Friday, July 29, 2016

Dear Cancer- Part 2: What I Know For Sure...

                  There is no pit so deep
            that He is not still deeper.
                                                 -CS Lewis

Watching this struggle from the sidelines is almost
physically painful. Here is Joe Feryn (see previous post on Dear Cancer) living his life and he suddenly feels a bit tired and run down. Joe's life is amazingly active so there could be all kinds of logical reasons why he might be tired. 

Joe is a school teacher and a counselor and heaven knows by the end of the school year we are all exhausted. He is a husband and father to two young boys. It might make sense that he's tired given that parenting can tire you out physically and emotionally. Joe is a cross country coach and runs with his team so that might tire him out. He works with the YMCA Camp Reed and especially Camp Good Times,  a camp session for kids with cancer. That is tiring too.

Yet because Joe knows his body, this amazing and loving man uses good sense and just to be on the safe side goes to the doctor.

When the test results come back, Joe Feryn's world turned upside down. He has cancer, specifically leukemia. 

Suddenly he is in Deaconess Hospital having massive chemo
and there is a Caring Bridges website for him on the internet.

People are rallying for Joe and his church has set up schedules for meal delivery and practical help of all kinds. People are praying that this amazing young man, who helps others at the drop of a hat, will be cured and returned home to his wonderful wife Angie and their two precious boys.

Joe, to keep up his morale and strength, has been walking laps on his hospital ward. What else would a cross country coach who loves God do?

Every time I go on that Caring Bridge website and get Angie's heart-felt updates, I am at once hopeful and anxious. The news this week wasn't good. The first huge intensive round of chemo only did a little damage to those awful leukemia cells. So now more intensive treatment is necessary. The next few weeks are critical. 

Please, please pray for Joe that God would heal him.

In the midst of all of this heartache, I am praying nonstop as are so many other people. And I am asking God questions, as I always do. I know the Lord God Almighty can handle any questions I have. After all, even Jesus asked if this cup could be taken from him and could he be spared? 

If Jesus can ask God the Father questions, then I am sure God doesn't mind my questions at all.

Yet to be honest, as much as I love and trust God and have given my heart to Him, I feel so, so sad when awful things happen to His wonderful children. 

Why Joe? Why not someone who is mean and evil? My prayers are mixed with confusion and hurt and even anger. Why when we pray and pray does something turn out in a way that no one wants?

Are those prayers not heard? Is God not listening?

I know in my deepest heart-of-hearts that the God I know and love and serve hears every prayer. He hears Joe's prayers and Angie's prayers and their children's prayers. I know that my God hears your prayers and my prayers. 

Yet I may never know, this side of Heaven, why some prayers seem to be answered and others are not.

What I cling to in the moments of hurt and doubt and calling out to that God is there with me and with Joe no matter what is going on. He is there when the hard becomes really hard.

As CS Lewis said with such eloquence...

    "There is no pit so deep that He is not deeper still."

And believe me there are some really deep pits. I have been in several myself and so have my dear loved ones.

What can I do when the pit is so deep and my faith is tested to the core?

I can pray and pray. God tells me to do that. He also tells me to trust in Him. No matter what. He is in charge and in control.

He is not up on the edge of the pit calling down to me,
"Well, good luck Linda. You are in there all by yourself."

God Almighty is right down in the deepest pit with me.

No matter how bad it gets and how scared I am, I am not alone.

So I will follow God's lead and pray and pray for Joe Feryn.
I will pray no matter what the test results show. I will anticipate and hope, knowing that God can do all things.
I will believe that out of this pain and hurt, God will use it all for good.

Please keep Joe Feryn in your prayers. Please ask others to pray for him.

God Bless!
Love, Linda

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Learning Lessons Over and Over and Over Again...

                       "Relax and let Me lead you through this day.       
           I have everything under control: My control!"
                                            - Jesus Calling, July 26th

Honestly, I am so darn glad that yesterday is over. I know that sounds horrible and that I should be grateful for yesterday. After all, every day is a miracle. I know that, it's just that yesterday's lessons haven't quite turned into the stuff miracles are made of. At least not yet.

I am all about learning lessons, life-lessons. Yet I find that some lessons are just plain hard to learn. I seems to bump into them again and again.

"Ah! It's you again," I say. "Guess I will re-visit you, you life-lesson you, endless times before it is all said and done."

I wish I could say that as each lesson poked it's creepy little head up that I reacted with smiles and glee. Well, I didn't. That's just the honest truth of it all. By the time my head hit the pillow last night, the only words I could say to the good Lord Almighty were, "Well, thank you God that this day is over!"

The actual tough moments seem almost too trivial to spend more time on. There was the "you need a new car moment" from our auto mechanic. There was the "Bert, we have to take some of this to Goodwill!" moment as we unpacked things that have been in storage for almost three years. 

My darling husband, and you know I love him dearly, became enamored, once again, with each item we took out. It was almost as if it was a Christmas moment from his youth. His eyes lit up and he exclaimed with great vigor, "Oh, there it is! I have been looking for this for three years!" 

As time went on it became clear that my approach of getting rid of what I considered "junk" and "let's recycle to others in need," wasn't gaining traction with my dearly beloved.

"Oh dear, sweet baby, Jesus," give me patience!

So Jesus Calling, the first thing I read with my first cup of coffee each morning, was a great reminder today.

There are several admonitions here:

1) Relax! Relax is not always my strong suit. 
2) Let Me (as in God Almighty) lead you through the day.
 In other words pay attention to the Leader who knows what is going on and has omnipotent power and just be a follower.
3) I have everything under control, My control. Okay someone has control (Thank heavens) and it is God. It is not, and I repeat not me!

So today, I am practicing breathing and reminding myself that God is in charge. I am reminding myself, sometimes with even a chuckle and a smile, to Let go and let God!

God Bless! Have a great day!
Love, Linda

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Little Things Still Matter...

                                            You stole my story 
      and something has to be  done about it.
                                                           - Stephen King

Let me start this post with a disclaimer and an admitted bias.

Disclaimer#1: This is not a political post. I was born into a strongly Republican family, and I even went trick-or-treating with Julie and Tricia Nixon. I might add that the Secret Service even tagged along which really ruined Halloween for me. 

The backstory: Vice-President Nixon (at that time) came to Seattle to support Bill Bantz, a family friend running for Senator of the great State of Washington. While I have Republican roots, as an adult I have declared myself to be an Independent voter. I may vote Democrat or Republican. I try to assess the skills, talents and heart of each candidate I vote for.

Bias #1: Besides being an Independent voter, the kind who when school levies are at stake stands at the bottom of our hill with a sign reminding citizens to vote, I am a "senior citizen" who believes in old-fashioned values. 

To me, the little things still matter. I am a big believer in good manners, telling the truth, and being responsible for our actions. 

I have been a teacher for a looooong time, this will be my 50th year in a classroom.  To me, teaching is sacred work and I hold myself and others in my profession to a high standard of conduct.

For me, it is important that all the adults in our society behave in a way that they are positive role models for our youth. I try to walk the walk of being a good role model for my students (as well as my adult children and grandchildren), and not just talking the talk of what matters. Simple things like being on time and telling the truth make a difference. None of us are perfect role models, yet hopefully we can strive to do the best we can.

So why then am I so disappointed about the speech Melania Trump recently gave at the Republican National Convention and the role model it set for our young people today? 

The minute Mrs. Trump started talking, I knew that I had heard the same exact words before. And later in the evening, when they played back Michelle Obama's talk from a former DNC, it became clear that someone had plagiarized Mrs. Obama's speech.

What difference does plagiarism make, you might add? As a college teacher my students are assigned papers and book reports to do as part of our class curriculum. We spend time in serious discussion about having their work be their own work, their own words. I emphasize that plagiarizing is cheating

If you want to use someone else's words, you give them credit. 

With internet access these days, it's easy for some students to want to take the easy route, so our college has clear policies of what happens if you plagiarize. We even have a website where teachers can scan in a paper and it will show where everything came from on the internet. I also remind students that when I read their papers all quarter, I know how they write. If I receive an assignment where it sounds like Albert Einstein wrote it, I know it is not their work.

At our college there are serious consequences for plagiarizing. The teacher can give you an F on an assignment or a failing grade in a class. A student can even be expelled from the college for this kind of cheating.

It's not just colleges that take cheating and plagiarizing seriously.
If you plagiarize at the Air Force Academy, you will be kicked out. Period. End of story. If you plagiarize on a resume, you can be fired.

So back to the Republican National Convention, it's not just that someone made a mistake and used Mrs. Obama's words, it was the minimizing and excuse making afterwards that galled me. 

Governor Chris Christie told Matt Lauer that "93% of Mrs. Trump's talk was original." He said that with a straight face.

Be still my college-teacher's heart.  

Seriously? Can you imagine my reaction if one of my college students said, "Well I only plagiarized 7% of my paper, 93% is in my own words."

How do I wish this had been handled, instead of saying these are common words and anyone could have said them? Just take responsibility for what happened. Don't minimize your mistake. Old people and young people are watching and we are all hungry for positive and honest role models! Excuses shouldn't be made for this kind of behavior.

Finally, when the world is in such chaos, why does this even matter? In a world of sensationalist news, this will probably only be a blip on the screen, yesterday's old news. 

Isn't this incident a "no big deal?"

While this may be a little thing to some folks, it is a big deal to this senior citizen. And for the record, I would be just as galled if someone on the Democratic side of the aisle plagiarized a talk. 

To me, "little things" still matter. 
Being a good role model for our young people still matters

What does this say to young people when elected officials are so cavalier about cheating? To me, things like telling the truth and not cheating still make a huge difference. Call me old-fashioned, but for me they are not little things at all. They are the benchmark for someone's character and integrity.

God Bless!
Love, Linda

Monday, July 18, 2016

Dear Cancer: Part 1...

                   There is a CAN in cancer
                    because we CAN beat it!

Dear cancer,
I have had it with you! I am sick and tired, yes sick and tired, of the havoc you bring to the lives of those I love dearly. First, it was my dear friend Sharon's sister Shelly and then Sharon herself, then my buddy Eileen, then it was my beloved husband Bert, then it was sweet Daisy Love Merrick, then my dear soul sis Vicky Westra, then my colleague Lou Dunham and now a wonderful and amazing young man... Joe Feryn.

How dare you! Here he is living his life, giving so much to others, helping young people, being an amazing husband and dad, a cross country coach to young men in high school, a lover of Jesus, being a counselor at camp, giving, giving... 
        and now he is fighting for his life since he has leukemia.

Well I am putting you on notice, cancer with a small c. There is no way you are going to win this one. If you think you can stall or end or diminish Joe's life, you are sadly mistaken. 


LOVE wins
HOPE wins
FAITH wins

but you, cancer leukemia cells, you DO NOT WIN! 

I am putting you on notice that it is time for you to be gone, adios, bye bye and adieu.

It is time for you to leave those amazing people who are doing battle with you. You will not take Joe's positive spirit.
You will not take his hope. You will not diminish his Faith in God.

Just for the record, Joe belongs to God, God the Almighty who created Heaven and Earth. Joe may have cancer, but cancer doesn't have him.

We are standing firm in our faith and hundreds and hundreds of us prayer warriors are praying for Joe to get well. So you might as well quit and give up right now, you ugly cancer cells, you.

You are not going to win. Love always wins and Joe's life is all about LOVE. summary. It's time to scram, get out of town and leave this kind and wonderful man alone. It's time for him to get back to his wife and boys. It's time for him to be well again.

You are History!

And in the name of Almighty Jesus, I call you cancer cells to be GONE!

If you believe in the power of prayer, please pray for Joe who is undergoing intensive chemotherapy for leukemia at Deaconess Hospital in Spokane, Washington. Also, please pray for his wife Angie and his boys. Thanks!

Amen and Amen!!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

And When the World Seems Crazy, I Remember...

When the world seems crazy, I remember...
God is good all the time!

Lately it seems like the world has gone crazy. There is so much confusion, hurt, pain, and disconnection. When I listen to the news or read the newspaper it's easy to feel scared, stressed and worried.

When that happens, I am reminding myself to do three things. First, I want to take a deep breath. Second, I want to remember Who is  really in charge and that is God Almighty, the Maker of Heaven and earth. Third, I stop and thank God for His Almighty love and the blessings that abound in my life.

           Focusing on God and Gratitude changes

While things may not be easy, I am reminded over and over again that God does not leave us or forsake us. He is there in the hard and very hard. He loves all of His children.

And then I look into my sweet Granddaughter's face, and Annora's contagious smile eases my heart. I find God's love in her eyes. I see how she is growing and thriving and am reminded that she is an answer to prayer... so many prayers! 

           Thank you to all of you who prayed for her!

And I slowly feel a calm in my heart. One of the very best parts of our recent lake vacation was holding this sweet darling in my arms and rocking her back and forth...singing softly into her ears...

                       "Jesus loves me this I know..."

I do know that in my deepest heart of hearts!

Suddenly... all is well.

God Bless!
Love, Linda

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