Friday, July 17, 2009

Here it is the middle of July and we ate supper on the back porch! That's pretty unbelievable for this part of the country. I just about had our supper ready, the table was set and Tom stuck his head out the back door to check on something or other. He turned to me and said, "This would be a perfect night to eat outside if we had the right kind of lawn furniture." My reply was, "No problem. We can put a cloth on the card table and sit on the porch." I asked if he wanted to leave the table so we might have breakfast there in the morning. He thinks it might be too cool. Unbelievable!

I am picking up Sarah and Jake in the morning for a blueberry picking outing. We had planned to go Thursday, but thunderstorms kept us indoors. Now I'm glad because it will be more pleasant picking in the cooler temperatures. I hope we get enough to stock two freezers for the winter.

This morning I was awakened to the news that there was water all over the kitchen floor. I got up to see and we could not find the source of it. I checked all the usual things that might produce water--nothing. After lots of mopping and some discussion about what to tell the plumber, I called him. He came and he couldn't find a leak anywhere. He suggested we call an appliance repair person to check the fridge. Wouldn't you know it? He can't come until Monday. In the meantime, we continue to check the floor and hope for the best. The floor needed to be mopped anyway.

Sunday I'm preaching at the church here in Jackson. It promises to be an interesting morning. After the worship service there will be a brief interlude and then one of the young women in the church is getting married. The pastor is flying home early from his vacation to perform the ceremony--but I still get to preach. Then I'll have two Sundays off before going back to Humboldt.

I learned yesterday that a friend I've had since my college days had surgery for a malignant brain tumor Monday. Her only family is a cousin who has challenges of her own in her immediate family. But my friend has her church family. The mutual friend who called said, you know how close they can be sometimes. Boy, do I know! Please pray for my friend with the tumor. Her name is JuJu.

We still are amazed at the unbelievable blessings in our life and even more amazed at the awesome God who abundantly provides for us.

Pastor Margaret

Friday, July 10, 2009

Today Tom and I made our trek to Corinth to see the oncologist. I wrote on Tuesday that as I heard the CA125 number I realized that I was trusting, depending on that number. I rejoice when it goes down; I shudder a bit when it goes the other way. Letting go of the number and depending completely on God has given me peaceful days this week instead of days of dread.

A second thing happened while we sat in the waiting room. I began reading A Long Obedience in the Same Direction a couple of months ago, but had put it down and hadn't continued until today. Written by one of my favorites, Eugene Peterson, it is based on the Psalms of Ascent. I returned to the chapter on Psalm 121, another of my favorites, and found words of real encouragement and affirmation. Peterson says that the psalm is one of promise, but not the promise of the absence of difficultites in the Christian's life. He emphasizes that God guards are lives and that we trust in the Creator, not the created. The focus is on the "guardian," not the difficulty. I need to be reminded sometimes.

The visit with the doctor went well and, yes, he said what we wanted to hear: "No treatment at this time." He says my number is fine and I look like I feel great--which I do. We talked a bit about treatment possibilities for the future, but not now. Our family has said lots of "thank yous" to God who continues to hold us in the palm of His hand.

Pastor Margaret

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Lessons and other things learned in the last few days are on my mind this evening. Our Fourth of July celebration was just as full of friends, family and food as I thought it would be. I learned that even the children like variations on potato salad. I found a recipe for Pesto Potato Salad, thinking that it might flop, but we finished it off with folks asking for more--including two of the grandchildren. It was fun having the house full while the table groaned under the weight of all the food.

I had been a little concerned about how the traditional Patriotic Sunday celebration would come together with my worship convictions. It was truly a wonderful service and I enjoyed every minute of writing and preaching the sermon. As I stood at the front waiting on everyone to be served communion I looked out over the congregation and was overcome with a true sense of family. I learned a lot about their tradition and how it has shaped them.

Today we learned that my CA125 is going the wrong way again--up, "but not too high," as the nurse reminded me. As I pondered the news, I learned something about myself. I have put too much trust in those numbers, forgetting that God is in control, not the blood test. At times I feel like a yo -yo: one month the count is good, one month it isn't and it's easy to become discouraged or just downright mad at the circumstances. When I see the doctor this Friday I'm going to ask about the latest treatment to see if I fit the protocol.

Tom and I both had eye check-ups this afternoon and learned that I have some minor changes--not enough to go through changing lens. Tom, on the other hand, could possibly be helped by changing his lens, so he let me choose the frames. He is moving from practical to cool!

Last week while Jake was at Boy Scout camp I learned things about Tommy's scout camp experiences that I hadn't heard before now. Jake had a wonderful time, earned merit badges in first aid, swimming and canoeing. Scouting has been important to the men in our family and we were so glad to learn of Jake's excitement and achievments.

I have learned many lessons dealing with the illnesses in our family and just when I think I've risen to the top of the class, I get my "come-upance" and realize I will never learn everything I need to know about God's loving care. Thankfully, He doesn't tire of teaching us.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

You don't need to be told that the Fourth of July is Saturday. Flags will be waving; people will don their red, white and blue; there will be a parade, complete with bagpipes, at Montreat; there will be neighborhood parades; we'll enjoy the TV broadcast of the concert on the Capitol Mall once again; families will gather for reunions; the grills will be lit and piled high with ribs or hamburgers and hotdogs, chicken or steak; ice cream churns will be at work. Hopefully, we will all remember to thank God for the freedom we enjoy.

It's a secular holiday, a day that commemorates our independence, a day when we celebrate our freedom as a nation. No one is more thankful, nor patriotic than I am. My mother's only brother spent 32 years in the army, beginning as an enlisted man in the cavalry and retiring as a full colonel. On his bookcase sat four purple hearts. Tom was an artillery officer, serving a year in the Vietnam conflict. I do not have to be reminded of the price our military men and women have paid for our freedom. I know too well. It's a part of my family.

I am also mindful of the freedom I, as a believer, have in Jesus Christ. That freedom also came with a price, but one I did not have to pay. Were I too praise God constantly for the rest of my days, it would not be enough to express my gratitude for such freedom.

In many churches on Sunday, flags will be waving and patriotic songs will be sung. No doubt hearts will be stirred with the strains of "God Bless America." How our country was founded is important history, but even more important is how our Christian beliefs will affect our future. The church where I am currently preaching dubs the Sunday closest to the Fourth as Patriotic Sunday. I have been presented with, "This is what we do" and have struggled as I've tried to pair that with my conviction of what worship truly is. Please pray that God alone will be glorified.

Pastor Margaret