Thursday, January 29, 2009

Prayers For Jack Update

NEWS FLASH: Surgery Date February 5, 2009
Note from Ruth: "Jack's surgery date has been moved up one day... Now he is on the regular schedule for Thursday, FEBRUARY 5th... Once I got past having to be spontaneous... not my forte, LOL! I could see God's hand in it all. The change caused us to move our departure for Seattle up a day which will give us better timing for arrival... on 2/3... followed by his pre-op appointments and prep on 2/4. God truly IS the Blessed Controller of ALL things... PTL!"
We Love You Grampa!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Jack Update

Hello Everyone, I just wanted to update those who are following (don't be shy, you can comment - Ruth and Jack read here), that Jack's thyroid scan yesterday was NORMAL! Praise God. This means that the surgery is a go for February 6 and that it is safe to put off doing anything with the thyroid for several months. Please continue to pray for God's healing. Jack is feeling well, and while they are human and this is not without its stresses, God has been in every step of the way and we all keep putting one foot in front of the other! :o) Thank you for reading and praying!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Made Ya Look Monday

Faith Sisters has a column called Made Ya Look Monday, where the administration chooses several layouts in the gallery that "make ya look". The layout above is one of mine that was chosen today. I created it using a wedding photo I took several years ago (and if you've been here before you have seen it in some of the heritage scrap layouts I've made) and a beautiful kit from Willro & Co Designs called Sweet Things .

I decided to play with it some more using Willro & Co's Sorbet Dream kit, also available at Faith Sisters. I'm trying to stretch myself creatively and work in some styles that are not my natural. I have a tendency to get too "tight" in my creativity and need to "loosen" up. So, I tried these heritage photos with modern design. It was kind of fun to do something different.

And today is this couple, my maternal, maternal great grandparents, would have celebrated their 104th wedding anniversary (if that were possible!).

I'll try to post more often. I have been a bit overwhelmed finding my way around forums and assignments and all the new things I am doing on the Creative Teams.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Jack Update

Soon I'll be updating the sidebar with newer information. But, for those who were praying for Jack's thyroid testing and consult, Thank You! Everything went well and he had a good doctor visit with a doctor who listened and was thorough. While Jack's thyroid is greatly enlarged and his numbers show that he is slightly "hyper thyroid", he is not having any symptoms of hyperthyroidism which would be dangerous for surgery (Especially increased heart rate - Since my Husband has Graves' Disease, our family is aware of what can happen with hyper thyroidism and we are so thankful Jack's is stable now.) Just for precautionary sake, Jack will be having a thyroid reuptake test next week. This is a simple test and probably the easiest he has had to do so far! Bottom line is, thyroid is still a "back burner" issue and he is good to go for surgery as scheduled.

Thank you for your continued prayers for Jack's healing.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wonderful, Miraculous News

Our friend Luanne had surgery on Monday to remove a tumor on her kidney and the kidney itself. She was told that over 90% of these tumors are cancerous. Yesterday the pathology report came back NO CANCER!!!! PRAISE GOD!!!! Yes, I am shouting! I am so excited!!!

The reason why there is a picture from my wedding (that's my Mom Ruth) is that Luanne and her husband Ron were two of the many "angels" from our wedding. Luanne did the adjustments and altering on my dress and she and her husband helped us decorate the social hall and donated some of their poinsettias which we used for decorations in the church. Our wedding would not have happened without all our angels, and it was proof that you can have a lovely wedding without spending $20K or more! (counting the dress, tuxes and photographer it was less than $2k and it may not have been the grandest but there were 300+ people and LOTS of LOVE - it cheers me just to think of all those who gave of themselves to make our wedding happen!)

Thank you God for your hand on Luanne's life.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Joy In The Mourning - Songs on Sunday (Long Post)

It has been awhile since I have posted Songs On Sunday, but today I want to share some pieces of my journey and how God met me today. Maybe someone else out there is or has been feeling like I am. Depression is a very touchy topic amongst Christians. Many don't believe it is a valid diagnosis and think that if you are depressed you aren't trusting in God. Their solution is "Read your Bible, say a prayer, get off your bum and get going." Well, sometimes that is not bad advice, but one size does not fit all!

My depression is complicated by my migraine syndrome, insomnia and the same hormonal issues that caused my infertility. I can be having the happiest day of my life, but my body feels physically depressed and I want to cry. My neurologist explained how pain and serotonin use the same pathways in the brain. That's why I almost always have severe depression 24 hours before a bad migraine. This fall the pain from my knee has compounded that. Add to that a few stressful situations and sadness and grief and the combination has been overwhelming! Probably for the same reasons my neurologist explained, I cannot take anti-depressant medications because they cause scary hemiparethic migraines (my face, mouth and lef arm go numb and I have painful headaches!). It's important to say for my family reading, that I am NEVER suicidal. And my focus on God is probably stronger that it ever has. But I have no control over my feelings. It's a continual exercise to tell myself that what I feel is not how things really are. One of the most difficult things with depression is that unless you have experienced it, you DO NOT understand! You might think you do, but trust me, you do not. I'm glad you don't because that means you have not suffered.

Spiritually, I believe that the enemy uses all things to pull us away from God. If a Christian succumbs to depression, what a triumph for our enemy. If depression keeps us from praying and communicating with God, what a triumph for our enemy. If it keeps us from praising God, what a victory for our enemy. I have Victory in Jesus. And in even the depths of intense emotional pain, I know that He is there with me. He did not create my body to respond this way, but it is the result of sin in our world. However, He will not abandon me. He will not forsake me. He walks every step with me. So, even when I cannot smile on the outside, there are moments of JOY when He speaks to me through music, His Word and the books I am reading.

Today our pastor quoted Soren Kirkegaard and it is fitting: "Despair is precesly to have lost the eternal." I do not despair. I have a priceless eternal gift and the Eternal watches over me.

I've shared this Third Day song before, but it is still speaking to me.

Your love, oh Lord
Reaches to the heavens
Your faithfulness stretches to the sky
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains
Your justice flows like the ocean's tide

I will lift my voice
To worship You, my King
I will find my strength
In the shadow of your wings

His love reaches to the heights of the Heavens and also to the depths of depression. I do find my strength in the shadow of his wing - One foot in front of the other.

In December I was chosen to be on the first quarter Creative Team at Faith Sisters for digital scrapbooking. They are beginning a challenge for 2009 - His Holy Name which will focus on the different attributes of God. It is being sponsored by Patter who happens to be the Mom of identical triplets! She is an incredible designer.

Most participants are using 6x6, 8x8 or altered Rolodex cards. Those who have paper scrapped with me, now I have a difficult time being confined! LOL I am doing 12x12 double page spreads and the scrapbook is to be determined. But I'm starting on the layouts now along with the challenge. I didn't need one more thing to do this year. But. Focusing on WHO God is, is a good thing. When you are depressed and sad and facing stressful situations or even if you are happy and everything is going well, it is better to focus on WHO He is and NOT on your circumstances. This will give me the oomph to keep putting that one foot in front of the other!

I didn't feel inspired and wasn't sure where I would start. Then I saw Cheryl's layout featuring a Bible that has been in her family since 1883! It's gorgeous. I was inspired to do my layouts featuring my Grandma Hopkins' Bible. This is the right hand side of the first challenge for the attribute, Holy....

In the church where my Grandma married, the old Methodist Church on Colby in Everett, WA, there was a window with an arch and it said, "Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness." She shared this with me several times and it really touched my heart. She believed, as do I, that making a Covenant of marriage with a Godly man, is an act of worshipping God. I know that sounds strange (NO, I don't worship my husband!), but think about it... God created us to marry and he created marriage as a HOLY COVENANT between a man and woman (that's not shouting, just emphasis). Obedience is a form of worship. Somehow I understood this in my girlish heart and spirit, even when my mind was too young to comprehend all that it would mean. So, when discussing the attribute of holy, this naturally came to mind. And the page features a wedding photo of my Grandparents, Alden and Holly (Tisdale) Hopkins, who were married June 2, 1930. You can see her writing in the margin of the Bible.

This is the left hand side, which is where I will journal my ideas and thoughts about His holiness and what that means to me. (If you want to see the full credits, you can see in the Faith Sisters Gallery. While you are there check out Shelley's layout - it's her first digital layout and I talked her into joining me. I should have convinced you too Dorothy!

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty!

I picked up this journal in December as it was so beautiful and it was based on the song Amazing Grace, with quotes and Scripture inside. I didn't know what I was going to do with it, but I couldn't leave it in the store.

I decided to write my spiritual life story. It is good to know and remember all that God has done in our lives. As an older in life Mom, one of my dreams is to live long enough to see my children grow up and choose God in their lives. I want to be able to pass on to them the rich spiritual heritage that my Grandma and family gave me. It would give me no greater joy than to see them spiritually mature. Reality is, we don't all have our dreams come true. So, I'm writing this down... for my own good and profit, but also for them. I thought the quote on this page was good. A love of quotes... another thing I got from Grandma! :o)

Today, as Pastor Mike continued through his series on Abraham, he taught about Sarah's death. Some people think that Christians will not have struggle and that because God loves us we don't have to worry about bad things happening to us. This is a false gospel. God never promises we won't suffer, in fact there are many Scriptures that indicate we WILL suffer. But God promises to be with us in these struggles and He gave the Holy Spirit to be with us to comfort us in all our struggles.

Just like Abraham never fully saw the completed promises of his Covenant with God, but still believed He would fulfill them (Abraham purchased a lot in the Promised Land for Sarah's burial, believing that even though it had not happened yet, it would be his land and the land of his descendants.), we know that God will complete His promises to us even if they do not occur here on Earth. All God's promises will be fulfilled.

Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. 36Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. 37They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground.
39These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. 40God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. Hebrews 11:35b-40

He further shared with us that God's people believe that the promises of God extend beyond this life.

13Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage each other with these words. I Thessalonians 4:13-18 (Bible Gateway)

As I sat in the pew, hearing this Scripture, I thought of my brother Danny and Amy's Joshie and thought "Oh Lord, I long to hear your trumpet sound!" and tried to picture them, wondering what they would look like when they were called to meet Him. Then Mike said, what I have felt and known in my heart all along, that it never says NOT to grieve, but when we grieve to grieve in hope. It has long comforted me that Jesus wept when he learned of Lazarus' death and that in the Psalms He says that the death of His saints is precious to Him... He is mindful of what we go through. But we grieve in HOPE! Our hearts may be broken but can be mended through hope and faith in God's promises for the future.

This past year Steven Curtis Chapman and his family experienced the incredible tragedy of losing a child they love dearly. Little Maria was killed when she ran out to meet her brother and was hit by his vehicle because he could not see her. They were shoeless at her packed memorial service, because God met them there on Holy Ground. Matt Redman was there to sing this song he wrote. And as Jack faces a battle of Cancer, it is difficult not to weep when I read "You give and take away". I have hope for Jack's healing, but the very fact that he faces this battle brings to the forefront the fact that NONE of us know when we may die or why or how. A few in history have been told by God how and when they would die, but for the rest of us, we are given the responsibility to LIVE our life each day. From the great wisdom of the movie, Wall E, we believe, "We don't want to 'survive', we want to 'live'"! Because we believe in hope and wait in hope, we can praise His Holy Name in all circumstances!

Blessed Be Your Name

by Matt Redman- - -

Blessed Be Your Name

In the land that is plentiful

Where Your streams of abundance flow

Blessed be Your name

Blessed Be Your name

When I'm found in the desert place

Though I walk through the wilderness

Blessed Be Your name

Every blessing You pour out

I'll turn back to praise

When the darkness closes in, Lord

Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be Your name

When the sun's shining down on me

When the world's 'all as it should be'

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name

On the road marked with suffering

Though there's pain in the offering

Blessed be Your name

Every blessing You pour out

I'll turn back to praise

When the darkness closes in, Lord

Still I will say

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your glorious name

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your name

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Blessed be Your glorious name

You give and take away

You give and take away

My heart will choose to say

Lord, blessed be Your name

Though the darkness closes in, though there's pain in the offering, STILL, I will say, blessed be the Name of the Lord.

If the darkness closes in on you, do not turn away from the Great Physician. Lean into Him, cleave to Him, be protected in the Shadow of His Wings. Praise Him in the darkness. Remember there is a time for every purpose under Heaven. Perhaps I am in a season of grief, but joy comes in the morning. And if you are looking, Joy can come in the Mourning. And maybe not today, but some day, I know His promise will be fulfilled that He will give me the oil of gladness for my mourning.

So, I leave you with one more picture, Scripture and song...

My Grandma Hopkins lived in the Truth of Isaiah 53. He comforted her in her grief at losing her Husband so early (age 56)... Surely he has bourne our griefs and carried our sorrows. By His stripes we are healed. And I know that promise holds true for me. That promise holds true for Jack. And that promise holds true for YOU if you love the Lord your God with all your heart. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. He's always good on His promises!
I don't know if this link will work to You Tube, but if not google "video Spafford It Is Well With My Soul" and you will find it. The story of Horatio Spafford is incredible and his hymn has long comforted me:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blessed assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

It is well, with my soul,
It is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul,I
t is well, with my soul,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.
And though the darkness descend, it is well with my soul. Though it threatens to draw me in, I can bless and praise His Holy Name. He is the God of all the Universe and He has called me Friend.
Life is deep and simple and what our society gives us is shallow and complicated. (Fred Rogers)

Remember the 80s? CHOOSE LIFE! That's what it all boils down to. Life and Death. The enemy offers us death. He offers a culture of death... look at tv, music, fashion and the fixation we have with violence and crime and our flirting with the occult because of the dead - it's everywhere. God offers Life.
Congratulations if you made it this far. I hope that you have found some nugget of inspiration or encouragement. Thank you for all your comments and prayers! You are important to me!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Jack Update

Our family is praising God that He again was in all the details of Jack's visit with the surgeon at Virginia Mason. It should come as no surprise to us that the surgeon is a Christian! It was a busy day with lots to absorb. Some questions have now been answered and some remain.

*Surgery will be February 6, 2009. The praise in this delay is that Jack will be able to be present to speak at Bruce's commissioning in a couple weeks!

Jack asks that we pray for God's will and for wisdom for the surgeon in all the decisions that have to be made. The course of action will be determined by results seen during the surgery.

We are praising God for all that He has done, still recognizing the seriousness of this diagnosis and asked for continued prayers for God's healing hand on Jack. Pray for their strength and peace as they daily walk in this reality.

I will close with verses that have been their daily reminder of His presence in their lives:

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:4-9, NIV, Bible Gateway)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Jack Update

Yesterday Jack had his ultrasound guided biopsy of his Thyroid nodule, which turns out to be a group of nodules or a goiter. It wasn't the funnest thing he has ever done (ouch!) and was somewhat complicated by the fact that almost all of his thyroid is located under his collar bone. But they had a good radiologist and the biopsy was successful.

What a blessing Jack's primary doctor is! He called today with the good news that the biopsy does not show cancer! The thyroid issues will have to be dealt with by an endocrinologist, but that will probably wait until after surgery.

The next step is Seattle again tomorrow to see the surgeon at Virginia Mason. More news to follow.

Thank you for praying. We all appreciate it!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Dorothy Larimore Johnson

This is the only portrait I've ever seen of my Grandma Johnson, dated September 13, 1946, which was my father's first birthday. I love the romantic idea that she had a portrait taken to honor that day and show her love. Looking back, I think my Grandparents had a complex relationship. Even today some family members have told me they should not have been married, but Grandpa was not going to leave his son, as his father had done to him. Maybe they weren't the perfect match, but I think they are an example of how love is a choice. Marriage is work and you grow in love. The head in the clouds feelings disappear, but as you grow in love, the feelings are deeper and richer with the patina of time.

This picture always makes me chuckle. It has been repaired in photoshop elements, but in the original there is a tear the entired length of the left hand side. Grandma "fixed" it with old fashioned Scotch tape that yellowed and aged. Apparently at some point in time she and Grandpa had an argument and in her temper (it was quick and hot!) she picked up the picture and tore it! I know it was just a gesture because she only tore it on the left hand side, not through her face, so the picture was "saved".

Grandma was quite a character and my first best friend. Her life ended in a long battle with early onset Alzheimer's Disease. You can read my tribute to her battle here on my old blog.

Dorothy Lucille Larimore Johnson January 2, 1920 to July 16, 1987.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Jack Update

Thanks everyone for the prayers! Mom (Ruth) and Jack were blessed with a good trip and the details went smoothly. They even had free shuttle service from their hotel to Virginia Mason and back instead of having to take an expensive taxi! I think the theme for the visit was "God is in the details".

We are praising God that the cancer was detected (in the words of the doctor himself), "darn early". The doctors were surprised that it was even detected by the first scoping. During Jack's "esophagogastroduodenoscopy with biopsy and ultrasound" (say that fast three times!), the surgeon who will do Jack's surgery, came in and observed! This was not planned (at least not by the medical staff - another God detail). While it is disappointing that God didn't remove the cancer and we still have some questions unanswered, we are praising God for:

1. Smooth details
2. Kind, cooperative and smart doctors at VM
3. Very early cancer in the first and second layers of stomach lining and only about the size of a quarter.
4. Because it has not spread, he can have surgery without first having chemo or other treatment.
5. No Lymph abnormalities detected!!!
6. No spreading to other organs
7. Jack tolerated the procedure and medications well

Prayer Requests:

1. God's healing
2. Peace, wisdom and discernment
3. Thyroid ultrasound guided needle biopsy on Monday, January 5, 2009
4. Appt with surgeon on January 7, 2009 - traveling mercies, doctor's wisdom, surgery planning
5. Timing of surgery (Jack will be in hospital 5 days)
6. Discernment and wisdom for surgeon who may be able to leave a small portion of Jack's stomach, but because of the location, this may be difficult.
7. Family healing (God knows the details)

Thank you from all of us!