Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Almost three weeks . . .

have passed since my last post. Things have been busy and I have fought fatigue.  Usual pursuits continue:  reading, studying, cooking, knitting, resting and trying to get out of the house more.  The weather has been both gorgeous and stormy at times.  I don't do well with storms.  Lightening struck electrical wires leading into our house when I was four and I have hated thunder storms ever since.  Spring has emerged with a profusion of blossoms and a hefty amount of pollen has dusted all exposed surfaces.  The blossoms are to be enjoyed and the pollen endured.  Welcome, Spring!  It's time to get the garden started. 

Last Thursday was the end of scheduled chemo treatments that began the middle of May last year.  Monday we travel to Jackson for PET/CT scans, a visit with the doctor and to have a frank discussion about what comes next.  On the one hand, this has been a hard year, one I do not wish to repeat.  But, on the other hand, the confinement has afforded me much needed time to grow spiritually, to reflect on my life--past, present and future.  God has dealt sternly and gently with me.  He has increased my trust, assured me of His Presence and given me peace when all I really wanted was to have my own way.  I expect no surprises when I see the doctor next week.  Tests to this point have been good.  One would expect to be able to eliminate treatment, but I'm told that with my history of this disease that has been declared "incurable," if/when it returns, it will be harder to control.  I covet your prayers as the decision is made concerning the next step. 

On Good Friday my Bible reading took me to the account of Abraham, Sarah and the Covenant in Genesis.  As familiar as it is, this is a story that never ceases to stir my soul.  Beginning in chapter 17, it says:  When Abram was ninety-nine years old, God showed up and said to him, "I am The Strong God, live entirely before me, live to the hilt! I'll make a covenant between us and I'll give you a huge family."  Overwhelmed, Abram fell flat on his face. (The Message)

We know what has come earlier:  Abram had been promised an heir, but Sarai had not conceived.  Impatiently taking things into her own hands she gave her husband Hagar so that a son might come from that union.  Ishmael was born, but was not the promised heir.  Now, both Abram and Sarai are old, well beyond childbearing years, but God promises again, proclaiming Who He is, demanding obedience and trust.  Abram was overwhelmed, so much so he fell on his face. 

I had to stop, ask myself: "Am I overwhelmed by God?  Have I ever been?"  In the everyday experiences of life, do I live and depend on the promises of God?  Do I accept that He is "The Strong God?" Do I "live entirely before God?" Do I live "to the hilt?" Does God's promise to never leave me or forsake me overwhelm  me? 

It was Good Friday, another day acknowledged during Holy Week.  Again, there were questions.  This is the day we remember the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross for us--for ME.  Does that not give one pause to think of God's overwhelming love? And then to realize, "It's Friday, but Sunday's Coming," only added to the sense of being overwhelmed.  I can only praise God for I am truly blessed. 

Overwhelmed is a word that has been much on my mind this week.  It describes how I feel about what God has done for me, what God is doing now and what God has planned for my future.

Pastor Margaret

Thursday, April 03, 2014

It must be Spring . . .

The crawfish are plentiful!  Sunday afternoon we hosted a crawfish boil for Tommy's Sunday School class (including their children), younger singles and the youth of the church.  A fine time was had by all! The official cook used a new recipe and it was proclaimed a winner.  Tables in the carport are piled high with crawfish, corn on the cob, potatoes and sausage and people stand around special tables to peel and eat.  The tables are actually big pieces of plywood that have been treated and varnished (so as to be easy to clean) and have holes cut in them.  The wood is set on large, lined trash receptacles that have been placed under the holes.  That makes it easy for people to peel, drop the shells in the holes and eat. The downside is there isn't much meat in one crawfish so you spend more time peeling than you do eating.  I like the social aspect, but prefer what Tommy concocts with the leftover meat. 

It has also warmed up just enough for us to pot new herbs and arrange all the plants outside my door.  Though our winter was colder than usual, we did have several things left from last summer.  I am impatient for tomatoes!  After a week of feeling wrung out, I rebounded and went with Liz to the nursery on Saturday.  It was great to be out and to wander around looking at bedding plants in the greenhouses. 

Tommy took Maggie, our Great Pyrenees, to be spayed this week.  She is ONE UNHAPPY DOG.  If only someone would invent something to replace those cones the vets use to prevent the dogs from gnawing at their stitches.  Hers looks like a big lampshade, bumps into everything and makes it really difficult to walk down the steps when she needs to go outside.  I am praying for a speedy recovery.

For a while now, I have been thinking of blogging about prayer--specifically the importance of praying for our children and grandchildren.  In the opening verses of II Timothy, Paul tells Timothy how he prays for him and gives thanks for him and his faith.  Next, Paul mentions Timothy's mother and grandmother and the  "rich faith they handed down to him."  We know that faith is personal, that one cannot rely on the faith of another.  We also know that our faith is shared by the way we live and by what we say.  Sharing our faith is an inheritance we leave family and friends.  As I read and meditated on these opening verses, I thought about my own two children and eight grandchildren and began to pray more specifically and diligently for them, thanking God that another grandmother also prays daily for them.  I found it relatively easy to be specific in my prayers for those who live just across the pool, but was not satisfied with how I was praying for those miles away.  I asked Marty to send me a schedule of activities and other basics about Mallory and the boys.  Now, I can be more specific about them and even though I can't see them as often as I'd like, I feel more involved in their lives.

My prayers include asking for guidance, wisdom in how I relate to them.  This week something special happened.  Meredith, the second grader, is very creative, sensitive, loves her friends, but is somewhat shy and unsure of herself.  She has mentioned from time to time a problem with one of her "BFFs" at school, but the problem has escalated and has made Meredith most unhappy.  Saturday afternoon when she was here by herself, I asked her what was going on with the friend and she told me.  Instead of giving her the usual, "that's the way things happen at your age, etc.," I told her that I prayed for her every morning and that I would begin on Monday to pray specifically for the other girl, how they got along and that she, Meredith, would know how to be a friend and do the right thing, regardless of how she was treated.  Furthermore, I would follow up to see how things went that day.  That was my promise to her.  Every day this week she has come straight over when she got home from school, asked me if I prayed and told me about her day.  Yesterday, she said, "Did you pray this morning?"  I said that I did and she said, "Well, praying works. Things are much better," and went on to tell me about her day.

I am thankful for lessons both of us learned, for prayers answered for Meredith and her problem and for answered prayer to how I can better relate to each of the grands.  We cannot give our faith to our children and grandchildren, but we can surely share it! 

Pastor Margaret