Monday, June 25, 2012

Mayo Clinic Bound

Aaron in his new role as father

Today Jim and I will drive to Rochester, Minnesota. Our reason? We're headed to the Mayo Clinic for an appointment first thing tomorrow with a surgeon. As I've mentioned before, my insides are tied up in knots. Over the years unstretchable bands of scar tissue have formed which are attached to organs and bones. The surgeon who did the exploratory surgery said the whole mass is glued (so to speak) to my left abdominal wall. Tomorrow the chronic pain with which I've lived for the past couple of years will be addressed by a gyn/oncologist whose skill in female surgery is renowned. I feel so very blessed to have access to such amazing medical care.

But while I know that I my body will have the best care available, my soul is needy right now. I'm fighting fear. What if my problem can't be solved with surgery? What if I have to live with the powerful pain for the rest of my days here on earth?

Today's entry in Voices from the Past: Puritan Devotional Readings gave me great comfort:

"You, dear Lord, chose me in Christ to be Your child. You have become my most loving Father. Your love and Your Fatherly providence exceeds the love of any earthly father in loving, caring, providing, nurturing, and helping me in all my needs. I should not waver or doubt that that you are my dear Father and I your child forever through Jesus Christ (1 John 4:10). I can cast my whole care upon you, trust and call upon you, with comfort and certain hope for all things that I need. In Your good will, You adopted me, and nothing can be finally lacking for my good. Your power is almighty and Your will so bountiful. How little I love, fear, and call upon You! I should behave as Your child, rejoicing, praising, trusting, fearing, serving, loving, and calling upon You. Be merciful to me, forgive me, good Father, for Your own sake, and grant me the Holy Spirit to reveal Yourself to me, that I may truly know, love, and faithfully hang upon You for all my needs...I come as Your child and desire it unto Your glory!"

So as I finish my packing for our trip to Minnesota, I will cry "Abba! Father!" (Romans 8:15) and leave my "What ifs?" to Him.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

No Crushing Allowed!

My first grandchild, Brielle, at 3 days

We all recognize the fragility of a newborn. So tiny. So helpless. So dependent. What's easy to miss, however, is that as our bodies grow there continues to be a fragility to each person's soul. And because of the delicacy of the soul, our words have the power to hurt. Thankfully, the Lord has also given us the ability to use our words to heal.

Proverbs 15:4 (NASB) reads:
A soothing tongue is a tree of life,
But perversion in it crushes the spirit.

Bible commentator John Kitchen has this to say, "What potential lies within our words! We are endowed by our Creator with the capacity to bring either genuine, substantive help to those around us or to inflict incalculable lasting harm upon them  -- all of that by simply opening our mouths!" Proverbs, pg. 327

When I think about crushing the spirit, the picture that comes to mind is one of those monster trucks rolling over and flattening an entire line of cars in it's way as though the autombiles were nothing. I don't want my words to do that to anyone. Ironically, those easiest for me to hurt with my words are my own children. Whether its my tone or the very words themselves, I must remember the power my words have for good or grief and speak to my kiddos in a soothing way that protects their fragile souls. I'm commanded by God to build them up and encourage them, instead of tearing them down or belittling them. No crushing allowed!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Sweet Juxtaposition

Some times a photo requires no explanation or commentary.
I believe this picture of three-day-old Brielle, my first grandchild, is one of those.
Thank You, Lord!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Guilty as Charged!

I mentioned in a recent post on our family blog untohimwelive that I've stumbled upon a book called Voices from the Past that is singing to my heart as I struggle with strong pain while awaiting probable surgery at the Mayo Clinic next week.

Sometimes the words I read in this collection of short reflections by various Puritan authors are purely comforting. Sometimes they are uncomfortably convicting. However, even the convicting passages are like a salve to my soul because the challenge they bring helps realign my thinking to be biblical. Only when we think God's thoughts will we find real peace, strength and comfort. And right now, I need a whole lot of peace, strength and comfort! So bring on the conviction!

Today's passage was one that brought the needed OUCH!

"In our sufferings, we need to be more concerned about our duty than our deliverance. We should seriously consider what it is that God desires in our present dispensation. There is no condition or trial in the world but we have the opportunity to exercise some special grace or duty. To desire deliverance alone is self-love and quite natural to man. In affliction man seeks to be delivered and released from his burden. Men make more haste to get their afflictions removed than to be sanctified in them...Let us search and try our ways, Let us consider that the present condition is best for us, and learn in whatever state we are, to be content (Phil. 4:11). Let us rejoice in tribulation (Rom. 5:3) Let us lift up Jesus Christ and make Him glorious by our afflictions. Paul studied more how to adorn the cross than how to avoid it. If he must suffer for Christ, O that Christ might not suffer by him! May Christ be exalted, and let us entrust our souls to a faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:19)." Thomas Chase, Select Works, A Treatise of Afflictions, pp. 65-67
I have fallen into the trap of wanting nothing more than to be set free from my pain. Author Thomas Chase calls that "self-love." Ouch! And yet when I look back over my thirty plus years of following Christ, one truth stands out. God is good and what He does is good, even when it feels hard. In some way that I cannot see yet, this health problem is for my good. In the midst of the daily misery, I need to look not just for rescue, but I also must be on the alert for my Kingdom work. Right now. Today. In the middle of pain strong enough that I find myself holding my breath to fight it. I don't need to wait until I get to the other side of the pain to serve God and glorify Him. I can do that now. And, whatever today's Kingdom assignment is for me, I know that my beloved King will enable me. He is good and what He does is good, even when His plan includes affliction!

Clinging to my King

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Pulling Out the Sword to Battle Pain

On June 26 I will be seeing a gyn/oncologist at Mayo Clinic. Most likely she will decide that surgery is the best option to bring an end to, or at least reduce, significant chronic pain that has grown in severity and frequency over the past two years or so. The pain is the result of a mass of scar tissue that has knit my female organs to one another and glued them to other organs and to some of the bones in my lower abdomen. If Dr. Bakkum does chose to address my case surgically, the operation will take place the following day, June 27.

We praise God that Mayo has accepted my case. We also thank the Giver of All Good Gifts that I'm being seen so soon following the exploratory surgery I had here in Sioux City a little over two weeks ago. We continue to feel called by the Lord to adopt the four siblings we met at our children's orphanage in late 2010. We pray fervently that long term the treatment at Mayo will be used by the Lord to allow me to parent more actively and fully than I've been able to do for some time.

I hope to write more about this journey the Lord has me on, but right now I sense a pressing need to spend time impressing some of God's word, "the sword of the Spirit" (Ephesians 6:17), on my soul so deeply that the truths live and breath inside me no matter what fear rises in me before the surgery, how strong the post-surgery pain is or how weak I feel for some time after the procedure. One of the verses I'm rehearsing is in the "postcard" above.

Clinging to Him,

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pressed and Pursued

"Our praying needs to be pressed and pursued with an energy that never tires, a persistency that will not be denied, and a courage that never fails." E.M. Bounds