Maggie’s Blog

It’s been almost two years since I posted, since Jason, our son-in-law got sick. Going through cancer with him took me off-line with my blogging, and in some ways, with my heart. There was so much to do, so many feelings, I didn’t blog.

I still don’t have answers, but decided to start posting again. I’ve been going through Psalms, rich in emotion and meaning, writing observations. Enjoy!

Maggie



Psalm 131 – I Have Calmed and Quieted My Soul

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;

My eyes are not raised too high;

I do not occupy myself with things

Too great and too marvelous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,

Like a weaned child with its mother;

Like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the LORD

From this time forth and forevermore.

What a short, impactful psalm! I’ve heard of “one point sermons” and how some ridicule them as too simple, and yet their impact can be greater than seven points that vie for attention.

Let’s start first with his condition. His heart was not lifted up. In other words, he was not feeling on top of the world. Maybe he was a little emotionally down. Maybe he was just humbled. He was certainly feeling his humanity. I can relate.

He’s not trying to be a god. He realizes the world with all its complexity is out of his reach. For those of us who are trying to control the world around us, it’s a good thing to remember.

And all those questions beyond our reach about the mercy and judgment of God? Those are ok for us not to know the answer. Why some live and some die? Again, it’s ok for us not to know. Why does God allow evil in our life and in the lives of others?

Instead, we need to calm our soul. Take a deep breath. It’s an act of our will to not be anxious about things beyond our grasp. I’ve certainly had to do this with my cancer. Others have had to do it with their career or relationships. We can’t control life, nature or God.

Then there is a great description — a weaned child with his mother. I’ve been there, seeing the terror in a child’s eyes while being denied the breast, grabbing and trusting with all their body while I prepared something for them to eat.

Life-giving substance is so close. All we need to do is grab a tit. But it feels removed from us, out of reach, denied.

It’s time to quit trusting the tit, and trust the mother who provides for us.

She will continue to provide. She’s not going to let us starve. But we don’t know the ways of the kitchen, or even if there is something out there that will take meet of our needs. All we know is what we used to do is no longer working.

We need to trust. We need to calm our soul. God will provided in ways we know not of.

Being weaned is one of our first experiences with patience, with trust. We learned to calm our soul, the bottle is coming. But every once in a while, we forget how to do it. We get so frantic about the situation we are in, we forget we have a provider who never leaves us, who loves us more than we can comprehend.

Oh soul, be calm. God is here, from this time forth and forevermore.

(Let me know if you are reading this, or did I loose you my time of silence?!?)

I’m Back!

It’s been almost two years since I posted, since Jason, our son-in-law got sick. Going through cancer with him took me off-line with my blogging, and in some ways, with my heart. There was so much to do, so many feelings, I didn’t blog.

And with his passing, I had reasons to delay:

  • We’re still grieving.
  • I got trapped in patterns while care-giving Jason; I’m not sure I want to give them up.
  • Just trying to catch up on life!
  • I’ve wanted to re-design the website.
  • I’ve wanted to complete a book I started. Bottom line: What are my priorities?

I still don’t have answers, but today I decided to start posting again. After all, I have to begin somewhere. It’s not that I haven’t written. I’ve been going through Psalms, rich in emotion and meaning, writing observations.

So what’s my hang-up? It’s my desire to do things “perfectly.” It’s the “expectations” I put on myself. They say you need to post 2-3 times weekly, so I wonder, Will I be faithful? Did anyone miss me? Can I still communicate well, to the heart?

I need encouragement. I’ve gotten a little from family and friends, but nothing made me push the button. But today, I realized I write not because of family and friends. I write because I’m suppose to write. I cannot not write.

When I first started blogging, I didn’t tell anyone my blog address. I wanted my thoughts to be between me and God, not others. I also wanted to develop faithfulness. By blogging, I felt it was “out there” but still private.

Along the way, I realized my thoughts could be helpful to others. In fact, I began to feel it was wrong to not put things in cyberspace so that others could learn or be encouraged by whatever I am going through.

Today, my thoughts are no different. What I write is between me and God. But I’m also aware that others are listening, and it’s a good thing.

So—I’m re-launching my blog. Right now it’s on our ministry site. Later I hope to develop my own site. But this is good enough, even if it’s not “perfect!”

Maggie

I’m No Gardener

IMG_1948_2 copyI’m no gardener.

It’s always been a desire of mine to be able to have a garden. I remember my early years and my mothers patch behind the garage. I was especially impressed by the row of corn, probably because it was so tall while I was so little.

Later, she grew strawberries by the side of the garage. I was fascinated by watching them blossom and then turn bright red and juicy. The rabbits loved them also.

Growing up in the city, I loved the concept of farming, living off the land. I read books about 4-H and fantasized about raising animals. I even pretended my bike was a horse, a blue roan, naming it “Sky Blue.”

I choose a college in the middle of the state, farm country. I listened to crop reports on the news. I remember being at a frat party in a corn field. While others were drinking, I wandered into the field, envisioning the feeling of owning land.

But our vocation was not conducive to gardening. Each summer we had a summer assignment and/or a month-long conference. We visited supporters of the ministry and admired their gardens, even ate their apple pie. In California and Florida I planted fruit trees, but we moved a lot and others enjoyed the fruit.

So in semi-retirement, while fighting cancer, I’ve wanted a garden. It’s difficult to get on hands and knees, so I’ve opted for pots on the railings and a raised bed. What have I learned?

You have to commit to planting seeds.

I can hear you groaning, “Duh?” and I confess, it seems obvious. Desire alone doesn’t get you there. Buying equipment doesn’t get you there.

I’ve been pretty much a failure in planting the seeds. I bought a fail-proof table-top greenhouse but they never made it from seedlings to full-grown plants. It’s been hard to figure out seasons in Florida, with winter being summer and summer just being hot. I bought potted plants and they died. The only plant I’ve had success is peppers — and I don’t like hot food. But they have gone crazy!

I’m sure there are some lessons in all this. I’d love to hear what you think…and would be glad to take some advice. (Please comment)

Introverts Unite

2011-5-22 Great WallI recently read an article from The Huffington Post 11/07/2014 entitled: 10 Ways Introverts Interact Differently With The World. It reminded me that so much of what I do is perfectly normal for an introvert, while it doesn’t feel normal when I’m out in the world. I thought others might relate…and the rest might understand introverts a little bit better.

1 – They withdraw in crowds. First, a definition is helpful: “Shyness is about fear of social judgment…Introversion is more about how do you respond to stimulation.” I’m not sure I am as shy as I am introverted. Social situation can overstimulate me rather than make me feel comfortable.

2 – Small talk stresses them out, while deeper conversations make them feel alive. So true for me! And if I don’t think it’s going to get deeper, I move on.

3 – They succeed on stage — just not in the chit-chat afterwards. “At least half of people who speak for a living are introverted in nature,” according to Jennifer B. Kahnweiler, Ph.D.” Interesting…

 4 – They get distracted easily, but rarely feel bored. Again, so true for me! If there is a lot going on, it’s hard to focus, but if it’s quiet, I can achieve much.

 5 – They are naturally drawn to more creative, detail-oriented and solitary careers. So how does me as a part of an evangelistic organization that talks to strangers fit? It’s all about deeper conversations.

 6 – When surrounded by people, they locate themselves close to an exit. How do they know me so well? I hate to feel trapped and will even retreat to a bathroom if necessary just to feel alone in my own space!

 7 – They think before they speak. Sometimes it’s hard for me to contribute to a conversation with 2 or more extroverts. By the time I think of what is worthy to say, the extraverts have moved on to the next topic!

8 – They don’t take on the mood of their environment like extraverts do. I can be sad when others are happy and visa versa. At times, that is socially awkward.

 9 – They physically can’t stand talking on the phone. Roger, do you hear that one? Do they know your wife or not!?!

 10 – They literally shut down when it’s time to be alone. “Solitude matters, and for some people, it is the air that they breathe.” – Susan Cain

Additional thoughts? What’s true for you?

Could It Be True?

IMG_1905I remember as clearly as yesterday the Easter I came face to face with the resurrection story. My sister and I sometimes did plays to commemorate holidays, and I can remember singing “The Old Rugged Cross” for my parents when I was younger – cute but with little knowledge of what I was singing.

But when I was in high school, I remember being in my bedroom and reading the resurrection story. All of a sudden the ridiculousness of the story hit me.

Did I really believe that Jesus came alive from the dead?

It is an unbelievable story, and I don’t fault others for not believing it. I don’t know of anyone else who did it. Medically it’s not possible, at least not after those circumstances.

At the same time, I knew the historical evidence — that a man named Jesus lived and died. Afterwards a huge number, more than what followed him in life, believed in his life, death and resurrection. That group grew in spite of extreme persecution (like being fed to lions) and yet continues, even to this day. Our brothers and sisters in Kenya prove the strength of conviction.

The story around his resurrection is plausible from what I know about the nature of men. I can imagine one out of twelve betraying him. I can imagine them running away, hiding, even denying under pressure that they knew him. I can imagine the fear of the Romans that his body might be stolen and placing a guard. I can imagine weeping women coming to a tomb after all the men ran away. I can imagine seeing visions of their friend.

What I can’t imagine is these cowards stealing a body. I can’tt imagine Roman guards falling asleep at the job, with an impending judgement of death. I can’t imagine the disciples willingness to never express doubt, to be bold in the midst of pressure, to go to the cross themselves, over a hallucination. I can’t imagine that someone, Jew or Roman, never proved the resurrection a hoax. The movement was not silenced. Something happened in the lives of the eleven, and in the lives of the next generation of believers, to turn their lives around.

So, even though, thousands of years later, I can not prove the resurrection, I believed it could have happened. And, if it could have happened, I believed it did happen.

Not because of what believing did in their lives, but because of what it did in my life.

What a Difference a Week Makes

IMG_1905Jason is responding to the chemo! If this keeps up, he’ll qualify for the bone marrow transplant. We have much to be excited about!

I can help but think about what a difference a week makes.

A week ago we had little good news, little hope. Today it is totally different.

It seems as if I have crashed headlong into Easter week. We were suppose to be in Naples, with Roger’s brother, this weekend, relaxing on the beach. We cancelled the trip in light of all that is going on (a wise decision) but as a result, Easter snuck up on us.

Today is Good Friday, the day the people called for his death, the day he suffered and died.

Last Sunday was Palm Sunday, the day the people called him “King.”

What a difference a week made — to being received to rejected, from being followed to abandoned, from loyalty to betrayal.

As I go through the emotions of the last couple of weeks, I can only image how Jesus and his followers felt. It’s a whirlwind. No wonder his disciples went back to fishing. I know how comforting cleaning house and making meals has been for me. It’s doing something stable, something I know, while internally processing fears about all I don’t know.

Thank you for your prayers. I know I’m not the only one in a whirlwind. Many enter this season with their lives turned upside-down. Pray for them also.

What a difference the next three days made!

Fearful Forward

2011-5-22 Great WallIt’s such an innocent word, forward. When I picked it as my word for the year, I was thinking that I wanted the opposite of backwards, something that would not push me too much out of my comfort zone. It wasn’t like courage or boldness, right?

And yet it is, because it encompasses those words and even more.

You see, when you pick a work like forward, you don’t know where it is going. It may take courage or boldness or waiting or patience. I think I was hoping more for the waiting and patience.

But this week, in order to move forward, I’m going to need the courage and boldness. You see, I’ve been working on a book. Shhh…I’m scared to even write it, to hope for it. It started last year in the midst of cancer treatment. So many ask how I live in the middle of life and death. So I started writing things down, moving forward.

Then, at chapter 5, I got scared.

What if I die before it’s completed? What if no one wants to publish it? What if they do? What if it’s not “good? What if it is good and sells a ton and they want me to do interviews? The “what if’s” were overwhelming me. In fact, the more affirmation I got on the project, the more fearful I became.

I took a break from the project, but it didn’t gone away. I need to move forward.

New week is the Florida Christian Writers Conference. I signed up for it months ago. I’ve been assigned 2 publishers and a seminar leader to pick up at the airport. I can’t back out. Look what this “moving forward” has gotten me into!

Now I have to move forward — I can’t leave people at the airport! But my little introverted self is terrified. Just as I am working myself into a full blown panic attack, a blogger I follow wrote

I think being gentle with my soul looks like grace. It looks like taking a deep breath and enjoying the moment. It looks like letting go of the should’s and ought’s and could have’s. It looks like smiling at the mistakes and moving on. It looks like compassion for ourselves.(Gina Butz)

I should have picked the word “grace” or “compassion” for this year. But since I picked forward, pray I will “enjoy the moment” and keep moving ahead.

What scares you? How would giving yourself grace make a difference?

 

Forward — Taking off Rules

2011-5-22 Great WallI’ve been surprised lately with the effect rules have in my life. A broken leg and then fighting cancer have forced adjustments the last couple of years, but as I think about “forward,” I’m realizing the deeper role they have played.

I didn’t see them coming at first. I was just doing what made sense. I couldn’t walk so I made a “rule” to hobble along on my walker. A walker doesn’t do stairs, so I made a “rule” to delegate the reason I mainly went upstairs — the laundry. I got tired at night, so I made a “rule” to take a nap in the afternoon.

But then, rules begat rules. If I took a nap late in the afternoon, I couldn’t fall asleep at night. So…the rule became, take a nap by 3 pm. And as I began to walk again, I made a “rule” that I could work on the laundry, just not carry it up and down the stairs. I began to see how the Pharisees got into their legalism!

Rules then became subconscious. I became tired mid-afternoon, whether or not I needed a nap. I didn’t try to carry laundry even when I was able to walk stairs. I was limiting myself without realizing I was doing it.

And I think I made a “rule” not to expect to move forward. Maintaining status quo was hard enough. In fact, just not dying felt pretty good.

So right now I’m feeling like a train who just realized it’s not moving. It’s all coupled up to freight cars, but not going anywhere. Between not remembering what it is like to move (what comes first, second, etc.) it’s not sure it should move (is it on the schedule to move? What track should it be on? What is the destination? Should I toot the horn or not?)

So I have a choice…to stay where I am or to move forward. There is risk involved. I might fail. It takes effort to do what use to come naturally.

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

I know what it is like to be enslaved to sin and freed. Our physical frailties also enslave us. They can be healed and we can be freed again. Emotional fears can be even stronger than physical limitations, but it’s as I exercise my muscles in faith, I can feel His strength.

Forward…taking off the rules.

What rules have you made that limits your moving forward? What are you going to do about it?

Mission Accomplished

2011-5-22 Great WallI took some notes after reading an article in Real Simple (“Mission Accomplished”, September page 145) that seemed appropriate this time of year when I’m thinking about how we to move “forward.”

  • Choose a Goal
    1. Zero in on something specific and measurable
    2. Make it just hard enough (range goals)
    3. Check that the goal is within your control
    4. Review your skills (performance goal vs. learning goal)
  • Master the Logistics
    1. Break down the goal
    2. Create a detailed agenda
  • Stay motivated
    1. Check in frequently (accountability)
    2. Plant daily reminders
    3. Spread the word – when you write it down and share, you are 33% more successful
    4. Learn from your mistakes
    5. Celebrate victories, large and small
    6. Reassess if necessary

It’s not “rocket science” but just good reminders, something I need to sit down and do. I’m still trying to figure out what “forward” looks like. As I do, I’ll post.

After all, I need every 33% advantage I can get!

What goals are you working on this year? How can I celebrate with you?

Medical Update 11/07/14

2011-5-22 Great WallMy oncology appointment went well yesterday. After 4 weeks off chemo because of low white blood cells counts/diarrhea, I’m back on an even lower dose than before. To give perspective, in the last year I’ve gone from 25 to 10 to 5 and now 2.5. Correspondently, my cancer marker went from 12 to 3 and has stabilized at 4.   If I continue to have side effects from the drug but my cancer maker stays the same, there is a glimmer of hope that I could go off any chemo! That would be so nice.

I’m trying not to get my hopes up too much, but I can’t help but smile.