SPRING

March 23, 2018: Today is a glorious spring day! I noticed two days earlier that the Bradford Pear trees around town had burst into bloom. Yesterday, the Mock Orange bush in my backyard had blossomed, but I had not yet detected greening of the elms along the streets. This morning, however, the city seems to be in full bloom and suddenly all the trees have put forth new leaves.

The sun is coming fully up at 8 AM, among scattered clouds brushed with pink and purple against a bright blue sky. The air smells clean and fresh, though we’ve only had a small, brief rain shower. The barely one inch of rainfall a couple of days ago has revived the winter wheat, and it is a vibrant green, thirsting for more water.

As I drive to my job in Haysville, the birds are singing. A flock of geese calls to one another as they fly overhead to a nearby pond. Robins search for worms on greening front lawns. Daffodils wave their white and yellow blossoms in the cool wind blowing down from the north. A cold front has arrived, but I pray that no frost will blunt the blossoms.

Easter is near, and all of nature eagerly anticipates and joins again in resurrection.

Advertisements

Don’t Waste Your Cancer

This blog is a repost of an article by John Piper, author, and teacher, from his website https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/dont-waste-your-cancer. A friend who is fighting cancer received a recommendation to read Mr. Piper’s article in her struggle. I found it so valuable and would apply it to almost any sort of severe life struggle, that I am simply passing on his wisdom to you. Be blessed as you apply his teaching to your own struggles.

I write this on the eve of prostate surgery. I believe in God’s power to heal — by miracle and by medicine. I believe it is right and good to pray for both kinds of healing. Cancer is not wasted when it is healed by God. He gets the glory, and that is why cancer exists. So, not to pray for healing may waste your cancer. But healing is not God’s plan for everyone. And there are many other ways to waste your cancer. I am praying for myself and for you that we will not waste this pain.

1. You will waste your cancer if you do not believe God designed it for you.

It will not do to say that God only uses our cancer, but does not design it. What God permits, he permits for a reason. And that reason is his design. If God foresees molecular developments becoming cancer, he can stop it or not. If he does not, he has a purpose. Since he is infinitely wise, it is right to call this purpose a design. Satan is real and causes many pleasures and pains. But he is not ultimate. So, when he strikes Job with boils (Job 2:7), Job attributes it ultimately to God (Job 2:10) — and the inspired writer agrees: “They . . . comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). If you don’t believe God designed your cancer for you, you will waste it.

2. You will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift.

“The aim of God in our cancer is to knock the props out from under our hearts so that we rely utterly on him.”“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). “There is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel” (Numbers 23:23). “The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).

3. You will waste your cancer if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God.

The design of God in your cancer is not to train you in the rationalistic, human calculation of odds. The world gets comfort from their odds. Not Christians. Some count their chariots (percentages of survival) and some count their horses (side effects of treatment), “but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:7).

God’s design is clear from 2 Corinthians 1:9: “We felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” The aim of God in our cancer (among a thousand other good things) is to knock props out from under our hearts so that we rely utterly on him.

4. You will waste your cancer if you refuse to think about death.

 We will all die, if Jesus postpones his return. Not to think about what it will be like to leave this life and meet God is folly. Ecclesiastes 7:2 says, “It is better to go to the house of mourning [a funeral] than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” How can you lay it to heart if you won’t think about it? Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Numbering your days means thinking about how few there are and that they will end. How will you get a heart of wisdom if you refuse to think about this? What a waste, if we do not think about death.

5. You will waste your cancer if you think that “beating” cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ.“Cancer does not win if you die. It wins if you fail to cherish Christ.

Satan’s and God’s designs in your cancer are not the same. Satan designs to destroy your love for Christ. God designs to deepen your love for Christ. Cancer does not win if you die. It wins if you fail to cherish Christ. God’s design is to wean you off the breast of the world and feast you on the sufficiency of Christ. It is meant to help you say and feel, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” And to know therefore, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 3:81:21).

6. You will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about cancer and not enough time reading about God.

 It is not wrong to know about cancer. Ignorance is not a virtue. But the lure to know more and more and the lack of zeal to know God more and more is symptomatic of unbelief. Cancer is meant to waken us to the reality of God. It is meant to put feeling and force behind the command, “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord” (Hosea 6:3). It is meant to waken us to the truth of Daniel 11:32: “The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” It is meant to make unshakable, indestructible oak trees out of us: “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:2–3). What a waste of cancer if w

7. You will waste your cancer if you let it drive you into solitude instead of deepen your relationships with manifest affection.

When Epaphroditus brought the gifts to Paul sent by the Philippian church, he became ill and almost died. Paul tells the Philippians, “He has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill” (Philippians 2:26). What an amazing response! It does not say they were distressed that he was ill, but that he was distressed because they heard he was ill. That is the kind of heart God is aiming to create with cancer: a deeply affectionate, caring heart for people. Don’t waste your cancer by retreating into yourself.

8. You will waste your cancer if you grieve as those who have no hope.

Paul used this phrase in relation to those whose loved ones had died: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). There is a grief at death. Even for the believer who dies, there is temporary loss: loss of body, loss of loved ones here, loss of earthly ministry. But the grief is different — it is permeated with hope. “We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Don’t waste your cancer grieving as those who don’t have this hope.

9. You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before.

Are your besetting sins as attractive as they were before you had cancer? If so, you are wasting your cancer. Cancer is designed to destroy the appetite for sin. Pride, greed, lust, hatred, unforgiveness, impatience, laziness, procrastination — all these are the adversaries that cancer is meant to attack. Don’t just think of battling against cancer. Also think of battling with cancer. All these things are worse enemies than cancer. Don’t waste the power of cancer to crush these foes. Let the presence of eternity make the sins of time look as futile as they really are. “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25).

10. You will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.

Christians are never anywhere by divine accident. There are reasons for why we wind up where we do. Consider what Jesus said about painful, unplanned circumstances: “They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness” (Luke 21:12–13).

“If you don’t believe God designed your cancer for you, you will waste it.”

So it is with cancer. This will be an opportunity to bear witness. Christ is infinitely worthy. Here is a golden opportunity to show that he is worth more than life. Don’t waste it.

Remember, you are not left alone. You will have the help you need. “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

DON’T WASTE YOUR CANCER!

Work In Progress

I have promised myself in 2018 to write something faithfully every day.  As I wrote the last blog six days ago, I was working on a memoir for a friend.

Lee Edward Atterbury was born into his family’s circus in 1924. He worked in the circus until 1941, when he joined the Army Air Force and subsequently served  as a gunner and radioman both in the European theater (N. Africa and Italy), and then in the South Pacific. When he returned from WWII, the era of small circuses had come to an end, and Lee and his brothers began show business again with carnival shows and games. Lee retired from the road in 1996, but his legacy lives on as his children continue with carnival games and concessions.  Lee says that whether we talk about the circus or the Fair circuit, “It’s All Show Business.” (I’m using his quote as the working title of his memoir.)

I’ve been caring for Lee in his home for the past two years, and as I heard his stories, I knew that this is a valuable piece of American history that is rapidly fading with the lives of “our greatest generation.” I spent most of one year interviewing Lee to recover his memories of those years and get them down on paper. Last week, I finished a first solid draft of the memoir. This week, I am hoping to gather a few more details from his children. We are gathering photos for the book, and Martha Wherry, who illustrated “Camo, the Polka-Dot Pup” is working on cover art.  I hope to publish before summer this year.  Lee’s life has been rich with variety and experience, and he passes that on brilliantly to the reader. So stay tuned, folks, to more announcements forthcoming.

 

A New Beginning

I began this blog in 2014 with the plan to blog monthly. That didn’t happen. I posted again one time in 2015, still with the same plan. January 2018 is a new beginning. Not that I have been absent from “life” or lazy; I’ve been busy writing!

In 2013 I had joined the Kansas Authors Club to learn to write memoirs. In 2014 I entered a 500-word story in a photo contest at the club, won first place, and the members in attendance all said, “That should be a book.” I took a year to complete and self-publish with the help of my mentor, Esther Luttrell, “Lizzie’s Life Adventures” (the memoir of a retired school bus). For that project, I hired Shirley Bennett of Arkansas City, Kansas, and as illustrator, and she did an amazing job. “Lizzie” was published in 2015, for ages 4-7.

Returning from Ark City in March 2015, I drove for an hour in a sudden winter squall that blew rain and snow horizontally across the highway, and by the time I got home, “What WILL We Do On A Rainy Day” had essentially written itself to me. I got busy and put it on paper, and with the encouragement of my “brain doctor”, Jerree Forbes, EdD, did the illustrations myself. “Rainy Day” was also published on Create Space in the fall of 2016. Again, I had wonderful help with layout and formatting from Linda Duty in Florida, whom I have never yet met, but to whom I will always be grateful for her willing help with my project. Kids 4-7 will enjoy this book.

In early spring 2016, as I sat at the bank window to make a deposit, a red pickup pulled in behind me with a Dalmatian on the front seat. “What a beautiful dog,” I thought, “the spots make him look camouflaged.”  That thought was the beginning of “Camo, the Polka-Dot Pup.” “Camo” is the story of biracial twins, Carly and Cole, who adopt a Dalmatian puppy from Daddy’s firehouse mascot. The twins have questions about how we get our skin color and how puppies get their spots. Because the puppy is partially deaf, they also learn to teach him obedience using sign language. This book will be for 8-10-year-olds.

In 2018, I have several writing projects going. I am writing memoirs for a couple of friends, and I’ve planned two sequels to “Camo, the Polka-Dot Pup.” But 2018 is also the year that I keep up with this blog. I promise, and will ask you, my friends, to hold me to my promise.

SPRING IS

Spring is creation.

From brown earth and grasses and deadened trees, green blades and buds appear.

Multitudes of bird songs waken.  Squirrels playfully chase in procreative dance.

Spring is resurrection.

From death, new life appears, a cacophony of sound and color.

Yellow daffodils and Forsythia, Red tulips and flowering Quince, and fruit trees bursting forth in billows of white and pink.

Spring is joy.

Children released to run and play outside again, families gathered at the grill, or at the lake.

Reunions of friends too long isolated by winter, long walks and quiet conversations in the warm sunsets.

Spring is worship.

The earth offering all the colors of the rainbow, trees lifting their greenery toward heaven.

A multitude of flower fragrances like incense, the organ roll of thunder, the music of rain.

SPRING IS!

Memories triggered today

I was in church this morning, and our worship leader had chosen as the closing song a real oldie from the ’70s called “For Those Tears I Died”.

You said you’d come and bear all my sorrow

You said you’d be there for all my tomorrows

I came so close to turning You away

But just like you promised, you came there to stay

I just had to pray.

Chorus

And Jesus said, “Come to the water, stand by My side.”

“I know you are thirsty, you won’t be denied.

I felt every tear drop when in darkness you cried,

And I sought to remind you that for those tears I died.”

Jesus, I give You my heart and my soul.

I know that without You, I’d never be whole.

Jesus You’ve opened all the right doors,

And I thank You and praise You

From Earth’s humble shores.

Take me, I’m yours.

Suddenly, as we sang this song, my thoughts went back forty years.   In December, 1973, a troubled young man came into our home and by a work of God, became our son. Terry Hodson was 22 years old, diagnosed with schizophrenia, and had been in and out of psychiatric care for several years.   He already had numerous suicide attempts behind him when God led us to offer him a place in our family.   Terry was eager, most times cheerful, and my children, ages 10 and 7 at that time, loved him.   Early in his stay with us, Terry attempted suicide a few more times. – pills mostly, and then we would take him to the hospital to have his stomach emptied, and he would be determined never to do it again.   We were learning new steps in God at the time, though, and in the spring of 1974, Terry was delivered of numerous demomic spirits that had troubled him for years.   From that time on, he handled life in a new way, and became a mature young man.  He sailed through some troubled times that would have driven him to suicide earlier.  For the first time in his life, he was able to hold a job.   He dated – and when the girlfriend broke the relationship, he handled it well and continued hopeful.

In early October 1974, Terry developed a nosebleed.   He had hemorrhaged seriously during a previous surgery two years earlier, and a sister had hemorrhaged and died after childbirth.  I suspected a genetic bleeding disorder and pled with the doctor to run a battery of coagulation tests on him, but we were treated like “nosey neighbors”, and indeed because he was of age, we had no legal connection to demand action.  Terry had his nose packed in surgery on two separate occasions, and was in the hospital for two weeks, and on October 31, 1974, he went into cardiac arrest and died in the hospital.

Terry’s funeral was held in Asbury Church, Wichita, Kansas on November 2, 1974, and TODAY, 40 years later, November 2, 2014, unknown to the planners of the service, we sang Terry’s “theme song” – the words meant everything to him.   You see, Terry never really understood how much he was loved by people, but he knew that Jesus loved him and had died so that Terry could be with Him in heaven.  That last verse, especially, meant so much to him.  I’m so glad that Terry was with us for ten months that changed all of our lives, and that we know that we will see him again in eternity.