causes “hot spots” almost at random.) Oh yes, I’m a bit more tired than usual, but I can live with that! Thanks so much for your prayers.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What to Say

A retired SIM worker reminded me of this wonderful wisdom from Andrew Murray:
In time of trouble say,
FIRST, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that will I rest.

SECOND, He will keep me in His love and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.

THIRD, He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He means me to learn, and working in me the grace He intends for me.

LAST, In His good time He can bring me out again, how and when He knows.

So I can say I am here . . .
1. By God's appointment
2. In God's keeping
3. Under His training
4. For His time.

Now! That's a safe place to be, don't you think. I know some of you are in "straiter" places than I am today, and I pray that God's grace will keep you safe.

I'm feeling quite well this morning, the mass under my arm is much smaller and less painful, and I'm looking forward to the day. I need prayer for my blood count. Both the white cell and hemoglobin counts are already below the "floor," and if they drop lower I think I won't be able to get treatment next week. Of course, we continue to pray that this treatment is attacking the cancer. (I asked my nurse daughter why the chemo might have struck at that lymph node that was apparently only related to an infection, not to cancer, and she reminded me that chemo attacks anything that's growing, such as bacteria. Duh! That's why I'm bald and my fingernails have deep ridges. I forgot.) Yesterday afternoon I posted a report on the doctor visit, and also a photo of "Lucky," whose story I told yesterday morning. Scroll on down.

Eugene Peterson's version of the Bible called The Message has this to say about why we're here (from Matthew 5): "Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be the salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth . . . Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept." I like thinking about God-flavors and God-colors, and helping other people taste and see Him. What a great reason to be alive today!


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Photo of Lucky

This is adorable "Lucky," the child who lost her leg when her abductors threw her out the train window, as described in this morning's posting. I thought you'd like to see her happy smile.

The nurse practitioner (fantastic person, by the way) couldn't tell for sure what that mass is. But her most likely explanation is that the lymph node was related to an infection somewhere and the chemo targeted it, thus causing swelling and inflammation. It's already much better than it was yesterday, so we went ahead with chemo, which again was very kind to me. We're assuming that the mass will gradually go away. She did agree that it was good to check on it, especially since the C-T scan three months ago had picked up on something there. We hope this is the end of it.

My cancer buddy got his scan report today; so far, his lung is clear of cancer. Thank God!

Her name means lucky

In Bangladesh there's a darling two-year-old girl named Lucky. When she was three months old, she was stolen by human traffickers, who then threw her out the window of their escape train because they thought the police were following them. Lucky got run over, and despite losing her right leg, she lived. After months in the hospital, she found a home in a Christian orphanage. There one of our SIM workers, a physio-therapist, along with the loving Bangladeshi staff, taught her to walk; and now this precious child is running towards a happy and healthy future in contrast to the horrors of slavery she seemed doomed to. (Efforts to trace her parents have so far been unsuccessful.) God's hand seems very apparent in her story. We can pray!

Our friend who sent this story then raises another issue. She knows a woman there who is trying to get her 13-year-old daughter married off. Our friend asks, "Which is worse, child labor or child marriage?" She reflects that back home in Canada, girls graduate from Sunday school to high school youth group. But where she is now, girls often "graduate" from children's club to marriage. Happily, this custom tends to change as fathers become followers of Jesus and learn walk in His ways.

I think the mass under my arm is a bit smaller. In any case, the oncologist's Nurse Practitioner will study it today and in consultation with the doctor will make a recommendation. (I'm hoping and expecting it to be Wait-And-See.) Other than that, I'm feeling very well. A full day at work yesterday was not too much. Being in a "lull" between deadlines, I'm cleaning off my desk and deleting the clutter in my email Inbox. It was terrible! I confess to not being a compulsive neatnik.

Have a great day. Thanks for your prayers.


Monday, November 12, 2007


Our Sunday school class has been studying a little book by Randy Alcorn titled The Treasure Principle. Yesterday's lesson was based on some verses in Ecclesiastes 5. "People who live only for wealth come to the end of their lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day they were born." Randy's book makes the point that heaven, not earth, is our true home, and it's foolish to over-indulge ourselves here. Rather, after meeting basic needs, we should invest our resources and time in that which is important to God (spreading the Gospel and helping the poor), and thus prepare for eternity. Makes sense.

The mass under my arm is still painful, but may be shrinking. Today I'll call and see if I can get an opinion from the oncologist when I go for chemo tomorrow morning. As I said yesterday, I don't think tumors are normally painful, so this is probably unrelated to the cancer. I hope so.

We've had several freezing nights, so the tomato plants are shot, but the green tomatoes I brought inside are ripening nicely. And our plucky camellias keep blooming. Those delicate pink petals look like they should be in the hot tropics, but here they are, surviving freezing nights. I bring two or three blossoms inside to brighten my kitchen.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

To Share Comfort

Our day with our friend was happy. We took her to Mt. Airy, about an hour from her home. The trees are ablaze with autumn color, and the day was crisp and clear. Mt. Airy is the boyhood home of Andy Griffiths and is the prototype for Mayberry, the quaint setting of the old Andy Griffith Show. We ate lunch at Snappy's and enjoyed walking around the town. The outing seemed to lift our friend's spirits. (It was a pleasure for us too, and I was much less tired than I'd been Friday.) In some ways, her kind of grief lasts forever. And most of us will eventually experience it ourselves. Thank God for the strength He builds into our souls during our happier days.

A friend sent me a lovely book titled When the Heart Waits. In it I learned about Hildegard of Bingen, a woman of the 12th century, a preacher, theologian, doctor, scientist, artist, composer, and writer. The author of my book says, "Hildegard rang a clear, holy bell in me. She said that the soul was like a precious field from which we must 'root out the useless grasses, thorns, and briars' in order to reveal the beauty of God's image glistening in the soil. To Hildegard, sin was failing to care for the soul, failing to water it and give it what she called 'greening power.' The saddest thing, to Hildegard, was a 'drooping soul.'" Well! Let us not neglect our souls' need for greening power! The author goes on to emphasize that the healthy soul intertwines itself with others in compassion, lest we become inward and selfish in tending our souls.

Today should be a good day for tending the soul. Have a good one.

I'd appreciate your prayers for a painful mass that appeared yesterday under my right armpit. I understand that tumors are not normally painful, so I'm not assuming anything scary about this one, but I'd be thankful to have it go away before I have to spend time and money getting a doctor's opinion about it.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Share Joy

Last weekend I announced the engagement of our second grandson Justin to his beloved Laura. Their joy is contagious.

I'm struggling with tiredness. Yesterday I crawled back into bed for an hour's nap before going to work, and when I got home I napped again before dinner. Maybe it's the cancer, maybe the chemo, maybe lower hemoglobin, and maybe it's simply that a 70-year-old should manage her time and energy better.

All of us who met Thursday evening to discuss slavery are working on bits of research to see what we can do. At least we must do something. "In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends" (Martin Luther King, Jr.). I cannot claim to be a friend of the poor, the slave, the downtrodden, and not do something! All in the group are followers of Jesus; may He guide us!

We're really looking forward to seeing our widowed friend today. As we've talked by phone from time to time, I've been impressed by her faith and acceptance of this tragedy.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, November 09, 2007

To Work and Pray for Justice

Ten of us gathered last evening to learn about slavery in our world, to discuss possible actions, and to pray. I feel I've come late to an awareness of modern slavery, and it would take a miracle for someone like us to actually make a difference--but then, I've experienced miracles during these past two years and I can believe God for more. There's pressure to be put on state government leaders to improve local laws against human trafficking. There are excellent global rescue organizations we can support financially. There may be workers right under our noses who have been brought here in bondage and are being held against their will, as in some restaurants, and we need to be alert to such abuses (and call 888 3737 888 with suspicions). But most important, we need to pray. We did that together last evening.
--for those conducting rescue operations
--for healing of trauma of rescued slaves
--for the sex industry to break down
--for world leaders to devote influence and energy to stopping slavery
--for the church to be God's instrument for justice and mercy
--for guidance as to what we personally can do

I'm thankful to feel well. Tomorrow we're driving a couple of hours to take our newly-widowed friend out for lunch. (Her husband died about a month ago in a tractor accident.) She's very courageous, but oh, what a hard time this is! I've heard that in one of the Native American languages, the word for "widow" means "empty." Well said, I'm sure.

My "cancer buddy," the man in our Sunday school class whose lung cancer was diagnosed shortly after my surgery, had a scan yesterday and will get results next week. We're praying it will show that he's still in remission.

Have a beautiful day.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


First, I'll just say that I'm feeling really well today. And yesterday I worked a full day. Wouldn't it be wonderful if this gentle-on-me chemo would prove to be effective in squashing the cancer for a long period of time? Oh, please, God!

Now I have a beautiful story for you. Our mission has an intrepid team of workers on a most difficult assignment in East Africa. Not only are the desert climate and living conditions daunting, but the people they're trying to reach are hostile and non-responsive. So it's not surprising that last month, when the women gathered at the home of their team leader, the conversation turned to their difficult situations. The leader, noting the deteriorating mood, wanted to cheer these wonderful women who work so hard and sacrifice so much to be living where they are. So she bravely announced that she was heating water (purchased off the backs of donkeys and toted by hand to barrel and then inside to stove) and they should all prepare for a pedicure. Unanimous protest! Not my feet! They're too ugly to show, destroyed by the sand and sandals. I couldn't possibly let you all see my feet. Undeterred, the hostess brought in tubs of warm water, piled cushions around the tubs (chairs for those who preferred them), and brought out trays loaded with scrub brushes, polishes, etc. Finally, the women put their feet in the water which had been sweetened with fragrance. No words! Only "oohs" and "ahs" of weary workers beginning to unwind. A participant said, "It was like magic ... soon there were giggles and laughter and stories floating around that were uplifting and fun. Everyone was smiling, and one woman began scrubbing the foot of another who had complained the most that her feet were the worst!" I say ten big cheers for such a wise and loving team leader. Yes, they still need to cope with difficult situations, and even discuss them at times, but for that afternoon, restoration was needed and provided.

This story reminds me of Lisa's last act as we were leaving her home on Sunday. She had noticed my chemo-ravaged feet (swollen ankles, dry and cracked heels and toes), and she tucked a packet of Johnson's Foot Soap in my purse. "When you get home, soak your feet in warm water with this powder, Mom," she said. I did, and it helped. I wish I could be more like her!

Our friend Fran, whose breast cancer appears to have been far more invasive than it first appeared to be after surgery, is facing difficult decisions about further treatment. The medical consensus seems to favor complete mastectomy, but there are perplexing questions outstanding. I think wisdom is the great need here. We're very grateful for your prayers.


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Letting Go

A brilliant and beautiful couple from Canada "retired" about three years ago after a lifetime of mission work in Ethiopia, part of it directing the large team of workers there. The wife asked God, "Will there be any legacy from Ethiopia that will inform and enrich the remainder of my life?" She says, "I did not want to clutch the past possessively. I read an article on transition which advised that we can only move into the future if we are willing to give up what is behind and live open-endedly into God's future plans for us." She did that by faith. God is so cool! A whole community of Ethiopians has moved into their retirement town, and our friends have formed rich and growing relationships with them. Moreover, they've been invited to a six-month teaching assignment at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology the first half of 2008. More evidence that, when transitions come, it really is safe to "give up what is behind and live open-endedly into God's future plans."

The doctor and nurses shared our disappointment in the rising cancer numbers. But there's an upside. This new chemo is very kind to me (I hope NOT kind to the cancer). I have to get it every week, but it's a shorter process, and yesterday I came back home feeling fine and ready for an afternoon at the office.

I haven't talked about slavery lately, but I haven't forgotten. I continue to boycott chocolate that isn't certified to have been produced without slave labor. I continue to pray for those who are actively rescuing slaves of various kinds. I've included a story about that from West Africa in the issue of the magazine I'm currently working on. And tomorrow evening we will host here the monthly meeting of the Carolina Clapham Group (named for the place and group of William Wilberforce and his friends who spearheaded the long and hard process in England that finally led to the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire in 1807). This group is actively praying and seeking to make our own impact, both locally and globally, on the tragic trafficking of slaves in our world today. If you live nearby and would like to come, please call me. If you don't know how, send me a comment below (click on comments) with your contact information, and I'll get back to you. I won't publish your comment, though, so your contact information will remain safe.

Yesterday's photo was a digital fake. Read on down for more details. I'm so sorry about that.

Thank you so much for your love and prayers.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Chemo and an apology

The doctor switched me to a new, quicker, gentler chemo this morning. I feel so well I've spent the afternoon at the office. I'm praying it will nevertheless be brutal to the cancer.

The gorgeous photo I uploaded this morning is a digital creation, not the real thing, according to Snopes. I'm so sorry I didn't check it out. I loved it so much I forgot to be a good, cynical journalist. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the beauty of it, but please don't circulate it as authentic. I think I'd better go back in to the posting and remove it--maybe tomorrow. Why didn't the German geniuses who created the image simply publish it as a wonderful work of art? We'd have loved it anyway, and we wouldn't now have this bitter taste in our mouths.


This is sunset at the North Pole. Someone sent it to me, and I was struck speechless in wonder and awe. I don't have a profound comment; I simply want to share it with you. I'm sure most of the time God is the only one who sees this amazing beauty.

You send me encouraging notes, and sometimes you say I'm an inspiration because my faith is so strong. I'm afraid you don't understand. It's God, answering your prayers, holding me up. Left without God and you, I'd be my "real" self -- weak, scared, complaining, and faithless. I have some heroes and heroines from history who appeared to live victoriously and full of faith with only God to turn to, no human support, but I really don't think I'd turn out to be a solitary hero. I appreciate you so much!

A friend from our Sunday school class desperately needs our prayers. She's younger than me, and very beautiful. She hasn't been able to be out for some years, but she surely wants to. She's growing weaker day by day, and has a wide range of problems. She's right now at the difficult spot of needing to change primary care doctors, which we all know leaves us feeling very vulnerable. Her specialists seem to find it hard to treat her as a whole patient. She's in a lot of pain, and almost too weak to get ready to go to the doctor. I'm afraid her thoughts have turned exceedingly dark. She has so much to live for and so much to offer; I'm just so sorry all this has crowded in on her. (Her testimony is that she has learned so much and has become "a different person," from this experience.) Would you please join me in praying for S.R.? Thank you. (She gave me permission to ask.)

Have a blessed day.


Monday, November 05, 2007


He was better to me than all my hopes;
Better than all my fears;
He made a bridge of my broken works,
And a rainbow of my tears.
The stormy waves on my ocean path
Did carry my Lord on their crest;
When I think how He guided my wilderness march
I can lean on His love for the rest.

This is part of an unsigned poem in "Streams in the Desert." It rings true for me.

We enjoyed a wonderful morning yesterday at Lisa's church, then drove home. You know, we all pray for safety on the highway, and it's amazing how God answers even on crowded roads and despite crazy drivers. Yesterday at dusk we came upon a large black object right in our lane; it must have fallen off a truck. The lane to our right was clear, and Chuck swerved there, giving the obstacle only a glancing hit. It doesn't look like there was any serious damage. Three other cars were pulling off to the shoulder; they must have hit it harder. We're thankful for God's protection.

I'm feeling well, looking forward to getting a lot done today before tomorrow's appointment with the oncologist. The prayer request is that both he and we will have the Lord's guidance for my next step.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Great Story

Yesterday at the National Cathedral, the bishop told a gripping story. In July he was at a meeting with about 25 Anglican bishops from Africa. The bishop from Khartoum, Sudan, told about his "cathedral"--a tin roof on poles over a packed dirt floor with room for about 300 people to stand. One day he was meeting there with about 200 priests from his diocese when suddenly a small janjaweed army burst into their midst. The commander was 15 years old, the other "soldiers" ranged in age from 8 to 12, and they all carried AK-47s. They ordered the priests outside, bound their hands and feet, and forced them to kneel. Then the 15-year-old commander said to the bishop, "We're going to kill you all, but first would you like a cigarette?" The bishop declined. "Well, I'm sure you'll want blindfolds." "No," answered the bishop. "We will die with courage. But instead of a cigarette, I would like permission to pray." Granted. So he prayed, thanking God for the gift of salvation through Christ, and the confidence of going to heaven. Then he asked God to forgive the commander and his soldiers for the murders they were about to commit. When he opened his eyes, instead of the flash of arms, he saw the commander and then all the other children drop their weapons to the ground, and then they untied all the ropes and let the priests stand. "I want what you have," shouted the commander. "Tell me how I can have what you have." And the bishop led this practiced murderer to saving faith in Christ. Now the young man is studying to become a priest. At this point, the Washington DC bishop asked a probing question: "What are you here for? Are people asking how they can have what you have--that is, a life-changing faith in Christ?"

One of the readings was from Romans 12, where Paul appeals to the readers to present their bodies as "a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." I blinked. I distinctly remember doing that, and then reconfirming the decision many times. (I failed so many times to live up to that commitment.) Anyway, the point is that my body isn't mine but rather God's, to whom I gave it. So what He does with it is up to Him. He can choose to lift the finger that for so many months has been keeping the cancer somewhat under control, for His own purposes. Or He can once and for all drive the cancer out. Whatever.

After church and lunch we'll be driving back home this afternoon.

Our family is growing. Last evening Justin asked his darling Laura to marry him and she said Yes. We're all so delighted, because we love her already. We'll have a Happy Engagement party when we get together at Thanksgiving time.

Have a blessed day.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Promise

Yesterday I spoke by phone with a good friend. She was concerned about my rising cancer numbers, but not for the long term. Even though we all recognize that the numbers don't necessarily imply soon death, my friend reminded me of an encouraging promise--with an entirely new twist. During the evening before Jesus' death, he promised his friends that he would prepare their homes in his Father's house, and whenever one was ready, he would personally come and escort the new resident to his new home. (I'd always thought that promise referred to Christ's return at the end of this age, but what a lovely thought that he will come for each of us, one by one, whenever.)

So we arrived safely and in good time in Washington DC, and it's so great to see Lisa again. This morning we're going to a special serviced at the National Cathedral.

Have a blessed day.


Friday, November 02, 2007

Coming to Terms

We spent yesterday coming to terms with my rising cancer numbers. Not that we found any reasons or answers, but it is the new reality. Until we see the oncologist on Tuesday morning, we won’t have any idea of the next treatment. But we’ll make sure to fully live every moment of every day, and also to fully rely on God. We’ll be spending the weekend with Lisa in Washington DC.

After posting the report on the blogsite yesterday morning, I went for a walk, listening again to some of the music my grandson Justin uploaded to my Ipod. The very first song I heard was “Homesick” by Mercy Me. You know, I think over the past few months I’ve been getting pretty attached to life here on earth again. (I DON’T mean to say that God raised my cancer numbers to punish me or teach me a lesson. I only mean to say that rising numbers can do my soul good. Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about the bad and the good “intermingling” for our GOOD? Well, I think these numbers are bad. But the intermingling can still be good.) So here are some of the words of that song. Thanks, Justin!

I close my eyes, and I see Your face,
If home’s where my heart is,
Then I’m out of place.
Lord, won’t you give me strength to make it through somehow,
’Cause I’ve never been more homesick than now.

In Christ there are no Goodbyes,
In Christ there is no end.
So I hold on to Jesus with all that I have . . . .

Over the past couple of years, we’ve prayed for so many friends who got cancer, and God has answered our prayers. Except for the most recent cases (Fran and one other), I think all of them are now cancer-free—except me. Three basic questions: (1) How can this glorify God? (2) How can I learn/grow through it? (3) What shall I do next?

I just read a splendid idea. During World War II, an advisor to Sir Winston Churchill mobilized many people to pray for one minute at a specified time each day. Now, again, many prayer leaders are encouraging people to pause for one minute at 9:00 pm to pray for the safety of troops and civilians, for wisdom for our leaders, for terrorists’ plans to fail, and for peace. I’m often asleep by 9:00 pm, so I’m going to choose an earlier time, but I really do hope I can remember to do this. Care to join me?

I had a very good day at the office yesterday, and I’m thankful for how well the new magazine has come together. This is so much fun!

We’ll be traveling most of the day today.

Hope you have a good day.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Doesn't look good

In chapel this morning we sang a song that contains the words, "the Lord God almighty reigns." I'm holding on to that truth as I sit here reading the report on the CA 125, which has returned to within decimal points of the high we'd reached back in July. Today's number is 354.22 (up from 261 a month ago). August's CT scan showed a few small tumors, which are probably related to this rising CA number. Thanks for your prayers. God is still in control. The oncologist will need wisdom in deciding future treatments. I still feel well, and I'm thankful for that.

A Safe Place

Each week I get a “worship quote” from Chip Stam, a seminary professor. Chip is fighting his own battle with cancer, and this week he asked prayer for strength for his “day-to-day ‘job’ of being a good cancer patient.” Come to think of it, that’s a very apt request. I suppose right now that’s my job too, and I do need God’s strength to handle it well.

Chip also sent a newer translation of the hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is our God,” written in 1529 by Martin Luther. (The words we commonly sing were translated in 1853 by Frederick Hedge. I have never seen these newer words, but I like them, and will copy them here. Sometime a modern poet should give us a 21st century translation.)

God is a Stronghold and a Tower,
A Help that never faileth.
A covering Shield, a Sword of power,
When Satan’s host assaileth.
In vain our crafty foe
Still strives to work us woe,
Still lurks and lies in wait
With more than earthly hate;
We will not faint, nor tremble.

Frail sinners are we, naught remains
For hope or consolation,
Save in His strength Whom God ordains
Our Captain of salvation.
Yes, Jesus Christ alone
The Lord of hosts we own,
God ere the world began,
The Word-made-flesh for man,
Still conquering, and to conquer.

Though fiercely strive the hosts of ill
Within us, and around us,
With fiendish strength, and fiendish skill,
Yet ne’er may they confound us.
Man’s night of dark despair,
When storm clouds fill the air,
Is God’s triumphal hour,
The noonday of His power,
One word, and He prevaileth.

Our Father’s truth abideth sure;
Christ, our Redeemer, liveth;
For us He pleads His offering pure,
To us His Spirit giveth.
Though dear ones pass away,
Though strength and life decay,
Yet loss shall be our gain,
For God doth still remain
Our All-in-all forever.
Translation by Elizabeth Wordsworth, 1899

I’m sitting here singing these words in my mind as I type them. What wonderful hope they bring! (By the way, I realize that most of us live in nice, safe places where we are somehow able to ignore the reality of Satan and evil. That doesn't make them non-existent; it only shows we're escapists.)

I’ll post a brief blog later this morning, as soon as I get the report on the CA 125. Thanks so much for your prayers.