Recent photo of my parents in my office

Recent photo of my parents in my office

March 11, 2008

Special Need of Prayer

Dear Friends,

I'm finding myself in special need of prayer so, here goes.

Many changes in my life have occured in the last few weeks -- some of them I've alluded to previously, but are concluded, and others are part of the ongoing tendency I have to panic when I'm caught up in change overwhelming. I find that whenever I cast those burdens out to the Lord (and in this case, I sense that I should do it to the whole community as well), I find a huge lifting of fear. "I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from my fears." What a marvelous reality.

The first change that has come about has been the ending of my job at Wheaton College after 21 years. I have been treated very well there -- no shame or any loss of responsibility, charity, love or maximum efforts to be of great cordiality whatsoever on their part, especially in the benefits of my departure, so don't anyone question the virtues of that institution! But nonetheless, the release of the final days have been mixed. I simply couldn't remain employed after the number of hours I'd been absent beyond my vacation and sick time. On the one hand, somewhat surprising, it has been a release, in that I don't have to feel the pressures of fighting cancer while at the same time filling as many hours as possible -- a stress on my body's physical battle. On the other hand, there was a risk of no longer having a space in which to do the work I had genuinely enjoyed for so many years, and not to have an outwardly directed space to go on a regular basis.

On a wonderful basis, though, my boss, Lisa Richmond, came to me on the Saturday right after my last day with the College offering a proposal for a 2-3 hour per day job proposal. This would involve a great deal of flexibility for me to do many of the things that I most love at the College, and those that are most needed by the library. I was delighted that I could continue with some additional funding for our family, and truly enjoy these pleasures.

The danger for me is that I'd treat library work as I had always done, and forget the new creativity that God would call me to take on as part of my new venture, unknown as that may yet be. As some friends have save to me, "The only way God would get you free from commitment to Wheaton College, especially with your illness that would lock you in with dependency on health insurance, would be to cause you to lose your job." And, indeed, this is a deeply hard school, but it appears to met its purposes, forcing us to depend in complete faith on the Lord.

On another story, the last day of my job was also the last day of my parents' presence here for their three months in helping us out here in the US. As it turns out, it was a good thing also, though it was also something about which we were ambivalent -- afraid of, and also both ready for. We knew that the Fawcetts needed to return to Brazil, and that they were ready to go, but also knew that they were afraid of my condition, and that they didn't want to see me left imperfectly atttended. But thanks be to God, I improved soon, and many other people have stepped forward to be present in our time of need. This is especially important for Margie as well for many reasons -- the children, my own special eating needs, and on and on.

Before my parents left, we asked that they remain until I concluded a cycle of radiation in my abdomen, as well as the last day of employment by the college. In terms of the radiation, I had been suffering extreme pain from my legs as the nerves higher up in the abdomen moved down through the lower sacro-iliac portion of my thigh. I had a ten-day period of radiation that has definitely releaved some of my pressure, and I can now walk, sleep, sit, and in general, praise the Lord once again for what otherwise would be so distracting that I'd fight to have peace. Praise God for that! I've also had raised levels of hemoglobin, which is the red blood cell levels, praise to God.

Remarkably, then, we've seen all of these changes come together -- my parents left, my job ended, my radiation was over, and my general functionality seems to have improved.

At the same time, I've been very tired and very loopy (my own term) when I get to praying in the evening and my words sound more like a fantasy text that I'm dreaming rather than a true "word from the Lord." How to remain that attentive in such times?

So we now see both good and stressful things overall, improvements, but then sudden shocks of fear. For one, I get surges on occasion fearing a recurrence of seizures. I may have mentioned this before, but even though it has been well over a year since I've had even a minor seizure, and rare that I've had even a fear of seizure at all (I've learned over time how to invoke the presence of God and to quiet my heart), I can still be worried if alone, and in need of calling out to the presence of others, to the saints and to those who have promised to be with us in the hour of need.

I suppose the motive for this particular blog is tied to that reason more closely than any other so far. I have now become a receiver of IV Saline Solution each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday until it still works. The doctor and his nurse have both become quite articulate, though, in saying this: "There will come a point when the saline solution won't do you any more effective good in reducing your calcium level. At that point, we won't be able to help you any more." And this Monday (March 10) of this last week, there was nearly no in calcium reduction from Friday, even with some of the additional drugs they use to make sure to tie the calcium to the bones themselves, which means that despite the regular IV fluids I'm receiving, it doesn't seem to be doing much to reduce my calium level even now.

The irony here is that I've had such a sense of feeling better, more energetic, and in less pain, but I still have a deep tiredness in the evening, and am reminded of the word from the doctor concerning the ultimate uselessness of their help, my death, and a walk-away from the hospital into aloneness. Help, my Lord. I need so much.

As for one of the more positive things that seems to come within our privilege, I've gotten to pray for several people at their periods of deepest pain where they are heading into hospice care, or, at the other end, discovering a woman who, due to a call she received at a PCM where I taught and led worship, she heard God call her to start healing prayer ministry at her local church, and then end up as the hospital chaplain at Edward -- what an amazing thing to have met each other on that circular site! Amazing are the ways of God, as she prayed for me after years of having had been prepared for dealing with people like myself! But the battles are still there, and for that reason, I would call out for the intercession of you, my dear friends.

May the Lord do opposite what they are predicting for my bodily condition. May my bones be rebuilt, and may God give you the word whereby to request that. The doctor himself remarked that my ongoing vitality has exceeded that of other patients he has had, and I know he knows that this is remarkable. But may God receive the glory, and may I be delivered of the fear that I carry with me in a way that the Lord does not deserve, for He alone is the source of all truth and reality, and His life is the source of all that I have.

Thank you, dear friends.


February 23, 2008

Time to Update

I don't know if the main reasons I've avoided this is disobedience, pain, sleepiness, or some kind of closure I don't want to start, but here goes.

I have been on FMLA (a government program called Federal Medical Leave Act) at a part-time level for quite a while now. This is something that my job provides as a means of both protecting my job and also limiting me from the length of time that I can be paid without showing up! I'm sure that many of you are aware of this legal system. In my situation, I am allowed a certain number of hours during which I receive 60% of my payment, even when I'm missing due to illness time that I've already used up after regular sick time. But when THAT time is gone, then I have to move to full time disability, and my job is in effect "terminated", which makes lots of sense for the college since otherwise I would simply continue to be absent, even though I'd love to keep working, and despite that fact that I can't seem to keep working more than little bits.

The true situation is that I reached that point during this week, and after 21 years, am formally no longer working for Wheaton College. There are many positive ways that Wheaton is handling this for me that remain -- I continue to receive a salary of 60% of my normal pay (amazing) and full health insurance benefit (along with some other benefits). There are lots of details to be resolved that Margie and a good college friend of mine are working together on, and we are blessed. At the same time, this is not a simple situation, and I am in a bit of shock, I'd say.

How is this affecting me? I am somewhat overwhelmed, since it will reduce the regularity of my connections to people that I have known and loved for many years (and didn't expect this to happen so soon). I just went into my office this late afternoon (Saturday), and began the farewell process with prayer and letting go of the space. Actually, I've already taken the artwork and plants from the place that my parents recently helped me hang (with their help also!), with another form of "adieu." And I'm sure that thanks to the College's hospitality, I'll get to say farewell at some other moments upcoming. Nonetheless, this is a place no longer tied to my "identity", and I am in the process of listening to God in order to more accurately hear his will for my future.

A close friend of mine, Mario Bergner, has joined others in counseling me with a suggestion that I think I have somehow had as an instinct for a longtime also, but which is quite scary. That is that I have the possibility of growing in maturity and ministry beyond Wheaton, but would never have done so without this kind of "kick out of the nest", so to speak. I'm not completely sure why this be would certain, but I know that I have questioned at times whether I could have ended my life contendedly by serving the job I had. That is no disrespect for the importance of the Head of Music Librarianship, nor for Head of Public Services, nor for the Head of Collection Development -- all positions that I held over the last 21 years. Nor was it a sense that I was being disobedient or a failure to God in my work. I grew and learned through all of those years, thanks be to God. But it is now that in this season of life, I have had to find a way to step forward, that this is also a time of near panic for me.

How to do this from a place of such weekness and illness, how to trust in the goodness of God, the heavenly Father? How to release the shooting tension of pain that can grab me down my legs and demand radiation from my attempts to sit, lie down, walk, etc. -- does God still desire that I live and be a blessing for others? Can I be certain of my own adequacy as a believer when I catch another glimpse of my own failings (narcisisstic, humorless, groaning whiner) when the only thing I struggle to do is to release my sins to Jesus and precisely admit that very thing? It is then that I am over and over showered with love from friends such as yourselves. So many of you tell me that the Holy Spirit has united us together in worship or joined us in unity amongst the saints, and then I am quieted and my heart softens and my body also rests. Thank you beyond expression for those words of encouragement. I have lists of those of you whom I look forward to writing to, either via e-mail, or, better, by actual card! (Or perhaps, someday, we'll see each other in this life also!)

One thing I do continue to hear from so many, and to find echoing in my ears, is that my time is not yet over yet. May the words of the Peter the Apostle serve as encouragement: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him the be the power for ever and ever. Amen.
I Peter 5:8-11.

In His love,


January 19, 2008

Fighting Depression

During the last couple of weeks, I've become aware of a slip in my energy and focus, so this Tuesday, January 14, when we went for the blood check and visit to the Dr., I had a lurking sense that I'd need a blood transfusion again, and some injections or IV medications. And, indeed, that was the case. The hemoglobin had dropped down to 8.8 (from the previous high of 10.0), and there was a slight increase in the calcium in my blood. So we were clearly not on a straight upward move.

At the end of our appointment with Dr. Hantel, we had one of those average conversations that articulate contemporary medicine, but apart from including divine intervention or miracles. He praised the medical approach "we" had taken to getting me back to work, and predicted that "we" would have to see how long this would continue to work. He made some prognosis estimates that were very sobering, but that were really grounded in the methods "we" are using, but about which we are honestly uncertain. There are many other things contributing to my health that he is not aware of, nor did he same to respect them.

Nonetheless, the length of his prognoses weren't such that would encourage me or acknowledge that only through the miracle of God's work could I get further healing -- and that really, it's most likely that only through the miracle of healing that I've gotten as far as I have! Frankly, I felt stabbed in the back. It has taken me several days to get more perspective on what goes on after a trip to the hospital, the help I need to focus on God's voice rather than on the medical one, and at the same time, how to respect the treatments I'm receiving, since God has used many of them, no doubt. Some of allopathic medicine is actually beneficial, just as traditional science discerns much truth, whether or not the scientists acknowledge the ultimate source of life and reality as rooted in God. So I will continue to see Dr. Hentel, but I need a great strengthening of perspective to avoid being subordinated to his ultimate authority without listening first to the power of God. Forgive me, Lord, for the ways that I can become quickly faithless and embittered about the ongoing pains and battles I face.

In that regard, here are some matters for prayer: my bones continue to be shaky, shriveled, eaten up and made progressively convoluted. For example, my right rib cage has several tumors growing there, whether breaking down the bone, penetrating it, or using it as a basis to penetrate the lungs. I've noticed in the last few days that it takes more fast, short breathing even to walk slowly, or to speak full sentences or to vocalize loudly.

And yet, after Margie and I prayed a couple nights ago for one of the most prominent and largest tumors, my pain reduced there today, and the size seemed to shrink. What a marvel! Now, to pray again in other ways. I realized in retrospect that I had taken on some energetic efforts with my right arm, and might be paying for it with a bruise, a stretched muscle, or even a fractured rib. In the last few days, I had held Josiah and rocked him to sleep, then lifted him into bed, at some great effort, and pain as well. I lifted some stacks of books while sorting them at work. I sneezed and coughed a bit which tightened up my rib cage. All of these minor behaviors (by a normal standard) may have caused the inflammation and pain to break out. But I have had these sorts of things before, and I believe that just as doctors can't do anything for fractured ribs except wait for them to heal, in the same way, I've felt better after a few days. Pray for that for me, if you can.

In the largest sense, God continues to call me back to listen to the impossible as he speaks it to me. He hasn't called me to die yet, and my body belongs to him. He is my Lord, and Satan doesn't determine the end of the game. Until Jesus tells me to give up the battle and go home, I simply can't do it.

How blessed are the daily Psalm readings. Could I ask prayer of those of you who can? Hear this text from Psalm 16:

Psalm 16
A miktam of David.
1 Keep me safe, O God,
for in you I take refuge.

2 I said to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing."

3 As for the saints who are in the land,
they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight.

4 The sorrows of those will increase
who run after other gods.
I will not pour out their libations of blood
or take up their names on my lips.

5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.

6 The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance.

7 I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;
even at night my heart instructs me.

8 I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,

10 because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.

11 You have made known to me the path of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence,
with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

So much of this text is about the Messiah, but as I am united to Him through His baptism and crucifixion, I can also claim that "nor will you let your Holy One see decay" -- except until the time to go arrives, and until then, "my body also will rest secure" and the Lord will "fill me with joy" in His presence.

It is that for which I have to cry out. This is not an easy journey. Please pray as well for Margie and the children as we seek to manage after my parents return to Brazil on February 11. We believe both in miraculous improvements between now and then, as well as in the provision of God to sustain us in our needs from many places after they're gone.

Thank you for your patience in hearing me. All is not misery. I can still work at home and at work for several hours each day. I am well fed and clothed, kept very nicely warm in this stab of Arctic cold. (Canada, I drive thy brutal wind far from our Great Plains! -- though my mother told me that I ought to be thanking God day by day for the privilege of living in this climate. Ugh. OK...) I seek to praise the Lord each day, and our family has been deeply refined in our spiritual learning. If anyone else also gains a deeper love and trust in Jesus Christ as a result of this, then my heart is filled with meaning.

I wish I had an old record by Bette Stalnecker that I could share with you in which she sings with her husband a simple, moving song. I'll pencil out the text (though it may be imperfect) and then try to get a copy available to link to:

All on the altar, dear Jesus,
Master, I give you my all.
Somewhere I know thou canst use me,
Master, I render my all.

My all for Thee, My all for Thee,
Who gave Thyself, Dear Lord, for me.
Thy will divine henceforth be mine,
To live for Thee, Dear Savior, Divine.

This is my prayer -- may I be used in some way, and may we all.


January 5, 2008

Saturday Afternoon Office Visit

Since I have some time this afternoon, I feel a desire to add some updates to the blog -- mostly matters for thanksgiving. First, I have been progressively aware of how my entire day can be shaped by my response to its opening moments. A few days ago I got up and the first words that came to mind were "I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth. I sought the Lord and he heard me and delivered me from my fears." Simply having something like that to say out loud, to choose to believe, has helped me to be less cranky (and believe me, it is very easy to be cranky when in discomfort.) Those around me have been patient and forgiving, but after a uniquely nasty spat that I provoked with my mother a few nights ago, I realized that God was showing me how self-centeredly I was failing to grasp the sacrifice that others have been making for me. My parents have now passed their initial ticket date for returning to Brazil, and have extended it to February 11. This generosity has been amazing, but it also means that they have to be away from their ministry and their home, living in a place with young children and daily potential stress. As I've contemplated this time, I think of how if things were ordered "normally," I'd be doing this service for them. So how much more then, do I need to think about ministering love and thanks to my family. I also feel aware of how God would use this time to bring healing to all of us, each in our own places of need.

For example, though not fully conscious of the perils I've been through, my daughter Charlotte can become very clingy to Margie and resentful of her grandmothers. What a great opportunity this has been to teach her how to give space to others (like her brother Josiah), to accept instruction from adults other than Margie and me, and to share in the project of learning to show love. I'm amazed to see Margie working with her on this, and, as always, somewhat regretful of the amount of time that I'm not around to provide distraction, modeling, education, physical exercise, discipline, and on and on, for my children. May God restore my body to the point of being able to do that once again.

In reporting one of my chief blessings from recent prayer, Margie already "outed" me! But I told her I'd give my blog the "true" version. Actually it's just a few simple additions and details. I've been recently re-reading Agnes Sanford's book The Healing Light, and was struck by her method of prayer. She begins by encouraging us to grow in faith. If we turned on a light bulb, for example, and it didn't produce light, we wouldn't assume that electricity no longer existed, or that our lamp was incapable of being repaired. On the contrary, we would expect that our lamp was not working for some reason -- a burned-out light bulb, a broken switch, whatever. Similarly, she analogizes, when we pray for something, and we believe that God wants it, and it doesn't happen, we should not first despair of asking, and assume that God does not want it to be. Rather, we must seek to discover how our own hearts are blocked from receiving an answer.

Now, to put you at ease, I think this teaching can be presented in the extreme, to the point of blaming people for their own illnesses. But I already believe that God wants me to live a much longer life, and that there are some particular problems blocking the road. Some of those blocks are past emotional wounds and resulting grief that has to be released. Others are poor habits of resting and eating. Others are failures of hearing what God wants me to do as a matter of priority. And, indeed, for each one of these, I can tell you of current events that have illustrated this clearly to me. I'll mention one at the end of this story.

One of Agnes Sanford's simple steps in faith is to begin asking for a simple and objectively measurable request. If it is answered, then one's faith grows because one's heart becomes open to receive more deeply. If not, there is no shame attached, but a simple call to pray again, asking God to show us other ways that we ought to receive.

So, I thought I'd try it. One of my serious deficiencies during early December was a dramatic, near fatal drop in my hemoglobin (red blood cell count). A normal male count should hover around 13, whereas I had fallen down to something like 7.8. The doctor had earlier mentioned that he would be happy with a level of 10 in my case, but had no certain hope of that. He gave me two blood transfusions, and I came up for a short time, but after two more, I fell back down again, this time to the 7.8 level. Needless to say, the fall in the level even after some transfusions was very discouraging. Several days before Christmas, I got another transfusion. This one was a cause for celebration when the blood check on the day after Christmas showed a stable level of 9.8. Unfortunately, despite the various transfusions I've had in my life, this time I had broken out in hives and had to take an antihistamine (like Benadryl -- over the counter, not a big deal, but sleep and potentially anxiety producing also). Needless to say, this did not pleasure to the Christmas season! But at this post-Christmas visit, the doctor was obviously lest disturbed than before, and asked for a personal appointment three weeks out -- a further sign of hope.

At the same time, I go in each week for a blood test. The day after New Years was the latest blood test. In cases where I don't see the doctor, he still views the test results, and determines what I should receive -- medication, IV with saline solution, or blood transfusions, for example. He sends his prescriptions to the nurses, who when they have to put something into me with a "drip" of fluid, need to poke around in the veins of my arms, looking for a nice receptive spot. Then depending on the volume of fluid prescribed, I have to remain at the Edward Hospital Cancer Center in Naperville for up to 5 hours until my body takes it all in. (You can see why this can become a dreadfully boring day, although I must say that Edwards is beautifully set up. They even have a computer I can use for off-site access and work!)

Returning to the simple prayer experiment now: beginning two days before going for the latest blood exam, I had made a simple prayer. "Lord, if possible, I ask you for an increase from 9.8 to a full 10 in my hemoglobin count. Even though I've had no blood transfusion for 3 weeks, and even though the doctor isn't expecting this, I humbly ask it of you. Amen."

I loved the simplicity of Agnes's recommended prayer, and the ecstasy I felt when the nurse brought us the full stats on my blood check, and there was the hemoglobin count at precisely 10.0. What more simple evidence of a divine intervention could there be -- for one who chooses to believe it? I've been praying other simple prayers like that since, and seeing answers. What an amazing upward gaze this has helped me to obtain in my view of life post-end of 2007!

But finally -- I want to share the surprising dual reaction I had to this experience. Upon getting into the van to leave the hospital, with a celebratory lunch with Margie and my parents ahead of me at StirCrazy, then opportunities for rest, to work as I wished (from home or office), to view a DVD or video -- despite all of those privileges, I felt an intense need to sob and grieve. Whither from? As I was able to find space to do those things, right in the car, by myself in the restroom at the restaurant, and later that night, I found it to be healing and to help release tension and pain (such as that in my back). I can only reflect on this mystery, and conclude that it is partly due to having fought such a battle; to having to grieve the very fact that I would have to fight it, and then the combination of grief and joy that comes from a race -- that stage is over -- HALLELUJAH! Rest now, and prepare for what is ahead.

It is now 2008. I can't help but feel the New Year as a symbol. The days will creep towards greater light. The healing in my body will persist because God has willed it, even if it is slow and imperfect. But, WOW. What a ride this has been.

May God bless all of us as we look ahead to his New Year for us! Bless the Lord, O my soul. He heals all my diseases. He redeems my life from destruction. He crowns me with lovingkindness and great mercies. Bless the Lord, O my soul!


December 29, 2007

The Joy of Boredom

In the past week, I have seen a progressive improvement in my strength and health. At the same time, the recovery is certainly not complete, so I have to measure my activity carefully. But I've been able to work from the College office and from my home computer each day for 1-2 hours. It feels so good to get out, to be mobile, and to see some progress being made on major tasks. What hope, what joy! Life is still grabbing hold of me (and I of it!) I weep each day as I recognize how dependent I am on God as a source, literally of the power to be, and how gracious he is to be present and faithful to me while in pain.

I mentioned this in the last blog, I think, but just as a reminder (even to myself), my pain comes mostly in sitting in the 1/2 hour before I'm due for pain medication; and in ways my lower back can make it hard for me to find a place to lie in bed. But, another reason for praise, that is progressively easier. I've learned some creative ways to use pillows (never thought I could use so many!) that have helped me truly sleep.

I also have great limits on walking, due to the blood clot in my right leg. Each day, it shrinks as the clot dissolves and the circulation system is restored. But I have to wear a very tight pair of hose to support my legs from pooling fluid. That makes me walk more slowly. Honestly, together with the pain of sitting (say, at a restaurant), walking remains the most restrictive limit on my activity.

Hence, my title, "The Joy of Boredom." I have some wonderful classical music to listen to, some great periodicals and books to read, DVDs and videos to view, and some TV shows. I've especially enjoyed mostly Wheaton College TV rebroadcasts, since other materials are quite trivial and meaningless, unless they're documentaries. At the same time, while I'm reaching out for new things to keep me stimulated, I long for the freedom to see people, to gather with friends, to be open in conversation and mutual sharing.

In this regard, I think I already mentioned how much I've come to love the way that my father and I can pray Morning Prayer and then Compline together. It is time more fulfilling than I've yet had with him in my life. We actually never connected -- he the sports fan, I the reader and classical music lover. But in this season of suffering, his love and tenderness has come shining through. Thank the Lord for my parents being here. I wouldn't have made it without them.

And I can't stop without mentioning my mother: great conversations, daily shots and medications, freshly squeezed vegetable and fruit juices with the right add-ons from alternative medicines, three meals a day that are almost all vegetarian or at least balanced with the appropriate amount of meat like chicken or fish, help with showering and dressing, washing and ironing my clothes -- the list goes on and on.

I'm am incredibly blessed. I can barely imagine the riches at the end of each day. That awakens within me the hope of God's ongoing intention for me. I heard him say a couple days ago, "Do not fail to believe in the promises I have given you, for I will be faithful. I am healing you day by day, and though it may seem slow at times, you are not in control. You cannot do this. Trust in me, and I will lead you day by day."

So that's what I'm trying to do. It isn't easy, even when the hospital news may seem good. The greater reality is that the hospital and the doctor are not ultimately in charge, though their human wisdom is great.

And through that, my heart is most thrilled with the possibility of once again being a blessing to others, whether through writing, speaking, teaching, or leading in music. For there is nothing more beautiful than the house of the Lord, and abiding in his presence.

May we all find that by beholding the beauty of the Lord, we will be transformed day by day into creatures who are both more human and more reflective of the divine image.

Blessings to you all,


December 22, 2007

A Chance to Return!

Dear Friends,

I can only count it a great blessing for all your intercessions and care. Margie faithfully took over the reports on our family and on my health, but I owe it to you to thank God for the ways that I have day by day chances to see him carry me through cycles of pain and relief, unexpected downfalls, and reaffirmations of hope. As Margie reports, I have had definite improvement in my capacity to be active, present, articulate, and even able to go to work for 1-2 hours per day. For this I am so grateful.

As far as pain goes, I'm reminded of passages in C.S. Lewis in which he speaks of the mystery of pain, and of the way in which we as human beings are all cowards in the face of it. I can only say, "True." Who wants it? Yet it is not our choice, it arrives unwanted and departs unexplained at times.

The pain I am enduring has a definite cycle of 6 hours or so, when I take a pain-relief med. Building up to that time can be obviously more challenging, but an outward focus and a personal connection or sleeping are always helps in alleviating that. When I do have pain, it comes to my lower back, and then down the right leg (for the most part). I can't breathe too deeply nor exert/extend my arms with force or energy, so those are areas for caution.

At any rate, I thank God that I've learned more about handling these episodes. For one thing, if I can learn to breathe deeply, lie flat, and pray the Jesus prayer instead of fighting pain ("Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner"), it is not at all uncommon to reach a point of peace. What a surprise. My pain flows into the cross.

I think I may also have mentioned the meditation on the seven-last words of Christ on the cross as helpful as well, but I've failed to be as consistent in that meditation. At any rate, it is deeply comforting to receive the love of God in the midst of discomfort. This is most often mediated by my family. How would I survive this without them?

Margie is a rock of defense and security. What a blessing I received in her! My mother is a nurse, a caregiver, a nutritional expert in cooking, and she knows just what I need to do, even at times when it takes some more effort (!) My father and I have become closer than ever in our lives, and I count that a great privilege. We have started the practice of reading the daily office of Scripture together each morning after my breakfast.

Well, friends, that's a bit of news. What I want you also to know is that I seek to find ways to remember to intercede for you as well, when my mind is focused. Otherwise, I trust the Holy Spirit to take all of the words, spoken and unspoken, to fulfill his purposes for his glory.

Love and a Merry Christmas to you all!


December 1, 2007

Keeping You Posted

Dear Friends,
I am writing on John's behalf this evening. He is not able to blog right now. I am hopeful that he will regain strength and be able to include you in his process very soon. Because John is not able to get to the computer, I asked him if he would like me to write a quick post for him. I cannot keep up two blogs about our lives, but I would like to refer you to mine if you would like an update. I am updating my blog at least once a week, more if there are urgent needs.

As I am witnessing John's body wasting away and simultaneously being renewed by the indewelling Holy Spirit, I am grieved and fortified.

Your prayers are sustaining us.
Much love,
Margie Fawcett