Saturday, April 9, 2011

Catch up and Gratitude

Hello all. I am going to try to make another list of things I am grateful for. Beni (Bill Johnson's,my pastor's wife) had this idea: post 25 things a day that you are grateful for... (25 things EACH DAY ???),  It seems really like a good idea for me today. I believe that making a list will dust out all the corners of self pity in my heart...

First I am going to connect a few missing dots in my story, just to catch you up with the missing pieces in the last couple of months.

Turns out you can overdose on steroids (badly). I was on the dosage prescribed. Slowly, I got more confused, and weaker (um... like unaware of anything, and not able to stand up without help, not able to do anything, even roll over in bed without help...). Anyway, one night we looked up side effects of steroids. There was everything I was experiencing, not in the place called " tumors" but on the page called "side effects of steroids". Many people had the same symptoms, and wrote their stories. So we asked the doctor if we could taper them. He said "Yes." A friend advised to taper them very slowly. So we've been tapering so slowly. Every day I am stronger and more lucid. We are so glad.

I still have a body whose right half is numb and easily hurt (if I am not watching my hand, for instance, it can be resting on a hot pan, and I am not aware it hurts, and is burning... bummer). So I do still have tumor issues, but they haven't changed much since the end of December... We still believe that God has promised an  end to this tumor, and difficulties. We believe that a lavish God has many plans for my life. None of them include dying in 9 months like the first two doctors told us. We believe God has promised much more.

Here is me thankful list for today:

1. The  faithfulness of my husband, and his being there... in sickness and health. Sheesh.

2. Doris. An amazing cook. She also is not a lying coward. I am. I want to be more like that... More like Doris...speaking the TRUTH  in love. I want to be more like Jesus.

3. I am still grateful for the Writers and the Littiers, taking and nurturing our girls.

4. The ability to move myself over in bed. Not fast, but happily mobile. Very grateful for that.

5. Each potential health "bump" we've encountered, every one, has been met by God, every single time. I am grateful for that.

6. Putting my own shoes on, with the shoe horn.

7. Taking steps by myself sometimes across part of a room.

8. Oh! My goodness ! These aren't in order !!! My faithful prayer warriors !

9. My glasses that are working again.

10. Having Ian and Tori in our house.

11. Hearing from Isaac more. Now that Basic is done.

12. Teds (Socks that reduce swelling...)

13. Not getting sick... cold...flu...worse... nope: healthy, healthy, healthy...

14. A comfy large bed.

15. Gums that aren't bleeding (they were.. just worrisome). Not bleeding at all now.

16. Having an iphone: Connection to Eli, the the world, etc.

17. Facebook. Silly, I know, but I am grateful...

18. My whiskers on my head. They continue to give me hope.. that my hair is coming back... that this will eventually end...

19. Netflix...Sometimes it's just nice to veg...but sometimes God can speak so powerfully. Last night: Alice in Wonderland: "Do you even know who you are ? A girl with a powerful destiny...

20. The ability to eat well (did I say heartily?). Others at the clinic have a hard time with even Ensure.

21. My Wall of Cards. I love them.

22. Shawna and Garth. They know where I am living.

23. Spring

24. Flowers in bloom

25. Babies coming... Crystal C... They give such hope from despair. Yeah God.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Out of a Man's Mouth

The other day the machine for my radiation treatment broke. There I was, buckled to the table... and they all left the room... like usual. Then the machine made it's usual "zzzttt" sound. But then it flashed a scary white light that I could see behind my shut eyeballs. It flashed six times the whole treatment. It scared me. I tried to think of a verse I could pray and stand on. I settled on Jesus' declaration that it isn't that which goes into your mouth that defiles you, but that which comes out of your mouth. Best I could come up with for potentially too much radiation.... I claimed that verse, and trusted God's goodness. I don't think I have and repercussions from it...

That reminds me of a time I stood on that verse in the Dominican Republic. I wanted to live there forever. So the pastor of the church told the people, "No one speak any English to Denise, only Spanish." Well, I learned Spanish pretty quickly.  I could understand 80 % of what they were saying, really quickly. Came home almost fluent...

There was this orphanage that the church helped with, and I went there to help with the children one day. I went there with one other woman from the church. She only spoke Spanish, but I was coming along just fine communicating and speaking. I had been told not to eat or drink anything from the orphanage, my system wouldn't be used to the potential bad things. Fine, I drank nothing... knowing when the children napped, we'd eat and drink...

We put the children down for a nap. The childrens' playroom smelled so badly of pee. I decided that while they were sleeping, I would try and make it nicer (breathable). While I was mopping, the other woman came in, with what looked like a Door County Cooler. Maybe now I would say it looked like a small bottle of juice, with a cute outdoorsy scene on the label. She said," Here, take this." Thinking she was offering me her juice I say "Oh no. I'm fine." That was a lie. I was dying of thirst, but trying to be cross culturally know? She said. "No take it. It will get rid of the flies." I understood her well. Again, crossing cultures can be tricky. I thought she meant, "This is sitting around attracting flies." Ok, sounded like she was offering it to me. I took it and glugged it down.

I began to suspect that maybe we'd miscommunicated. Oddly, a little "poison alarm" started going off in my head. I had drunk the cute bottle. I spewed what was in my mouth, saying in (worthless) English "What is this?" Oh my goodness! She came rushing in! "Did I take it?", She asked. "Yes" No emergency services (besides a phone chat with a pharmacy tech...). Oh that woman was panicked and mad!  I stood on the verse and trusted. Nothing bad happened. I knew I had drunk something bad wasn't sure what, but just stood on a promise.

A few weeks later, I went on a trip with missionaries. They said, " We heard you drank turpentine." Oh. Is that what it was? It did taste bad. It isn't that which goes into my mouth that defiles me, but that which comes out...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sweet Cards

Moby Dick

My name is Ishmael.

I know this is silly, writing about a book, but I found the book fascinating. I also found the paradigm in which the book was written, so opposite of ours, that I just had to write about it.... This has very little to do with anything. I just have to share it.

Did you ever get whupped by a goal? I wouldn't have thought of myself as very goal oriented person a long time ago, but I have since decided that I am very goal driven, I just try to hide it from myself.
Anyway, years ago, I wanted to read Moby Dick. No matter how hard I tried, it just wasn't in me. I REALLY wanted to. Too boring, too long, too dull, not high enough on a list of to do's...  When I started feeling brainy a few days ago, I decided to tackle Moby Dick, just to show myself that I could. With less steroids, I could put 2 thoughts together and read a book. Um, Moby Dick was free on my phone...

So I read the book. I found it to be hilarious. If you never want to read it, Here is the whole plot in four sentences: Boy ships out on whaler with crazy captain Ahab. The whale breaks up all the ships. All the people drown. Ishmael gets rescued. Melville drops the final character... the whale. It doesn't say he died. It seems like he just swims off into the sunset. I find that funny. I also think that Melville was being paid by the word. He researched every aspect of whales, even their phrenology! Again, I found that funny!!! Very  thorough research Mr. Melville.

So the book was very funny, and the plot easily summarized... and it is a goal that no longer has me beat.

Probably you've all hit "DELETE" by now, but I found Melville's paradigm on whaling too interesting. He wrote about whales. The crew knew them to be necessary for oil... parlor lights. The take from 1 ship was so enormous that the whales were being way over-harvested (well, we know that now... they thought the supply unlimited... sounds kind similar to today, huh?) I wonder if God doesn't have a similar plan, where oil will becomes a non-issue like whale oil became a non-issue... just wondering... So the culture honestly thought whales mean and pretty dumb. Melville describes the nursing whales in so vivid terms, it seems like he watched National Geographic. Meanwhile, they are brutally killing the bulls, who are intelligently drawing off the hunters to save thee cows... it is so bittersweet reading it.

Once Ian 4, Isaac, 2, their cousin and I went on a whale watch off Portland Maine. The boat crew acted a little strange (way excited) as we left shore. We go to this place, and there were two huge whales. I took the last picture in my camera, they were so neat. Then those two whales played with the ship. it was once in a lifetime incredible. The would swim under the boat and come out the other side. Then they would slap their tails a bit away (you know, like the pictures), and then swim under the boat again. Almost like a dance. it was so fun. It made me believe everything I've ever read about smart endangered whales. they probably PLAYED with us for a half hour, then we went back. The difference in paradigms, that of almost reverence, and whalers 200 years ago was just too interesting ... Had to share it.. there ya go!

Call me Ishmael... No, just call me silly...

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Thngs I am grateful For

So we had decided that perhaps some of our troubles were too high levels of steroids were maybe the cause of the confusion and weakness. So we asked if maybe we could try tapering them. They said we could try it. I was so trying to hope. i think about an hour later a friend texted me Is 40: 28-31. It was as if God himself was encouraging me at just the right second. I  wept with gratitude. Over the next two days, as the steroids tapered, I could feel the confusion leave. I could do small tasks that I had been unable to do.

Eli and Doris caught the flu. Again, I was frightened (silly Denise...God is so big !). I did not get the flu. I did got rest while Eli rested, but I did not get that bug.

A couple of weeks ago I caught a cold. Again, what does a rattly wheezy chest cold mean with cancer???  Trying to trust in a good God and lavish promises. Check. Slowly, the cold faded to a tiny cough (Thank you God). Well, this week, the workers at the clinic noticed my (now tiny) cough. Zoop, Zap, Zup! I was scheduled for a chest xray! So we met with the doctor. Um... The cough  is actually about gone.. Can we not... We'll rush in for an xray if it gets worse??? They said "Fine". Thank you God. God gave us a clinic that lets you have power to make decisions.

So I started feeling bad about Doris. Remember that scene from Gomer Pyle with the old lady cooking one night for the men ?? Well, it's now been 9 weeks, and Doris is 83. Three nights ago, she was talking, and she said how much she was loving our staying with her. She liked cooking (again, the meals are incredibly close to gourmet. I've never cooked this well in my life... I "cook", but not like that!). Anyway, then she said, "When you are done with your treatment, I am going to find a border. She wasn't kidding. This is really working for both of us. Thank you Jesus.

Did I tell you about my girls? So we fall down this rabbit hole, and for them to stay down here in Los Angeles seemed crazy. So two friends said, "We'll just take them in our home".... um... it's now been 8 weeks. Your sacrifice of caring for my babies when I can't at all is so eternal.

I knew these might not be in order ,...  A couple of days ago two friends (they actually live in different cities, and don't know each other...) wrote me of dreams they had had where I had hair (It's kind of pot luck with cancer. Sometimes you get it back, and sometimes you don't... sometimes you get another color (gray)). So last night I realized my head is all whiskers!!! My hair is growing back !!! Thank you Jesus !

A few weeks ago, they noticed swelling in my right leg. So we went for an ultrasound. (me thinking not a big deal, right?) They say clots (um.... a number of them ... and in both legs...) The clots could move to the heart and it's sudden death.. So they do surgery and install a net in my inferior vena cava (okay, I want SOME of my students to remember what I'm talking about here...vena cava!!!) . No complications from surgery, nothing. Thank you God.

There's more. For now, though, I just wanted you to know we serve a lavish God. He is good all the time.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Wednesday update: Choosing life

Today went for MRI and waiting for results. Did not seem like miraculous results we were hoping for. Meanwhile I am fighting confusion and hopelessness and decreased ability to take care of myself.

Felt like coming to a crisis today, should I roll over and play dead or fight for life? Decided to go for life and the promises He has been speaking over us since Dec. 11th. He has spoken only words of healing, hope and long life over me, words of plans for my future, crazy plans. Decided tonight I would trust in those words again. Trust in the lavishness of a good God and trust in God's ability to do what He has spoken. Trust in a God who is good all the time. Either I believe in the death sentence to kill, steal and destroy my family or I can say no there is no legal ground for what the devil is doing and trust that God will do what He has promised. I will put all my chips on the table on the side of what God has promised. No doubt, no fear just a lavish God.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Denise's observations from out of the fog...

{Editor's note: Denise's time out of the fog is usually somewhat short but she writes me notes and gave me this to post this evening. We are hoping the doctor has a good explanation for this tomorrow but we know the Great Physician is on it! Eli}

So learned about another side effect... Amazing confusion. Rolls in like a thick fog. When the fog is in I can't think even a tiny bit. Just shake, cry and puzzle over everything. Eating is a mystery. Walking pretty um... Wobbly... Whew! Nothing makes sense...

Anyway... I learned tonight that the terrifying fog rolls away when I just listen to worship music, soak, like the Seths taught my children to do so long ago.. Chris, Kim, Brian, Jenn... Yup. I can sometimes find peace and no confusion.

Jesus that place is sweet. Pray for me, my hearties... I'm sure this is just another place God wants victory in, right? Woo hoo! Go warriors!!!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Warrior Cards !!

Reformed "Chicken Little"

Hello friends. I decided that I would share with you a very old dream. Perhaps the sharing of it will brimg amazing life and victory to you. That is my prayer...

In 1994, we lived in Union, Maine, and went to a small, and so sweet community church. The closness of the community still exists now, twenty years later. Anyway, one night I had this dream. In the dream,  there were these pockets of people.. scattered over these woods. Some of the pockets (my most comfortable ones), just kind of warmed each other (um... did I tell you this dream is my biggest shame ? )
(A delete key works here still, I think...). There were other clusters that Pastor Paul worked evangelistically, and tried to get more of us to care deeply about. Oh! Chicken Little cared.. I was just scared. Scared of rejection, ridicule, failure..Just scared. So near the end of the dream, a bellish thing started ringing, like the close of the age. So everyone started moving towards this processing center. The easy ones were my favorite groups. They knew their salvation, and knew they were all paid for by His Blood. Their entry at the gates was assured,

Then I began to watch the other groups. I realized suddenly, that I had had any number of days...years.. to tell ANYONE of those people people of the love of God and His plan for them to come to him...and I had been too scared. It was now too late. I started weeping and regretting (is there a REALLY stronger word for regret??? It has to almost have the word "agony" in it, I think...). They had lost their chance... and were going to go to the processing place without hope of a redeemer. They were going to have to try to get in in their own merits.. Anyone knows that those merits wouldn't cut it with a God who thought His plan of sending His only Son, looking upon His salvation as the only way for a tade, his righteousness for their filth... I wept at those well meaning, but eternally separated people. Again, wept is a paltry word for what I felt...

Well, I guess God can take a death sentence at UCSF to change me into a lion for Him. He doesn't even mind that it took me soooo long to "get" the lesson. Round and round that chicken mountain, failing, and God doesn't even blink in disappointment . Nope. Crazy, but I feel like He is now in the stands, so proud, his buttons are bursting...  running up to everyone He sees: Do you see how she "NAILED" the lesson this time??? THAT'S my GIRL!!! So proud of His daughter for getting the lesson after only thirty years.. Amazing mercy. Amazing Grace.

I have one more thing to share...(can you blog too long???) Guess I just will share, won't I ???

Just need to remind myself today that the devil is still totally toothless. Feels like he is trying to squeek in access. But no! It's a done deal. I was bought and paid for fully by His stripes. When He was whipped, all of the penalty for sin was on Him. All. I get off scott free on the best trade deal of all time. He was cursed, I go free for eternity.   Whether I stand before Him and that's in thirty years, or in two months. Point is, I'll stand and worship be in His presence forever.

Let's live out loud... bold as lions!

Homeschool Perspective

 The second thing hello my amazing Homeschool friend. I wanted to say, what we all know, but I wanted to share it from my perspective, from my heart to you: I homeschooled my four children…for the last fifteen years... Every subject and lesson...

I thought I would be schooling them for twenty years. Then, I thought I would then about twenty or thirty years after  to kick back and enjoy the reward of all of that hard work. What if I don't get that? What if it was all work, and they are just about done home schooling, and that's all the time I get? IT WAS SO WORTH IT. All the days of phonics and slaving at Saxon Math, and tussling over vocabulary and writing, every day was worth it. I can say at the end of it all, "I did my very best with what You gave me" . (In my very personal living room, I am talking to friends who have been on this journey of homeschooling alongside me for a long time, and some not so long…) IT WAS WORTH IT! Even if this is all the time I get, it was worth it to really send off my quiver of children! It is so worth it, all the days and years of homeschooling!!!
Again, if that was too weird,  delete. I just needed to say it: No end of life regrets. IT WAS WORTH IT. Homeschooling was one of our best decisions.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Here is my lovely family...

Left to Right: Tori, Ian, Eli, ME, Hannah, Isaac and Heather.

Sounds silly, but just need to share my day..

So I wake  up bright eyed a few minutes ago, thinking, "So Refreshing getting a good night's sleep!!!" Then I realize... I haven't slept much at all. But I have this amazing Tigger bounce in me... Just so many cool things, and such a wonderful day, given by God... NEED To share it! (I'm SURE I'll be able to  sleep after, right? Right?

So we got invited to this fancy party Saturday night. A girl at the clinic was free of cancer, so her family threw her a party. Catered, and so fancy. One of the cool things I brought back from the party was buckets of hope. A woman came to the party who went to the clinic for treatment ten years ago. Still thriving after ten years... God himself has such plans for me...Plans of life and so many dreams He still has for me to walk out and accomplish!!!

We went and could speak words of life and God to even the lost. It was rich...Still plundering...

Sunday morning, we went to church via www.ibethelTV  Seeing beloved friends sitting in church.. worshiping and in the River we love, was amazing. Just almost-being there was like home... We felt so part of a Great thing, and a Great God!!!

After church, I decided I NEEDED to make shortbread cookies to eat watching the Superbowl. Silly Denise. Kinda aiming high there...   I never could make shortbread cookies (think...Lorna Doone and Girls Scout Scott Teas...). Over thirty years, tried a few times, and failed...really badly each time. So the victory of making these cookies was HUGE for me. Made 'em just like the ones they sell...just like the Scout ones... check!

Feeling improvement... needing challenging stuff.. feeling so much energy and life and hope...

When I was in college, I spent my football Saturdays being a "Down Marker" for our football games. Um, you kinda have to know about football to do that, or a WHOLE lot of people start getting mad at you pretty quickly. Anyway, sitting and watching the Superbowl, and being totally "into" what was happening, was so rich. Another "brainy" exercise for Denise.

Another day, Another bad day for the devil.. Thought you could just try an illegal shot? But no. God can take that fangless shot and still show His Lavish care, over and over again. Thought you wouldn't lose? But the "net"of "How's that workin' out for you ?" is looking kind of bad. I am still plundering, mining babies, wobbly ones, and even "walking away" ones.. Ah Ha Ha Ha!

Thank you for the prayers and support. You are amazing. We are grateful...

Amazing Day Spent with a Lavish God

Oh my goodness what a day...

Today I went into treatment. I got to minister and share with one of the workers. It was so sweet, it made me cry. I could minister hope, and life, and God. Such an amazing answer to prayer. I can hardly believe the wonderful place God has planted me.  Was that the crowning time of my day ??? Got to kick in the toothless one and plunder!!! Yippee !!!!

I soaked in Presence. Amazing time. Would someone tell me how, oh how, that piece, only a tiny hour, has not been an easily implemented part of my life? What's up with that? Really? So busy I could not "tarry one hour?" Really? But the fruit was so amazing and glorious...

Tomorrow, we get to go to a party. Unsaved ones abounding (do you see me rubbing my hands in glee??? ) Oh.. gonna kick a toothless devil's Butt... So stoked about the opportunity... Again, I giggle at the God breathed place of fatness, God-power and spunkiness. Oh how it makes me laugh!

Today I spent time at Barnes and Nobles. Read a four hundred page book on alternative cancer treatments (did I say I was feeling brainy?) The book was so amazing. It gave me so much! Of course I will beat this. Sheesh... What a 'no brainer'.

And last, but not least, is the Superbowl. Yes, Marcie. I decided on green and gold tattoes on my adorable cue ball...(it was the "Double Dog Dare" that pushed me over the edge....)  Perfect. I actually found this recipe for Girls Scout Scott Tea Cookies that I just have to try to make. I am stoked about the amazing progress that says even replicating a recipe is within the realm of something I can actually do. Amazing Move of God, I think.

Just for grins, I will write you the song that God has been singing to me for days...

"You're Mine, You're Mine, You're Mine. You're Fine, You're Fine, You're Fine. I have Plans for You, Big Plans. Long Life, Long Life, Long Life,

Love you, my /wall of Warriors. I fell so supported, cherished, and protected. Thank you.

Oh My Lord..

I need to write this… I am so freaked out… I think this tumour is truly shrinking… Oh my goodness…

So we got back from the clinic pretty early today… Uneventful treatment.. sweet time of refreshing and soaking with Chris, Kim, Brian and Jenn… Sweet time…

Anyway, we got home from the treatment and I said I would do a load of laundry. Doris looked me a bit strange, and said, " You mean Eli will do the laundry?" (Me, thinking…Um…Been doing laundry um… 40 years… not exactly rocket science…).  The laundry was just what I thought.. not rocket science… um…Put the clothes in.. pretreat bad ones…soap and start machine…check, check, check… Wait forty minutes…Put in dryer…all good.

So in my head I flashed back to the day we got here. In Doris' driveway , there is  a little rise in the driveway before you get to her front door. The rise had me stumped. I could not figure out how to get up that rise to the front door. I just couldn't do it without Eli navigating me through it. Just couldn't. Really ? A rise in concrete? Really? Everything stumped me. Easy Soduko (a tiny addiction, I admit…)… could't read a book to hold a plot together to save my life.  Now i'm just reading, Trying to not be bored out of my head… Another flashback.. arriving at UCSF and just sleeping almost all of the day… Really not able to do anything but sleep. WHAT? WHY??? REALLY ???

Tell me someone here has read the book, "Flowers for Algernon".  Classic. One of those books High School teachers drag their students through kicking and screaming…you know…

Anyway, in this story, there is this really stupid guy, Charlie. Pitiful IQ. Not even aware of how incredibly dumb he is. He stumbles onto this scientist, who wants to do a surgical procedure to make him smarter.

It is wildly successful, and Charlie gets smarter each day. Soon he is much smarter than everyone, and thinking circles around everyone.

I feel like Charlie today. I am coming alive. Oh My Lord. I am coming alive and thinking… Able to think rationally, wander in Ikea and shop and find what I want in the store…while Eli is drooling in the lighting section. Just shopping… like a normal person with no brain tumor…Jesus… I think You are doing a miracle in my head!!!! More Jesus!!!

Plundering party!!!

So the clinic I'm being treated at is a lot like a family. The people who are there are actually coming from not just the US, but other countries. So this "knitness" that this little community feels is pretty neat. Each person coming in gets folded into a family of people fighting a similar fight, and trying to find hope and life after cancer...

Last week this woman came and and said that the last Marker, and the last PET scan showed her to be free of cancer. Free of CANCER !!! I was so excited for her. She now has a long life to live... I so rejoiced in her victory. After talking with her for a while, though, I realized that she wasn't rejoicing. She was still bound up in fears and "what ifs". I was so grieved.

If we let him, we can still give lots of power to the devil. On a daily, even moment by moment basis, we can let him rob of us of life, peace, joy, abundance, hope... It comes down to a choice of MINE! Do I choose to believe that God loves me enough to care about each little detail? If I surrender each detail to His Care, trusting that He cares even more about each outcome than I do, than I can walk out of a lifestyle of trust in a Father who is always for me. Never in a bad mood or just wishing I would stop harassing Him with my little issues. Nope. He so loves me coming to Him and sharing each piece of my day.

The choice seems almost a laughable one. I can trust in my own ability to "handle" each aspect of my life, and really be bound and harassed by worry, or I can choose to live in the lavish richness of a God who loves to demonstrate His goodness. Doesn't that seem like a silly choice ??? Wow.

So this woman is having a party this weekend to celebrate her finishing. She invited us. We are so excited. More life-giving, God encountering, hope infusing time. I want life. Not just for me. But for her. For each person along my way on this journey. Oh God. You are so lavish. Show them. Use me.

Just had to Share this!!!

So my sister in Atlanta decides to make cookies... Ginger snaps... The kind that give you enough sugar and Ginger to fight nausea... Only I wasn;t having nausea three days ago when she baked and packed them ... At all.

She bakes them and sends them all the way across the country... They arrive in the mail two hours before my flight . We decide to pack them , not thinking I'll be nauseous, but because it's funny and sweet..

I think because all of the getting ready after a full day of radiation and microwave, I am feeling pretty gnarly on the plane. .. First time of feeling pretty nauseous, I think . Anyway, we break out the cookies, and my pitiful stomach settles....

I began to wonder about the lavish care of God ... again . Did He really set up to have cookies baked, sent, and shipped, to arrive at just the right time? Really? Does He care so intimately about the details of our lives? Is He really that lavish and loving??? I believe that He loves us that much.

He love us, Oh How He loves us... Oh How He loves us ! Oh How He loves us, Oh how He Loves!!!

I am awash in His love, I think !!!

Body Imaging

Don't we all need God's grace to work on our image of ourselves? "Oh...If only I wasn't so..   thin ... fat ...round in the belly... thick-thighed.. crooked smiled...blah blah..." Do we ever get over that fight with the mirror, and our concept of what we could/should  be?

I thought I'd share two living room revelations today. Probably only educational but maybe useful even for our common battle with image and how much God loves His creation...

Today's word is Alopeca.

To do my treatments, They stick a temperature sensor on my scalp just to make sure that the temperature rise is very minimal, and not baking me to a crisp with the hour of targeted microwaving to my brain. So Eli shaves a tiny part of my head so the sticky paper sticks to scalp.. Yesterday it was a good day to reshave (a close shave...ha ha ha). Anyway.. After he finished shaving, I noticed a silly amount of curls of hair .. (Ahem...Eli? Maybe that circle of small shave spot got a mite too big???) But no. Welcome again to the details of a creepy living room... Flush and erase are still fine options here... just sayin'.

When I was checking out this treatment, one of the things I liked was the less intense impact of the treatments...One in Five chance of losing some hair..."OK, I think... I'll probably do OK in this one area... Vanity intact"... But no. The man's shave was minimal... Still "comb over-able..." It was me... Losing tufts of curls... Um...Lots of tufts. As we sat outside in the breeze yesterday, waiting for a movie time (True Grit!), I lined many birds nests with wafts and tufts of soft curly hair, just blowing softly away from my scalp onto the gentle wind... the image of it was kind of sweet, romantic and pathetic, all at the same time...

Once a few weeks ago (!), I had driven down to Sacramento for meetings with my students... I walked into the restaurant where I'd schedule my meetings, and there was obviously a woman undergoing some kind of cancer treatment. Bald and not hiding it. Just bald. A couple hours later, another lady walked in. Bald as a cue stick. Not ashamed.. not combing over, wigging, or a scarf. Just bald. My first thought was, "How bold... no apologies.. just ...out there..." I admired those women. When these tufts started blowing on the breeze, I wondered about that. I do believe that I can learn to love God's plan and provision for even this.. everyday... Will I be as bold, in your face, as those two women ?? Hmmm. I don't know...

Eli now gives me these shots of vitamins. Some are subcutaneous, and some are deeper, like intramuscular.
As he was giving me the intramuscular shot, he noticed that it is hard to find muscle to squeeze for the injection site. There just isn't a lot of muscle to squeeze. Really ??? Did it just "melt" ? Muscle that's been there (albeit, hiding among quantities of fat) can't just up and disappear in a week or two, can it ??? Um... Can it ??? Apparently it can.. Wow. Didn't know.

So, I am back to our original question...Did God do a good job when He made me ? Is His view of my image and my view the same ? Should it be?

Once, a long time ago, I made Raggedy Ann's for each of my children and nieces and nephews for Christmas.... Huge undertaking... I stitched every face... every cute nose.. Were they all identical ? No ! Of course not ! Each face was unique to me, and so very precious... I think I learned a little about God's love for how He made each of us that year. Unique and very precious to Him. I think now I am learning it on a new level this time. No matter... hair, or not... muscle, fat or not, He still thinks I'm beautiful and unique. Precious and lovely... just right...

The Rest of the Story...

When I came out for breakfast...Doris, in passing...said, I'm going to the Beauty School this afternoon to get a manicure and a pedicure...Ten dollars for the whole works... So We got back from treatment, and one tiny detail of my life is so taken care of, I am in girlie heaven. Just cause God is in a good mood...all the time. Just because what matters to me even matters to God. Just because he cares about the details of my life, big and tiny. Just because He likes showing off his goodness and lavish love and heart to each of us... Got a care? He wants to share it,
I am sure of it... Big one ??? He wants to share it... Tiny one ?? he still wants to share it... I/m sure His love is that lavish ..

What matters to me matters to God... Bill Johnson

I had a silly afternoon today. While it's probably so , I thought I'd write about it and share...I guess at the risk of making this long and disjointed, I am going to back up and share how I fell down this rabbit hole six weeks ago... then I will tell about my silly day..

Working full time as an online instructor for a virtual school at CAVA had a learning curve that was amazing ... Amazing.. impossible...challenging.stressful... crazy... yup...crazy. Six short weeks ago I was strolling on a filed trip, on the Hawaiian Chieftan, later meeting with students..and loving parts of my job !!! (Sheesh!).

I drove back from Sacramento, and felt ...odd... Is that faint tingly feeling stress? Me trying just a little too hard??? Stress can do funny things you know.. High blood pressure maybe ??? Um... never had it. but there's always a first time right? Couldn't find Eli's cuff from EMT days... So I walked to the Safeway. Hmmmm. Machine said 160 over 90 ish. Wow. maybe someone could just tell me  about this at the ER...

So we strolled over there on Saturday aft... I have a hot tip for you ER newbies : If ever you don't feel like waiting in a long line, just say, " I feel tingly..." Boom. You go to the head of the line, as they start looking for signs of heart, stroke, scary stuff.. A while later, they scheduled for a cat scan, and looked at the results... Maybe a bit more than little stress... Showed a spot of blood in the brain...(BLOOD ? BLOOD ? REALLY?). So they admitted me...really? for a tingly feeling?

The next morning's MRI came back, knocking our lives askew. Just in a flash... not stroke.. heart... but a ticking impossible time bomb...Wow. Visible..clear and undeniable in the picture... Suddenly, all of my priorities just altered... forever...all because of a little tingly feeling...  sheesh...

Kinda strange. I call it proprioreceptors. If I am not looking at my rght side, I can't feel where my hand is. Up in the air? At my side? wiggling? Maybe...But if am looking, I know just where it is.. right there silly! Not paralyzed... just playing a bizarre game of "Hide and seek" Use when looking at it, take your eyes off and it gets strange and iffy... That's so hard to describe... just freaky.

Anyway, there ya go. No blinding headaches... vision blindness, agonizing pain... just tingly right side with annoying proprioceptors that play hide and seek...

A couple of days ago I started wondering how in the world I was going to take care of my fingernails.. I Know, I Know.. what an insignficant tiny thing... Brain cancer.. and I'm wondering about fingernails ?? But really...Fter five weeks, I started wondering... I am trying to retool and train myself to be left handed... Just like you did for fun in about thrird grade... Eat, cut food, write, Sign important legal documents with the wrong (but working hand)..Trying to retool it for myself... Pretty fast..

But I don't know if you ever noticed, but nail clippers just don't work like that. I could never get them to work well in the wrong hand... Kind of , but not really... So I started wondering about how I was going to do that tiny detail... Besides... I don't even like clippers. My one girlie thing.. I like FILED fingers... a lot. Pretty dainty tapered...polish.. matching toes..Girlie stuff... Totally silly girly stuff.

Examining my options...Ask Eli to just chop and hack... Utilitarian, Ugly, Painful, and definitely not girlie (the proprioceptors feel slightly battered when in use and playing hide and seek). Ask 83 year old Doris to help? Um... probably not...  So there I was in a  tiny pickle, and wondering about something so shallow and insignificant, but still silly important to little me. Does the divine clockmaker that set the stars in order care about my silly fingernails???

Here is my conclusion: He cares. About even the tiny details. He just cares about the details, big and little, that makes up our lives. He longs for a relationship where we can fellowship with Him about whatever matters... Big worries that He longs to completely carry for us.. Tiny things He longs to make easy for us... Like Santa Claus ? No, Not at all.  Like a loving lavish Father who longs to interact with us, and find ways of saying ,"you're

And Forgetting Not ALL of His Benefits

I decided I would find a place or record the last couple weeks journey.. not to rehash dumb fears, but as  a memory place of God's faithfulness to me... this is where delete and flush just might come in pretty handy...

I will start with the radiation treatments.. the scariest place I'd never thought I'd ever ever go. Didn't I research it 30 years ago, and conclude that i would NEVER do that?

So they truly bolt my head to the table, and strap a covering over my head so it is pinned to the table. OOOOH! can we say claustrophobia and hysteria!!! When they leave the room so as not to get exposed, it is just God and me alone... He fills me with peace and comfort.. even in the middle of the  hissing snapping lights that sound like the hiss of a Creepy Frankenstein's Jacob's ladder display,,, And I lie there calmly with My Jesus... He is so present... So faithful...

The radiation is toxic (Duh). The websites say that everyone's epithelial tissue gets wrecked... and doesn't always come back... I felt it get so ugly the first few days. he other patients talked about the ever present months of mouth sores. OH how that scared me... But no. The epithiel tissue healed, and feels like it's holding it's own. Thank you Jesus for Good epitheliel tissue Where I didn't even expect it!

I got thrush  (another side effect that is common and just has to be ameliorated with endless drugs...) When my babies were tiny and they got thrush, I would just pour capsules of acidopholus down their throats, and smear it on the thrush... So when the thrush showed up, they gave me this super strength wash for it. It stung, tasted like hand lotion in my mouth (can we say, EEEEW!), and was full of yucky stuff! I asked the Dr if I could try to skip it. He was doubtful, but said we could try. The acidophilus is holding its own with the thrush. shrinking, not getting uglier. Thank You Jesus. You care about even the tiny things that matter to me. Even the tiniest. Thank you Jesus.

They did blood tests and found some elevated white blood cells, and threw antibiotics at it! I hate antibiotics! I'd rather be sick for weeks than just throw a course of antiobiotics at something! Trust, Denise. The antibiotic course is almost over, and I am no worse for the wear! Thank You Jesus...

My appetite is amazing. I learned this week that half of my appetite is the steroids. Oh.... I am still grateful for the appetite and Doris' amazing cooking. I could tell you what she fixes each night.. but the envy might lead to coveting. Just like a little French woman, each day she travels to the local dollar stores (Truly!), and buys meat and vegetable bargains, and then cooks amazing three or four dollar dinners that are perfect and gourmet...Thank you for Doris Jesus. Thank you a million times for her...

My biggest prayer a week ago was for my Sloan Kettering Doctor to have fun...Do science, follow His protocols of treatment, but to have fun at the wonder of God and science. Oh Jesus! You went over the Top on that one! I will treasure that Docto'r's face in my minds eye forever... as he told about his so far evaluation of my progress and his hope for my outcome...Thank you Jesus! That was amazing!

My sleep is still robbed by steroids. Bummer. Trust Denise. God is so good to you. Even this will come out fine...

My one Huge request is patience. The treatment is not a sprint... but a marathon to be won.. I like fast things... slow and steady IS NOT MY PACE. Ever. Jesus. Give me grace For a marathon.. no self pity, no chafing at the foreverness of it. Just trust in Your timing.. daily...

Thank you Bill, for what you've been modeling. God is so good at demonstrating His true nature. He is always in a good mood, always for us... always wanting to show us "On earth as it is in heaven." Thank you Bill. For the amazing lessons. we are so blessed to be part of your vision and church at Bethel...

Two Ruminations

Hello friends...

I had two things that I was just burning to share with you. The first is a question I am asking myself at the oddest times of the day... in the middle of the night...

Is God ALWAYS good, or are three times when He is slightly capricious, and really not all for my good? The answer seems to be needed to be settled... Either He is a good God, and always loves me, always is powerful, and always perfect towards me, or we serve a weak God.

You know that old hymn, "There is no shadow of turning with Thee.... Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not..."  Is that true of the God I've been serving? Do I really believe that all the time, even during radiation when my head is strapped to the table in the radiation room, and i am alone and don't like it? is God still for me then, when it doesn't look like it?

I have decided that the fight to preserve that place in my heart is worth a lot. He is always good. He always loves us... always does good. His compassions for us never fail. Never. No turning, no nuances of "Not today...God's just too busy honey...tomorrow He will be nicer.."    just doesn't work as a good model of an all powerful God to serve and revere. That's my quest... To stay in that place of absolutely abandon that He is good all the time.

I wanted to tell you about Doris, Eli's Godmother. You remember... This was the one..".Hello Doris...Um, I know we aren't good at remembering birthdays and Christmases, but could we live with you a few months... um tomorrow night...Fine... "

We got here, and she tried to figure out how we could make it work nicely. We could help with grocery money (she wanted a pitifully small amount each week for groceries...). Turns out, this woman, somewhat up in her 80's is a huge part of God's lavish plan for my good. I do not always understand His extravagence, but I am weepy with gratitude to Him for it.

The first day at the clinic, the kind other other patients were sharing their strategies for weight.. shakes, nausea strategies, drops, no appetite, and food tasting awful... etc. It was a bit scary. Ok. a lot scary...

Reality, where I am currently resting is again lavish from a good God. I came to realize that I think again it is the prayers of so many that make this walk a bit almost over the top... too full of grace ??? She cooks amazingly delicious meals. I can't come close to describing the delight of it.

I realized yesterday that instead of fighting to get an appetite, I have never enjoyed each taste more. Never. I am eating lavishly at His banqueting table. It is so rich, and I am so grateful... Again, a crazy extravagent loving God...

Let's see...

Pray for my children. (um...please?). Heather now has a plan for what to study at school, and that is a relief to me. It's a little hard being 1000 miles away ...   Isaac leaves for basic training in the Air Force in less than two weeks...  Pray for Hannah at Central Valley High School...(please).

Ian and his wife made it safely across the country... He already has a job lined up in Redding...   Thank you Jesus... for every detail!

Pray for my Man. He is such a good guy. Such a rock. So FULL of faith.

Thank you for your prayers. We love you.

Tender Leading

Verse 1

All the way my Savior leads me;
Who have I to ask beside?
How could I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my guide?

All the way my Savior leads me;
And cheers each winding path I tread,
And gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.


You lead me and keep me from falling.
You carry me close to Your heart,
And surely Your goodness and mercy
Will follow me.

Verse 2

All the way my Savior leads me
O, the fullness of His love
O, the sureness of His promise
In the triumph of His blood

And when my spirit clothed immortal
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages
Jesus led me all the way
Jesus led me all the way

Will follow me
All the way my Savior leads me
All the way my Savior leads me

So rich. His tender mercies can lead us all the way. No matter where we find ourselves. No matter in what circumstances... No matter what. He is right at had to cheer, comfort guide, help, sustain, carry.. It's always there...He's always longing to be that all for us... always and forever...
Today starts week two of treatment... The weekend was so rich and restful... I didn't want a break... i wanted to,just go barreling into treatment... (imagine that???). But no. God gave me rest on every side for the weekend. I am again filled with hope, life, vigor and energy. I am going to charge to life, and have a blast doing it. My continued plan is to bring His Kingdom into hopelessness, His life into dying places, and His joy into even the doctors science and trials... We're going to see the kingdom advance... right team?

Thank you for all all of the prayers, and being here with me. You may never know how much it means... But God does... Thank you


| have a confession to make. I love the comic FAR SIDE. So nerdy and fun.

So I have one favorite that has been in my head for a couple os days now: I hope you know which one I mean...

There is this scene of hell, with lots of torment and agony. Then there's this one guy just doing his job... whistling, happy, and oblivious to the torment. It's bugging the demons terribly..."He;s just not getting it, is he??? "

With this wall of prayer, I feel just like that happy go lucky guy. The torment just isn't touching near...

Day four of treatment is done. Today they heated up my brain for an hour, and then irradiated both sides. Sheesh. Twice yesterday's time and fear factor...

All the sites said when you heat the brain and irradiate it, it will swell in that confined space, and cause pain and lots of nausea.

Flash forward to supper: "Okay... maybe just ONE more tiny piece of pork.  The applesauce is divine, and the asparagus is perfect... "Eli, do you wan t to fight me for these last two spears...???"

I know I should be nauseous. God is so amazing and  good. I feel your prayers...just sayin... Thank you.

Thrush .. turns out irradiation makes it excruciating. The medicine tastes like rinsing in lotion... then you're supposed to just leave the stinging lotion sit in your mouth. EEEEW

But when my babies had thrush, I just slathered it with acidophilus and live culture. So I just dumped the powder on  and it's receding.. not hurting, and not scary.... just whistling...about a good God and His perfect provision....

I now have two secret places to share with you. I decided I would share them. come what may..

I am going for life . In every cranny, everywhere I can push it. I am gunning to get to know everyone at thus clinic, the workers, the patients... the Doctors..."So , do you have family??? Are they good? Have needs? It is so silly. I know the doctor thinks I'm a little off..."isn't this science fun?" I sure am having fun learning, aren't you???" He's been doing it so long. MY goal is to even see that very learned man filled with wonder at the mystery, and fun of a good God! the patients. I am going to breathe life into each one.. I know that's a piece of my job now. Game on.

Here's my second secret: I am kicking in the teeth of the devil. When the bad news just kept rolling in, it was daunting. "don't speak with your enemy unless your attorney is present", Kris Valloton says. I was mad about the illegal moves on a precious daughter of the King..  So I decided to take back much more than he ever thought to rob. I am mining every correspondence for wobbly babies and almosts in the Kingdom. Dialoging about death and afterlife to dry old bones, and praying life into those arid places. Ohh ! The riches of the fight, and the wonder of it all! I am having a blast! Ha Ha Ha! Take that! God is always so good, and wins with every (EVERY) hand... even a very bad one !!! It is so rich...

Eli is probably going to head to Redding for the weekend to set so many things up for our extended stay at this (do you even call it a Phat Pharm when you actually might get fat and enjoy it... surely not) :) Prayer for timing, arrangements, rest for my man. Much rest and encouragement.

Guess that's all... Just lots of gratitude fro amazing praying friends, and a lavish lavish God!

Thoughts on a lavish God

It no longer even feels like a wall of warriors praying for me. It is a shining array of so much love and beauty and myriads of the best in people... . I am so very grateful for the support. I am awed by it all...

Another living room time... from my heart to yours...

We are living in this strange place of extreme faith ... I guess God does not always call, nor even allow for normal, tedium in the Spooner walk right now... But the perfection of Gods provision, second by second, is amazing.

It's been exactly four weeks since I fell down this peculiar rabbit hole... At first it seemed so surreal, just like a bad dream with Cheshire cats and rules of engagement I'd never really thought much about.

I think I have now understood the first salvo: the devil is always out to steal, kill, and destroy, and God is aways for my good. He never changes, His mood never shifts, nor is He ever in a bad mood..." I just don't feel like loving or being lavish, or being a good Father today..." Not like this tired, sometimes weak Mama over the years. Nope. Always my Papa, with a lap to climb into, and comfort and Shalom peace to rest in. Even now.

We are now in Los Angeles, staying at my husband's God mother's, 80 something year old Doris... It went something like this..."Hello Doris? Are you back from relatives in Florida? Oh? Just got home??? How nice... Do you mind extended stay houseguests who aren't terribly good at remembering birthdays and Christmases or anything??? Um... Maybe 12 weeks for the duration of the treatment in LA??? That would work, you think??? Okay, we'll be driving up tomorrow..."


Or landing our two girls in faith: "You can take each for say ten weeks at the start of the school term??? We'll just put them on a plane... and trust ..... Um... Thank you"

Isaac leaves for US Air Force boot camp in A couple of weeks... One of the death sentence people counseled us, pick a goal that's reachable (like a son graduating from boot camp soon)... NO! I want the whole enchilada! I want to see the wings... I want to see the career, eventual wife, chubby cheeked grandchildren! God has great plans for me... Many good plans!!!. I'm just trusting in the plans of a big dreaming God!

Wow... That was mostly scattered...

Truly, I wanted to say thank you. Your prayers, each one, your work at our houses (!) your posts, emails, texts and show of support sustain us like a shimmery diaphanous show of Gods lavish
promise of life and miraculous working power... Thank you

Oh yeah... Turns out irradiating and heating the brain in life giving treatments can swell it and produce sleep depriving nausea... Ok peeps.. So grateful for the prayers and Gods faithful provision in all parts of this extreme adventure. Thanks for praying... Even for nausea abatement !!!

One more whack at life!

Hello precious friends. Time for another living room update...

The treatment we came for was not working . So after searching, praying, researching, (did I say praying???), we landed on one. It is radiation with microwave heat treatments.

We loaded my three children on a plane for Redding this afternoon . Ok, my prayer warriors.. pray for them.

The prep work is done , the treatments start Monday in Los Angeles. The treatment will take 8 - 12 weeks...WHAT??? I don't know what that looks like past Monday!!! Eli has a God mother in LA... So we are driving there now... To stay with step by one step...

It's kind of funny, living extremely day to day. I wake up in the morning and think, "ok... Still here... What is today's plan??? " really freaky, having no more great plans than to be here in the morning... Breathing.. Life is very extreme right now !

Here is the great news: We are not gonna roll over and collapse! We choose life, God, and Hope!!! Every word, message, text and email we read is a breath of life from our Father. Thank you.

As we were getting labs, etc., stuff ready for Mondays start, we saw more hope than we had seen since the first day of diagnosis, Dec 12... As we saw more (sick) people coming in for treatment, we saw a theme: hope. We heard words like"1/4 shrunk" or won't need to see you for 6 weeks... Over and over. We took away hope in a good God and His good plan... So we are driving towards that hope...

Would never wish a journey like this on anyone... But the love of God intertwined throughout it is lavish . He is such a good God. So rich towards us.

Did I already ask you to pray for my children? Yeah.

Thank you precious friends.

Bad Hand Lavish God

I found this note page on my Facebook site… Hey! Let's write something… just for fun…

The kids are shopping with Eli, so I am here alone (except for Brian and Jenn, Melissa, Chris and Kim  and even Kathy V--  Thanks guys. You don't even know how much we appreciate you).

Today was an incredibly up and down day. The treatment is not really showing any signs of working, um, at all. We are going to finish the course on Friday. But we spent the night holding each other and looking at reality if no amazing miracle of God happens. It looks really cool and exciting for me, and not so fun for Eli, and brutal for my children, just saying.

We went for blood tests today. The nurse tsked at my bruises. (here's where the delete key might work well…). My hands and arms are pretty "done in" from all the attempts at finding a vein brave enough to stand up and take fluids). They are all bruised and scared. Cowards.

We had tried to cut back the steroids. Very bad idea that cutting back. Without them, I'm a little scary. More that a little. I don't walk well. Half of me just doesn't get what it should be feeling about it. The other half is also starting to forget, play the non memory after 53 years, and numb up. What??? You too? Don't you know you took me on a fun field trip less than FOUR weeks ago? And now you can't remember how to hold me up??? Really? Really?

Anyway, the guy doing the blood tests gave us buckets of hope, We needed that, pretty badly. He told us about a treatment that has worked with brain tumors. WE are probably going to try that after this round is done, Supposedly, the nasty tasting stuff gets past the blood brain barrier, and dissolves the coating of the tumor. Without the coating, the body can recognize it for the vile thing that it is, and attack it. So we are going for another "long shot". The adventure of it is so like me.

See, I figure I have three choices: Do nothing. The sites I read last night in my first real attempt at researching this thing since the first diagnosis, are crazy. They put me at 6 to 12 weeks to live.  What???

Still open to me is option 2, radiation hell. All I hear and read is that while it is an option, there is no hope of life at the end of that option. There would be a extension of life by a grand six months or more, but the extension sounds worse that the cancer, and the life sounds terrible. Forgive me if that just doesn't sound worth it.

My third option is to still try to find a miracle. Another treatment? Game on! We'll try it! A miracle of God? He can save through many or few, I know. How about an army of so many warriors? What a cool plan! I love that idea!!!

Your prayers and encouragement are amazing. Throughout they day and night (did you know that steroids make you a little like God? You hardly need any sleep at all!)  I can see what everyone is up to on Facebook. I love that almost as much as listening to my friends sing to me …"I want to love you, like you love me, more that anything, more that anything…"). I appreciate you so much. Your willingness to walk with me, write to me, pray for me and stand with me, make my life beautiful and rich…

Thank you so much.

Pray for my man. Pray for my children. They are amazing. In for a penny, In for a pound.