Tuesday, September 25, 2012


   Since I'm not attending church (Sunday school only) I've been listening to pod casts of the sermons.  In one of the sermons the pastor mentioned that James, half-brother of Jesus, was nicknamed "Old Camel Knees." I had never heard that before.  Of course when I googled it I found out that because he prayed on behalf of the people so much it was said his knees developed a hardness like camel knees.  Wow...who knew?!
   That got me thinking about nicknames.  When I was in college and my sis was in fourth grade, she would write letters to me several times a week.  In one of the letters she wrote, "You are sweat!" I thought that was so cute.  After that I started calling her "Sweatie" instead of sweetie. I still use the nickname occasionally and get odd looks. It's a term of endearment and still makes me smile and remember all the letters she wrote that helped me not be so homesick.
   I recently read a fiction book that talked about a nickname for the Holy Spirit. In the book, one of the characters explained that she understood God as Father and Jesus as Savior, but at first had a hard time drawing close to the Holy Spirit.  She shared how she started referring to Him as "Lovey" and would keep a running conversation going with Him. Yes, it was a fiction book, but WOW...what an insight. Now for your English lesson: When you add the suffix -y to the end of a word, it means characterized by or inclined to.  The Holy Spirit is characterized by love.  The Holy Spirit is inclined to love.  This falls right in line with Him being our Comforter.
   Nicknames can be given to those we love because of a specific attribute they have or and event in their lives. I had never thought of giving a nickname to God, have you?  That got me thinking, "What nickname would I give God and why?"

Sunday, September 23, 2012


   Could we do that please? Could we have a time out in this thing we call life? In sports, a time out is stopping a game so coaches can do things like strategize, boost team morale, and try to avoid penalties. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just hit "pause" on everything that's going on in our life so we can regroup and strategize, give ourselves a pep talk, and try to avoid the pain, heartache, or trouble that's coming our way? I kind of feel that way from time to time.  The past few days has been one of those times.
   When I'm feeling that way, I have to remind myself that regardless of what's going on in my life God's character never changes. Regardless of what's going on, God remains faithful and true.  I love what David sang when God delivered him from his enemies: Psalm 18:1-2
I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
   my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
   my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
   Tonight, at small group, we talked about reading the Bible as God's love letter to us.  We talked about personalizing the scriptures when we read them.  I've done this when I've prayed.  I've substituted names in verses to make prayers. Psalm 4:8 is one I've prayed :  "In peace (insert name) will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make him/her dwell in safety." Sometimes I have to be reminded of God's promises and how they apply to me.  I found a website that has a list of some of the promises from every book in the Bible.  Check out "Selected Promise of God in Each Book of the Bible." 
   One quote I came across is from A.B. Simpson: "When you cannot rejoice in feelings, circumstances, or conditions, rejoice in the Lord." Reminds me of Philippians  4:4: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Also reminds me of a quote shared by a friend: "Happiness depends on happenings; joy depends on Christ." -Anonymous
   No, we can't take a time out from life, but we can take the time to go to the One who can help us make it through life in this world. We can go to God's word to be reminded of His promises of love, peace, joy,....and a bazillion others! 
Remember "pinky promise?"

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Perfect Timing

   You know how someone says something and then someone else, totally unrelated to that one person, says something very similar? Ever think about when you read something and then, a few days later whatever you read, is brought to mind at just the right time to encourage you or someone else? I seem to be experiencing that kind of thing a lot lately.  It's happened before. I go to my Wednesday night Bible study and we talk about what we studied during the week and how what we heard at church or at another Bible study or during our devotion time seems to go along with our study.  Many times we wonder how Pastor Tom, Pastor Todd, or Pastor Casey knew what we were studying that week!  Anyway, here're the latest of my "perfect timing" stories:
   A few years ago I had to write my "professional biography."  In it I made the following observation: "I know that in America we are told that if we work hard enough, we can be anything we want to be.  I don't really agree with that.  To live a happy, fulfilling life of purpose, I believe we need to be who we were designed to be.  I was designed to be a teacher." I know God has a purpose and a plan for everyone. From time to time, I get a little discouraged and need a reminder. A recent post on Facebook by a friend helped to remind me of what I know. He was describing a response he heard a man give to the question, "What to you is the meaning of life?"  "The man reached into his pocket and pulled out an antique match case. He opened the case and said 'This is my meaning of life...at least for me.' He, then held up a wooden match. He said, 'This is basically worthless. It probably cost less than 100th of a penny to make.' But, then he struck the match and said, 'When fire was created for the first time the world was changed forever. The meaning of my life is just like this match. If I'm not being used for what I was created for, I'm basically worthless. But when I am doing what I was created to do, I am priceless.' He kept the match case in his pocket as a constant reminder to always do what he believed he was created to do." My friend reminded everyone, "The same is true for you and me. If you are not being used for what you were created for are worthless. But, when you are doing what it is that you are supposed to be doing, you are priceless to the rest of the world." It's amazing, because this was reinforced as I prepared for my weekly Bible study and read Eugene Peterson's introduction to Ephesians in The Message Remix 2.0: "What we know about God and what we do for God have a way of getting broken apart in our lives. The moment the organic unity of belief and behavior is damaged in any way, we are incapable of living out the full humanity for which we were created." This reminded me that my belief must impact my behavior in order for me to be who I was created to be.
   Another example of perfect timing involves a new study I started this week.  The study is called "Sacred Rhythms" and it is about spiritual disciplines.  I wasn't able to be there last week because of a doctor's appointment.  I was glad to see that one of the things for that session involved breath prayers.  I'm very familiar with them because I use them when I have trouble sleeping, am anxious, or need to quiet my spirit. (There's a sample from the book where you can find how to do breath prayers in the Between Sessions part.)  Anyway, this week we're studying Silence and Solitude. Another friend, who always posts amazing quotes, posted this quote by John Bunyan: "If we do not have quiet in our minds, outward comfort will do no more for us than a golden slipper on a gouty foot." Wow...what incredible imagery! (The fact I collect Cinderella stories and see a slipper reference is a bonus.) Then, on the Joyce Myer Ministries Facebook page was this quote: "Think of two things you can cut out of your life to spend more time with God. Then do it." Yep, I was supposed to see that!  Then, from my daily devotion book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, "Sit quietly in My Presence while I bless you.  Make your mind like a still pool of water, ready to receive whatever thoughts I drop into it...Keep looking to Me and communicating with Me, as we walk through this day together." Same book on another day there was this: "Receive My Peace.  It is My continual gift to you.  The best way to receive this gift is to sit quietly in My Presence, trusting Me in every area of your life... Spending time alone with Me can be a difficult discipline, because it goes against the activity addiction of this age.  You may appear to be doing nothing, but actually you are participating in battles going on within spiritual realms." (Oooo.....more to say about spiritual realms, but will wait for a different post!)
   I am so thankful for God's perfect timing and for those who He uses as His messengers when they share encouraging words!



Monday, September 17, 2012

The Journey Continues...

   Now that I'm entering week eight of this adventure (See Cancer-Round Two! and Joy for the Journey?),I have come made some observations. So here they are not in any particular order...all important:
  • I have really awesome family and friends. I'm not the only one who knows this.  Those who cared for me in the hospital mentioned my visitors and how much they enjoyed seeing them. Unfortunately, this is one of the reasons my doc gave for me not attending church. She said that it was obvious I was well loved and if I went to church people would want to hug me; she said I had to be careful and stay healthy.  She did say I could go to Sunday school...don't need to walk through the hall because class is close to door and I wait until the lobby clears after.Glad the church I attend has podcasts!
  • I would go stark raving mad if I didn't know God. I mean really, how can people survive day to day with major life stuff going on and still manage to function without the assurance and hope given in a life lived in Christ? I was reminded today of God's perfect timing and how "things" come when needed.  Those are what I call "God"incidences. 
  • Even though I see over and over again in my devotions about not going overboard on planning and letting God take care of me....I still find myself wanting to be in charge and plan every detail.  Still working on letting go of my "Martha" personality!
  • I so miss my classroom!  I enjoy watching kids learn and discover they like it! I love watching kids do hands-on science and see the moment they "get it!" Apparently I like using a lot of exclamation points, too!
  • I miss the people with whom I work! I miss walking down the hall and saying "hello" to my colleagues.  I miss hearing how everyone is doing and what's going on in their lives. (Thankful that Facebook helps with this!)  
  • Wigs are itchy and they can shed, too.  It was interesting, the other day I noticed a strand of hair in my sink. For those of you who know me, you know I don't like hair in my sink. I thought it was odd, because I no longer have strands of hair attached to my head. Upon closer examination, I realized it was a strand from my wig. Hey, I guess it's that "true to life" experience of wearing a wig.
  • There are a lot of ordinary, everyday, run of the mill things I took for granted. I have to be careful to avoid any injuries or illnesses so I don't use scissors, keep cooking to a minimum, stay out of crowds (even if there is an incredible concert coming up), shop and go out in public at odd times, brush my teeth a lot and gargle in a salt/baking soda mixture to keep bacteria to a minimum to keep sores out of my mouth, carry around disinfecting wipes and napkins to open doors, clean tables, etc., and a score of other things I just never thought about. Do I have to do all of that? Sometimes I think, "I'll skip that," but then remember what my doc said and how much I want to continue on this journey with the least number of side effects. So, yeah, I do have to do all of that...not like it...just do it.
   Okay, those may seem like a lot to have observed during the last several weeks, but I know I'm learning more everyday... more about myself, more about my family and friends (always amazing and encouraging), more about my God, whose love never fails and character is displayed daily.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Arsenic...Really? (and an update)

  From time to time I ponder things I'm not sure others think about.  For instance, I have wondered who sat around and thought, "You know, if I bend a small, thin piece of wire I can use it to hold a few piece of paper together and then I can take them apart easier than if I used a stapler," then the paper clip was invented. In a workshop I attended at one of the NASA facilities, I think the one in Palo Alto, I learned that the water soluble packing peanuts were originally supposed to be a breakfast cereal.  I wonder who said, "Oh well, it's not going to hold up in milk. Let's make it an eco-friendly packing peanut."
   [BUNNY TRAIL...Teacher Moment:  I love the water soluble packing peanuts.  They make a surprising lesson when you ask student to guess how many will fit in a small plastic cup.  Next ask students to guess how many will fit in a small plastic cup with an ounce of water. If you let kids do this in small groups, make sure you have a large quantity of the peanuts...students will be amazed and the discussion will be lively!)]
  Back to the blog post...So today I went to see my oncologist, and she lets me know the next phase of my treatment will involve arsenic.  Arsenic, like in "Arsenic and Old Lace," but without the old lace? Arsenic, like in rat poison?  Umm... apparently so. So I had to wonder who sat around and one day said, "Well, we haven't tried arsenic.  Let's see if that will help cure Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia." I'm glad whoever did it followed through with his/her thought and found how well it works. Did a little reading on the American Cancer Society's website artical "Arsenic Trioxide" and now feel a little better about the whole arsenic scenario. Although some of the side effects don't sound fun, I know that God's got this as much today as He did yesterday and will have tomorrow and in the future! Another part of the medical adventure!!!

  I've enjoyed being able to get out and about (still during the "not busy" time) the last few days.  It's been unexpected blessings to see friends on my excursions! Made a trip to the doc today because of swelling, which is weird because PICC has been out for 2 weeks. Had to go for an ultrasound, but didn't have to stay so no clot. Since I went to doc today, I don't have to go Friday. Blood test results showed all levels in normal range, but still have to be careful. Will take oral chemo and rest a week before phase 2, which I'm told will involve arsenic (See commentary above.) Very thankful because this means two more weeks at home. God continues to be faithful and continues to renew my spirit!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Want to Make Your Head Explode?

...Just try thinking about eternity for a while.  From time to time the subject has come up in Bible study and we've always agreed: Wow...it's hard for us to wrap our minds around the concept of eternity. The last few days eternity and God's reality (what's going on in the spiritual realm, not the world as we know it) has come up. Thinking that means it needs to be in a post.
   You know I really like imagery. (It's the English teacher in me!) In a devotion from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young when talking about Jesus being my best friend, it said:
The friendship I offer you is practical and down-to-earth, yet it is saturated with heavenly Glory.  Living in My Presence means living in two realms simultaneously:  the visible world and unseen, eternal reality.  I have equipped you to stay conscious of Me while walking along dusty, earthbound paths.
   At one time I understood eternity as something that was in the future; it was the time at the end of my earthly stay. In the past several years, as I've been more intentional about Bible study and my TAG (Time Alone with God), I've come to understand....now you might want to hold the top of your head to keep it from popping off...that eternity is also happening now. Wow, this is confusing when you think of it. 
   I guess the biggest breakthrough in my understanding of eternity was when my precious friend G stepped from this life into eternity. I was not happy with God and I told Him about it and how I thought He should have handled things.  After some yelling, crying, pouting, and generally being mad at God, He helped me understand what her stepping into eternity meant.  G has not ceased to exist.  She is in eternity with Him in Heaven and I won't get to hang out with her until I step into eternity.  I now see eternity as a place with my destination as Heaven, not a time in the future. Right now I'm "walking along dusty, earthbound paths."
   The "living in two realms simultaneously" thing is really mind blowing when you think about it. Sometimes we look at life...job, money, house, car, things and more things, people, places...and we let it overwhelm us trying to manage everything. Until we slow down and realize "our reality" isn't "God's reality." In His reality the things unseen, the things of eternal importance are what count.  It's hard to explain sometimes, but here's the way I see it.  There are some ways I can affect eternity...anytime I do what God wants me to do, like share His Word, be compassionate, be giving, etc. There are some things I look at and think, "Will this effect my standing in eternity (Will this determine if I get into Heaven?)" Cancer was one of these things.  Since the answer to that question is "no," I don't think it's that big of a deal on this "dusty path."  I know God's taking care of it because His character never changes.
   I attended a small group last night. I'm really hoping that my treatment schedule will allow me to hang out with these incredible people this semester.  We're studying how to study the Bible. Yes, I've been studying the Bible for a while, but I can always learn something else about how to study. As one of the members commented ...the Bible is a living book and we can get something different every time we read it.  We took a verse and worked through some questions.  One of the questions was picking out the verbs and identifying their tenses. I have to confess, the English teacher in me liked that! The verbs were all present tense, but then some had "is" before a past tense. Discussion led us to the fact that the verse (Psalm 93:1) addressed God's soverienty forever...past, present, and future.  One of the members who teaches Bible class at a Christian school shared that her class had been discussing how scripture was canonized and one of the criteria was that it had to speak to all generations. Wow...there's that eternity thing again!
   Icing on the cake: Today's Bible verse from my favorite radio station was Hebrews 13:8 (NLT)-"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever."
    So you do need to think about eternity, but not until your head explodes.  Better to think on  what the bottom line really is...to know Jesus and make Him known.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Trust Frees Us!

   The last couple of days my devotions from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young have really been mostly about trust.  From Saturday:
Accept each day exactly as it comes to you.  By that, I mean not only the circumstances of your day but also the condition of your body.  Your assignment is to trust Me absolutely, resting in My sovereignty and faithfulness.
   That sometimes sounds like a tough assignment, especially if you're someone (let's say me) that likes to take care of things herself. The devotion gives two choices...give up or rely on God. I think sometimes I have a third choice...I'll handle it.  It's interesting because I'm not one to give up, but sometimes I like to try my hand at taking care of something before trusting God to take care of it.  I never really thought this was a problem before.  I now see that when I truly trust God to take care of whatever is going on, I don't have to worry about taking care of things.  It's comforting to know even if I do make one of the other choices before trusting God, He doesn't abandon me.  I can turn to Him and He says, "I will infuse My strength into you moment by moment, giving you all that you need for this day.  Trust Me, by relying on My empowering Presence."
    Today's devotion invites, "Walk with me along paths of trust.  The most direct route between point A and point B on you life-journey is the path of unwavering trust in Me."  (Isaiah 26:4, Psalm 9:10, Proverbs 3:5-6) It gives this advice: "As soon as you realize you have wandered from your trust-path, look to Me and whisper, 'I trust You, Jesus.' This affirmation will help you get back on track."
   I think my problem is sometimes (okay, more times than I really want to admit it) I give something to Jesus...I say, "Here, I trust you with this," but then turn around and (maybe not verbally, but in my actions) say, "I changed my mind. I'll take that back."  I'm starting to learn how freeing it is to take something off my plate, give it to Jesus, and not take it back. Am I still tempted to take it back? Oh, yes. One of my favorite sayings recently is, "It's okay. God's got this." I'm having to develop that mindset and work on unwavering trust. "I trust you Jesus!" (practicing...)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Great Pep Talk...Everyone Should Read This!

   My friend Rick posts some pretty amazing thoughts on Facebook. Today, he posted an incredible pep talk. It encouraged me and confirmed some of the things I've been "hearing" during my quiet times. Not going to make any comments; just posting what Rick wrote with his permission:
This morning I read that the life expectancy of a US Male is 75.92 years. For a female it is 80.93 years.

If I am going to live my life expectancy, I only have give or take 9,056 more days to live. That's, if I'm average. There are those who live longer & those who bring down
the average by leaving us far too soon. I really have no idea if I'll be average. All I do know is that we're all terminal. As a Pastor, I saw people change the way they lived when a doctor gave then a terminal diagnosis. Would you do anything differently, if you were given that diagnosis? Just so you know, YOU'VE received yours. In my faith, short of Jesus Christ returning in my lifetime, I will die.

Time is not a commodity. I can't give you two hours of my life to make yours longer and mine shorter. All we've got is all we've got.

Do what's important.

Be there....when you need to be & for the people you need to be there for.
When you see God face to face, tell Him you have nothing left to give back to Him.You have used every ounce of talent and ability He gave you (my version of a great Erma Bombeck quote).

Quit talking, griping, and spending energy on crap that doesn't matter. Deep down inside you know you're doing that, so you don't have to face the stuff that does matter.

The stuff that does matter are the people in your life. Those who gave birth to you. Those you fathered or mothered. The grandchildren who made you truly understand unconditional love. And, those along your journey who have changed you, made you better, & loved you.

There will people along the way who believe you owe them, try to control you, & otherwise try to make you feel bad about who you are and what you are doing. They, too, deserve to be loved. But, you cannot allow them to control your destiny. That is between you and God. Those are the people put into your path designed to blow up that God-ordained mission with self-doubt. If HE believes in you, should anyone else's opinion de-rail you?

When you veer off the path because of poor choices, acknowledge them. Admit them. Change them. And work as hard as possible to not make them again. But, don't be upset if others don't forget them. That was their experience with you. That is who you are to them, because that is what you showed them.

The stuff that matters includes your God-planned Destiny. The responsibility to live out the difference you are designed to make. You must assess if you're on the right path & will be able to leave this earth with nothing more inside of you to give. The answer to that question for all of us should in all reality be, "I've got plenty of talent & ability that I've wasted." Because we all do.

You & I just need to ask God to direct our paths, anointing our words, and give us the strength & faith to follow His leading.

I will stop for now. I've spent 17 minutes of my 9,056 days on this post. I will also not try to read anything else today.:)

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Warrior's Heart

   According to Webster's a warrior is "a person who fights in battles and is known for having courage and skill."  The Free Online Dictionary defines a warrior as "one who is engaged aggressively or energetically in an activity, cause, or conflict." In the last few days I've describe some people as having a "warrior's heart." I'm going to try to explain what I mean by that.
   When I first hear the word "warrior," a knight in shining armor comes to mind and then I think about Ephesians 6:10-18 and the armor of God. It's interesting to note that of all the parts of armor mentioned are for defense except one...the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Sounds like preparation might be in order...to be skilled in using the Sword you must be familiar with it and how it is used (Study God's word so you'll be able to have the courage and skill to face what you must face.)
   I also think of a song from a long time ago sung by Steve Camp..."Run to the Battle."  You can find a few Youtube videos, but the sound quality isn't that good. (I have it on my iPod from iTunes.) My favorite lyrics in the song are "Some people want to live within the sound of chapel bells.  I want to run a mission a yard from the gates of Hell." Sounds like fighting words, huh? I'm not endorsing picking fights; I am saying hold your ground and do what you need to do to be aggressively or energetically engaged.
  I also think of all of the men and women in the service all over the world who are fighting to secure our freedom and to help those who are trying to be free. (No this will not be a discussion about the pros and cons of war...will not go there here, but will be glad to tell you what I think if you really want to hear it in person.) I don't know what it's like to to engage in armed conflict. I can't imagine being away family and friends in some of the worse conditions imaginable. You can see a warrior's heart when one falls on a grenade so the other three guys with him have a chance to live.  You see a warrior's heart when one takes time to play ball with the village kids. You can see a warrior's heart in his eyes when he sees his daughter for the first time on Skype. 
   When I think of a warrior's heart, I think about Jesus.  I think about how He went to the temple and turned over the tables and ran out the moneychangers (Mark 11:15-17). I remember doing a Bible study about this and learning that the tables that were used were probably marble and six to eight feet long, three inches thick and maybe three or four feet wide. Jesus was no wimp...those were heavy tables. This same Jesus was the one who was upset with the disciples for not letting the children come to Him (Luke 18:15-16) and who was so kind and compassionate to the woman at the well (John 4:1-26).
    When I think of a warrior's heart, I think of courage, determination, skill, compassion, kindness, tenacity, bravery, and so much more.  I believe a warrior's heart beats inside of those who have known adversity and still fight and help others fight. Christian author Diann Hunt has a warrior's heart.  You can read her story told by Christian author Colleen Coble..."Facing the Dragon". Laura, a young woman just starting college, has a warriors heart. Read her latest blog post..."The Journey-Even Here." My sweet friend G had a warrior's heart.  Read about her in my blog post "G". 
    I've seen a warrior's heart in a young girl in the projects of Washington D.C. who was determined her daughter would have a better life and would always be safe.  I've seen a warrior's heart in a young boy living on the streets of Estonia who cared for his little brother and made sure he was safe.  I've seen a warrior's heart in Sister Sue, a petite older lady in the Watts area of D.C. go toe to toe with a someone to keep kids and her neighborhood safe. I've seen warriors' hearts in the pastors and laity of villages in Belize who work to build God's kingdom. I've seen warriors' hearts in moms, dads, grandmothers, grandfathers,friends and others who pray for their children, grandchildren, friends, and people they don't even know. 
   So next time you pass someone on the street, or sit next to them in a sports arena, or wait in line at the grocery story, remember: you never know what's going on in their lives. In that person's chest may beat the heart of a warrior!