May 27, 2012
My Aunt Marti — facing down a progressive cancer in her abdomen — has nearly all the arrangements made for her memorial service. When I called her yesterday to thank her for having all her siblings/nieces/nephews to her and Uncle Morris’s river house, she was preparing to host guests yet again. Always the hostest…even after this week’s doctor visit brought the sobering news that a Hospice call might soon be a good idea.
She shared that the whole situation seems very surreal at times.. simultaneously planning your death…remodeling your house…one day feeling strong… the next day unable to keep anything down.
The truth, of course, is that none of us knows how long we are on this earth. Yet, we more regularly live as if it’s forever, making the here-and-now plans, investing in today, never talking about eternity even if we believe in one.
Not Marti. She knows her Lord and he’s holding her hand along this journey. She told me yesterday that although at the beginning of her illness she asked why, she now finds treasures and new wonder in each day she’s been given. She is faith personified.
The book I’m reading now, by one of my favorite theologians ever – Carolyn Custis James — takes on the issue of God’s sovereign will and our response to it…knowing He’s there and trusting Him even when the uber plan is utterly unrecognizable. Aunt Marti is walking this path now. Gracefully. Beautifully. Unashamed.
December 24, 2009
Finally, tonight we’ll be still and reflect on the miracle of Christmas. We’ll celebrate with Rob’s family here in our home. Another year nearly complete, another unfathomable array of blessings, not least of which are health, family and freedom. It is health, right now, which is particularly close to mind, brought home to me through the ongoing ups and downs around my mom and my aunt’s health. Perhaps our dear friend Jeff Peck said it better than I ever could as he and Marcie face down Hodgkins Lymphoma in their son Riley. Their last several weeks remind us of the vulnerability of our humaness and the ultimate goodness of God. I am in awe of their courage, grace under fire and humility….Below, is Jeff’s journal entry today…
“I spent a lot of time listening to the words of the Christmas music we played at home today while waiting for Riley to come home. I am stunned as if I was hearing it for the first time, at the absolute miracle of my heavenly Father sending His son into dire circumstances to grow up and become the suffering servant and sacrifice for my sins. As a parent, we continuely ache to subject Riley to treatments that cause him pain, which he doesn’t completely understand, but that will result in his healing. The love of God is just beyond words. So, please drink deeply from the well of joy and glad tidings that is Christmas–emmanuel, God with us.”
November 6, 2009
By most accounts, last night’s event was pretty standard Washington fare .. fancy house of an Ambassador, political jokes at the expense of both parties, accomplished speaker. But what broke through all the fluff was the small (yet powerful) voices of Monica, of Angelique — those lives transformed through Romanian Christian Enterprises (RCE).
I have not known suffering in my life, nor have my children… nothing remotely close to the kind of evil visited on poor, disabled, abandoned children in that country. For more than 15 years now, RCE has served them, clothed them, taught them, LOVED them, and often placed them in loving families — in Romania. Their work is so powerful and impact so great that not only do the local politicians support RCE, but the Romanian Federal government has given it its blessing and partnership.
The organization is living out the life essence of the Hebrew man Job. When we think of Job, we know he suffered, but we forget how he served…. Here from Job 29:12-17:
“I(L) delivered the poor who cried for help,
and the fatherless who had none to help him.
13(M) The blessing of him who was(N) about to perish came upon me,
and I caused(O) the widow’s heart to sing for joy.
14I(P) put on righteousness, and it clothed me;
my justice was like a robe and(Q) a turban.
15I was(R) eyes to the blind
and feet to the lame.
16I was a father to the needy,
and I searched out(S) the cause of him whom I did not know.
17I(T) broke(U) the fangs of the unrighteous
and made him drop his prey from his teeth.”
Each year, in Romania alone, nearly 5000 children exit the state system. They are essentially released to the streets, seemingly destined to perpetuate the cycle of hopelessness and hurt that has been visited on them. Evil spreads. Yet mercy spreads too and there is hope. There is a wideness to God’s mercy that is wider than the sea. But it begins with those who are faithful. God is using Romanian Christian Enterprises — and frankly the skills and dollars of people thousands of miles away — to bring healing.
Lord give me just a fraction of Job’s heart — your heart — and mercy.
February 9, 2009
I blogged several years ago that it was at a low and scary point in my life, when I was six months pregnant and hospitalized with a severe blood clot in my left leg, where I felt the most deep and overwhelming love of God towards me….a love I could not explain, but which rushed over me as I lay alone in the dark. It is that very real and vast and warm love that I hope for my friend Kristin right now as she experiences the loss of her husband Ray. As you can read on their family blog, Ray Fitzgerald fought a hard battle with cancer for less than a year, but God walked with them through the darkest of times and as Kristin puts it, even chose this road for them. From the moment Ray was diagnosed with stomach cancer to Kristin’s tribute to him and honesty about — now — his absence, they have been ”not alone and not afraid.” On their blog, there are numerous updates from Kristin and remarkable tributes from Ray’s old congressional boss, Rep. Shimkus.
Kristin herself calls attention to scripture:
“Praise be to the God andFather of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the suffering of Christ flow into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” – 2 Corinthians 1:3-5
“A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” – Psalm 68:5