Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Was There For Different Purpose

You might first want to read my previous post about being excused from jury duty today.

Then I will tell you that I really wasn't there for the purpose of being named a juror. No, God had other plans for me.

We fifty prospective jurors spent much time in the lobby, waiting. Some of us sat. Most of us stood or wandered around, for there were only a dozen or so seats. Many faces were familiar to me and I knew a handful of names.

But during the time that we stood visiting, wandering from one person to another, saying helloes, asking names, still waiting...during that time I met Dorothy from the little town up the road a ways. I graduated from high school in her little town. She noticed my very short hair and we struck up a conversation. (Funnily thing, one of the ladies that I knew thought I had simply cut my hair in a very short "do". Either that or she was not wanting to ask personal questions.) But this lady recognized the "post-chemo look". Come to find out she had ovarian cancer some thirteen years ago and continues to do well. Hers was a different cancer in that hers was encapsulated in a large tumor which they were able to completely remove with surgery. Mine was spread throughout the abdominal cavity. Still...it did my heart good to meet up with someone who had walked the OvCa road and is still doing well thirteen years later.

And That's the best reason I was at the courthouse this morning....to be encouraged.

God does have His ways.

I Wanna But I Don't Wanna Be a Juror

I had to appear at the courthouse this morning as a prospective juror on a civil case. It took only three hours (roll my eyes) into the process before I could convey to judge and the attorneys that I have medical treatment every third Wednesday and would not be able to serve those days. Even though the current schedule for the trial precludes those days, they still excused me from serving.

On one hand I'm happy to be excused since it means I won't have to be shuffling my calendar and I'll be able to make a visit to our granddaughter's home (out of state) as planned.

But on the other hand, I've never served on a jury before and I would have found it extremely interesting. Even the jury selection process itself was interesting. There were approximately 50 of my fellow citizens who appeared at the courthouse this morning. It amazed me that 50 people could wake up, look at their calendar, and remember, "Aha! I have to be at the courthouse today!".

Two of us asked the clerk what happens if someone fails to show up. Her answer? They would be subject to fine and a "contempt of court". And if processed of jury selection left the court with only 7 instead of 8 jurors, the sheriff would be dispatched to the missing person's home to bring them to court to serve. But what was really surprising to me was that if they still lacked the required number of jurors, the sheriff could actually bring in someone off the street to serve on the jury.

I said, "The moral to that is to not linger near the courthouse!" And everyone laughed.

Since our county is small in terms of population, most trials here are completed in a few days time. It's not as if a jury would be sequestered for well over a year as in that infamous murder trial in California some years ago that was on TV night after night. No, this trial will be short and sweet. And I really would have enjoyed serving.

There's something reassuring about observing the rule of law as it is played out. The plaintiff has a fair day in court to explain his reason for bringing his case to a jury. The defendant has equal access to fairness in terms of producing evidence on his own behalf. Guidelines are in place. The law is clear. All parties are instructed as to how the case will proceed and under what parameters in terms of evidence, testimony, time frame, etc. The case will be decided by eight jurors who live and work here, who may indeed know one or both parties to the case, and who are members of a community that desires fairness for all. The system sets in place guidelines to ensure that all jurors are fair, unbiased, and able.

It would have been interesting to not only observe, but to also be a participant in the process that we call justice. There's something reassuring about justice. And in a courtroom scene, it is judgment that pronounces justice.

All that reminds me of John 5:24 wherein Jesus states, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.

Justice will be served. But in this case, the justice was served at the cross for all who belong to God. And since justice was served and since we are justified already by Christ's work at the cross, we do not come into judgment. We have passed out of death. We have moved into the kingdom of light. And we have life.

There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

There Is A Certainty About His Work

Reading these verses today and savoring them.

John 6:37-40 (Jesus speaking)
37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.
38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will but the will of Him who sent Me.
39 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up on the last day.
40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

Part of what I like about these verses is the certainty expressed in the words. Those whom the Father gives to the Son WILL come to the Son. And the Son will never lose them. They belong to the Son because THE FATHER HAS GIVEN them to Him. And everyone that the Father gives to the Son WILL HAVE eternal life. There is a certainty expressed here that cannot be overlooked. And the certainty is this....the work is of the Father and of the Son and NOT of ourselves! Those who come to the Son do so because the Father has ordained that they do so. And they come because God draws them (John 6:44,45) and they love the Father and the Son because of such a good and great gift...eternal life through Christ Jesus.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

This Is Not a Metallic Centipede!!!

This may look like a metallic centipede, but never fear, it's harmless. (Eeewww, centipedes. Makes me shudder!)

I brought this Timex watch home from a yard sale. I knew it needed a battery...no problem... easy fix.

It was the expandable band that I liked. So I took this $1 purchase home.

I decided to clean the band before replacing the battery. The pins holding the band in place are spring loaded. Think of a toilet paper holder. Same principle. Only instead of a finger, you use something tiny, such as a small knife blade to pull the pin back and remove the band from the watch.

I mixed up my usual "jewelry cleaner" (half a cup of water plus a tablespoon of ammonia). Do not use this on pearls or opals. And don't shoot me if you dip in some $100,000 piece of jewelry and find that this solution damages your investment. I use it on my wedding ring (gold/diamond). And sometimes an expandable watch band. And I don't clean pearls or opals. If you need advice beyond that, ask your jeweler.

After a good soak look at the filth! After I had stretched the band (four hands work better here, so ask your hubby) I used a small artists brush to clean the inner pieces. The water became even more filthy. The amount of dirt was incredible! (The lady I bought it from is a happy gardener and all I can think is that she wore this watch while digging in the dirt. And bulldozing her driveway. And digging a basement. And traveling 60 miles afoot in a dust storm. What else could it be?)

To replace the battery I had to remove the back. I used a magnifying glass to find the small notch where a thin knife blade could be used to pry. Popped right off. Replaced the battery. Couldn't get the back on again. Tried numerous times. Pliers. Two pair of pliers. Getting ready to use the hammer. Getting ready to smash my investment (which had grown to $3 with the purchase of the battery) to smithereens.

Decided to google. I found that I needed to place the back in a level position and not with one edge set in while trying to pop in the opposite edge. The entire back has to be popped in from a level position.

So....laid the watch upside down on a wood cutting board. Then used a small piece of wood and (you guessed it) the hammer. With everything in position, a light tap on the top piece of wood popped that back right in place.

I still can't believe the amount of dirt that was inside the band. Hmmmm! Maybe it really was a centipede after all...don't they live in the dirt under rocks and bricks? Ughhhh! Makes me shiver!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Summer and Winter and Springtime and Harvest

This past spring a friend in Illinois sent me seeds to an heirloom Potimarron squash. Our backyard is very small so I planted them amongst the daylilies east of the garage. Now and then I herded the prolific vine back into the flower bed and off the neighbor's lawn.

Here is our harvest. We've already eaten two so our total harvest was a dozen gorgeously beautiful squash. Aren't they pretty.

As I was editing the photos, I thought of the words to the hymn "Great Is Thy Faithfulness".

And I thought of this verse in particular:

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

And then I had to enjoy the chorus as well:

Great is Thy faithfulness, oh God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Here we are. In September. With golden harvest. God is good, faithful, compassionate and eternal. The world is a crazy and dangerous place. But God is good.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Two Steps Backward - or - Please Stay Home

Scenario: Two days ago...in my hometown thrift shop...a place that is run by the hospital auxiliary which uses their profits to fund many things at our rural small-town hospital which has been a Godsend to me this past year.

I walk into the shop. Several ladies are near the cash register. One asks Ms. M the usual "How ya doin'?"

It's a polite greeting...similar to a "Howdy!" except nobody around here says "Howdy!"

Ms. M replies, "I've got the creeping crud."

At this point I want to remind you that this past winter, while doing chemo, my personal immunity to illness was at a personal all-time historical low. Bottles of alcohol (the hand cleaning kind) were my friend. If someone sneezed, even in the far back of the grocery store, I fled the scene leaving my shopping cart and contents behind. (I exaggerate only slightly.)

Anyway, Ms. M says she has the creeping crud. Every woman in the place took two steps backward. And stopped inhaling.

Ms. M added this reassuring note, "I hope it's not contagious!"

Two more steps backward.

Then Ms. M adds this very reassuring comment..."I'll be over it in two weeks. That's how long it lasted last time."

We flee the scene. Holding our breath. Scrubbing our hands with alcohol once we get in the car.

Ms. M wonders where everyone went.

The thrift shop loses sales for the next three weeks and goes into bankruptcy. The hospital itself, bereft of the assistance of the auxiliary funds, struggles to remain afloat.

I'm not going any further on this. It's ridiculous enough.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Is This Vacation? If So, When Does It End?

If you've noticed, I haven't posted much this past week. You might think it was because we spent the weekend visiting our daughter and grandson up north. Where we had a good time. We had Friday night dinner at a Greek restaurant. We yard saled. (Did you know "saled" is not in the dictionary?) We put together jigsaw puzzles. (Never buy a black and white jigsaw puzzle made from a very fuzzy black and white photo. Black and white fuzzies do not a good puzzle make.) We just generally relaxed.

We headed back to Iowa on Sunday. When road traffic should have been light. With sensible drivers. But, no, we met a number of crazy idiots out there. Which kept us on our toes. Except for the time I napped. I don't nap well on my toes. Nope. Had to recline the seat for my nap. So while I was napping, hubby stayed on his toes. Because there were idiot drivers out to get us. One almost did.

No, my slackness in not writing is not due to a short trip to the State of Minnesoda. (I'm part Swedish so I can pronounce and spell Minnesoda any way I want. If you're Irish or Polish or perhaps Italian or anything non-Scandinavian, you must pronounce and spell appropriately without the Swedish accent.)

I must confess my slackness is because I simply can't think of anything to write. Except that I finally have eyebrows and lashes again. But that may not sound all that enlightening, or exciting, or inspirational, or worthy of blogland. But there it is. I no longer have to worry about drawing matching eyebrows. Several times I had to erase and start over because one brow was higher than the other which sorta gave me a "raised eye-brow" look. You know what I mean? You may not think that is any big deal but I'm telling you that without a dotted line to follow, drawing eyebrows is a tricky task.

Thankfully, brows and lashes are back.

So in regards to writing, please be patient. I'll be back shortly.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

You Know You're In Minnesota When....

You know you're in Minnesota when the truck passing you on the freeway is loaded with a dozen ice-fishing houses. In the middle of September.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September. Autumn. Approaching Winter.

September. A week ago we were still in summer. Good rains had kept our fields, lawns, trees a bright green that lasted up until this past week. And now, in September, overnight, summer has left us and autumn has arrived.

Today as we drove to the city I looked long at the fields next to the road. The soybeans are turning. The corn is drying. The weeds are growing tall, hoping to set on a few more seeds before frost. The change is more visible each day. And when we see this change, we know winter is on the horizon.

In terms of day-to-day our lives are like the summer landscape. Each day is one more day gone. And we are one more day closer to our end. I'm acutely aware of this and it causes me to look ahead and wonder. How many more days? Weeks? Years? Perhaps few. Perhaps many. And I wonder what it is going to be like to walk those remaining days.

It amuses me that young people see my husband and me as "old people". I see it in how they speak to us, how they wait on us in a restaurant, sometimes how they ignore us. And sometimes how they are gracious to us.

And I think to myself, someday you'll be where I am now. It seems a long way off to you right now.

I don't think they have a clue.

I didn't. (smile) I remember thinking "old" was afar.

But I am not disheartened about reaching "old". I am not fearful. Scripture tells us that God knows all our days (Psalm 139:16) and that He holds us safely in His hands (John 10:28-29). I am content with that. And grateful. Incredibly grateful.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

For the Women and For Those Who Love Them!

This is to encourage women of all ages (yes, all ages) to be aware of symptoms so that in the event that you acquire this disease (pray not), you will be informed enough that you will seek treatment early. Early diagnosis ups the odds for life tremendously!

Ovarian cancer may be known as the "silent cancer" but it is not entirely Silent! It manifests in many early symptoms. It may only "whisper" but it is not "silent".

Nearly 89% of all diagnosed women experience symptoms even at early stages, yet we often dismiss them. And worse, too many women have been diagnosed after their doctors ignored them for years. But each of us has the power to take control over our own health.

Please be aware that as a patient, you have the right to copies of everything in your medical file! Blood tests, annual physicals, lab tests, mammogram results, etc. Everything.

In my own case, as I look back, I see many symptoms that I should have recognized if only I had been knowledgeable! And my doc (a female!) should have recognized them, too. In fairness to her, however, I realize that I did not emphasize these symptoms enough!

  • Fatigue (I thought I was just getting older)
  • Bloating abdomen (I thought my body was just changing shape due to age. Ovarian cancer causes fluid buildup in the abdominal area, hence the bloating abdomen.)
  • I had an unexplained bout of iron deficiency anemia. A one-a-day vitamin with iron over a month's time took care of it. But yes, this can be a symptom of cancer in the body.
  • Frequent need to urinate. Before leaving the house to go anywhere I would make a "preventive" trip to the bathroom. During the night I had to get up 3-4 times for that bathroom trip. Again, I thought it was age or due to a partial hysterectomy many years prior.
  • Pelvic or abdominal pains. In my case I had a vague and uncomfortable sensation under the edge of the bottom right rib. It was uncomfy enough that I could not lie on my side to sleep. It bothered me only at night or when lying down. Some women suffer much pain before being diagnosed. Others may notice only mild annoying discomfort.
  • Constipation or diarrhea. I did not have these symptoms. (Frankly, I've always dealt with constipation issues...mostly because I did not eat right.)
  • Trouble eating or feeling full too quickly... I did not have this problem.
  • High testosterone level. (This was brought to my attention after I wrote the original post. A rare type of ovarian tumor can cause a very high testosterone level. Yes, women have testosterone. Symptons, besides high testosterone level, would include hirsutism, or excessive hair on the face or chest.)
  • Unexplained iron deficiency anemia...As I think back, I had an unexplained anemia about 7 months prior to diagnosis. I looked it up online, and yes, this can be a symptom. Somehow the growing cancer and resultant growing blood vessels can cause some type of anemia. Mine went away after taking one-a-day vitamins with iron. But it was, in actuality, another symptom of the cancer.
  • Unexplained itching of the very top of my scalp. I've added this one, too, since my original post. Again, as I think back, prior to my diagnosis I noticed that the top of my scalp, the crown and not the sides, became itchy...but only as I was brushing my hair. Any other time I did not notice it. But once I began brushing, my scalp wanted me to continue brushing vigorously to allay the itch. This itching disappeared when I commenced my first series of chemo. Then several months later, when I relapsed, the itching appeared again. And again, with the new chemo, it disappeared.
I was fortunate in that I kept copies of all blood results during annual physicals. I noticed (my doc did not) an abnormally high reading of "alkaline phosphatase". Google informed me that this could mean a problem with either liver/bones/cancer/gall bladder. So because of the pain under the rib and because of this abnormal reading, I requested (my doc did not) an ultrasound of the gall bladder. That showed a large gallstone even though I had not had any gallstone attacks. I asked for surgery (my doc did not) and it was during the gall bladder surgery that the cancer was found. Two weeks later I had another surgery, this time to debulk the cancer before beginning chemo.

When symptoms occur that are unusual for you, or when they are present daily and last for weeks, you should see a doctor, preferably a gynecologist or a gynecological oncologist. When ovarian cancer is diagnosed early, the chance for a cure is enhanced greatly!! Better to be safe than sorry.

No single test can detect ovarian cancer. But symptoms should lead to various tests and all combined together should give your doctor a clear picture of your problem.

Ovarian cancer is the 4th leading cause of cancer death among women and kills more women than all the other gyn-cancers combined. There is no reliable test....so it is up to YOU to know your body and be aware of unexplained changes. And if your doctor pooh-poohs you, ask for a second opinion.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sewing Lessons

I thought you'd like to see how I assemble the set of lessons for my ladies in jail. (click for a closer view)

We're allowed to take in paper, Bibles, and other printed materials. But we cannot take in pencils or a variety of other things that can be used as weapons. Yeah, I know, a wood No. 2 pencil doesn't seem like much of a weapon, but over in the men's section, some guy actually managed to stab one of his fellows with one. So there ya go. No pencils.

However, the women can buy writing instruments of a different sort. The commissary (or whatever they call it) sells them plastic refills for ballpoint pens. Yep. Just the refills. Plastic.

You'd be surprised what inmates can think up in regards to "making do". Even metal staples could be collected and used somehow as a weapon. (Don't ask me how! I never tried it!) And so, instead of stapling this 13-page lesson set, I sew them together.

So how did ya like the title of this blog? Sewing lessons. Get it?! ;-)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Some Things May Never Be Explained!

Credit Card Fraud has hit us again. This time we were charged $17.96 (TEN TIMES IN ONE DAY) for something called EDC*EDIETS-SERVICE. (We had never heard of this company before this problem.)

We found the fraud quite by accident. Hubby just happened to check our statement online and found these ten charges made the day before and immediately called the card's fraud department.

I've googled and there is Nothing in regard to this company itself being the scammer. There are a few disgruntled customers, but no reports of actual fraud.

We've used this particular card only a handful of times and we're careful to never let the card out of our sight so as to avoid "skimmers". We shred receipts. We're somewhat careful using the card online. (The only SURE way online is to AVOID online purhases and payments.)

Our anti-virus program finds our computer clean.

So...did some previous purchase result in our card number being handed over to some crook? Or is it possible that some glitch in the system hit us? We may never know.

At any rate, the card is cancelled.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Today's Date: September 11, 2009

Momentous events lodge in our brain and forever after (at least while in this world) we can look back and vividly remember where we were, what we were doing, what we thought when we first heard the news.

I'm certain it is that way with most of you in regards to September 11, 2001. We were living in California at the time and I was in Minnesota visiting our daughter. We were driving from her home to my mother's home in Iowa and were enjoying the bright morning sun of a beautiful autumn day. We were oblivious to what had happened in New York until my husband called on his cell and asked if we had been listening to NPR. He added this imperative, "Turn on the radio!"

We were two hours into a five hour drive and for the next three hours we sat stunned listening to the news. At a truck stop we caught glimpses of the news on the TV above the cash register. When we arrived at my mother's home we spent the evening watching the news. It wasn't much of a visit...it seemed all we could do was hover over the TV, trying to fathom what all of this meant.

One of my brothers had been near the World Trade Center the day previous to the attack. A brother-in-law was stranded in Canada. He and friends rented a car to drive to the US where they were able to catch a flight home. And here I was, stranded 1800 miles from home.

A day later we returned to Minnesota. I was to fly home on Friday. Planes were grounded and I wondered if I would need to rent a car, catch a ride, or possibly buy a clunker to get me back to California. All kinds of scenarios went through my mind. But by Thursday we learned that my Friday flight out of the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport was scheduled to fly on time.

At the airport, we pulled up to the curb, got out of the car, and pulled my suitcase from her car. My daughter and I hugged. The emotion of the week erupted and we clung long, both of us sobbing hard, before I turned and headed into the airport. I noticed a security guard observing us. He must have watched that scene over and over as others parted with their loved ones.

It was solemn that day. Silent. There was no noise. People were on alert, eyeballing fellow passengers, searching their intent, as we waited for our flight. Everybody was wondering.....

Again utter silence as we boarded and found our seats. Nobody spoke. Not a sound or cough or sneeze. Just silence. For a long time after takeoff. Everyone in his own thoughts, wondering....

Some time into the flight we must have opened a conversation for the younger man on my right mentioned that he was from New Zealand and worked for monster.com. He had been staying at a motel near the Towers and was evacuated, being forced to leave behind everything, including his computer, clothing, and passport. At the New Zealand consulate he was able to get a temporary passport for his return flight home. He had a wife and two small sons at home. He was on the second flight of his journey and would catch yet another before leaving the States.

The fellow on my left was older. He and his wife were on their way to California where he planned to attend graduate school at a seminary. His wife was seated up front because she had been able to use miles to get first class seating. He commented that while waiting for our flight, he had remembered he still had a box cutter in his coat pocket...he had used it while opening a new computer and packing it for the flight. The screening had not discovered it. He mentioned it to his wife in the waiting room and wondered if he should report it. They thought this might delay their flight and so it was still in his vest pocket. Behind a small copy of the New Testament.

We did not exchange names. I wish we had.

It's been eight years since that day. But every time I see reference to the horrible events of that day I am reminded of the evil intent of man's heart. All of mankind has been hard at work killing off mankind down through the centuries. If history was not your forte in high school, you can surely look at it now and read how man has constantly been killing himself, so to speak. Intrigue after intrigue. Battle after battle. War after war. Newer weapons beating outdated weapons. Death. Death. Death. With Cain being the first to instigate. And with us following forever in his footsteps.

We like to think that in the heart of man there is some good, some kindness, some redemptive feature that will save mankind from his own destruction. And we try to live that, don't we? Don't we try to be good, to be kind, to love one another? We keep trying! And we keep failing! We've been failing ever since Adam. Individually and collectively.

In the end, we have to acknowledge that all of mankind is fallen. All of mankind is tainted with the sin of Adam. All of us! (Romans 3:23). There are none of us who are truly good. Each one of us, in our own flesh, carries Adam's sin. (Romans 3:10).

It is more eloquently stated in Psalm 53:1-3
The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God,"
They are corrupt, and have committed abominable injustice;
There is no one who does good.
God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men
To see if there is anyone who understands,
Who seeks after God.
Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
There is no one who does good, not even one.

Even the Apostle Paul, that great man of God, despaired over his own sin, acknowledging that in his own flesh, he could not overcome sin. (Romans 7).

If the Apostle Paul wrestled with sin, what about us? What, then, is our remedy?

The answer comes from Paul in his letter to the believers residing in Ephesus...
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world,
that we would be holy and blameless before Him. Ephesians 1:3-4

Holy and Blameless! Yes, but not in our own flesh or our own works. When we stand before God we will stand before Him clothed in Christ's righteousness, not our own. For our own righteousness, our own "good" deeds, are as filthy garments before God.(Isaiah 64:6)

Let us read what Paul says next...
...In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. Ephesians 1:4-8

The process of the salvation can be (somewhat) summed up in the word, "imputation". Adam's sin was imputed (put into, put onto) to us. Our sin (sins) were imputed (put into, put onto) to Christ at the cross. And in exchange, that grand and gracious exchange, Christ's righteousness was imputed (put into, put onto) to us! I have righteousness! Christ's righteousness! Not my own, for my own good deeds are as filthy garments, muddy, filthy, unclean. But in Christ I am Clean and I stand before the throne of God as Clean. In Christ!

There has been no other remedy down through the ages. We live by faith. Faith that Jesus is who He said He is, that He has done what He has said He would do, and that He will do what He said He will do. In terms of eternity it is a "done deal". In terms of time, we live out our faith day by day, moment by moment, trusting that God's work is sure and certain.

As Peter said, "Where else can we go?" John 6:67-68.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Alive and Kicking By God's Grace

You'll have to excuse me. At least I Hope you excuse me. I'm laughing with delight.

My friend Joshua, currently in India, used that phrase today in describing his current state of affairs. Living in India is not always easy. But in spite of difficulties, adjusting to the food, and driving dangerous roads, Joshua is doing just fine.

I read his post through once. Then I read it again. And then I noticed the subtitle under his photo. "Alive and Kicking By God's Grace." And I had to laugh. I thought to myself, "Yep, that's me, too! Alive and kicking by God's grace."

My cancer is in remission...how long, who knows. God knows. The treatments I am taking now do not affect me much. I'm feeling really good. I have plenty of energy. I'm alive and kicking. And all by the grace of God.
But even if I am not feeling well...even if this thing turns around and goes the other way...I am still within the grace of God. I am still within His good and perfect will for my life.

And no matter what, I am still safe and secure in His hands.

John 10:28,29 "and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand."

Green Stuff! And My Take!

I'm a bit cynical about all this "going green" stuff.

I've noticed magazines have hopped on the wagon and have all sorts of suggestions for how we can be more "green". Some of them sound reasonable. For instance, it's a good idea to have a shopping bag that you can use over and over again. And to recycle as much as you can.

But look at these suggestions from a magazine I read this week. Some are downright whacky.

1) Toss empty makeup bottles and plastic compacts in with your kitchen recycling. (Wait a minute...on the average...that means I'll be recycling 3 plastic bottles a year. In a good year, 4. And my plastic compact...don't we keep them ForEver?? I really don't see how this is going to green up our environment! Instead of worrying about a handful of plastic bottles per year, how about something really, really big? How about getting rid of that super-difficult-to-open-plastic-packaging that manufacturer's consider sacred! I mean, why does a 50-cent item have to be secure in plastic that can only be opened with a radial arm saw? I mean, Really!)

2) Buy gallon or economy size bottles. (A gallon size bottle of dish detergent is no bargain. The smallest bottle on the shelf is generally the best buy per ounce. Pouring from the gallon into the small size is messy at best, and when I spill product I waste product. And get very, very grumpy. More than the "usual" grumpy!)

3) Purchase organic cotton balls to use with toner and nail polish remover. (Would you price organic, please! If you're really trying to green up the environment, one cotton ball at a time, how about using something else, such as rags cut from old t-shirts. Which I don't do, by the way. I generally donate my used clothing to Goodwill. But, hey, one t-shirt cut into 4-inch squares would remove lot of nail polish. You could choose the color to match the bathroom! I'm just sayin'! )

4) Don't buy new travel-size products: Refill your old ones before packing for a trip. (I tried that last trip...with toothpaste. Okay, now I'm kidding. I didn't do that. Although if one of you has tried it and it works, please let me know. Don't we ALL save and use those little shampoos we pick up at the hotel?? Or am I the only cheapo?)

5) This same mag suggested booking a non-stop flight when flying because the majority of fuel use and harmful emissions occurs during takeoff and landing. (You know, I would be really, really happy to do this...if the cost were equal. But that green non-stop flight costs a huge amount more in $$$ than a flight where there is at least one layover.)

I admit that I'm being a little nit-picky here. But this same magazine touts vacations to Timbucktu and beyond, all of which require tons of jet fuel. Maybe if we traveled a bit less, we'd save more green. Environmentally and cashwise.

And this same mag touts recipes whose ingredients must be imported from who knows where. My small-town grocery store is pretty green in that respect...these exotic long-distance items are generally not available. Hence I score really good on this one.

And I'm noticing that a LOT of the green suggestions are suggestions to buy THIS product and not THAT one. And THIS product generally costs three times THAT one. And generally it is product maker who is touting his own Green-ness and hoping to lessen the Green in my own pocketbook. I may not be too smart, but I recognize the difference between $10 and $30 long before I reach the cash register.

I have to buy plane tickets this week. Perhaps United or Northwest or Continental or Southwest will read this and put a half-price special on their non-stop flights. Now that would be really GREEN, for the environment and for my pocketbook, and I would buy in a minute. Anyone know the email address of the CEO's of these companies? If so, please forward this blogpost on to them.

P.S. You can read here about my favorite way to recycle. And here, too.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Somehow My Math Brain Wasn't Kicking In

Hmmmm. Bought three ink cartridges for my printer at a yard sale a few weeks back. They were long past their expiration date but I figured it was worth a try at two bucks each. In the store they run $30 each. I figure if they work, it's a bargain. If not, I haven't lost a great fortune.

I don't know how many prints I can get out of a NEW cartridge. I know it's a lot but I've never counted them.

But out of curiosity I decided to count the prints from the first of the $2 "bargains". So I kept a running tally.

Today's copy count approached 750 and I was jumping up and down with excitement. Bragged on Twitter. That was not wise. Ten sheets later the cartridge ran out of ink! I took the cartridge out, tapped it on the table top sidesways, upside down, right sight up. Tap! Tap! Tap! TAP!!! The printer hiccuped and gave me a couple more copies that were a bit on the unacceptable side.

Still...760 prints at $2 makes my per copy cost at about one-fourth of a penny per copy. Not bad. Even if the two remaining cartridges are dead from the get-go, I've still had a good run. And hey, when the three cartridges are used up, I can trade them in at my office supply store for a $3 credit each. That is a $1 profit above and beyond all the printing.

But I'm not so smart after all. There were several other cartridges that she was selling at $2 apiece. Could have traded them in for $3, too.

I'm laughing (at myself) all the way to the kitchen for a cup of coffee.

There's Obsessing and There's Observing

Sometimes I wonder if I am dwelling too much on death. That the talk of death makes this blog a bit depressing. Actually, I'm not dwelling. But it might seem that way to those reading my blog. (To me, "dwelling" connotes "obsessing". And in spite of what you may think by reading my notes, I am not obsessing. Merely observing and making comments."

In my posts, I am not dwelling on death per se. I'm dwelling on the hope that we have in spite of death.

We all face physical death. Sooner or later. From the moment of conception in our mother's womb we are moving forward relentlessly. Moment by moment. Each moment brings us closer to the end of our life here on earth. We live in "time" and that's how "time" works. I'm not dwelling on death. I'm not morbid about all that. I'm simply observing and stating fact.

I think most people begin to recognize their own mortality at some point in their lives. As young people we "know" that "old people" die. And now and then, younger people die in accidents. We know that. We see that. But it's always about "them" and never about "me".

However, at some point it becomes an astonishing, "Hmmm, I, too, am going to die! I am human like everyboy else. Everyone dies. And I, too, will eventually die." But even in that first recognition our mind adds, "Someday!". And "someday" always seems a long way down the road. And we think we still have unlimited years ahead of us. And so we blithely go on, never looking seriously at the death that sin has brought into the world. As descendants of Adam we inherit his condition of sin and death. And not only us, but all of the world. All of creation groans, waiting for the time when death will be no more. (Rom. 8:22) (place your cursor over the scripture to read)

But at some point in our lives, if we are fortunate, we begin to see that "someday" is closer than we thought. And in seeing that, we begin to grasp more clearly how rich is the hope we have in Christ Jesus.

I see my cancer as a blessing. Oh, I'm no Pollyanna, thinking everything is "wonderful" when it is indeed not. Cancer or any other major illness is no sweet deal. Everytime I have a twinge of discomfort somewhere in my body I wonder. And everytime I have blood tests or CT scans, I'm anxious to hear a good report. I don't know what lies ahead of me and I wonder. And, yes, I worry a bit. I confess that. As I said, I'm no Pollyanna.

However, I believe Romans 8:28 where Paul says, "All things work together for good for those who love God." And since I cannot see into the mind of God, I have to settle back into my life and into my "now" and relax a bit, letting God deal with my "tomorrow" and provide for "my good". When I do that, take my mind off the "what ifs", then I can relax and enjoy the moment right in front of my nose. And I know that the "good" that He works in my life is spiritual and real and eternal.

Someday death will be done away with. Christ will effectually end death. (I Cor. 15:54,55; Rev. 21:4) And I live in that promise. Even though I (and you) will walk through the "valley of the shadow of death", we do not walk alone and we have the promise that in Christ we live. We have life in Christ. He has taken our death to the cross and in exchange He gives us His life. Eternal life. (John 5:24)

So, then, how do I live in the here and now? I live by faith. Believing and trusting that God has everything under control. No matter what. No matter how it appears. No matter the circumstances. No matter how my days will go. No matter the troubling thoughts that cancer can introduce into my mind. I take one day at a time. And while I want the best treatment possible and while I try to check all possibilities in regards to treatment options, I refuse to obsess about the "what-ifs". There's really no point in doing that.

I just rest. I rest easy. In Christ.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Farewell to the Tigers

Good intentions sometimes turn into a lot of work. Take this morning, for instance. I fully intended to walk out to the garden, pick a dozen tomatoes, and return to the house. But once outdoors I got side-tracked and spent the next hour and a half pulling up tiger lilies.

Why would anyone do that, you might ask.

It's simple. See those purple stamens? They're loaded with pollen. And when the pollen comes into contact with clothing, it stains. Permanently. Or at least permanently enough that I do not wish to mess with it in the laundry room.

I will keep the original patch near the corner of the house. The tigers remind me of my Gramma Elise Susanne for they originally came from her yard over in Nebraska. I first brought a clump home to the farm when I was twelve years old. And I've moved them with me over the years each time I moved.

I'll keep this patch thinned back away from the sidewalk so that we do not brush against them while walking past. They'll be just fine in this corner.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Major News Tends to Ignore the Important.

The mainstream news has not yet mentioned much about the death of Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy. This man was the chief minister of the South Indian state of Andhra Pradesh (somewhat similar to our governors) and much beloved by the people.

You can check out Joshua's post about this important Indian leader and what his life meant to his people. Joshua titles his post "When a Man's Ways Please the Lord" and in a few short paragraphs you will learn more about this good man than you will ever see on major network news.

You can read Joshua's full blog here.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Day 57 and 500 Witnesses

It is now Day 57 post chemo and I am sporting a crop of puppy fur. Soft. Even. White. Puppy fur. (click photo for a closer view)

But, hey, I'm happy. I'm feeling well. I'm still on the clinical trial and will continue receiving Avastin (or placebo) every 3 weeks for another 20 sessions. Avastin has no effect on the hair and minimal side-effects. The puppy fur will thicken and become normal hair again. Soon. Day after tomorrow. Or the next. I'm counting the days.

Looking back I remember the chemo as hitting me hard. Not as hard as the debulking surgery and the resultant hospital days. But hard. Looking back I think if I had to do this again I could do it. (Of course, I never suffered the nausea that so many do, so I'm not sure I want to risk another time if it means nausea! I really would rather not go there!)

It may seem rather weird, but in spite of the unknowns that cancer brings, I'm glad that I've been where I've been. I'm glad. Because it was good for me. Cancer forced me to take a good long look at Death.

There were many nights when I lay in bed and contemplated what cancer might mean in regards to my future. A couple years? Five years? Ten? Would there be pain? Early Death? There were numerous nights when all the possible worst-case scenarios marched through my head. The chemo can knock you low. But the thinking can knock you lower.

I let myself look at all the negatives, all the dread outcomes. Then I had to set them aside, one by one, all my worries, my concerns, my fears. I had to set them aside and return to the hope that we have in Christ. I was forced to look at my faith. That was hard to do because at the moment, in the midst of it all, the cancer seems the most real thing. It took deliberate discipline to set it all aside and to bring my fear and to bow down humbly before the throne of God. And to bow down in gratitude that Christ has conquered death for us. Thanks be to God that we need not fear death.

It is in I Corinthians 15 where Paul speaks of the resurrection to the believers in Corinth. He reminds them once again of the gospel...that Christ died for our sins...that He was buried...and He was raised on the third day (I Cor. 15:3-4). The key issue is the risen Christ for, as Paul says, if Christ is not risen then there will be no resurrection for us!

And so Paul brings out the evidence...that the risen Christ appeared to Peter, then to the disciples, then to more than 500 brethren at one time, then to James, then to the rest of the apostles, and lastly to himself. (I Cor. 15:5-8).

Folks, that's a lot of witnesses. Put 500 people on the witness stand in any courtroom and your case is won! The verdict will be unanimous. And the jury will have its decision in about two minutes.

Move forward to I Cor. 15:20-26 where Paul points out that while in Adam (as sinners) we die, yet in Christ (as His people) we will be made alive.Then beginning with verse 42, Paul explains the resurrection.

Paul concludes with this, "But when this perishable (this physical dying body) will have put on the imperishable (our bodies made new), and this mortal (subject to death) will have put on immortality (no longer subject to death), then will come about the saying that is written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory.' 'O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?'" (I Cor. 15:54-55)

Death does not hold tight those who belong to Christ...any more than it was able to hold Christ Himself. Because He lives, we will also live.

Thanks be to God.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'm Trying To Maintain Some Sense of Privacy Here!!!!

I have several blogs that I enjoy reading. For various reasons. I enjoy crafts, quilting, recipes, etc. And lately, I've entered the world of cancer blogs. So you see, I'm reading a number of blogs written by a wide variety of people on a wide variety of topics.

Dandy, over at Spontaneous Clapping, has given me an assignment to post 10 things you might not know about me.

She may not realize that the reason you don't know those ten things about me is because I have chosen not to reveal them to the worldwide net! Yikes, Dandy, you have no idea how private a person I am! (Private? I'm a blogger. Does that make sense?)

But here goes...

1. My favorite recent book was "Giants in the Earth" by Rolvaag. My friends considered it depressing. I found it to be an heroic saga of Norwegian immigrants to South Dakota. Rolvaag, of course, was a Norwegian immigrant.

2. When out walking I talk to the dogs that we meet. And I think they understand my words to them. Go figure.

3. In a glass box on my dresser are two braids of hair from when I cut my daughter's hair 30 years ago.

4. We once had a family of ground squirrels die inside the wall of our coat closet. Eeew!

5. I was once inside the locker room of the old Denver Broncos Mile High Stadium.

6. I can repair most vintage Singer sewing machines unless someone dropped them off a 10-story building. The key word is "most". (They're really basic simple machines.)

7. I was once inside Corcoran prison when four men were stabbed in an altercation in the yard. A single door separated my companions and me from the yard.

8. Once upon a time, fresh out of high school, I worked for THE Howard Hughes. But I never met him.

9. Detasseling corn was my summer job as a teen. Summer "vacation" didn't seem like much of a vacation to me.

10. I like to collect "little" things and occasionally swipe a Legos people from my grandson's bedroom. (Surely he's noticed for my little collection of little people sits on a shelf in the guest room where he sleeps when he comes to visit.)

So there you have it. Ten things you probably didn't know before. I hope my grandson does not read this blog. If he hasn't noticed Gramma's Lego people, he will now know all about them. And he'll know where they came from. And he may swipe his Legos people back to his house. And my shelf will be bare. And I will miss those little people. And be sad.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Nutcases and Conspiracies and Google

I have an old friend from high school. Yah, we're old. We graduated from high school in the early years of the Vietnam War. Some of you were not yet born. But that's beside the point.

My friend wandered off to a distant state, married, and became a member of a large church that considers itself persecuted by nearly all of America. But that's not the point either. (Well...it does become part of this post...towards the last. Keep reading.)

The past several years our friendship has been sliding and after this week it's just about ready to slide off the edge of the world (for those who still think the world is flat).

My point in all of this is that my friend emails me with "conspiracy theories" about the state of our nation and who did what to whom and who is conspiring to do what to all of us and who is at fault for everything from the state of the economy to who is in the White House to who started all this fol-de-rol about the pending swine flu "epidemic". (Remember that last one.)

I generally read two lines of her emails and hit "delete".

Now and then I do a google and send her a website that clearly and convincingly refutes what she just sent me. I do that just to keep her honest. And because it bugs me when people forward "untruths" as if they were "truths".

Last week I refuted two of her emails. One of those emails contained a series of statements credited to a certain well-known and highly respected columnist with initials CK. A simple google found CK directly refuting those statements as not coming from his mouth (or from his pen for that matter). I figure CK ought to know what he said and didn't say. So I sent his statement (and website) to my friend so that she would know she goofed, that she didn't do her research. She just blindly forwarded some idiotic drivel under the guise of "true stuff!"

And I did that because she is well-known in her community and in her church and I figured she would want to know that she erred. I figured she would want to maintain her integrity AND her credibility.

Her response was, "Well, maybe HE didn't say those things but they were true whether or not he said them." I'm thinking to myself that whether or not they are true doesn't give you the right to ascribe the words to any person if he/she in fact DID NOT SAY THEM! Which I pointed out to her (very kindly) in my next email. She responded that maybe she did err. But she never admitted that she needs to be more careful in researching what she maintains is "true stuff".

The second item she sent was about a fellow who is rabidly all over the net about how the swine flu is a conspiracy for someone to make money. Lots and lots of money. And in the process many of us are going to die from this manufactured emergency.

Now I am not an expert on conspiracy theories, reading as few of them as I possibly can, because they make me puke. (Chemo never did that but this stuff does!)

As I said, this anti-vaccination guy is all over the internet and not only is he calling the flu vaccination thing a huge, huge money-grubbing, international conspiracy, but it also turns out that he is an angry ex-member of my friend's church. Google knows this guy well. He makes money by rabidly defaming my friend's church. He accuses the church of satanic ritual abuse and yada, yada, yada. This is one foaming-at-the-mouth dude!

So here she is, quoting as an expert a fellow who rabidly hates her church. And she's using him as an authority in regards to a conspiracy theory.!?? On one hand he's a credible witness in regard to the swine flu conspiracy but NOT a credible witness in his attacks on her church?

When she gets my email she then accuses me of believing this guy and hating her church! What!!????

I responded with "No, I am not defaming you or your church" and added "I sent the link to you so that YOU would know who YOU were advocating as an expert." and ended something like this... "you never want to use a nutcase to prove your own point of view."

Maybe I'm a nutcase for trying to reason with her.

Dear People. Before forwarding something that sounds incredibly outlandish, check it out with snopes.com or by using google. And make certain the website you are visiting is not itself written by a nutcase.

Disclaimer: I AM NOT A NUTCASE. Just in case you wondered.

I think it's all Al Gore's fault. He invented the Internet. Didn't he? He did, didn't he??!! I read it on the net so it must be true. (she said with a snicker)

P.S. A friend (a totally different friend, faithful and true!) recommends truthorfiction.com in regards to checking the veracity of those fast-forwarded emails.

Jail Time Again

I'm getting back into the jail routine. It's surprising how much lesson prep time that involves.

Last night's class included 15 women. My friend M teaches on Sundays and I take Tuesdays. It is a humbling thing to have the privilege of doing this.

As always, last night's class included several new faces. Some of the women are in for only a week or two. Others are with us several months. So it is difficult to prepare lessons that will be useful to all. Since there may be new faces each week, we want to be certain they understand the basic gospel. And since the other ladies are with us for a considerable length of time, we want to add to the previous week's lesson. We try to manage both!

Today I have many things to do. But if you want a sample of last night's lesson...read John 1:1-3 and John 1:14. Then go to Hebrews 1:1-3. And also Colossians 1:16-17. There was more, but the deity of Christ was the premise for the entire lesson. That and his being the Creator. And since we discussed creation we went back to Genesis 3 and reviewed how mankind got into the predicament of sin. Of course, that meant going back to the NT to discover how we get out of that predicament through Christ and the Cross. Creation. The Fall. Imputation. Redemption. Justification. We covered a LOT of ground. Next week we'll settle in for more detail.

I don't have time right now to type out the above scriptures but you can place your cursor over the references and they should show up onscreen for you. When that happens...you can also click on "more" to read the entire passage.

Headed to the city. Be back later.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

This is Take Three on Global Warming

The July 2009 temps in Iowa made for a new record cool July...the coolest since 1891. We experienced an average of 5.8 degrees below the "norm".

This means July 2009 was the coolest July in over 137 years of state records. You can read more about July here.

And August 2009 ranked as the 19th coolest August in those same 137 years.

I wonder if anyone has informed those who tout global warming about this year's coolness. Er, excuse me...it is currently fashionable to drop the "global warming" and call it "climate change". So I'm wondering if anyone as told these people that Iowa is currently "cooler" than the norm.

I have news for those who have falsely believed that Iowa (and world) climates have remained stable over eons and eons of time. Climates have always changed. The following is from a previous post...

Did you know that the State of Iowa has been covered with several glacial Ice Ages, the last one at its height a mere 20,000 years ago and melting a recent 13,000 years ago. Or so the experts tell us. So...with glaciers retreating from a major portion of Iowa so recently, relatively speaking, it would seem to me that we can consider weather cycling a rather recent phenomenon in terms of geological time (where scientists often speak in terms of millions of years, not thousands).

And did you know that the Northern Hemisphere experienced a Little Ice Age a mere 300-500 years ago. According to this PBS article (click here) glaciers advanced "in China, New Zealand, and Peru, and snow covered Ethiopian peaks." North America and Europe experienced disastrously cool temperatures in regards to crops and harvests.

You can read about the glaciers that covered a major portion of North America here. And more info here where you can view a small active map of the retreat of the glacial ice.

You can read my previous posts (and probably this one as well) by clicking here.

And now, I'm outta here. I'm heading outdoors with long sleeves to enjoy the Cool.