Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I think that life is hard. I feel that life is hard. I don't think there's anything wrong with those thoughts and feelings, however, I've allowed them to rule my actions and attitudes as of late. And that's where the sin enters. I've not been living in the Spirit, but in the flesh. Convincing myself that I'm a victim of my circumstances, instead of renewing my mind with the Word of God that states I am more than a conqueror through Christ. What a vast difference between the two. What a sorrow that I still wrestle with this in my life!

I've been reading "Of Plymouth Plantation" written by William Bradford. It chronicles the history of the Plymouth settlement by the Pilgrims. I grew up with the politically correct version of why they actually came to America... for religious freedom, right? Not exactly.

When the Separatists (Pilgrims) left England, they traveled to Holland and settled there. They actually had a modicum of religious freedom and lived at peace with their Dutch neighbors. This lasted for about eleven to twelve years. The greatest catalyst in their journey to America can be best described by William Bradford himself. He writes,

"But still more lamentable, and of all sorrows most heavy to be borne, was that many of the children, influenced by these conditions, and the great licentiousness of the young people of the country, and by the many temptations of the city, were led by evil example into dangerous courses, getting the reins off their necks and leaving their parents."

Basically, they left to preserve the very souls of their children. They saw them falling away to the Dutch culture and sought to save them. I've been deeply convicted by this knowledge. The Pilgrims gave up all they had, journeyed into almost uncharted waters to a vastly unknown land, faced unmitigated perils and certain death for some... all to save their children from the culture.

What have we done? What do we do? We allow them to listen to certain music, because, well, it's not that bad. Anyway, they just like the beat. We toe the line on what movies we allow to penetrate their soul because, hey, it's just a movie and they know it's not real. Besides, it's not as bad as other things their peers are watching. We allow potentially questionable social activities because, they're teens and they need that social interaction. Everyone else is going too, and we certainly don't want our children to be viewed or labeled as odd.

We are weak.

It's no small surprise that our kids are leaving the church in large numbers. They've seen us compromise in every area where we should be standing strong and teaching them, protecting them, preserving them. We are responsible for their very souls, and when we allow Eminem, Lady Gaga, and Green Day to speak to their souls in order to encourage angst and sexual desires we are showing them compromise. When we allow teen vampires, women action heroes, and murder thrillers to speak to their minds and imaginations, we are showing them compromise. When we allow them to go to a gathering when we know some of the other peers are involved in wrong behaviors, we are showing them compromise.

In the end, we tell them, by our actions, that personal holiness is limited. It is not all-encompassing within every area of our lives. In the end, the very things we are trying to teach are eclipsed by what we have actually taught... whether we realized it or not.

What does this have to do with my first paragraph? I have also shown my children compromise in my spiritual life as I have struggled with those thoughts and feelings that have ruled my inward and outward life. Our forefathers have convicted me from pages written hundreds of years ago. Pages that told of their indefatigable faith and their fortitude to stand for truth in every area of life. That stand moved them thousands of miles away from comfort... and we can't even move to push the "off" button on the remote. When I can't choose to live daily in the Spirit, I can't show my children that personal holiness is about every area of my life, every member of my being. Yet, that is exactly what I want them to know.

We in America have no relation to our first Pilgrim fathers. We have fallen so far away from their vision for their children, which included a vision for this country. Is there no hope for us? I think there is. Satan desires that we remain in our state of complaining, compromise and complacency. However, if we are willing to stand on the truth and for the truth, the Lord will give us all the strength we need. This is something that I need to cling to when I am giving in to the attitudes of myself, instead of choosing life in the Spirit. I need to make this choice minute by minute, hour by hour, and day by day. The Deceiver has worked marvelously in me, enabling me to create my sinful mentality... but, I am finished. I want to be able to stand like the Pilgrims did. I want to live so that others see my struggles, but greater still, they see the sustaining hand of God in my life... because, as the song states, life is hard, but God is good.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Of Armor and Aluminum Foil

I'm writing this entry now, but it's really meant for tomorrow.  Sixteen years ago tomorrow I married the person who has become my best friend on this earth.  It's been a long, but short, sixteen years.  Sixteen years filled with sickness and health, riches and poverty, better and worse, and last summer, the thought of "'til death do us part".  Sixteen years that have seen ten job changes, six houses, five kids, and three diseases.  Did I mention that it's been sixteen years?  Anyway, we've been through a lot in those years.  More than some and less than others.  Profound, I know.

What can I say about the person who knows what I like even when I don't?  Someone who can finish my sentence, or beats me to my own thought.  The person I call first when news hits, good or bad... or when I just have a thought that I need to say out loud.

Well, I thought about this a few years ago, and I wrote a letter to my husband, thanking him.  A letter telling him that I respect him.  On this anniversary I wanted to share that letter with others, because this essay emulates who he is, who I have been, and who I strive to be.  May you all be blessed with these thoughts that I humbly submit on our wedding anniversary.  Thanks, Scott,  for doing all that you do for us!  Happy Anniversary!

Of Armor and Aluminum Foil


“Whatever happened to my knight in shining armor?”  This lament uttered by women in church and out of church.  By quiet women and brash women alike.  By women married for years and women married for months.  One woman wondered why her husband’s armor looked more like dented aluminum foil and less like the gleaming metal encasement her man sported when she married him.  As I have mulled over this question, I think I have come to a conclusion.  This question ultimately stems from a selfish, ungrateful heart.

The whole idea of a knight in shining armor lends an unrealistic vision of life in Camelot.  A life of brave men fighting beast and foe for the fair maiden’s heart.  The idea of being swept away from the tedium of life, to a new and exciting “happily ever after”.  These thoughts, however, only set up the one thinking them for failure or disappointment.  Women over the years have carried this perception of men in their heads as well as in their hearts, only to find the armor rusting, dented, and patched with aluminum foil.  Within their very soul they question, "What happened?"  Quietly the answer is whispered back.  "Life."

Life creeps in and takes over.  The beast that seemed so ominous in the early years of knighthood, cowers before Life.  When faced with the choice of a new suit of armor, or diapers, the diapers take precedence and the suit must be mended.  When faced with slaying the dragon of a boss, or remaining within employment… the armor becomes slightly dull and the employment continues.  This metal uniform begins to show signs of battle, and the time the knight has to repair or replace his armor becomes limited.

The armor that has this appearance belongs to a knight that has met Life in a battle for his wife and children.  Instead of allowing the ones most precious to him to confront this formidable foe, he has chosen to wear the scars from war.  He has sacrificed his dreams, his hopes, his appearance, his very existence (at times), in order that those he loves might be spared.  All this is reflected in the dull mirror of armor that has become merely his protection, instead of his source of pride.

His worth is found more in his relationship with God, in a wife who respects and serves him, and children who honor him with their words and deeds.  At one time his armor meant all that to him, but now so much more has taken its place. 

When we see and realize this, we can hardly ask ourselves, "What happened?"  As we observe this breed of knight we can determine where his true priorities lie.  When we hear the wife of this knight ask her scathing question, we can also ascertain where her heart is as well.  In her selfish, unrepentant heart, she has placed herself far above her husband and his sacrifice for their family.  She has claimed that he needs to be as the day they were married, even though I am sure that she is not the same maiden that walked down the aisle.  What a mournful thought.

As I have considered this, I wanted to let you know that I have seen the rusting, the dents, and the foil patches on your armor.  I have also seen how many of those blemishes came to be… and what you went through to shield us during those times.  You have protected us and you have loved us sacrificially.  I love you and respect you!  We cannot give back to you what you give to us each and every day.  I would much rather have you wearing this set of armor than the set you wore when we were married.  Thank you for choosing us!

All my love and respect, 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The BIG Day!

Well, today is the BIG day!  Almost a year after we began this journey, Scott and I will be heading downtown to the University of Colorado Hospital for his port removal!

The last few days I have been reading some of my journal and blog entries from those early days of Scott's diagnosis.  I can't help but notice the timing of everything.  As we begin this day, I realize that it has been a year, to the day, that Scott's mom ended her battle with cancer and passed from this toilsome life into an eternal, glorious life with our risen Saviour. The two older kids even commented on the significance of today.

It's been quite the journey the Lord has taken us on this past year.  So difficult in many ways, yet there is a sweetness to what we have gone through and experienced.  I was thinking today of that phrase that we have all verbalized at one time or another... "This is not what I thought my life would be like...".  I was realizing that I would need to add to the end of that... "it's much better..."!

Some of you are probably wondering how I could say that after this year.  I wonder that myself, at times, but I know that through the trials of this year, so many good things have happened.

1. Scott and I are closer and our marriage is stronger now than it ever was.  We find ourselves immediately evaluating if what we are arguing about is actually worth anything.  Life is WAY too short to be angry, bitter, selfish, ugly, rude, (the list could go on, but you get the point) towards each other.  We are more grateful now for the time we have together than we ever were before.

2. We've seen the hand of God work.  We saw how the body of Christ can truly function to meet needs!  Our brothers and sisters in Christ cared for us, prayed for us, and ministered to us in ways we have never experienced.  We had so many people outside of the church comment on how remarkable this group of believers was.  It was an amazing testimony to all who witnessed it!  Because of them, we do not have one outstanding medical bill!

3. Our family's faith has grown tremendously.  I have seen the faith of my two older children strengthened and refined.  Autumn's spiritual growth and the depth of her belief have amazed me.  I don't think either Scott or myself were ever that mature in our walk with the Lord at that age.  Hunter even made a comment to me the other day.  He said,

"I've seen that God can do anything.  He can give and take away whatever he wants.  He took Grandma, but he gave us Dad".

4. We've also, as a family, become more committed to honoring Christ with what we watch and read, with our actions and attitudes.  It's not easy by any means!  However, I always go back to the thought that we walked this road for a reason, and I don't want to be the same person at the end of the cancer road as I was at the beginning.  If I am, then all the pain was for naught.  

I was reading some excerpts from John Piper's "Don't Waste Your Cancer".  He writes ten points under that title, but there's one that I want to share.  He says,

"You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before.  Are your besetting sins as attractive as they were before you had cancer?  If so you are wasting your cancer.  Cancer is designed to destroy the appetite for sin.  Pride, greed, lust, hatred, unforgiveness, impatience, laziness, procrastination-- all these are the adversaries that cancer is meant to attack.  Don't just think of battling against cancer.  Also, think of battling with cancer.  All these things are worse enemies than cancer.  Don't waste the power of cancer to crush these foes.  Let the presence of eternity make the sins of time look as futile as they really are.  'What does is profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself'?(Luke 9:25)".

David Powlison (from the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation) adds his thoughts to this.

"Suffering really is meant to wean you from sin and strengthen your faith.  If you are God-less, then suffering magnifies sin.  Will you become more bitter, despairing, addictive, fearful, frenzied, avoidant, sentimental, godless in how you go about life?  Will you pretend it's business as usual?  Will you come to terms with death, on your terms?  But if you are God's, then suffering in Christ's hand will change you, always slowly, sometimes quickly.  You come to terms with life and death on his terms.  He will gentle you, purify you, cleanse you of vanities.  He will make you need him and love him.  He rearranges your priorities, so first things come first more often.  He will walk with you.  Of course you fail at times, perhaps seized by irritability of brooding, escapism or fears.  But he will always pick you up when you stumble.  Your inner enemy--a moral cancer 10,000 times more deadly than your physical cancer--will be dying as you continue seeking and finding your Savior: 'For your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is very great.  Who is the man who fears the Lord?  He will instruct him in the way he should choose' (Psalm 25)".

As I read this it resonated deeply within my soul.  I have seen and felt the Lord circumcising my heart this entire year.  I think at first I didn't want to deal with the pain, but now I can see it as a refreshment to my spirit.  The Lord has continued bringing me to the end of myself and my sinful pride... through Scott's cancer, the women's Bible study (Seeking Him), and sermons at church (thanks, Todd!).

It seems almost surreal that we have "completed" our travels on the path of cancer.  What was once an all-consuming part of our daily life is now vanishing behind us.  I can't praise the Lord enough for bringing us through the fire, but I think the real work is now ahead of us... to bear witness of the goodness of the Lord while in the valley of the shadow of death.  Scott and I want our prayer to be that we never go back, that we continually move forward.  That we keep what the Lord has done in our hearts fresh, raw, and real.  That we share this with others for the remainder of our days here on earth... because,

"We have heard with our ears, O God; our father's have told us what you did in their days, in days long ago".  (Psalm 44:1)

Praise the Lord!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

PET scan results

Yesterday was a great day!  Scott met with his oncologist to get the results of his PET scan he had done on Monday.  The oncologist walked in and said, "Your scan is so clean it's boring!".  That's what we like to hear :).  He did tell Scott that the scan showed two small masses in his chest, but that they were not indicative of cancer.  I read the results this morning and saw that the masses had appeared on the previous scan, but that the measurements show them to be shrinking.  

I am wondering if these masses are what is interfering with the nerve that innervates his diaphragm... which is causing the breathing problems.  It was encouraging to see that they are shrinking, so hopefully, Lord willing, his breathing might get easier in the months to come.  So, I think we'll keep going to get his alternative treatments.

So, anyway, because he has had these two clean scans, we were given the go-ahead to get his port out.  If you are wondering what a "port" is, let me explain.  It is about the size of quarter/half dollar, but much thicker (like a marble).  It has tubing attached to it, and when the surgeon inserted this port, the tubing was placed directly into one of his larger blood vessels near his heart.  Inserting the port is not like getting a blood draw or an IV.  The surgeon has to put Scott under and go in surgically to do this.  Not a fun day.  You can see the bulge from the port that is sitting under his skin in his upper chest.  The chemo was given directly through this.  One of the reasons for that was that the chemo is so caustic that it will ruin any smaller veins in his arms, so it needed to be placed directly into as large a vein as possible.  The port has caused him some pain... especially whenever one of the kids would run to hug/tackle him and would knock his port.  But, now we can get it taken out... and we've been looking forward to this for a LONG time!  The surgery date is set for the middle of May.  So, if you live close (or not), be looking for the Post-Port Party announcement :)!

Well, I just wanted to let you all know.  That's our good news for this week!  I would love to write more about things that we've learned, how we've seen the Lord work... all that good stuff!  However, at the moment, I have a baby that is screaming and needs a diaper change... and we need to start school in just a few minutes.  So, I need to take care of those things.  Thanks so much for all your prayers!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Frozen Diaphragm

I hope I'm not causing a shock to anyone's system... but I've decided (well, found time) to blog.  I used to say I was a once-a-month blogger, but apparently I have grown into a tri-monthly blogger.  Anyway, whatever I am or have become, I actually have a little time to update all of you on Scott and our family.

It's been a three months since Scott saw the pulmomologist for his breathing difficulties... which was diagnosed as a "frozen diaphragm".  When Scott told me that, I asked what we needed to do to thaw it out (ha)!  The mainstream medical answer is... nothing.  In short, a frozen diaphragm occurs when something interferes with the nerve pathway between the brain and the diaphragm.  It does not allow one side of the diaphragm to release in order for that lung to expand when taking in a breath.  I can actually take my stethoscope and listen to determine the difference between sides of his diaphragm.  So, the specialist told Scott that it may clear up on it's own, but if it doesn't, or it worsens, then we will need to think about a major thoracic (chest) surgery.

On the other side of the medical/health fence, we've been having Scott receive treatments at a chiropractic clinic.  He has usually has either an electrical nerve stimulation treatment, acupuncture, or chiropractic treatment once a week.  He is also taking some supplements to hopefully help his system detox after the chemo.  However, that's been giving us some concern as well.  

Scott has noticed that he still has a small lump where his primary tumor occurred.  It might be scar tissue, but there's always that thought in the back of our minds that it could be cancer.  Neither of us want to think that because we believe that God can and does heal, and we've seen that in Scott.  At the same time, we want to be prudent in making sure that Scott receives all possible treatment options.  So as you can see, things can still be a bit up and down.

This coming Monday, Scott is scheduled to undergo a PET scan.  He's had this test before and it will show us if there is any cancer left.  The oncologist wanted to do another one before he okays the removal of Scott's port.  Obviously Scott and I are looking forward to this because it means... we finally get a DATE!  That's been our running joke, that we only get a date when he has to go to the hospital :).

Scott has put together a powerful video documenting his journey with cancer.  He showed the video for a message he put together for our church.  He went in depth about the lessons he learned as God led him through this difficult time.  We have attached the video to this message for you to view.  If you would like to hear Scott's sermon, you can log onto "theridgechurch.org" and click on "listen online" under the resources tab.  It's titled "Finding Shelter in the Storm" on March 14th.

On other notes, we are gearing up for a fun summer!  After last summer, we are ready to get our garden going, do some major yard projects, attend the Colorado Home School Conference, see Grandpa Schwinn and Uncle Corey, visit with Grandpa Jon and Grandma Candy, and GO CAMPING!  We are hoping to get away at the end of May/beginning of June and take in the camping up in South Dakota.  Why there instead of the beautiful Colorado Rockies?  Well, seeing as how no one has carved presidential faces into a fourteener yet, we will need to go to SD to see that.  We have been to Mount Rushmore previously, but the two older kids were too little to remember.  We are planning on doing some weekend camping around here in our amazing state with some family from church.  Can't wait for that!

So, that's the update for now.  I know I've been quite delinquent in keeping you all up to speed and for that I apologize.  I really want to try and carve out some time each week to write, blog, keep people updated, etc.  It was such an amazing journey that the Lord has taken us on, and I realize more and more that it is one that I want to continue to share with all of you.  I also realize daily that I have the freedom to say what I think and feel; what the Lord has been teaching us and how His word speaks to our life.  As I watch America's moral compass continue to spin uncontrollably, I am reminded that my freedom may be cut short.  Therefore, I want to make the most of my time in proclaiming the risen Christ and what he has done and is doing in our lives!  Thank you for humoring me and reading my ramblings , but mostly, thank you for praying without ceasing for our family.  We treasure you all!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Triple Celebration

I know some of you may have heard, but I wanted to make sure you all knew about Scott's PET scan.  We found out last week that his scan did come back clean (meaning no active cancer)... so we are celebrating an early Christmas present... yes, Christmas, not holiday :)!  He does have some scarring where the tumor was in his chest, but the radiation oncologist said that it was scar tissue and not active.  

Scott is still dealing with some effects of the radiation and chemo, however.  He has been having increasing shortness of breath along with some numbness and tingling and chest pain.  He has had a lung function test done and they determined that he is only functioning at about 67% of his lung capacity.  We met with his oncologist last Friday, but he is unsure as to why this is happening.  So, Scott has an appointment with the pulmonologist on this Friday to hopefully get some answers.  We were also hoping he could discontinue the Fragmin (daily blood thinner injections) that he has been taking since June when he was hospitalized with blood clots in his lungs.  However, his oncologist is referring him to a specialist to determine if those clots were directly related to his chemo, or if Scott will need to be on the medication for life.   I hope not because they are very painful for him, as well as having the potential to be costly.  Right now we get the meds discounted through the hospital, but if we didn't have that, they would cost around $2,000 per month.

Who knows, though, if the new health care plan goes into effect, there will probably be a cap on treatment, and then Scott will be forced off the medication :)... haha.  Anyway,  I wanted to thank you all for praying!  It has been a tough season for us, but we are beginning to see the end.  

We are so thankful to the Lord for this good news... not that our faith depends on good news of being cancer free, but it is a gift and a blessing that we know comes from Him.  Of course, we have been a little more contemplative this season of the good news for all mankind... Jesus Christ's coming to earth to pay for our sins!  So, we feel especially blessed to be celebrating our Saviour's birth, Scott's cancer free report, and... Aspen's first birthday.

Just a side note... Aspen said her first words on the day that Scott found out his scan was clean... she said "dada".  It was an especially memorable day for Scott :).

So, that's where things are at right now.  We are awaiting the word (which will hopefully come after these next two appointments) so that Scott can have his port removed.  It has been painful for him during the course of his treatment, and we are anxious to get it OUT!  Of course, after that comes the big NO CANCER party... so be looking for the announcement, because you are all invited!

Enjoy and treasure your family and your time with them this Christmas.  While I still wonder at times why Scott had to go through all of this, I am reminded of the verse that the kids have memorized... Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose".  Someday, maybe not until heaven, we will see the good that the Lord has worked in us through this trial.  We have already seen many "good" things, and we hope that we can use this suffering to encourage others in years to come.  

So, may you find your peace and comfort in Him... the one who created the universe, yet knows every intimate detail about you; the one who left his throne in the heavens, came to earth to suffer in our frail humanity... in order to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins, yet now is ALIVE and sits at the right hand of God!  Now, that's a Christmas present!  Merry Christmas... we love you all!

Cinnamon for all of us

Sunday, November 1, 2009

ER Update

Thank you all for praying for us!  Scott and I returned home from the ER yesterday morning at 3 AM.  We had two dear friends that stayed with our kids until we got back.

After waiting for almost 4 hours, we were finally admitted to the treatment rooms in the ER.  Then it was hurry up and wait for a complete blood work up (including cardiac enzymes), EKG, and CT scan.

After falling asleep in the room waiting for results, we woke up and decided to call the nurse and find out what was going on.  We were then able to talk to the resident and he told us that everything was looking normal.  His blood work looked good, the enzymes showed no signs of heart attack, the EKG looked normal, and the CT scan was negative for any blood clots in his lungs.  So, Praise the Lord that everything looked fine!

I did tease Scott that he really didn't know how to show a lady a good time.  After all, the downtown ER is NOT the place to take a date on a Friday night... however, the hospital seems to be where we spend our time alone :).

Now the plan is for him to see his oncologist on Wednesday and then we'll go from there.  My initial feeling is that they will want to do another cardiac and pulmonary function test to determine where he's at... but I'm just guessing.  So, we will wait and see what the oncologist says and then I will let you all know.

Thank you so much for your prayers!  We are so grateful that he did not need another hospital stay, or that there was anything serious going on.  Please continue to pray that the shortness of breath will be something that will resolve on its own over time.  Thanks again.  We love you all!