Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Looking on the Inside

A few days ago I had an interesting conversation with my youngest grandson, who’s still very little.  He’s the baby of the house and therefore, 1) may be prone to getting his way more often and, 2) is the most adorable of course.

Here’s how things went.  He wanted a mint from my purse. He knows they’re there because they often come out when we’re waiting for something, or otherwise offered in a time or place where you might need a mint for courage.  He’s also learned that it is not good to help himself, rummaging thru my tidy arrangement of purse things.

And so he asked most politely if he could have a ‘waiting pill’ as he calls them.

I, at first, said no, because we weren’t in a place that needed something to distract, but then relinquished because he was just so… well, cute.

I made the mistake of opening the lid and offering him the whole lot.  Usually, (I forgot), I take out just one and put in his grubby little hand.

Of course he dove in with both hands and finally got ahold of two.  I cautioned him that he only needed one but he wouldn’t give up. (again, he’s the youngest and therefore the toughest).  I countered with “OK, but you MUST give one of those to someone”

He heartily agreed, and we all shifted our attention to the conversation and action of the group.

A few minutes later, I looked and both mints were gone.  I got his attention and asked “Did you give a mint to someone?”  Vehemently nodding yes, he smiled his winning smile.

“Who?”  I asked.

“Uhm, Daaaaa,” (and then he thought better), “Mum!”  he answered, looking me straight in the eye with the most innocent expression of purity.

“So, I think I’ll ask her how she liked the mint,” I countered.

“NO!” he said quickly, still pulling the “gotta love me” face.

“Why not?” I countered, beginning to have trouble not smiling.  I haven’t raised kids and been a schoolteacher to not recognize a lie when I’m handed one.

“Oh,” he said, still innocently, but dropping his voice to a conspiratorial whisper as he continued, “She doesn’t want to talk about it.”

Yup, and there you have it.  We can look innocent, but those who have more experience or are possibly God himself can look on the inside.

Hopefully we’re all having a wonderful Christmas season and not trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes.

Tony had a little pre-radiation surgery this week, and all went as planned, but it definitely had some of the stuff of nightmares.  I’d give you more details, but ‘He doesn’t want to talk about it.”  Suffice it to say, we’ve both come good and are looking forward to Christmas. He doesn’t have radiation till March, so we feel like we’ve got the world ahead of us, feeling great (still) and having lots of loved ones and beautiful moments here and there.

As you read this, we will have attended our Annual Church Christmas Carols, and been filled with Holiday Hope.

Merry Christmas all as we prepare what the LORD sees in us for this special holiday.

Marsha

But the Lord said to Samuel, “ For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b

God’s Not Dead

Last week I talked about Christmas and I want to keep that theme going, but let me indulge you with an experience we had the other day, then I’ll get back to the eggnog and chestnuts. Promise!
But first let me make a quick announcement: Weaving Sunlight, the story of our lives in 400 easy pages, has now reached the proof copy stage. Once that’s checked over this next week, we’ll be able to release it to Amazon in both hard copy and Kindle versions, so standby!  Anyway, the first part of the book talks about a bear coming in and wrecking our tent while camping in Yellowstone on our honeymoon. We’ve compared him to that critter who roams “to and fro, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). And whenever something like this latest challenge comes knocking, we say to each other, “The bear is back.”

Or maybe better said this time, “The Bear is lurking and we don’t know what it’s up to!”  It concerns this on-going slugfest with Tony’s cancer. Nothing new, don’t panic.  I was just starting to get tired of the constant Presence of this monster that I know many of you can relate to.

Looking back over the past couple of months, I can see that we had been RELIGIOUS about our diet, not taking on anything that would help cancer grow, etc.  Tony has occasionally taken some sugar-loaded snack out of the pantry where it has been lurking, drop it in the trash and say, “Take that, you vile deceiver!”

Lots of exercise too.  Tony’s melting away the pounds and says he feels better than he has in years, adding that, “Whatever happens, I’m gonna look good!” We’ve both been able to laugh, and thanks to your prayers, have enjoyed a peace like never before. And yet ……….

Anyway, this whole cancer thing was weighing down on me yesterday, we’re clearly doing our best, but time just hangs, leaving us mystified as to what’s really going on. We want answers, but just have to wait to get them, which you can imagine for me, is hard.   The doctors don’t seem to have time to see us, or answer what they must consider ‘stupid’ questions.  I know they see this stuff every day, but it’s all NEW to us!  and so we wait.

And then yesterday I found myself lying in bed, in the early predawn of the day, that summer time feeling when you know it’s going to be a scorcher,  and I just had to pray, “God, we need just a word of encouragement.”

Right on queue, my phone dinged.

I looked at it and didn’t recognize the name, and not wanting to disturb Tony, I ignored it. Then I pulled myself together, slipped into the other room and looked properly at the phone.

There was a long text from a lady ‘re-introducing’ herself as a primary nurse who cared for our son when he was dying of leukemia 27 years ago. She was the only Christian we knew in the unit and gave us a lot of support and encouragement during our 8-month battle, but sadly, when he died, we moved on and I unfortunately hadn’t thought of her since. She said she’d always remembered us, and thru the miracle of internet found this very blog and voila! here we were connected again.

Time continues on, but what a joy to know that God is timeless.

She sent pictures, and reminders of those days that were bittersweet. Her (former) husband has just died of prostate cancer, and she, in the course of her career, has become a trained hospice and grief counselor. This in itself may be the best ‘encourager’ God could have picked, someone to answer our questions, give us a realistic picture of what’s going on and perhaps what to expect. But any outcomes down the track are beside the point. The point that struck me, and that I want to give you today is this: You are never alone. In the middle of the battlefields, slaying baddies and looking good … or lying in your bed facing the day holding back tears. God is there, and He is not silent. If Tony can say, “Whatever happens, I’m gonna look good!” then God can say, “Whatever happens, I’m gonna look better!”

And in the words of  “Laugh In’s” Lily Tomlin (look it up in your Funk and Wagnalls), “And that’s the truth. PSSFTT!”

Tangerines in My Stocking

Hello, and Happy December!

If you’re reading this in the USA I guess you’ve survived Thanksgiving and Black Friday!  Here in Australia neither holiday has taken on as yet, although the merchant community is trying their best to convince us to go shopping. For the most part, it’s business as usual, except for the fact that many of our schools ended last Friday for summer break. Come to think of it, this may be a different kind of ‘Black Friday’ for some parents, especially if they’re working!

We enjoyed watching the grand children sing their Christmas performances. But of course nothing the school could produce held a candle to our son Nathan’s annual Water Slide Party. It seems they have a larger than normal back yard with a pretty impressive slope down to the Crown Land forest. And oh yeah, the yard is pretty well de-nuded of every tree that used to flourish there, thanks in part to our gift of a chain saw awhile back. That may have been a mistake, but I suspect that it’s excellent therapy for a cop, so we haven’t complained.

December 1st also signals the first day of Summer, and it was a real scorcher!! The event was enjoyed by too many kids to count, mainly friends of Ezekiel, who coincidentally was also celebrating his 8th birthday. It was a great day, especially since there were no broken bones; and though new speed and distance records were set, no one made it all the way to the forest. Next year … be afraid.

Even though we don’t have Thanksgiving here, we do have Christmas, and the decorations, especially in the stores, have been up since before Halloween.  Along with the festivities comes the requisite guilt as everything and everyone pressures you to do better and spend more lavishly this year. And as I was pondering this, something triggered a memory from long ago.

It was the Christmas of 1991, we had been battling cancer with our son Trevor for about 6 months. He had nearly died several times, and we were pretty frazzled.

And then I came across an article that suggested asking your family members what really says “Christmas” to them. I realized that we didn’t really know, even within our family. Wanting this to be the best Christmas ever, one day I casually asked Trevor, “What is the one thing that says “Christmas” to you?

I expected him to respond by mentioning perhaps one of the more spectacular gifts we had given him in his scant 16 years; would it be the puppy, or the skis….. or maybe one of our memorable toy-laden Stateside Christmases with the relatives.

He answered immediately, as if this was the easiest question ever

(pardon the Japanese, but we were a family pretty mixed up in two languages), “Mikans in my stocking.  Yep, that’s Christmas for me!” he beamed.

I was stupefied.  Here was a kid whom I’d do almost anything for, especially now that he was sick, and he was happy with a tangerine in his stocking.  That was always what we grabbed out of the fruit basket year after year, always somewhat guiltily, to cover up the lack of great things we felt we should be putting in their stockings!

Sometimes it’s the little things, don’t you think?  The warmth of a smile or a hug …….. or knowing everything is OK because tangerines are still there. Who knew?

That was Trevor’s last Christmas.  You can believe that I had scoured the entire city of Denver to find a Japanese tangerine, and he had it in his stocking that Christmas morning.

Writing this makes me think of that great, albeit non-theological Christmas song,  “Little Drummer Boy”.  I don’t think Jesus wants us to go crazy trying to ‘find’ the Christmas Spirit. It’s not even important to do a doctoral study to try and determine exactly when Jesus was born, and what day of the year we should be celebrating.  He just wants us to remember the fact that He came and why. And then we are to turn that Love of God on others.  Gift giving, especially to the Savior, can give us more goose-bumps than receiving.

This morning in church we heard the testimony of a young man, Indian (from India), who was adopted at birth out of more tragic circumstances that we can imagine.  As he told of the love he felt in our church and how he was accepting Christ and being baptized because of the people who had given so much to him thru Jesus, it just made it all real for us.  Tangerines, for sure.

Have a happy, relaxed season thinking about what’s really real. If you have a chance, drop me a line and tell me what Christmas is to you, will you?

Till next week, Marsha

No Drumsticks Then!

This afternoon, as I’m writing this, we just returned from a 3-day conference of Japanese Christians.  Only a few people remember that we actually started this annual gathering back nearly 20 years ago and it’s rocked along, hit and miss since then.  Then, about 3 years ago, it really got to moving and this was the third “new and revised” event, attracting about 150 Japanese and associates from all over Australia, New Zealand and beyond.  We stayed in a Christian camp which was nostalgic of our younger days but reminding us again we’re not that young.

To say “Mune ga ippai” (our hearts are full) would be an understatement.  Quite by accident we’ve become the elder statesmen of the group, and we heard “Tony and Marsha” so many times in so many situations, from those first memories, to continuing excitement about Tony’s doctoral Bible study called “Anagaion”. And of course there was plenty of shock and concern to go around in light of his recent diagnosis.

While hiding in my room this morning for some respite, I came across an article, apparently written last year, about the “Surprising Story of the First Thanksgiving”.

I’ll put the link here, if you want to take the few minutes to read it https://www.dailysignal.com/2018/11/22/the-surprising-story-of-the-first-thanksgiving/

Otherwise, lets see if I can summarize it:

Apparently the Pilgrims took meticulous records, which add a lot to the well-known story we’ve all heard in history class. According to this article, they weren’t escaping religious prosecution as much as looking for a place to raise their children without the troubling influences of the people they found both in England and then later in Holland. They wanted to work for a living and have time for their families instead of pouring out their lives in factories.  (Does this sound familiar?)

Contracts drawn up with the king of England, they set off for North Carolina but, due to the wind, ended up at Plymouth Rock. As we know from history, they had a pretty bad time of it from the moment they set foot on dry land. Many of their people died the first winter, including 14 of the 18 wives and mothers that set sail.

Being a wife and mother myself, the first question that struck me was, “How in the world did they ever get that first Thanksgiving meal on the table?” As it turns out, that first feast may have been a little different from the one pictured in my history book. Actually, quite a bit different from anything we might get to experience here in Australia.

No turkey was mentioned in the records, and wow, they mentioned everything.  They probably did enjoy some kind of water fowl, but the bulk of the meal was probably made up of turnips, parsnips and ……..(wait for it) EEL!  They ate with their hands and most likely sat on the ground that first year. Tables, chairs and eating utensils  were still pretty low on the priority list of things to make.

I guess this article resonated a bit with me because this week is Thanksgiving and our hearts are full of gratitude to God for giving us a lifetime of ministry to a people group that’s so easy to love.  Also we’re thankful for how even though we feel a little like the pilgrims, “We left for North Carolina and ended up in Maine”; and yet He shelters us every day in this cancer storm, thanks in large part to your prayers.

I’m happy to say the “Hormone Therapy” is going as expected. Apparently all the cancer cells have been frozen in their tracks, due to the double punch of medicine along with restricting anything in the diet that cancer likes (like sugar, meat,and dairy products). That, in combination with the recently-purchased tread mill, is resulting in a new look for the man of my dreams! He’s already shed 15 pounds and hasn’t slowed down yet. As he put it, “Whatever happens, I’m gonna look good!”

On Thursday morning Tony will get a “mid-treatment’ injection of another kind of hormone therapy.  We understand this is not a cure, but simply debilitating the enemy so that sometime in March, they can pull out the “Big Gun” and start with the radiation. The main problem in these situations are all the little cancer cells that escape unseen. But, we were told, Australia has the best imaging equipment in the world, and in the doctor’s words, “If I can see it, I can shoot it.” Thank you for joining us for this prayer.

Also on the schedule this week is a visit to the grandkids’ school to see extraordinary performances coming from our gifted and talented Grandboys (aren’t they all?)  I made Ezekiel a very cute (I must say) shepherds get-up and his mom will ‘unhide’ the 5 foot staff right before they leave for school.  It was entirely too handy for rounding up his brothers around the house.

You all have a nice feast on us.  Later on Thursday we’ll probably drop by the store and get a roast chicken, oh wait……guess it’ll have to be a ‘soy’ chicken, but it’ll taste nice with the people we love.  Wish you could join us!

Stay safe this weekend and try not to get stranded when the wind blows you off course.

Marsha

Best Laid Plans…

When I was a little girl, maybe 10 or 12, I think even then I was a little, shall we say, PLAN oriented? I do remember plotting out my life and putting it to paper.  About this time I was coming to grips with the Second Coming of Christ, and so I had to include that in my plan.

I was going to finish school, possibly becoming a doctor.  Then I was going to marry a real hunk of a man, like in the movies.  We would live in perfect harmony and have two beautiful children, first a boy and then a little girl.

And then when the kids were about 8, Christ would return in a bolt of lightning and take us all away.  I chose 8 as the perfect age to end the parenting responsibility because, well, I’d helped the teacher in Sunday School and I figured after 8 these little guys just weren’t worth saving.

As fate would have it, some of those dreams actually came true, and some not so much. At 17, I committed my life to Christian service, whatever that meant to me at the time, and I’ll have to say that was an unexpected blessing of the greatest extent.  Also, I did get the Hunk, and am happy to report that I’ve had the fabulous marriage.  I eventually got the perfect boy and then the perfect girl, but since the Second Coming hasn’t quite followed my schedule, we had to gut it out getting them up to their current ages of 30 and 38  (They are wonderful, by the way, and for that I’m really thankful!).

Nowadays, the plans I had made for myself are beginning to run off the edge of the paper, and Tony and I have been led to think a lot about LIFE lately, and all the thuds and thrills that we never planned on.

And I think I’m going to have to plagiarize Oswald Chambers yet again. If you have your own copy of My Utmost for His Highest check out November 10th, from 1st Thessalonians 3:2. Paul is talking about how once we’re sanctified, it becomes difficult to be able to state what your aim in life is, because God has taken you up into HIS purpose by HIS Holy spirit.

Ironically our pastor touched on it this morning in his sermon from 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.where he put it simply, “Jesus walked on earth, He was with us, but then He died and now, His Holy Spirit is IN us.”

Such a profound thought to realize that, in spite of all the plans I’ve worked out and clung to for years, I’m not actually my own.  Oswald goes on to say so aptly, “As long as we have a personal interest in our own character, we cannot get through into identification with God’s interests”.

When I stop telling God what He can do for me, He can catch me up for what He wants without me constantly reacting.  He can crumple me up or exalt me; it’s up to Him.

This week we got what seemed at first to be some troublesome news.  But the more we process it, the more we’re coming to think that it might not be as bad as we originally thought. Anyway, they cancelled Tony’s surgery to remove the cancer because the doctor has decided that he can’t get it all with a scalpel, and besides, the tolerances are so tight that he’s pretty sure he’ll leave Tony with some pretty significant and permanent damage if he tries.

So Plan B is to do “Hormone Therapy” and Radiation.  They’ve started the pills already, and he’ll have an injection in a few weeks that will hopefully stop the growth, then at some date later on, they’ll do radiation.  The Doctor did say that the “5 Year outcome of this method and surgery are about the same”, whatever that means.

And so with this news, again, not what we were exactly planning for, we have to keep praying that Tony and I will become tuned to God’s way of thinking.  Thank you again and again for supporting us in this journey!

Love ya,

Marsha

Angels Sitting Close

If you’ve been following us for awhile, you’ll remember that right before all this heath drama snuck in, we went to Fiji for a few weeks.   Tony always has folks looking to do his Anagaion course and we were delighted to hit the road again, meet with church leaders there and being able to preach and teach all over the place.

You may remember too, that because our daughter is a flight attendant for Qantas, we can fly ‘stand by’ for about half price.  Most of the time it works smoothly.

But not on this particular day.  We had to fly first down to Sydney to catch the 4-hour flight to Fiji. So, watching the internet bookings carefully, we were confident that we’d sail right thru.  There were people waiting to pick us up in Fiji, so we really wanted to make it on time as per schedule.

The Gold Coast check in agent felt the same way, so much so that he took our luggage and checked it right on through; straight to Fiji so we wouldn’t have to recheck it in Sydney.

Well, as things sometimes happen, the Gold Coast folks didn’t shut the airplane door right on time, so we missed our slot to land in Sydney. But everything was still fitting together, and we expected to make it to the Sydney gate with 20 or so minutes to spare. No worries, we still had a couple of hours. It’d be tight but we could do it.

I’m sure you’ve all been there, holding on to those “best laid plans of mice and men”. The second shoe to drop came with the announcement that, once we landed in Sydney, we’d have to transfer to the International Terminal. But no problem; there was a courtesy shuttle bus that runs every 10 minutes. We can still do it. Stepping outside in Sydney, we strode confidently, perhaps with a little more “spring” on our step than normal. There was the shuttle bus. We hitched up and headed for the open door.

No wait, my gentleman husband stepped aside to let some more frantic folks thru, even though I was punching his arm and pointing to my watch. You guessed it.  We arrived, went to check in and the lady, (who reminded me a lot of the medical receptionist I mentioned a few weeks ago) looked at us with a cold stare and said, “No…you’re too late.  You should have been here three minutes ago.” We begged, we pleaded (sound familiar?) but she wouldn’t budge.  Told us to go to a certain place to “wait for our bags to be offloaded”. I’m sorry, but wouldn’t it have been easier for us to jog onto the plane than for them to dig thru everything and find two innocuous bags and off load them?

As I sat at the door waiting for our baggage to come out, I noticed a little old lady sitting next to me. I couldn’t really identify much about her; her clothing wasn’t anything we’d wear, but this being Sydney, I wouldn’t know where to start in guessing what international destination she would call home. And then, to add to the intrigue, she seemed to be mumbling to herself. I unconsciously slid as far away from her as the seat’s arm would allow.

But then, my need got the best of me. I was upset, and someone needed to know about it. As it turns out, by now I was actually mumbling to myself as well; but here was an available ear, so I raised the volume. On and on I went with my rhetorical rant to this unresponsive human about the absurdity of making us spend the night at our own expense, the fact that it was only 9AM and we had all day to kill before we could even spend th……etc etc.  WHY couldn’t they just be reasonable, there were seats for us on that plane!  Two, in fact!. Finally I began to get it out of my system. Some degree of reason trickled back in and I sighed and said, “Oh, but God is Good”.

And from the little old lady next to me, immediately came a clear and understandable reply, graced with perfect diction,  “ALL THE TIME!”

I can’t quite explain how humbled I was.  We laughed and had a very nice conversation as we both continued to wait. I never did find out where she was from.

I seem to be asking myself on more than one occasion lately, “Why Me?” But God, thru the Bible and again this morning thru Oswald Chambers, has reminded me that everything that happens to me may not actually be FOR my personal benefit. (how spoiled and naive I am) God has His own plans, and once in awhile in His love and mercy, he allows me to be a part of them. In the process, He may even make me into something better than I was, but the circumstance that led to it may not have necessarily been just for my own selfish needs.

This cancer trip isn’t fun (We are doing well, though), but we realized this morning, we may have another tool available to us when this is over. Maybe we’ll be able to know how it feels to be scared, or to be patient when you don’t want to be, or Who but God Himself knows what else? I do realize that GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME even when it doesn’t seem like it.

Lord, thank you for little angels in the form of old women who can put me back on track.

You all have a blessed week!  Marsha

News

Today I promised you some news, and also that then we’d quit talking incessantly about health issues.

If you haven’t already heard being shouted from the housetops or on Facebook and various church prayer chains, it has been determined (as it was before) that Tony’s cancer is aggressive, but that it’s mostly contained with the only exception being a couple of lymph nodes that lit up under the radioactive camera. The doctor took that as fairly good news, so we will too.

Surgery is scheduled for December 2nd which seems a long time to wait for something like this, but apparently all the butchery that’s been done already in order to ‘find’ the cancer has to settle down so that they can see what they’re doing.  In the meantime, we were told to get in as great shape as possible, since that will help with both the surgery and the recovery. We took that to heart, and Tony says that I’m now in “warrior mode”. Anything that cancer likes, such as sugar, meat and dairy products are off the table, literally. The plan is to starve that sucker (the cancer, not Tony!) before it even thinks about spreading any further. The plan is working, at least to the extent that Tony’s feeling and looking great, so spirits are high all around.

Over breakfast most mornings, we’ve been reading from Oswald Chambers’ book, “My Utmost for His Highest”.  I like him because back in 1927 he knew how to say it like it was, and still is.  This morning he’s talking about “Discernment of Faith” and alludes to the fact that we are not necessarily to look for that “rosy feeling” that comes when circumstances work out the way you hoped and prayed. Rather, he says, as we mature in the faith, we grow to understand that (in his words), “I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do.”  As Job said in the 13th chapter, verse 15, “Though he slay me yet I will hope in him”.

We are overjoyed that we think we have a chance against this insidious disease called cancer, but we are also confident that God has got this! Granted, His definition of “got” may not be ours, but we are confident that He will see that His will is done in spite of the circumstances we look at. And that’s a big Win!

I promise now to look around and talk about something else next week. Meanwhile life scurries along. Tony’s preaching and writing and I’m procrastinating about those most onerous tasks like cooking and cleaning, both of us loving our kids and grandkids, friends and church members here on the Gold Coast.  We are also mindful that we’re not the only folks on the block with issues. Just looking around the church this morning at several cases of terminal diseases, fractured families and a world of hurt, it makes our own situation seem pretty insignificant by comparison. We do remember each of you who share with us your daily challenges, and we pray for you even as we cherish your prayers for us. We are truly a “Band of Brothers” like those soldiers who endure so much together; but in our case, we have the added blessing of knowing that there will come a time when all this is behind us and God is before us, drying every tear, holding us in His arms and bringing us into His Kingdom.

And that’s good news.

Happy trails,

Marsha

Walking With Help

I remember saying when our son died some 27 years ago, “If anyone else around here gets cancer, I’m buying a blender!”

And that’s what we’ve done.  Tony still has no definite information, just that he has aggressive prostate cancer so he needs to get fit.  Last week, we bought a blender and a treadmill. I have to say, he’s committed to both! Thankfully, he’s already lost 3 kilos (7 lbs) and is feeling better physically than he did before he was diagnosed.  It’s not been an easy time, but we’ve been blessed with an extra-ordinary sense of peace and joy, a product, I’m sure of all your prayers! This is not to say that healing is a given; just that whatever circumstances come our way, we’re confident that God is in it, and will give us what we need, when we need it. That said, I have to admit: waiting has been the hardest aspect of this whole thing.

But let’s talk about that verse I mentioned last week in Isaiah 40:31.  I’ll put it here in case you forgot it:

But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

I was first drawn to this verse in the book, “Tracks of a Fellow Struggler” written by John Claypool, way back in 1974.  He very aptly describes this verse as being in three stages, none of them being simultaneous.  He also mentions that the most triumphant stage is the first one, about flying, and then on down from there.

There may be times when, in the euphoria of the moment, you are able to soar with the eagles.  I know you’ve experienced this with me many times thru the years.

Then sometimes we’re just running along. Things are happening. We’re not tired, necessarily; just happily fulfilling our purpose.

And then there are the times like this last week when we just seem to stumble along, moving from appointment to appointment, meeting the responsibilities and trusting God to not let us faint.

This week while Tony was getting a PET scan to determine exactly where all the cancer might be lurking, I was out walking to pass the time.  I passed a church with a big banner that read, “Our church is open, please come in”

I surprised myself when I felt the sudden desire to just go in there and lie on the cool floor and pour out all my fear and trepidation to God.  I didn’t go in, and the feeling passed, but I think that’s what it feels like to “Walk and want to faint”, or possibly to ‘walk and think you’re going to faint’.

Part of pulling myself together was when I reminded myself that I’m not sure that this will be the worst time we have to face before all this over. I may need to save the ‘laying on the floor” stage for later.

Also, ironically, Tony is holding me up. He is a rock, soldiering on, preaching today in Japanese and looking like the picture of health (which he basically is).  Also our wonderful kids, who have rallied, are showing us every day that they’ll be here for us if the going gets tough.

Looking around me, I realize that I’m not the only one in the world having an anxious day, and I remind myself that, with God in control, this may indeed be nothing and I’ll be laughing next week.

I hope so.  But a promise is a promise and God has declared in Isaiah, “Those that trust in the Lord will walk and NOT faint”.

I promise I’ll let you all know when we know something and then we’ll move on to other topics.

Have a blessed week,

Marsha

The Path. The Destination

A great mentor of ours, Stan Nelson, had his memorial service this last week.  As I read all the emails and comments about it, one of his favorite scripture passages came up more than once. It’s from Isaiah 40, starting with verse 28,

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

I’ll talk more about this passage next time, but I have to confess that we’re just not ‘soaring’ much this week. As you may have been hearing, Tony has been having a battery of tests following his diagnosis of prostate cancer. By now we can say that, yes, it’s there. Furthermore, it’s described as a particularly “aggressive” form (I hate that word when it’s used in conjunction with “cancer”). What we DON’T know yet is whether or not it’s still contained, or if it’s already spread through his body. The answer to that question will come with a PET scan on Friday, although we won’t get the result of that until the following week.

Frankly, we both feel pretty gutted. For a man who has absolutely NO symptoms, and feels like he’s in the prime of his life,  this is hard news to take. Naturally, our emotions are all over the place, but I have to add this: we’ve been here before. Way back in1975, after our return to the States following two years as missionary Journeymen in Zambia. I had gotten a malignant melanoma removed in a jungle hospital, and in the process of following up, doctors in San Francisco found a spot on my lung. Talking to Tony privately, the doctor said, “This is bad. We’re looking at an average survival rate of about two years.”

Horrified, Tony asked, “What can we do?”

“Come back in a week, and we’ll run some more tests.”

You think that was a week to remember? We both went through all the classic stages of grief (which Tony would write about in his book, Looking for a Lamb nearly twenty years later. Then, the week finished, we made our way to the hospital. But here’s the thing: we both felt okay about it. God had given us a peace that just couldn’t be described.

And the outcome? Embarrassed doctors, who said, “Well, it was there!”

Of course that’s not to say we expect the same scenario this time. One miracle doesn’t prove a pattern. But the peace? Yeah, it’s here, big time. Full disclosure, we do fall into a punk once in awhile. It usually happens when we start “what if-ing”. But then we remind ourselves that God doesn’t deal in possibilities. He knows already how this is going to work out, and in the meantime He’s asking us to have a little faith and trust Him.

And really, from His point of view, it’s a win-win. Temporal healing while we’re here on this earth, or permanent healing in His Kingdom. So we’re not concerned about the destination. Honest. Just the path between here and there.

Next week we still won’t have all the test results in, but at least hopefully we’ll both be a lot healthier and fit.  And please be assured that every blog henceforth won’t be a medical diary.  I do want to get back to sharing some more things we’ve noticed along the way, but for this week, we’d just like to ask you for a lot of prayer! Patience. Peace. Assurance. And of course healing!

Thanks for your support!  It means so much to us.

Marsha

Keep on Steppin

Last week I mentioned the advertisement that talks about the millions of steps we take in a lifetime, followed by the quote by Hugh Jackman, “However, it’s not the number of steps that matters; it’s where they take you.”

I thought about that statement at one of the churches we visited in Fiji the other day. It was in Suva, the capitol city of the country. We were met and carted around by a wonderful man who had served as Fiji’s Minister of Foreign Relations, as well as Ambassador to both Papua New Guinea and then Japan.  We had a lot of fun with him and his wife talking about all their experiences “in the service”.

But the real thrill was watching him talk about evangelism.  He’s just retired from the government, and is finding plenty of work to do with the churches around the country. He’s even helped start a new one in his home, made up mostly of international students from all over Asia and the South Pacific.

As he talked about these students, you could see the passion in his eyes. He and his wife have a lovely home, which of course is open all the time to students. The large living room was dominated by a huge white board completely filled with Bible study notes from a recent gathering. Wherever we wanted to sit, we’d have to move stacks of Bibles and other teaching materials first.

Downstairs, an Asian man with an interesting story lives in this former ambassador’s office, books and papers moved aside to accommodate a small cot in the corner. I mentioned him in a blog a few weeks ago, recalling that he had been swindled out of an enormous fortune and had been left high, dry and penniless. Unwilling to return to his homeland in shame, he is now staying here, rent free, devoting his time to learning more about the faith that is so obvious throughout the home. He has already made a profession of faith in Jesus as his Savior, and is now working through the Bible to learn more about his new Lord and Master.

Hearing about this man’s “ baby steps”, and how the family has taken him in, fed him and showed him a reason to hope, I couldn’t help but feel myself shrinking in horror and ‘concern about my own safety’ as that Pharisee would have who passed by on the other side, rather than take a chance to see the potential of this man and reach out to be part of such a classic blessing.

The ambassador says he’s teaching the unfortunate man “English, manners, and how to apply for a job”.  I had to marvel at the possibilities I was seeing right here before me. As this man pulls up from the rough patch that he’s been thrown into, I can just imagine him growing as a Christian, learning to love and forgive, and someday, Lord willing, returning home to family and friends with a message in his heart worth far more than the fortune he came with. And … as a bonus, when he does go home, it will be to a place where traditional missionaries could never hope to go. What a blessing in the making!

This home church has grown and is now meeting on Sundays down the road at a Korean church. They start the worship service at 7:00 am, in order to be finished before the Koreans arrive at 8:30 for services that will last the rest of the day and probably into the night.

When you enter the sanctuary, you can’t help but notice that the front wall of the sanctuary is covered with a huge mural of the world.  Superimposed over the world is a lot of bold Korean lettering.

The ambassador-become-pastor said to Tony. “I’ve pointed out to the Korean pastor that even though I can’t read Korean, I know what it says because there at the bottom I see, “28:19-20”. Laughing, the Korean pastor said, “And now all you have to remember is the first word: ‘GO’”

Isn’t that true of the great commission?  All Jesus was saying was “Go”.  In any and every language! I spent the rest of the day thinking, “What does ‘Go’ really mean?”

And I’ve decided that it means, “move outside yourself”.  You can ‘GO”, as we did, to Fiji, or you can ‘GO’ next door, you can “GO” to someone in your family, someone right on the couch beside you………… It’s just that simple.

And even though Jesus wasn’t specific, in the “going” you receive a huge blessing, so that makes it worth the trip don’t you think?

We had a lovely time in Fiji and accomplished our goals to help in the ministry, do some writing and then some relaxing.  We returned safely and started on the doctor visits. I will meet with the specialist this Wednesday to try and find out why my body chemistry seems to be bouncing all over the place, but I’m not too concerned.

Tony, on the other hand, has already been once and told to go back this next Thursday for an MRI because the doctor feels “pretty certain” that his prostrate has turned cancerous. We’ll hold off on that until we know more, but in the meantime we do appreciate your prayers. It is of some comfort that so many of you have already walked this road, but still, it’s a bit hard (I’m guessing) for the ‘invincible man’ part in him.

As Tony says, “Now it’s time to live what we’ve been preaching: know that the Lord is the last Word in all things. He’s put us on this road, and in His will, in His time, He will take us off it and on to be with Him.”

Until that time, Praise the Lord for the journey!

Keep on steppin,

Marsha