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20 November 2012

My Heart Is Full!


Today, I am THANKFUL for...

  • ...being able to get the last of our "collection" to the dump. This meant having the extra cash to pay for the disposal, and friends with a truck and strong muscles to do the deed. That's a lot!
  • ...for such a beautiful Autumn we've had, and the hope of a beautiful and snowy Winter.
  • ...the people who support prison and aftercare ministry.
  • ...the friends the Lord has given us, and all they add to our life.
  • ...a daughter who shares my values and convictions.
  • ...men, and boys, and the happy diversions they bring.
  • ...health! Every day, I am thankful for the health I have. It still makes up for the health I lack. And, there is always hope of more.
  • ...the friends I've made thanks to the internet. Some are people I have never met, and some are people I didn't connect with until I got to read their FB posts or blogs.
  • ...a few minutes this morning to blog!
  • ...a husband who makes my day, every day. Oh, he's given me some pretty rotten days, but I'd rather have a rotten day with him than without him. Rotten passes. The love and peace and joy and comfort and laughter and completion lasts forever.
  • ...my Mother. There are moments every day when I stop and realize I've been given the greatest gift, the privilege of making her life comfortable. I'm so grateful I get to tuck her in each night. I'm thankful I get to make her feel safe.
God bless and keep you! 

15 November 2012

Guinea Pig Reporting for Duty

I have an overwhelming To Do List. So, I think I'll blog.

Actually, I just am trying to will myself to get up and get going. Not easy sometimes. Pain levels have been ugly this week, and that just makes it hard. BUT, I've got press on! I have to not allow my pain to determine my progress. It's natural to shirk from pain, but I believe we have to go until we can't take it anymore. Pain brings fear---who wants to feel pain? Who wants to feel more pain? I certainly don't! However, I cannot allow the fear of pain to stop me.

Today I went to the research clinic for the RA/Firbomyalgia study. I wasn't going to do it, but the project manager called again last week, asking me to reconsider being a guinea pig. Her persistence was admirable. And, I was feeling pretty good last Wednesday. So, today I went into Boston. The visit was about 90-minutes long. It seriously was painful. In fact, it is a good thing I don't have to be back until January, because it will take that long for me to recover psychologically. It kinda messes with your head to willing submit to something that is intended to make you hurt, and to make you hurt as long as you can take it!

I survived, though. And, maybe this will all be helpful, and cause some breakthroughs in the treatment of RA. I hope so.

Anyway, that is about all I have right now. I am still working a on a post for the Leibster Award. I haven't forgotten, Amelia! Maybe, I'll get that done this week.

24 October 2012

Thinking Alone


I am at the Yawkey Cancer Care Center today. It was supposed to be my six-month check-up, but appointment was lost somehow. Not surprising. The entire trip here was just ridiculous. There are some things that should not be attempted when one is still recovering from a cold. Driving is one of them. As is thinking.

Nonetheless, I sit here in the dining room, having a snack after giving blood, before driving myself home, and I cannot help think about it all. I don't have this luxury often anymore, the thrill of uninterrupted introspection. It used to be my norm. Now, it's a treat. So, I am lingering here, in this place, waiting for my head too start feeling better, and waiting for my mind to have its fill.

I hope Doug will forgive my delay.

13 October 2012

Fearless Scaredy Cat

So much goes on inside us at one time. Have you ever thought about that? I feel like there are seven hundred processes happening at once inside me. It's as if I am a computer with multiple screens, and a different operator is at each one doing something different. And, then, the system shuts down and all that new programming is updated all at once. and all of a sudden something is different. It's hard to identify what it is, but things just seem to work a little better.

I am old. Forty-six-years-old. Yet, there are times when I am very aware of the fact that I am so immature. I don't want to be immature. I want to be a grown-up. A real grown-up. A person with self-control, self-confidence. A fearless person. A person who faces whatever comes her way with a daring boldness. 

I think instead I have been living my life trying to be the person I'm "supposed" to be, the person people will better accept. I think maybe I have always been trying to fit-in, be approved. 

Isn't that crazy? And, what is even crazier is that I think I have always thought that was normal. Even good, and godly.

God help me.

There are things I have always wanted to say, to write, that I never have, because of what people would say---what they would think, how they would feel. But, these are my things to say. My feelings to feel. My thoughts to think. How could I let anyone keep from them?

My daughter. She challenges me. She is that kind of person, you see. She is so...herself. I want to be like that. 

I look at other writers and wonder how they had the guts to write what they did, something clearly autobiographical. Didn't they worry about what people would say? 

Maybe, but they didn't let it stop them.
 
I don't want to be disrespectful, or hurt people, but I am starting to see that sometimes people recognize that you are a scaredy cat, and they use that against you. To manipulate you. Some people just seem to pick-up on you vulnerability. Don't you think that's true?

I am probably thinking too much today. Probably would be better to just do some house work and get away from this computer.

I don't know, though. Somehow, I feel like who I am in the process of having my programming updated. Maybe, the things I have been through in recent years with some people have actually been bringing me to this place. Maybe, the pain I felt wasn't their blows coming against me, but God's strikes against the chains that have bound me to their will.

12 October 2012

Choosing Life Over Pancakes

Hannah Elisabeth
My daughter, Hannah, is 21-years-old. She writes a blog called Choosing Life Over Pancakes. Some of her posts have really been provoking. I wanted to share her blog with you here, because I think some of you would enjoy what she has to say.

I am going to highlight a few of my favorite posts.

Dementia Is Not My FavoriteIn this post, Hannah shares one of the more incredible things about my Mother's condition: that her faith is stronger than ever and brings a peace that surpasses all understanding---or, lack of understanding. Who my Mother really is, she will always be: a woman who loves Jesus more than all the world. Her knowledge of God informs everything about her life, and watching how she is handling the challenges she faces now convinces me nothing is more important than knowing Him more. When you have lost everything else, He is still there.

Manly
Interesting blog on manliness. Made me laugh out loud at least twice, so I am sharing it with you. One of my favorite lines: "Women are only so independent, because men aren't being dependable." The whole thing is a darn good indictment against modern relationships.

This is a funny. slice-of-life post. I enjoy a good streams of consciousness post.

Hannah at three, ready tof ly her kite on a rainy day.

18 September 2012

Outrageous Orange Muffins

A recipe post. Not my usual fare, but these are too good not to share! 

I woke up one day and wanted a muffin. There was a lone orange rolling around in my produce drawer, and I thought maybe I could do something with it. I went to Google and did a search. This is the first recipe I found: LINK

I read a few other recipes, before deciding on that one. I think I made the right choice. The flavor blew us all away. The texture is great. Plus, they are quite wholesome, using very little sugar and whole wheat flour. The fact the recipe calls for a whole orange---peel, pith and all---makes it's pretty outrageous.


I have baked these several times, and tried a few variations. The worst variation was using white flour. Big mistake. It really changed the flavor and texture. The best variation was using buttermilk in place of the orange juice. The muffin did taste less orange-y, but I think they were even better.

By the way, the recipe at the link site says you may use either melted butter or oil. To my surprise, we preferred the muffins made with oil. Also, we do not use the raisins. I might try dried cranberries one day, or nuts. And, once I did try glazing them. I they looked cute, but the muffin really is sweet enough.

Outrageous Orange Muffins
  • 1 whole orange (peel, pith, and all) cut into eighths
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 scant tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  1. Preheat overn to 375 degrees. Butter or line muffin tin.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients, plus the brown sugar, in a medium bowl. I like to mix them together with a fork or whisk.
  3. Blend the first four ingredients, until the orange bits are almost impossible to recognize.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just mixed.
  5. Divide between 12 muffin cups.
  6. Bake 15-18 minutes, until golden.
  7. Enjoy! 

11 September 2012

Falling Down

Read today about Sheryl Crow getting cancer again, and Robin Roberts. 

I've said rather casually, "Well, I'll probably get cancer again, because of the kind of cancer I had." I think I thought if I was casual about it, it would make the whole notion seem less terrible. Reading about these two women today has kind of sobered me. Nothing about cancer is casual. If I really believe in five years I might have cancer again, how can I ever be casual about it? How can I not be very serious about this life God has given me to live?

Cancer demands so much attention, you see, and I am all ready so challenged by the demands on life as it is. The thought of cancer intruding once more into my world is not a very good thought. 

While I won't sit and wait for it to show up, I do need to be more mindful of what its return could mean. For certain, it won't be tied up in a pretty package with a bow.

The challenge I am facing, though, is not how to be a good cancer survivor, but how to become a survivor of these new diagnoses I have received for ailments that cannot be cured, and almost can't even be treated.

I am living in the presence of my enemies.

For about one month in the Spring, I felt better than I'd felt in years. One month. I feel guilty now, saying I don't feel so good---so I don't. If someone asks, I can easily recall how cancer felt, how anemia felt, how my gaping incision felt. And, I can honestly speak to how good it feels to not have a basketball of cancer in my body, and how glad I am to not be hemorrhaging every day, and how happy I am to have the energy to live. Oh, YES! That does feel good!

It's Philippians 4:8, you see?



In yesterday's mail I received another invitation to participate in a RA study, and I just wanted to run away. Another slap of reality. I don't want RA. I don't want RA. I don't want RA!

But, it won't go away. Nor will fibromyalgia. It's here to stay, until I go away. Until I am liberated from this earth. 

So, there has to be a way to do this. I can't get away from how these conditions feel, or how they make me feel, but I can meditate on something better. And, is there any end to what is better? I think not!

Life is one day at a time for me, but it is for you, too. Maybe, you haven't learned that, but it is true. We only have right now. We may not even have the whole day! I guess 9/11 is a good day to remember that, isn't it?

When we began this missionary life, the Lord began teaching us to live one day at time in terms of our provision. And, there have been countless days where all we had was enough for that one day. I'm not expert at this lifestyle, but more often than not, before I worry I remember. 

It's Philippians 4:8, again.

How many times has God met our needs? Oh, yes. That's right. Every time.

Now, I am learning to depend on that same faithfulness to get me through these new physical difficulties I face. With cancer, I knew it would end. It took so much longer than expected for my recovery, but each day I knew I was closer. 

No such assurance now, but still! Still there is God. Still there is hope. He gives strength. He gives courage. (And, sometimes, it takes a lot of courage.) 

One last thing. No one else knows how hard you're working just to not fall down, so give yourself a break when you trip. It's OK. God isn't judging how well you walk this walk of faith. He is, in fact, just waiting for you to fall on Him.

02 September 2012

God Stories

One of my happiest childhood memories is getting into bed with my Mother and listening to her tell me stories of what God had done in her and my Dad's lives. She would tell me of miraculous healings, bold acts of faith, and divine interventions. I loved hearing those stories. She never told me one fairy tale, but she always had a good God story to share. My Mother used her own life to teach me about God---how He works, how He is faithful, and how He provides. I have never forgotten them. I don't remember every detail, but I remember what God did.

Months ago, Hannah posted a very daring status on her Facebook page. She said she believed that when she needed a car, God would bring it to her and park it right in front of her house. Though we have lived by faith for almost eight years now, and we have been given five cars in that time (including Remington, a car we ended up giving back), I still thought it was pretty gutsy for her make such a bold declaration. There is no denying that there are many ways in which a second car would be a blessing, but we've been a one-vehicle family for almost eight years. We've gotten by fine so far, and isn't that what missionaries are supposed to do? Get by and make do!

One of the God stories my Mother used to tell me was about a car. My parents were evangelists and church planters in Cuba in the 1950's, and while on a visit to the States someone donated a car to their ministry. She described it as a very nice car, a Plymouth, but they didn't have the price of the ferry to get it from Florida to Cuba. My Mother says my Dad was undaunted. He told her, "God gave us the car, it needs to go to Cuba, so it's going." My Mom says she was scared stiff, but he was emboldened. Without the money for the fare, they got on that ferry.

Well, wouldn't you know that while on that ferry my Father recognized a member of the Cuban baseball team. (She says now, with her eyes wide, "He knew him." She sounds as impressed by her groom as a newlywed.) My dad was a great baseball fan, and a very charismatic man, so I can imagine it was very easy for him to strike up a conversation and share what he was doing there. Can you guess how the story ends?

Yes, that's right. That Cuban baseball player paid for that car to travel to Cuba. My Mother still speaks of my Dad's great faith with awe in her voice, almost 60 years later.

One day, I hope Hannah will tell her children that God story. I hope she remembers the part about how much her Grandma respected her husband. I hope she will also tell them how that Cuban evangelist's granddaughter took delivery of NBF's new car this week, delivered right to her door, just as she so boldly declared.

I dare say she will have many more God stories of her own to share.
"Only take heed, and guard your life diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen and lest they depart from your [mind and] heart all the days of your life. Teach them to your children and your children’s children." Deuteronomy 4:9





17 August 2012

For Better or For Worse

We went to our storage unit the other day. We had a piece of furniture a friend could use, so we cleared stuff out of the way to get to it.

As we moved things out of the unit in order to get to the desired object, I got to thinking.

We never dreamed our things would be in a storage unit for nine years. When we moved to Haverhill, we thought we would only be living in that tiny apartment on Emerson Street for a short time. It was only after our first night in there that we began to see that God had a bigger purpose in us being there than we had ever imagined.

Has God ever done that with you? Has He ever taken you somewhere, and only after getting you there told you why you are there at all? I think He does that a lot. Esther comes to mind. Moses and Joseph, too, just to name a few. I think a lot of us would never go in the first place, if we knew the whole story up front.

Marriage is like that, too. We fall in love and say, "I do." There isn't much more that matters than that moment. We think it's all about us - our marriage, our happiness, our future children, our home, our life together. We vow to love in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer, and until death we do part, but we don't factor in all that really means. If we did, I don't think any of us would ever say, "I do."

Just think about all the things that can go "wrong" in a marriage. What if the Lord showed us the infidelity that lay ahead, or the hours we would sit by a sick bed with our spouse, the ailing mother-in-law we would have to bring into our home? What about the children who grow up and take after all the qualities in our spouse we've tried for years to help him lose? This is the famous "for better or for worse."

God knows what we can handle, though, and He knows when, and in what measures we can handle it.

Now, stop and think about that.

God knows what we can handle. He knows when we can handle it. He know how much we can handle.

Hm. If God knows what I can handle, and He is in control of my life, then I know that whatever I am facing isn't more than I can bear, no matter how unbearable it may feel to me at the moment. It may be a heavy load, but God didn't give it to you to carry, until He knew you could. Kinda like a personal trainer. They know how to judge your physical fitness, and know when you need to kick it up a notch. Maybe, that fierce challenge you're facing is because you've gotten a little soft, or need to work some of those faith muscles it's easy to ignore.

I don't happen to like the challenges God asks me to face sometimes. In fact, sometimes I even resent them. Yet, I have to keep correcting my perspective and reminding myself why I am here, and what that commitment I made to the Lord means. My vows to my husband meant no matter what, I was here to stay. My commitment to the Lord needs to be that sure. No matter what, Lord, I'm here to stay. I will trust You. Even if it means my books are still in a box nine years later.

One of my favorite songs is posted below. The Lord brought it to me during one of the most painful times of my life. When I hear it, it still brings me to tears, and still reminds me of who I am, Who He is, and why I am here: to glorify Him in the way He sees fit.



08 July 2012

God At Work

The following testimony Caroline is about to share could be told in a few short sentences, but I think telling it simply will rob the Lord of His glory. We don't share the long version of testimonies often, but it seemed right to do so this time, to show just how God works, and why we say again and again that New Brothers Fellowship is a ministry by the Body of Christ. I believe you will be blessed. -Doug

It has been a long month. Stella is again in the hospital, but she is truly an Ohio Buckeye - a very tough nut to crack! We are grateful for that tenacity and strength of will. It is how she walks out her faith, as well. No matter what has confronted her in this life, her trust in the Lord is unwavering. 

Stella is also unwavering in her desire to win souls for Christ. Last Sunday, after a very nice morning at First Church of the Nazarene in Lynn (Pastor William Winn), we headed to the hopsital to visit her. Before leaving for the evening's service at The Farm, we asked if she would like to pray. Well, of course, she said, "Of course!" There are three things Stella will never turn down: a chance to hear The Word of God, a chance to pray together, and a cup of hot coffee.

However, there is only one thing she truly desires on this earth, and that is to win souls.
 She is an evangelist through and through! Even though she had hardly had any rest for almost two days, she prayed easily and fervently from the depths of her heart: "Lord, may ONE person give their life to You today! Just one person! Let one soul be saved today!"  Faith rose up in me as she prayed - a fresh expectation. Yes, Lord, one soul!

Later at The Farm, as I went about my job of laying out the tracts and greeting cards, I came across a booklet for new Christians. I hesistated, because Sunday nights usually have an emphasis on discipleship, not evangelism. It reminded me, though, of a booklet Mother had given me to send Doug when he was first saved, so it made me think of her and I remembered her appeal to God for one soul. I decided to leave it out.

We have two hours at The Farm on Sunday night, with a ten minute break in between. That is when I give out the greeting cards that have been donated by the Body of Christ. I've received cards from Christians across the country, and during the break on Sunday I was doing a brisk business. At one point, I noticed two young men reading through each card. They looked like they were having trouble finding what they wanted, so I asked if I could help. They told me they were each trying to find a card for their mother, and wanted just the right one. I assured them their mothers would be happy with any card, but they weren't convinced. They had to read each one!

As they continued to peruse the cards, I did what I do every time I'm at The Farm: try to get to know the men. I started as I usually do, asking their names. The first young man said his name was Rueben, which made me excited. Not only is it a biblical name (I always tell men when they have biblical names), but Rueben was the name of a man my Mother ministered to over the course of twenty years. Her Rueben had been the prodigal son of an important family in our church; he was a gentle man, with a ferocious addiction. Thankfully, like The Prodigal Son in the Bible, he did finally come back to his Father. I thought of him as I looked into Rueben's young face.

When I asked the second man his name, I thought he said Jay. He corrected me: "Jake. Jake. Like Jacob." Well, you know I got excited then! Here stood before me Jacob and Rueben, two mighty men of God! I told them they shared names with two great and important men. Despite my enthusiasm, though, their expressions remained lifeless, blank. I then asked if they had ever been to chapel before, and they said, "No." I encouraged them to stay, and Nate, another young man at the table who I'd been talking to before, chimed in: "Oh, it's changed my life! It's great! As soon as I heard Chaplain Doug['s voice on the intercom, I came right over."

Rueben finally found his card and left, but Jake took a little longer. I didn't follow them after they left the table, because it started to rain and the wind began to blow cards and envelopes to the floor. By the time I got that situation under control, the second hour had begun, and Doug was introducing the evening's speaker, Dan Boucher, a long-time prison volunteer and NBF Board Member. That was when I noticed Jake and Rueben sitting together in the back row. Praise God!

As Dan began to speak, he said he had just met a man who was there for the first time. He said, "This man is named Rueben." Well, I couldn't believe it. He went on to talk about the biblical significance of that name, taking us to the very passage in scripture that talks about Jacob and Rueben's birth. What a confrmation to these young men! I was so excited, but what was especially thrilling to me was that Dan had not met Jacob, and he had no idea I had made such a fuss about their names earlier, but once again they were hearing the message that they were important to God.

Then, though Sunday nights usually have a discipleship emphasis, Dan preached a beautiful gospel message. He ended with ten minutes to spare, which Doug used to make an invitation to salvation - as clear as I have ever heard him give. I sat in the back praying. Oh, Lord, let's have two souls tonight! Give them faith to raise their hands! But, no hands went up.


Or, so I thought!


There is a new volunteer on Sunday nights. His name is Tomes, from Trinity Evangelical Church in North Reading. While Doug was making the invitation, he was scanning the room. His eyes saw what Doug's eyes missed: Rueben raised his hand! So, Tomes went up to Rueben after the closing prayer, and he and Doug prayed with Rueben and lead him to the Cross. I was packing up tracts and cards, when I looked over and saw them laying hands on him. Incredible! One soul! Thank You, Jesus!


And, he was truly transformed. When I joined them after praying, Rueben's countenance was changed. His eyes were bright, and his face was alive. Incredible! What a work of God.


By the time I joined the circle, Tom, another long-time volunteer and NBF Board Member who plays bass on Sunday nights, filled me in on how Dan came to meet Rueben in the first place. He said, "Dan had come over to say hello, and of all things, Rueben came up to me to ask how I'd learned to play bass so well." That was how Dan met Rueben, and
how Rueben met Jesus!

So, this is techinically where the story ends, but I just want to ask you to consider how many people were involved in it's telling. Think for just a minute about the many members of the Body of Christ the Holy Spirit used to bring this one soul to salvation. He used:
  • Those who gave tracts
  • Those who gave cards
  • Those who prayed
  • Those who gave financially
  • Those who volunteered to be there that night, and that night there were men from FOUR different churches, and four different denominations, and each played a part in this man's salvation story. What a wonder! What won't God do for the sake of one soul?

Addendum
The next day, while we were visiting Stella, she was discouraged. "I just want to win souls for Christ. I used to pass out tracts, but now I can't even do that." 

"But, Mother," Doug said, "You won't believe what happened last night. Remember, we prayed together and you asked the Lord for one soul?" We told her about Rueben, and you can be sure that was a blessing and encouragement to her. I hope this has been a blessing and encouragement to you, too. If you are one of "those," you have played a part in Rueben's testimony, and in the testimony of many other men whose stories we do not usually share in such detail. 


Oh, about Jacob: he had been called from the service, so he missed most of Dan's message. We are believing God will use Rueben to bring him back to chapel, or even to lead him to Christ himself! Please, keep these men in prayer. Please, keep praying for
ONE SOUL!

Some Thoughts on "Hotel Rwanda"

I'd been looking forward to seeing it.  I knew it would be a excellent film.  I knew the acting was going to be incredible.  I knew it would be informative.  I knew it would be a completely fulfilling movie experience, as good as I'd heard, and worthy of all the awards and accolades it's received.

However, I had no idea it was going to speak to me so deeply.

No, I'm not going to start protesting human rights or dive deeper into politics in order to fight for social justice across the world.  Quite the contrary.

After I'd turned off the movie and while I was sitting in my bathroom weeping into a wad of toilet paper, I thought to myself: Who was the U.S. President then? Who can we blame for this? Then something happened. It was as if the Lord was turning my head and redirecting my line of vision.  I was suddenly looking down at the earth from the heavens. I could see the continents, and I was  trying to find Rwanda on the African piece of the planet.

That was when I realized it didn't actually matter what country it was where this happened. God didn't care about Rwanda, He cared about the people in Rwanda. And, the people in every other nation on this planet.  He doesn't see the borders between countries. He sees the people. He sees the million bodies of the slain people in Rwanda that lined the roads for miles and miles, filling ditches and covering fields. These are people He so loves that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for them. To save them---not from this life, but from the eternal death to come.

As I was watching Don Cheadle's performance, I kept reminding myself of the real man who was willing to put his own life on the line for others. This man, just a regular man, was willing to give everything to save those who were helpless and defenseless against their enemy.

Wait. Wasn't God asking the same of me? Wasn't I supposed to be willing to lay down my life for those who are defenseless against the Enemy of their soul? Isn't that what God has called us all to do?  

So many Christians have taken up social causes and concerns, from abortion to human trafficking to crimes against children. It's not that these things aren't worthy concerns. They are terribly wrong acts against God.  That they are wrong---in fact, sin---is why I think we need to question making them, or supporting them as, a cause. Some Christians have built their entire faith and Christian walk around a cause that essentially boils down to trying to stop people from sinning. "Stop killing!" "Stop raping women!" "Stop unlawful behavior!"

Yet, we were not given the authority to do that, to stop people from sinning. Only the Holy Spirit can convict us of sin, and only the blood of Jesus can break those bondages. As Christians, we have the answer for the one who is bound. It's called the Good News, and that is what we are called to preach. Why are we trying to do the Holy Spirit's job, and not the one He has actually given us to do?  We've been commissioned to tell the lost how to be saved in order that they may have this power from on high. We should be prepared to lay down our lives in order to get the truth of the Cross to them, not the message that they should stop sinning. Who cares if anyone is spared from sin, but still left to die and go to Hell? It's reverse legalism. And, it's terrifying to me that the church has made this their gospel.

I really have to ask myself why have I spent so many hours of my life caring about politics and political issues, when there are people living and dying without Jesus. Why am I here, except to win the lost? Am I willing to I lay down my political activism at Christ's feet and pick-up His cross instead?

I know that many will object to this message, and I can hear their arguments all ready. I do respect people for speaking out against injustice, and I don't think we are supposed to not care that these things happen. However, I believe our approach has mostly been wrong, and I believe the proof of that is in the fruit of these efforts, and in the lack of souls in the church.

After forty years of pro-life activism, where's the fruit? Why aren't churches full of single mothers with children? Most churches don't have a single mother's small group, or a ministry to teen moms, or even a well-staffed nursery! Not to mention that most churches have a pitiful children's ministry that is almost a second-thought. And, if so many Christians care so much about children and babies, where are the hordes of Christian foster parents? Why isn't every Christian's car full of neighborhood kids coming to Sunday School? How many churches have given up on VBS, because they couldn't find enough volunteers?

Imagine with me what would happen if instead of giving $10 a month to stop human trafficking, Christians instead stopped patronizing pornography websites. What if, instead of protesting abortion, Christians began volunteering to teach Sunday School? What would happen if Christians stopped sending their money to conservative political lobbyists, and instead gave that money to missions? And, what if, instead of sending money to a charity that will feed the hungry, we gave our time and money towards opening a food pantry and soup kitchen in our own church? A rock star tells us to care about this, or care about that, and we jump to answer his call. We need to stop for a moment and ask ourselves what  the cause of Christ is first. What cause did He die for, and what cause did He call us to die for, too? Did He come to carry a sign in protest?  Is that the example we are supposed to follow? No, He came to carry a Cross.

Please, don't get me wrong. My heart is stirred with compassion when I hear of the needs around the world. I wish another baby never had to be aborted again. I want to build wells in Africa, too! I care about these causes. I love meeting needs! However, I know it's a lot easier to give money, than to give myself. And, it's a lot easier to give myself to a man-made cause, than to give myself to the cause of Christ. I have been lead astray by the temptation to "do good" through a $5 or $500 gift, instead of actually "doing good" and living a life that will make a difference.

 If you are still reading this, please ask yourself this question: What am I doing to support the cause of Christ? If you are not giving of your time, talent, and money to the cause of reaching the lost with the good news of John 3:16, I urge you to seek God and reconsider your choices.

Addendum
After writing this,I came across the following quote.
‎"Loving Him is to be our cause. He can take care of a lot of other causes without us, but He can’t make us love Him with all our heart. that’s the work we must do. Anything else is an imitation.” (Keith Green)

02 June 2012

Blog Interrupted

Almost every day
I think of a post
I'd like to write,
but I never seem to be able to
get to a point
in my day
when I can
stop
and put
thoughts
to
keyboard.

21 April 2012

A Good Call

Yesterday I finally got to speak to my medical oncologist. She had given me some results on Monday, but she had left a message that she wanted to speak to me about some other things. So, I didn't feel safe to make a happy announcement, without speaking to her first. And, this evening, we finally connected. And, there was BIG GOOD NEWS! My blood work showed no evidence of Granulosa Cell Tumors. She said there will be no need for further treatment. Right now, I am CANCER FREE!  

YEA!

Thank you all who have prayed for and encouraged me along the way. I am grateful for you. I know I am still processing this whole experience emotionally---it's still kind of hard to believe I had cancer. I am still surprised when a doctor mentions it. I am still getting used to the fact that for the rest of my life I will need to be monitored, because this cancer does have about a 50% recurrence rate. I mean, cancer. Never in my worst nightmares did I imagine having cancer. Yet, now...I don't! And, that's such good news!


PRAISE THE LORD!


19 April 2012

The End is Near

Life  isn't easy. Sometimes, everything within us is shouting fear and doubt.We're ready to give up.

I believe, though, that the one who's faith is in the Lord, the one who is seeking after God, will always hear that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit that says, "It's going to be OK." He will continue to reassure us, and remind us or His Word.

"My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." (James 1:2-3)

Hard to believe these troubles of life are for our good, and that we are expected to rejoice in them. Yet, after awhile the evidence of God's faithfulness starts piling up. After awhile, if we keep our faith in God, we will find ourselves growing stronger.We will start to see the fruit of our suffering.

And, ultimately, no matter how long a trial may persist, it does eventually end. It really does!

17 January 2012

Bailing Out

Sometimes, life feels like a boat taking on water. No matter how fast you try to bail out that water, you're still going to sink. I feel that way today. Can't abandon ship, though. Well, maybe, tomorrow will be a better day.

04 January 2012

New Year

I have rarely been as glad to see a year end, as I was to see 2011 pass into history.

And, yet, it seems unkind, maybe unjust, to judge it so harshly. After all, weren't there many, many good things in 2011? Why do the hard times over shadow the bad? I don't like that. I don't want 2011 to just be known as the year I got cancer. Or, the year Mother's health and strength became dramatically worse. Or, the year we moved into a house so small it brings tears of frustration sometimes. Is it fair to only remember it for the year giving was so suffocated by the hardships donors faced that we seriously wondered sometimes how we'd make it from one day to another? Should 2011 only be remembered for those things? What about all the good that happened, too?

Well, of course. Of course, we remember the good! We must. It is what the Lord commands: "Think on these things," He told us.

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8

So, here's to the good! Here's to 2011! Here's to the year we moved from an apartment in the downtown of a city known more for it's crime than for the Archie's; a home with all the heat and hot water we can use, free of charge. It is a home that may challenge my nerves some days, but also has challenged my homemaking and organizing skills. It is a home with wild flowers that cover the grass in the Spring, critters and birds to entertain us year-long, a deck that catches the sun and grants Mother a view of woods and neighbors and sky---a whole wide world she never saw in that apartment.

And, here's to the year where despite the shortages in giving, we still received a brand new, top of the line, washer and dryer. I don't have to tell you, that doesn't happen often!  We essentially lost 25% of our support, but in the end we still made it. Somehow, we made it! And, after eight years of waiting, Doug learned in December that he will finally begin to receive a stipend from the Essex County Correctional Facilities for the work he does as Chaplain. It is not a salary, but it does make-up for that 25%. And, the validation for his years of service doesn't hurt, either.

I would also not want to forget that 2011 was the year Hannah graduated from Bible school, or the year the Lord helped her make the difficult transition from student life to "real" life. It was the year I survived cancer, not only making it through surgery alive, but with a hope for better days. This was also the year my family really started sharing the day-to-day burden of caring for my Mother. My illness forced me to let go of some of the responsibility for her care, and Doug and Hannah picked-up the slack beautifully. And, just before the end of the year, the sweet baby my niece had conceived in February was born. I never want to forget 2011 was the year the Lord brought us all Annaka.

And, could I forget all He did within the ministry? Perish the thought! This was a year of such growth!

Really, truly, it wasn't such a bad year. I could actually keep listing wonderful things the Lord did. Yes, the more I think about it, 2011 was a very good year! We can only trust the Lord 2012 is so blessed.

Happy New Year!