Monday, March 29, 2010


Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. It was a dreary, rainy, chilly day, but inside the church there was warmth and excitement. Children processing with palm branches has a way of making folks smile. The organist and the choir outdid themselves! After the service lunch was served and the children had their annual egg hunt, in spite of the rain. Things are not always what they seem. Had the focus been on the weather, the mood would have been as dreary as it was, but we were focused on worship, the church family being together and the anticipation of Easter.

Last week I spent much time deep in thought--reading the Scripture and praying for direction. I thought about the humble beginnings of Jesus and the astounding fact that just weeks ago we focused upon a baby, knowing and proclaiming him King of Kings and Lord of Lords. I focused on the rejection he suffered during his life, the unbelief of the people he came to save, the utter disregard as people thumbed their noses at God. What had happened to "I will be your God. You will be my people?" How could they have forgotten? Would I have forgotten? When Jesus made the Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem, if we didn't know the rest of the story, we would think that respect and honor for Jesus was beginning to change. But, this procession initiated the worst week of Jesus' life; the rejection increased, even to include some of his closest associates; and the week ended with the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. How quickly the focus changes!

I wonder how I would have reacted if I had been one of the palm wavers, one of those shouting "Blessed be the king who comes in the name of the Lord." Would I have seen what was coming or would I have thought that Jesus was finally getting the honor he deserved? Hindsight informs me and I know how necessary the events of this week were, but knowing why Jesus had to suffer and why he died don't make the thoughts any more pleasant!

It's necessary to focus on Jesus--his identity, his character, his works. It's necessary to focus on ourselves--who we are without Jesus, our characters, our lives. Then, focus on the grace of God that took his perfect, sinless son and used that grace to transform us into children of God. It is truly amazing!

Pastor Margaret

Friday, March 19, 2010

Share with us . . .

There is a big smile on my face and a song in my heart! We learned from the doctor yesterday that the scans look better than the ones taken six months ago and that the cancer has decreased by about 25%. Dr. Reed wanted to put me on the current chemo regimen almost two years ago, but I didn't fit the protocol and my insurance wouldn't pay for it. Last fall he put an insurance "expert" in their office to work on it, and I got approved. There will be no rest right now. Since it's working, we keep on treating. Thus far, fatigue and bone pain in my back are the side effects I experience and I figure I can rest when need be and heat and Tylenol (or something stronger) can help with the other. I start a new round of treatments next Friday and pray without ceasing, thanking God for His abundant provisions and that the smile and the song may always be seen and heard no matter what the news!

Pastor Margaregt

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

March Madness Has Begun . . .

and our Bulldogs got snubbed. After playing the number two team in the country down to the wire in the SEC Tournament Championship and losing in overtime by two, the "committee" in its infinite wisdom didn't think the Dawgs deserved a bid. I don't presume to understand all the factors they use to make their choices. I just know that there were lots of disappointed folks when the announcement was made. They got a number 1 seed in the NIT, won their first game and play North Carolina on Saturday. Go Dawgs!!! Wish we could be there.

Colin and family survived his weekend stay in the hospital and they are fine except for a couple of irritating complications caused by an anitibiotic he didn't need; his getting too accustomed to sleeping in Marty's arms against her chest; and a newfound fear of the doctor. Marty said today that she had planned some much needed and wanted one on one time with Christopher, but Colin wants to be held and Christopher kept telling her to put Colin in his bed. They are a busy bunch, but well and that makes us all happy.

Tonight we went to Wednesday night supper at Humboldt and had a good time visiting and eating hamburgers and hot dogs the men had grilled and strawberry shortcake for dessert. I had commited to lead a follow up session for small group leaders at 1st church, Jackson so had to leave supper to get back here by seven. It was really encouraging to get positive feedback and to get some better idea of how things were going for them. Small group ministry is essential, I believe, for the spiritual growth of the church and the spiritual growth in the church promotes numerical growth. I do miss active ministry!

Tomorrow is scan day. The thing I dread the most? not having coffee when I first get out of bed!!!! The doctor will see us after he has seen the results. I don't dread those visits anymore; they have gotten to be pretty routine. Okay. What next? We are hoping for a rest from treatment, but praying for healing. Sometimes it takes illness and/or disability to make us really thankful for things we have always taken for granted. I'm not sure I'll ever learn to consider fatigue when I make my list of errands or tasks to be done arount the house. At another place in our lives, we'd be on the road bright and early Saturday to drive to Starkville to the basketball game. I learned this afternoon of our friend Marty's age diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer three years ago, has signs of more cancer. You may remember praying for her. She has two pre-school little boys, is a physicist for NASA, has campaigned tirelessly for breast cancer awareness and is a super friend. We will prayerfully await results of her scans as well. If there is a "why question" forming in my mind, it would be why I continue to be blessed with more time and she is faced with more illness and treatment. I think on the goodness of God and know that we are shaped by the happenings in our lives. We may react or we may respond with trust. It is my prayer that both in my life and in Susan's that God will be glorified!

Pastor Margaret

Saturday, March 13, 2010

This n' That

We said goodbye to an old friend this week. One of my favorite foods is popcorn--not just any popcorn, but the kind popped in a popper that sits in a hot plate type heat source, not the fancy new types of poppers or the microwave, though I don't turn much down. Tom sent me a popcorn popper from the commissary in 1967 when he was in Vietnam and we've used it ever since. Thursday I got it off the shelf to make an afternoon snack, heated the oil (so I thought), added the popcorn and it just sat there. I tried replugging; I tried other plugs; nothing worked. Upon investigating the coils, I discovered a broken one and I knew it was time to say "goodbye."
I wonder how much it has popped in all these years. It was older than my children and it triggers lots of memories. The heating unit is gone, but I kept the pot. They just don't make things the way they used to.

Colin has a fever and we're waiting to get the report on this morning's visit to the doctor. They took him yesterday, some tests were run and they were to return today for results. We don't like for our children to be sick at any age, but running a fever of unknown causes at six weeks old makes parents--and grandparents--concerned. I'll be glad to get an update today!! Big brother was sick last week, but the two don't seem to be related.

Yesterday a friend took me to Corinth for what I think was the last treatment in this series. Thursday we go to Memphis for scans and follow up with the oncologist. The new drug has been effective and none of the wierd side effects have been present or visible. It was the chemo drug that caused any problems suffered. We are, of course, hoping for a period of rest before I need more treatment. Chemo effects are cumulative and I can just hear my bone marrow begging not to send it any more just yet.

Tom has had good days and bad days this week. Wednesday, he got shakier and shakier as the day got older. He did go to church supper and Bible study, but it was noticeable that he was nervous. Only when I fixed his pills for the next day, did I realize I had forgotten to give him his afternoon meds. Dumb me! The problem was all my fault. He's doing well with therapy and the blood pressure is pretty consistent. That's good news.

Last night we went to Tommy and Liz's to visit and eat supper. Tom had not been to their house since we celebrated Mer's birthday on December 21. I don't know which he enjoyed more, being with them and playing with the little girls or the wonderful dinner Tommy concocted. Tommy and I had just been talking about veal parmesan and how almost impossible it is to find veal locally. So, he took a whole pork loin, sliced off four chops, pounded them thin, breaded them thin and pan sauteed them. In a pasta dish he put a serving of fettucine, a layer of alfredo sauce, the pork, covered that with a thick tomato sauce, topped with grated cheese. He makes his own sauces and that, of course, determines the taste of the dish. We had enough left to bring home for another meal. Talk about good!

During the past week I began a personal study in The Good and Beautiful God, a book by James Bryan Smith to teach us how to become more Christlike. He says: The number one enemy of Christian spiritual formation today is exhaustion, then goes on to say, We are living beyond our means, both financially and physically. Lately, I've been in the doldrums--tired most of the time, in a rut spiritually, basically blue and not satisfied with much. I read Smith's words, coming face to face, with the reality that I am exhausted, for good reason, but not doing much about it, thus the spiritual rut. I keep thinking that I'm "super woman" and can do all the things I've always done and I'm frustrated when I can't. I sleep more and it helps less. It's just easier to sleep than to think sometimes. Lots of medical bills have been coming in, to say nothing of the weekly checks I write for all the sitter help we have. I see many dollars going out that are not matched by what comes in. That can be frustrating, as well as causing mental exhaustion. Smith asks how the Christian fellowship or community has acted in your life and later the work of the Holy Spirit is manifest in the area of community? (That is my interpretation of those two questions.)

My answer came this way: Friends made in the fellowship of the Church are the most meaningful because for the bond shared. Some of those friendships are deeper than others for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is prayer partnership. These friendships often have been cultivated over many years; others have a shorter duration. This past week two such friends called to check on us. One even commented that in her prayer time that morning, she felt moved to call--the Holy Spirit was nudging. Each friend brought healing to my hurting heart and encouraged me in both spoken and unspoken words. The fatigue improved and my spirits lifted. The point? Becoming more Christlike doesn't just happen. We need to be actively involved in the process and to do that we must be fully rested and alert to those through whom the Holy Spirit works. In my case, the two friends were used. Those wake up calls were even inspiration for tomorrow's sermon.

Pastor Margaret

Friday, March 05, 2010

Go Dawgs!

It's one of my favorite times of year--final games before the conference championships. Our Mississippi State Bulldogs, both men and women, have played well this year. They haven't been outstanding as teams, but individuals have accomplished some personal bests. Jarvis Varnardo is the all time leading shot blocker in NCAA history--a nice record for a nice young man. Another player has passed a three point shot record in the SEC. The MSU women played Georgia tonight and beat them.

Yesterday I went to Memphis to a Committee on Ministry meeting that lasted five and a half hours. Fortunately, the interviews and issues were all different and the meeting never got boring. I learned about the ministry of an African American Presbyterian Church in Memphis that has an amazing, outstanding minsitry to the poor. The unfortunate thing, it seemed to me, is that there has been some difference of opinion as to what the Church really is. We tend to want all the i's dotted and t's crossed rather than to minister in the name of Christ to those who will perish without him. I don't pretend to know the answers to the church's problems, but I do know we need to be the Church and take the gospel to the people, not expect the people to come to us; we need to practice what we preach; we need to let the main thing be the main thing!

We got confirmation this week from Tom's brother and his wife that the brother has Parkinson's Disease. We have discussed symptoms and the possibilities of David having it for a long time, but in the last few months, I have talked with them more than ususal because of Tom's circumstances. David is four years younger than Tom; spent most of his adult life as an Army doctor, but was never in a combat zone. He and I have discussed exposure to chemicals as a possible contributing factor to Tom's illness. Currently, David is the Director of Family Medicine for the State of Virginia and has access to some really good medical opninions and facilities. We are not happy with his diagnosis, but are happy to know the root of some of the difficulties he's experienced lately. Who knows? This may be random and there could be some connection with both brothers having the same illness and the similarities between them.

This past week Tom went to Wednesday night supper at Humboldt with me. He was so happy to be able to go!! Our hearts were warmed by the outpouring of love expressed by so many. I'm hoping that he'll get to go to church on Sunday. I'm also hoping that I'll be able to stand up straight. I awakened this morning with bone pain in my lower back and have sat all day with heat on it. That helps, as does pain medication. That's the worst side effect of the chemo!

We continue to pray for friends who are battling serious illnesses; for our church at Humboldt to be led to the pastor God has for them and for them to find themselves ready to receive that special someone. We are never too old, nor should we ever be so satisfied with our lives and our traditions that we quit seeking the will of God in our individual lives and in our lives in the community we call our church. God gives us opportunity to partner with Him through prayer and obedience to Him.

Pastor Margaret