The Changing Face of Cru

CSU 2013I’m sitting at the Denver airport at 5 in the morning, reflecting on the last 5 days. It’s been amazing.

Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) has grown up. 2 years ago at our last staff conference, our name was changed.

This year we changed our face.

Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) has a firm foundation laid in it’s past. It’s a foundation of risk-taking faith. I remember when one critic exclaimed, “They would charge hell with a squirt gun!”

We are recapturing that faith in a new generation.

Instead of reminding us of our past, this conference focused on the future. The world has changed in the last 60 years. Our methods have changed with it, in a commitment to reach each generation. Satan has different strongholds. We need different weapons for different contexts.

But what was evident was that in each generation, the Spirit is the same. We feel inadequate in ourselves and have to depend on the Holy Spirit. The Great Commission is the same, and we are closer to seeing it accomplished. The opposition is real, and we need the Spirit of God as He is the victor.

In a world where Christians are often known for what they stand against, we committed ourselves to be known for what we stand for — the good news of Jesus Christ delivered to the lost through an ultimate sacrifice of love.

The stage presented us with fresh new faces representing the future of Cru. They were multi-ethnic, wrestling with issues different than our generation. They honored the past, but looked to a future.

Roger and I are so humbled to be a part of this organization — an organization that dares to change in order to stay true to their mission.

Taking in Good News

noname
First, the good news — The CT scan showed no myloma in my neck! So with nothing else to check, I’m good to go until August! I’m so grateful to God!

But as I try to take in the good news, I’m flooded with thoughts and feelings. Why was the PET scan positive and the CT scan negative? Which is right? I still have blood tests that indicate the cancer is active. How can I be sure what is true?

There have been so many ups and downs. As I have been transparent in this blog, I wonder if others are weary of my ups and downs?

Then I started to realize that it can be hard to receive good news. We get so use to living in our fears that we fear what we would do without them. Somehow there is safety/ boundaries in fear. We don’t know what to do when we are freed. In fact, it’s hard to believe that we are free.

When it come to news, I realize that I emotionally try to block out most of it, lest it be bad.  I don’t like it; I don’t want to hear it. Bad news has a way of jolting us back to reality whether we want to hear it or not. We can’t escape it. It affects our life.

So then our fear of bad news gets associated with any news, it makes all of it hard to embrace. Good news no longer feels “good” but more “neutral” (the absence of bad). I have a tendency to try to ignore it, and unlike bad news, I often can. I can choose to continue to live in fear, afraid to be excited about good news.

It’s kinda like a girl not wanting to smile back at a boy lest it not be real…

As I think about this good news, right now, I’m choosing to embrace it. If it was that boy, I’m running over to him with abandonment and throwing my arms around him. Yes, bad news may come later and maybe this is a false moment of hope. But it is a moment of hope.

God has allowed this moment of hope in my life in the same way he has allowed the suffering.

To live fully, I choose to embrace both.

PET Scan Update

noname copyWe found out last week that the PET scan showed “activity” in my spine of my neck. Since insurance could not approve it before we left for our family vacation, I’ll have a CT scan as soon as I get back. In the meantime, we’re having lots of fun, enjoying what God has given!

After the tests, Roger will leave for Staff Conference July 11-22. We had hoped I could join him for it, so pray that God will give us wisdom.

A Longer Leash – Good News!

2011-5-22 Great WallI just got back from the cancer doctor with some good news! The bone marrow biopsy came back negative, not showing any cancer. The doctor made sure I didn’t get too excited – it doesn’t mean I don’t have cancer, it just means that it did not show up in that test. However, I can’t help but get a little excited.

Basically, he said I am “complicated” (no surprise to all of you in my process group!). I still several indicators for cancer including elevated/spiked M Protein in the blood, a genetic chromosome #17 which is a “high risk feature” for MM, have had multiple bone lesions, a recent IGG spike and my Lambda Free Light Chain is abnormally high and increasing.

He rattled off 2 possibilities with big names which we could not capture but basically meant:

  • It is in the bone marrow, just not where it was tested.
  • Or that it is cancer that is a complication of Multiple Myeloma

He game me my choice to

  • Continue to monitor until it becomes more definite (do nothing)
  • Repeat a PET scan taken a year ago to see if there are any active bone lesions the Xrays are not picking up (like the first one I had 7 years ago)

I choose to take the PET scan. He wants me to do it next week. He is also going to do more tests on the bone marrow biopsy sample already taken. If all is normal, I won’t go in for 2 moths! (YEA!) If not, he will call me back and we will start chemo after family vacation/early July (which is still good news to my ears!).

So, you can imagine that I am smiling. Thank you for your prayers. The doctor wants to make sure I know what is coming, and I assured him I am realistic. However, I told him that I felt as if my leash had gotten longer, at least for a little while. And I will, like most dogs, walk as far as I can to take full advantage of it!

I’m sure you are smiling too — Maggie

Bump in the Road

climbI hit a little bump today. I felt like while I had the 3 weeks reprieve in my hand looking at all the “candy” (things I could do) someone said, “Is that real money?”

A little after 8am this morning, sweet nurse Mary called to tell me the Bone Marrow Biopsy came back “inconclusive” (in other words, something happened to the sample so that they could not get valid results) and I would need to do the test over again. Let me remind you, this is the one that hurts, where they bore into your hip and pull bone marrow out with a needle…

I took a deep breath and said a tentative, “O…K…?” She told me they would put me asleep this time (thank you!) but that my appointment with my doctor might need to be rescheduled if results are not back in time (so what do we do with the plane tickets we just bought?!?).

Soon afterwards I got the call to schedule the procedure and (Praise God!) they can do it tomorrow (a new Friday tradition – that’s when I had it done last week!). But hopefully this means we can move ahead with the plans we have made and results will be in by 6/12. At least pray for us for that end.

Life is full of bumps, isn’t it? Just when we think we have some amount of control, God reminds us it’s an illusion. But his control is never an illusion and he’ll help us walk around, through or over whatever he allows in front of us. I’m so glad I have friends I can share this with!

What bumps are in your life? Let me know so that I can be praying…

A “Gift” of Three Weeks

photo copyThis is more of a medical update than a blog today. We’ve had a great weekend with friends and family, remembering those who have gone before us.

On Friday I had a bone marrow biopsy and skeletal survey – the final tests before chemo. A funny thing happened with the timing. Because of the short holiday week and my doctor going out of town, I have 3 weeks until I get results.

In the past, news like this would have caused anxiety, but this time it felt like a gift! It’s was as if someone had given me $100 and told me to spend it wherever I want. They say “time is money” and it certainly is valuable. I’ve been given 3 weeks of freedom before the chemo schedule kicks in.  I’m like a kid in a candy shop trying to decide how to spend my quarter.

And in looking at my latest blood tests, there is more good news. The key tests did not jump as much as they did before. In fact, some are down. Realistically, I know it won’t continue, but it does take a bit of the panic out of the situation.

And my orthopedic doctor will be pleased that we aren’t starting chemo. The leg will have more time to heal. I pray that God will use this time and I can walk again soon. The evenings are so pleasant and I just yearn to walk down the street holding hands with Roger. Pray with me towards that end…

Sojourner (Exodus 22:21)

“You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him,

for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.”

Sojourner.

This clearly means those who journeyed out of the land of Egypt with them, those who believed the Lord that there would be a promised land. I think of immigrants in our nation and how we need to treat them with respect politically as well as personally. We should never forget that our ancestors at one time entered this land.

Sojourner.

But there is more, even deeper. It refers to a people in the midst of us who are on a journey, not just physically but emotionally. They have experienced loss of what was familiar and are traveling a new road. I think of those who are just beginning their walk with God, leaving old habits and friends, looking for new faith and community. They look different than us, a little “rough around the edges,” but are sojourners. We need to remember back to when we started walking with Jesus, just coming out of our Egypt. What was it that we needed?

And I think of those who are experiencing loss. A friend from 10 years ago was hit with a stroke the day after Mother’s Day. His family is journeying in a strange land. I think of my widow friends and their journeys. I think of my own strange journey and some of the insensitive things that have been said to me, simply because those next to me have not put themselves in my shoes. How many times have I “oppressed” sojourners by ignoring their struggle or demanding more of them than they can give?

Sojourner.

How do we journey with others? Verse 27 says “for I am compassionate.” We have a compassionate God who models the journey for us. He is personal. He loves. He uses his strength to help. He doesn’t force us in directions, but walks alongside. He listens. He reminds us of truth. Most of all, he is present.

That’s the kind of sojourner I want to walk alongside me. People who are real about their own journeys. People who are relational and compassionate. That’s the kind of sojourner I want to be.

God has harsh words for those who wrong sojourners. The key seems to be in remembering — remembering who we are in the midst of hardship and who He is.

Are you a “sojourner?” What are you walking through? Can I walk with you? (If you want your comment to be private, just note it)

Black & White (Exodus 22:20)

“Whoever sacrifices to any god, 

other than the Lord alone,

shall be devoted to destruction.”

God doesn’t mince words, does he?

One of Roger and my delights when we are in Blue Ridge is having time in the word together. In Orlando, the collision of schedules keeps us from it, but when we are “office-ing” here, we have more control over time and priorities.

We’re reading in Exodus, about the law, and it has invoked some spirited discussions. This verse impressed me.

A few weeks ago a speaker talked about the rich young ruler and how Jesus asked him to sell everything in order to be saved. He made the point that Jesus doesn’t ask everyone to sell everything — it was just this one person because it was what he relied on for his identity. It was his god.

What do I worship? What do I need to “sell” in order to seek Jesus?

I realized my identity is wrapped up with my independence. My basic goals in life, my greatest life lessons, are wrapped in developing who I am and providing for my own needs. Being independent, not needing others, even giving to others from my independence became a god I was sacrificing my time and energy to.

I smile because God certainly has chipped away at that one! Between a broken leg and cancer, I sure have become dependent. Walking with a walker, having others open doors and get me a glass of water, not being able to fulfill responsibilities in my volunteer work, has certainly made me dependent. I think about the idol-goddess Athena that they found face down in her temple — through all of this, God has caused me to fall face down and worship him.

“Shall be devoted to destruction.” 

Harsh words. In those days, it may have meant stoned. It meant life or death.

For us, we don’t stone these days, but as we devote ourselves to other gods, it does lead to destruction. Independence so easily leads to isolation and pride. The “black and whiteness” of this scripture underlines the importance of worshipping God alone.

What might God might ask you to “sell” so that you could worship him?

Feel free to leave comments. If you want it private, say so in the comment and I won’t post it. Let’s pray together that we can worship the Lord with a pure heart.

Short and Sweet

480207_994948528191_541236135_n copyWe just got back from spending Mother’s Day with Amanda in Grand Rapids (picture: freezing at the Holland Tulip Parade). She’s our only “escapee” with the others in Florida, so it was a very special time with her. Sweet.

Right before we left we had appointments with the oncologist and orthopedic doctors. I signed the papers to begin chemo. A few tests need to be done 5/24 in preparation. Chemo will be 2 weeks on/1 week off for 3-4 months. I’ll let you know the dates when they are finalized. The orthopedic saw some healing near the plate, but not on the other side. Bottom line: still cannot walk on it — which was “fun” during the flights! Short version.

Sweet is the grace of the Lord during this time. Hugs. Memories. Time together. Gifts from all my children. Time to reflect on my own mother and her gifts to me. His goodness supersedes all the challenges. His presence provides all our needs.