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

Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Tuning

"Oh, how the old harpist loves his harp! He cuddles and caresses it, as if it were a child resting on his lap. His life is consumed with it." Thus begins the reading for January 28 in Streams in the Desert. It continues:

"But watch how he tunes it. He grasps it firmly, striking a chord with a sharp, quick blow. While it quivers as if in pain, he leans forward, intently listening to catch the first note rising from it. Just as he feared, the note is distorted and shrill. He strains the string, turning the torturing thumbscrew, and though it seems ready to snap with the tension, he strikes it again. Then he leans forward again, carefully listening, until at last a smile appears on his face as the first melodic sound arises."

This is a picture of God's working in our lives. "He will never cease from striking the strings of your heart until your humbled and disciplined soul blends with all the pure and eternal harmonies of His own being."

For rapture of love is linked with the pain or fear of loss
And the hand that takes the crown must ache with many a cross;
Yet he who has never a conflict wins never a victor's palm,
And only the toilers know the sweetness of rest and calm.

Who would dare the choice, neither or both to know;
The finest quiver of joy or the agony thrill of woe!
Never the exquisite pain, then never the exquisite bliss,
For the heart that is dull to that can never be strung to this.

One of Israel's kings received a hostile letter from the commander of powerful enemies. The Bible says he took the letter to the temple and "spread it out before the Lord." Yesterday I did that with my CT scan report. (No, not in the temple, simply in my blue wingback chair.) The facts in that report are only one small paragraph in the current chapter God is writing for my life. I need to keep that in perspective, and live the whole chapter--the rest of the "book," for that matter.

Blessings for your day,

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


A very precious friend asks why his cancer appears to be cured and mine isn't. He understands about God's sovereign privilege to do as He chooses, so it's not that kind of "why." You all have been so faithful to keep praying all these 25 months, and even just for your sakes I'd love for God to answer Yes. So here's a new prayer request: please ask God to show me if there are reason in me--attitudes or sins--that prevent His healing work. I don't mean to book a ticket on a guilt trip, but even the psalmist prayed, "Cleanse me from secret faults."

Last weekend's reading in our devotional, indeed, is titled "When Prayer Doesn't Work." The author, Andrew Wheeler, lost his mother to cancer 20 years ago, and describes his struggle: Was God unhearing? Unfeeling? Unable to answer my prayers? Was I praying with wrong motives? Was it lack of faith or sin in my life that was keeping God from answering? Was it somehow my fault that prayer hadn't worked and that Mom wouldn't be coming home? "The standard prayer platitudes," he says, "do little to provide comfort or strengthen faith when you're standing next to a hospital bed and all the monitors are silent."

He considers several examples of "unanswered" prayer in the Bible, and concludes he still doesn't understand. "But I am learning to trust in God's grace, even when I don't understand His ways. The times when I miss Mom the most are the very times I find myself most leaning into God's strength. . . . Most of all, I'm discovering that submitting my requests to God is exactly that--submitting to Him. Whether He says yes or no, I try to be more concerned for His work in my life than for His response to any one specific prayer. I'm learning that if my focus is on God, even unanswered prayer can be a catalyst for growth in my walk with Him."

That's what I want, for myself and also for those who love me. Meanwhile, I'm healed for today, and continuing to pray that God will drive this cancer out of my body. At no point can it reach the severity that is too great for Him to heal.

Dear friends from Michigan are coming this morning for a one-day visit. We look forward to a sweet time. And tomorrow at 10:30 we'll see Dr. Boyd; thanks for your prayers.

Fully Relying On God,

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

“Whatever the future holds, it will be worth nothing if there is no joy.” (John Naisbitt, Mind Set!) Our long-term future prospects are full of joy, since Jesus has opened the way to heaven. But Naisbitt isn’t talking theology in this book, only our prospects in this life. Still, he’s right. The future may hold pain and loss and deep grief, but Jesus’ promise to fill us with His joy (full joy) still stands. I think our gravest danger lies in diverting our attention from Him to bad news. Wrong focus --> less joy!

Today we received the printed report of last week’s CT scan. First, the good news: “The liver, spleen, kidneys, pancreas, gall bladder, and adrenal glands appear normal.” Thank You, God!

The rest of the report describes the size and location of a large number of growing tumors, compared with last August’s CT scan. They are implanted throughout the abdomen and pelvis: up, down, right, left, front, and back. The ones that were present in August have increased about 50%, one of them now almost an inch. The new ones are still small. Some lymph nodes are larger than a half inch; I don’t know how serious that is. There’s more, but I think this is enough detail. I won’t stop trusting and I won’t stop fighting, but it looks like we’re moving into a new phase of the battle. Please pray for Chuck and the rest of the family. We all need to hold on to joy and hope and courage, Fully Relying On God. I need prayer to recognize true priorities. Meanwhile, I’m healed for today.

Pray also for Dr. Boyd to know how to advise us when we see him Thursday morning. Your love and prayers mean so much to us.


“Whatever the future holds, it will be worth nothing if there is no joy.” (John Naisbitt, Mind Set!) Our long-term future prospects are full of joy, since Jesus has opened the way to heaven. But Naisbitt isn’t talking theology in this book, only our prospects in this life. Still, he’s right. The future may hold pain and loss and deep grief, but Jesus’ promise to fill us with His joy (full joy) still stands. I think our gravest danger lies in diverting our attention from Him to bad news. Wrong focus --> less joy!

Today we received the printed report of last week’s CT scan. First, the good news: “The liver, spleen, kidneys, pancreas, gall bladder, and adrenal glands appear normal.” Thank You, God!

The rest of the report describes the size and location of a large number of growing tumors, compared with last August’s CT scan. They are implanted throughout the abdomen and pelvis: up, down, right, left, front, and back. The ones that were present in August have increased about 50%, one of them now almost an inch. The new ones are still small. Some lymph nodes are larger than a half inch; I don’t know how serious that is. There’s more, but I think this is enough detail. I won’t stop trusting and I won’t stop fighting, but it looks like we’re moving into a new phase of the battle. Please pray for Chuck and the rest of the family. We all need to hold on to joy and hope and courage, Fully Relying On God. I need prayer to recognize true priorities. Meanwhile, I’m healed for today.

Pray also for Dr. Boyd to know how to advise us when we see him Thursday morning. Your love and prayers mean so much to us.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Liberian recipes

We've signed up to help the Liberian couple in our Sunday school class if he is approved for a heart transplant--Chuck to run errands and me to provide meals. (Many others are on the support team as well.) I'm looking for Liberian recipes, especially those that can be adapted for a heart-healthy diet. This week the heart team will make a decision about his suitability as a transplant candidate; we're praying for that.

While we were at the surgeon's office, I saw this wise alphabet and asked for a copy. For what it's worth, I thought I'd pass it along.

Accept differences
Be kind
Count your blessings
Express thanks
Give freely
Harm no one
Imaging more
Jettison anger
Keep confidences
Love truly
Master something
Nurture hope
Open your mind
Pack lightly
Quell rumors
Seek wisdom
Touch hearts
Value truth
Win graciously
Xeriscape [huh? If our drought continues, maybe!]
Yearn for peace
Zealously support a worthy cause

I'm coughing at times, as are many people in this winter weather. It reminds me of the pleural effusion before my surgery that caused incessant coughing and shortness of breath. I am so thankful for relief from that!

Have a blessed day.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The palm of God's hand

A card came yesterday with this words: "No problem is so big it won't fit in the palm of God's hand." It's wonderful to remember that truth throughout the day, every day. We used to sing "He's got the whold world in His hand . . . He's got the wind and the rain . . . He's got the tiny little baby . . . He's got you and me sister/brother in His hand, He's got the whole world in His hand."

Richard Halverson was a pastor in Washington DC and chaplain of the Senate for decades. I read about a meeting he attended during which subjects of great difficulty and danger were discussed. Halverson reached into his pocket and retrieved a small object which he proceeded to roll around in his hand. When someone mustered the courage to ask him about it, he opened his palm to reveal a miniature globe, and he replied, "He's got the whole world in His hand. I carry this with me as a reminder that our problems are in good hands."

We've had a lovely and relaxing visit with our guests. Last night we laughed our way through an old movie, "Auntie Mame." It's so old that Chuck and I saw it in the theater while we were dating in 1959. We'll go to church together this morning.

I repeat, I'm healed for today.


Saturday, January 26, 2008


Yesterday morning I was reading about Jesus' visit to a particular area where a man He'd healed earlier had spread the word about Him far and wide. So on this visit, the people swarmed around Him wherever He went. They brought sick people on litters and laid them in all the marketplaces, and everyone was reaching out to touch His clothing. Everyone who touched Him was healed. I tried to insert myself into the story, wondering what it would feel like to lie there hoping He would come near, wondering how it would feel to touch Him and be healed. Seeing and touching Him would be beyond description, for sure. But I realized that being healed would feel pretty much as I feel now. The only way we know my cancer is still active is by recently discovered technology like C-T scans and blood tests. If I were living 100 years ago or any time before that and felt this good, I'd say I'm well. So here's my plan:

"I'm healed for today." That's my position, every day that I feel well. Healed for today!

Chuck had some restless hours in the night, so this morning he was sleeping soundly way past our usual wake-up time. I stayed in bed so as not to disturb him. Today his cousin's daughter and her husband are coming for the weekend. They're charming.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Put back together

I was reading Psalm 18 in The Message paraphrase by Eugene Peterson. Verses 20-24 are priceless:

God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I got my act together, he gave me a fresh start.
Now I'm alert to God's ways; I don't take God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works. I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together, and I'm watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.

I like the part about being alert to God's ways, and reviewing every day the ways he works. It's easy to miss him, unless we pay attention.

The technician got the line in a vein for the X-ray contrast with no problems and no pain. I'm thankful. The C-T scan, of course, was no trouble at all. Before we left, the radiologist showed us pictures on the screen of the present scan compared with the one done last August. The tumors that were tiny then are a little larger now. They're scattered so widely that another surgery is probably not feasible. Next Tuesday's appointment with the oncologist has been rescheduled for Thursday, due to a conflict in his Tuesday. Someone is beginning her first course of chemo at the time I'd been scheduled, and he wants to be available for her. That's one of the things I appreciate about him.

I don't think C-T scans make one tired, but I slept later this morning anyway. Now I'm looking forward to the day.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

The coffee smells so good

If you ever want to measure how important something is to you, try going without it. This morning I have to fast, of course, and I'm finding that I would really like a cup of coffee. Or at least a glass of water or a piece of fruit. No big problem--just revealing of how accustomed I am to my comforts! My C-T scan appointment is at 9:00, and I'll have to drink quarts of that dye drink, so I certainly won't be thirsty long.(I think about sisters and brothers around the world--millions of them--who don't have a bit of food in their house this morning--if they even have a house, and must walk miles to get murky water for a drink. How blessed we are!)

An acquaintance from church, a bit older than me, was diagnosed with cancer about the same time I was. Our chemo appointments often happened at the same time. She was so pretty and so sweet. She died last weekend and was buried on Tuesday. We saw her husband last evening, and he was relieved for her to be out of her suffering and weakness.

We're watching a miracle unfold. A man in our Sunday school class is a former Olympics soccer/football star from Liberia. Now his heart is failing, and they've told him he's past the age for a transplant. He was in the hospital last week, and the doctors made a sudden switch, transferring him to a heart center to begin the testing process for a transplant. Two reasons: (1) his athletic past means his general physical condition is much younger than his 67 years, and (2) he's part of a faith community that excels in caring for its members. He has no family here except for his dear wife, who doesn't drive and has to work nights. So our Congregational Health Minister is mobilizing a support group for him, and we went to the training meeting last evening. A heart transplant is a sobering, overwhelming event that requires at least a year of very close attention afterwards. He's still in the candidate category while they finish the testing, and then, if accepted, he'll begin the wait to be called. Someone needs to be on call around the clock to get him to that event when the moment comes. Afterwards, people will need to run errands, help with meals, pick up prescriptions and groceries, drive him to labs and doctor appointments, help him lay out his medications each week, and I forget all the other tasks. It will be a privilege to help for as long as we are able. The transplant team won't even proceed without signed commitments from an adequate support team. The room was full of friends!

Have a blessed day.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


"I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the Lord's goodness in the land of the living" (Psalm 27:13). We have seen His goodness, and I know we'll continue to see it, and this prevents us from despairing.

The results of the creatinine and BUN blood tests appear to be totally normal, so I can proceed with the C-T scan tomorrow morning. But the CA 125 number has more than doubled--to 1,090 in the past seven weeks.

We definitely need prayer for wisdom, as medical options are now extremely limited.

Thanks, again and again.

Reaching out

We both spent a little wakeful time in the middle of the night thinking "what if?" thoughts. It doesn't solve anything, but it happens anyway. In a couple of hours we'll get the results of yesterday's blood tests, tomorrow I'll have a C-T scan, and Tuesday I'll see the oncologist. Thank God, He already knows what we'll find out, and--more importantly--He already knows the absolutely best outcome and He will make that happen.

A few days ago, I mentioned the new film "Magdalena: Released from Shame," which includes the hemorrhaging woman who crept through the crowd to touch the fringe of Christ's shawl in her search for healing. My cousin, in response, sent me this reflection, which she wrote some years ago:

I am going to see the healer
I don't care that I am unclean . . .
I won't announce myself; I'll just go.
I've heard of healings; and maybe --

All I have to do
is reach out to
last chance Jesus.

I am reaching,
reaching for the fringe
of your prayer shawl.
I have to touch the edge
before I come to the abyss--
I mean
I am on the edge.
I must reach past my isolation.
I mean
No one and nothing has helped;
There has been no cure.

Just the fringe--
I only need to reach
A chance
with last chance Jesus.

Thanks, Ammie. As Bible readers know, Jesus didn't let the dear, healed woman sneak off the way she had come. He made eye contact, applauded her faith, confirmed her healing, and restored her dignity. So today and every day I'm reaching for Jesus.

A blog reader, whom I've never met, did some research on the two new blood tests I got yesterday. BUN stands for blood urea nitrogen; in ratio with creatinine, it measures the health of the kidneys to determine if it's okay to administer the contrast dye for the C-T scan. I'm sure there will be no problem.

I'll put up a short posting later this morning after we get the CA 125 (tumor marker) number. I'm praying "low" on that one, but making no predictions.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The gift

Here we are back home. It was cold in Florida, but it's colder here of course. We're thankful for a safe and pleasant trip yesterday.

One of the speakers at the conference was Dr. Erwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Church. He was also a panelist on the live broadcast of Open Line, during which he received a Gold Book award for one of his books which had sold over a half million. They bragged about it a little, and piqued my interest so I got it and read it before we reached home yesterday. The title is One Minute after you Die, and it's published by Moody Publishers. I realize there are people who believe it's bad luck (or bad faith) to talk about death. But when my tumor marker numbers are climbing and the surgeon can feel growing tumors, you will forgive me if I bring up the subject. I'm planning to live, but prepared to die.

Actually, we're all going to do that. So I'd recommend this book for everyone. Here are a couple of excerpts:

"Thus God prevented Adam and Eve from eternal sinfulness by giving them the gift of death, the ability to exit this life and arrive safely in the wondrous life to come. Deth, though it would appear to be our greatest enemy, would in the end prove to be our greatet friend. Only through death can we go to God (unless, of course, we are still living when Christ returns)."

Dr. Lutzer describes a conversation with a man who was battling a brain tumor. The sick man said his intention was to follow God so closely now, while he still had strength, that when weakness and pain eventually came, he would be able to endure it confidently. And he did. The dying man used this analogy: "When you come home at night, you can manage to get around the house in the darkness because you have been there so often in the light." I like that! And even if God chooses to give me 20 more years of life on this earth, I still want to daily cultivate the growing habit of trust. Or, as our FROG motto states, Fully Rely On God. (I'm astounded by how easy it is, when days are light, to rely on myself--unreliable though I am.)

I drank a tankard of water last night, and I'm drinking another this morning, trying to hydrate so my veins will gladly yield up the three needed vials of blood this morning. Then I'll be back at work, finalizing the first draft of the next magazine.

Thanks for your love and prayers.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Heading home

Yesterday morning we enjoyed one more session of great singing and an encouraging message. Then we hung out with my brother and his wife for the rest of the day, leaving them at their airport hotel in time to watch the Packers football game. (Sorry about the outcome.) We drove on a couple hours further, to shorten today’s trip. It’s been a soul-building time, and now we’re eager to get back home. It turned extremely cold here in south Florida, but it was fine for us since all our plans were indoors anyway.

Tomorrow morning I’ll get blood drawn for another tumor marker test, and will probably have the report sometime Wednesday; I’ll be sure to let you know. I also need tests for creatinine levels and something called BUN (?), in preparation for my C-T scan which will be early Thursday morning.

I hope your week is off to a great start. Today in the United States we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for his visionary efforts on behalf of the dignity of all God’s children. It’s obvious that much work remains to be done; may we all do our part!


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Give me Jesus

A couple of nights ago, as I slept I "heard" the beautiful Fernando Ortega song, "Give me Jesus." I woke up with a huge longing to hear again those words and luscious chords. The Moody Symphonic Band performed for us last evening after dinner. Right in the middle of a masterful classical piece, that same longing washed over me to hear "Give me Jesus." Later, I promised myself. Then a young man, member of the band, walked to the piano, played a few chords, and began to sing, "In the morning when I rise . . . Give me Jesus." A vocal solo in an instrumental concert! It was like God tapped me on the shoulder and whispered, "I hear you. I love you. I'm here." (No, we didn't have printed programs; no way could I have known they were going to do that song.)

In the morning, when I rise
in the morning, when I rise
in the morning, when I rise
Give me Jesus.

And when I am alone . . .
Give me Jesus.

And when I come to die . . .
Give me Jesus.

Give me Jesus, give me Jesus,
You can have all the world, but give me Jesus.

We've gotten a fresh view of the great job Moody is doing to prepare women and men for Christian service and living. And our souls have been taught and restored. One more session this morning, and we'll be heading back home.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

Can one person make a difference?

This conference is intentionally designed to give a taste of actual life at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. The speakers represent the faculty, music leaders are students, and it's all very impressive.

Dr. Charlie Dyer's topic yesterday was "Can One Person Make a Difference?" His text was Micah 11, a sermon by the prophet Micah (7th century BC) showing how corrupt Israel had become--leaders both secular and religious, and the people as a whole. His appeal was to justice, but as far as we can tell from reading Micah, the prophet himself appeared to be the only just person standing against a society overtaken with greed and selfishness. Could he make a difference? Maybe Micah himself never knew the answer to that. But the prophet Jeremiah, writing about a century later, records the words of some old and wise men (Jeremiah 26:19) about Micah. As a result of his standing firm for truth and justice, the king and the people turned from their sins and worshiped the Lord, delaying God's judgment for more than a hundred years. What an encouragement.

Last evening we participated in a live "Open Line" broadcast featuring three Bible teachers answering questions from our group. The panel gave good and helpful answers which I'm sure were helpful for millions of listeners across the country. But it was also very fun to watch how the program is run.

Yesterday afternoon we went to visit friends who have retired nearby. I've known the wife since we were in high school, and through the years our paths have crossed from time to time. It was so sweet to see her and her husband again, and also another friend who lives in their retirement village. "He who is rich in friends is poor in nothing."

We have an open afternoon today. I hear a rest calling my name. I'm feeling well.


Friday, January 18, 2008


We spent Thursday morning hugging and catching up with a number of friends at the SIM retirement village. We didn't get to everyone we knew, but we saw a lot of people. Whether long-time friends or new acquaintances, they all said the same thing: "We pray for you regularly." Then we drove to the site of the Moody Bible Institute conference we're attending, and at dinner we heard the same thing. I'm humbled and amazed. I wish I could say to each that I reciprocate, but it wouldn't be true; in fact, I'm very unworthy of all this love and prayer. Surely God is answering; each day of good life is a gift from God and all these friends who pray. One of the departments at Moody prayed specifically this week that I'd be well enough for this trip, and here we are! Maybe, in my optimism, I just assumed that would be the case, but I shouldn't have. It's God!

Last night we checked our personal email for the first time in a few days and found messages of love and hope and prayers from a bunch of you. I can't tell you how much they mean to me. I want to answer each one.

We sang a new song in last night's session that seemed written for Chuck and me: "In this Quiet Place," by Fred Pratt Green. I managed to write down a few lines.
If our flesh upon our sickness feeds
and turns our lives to gall
let us not fret about our needs
but simply tell you all.

We ask You, Lord, our great High Priest,
make our faith fully grown
Lord, disbelieve our unbelief
You've claimed us as your own.

The speaker last evening was Dr, Erwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Memorial Church. He's wonderfully witty, and we laughed a lot. His message was about walking with God (based on Enoch, in Genesis 5, who walked "so far" with God that God simply took him home without death--isn't that a mystery?). It was both profound and helpful.

I haven't yet gotten a call from my surgeon's nurse about scheduling that C-T scan. Guess I'll call this morning to be sure things are moving forward. But I have no idea what will be done with the information we get from the scan. It's a time for putting one foot in front of the other and continuing to walk forward.

May God bless and encourage you today.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

If you've ever visited our home in North Carolina, you know that we have an oil painting of a carillon tower over our mantel. It was painted by Nellie Boyd, a friend of Chuck's grandparents, who took up painting in her 80s. The tower is the Bok Tower in Lake Wales, Florida. Yesterday we spent part of the afternoon there, and were treated to a live carillon concert. Walking the serene garden paths and hearing that amazing music was restorative and fun.

We spent the night in Sebring at the SIM retirement village with our dear friend Sue. This morning we'll see several other friends--but surely not all of them. Then this afternoon we'll head over to Ft. Myers where the conference will start this evening.

I'm feeling well, with no more ankle swelling. We don't need to fixate on the cancer at least until we get back home and get that C-T scan. But we continue to pray.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Good news . . . Bad news

A package came while I was at home for a few minutes at midday yesterday. Little did the sender guess how much it would mean to me right then!

She and I used to work together leading worship and singing for large women’s retreats. Those days are now only happy memories, but our friendship continues, and she prays faithfully for me. She sent a silver necklace with a runner pendant, accompanied by a poem and this personal note: “My sweet friend, as soon as I read this poem and saw the pendant, I knew you should have them. I’m running with you, and crying with you, and believing with you.” Now the poem:

Lord, You know i’m pushing on to run this race
fix my eyes on You in everything i face
even when my feelings say it isn’t so
Your Truth that beats inside my heart
won’t let me go
with every step of faith You strengthen me
along every mile of trust You’re remaking me
‘tho a trail of tears marks the path that i’ve come
until in Your arms i’ll continue to run
(Hebrews 12:1-22, 2 Corinthians 4:8-9)

Now the reason why it’s so meaningful. I had a routine follow-up appointment yesterday with my surgeon, and for the first time in two years he now feels tumors developing. He is ordering a C-T scan, and then we’ll see what the next steps should be. I’m disappointed; I really love life. And perplexed; what more could I have done? And confident: I’m still where I’ve always been—safe in God’s hands. He can heal at any stage in the progression of cancer. He can do whatever He knows is best. That’s enough to keep me sleeping well at night, and seizing life every day. (But right now I find I’m not able to read books or articles by survivors of early-stage highly curable cancers; they’re just too “heroic” and chipper.)

Today we’ll be driving all day to south Florida. I’ll try to keep in touch through the weekend. I guess I don’t need to say how much I value your prayers right now with this news.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

So good

God is so good. Friendship is so good. Prayer is so good. Hope is so good.

I'm thankful that the screening yesterday indicated no bloodclots. Whatever was there last week is gone now, praise God. So we're moving ahead with plans to drive to Florida tomorrow. If all goes well, I think I'll complete a first draft of the new SIM magazine today. It's about helping Christians and churches grow stronger, and there are some exciting stories.

Right now I'm pumped about the film, "Magdalena: Released from Shame," from The Jesus Film Project. They added episodes about Mary Magdalene, the Samaritan woman at the well, the woman who touched Jesus' garment, and the woman caught in adultery. The report says, "The film emphasizes Jesus' compassion toward women and His ability to restore their dignity and identity through a personal encounter with Him." Besides public and private showings, it's also been on television and distributed on DVD--in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa. The producer explains, "Women in many parts of the world are often subjected to the most cruel and inhumane treatment suffered anywhere on earth. Honor killings, female genital mutilation, rape and simply being treated as property--all these things say to women, 'You have no significance. You don't matter.' But this film says to women, 'God cares about you. You are significant. And you have more value than you can imagine.'"

Come to think of it, this film can be a valuable part of the healing process for women and girls rescued from various kinds of trafficking and slavery. Our local Clapham (anti-slavery) seems energized by last week's meeting for more action.

Thanks for your prayers.


Monday, January 14, 2008

All is well

The nurse just called to say that the screening report is negative--no bloodclots found. Thanks for praying. Praise the Lord.

All is well

The nurse just called to say that the screening report is negative--no bloodclots found. Thanks for praying. Praise the Lord.

Risks of faith

Many more hours yesterday with my feet elevated. I believe I'll get the "all-clear" from the screening today, and it will be good to have it official. God is so good.

I read more of Addiction and Grace by Gerald May. "Living the reality of grace," as I quoted yesterday, requires action. "The purest acts of faith always feel like risks. Instead of leading to quietude and serenity, true spiritual growth is characterized by increasingly deep risk taking. Growth in faith means willingness to trust God more and more, not only in those areas of our lives where we are most successful but . . . at those levels where we are most vulnerable, wounded, and weak." I want to be still enough to hear and see which "acts of faith" God is calling me to take. Surely this kind of living-out-grace becomes very individualized. It seems spiritually deadening and boring to limit ourselves to trusting God in those areas where we are most successful. But it's still tempting to avoid taking faith risks at those levels where we are most vulnerable, wounded, and weak. (How silly! As if our own competence were the safety net in case God should fail!) I guess it's all a matter of hearing Him first.

I'm going to the office this morning, and to radiology this afternoon. I trust there will be no blood clot, and we can proceed with plans to drive to Florida on Wednesday. On the way to the conference, we plan to stop at the SIM retirement village in Sebring, Florida, to see many friends there. It's an amazing community; most of the "retirees" continue in ministry as they are able until they drop. And how they pray! A Christian radio preacher, now dead, used to visit there and called it "the doorstep to heaven." We had planned a visit there more than two years ago, but had to cancel when severe hurricanes struck. Then cancer took its turn. So this time, we hope, we can make it.

Have a great day.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


A friend gave me a beautiful little ceramic plaque that hangs just above my kitchen sink. It says, "Be still and know that I AM." I discovered yesterday that I don't like to be still. I did a minimal amount of cleaning and cooking in half-hour stretches, and spent the rest of the day sitting with my feet up. I had good books to read, and loved ones to phone, but I still wished to be out walking; and I kept seeing all those things that needed to be done. My ankle looks almost normal this morning, so that's good. We keep praying that if there was a blood clot, it will dissolve by tomorrow's test. Thanks for your prayers.

Maybe we should also pray that I will learn the art of stillness. Only when we're still can we hear. I suppose that should be self-evident, but I'm afraid I often miss it. I've been reading Addiction and Grace by Gerald May, and I saw it there. He writes that we can't produce spiritual growth; it is God's work. Yet, there are three things we can do: pray, attend to what God is saying and doing, and act on what's real. It's the attend part that requires being still and listening. I want to do that better. Yesterday I speed-read The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey (son of "7 Habits" Covey). Here I saw it again, in regard to trust relationships with people: listen to them. "Listen" would be a good word-for-the-year.

Have a great Sunday.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Quiet weekend

At nurse daughter's advice, I called the doctor about my swollen ankle, and he wants me screened for deep vein bloodclots. (They're a more likely cause because only one leg is involved.) But it's obviously not a crisis, because my appointment is on Monday afternoon, and my instructions are to stay off my feet "as much as possible." We had invited guests for lunch today, but cancelled the party; that'll save 2 or 3 hours on my feet. I think it's still okay to go to church tomorrow. But no long walks. We have plans to drive to south Florida next Wednesday for a conference; a blood clot could mean hospitalization to thin the blood instead of the trip. Would you be willing to help me pray that even if there is a blood clot somewhere, it will dissolve by Monday? (This sounds really selfish, in view of all the suffering in the world!)

One of many ministries needed in the fight against human trafficking and slavery is the provision of "safe houses." Thursday night's speaker sees the need for such a house in North Carolina. Another friend is involved with setting one up in Mexico. And another friend is planning to move to Asia to provide some sort of "after care" for those who have been rescued. I was happy to read the following section of Psalm 9in the The Message paraphrase:

God's a safe-house for the battered,
a sanctuary during bad times.
The moment you arrive, you relax;
you're never sorry you knocked.

Safe-house! Sanctuary! Aren't those wonderful places to be?


Friday, January 11, 2008

Day of human trafficking and slavery awareness

We stayed out way too late last evening at the Clapham Group (anti-slavery) meeting, and we learned a lot. The director of Triad Ladder of Hope, a rescue organization in a nearby city, gave alarming facts about the rapid growth of human trafficking and slavery in the U.S., along with some wisdom on the most likely ways victims can be identified and rescued. More important, she told heart-rending stories about a few women she has personally worked with. It's a complex issue. Most of us in this group are involved in some way in communication; maybe God has brought us together to raise awareness. I do need to keep learning, but I also think it's time to begin to DO something, even if it's only making some phone calls. Sadly, it's not only chocolate (which I already boycott) that's likely produced with child slave labor; many of the inexpensive goods we enjoy have links to this infamous trade. God, have mercy!

So I'm tired for a good reason this morning. We must arrange for a restful weekend. For several days I've been troubled by swollen ankles, especially the left one. I don't know if it's a complication of cancer or something else. It's funny how the presence of cancer adds this confusion to life.

I was reading a review of a book titled Practicing the Presence of People by Mike Mason. Here are a few quotes for today: "We will never see other people if the air is dense with our own words." "The first duty of love is to listen." "The hardest job any of us have is to still the flapping tongue in our brains." "Listening to people teaches us to listen to God. Do you find God to be silent? It may be because He is listening to you chatter." Okay, I'll shut up.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wasn't it a miracle?

A week ago today our precious guests arrived, one of them with a rotten cold and cough. Although we lived close together for more than three days, we didn't catch it. I take that as a direct answer to prayer, and give thanks.

Tomorrow is "stop human trafficking" day. A young friend in Texas graduated recently from the Police Academy and is now (to his parents' pride) a police officer. We're proud of him too. He learned a terrible thing during his studies: within ten years, human trafficking will replace drug trafficking as the #1 crime. Can you imagine? How can we fight this evil?

Sometimes I feel so good that I think the cancer must be receding. Then sometimes I feel so tired that I think it must be growing. At this point, only God knows. Blaise Pascal (a philosopher/mathemetician in the 1600s) said, "I ask you neither for health nor for sickness, for life nor death, but that you may dispose of my health and my sickness, my life and my death, for your glory. . . . You alone know what is expedient for me . . . . Give to me, or take away from me, only conform my will to yours. I know but one thing, Lord, that it is good to follow you, and bad to offend you . . . . I know not which is most profitable to me, health or sickness, wealth or poverty, nor anything else in the world. That discernment is beyond the power of men or angels, and is hidden among the secrets of your Providence, which I adore, but do not seek to fathom."

I choose Pascal's attitude for today and tomorrow. After all, God is, as Dallas Willard says, "the smartest person in the universe." He knows best. Should I, then, insist on getting my own way?


Wednesday, January 09, 2008


This is Julianna in sacred dance at SIM. All the songs she danced were beautiful, but I especially liked the one where God is welcoming one of His children to heaven. "I've been waiting to show you," He says, "How my grace ran through all your pain." She frolicked on each refrain of that one like a small child totally abandoned to joy. She's back in Mississippi now, and saw a doctor last evening; he gave her an antibiotic, and we hope she'll soon be well. Jeremy drove her there, and right now he should be in the plane on his way back to Michigan.

Our first great grand daughter was born early yesterday morning. Pictures and statistics are below (posted Tuesday afternoon).

Have a great day.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Great grand daughter

James (grandson) and Liz and their first son Joshua have welcomed Lydia Elise to the family. She was born this morning (Tuesday) at 12:29, 8 pounds 1 ounce, 20 inches long. We are so thankful to God for the safe delivery. I'm posting this in the afternoon, since some of you have been asking.

Hopes and fears

Last evening our first grandson took his wife to the hospital for the birth of their second child. I prayed for them whenever I was awake through the night. Now we're eager to get the call announcing the arrival of our second great grandchild. That's a big hope!

I read through a new magazine about cancer last night, after washing and drying the last load of linens from our wonderful weekend guests. I didn't discover any new miracle cures, but I did see many reminders that my kind of cancer is medically incurable. I dreamed that it had spread to my bones (I suppose I was simply lying wrong on my arm and it got a little sore). Where is the sweet spot between denial, realism, and ungodly fear?

Sunday morning I spoke with the daughter-in-law of a woman who is in treatment with the same oncologist I go to, and we have often seen her and members of her family in the chemo room. Her cancer is almost identical to mine, and her surgery happened at about the same time as mine. We could tell she was weakening week by week. Now they've called in the Palliative Care service. I'm sorry for her. And so thankful that I continue to feel so well and strong.

I want to share this poem that I found Sunday evening at the 24-7 Prayer Space:

The God
Who watches worlds
Sees my heart.

This careful Calculator
Counting countless millions
Counts me in.

This Artist
Whose canvas outstretches
Eternity at both ends;
Whose palette out-colors planets
Paints my portrait.

This Lover,
Who drems in universes,
Dreams of me.

This Creator
Whose breadth of vision spans time
And spawns a cosmos--
Whose woven tapestry of purpose,
More compound than chaos,
Eclipsing complexity,
Rolls out like a highway through history;
Whose heartbeat deafens supernovas;
This Father
Knows me.

This Playwright,
Playing with the deaths and entrances of stars,
Scripting the end from the beginning,
Knowing the purpose of the play,
Watches my feeble audition
And writes

The "purpose of the play." Isn't that encouraging!

I'm so grateful for your prayers.


Monday, January 07, 2008

Goodbye, Grandsons

It was sad to say Goodbye to Justin and Laura yesterday morning, but they had a long way to go. Jeremy and Julianna stayed another day to give her time to get well before their long drive to Mississippi. They'll leave this morning, and Jeremy will fly to Michigan on Wednesday. He went with us to Sunday school and church yesterday--both were wonderful. The weather turned so warm that they spent the afternoon sitting in the sun, reading and talking. Then we went to the 24-7 Prayer house in uptown Charlotte for a couple of hours in the early evening. What a place! Lots of private spaces for meditation and intercession, with every sort of visual and auditory help (posters, art, CDs, videos, and lots of small lights). After that and supper, we sang our way through the same book of contemporary Christian songs that Jeremy and I had so enjoyed a year and a half ago when he was living with us and preparing to go to Niger, West Africa. (Now, as you know, he's a student at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.)

I copied a poem from 24-7 that I will pass along tomorrow; Blogger was so slow to open this morning that it's gotten late and I must go get ready for the day. So today I'll simply include a brief quotation I saw on the wall of one of the prayer carrels. It's by Rob Bell: "Why blame the dark for being dark? It's far more helpful to ask why the light isn't as bright as it should be." Well, yes. But these days, sadly, it seems that many Christians would rather rant about the darkness in today's culture than to let God's light and goodness shine light through them personally. Me too, sometimes.

I'm feeling well, though just a bit tired. The work I need to do today won't necessarily take a whole day, so I'll see how the afternoon goes.

Have a blessed day.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Laying out the pieces

Chuck gave me a new one-year Bible for 2008 in "The Message" paraphrase. Right now it's organized with one Genesis chapter and one psalm for each day. Yesterday I read this, from Psalm 5: "Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar and watch for fire to descend. . . . And here I am, your invited guest--it's incredible! I enter your house; here I am, prostrate in your inner sanctum. . . . But you'll welcome us with open arms when we run for cover to you. Let the party last all night. Stand guard over our celebration. You are famous, God, for welcoming God-seekers, for decking us out in delight." It resonated with the words I'd been reflecting on from the song "You Raise me up," about sitting quietly in God's company. I've been filling my moments with lots of activity lately, and as a result my moments with God have been growing shorter. That is not good! And I will change things.

What fun we've had with the grandsons and their girlfriends. Yesterday, at Laura's invitation, we laughed our way through the movie, "Enchanted." A princess-type girl, she loves that movie, and we all enjoyed it. Later the four of them went to the science museum Discovery Place to view the "Body Worlds" exhibition. We had seen it some months ago, and it's a little expensive, so we stayed home.

Jeremy's girlfriend Julianna, the dancer, has succumbed to a frightful cold--so bad that she's changed her travel plans and will stay until tomorrow, when Jeremy will drive with her to her ballet school in Mississippi and then fly home from there. The rest of us are being careful about hand-washing, and we're praying for protection against the germs.

I think I've mentioned that our Sunday school class is named "God Chasers." The Scripture above, "You are famous, God, for welcoming God-seekers," makes me excited about meeting God and His friends there this morning.

Have a great Sunday.

Friday, January 04, 2008

This is Saturday's post

One of our guests will be sleeping in the room where the computer is, so rather than turn on the light early Saturday morning, I'm writing now. It's so wonderful to have our grandsons and their girlfriends here. Jeremy's friend Julianna danced beautifully at SIM on Friday; so many people expressed gratitude for the worshipful experience. We've done a lot of hanging out and talking most of the day. We'll have to squeeze some tourist fun into Saturday--once everyone wakes up.

One of the songs Julianna danced to was "You Raise me up." Two years ago, when I was feeling so sick after surgery, our daughter Karin came and brought me that song on her MP3. She tucked the speaker at my ear and set the song to play over and over as I was trying to rest. Ever since then, it has brought tears to my eyes and encouragement to my heart. What a thought: to wait in silence until God comes to sit awhile with me! One doesn't need to be sick to need that!

Some much-loved friends, who have gotten to know our grandsons, came for dinner tonight. We laughed a lot.

Have a great weekend.


Good Reminder

This little story showed up in my email yesterday, and I found it to be a very good reminder. (I apologize to readers in other countries, where U.S. coins don’t show up often.)

A young couple were invited to spend the weekend at the home of the husband’s wealthy employer. The boss was a gracious host, and the young wife, Arlene, enjoyed the lavish hospitality. As they were walking into a restaurant, the boss stopped suddenly and looked down at the sidewalk for a long, silent moment. Arlene saw only a darkened penny and a few cigarette butts. Quietly, the host reached down and picked up the penny. He looked at it and smiled, then dropped it in his pocket.

“Why,” wondered Arlene, “would such a rich man even care about a penny?” The question so perturbed her that during dessert she asked him if the penny he’d found was a rare one. A smile spread across his face again as he took it out of his pocket and held it out for her to see. “Look at it,” he said. “Read what it says.”

She read the words “United States of America.” “No, not that; read further.” “One cent?” “No, keep reading.” “In God We Trust.”

“Yes! That’s it! Whenever I find a coin, I see that inscription. God drops a message right in front of me, reminding me to trust Him. When I see a coin, I pray. I check to see whether my trust really is in God at that moment. The coin becomes God’s way of starting a conversation with me.”

It might as well say Fully Rely On God. And I’m always glad to be reminded to do that.

Jeremy and Julianna drove in last evening after a very long drive. They’d been delayed in Charleston, WV, by a four-hour traffic jam. This morning Julianna is going to perform a sacred dance during chapel at SIM. By lunchtime today we expect Justin and Laura to arrive. We’re blessed that these wonderful young people are willing to drive all those miles in order to spend a couple of days with us.

Our friend with the heart surgery is slowly regaining strength. Thanks for praying. And thanks for praying for me too. Every day is a miracle of life, and I’m trusting that during these days off chemo, God is continuing to heal me of the cancer. Please keep asking Him to do that.

Have a great day.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Soul Cry

Computers are amazing. My suitcase didn't make the 15-minute transfer in Atlanta (I barely did!), so I arranged for the airline to have it delivered to our home. Wishing for an early bedtime, I called the 800 number to find out when it might come. A human-sounding voice asked for the code number, then after a card-sorting animated sound, the voice told me that my suitcase had been found and was on its way. A few minutes later we heard a vehicle in the driveway, the doorbell rang, and there stood my suitcase. The driver was already back in his car. I'm sure you've all experienced the very same thing. Isn't it amazing? For the purpose of delivering delayed or lost luggage, the performance of the machine (human-programmed, to be sure) is far superior to the efforts of mere humans back in pre-computer days.

The danger comes when we try to do life with a machine mentality. A human-sounding voice says, "I love you." An animated calculator in the brain cranks out a balance of nutrients to prepare for the people we're responsible to feed. An automatic hand pat on the shoulder of a crying friend seems to offer comfort. A counselor points to a Bible verse or a 10-step program and says, "There, do that and you'll be fine." A Christian wants a closer relationship with God, and wonders how many minutes of prayer would be the magic number to achieve that intimacy.

But the soul demands more. We're designed for personal realness. I want my words to reflect genuine caring, not automated sentiments at the push of a button. I want to feel authentic emotions--both yours and mine--both joyful and painful. Above all, I want to move in closer to a formula-free friendship with God. I guess that's my "resolution" for the new year, as long as it's a resolution soaked more in grace than in rigid determination.

And now I must go and unpack that suitcase that I was too tired to open last night. I'm feeling well, and my heart is warmed by happy memories of all those days with our daughters. And now it's so good to be back with Chuck again. Our grandsons, Justin and Jeremy, are coming for the weekend along with their girlfriends Laura and Julianna. It will be fun.

Blessings and encouragement for your day,

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

God's Good Hand

With Carol having to get packed, saying goodby to the girls, then taking the train to the Airport in DC for a morning flight today, I will once again attempt to “fill her shoes” by keeping up with her blog.

Last evening I enjoyed a special Southern meal with a neighbor couple and their two boys. Tradition says that on the first day of the new year the menu is roast pork, sauerkraut, black-eye peas, collards and dumplings with each item designated to assure health, prosperity etc. for the new year. The boys are at that fun age, with the seven-year-old asking such questions as “what makes the sky blue?” I am thankful for wonderful caring friends!

After completing the blog yesterday, I picked up the book, Great Leader Great Teacher and forgot to stop even for breakfast until I had perused all of it’s pages. No, I didn’t read every word, but I was challenged and inspired by the authors’ insights, so I will share a couple thoughts that spoke to me.

Writing about misplaced priorities, Dr. Bredfeldt says “Distractions cause us to lose focus and misplay the game before us”. He relates a case study of a pastor with multitudes of urgent distractions during his work day, all of which were important, but not in line with the real priority for his day. I can relate to that!

The author uses Ezra as an example of keeping his priorities straight. Three times we read in the Scripture, “the hand of the Lord his God was upon him.” (Ezra 7:6, 9, 28) That is a goal to be desired! Discussing Ezra, the author says “And why was the hand of God on Ezra? The good hand of his God was upon him because Ezra ‘set his heart’ on the law of the Lord, the Word of God.” And also “Ezra had determined that he would be a doer of the word, not merely a hearer. Unlike many of the Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ time, Ezra was concerned with actually living out what he had studied in the Scriptures. Ezra understood that a study of the Word of God has a tendency to reveal the needs in our lives and the darkness in our hearts.”

Upon reading that, I was reminded of the 10-year-old that I mentioned yesterday. She has her priority for 2008 straight. That gives me a stronger desire to carefully read through the Bible again this year, focusing upon my obedience to what God desires to do in and through me.

This morning I will stay with the friend who is slowly recovering from bypass surgery, so that his wife can complete some work at her office. Later in the day, I eagerly look forward to picking Carol up at the airport. We are hoping that her return flight will not be delayed as was the previous one.

May the good hand of God be upon you!

Chuck…and Carol too

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

Carol just called asking that I fill in for her again today. She and the girls had a delightful evening at the Kennedy Center enjoying a concert. They were up a bit later that usual so the girls are still sleeping and she does not want to awaken them doing the blog. (She was calling me on the cell phone from inside the closed bathroom).

I enjoyed a very special time last evening attending an open house at the home of our friend who had the breast surgery. I took another couple with me and we had our fill of outstanding foods and exciting fellowship with many old friends and numerous new ones that we met there. I wish you could have seen her home…The Christmas decorations that were abundant in EVERY room would win first prize in any publication. A couple of the special attractions were the peacock decorated ceiling height Christmas tree in the bathtub of the guest wing and a fully decorated bidet in the master bedroom with colorful Christmas balls appearing to be bubbles filling it to the rim. I would not begin to guess how many hours it took to put the decorations out, but it was amazing. Continue to pray that the pain will diminish from her cancer surgery.

The fellowship was special. Talking with a friend about some of the joys and sorrows of this past year, she was telling about their family time around the table as they talked about resolutions for the coming year. The usual diet and goal related ones were mentioned and the last to respond was their 10 year old daughter. She said that her desire was to read the entire Bible during 2008. I am sure that caused each of them, myself included, to reevaluate goals for the coming year. For the record…we had all of that enjoyment and were back home by 9:00 PM.

I just started reading Great Leader Great Teacher by Gary Bredfeldt this morning. I am finding lots of challenge there as I allow the Lord to use me in this coming year. After all, we are all leaders/teachers in our homes and within our circle of influence. I am always surprised when someone mentions how something I said many years ago, caused them to look again at a situation or even change course. It is a reminder of how our words can be a positive or negative impact for those around us.

I trust that you and yours have a special day today, and that each of us will be open and obedient to the Spirit’s direction in our lives during this New Year. For sure, there will be ups and downs, but let’s remember not to focus on “why”, but rather focus on how God wants to USE each of us in the situation that He allows us to face. I will do my best to remember that!

Our love to each of you,

Chuck…and Carol too