Saturday, December 8, 2012

DEFINITION OF CUTE

Greg and I were walking out of the Drs. clinic (where my social network seems to be these days!). For the second time in a week, a woman in her late 30's stopped us and told us what a CUTE COUPLE we were! For the second time, we were stunned. I felt partly appreciative for the work the Lord's done in our lives this past year in creating a very real sweetness between us. And partly DEEPLY OFFENDED to receive these "compliments" while we're in our 50's!!! Give us another 15-20 years and we'll happily receive those words!

So, I broke down. Because of impatience and frugality, I bought a box. Without my glasses, I didn't see the smaller print saying the color was a mahogany brown. So Greg is married to a ever-so-slightly redhead for the next couple of months! This color makes me look like I'm Marisa's Oma for sure!! I tried the "cute and grey" look for over a year. And all it turned out to be was grey and old. How come guys can look distinguished and women typically look....old?

Our kids come next Friday for a week. We can't wait!!!! And on that note, the remicade seems to be working! I am cautiously optimistic! My next infusion is Friday morning. I had 6 out of 7 good days after the first infusion, which was just amazing. Walking/short hikes without much of a notice, more hand/wrist mobility, greater shoulder flexibility, way more energy! I am so grateful.

The Lord's answers come out of His ways being higher than ours. I am thankful He knows what's best and I trust Him!

These are whom I'm waiting to see....

Grace is going to sleep in my office next to our bedroom. Can't wait for early morning snuggles and books!

I think Marisa will love being with her cousins! She loves her weekly library music time and the other children there. I'm excited to watch them all together...well, as "together" as two 6 month olds and a nearly 2 year old may be! Of course, her mama and daddy are coming too! 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

BABY JOY

I couldn't get enough of Grace! We had so many snuggles and read books and sang songs and danced the Hoki-Poki and went for some walks and played drag-the-baby-on-the blanket (either Grace or her baby)!
Grace loves to have "coffee" in the mornings with her mommy and read their Bibles! 

We're pretty sure Hannah is teething.....and we know she is more adorable than you can imagine! But keep tender fingers away from that jaw-bite! Yeow!!!

We went to the Washington Park Zoo, a favorite of the kiddos and parents and gparents! At the end of a fun and long walk, we got in a little photo shoot before Grace fell asleep!

 I was thankful for the big dose prednisone while in DC, because the hand holding and picking up and snuggling were going to happen no matter what, since our hearts are held captive! We visited with Marisa on both sides of this trip, but I was toast and we missed photo opportunities there. I'm starting the RA infusion Rhemicade on Nov 30, and am back on prednisone for a few months, since my Dr. kindly wants me to have a life of sorts. We're thankful for this man and are hopeful that this drug may be God's solution to return to function. I'm still going to have my first ever vegan Thanksgiving, and can't wait! The stuffed squash and mushroom dishes and pumpkin puddings and sweet potato dishes sounds amazing to me!

What a life we have to be grateful for! Our kids, our grandkids, our siblings and family, our friends, a roof over our heads and wheels under our feet, beauty for our eyes to see and ears to hear, our adorable dogs, our fantastic church, my superman-husband, the endurance the Lord continues to equip Greg and me with, and especially Jesus, my Strength and my Joy!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

HONESTLY HARD

So just when I get inspired by James to be joyful because God is building endurance in me and I'm on my way to becoming perfect (like..."enough" type of perfect) and complete, lacking in nothing................it has become so hard!

"It." This RA. What the sorry-for-me person calls a life destroyer and relationship challenger and a service stopper. The hardest thing I have ever done in my life, since it's like an Ever-ready battery.

I am pondering what recently occurred to me, that God has seen fit that my ability to go (my feet), to do (my hands), and to be motivated (my energy) be set aside for a long while or taken away. I haven't figured out what He wants me to do with that.

Yet, I hear the whisper to be still and know that He is God. To not be anxious because it doesn't change a thing, and I miss out on His peace that passes understanding, when I am. I hear Him call me to come aside for a while and rest in Him, that He knows I am weary (you too?) and by myself, this load is too much. Jesus calls me to once again take His yoke upon Him, because He wants to teach me a thing or a million. That His yoke is light, and He wants me to learn from Him to be humble and contrite in heart. That's where I will find rest for my soul.

The Simponi is barely working. So my RA dr. will switch me to a more powerful and adjustable infusion drug the end of November. Maybe it will be God's miracle for me and I can hold my grandbabies in December and hike with my husband and go out and do fun things with my family and make plans....oh joy at the thought! But be still my soul and know who is God.

I again choose to trust Him for what I don't know and what I can't control. It is good, because He is good.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

HONEST JOY

"Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have it's perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-3

There are several parts of this verse that thrill my heart! I would LOVE to be lacking in nothing. To genuinely have no lack in my person or character or body or heart. 

And to be complete....like the Lord had finished His work and said He was done. I love to complete little projects or a goal or a plan. Crossing things off a list delights my silly heart. I'd like the Lord to be able to cross me off His "to-do" list because I was complete. Sigh.....I suspect it won't be happening this side of glory! 

And to be perfect - not perfect as in perfectionism. I've long given that up due to its lie. But perfect in it's definition: "Having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it  is possible to be." 

I'd like to cross myself off my to-do list. 

Fat chance. It takes more than plans and goals and effort and focus to become perfect, complete, lacking in nothing. 

According to this verse, very good "muscle builders" are our various trials. The testing of our faith.  The endurance that results when we let it have it's perfect result. The attitude choice when the trials show up or hit us.

My whiney self moaned to myself more than once, and to the Lord, "I don't want any more trials and faith testing and endurance building. Aren't you done yet? Aren't I good enough?" 

My Dr. asked me today if any spiritual insights have come to me this past year during this illness. Good question. (He's obviously not a typical doc!) So I reflected on the de-priding work (my word!) the Spirit has done, showing me my self sufficiency, arrogance in assuming I know what we're in Bend for, making plans without consulting the heart of my Savior. I'm so grateful for the revision of my life pace to allow much space for rest, reflection, conversations, time to notice and time to be... The humbling that has come with inability to be and act as the me I'm used to being is useful. (But like a hot iron, I use it when I absolutely have to, and no more often. It's not my favorite tool.)

I saw that the months of anger and irritation and frustration, in spite of not being able to alter the house building process a bit last year, was a type of war against myself, not a lot unlike this auto-immune disease where my body is attacking it's own joints. Insights. There they are. I have no answers. The doctors have no answers as of yet either. 

Tomorrow, Dr. Greg will give me my 3rd Simponi injection. My Rheumatologist and we suspect this drug isn't working very well for me. I'm grateful for any lift it throws my way, but it's not showing itself consistent or relieving my pain & disability for very long.  Thus, I am aiming for the mindset of joy that my trials provide opportunity for, as I know in my mind and heart that this testing of my faith (learning to trust Him more and more) is producing endurance. I choose this moment, again, to rest in this process of endurance building, that God may complete His work in me of completion, perfection, and filling my great lack with Himself. 

May I be pliable Lord!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

A NEW KIND OF GRATITUDE

I've been busy! For me that is. But how cool is that?!!

Shucking, cooking, and de-cobbing 48 ears of corn
Showering two dusty big dogs
Changing my sheets and all dog bedding
Walking a 45 minute river loop and getting a little cardio going
Lifting some 2 pound weights
Driving myself here and there and wherever I want to go
Going to Bible study weekly
Writing in my Bible study book
Helping with the K-1 age kiddos at church this morning
Continued coaching of a client of 8 weeks
Cleaned up my desk at home of numerous long-term little tasks
Researched deals on Craig's List to fill out my baby-stash for this coming December's family time
Several 20 minute dog walks
Loads and loads of laundry in the same day
And, thinking of last January's situation, I'm opening and shutting the curtains, arranging my bed pillows, drying my hair, getting dressed almost always without help

It's so funny to me and kind of wonderful how joyful doing mundane things can be, when the ability to do those tasks had been taken away. I won't know for another 4.5 months whether this drug will be effective enough for me to put me in remission or at least to a satisfactory state of function and pain reduction, but I can wait! (It is my choice:) I'm not out of the woods, but I'm seeing some clearings!

I'm so so grateful! Little did I know at the beginning of 2011 when I asked the Lord and set a vision to become a grateful-from-the-heart woman, what the Lord would use to help me in that process. And WHO He would use to comfort, encourage, come alongside, and cheer me.....YOU! Thank you dear dear friends! I love you!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

GOD's AMAZING TRIVIA

FUN STUFF......

The eggs of the potato bug hatch in 7 days
Those of the canary in 14 days
The eggs of ducks and geese hatch in 28 days
Those of the mallard in 35 days
The eggs of the parrot and ostrich hatch in 42 days

Each watermelon has an even number of stripes on the rind
Each orange has an even number of segments 
Each ear of corn has an even number or rows
Each stalk of wheat has an even number of grains
Every bunch of bananas has on its' lowest row an even number of bananas
And each row of bananas decreases by one

The waves of the sea roll in on shore twenty-six to the minute in all kinds of weather.
(From my friend Helen in Salem)

"God saw everything He had made, and it was very good." And that means you and me too!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

APPLES AND FIRE

There's some fire going on below the northwestern Sisters mountain. A water-delivery plane has been flying over our house all day, going from a pick up spot (a lake?) to the fire. I'm grateful for those who fight fires! It made for a spectacular sunset.

On a lighter note, this is my favorite way to make applesauce! Pick a TON of apples with your daughter and grandbaby, which is key to making this really fun. Then have your sweet husband chop up ALL of the apples. That's key number 2! You can peel them if you like, but the peels get so soft and are good for us, so we leave them on. Fill your crockpot to the brim and add 2-3 tablespoons of cinnamon. No water or sugar necessary.

Then put the lid on and turn to low. Don't worry if the lid won't quite close. It will as the apples cook down. If you do this in the evening, your house will smell so delicious the next morning and you will have hot applesauce waiting for your oatmeal or eating it right out of the pot. Refrigerating it makes it even sweeter. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

GIFTS OF ALL KINDS

I LOVE my grandbabies. They are each a little gift wrapped up in a pink, or purple bow...girls of course! The summer was wonderful, with 3+ weeks with Michelle & family here, and 2 weeks with Alyssa and girls here, one being with Mike too. Sweet, sweet times. Grace now 20 months old, Hannah  3+ months old, and Marisa 4 months old. Boy am I looking forward to Christmas at the ranch!

Hannah, our youngest grandbaby, is sweetness wrapped up in skin.
Guess mom and dad are still waiting for her to add sleep to her sweetness...
Alyssa has figured out the two-baby, one-husband life well!
She's an exercising, play-group lovin', MOPs going Mama!

Here is Grace's swimming pool I referred to in my last blog. Perfect for a little one!
We spent several days with Marisa, Michelle and Rich this week. Here Marisa is donning her 80's outfit, reminiscent of Michelle's leggings long ago discarded! 






Opa loves his grandbaby girls. He said, while shopping at a baby store near the little boy clothes (the amazing man that he is) that he needs a grandson. But I watch him with his little grand-girls, and I don't think so!!! They've each stolen his big heart!!!
We caught a big smile on camera....Marisa, not me! She's a smiley little darlin'! While walking in the backyard yesterday with the (four!) dogs and Marisa, she giggled at the dogs playing together.

In answer to "How are you feeling?"....oh, maybe you didn't ask. Well, I'll make this short. It honestly bores me, yet RA is my companion probably for life now. It appears that I may have been given a lifeboat....not a variation of this great vegan diet (I still love that my cholesterol dropped 80 points eating this plant based diet), but one in the form of a huge (I mean huge) syringe contraption that perhaps holds the key to reducing or eliminating pain and returning function to my body. Man oh man do I have some muscle rebuilding to do! Nothing like being skinny by nature, and then getting way-skinny after that! (I'm up 8 pounds, some of you who've seen me may be glad to hear....ok, how many women rejoice when they gain weight? Ridiculous!) Anyway, Greg helped me with my fears last Friday night, since he loves this kind of thing, and gave me my first monthly injection of "Spumoni," I affectionately call the Suponi....a heavy-duty drug that is an anti-TNF drug, for anyone curious. So, the good news is that Sunday morning I could walk without pain. That's so normal for most everyone, but that was just amazing for me, to wake up, wiggle my feet and have no pain! And go to church for the first time in months, having morning function. Wow! And I got to hold Marisa and even pick her up normal-style the last few days. Yes, sore hands and feet today from lots of on my feet time (we went apple picking yesterday!), and oh yes, that outing is probably part of the sore hands too. But steps in the right direction. I and we are so so so thankful. We'll see what the rest of the month holds, as sometimes the drug works great, sometimes stops after a few weeks, and sometimes doesn't do a thing. I'm a blessed one to get some quick results. You know, we really are to Seize the Day...each day. What is it for you that you can Savor and Seize today? 

Monday, August 13, 2012

MY FAVORITE JOB IN THE WORLD

My favorite job in the world has always that of a mom. Raising our kids, teaching them, being with them. A TREASURE! And it still is!
However........
That all time favorite occupation may have been replaced with this Oma thing.....
We just finished 5 weeks of wonderful time having our grand babies visit. 
(Their parents came too!) Marisa was here for over 3 weeks, 
and it was very fun watching her develop even in that short time 
and show her personality a bit! 
She's a girl with spunk, even at 3 months old! 
"Hello people! I want something and I want it now please!"
It kind of reminds Greg and me of her mama as a baby:)
I DID get to hold my grand babies! Marisa and I snuggled a little....when she was asleep!
Not as much as I would have liked, but some is good, for sure!





It was also fun having Oly the horse visit in our little barn. He liked the walks we took him on with the Milnes 2 and our 2 dogs and the baby...quite a sight, I'm sure. It was a little early after a 6 month vacation from being ridden, to try that out on our hills and Central OR spaces.
               





Mike and Alyssa's baby Hannah, now 10 weeks old, is precious!!!!!!! She is the most smiley baby we've every seen. As soon as she'd catch our eyes, even in the middle of a fuss, out would break her smile and cooing. Alyssa said she thinks Hannah is apt to be social like her Daddy:) Somehow we didn't get a single picture of her while here. Guess we were too raptured by our conversations with her, miss blonde hair and blue eyed girl!              
So apparently I need to update our toy selection from infant to toddler toys! At 19 months, Grace was great at finding something to do..........
the box of baking soda and bulk cinnamon bag were fun as well:)
She also loved going in her pool with her daddy......
that is, the jacuzzi we turned down to 80 degrees!



We went to a local alpaca farm. It sounds dorky, but with the hundreds of well trimmed alpacas and their babies on this property, it was really cool. When they saw Grace, they gathered at the fence. Or maybe it was the stroller they were curious about or Hannah covered by a blanket in the front pack on Alyssa. Anyway, it was fun to be greeted by those interesting creatures.
And isn't it funny that what was most fun for Grace at the farm, 
was a gate she could open and close! Love it!
 And now I'm going to sleep for a week. Maybe two! 
It was so so fun. This Oma has a heart bursting with joy!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

WHEN ALL IS GOOD....

What does one do when absolutely everything in her life is really good, except one piece. And what if that one piece is seemingly a core element to living and serving and working and enjoying this God-given life?

I have some friends who have lost homes due to lack of work or other difficulty. Others are single at a time in life when they would like to have a partner to share the rest of their lives. Yet others have just one of their darling children who are not walking with the Lord, and worse yet are choosing to live in a dangerous lifestyle. And then other friends who are in pain & debilitation on a constant or frequent basis, with no visible answer to the way out. Yet all else is good for these friends! And so it is for me, with a recent "severe" diagnosis. ALL ELSE IS SO GOOD!

WHAT DOES ONE DO?

"Finally, 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." Philippians 4:8

We are to think on WHAT IS. What is on the bright side. What is positive. ALL we can be oh so thankful for. 

One night in the fall that was particularly difficult, I began rehearsing the names and character of God from A-Z. It got me through a tough bedtime....."think on such things."

Kay Arthur and others have said that the spiritual battlefield is our mind. We must contend for who reigns in that territory. May my King reign victorious in you and in me!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

FROM WEANY TO WARRIOR

Paula emailed me yesterday a prayer for my weeny self. It brought on tears of gratitude and praise. Then she suggested I call and have her pray for me over the phone. I was so encouraged and uplifted, that I thought I had transitioned from my weeny-state to a warrior-state, ready to take on the day's challenges at OHSU!

But I'm still the weeny. 

Easily admitted. I am so disappointed that the Lord didn't see things my way, that I didn't get well eating super nutritiously as others have. I'm grieving that the new dr.'s ways are the old ways of any rheumatologist, and that I didn't get my way. I've cried, pleaded, trusted, sought scripture verses that resonated with my heart, and cried more. And all the while my caring husband trying to hold back his raw sentiments and words of "What's the big deal? Take the drugs. It's not as bad as you think." He's been on this journey for 9 months too, which hasn't been the party in Bend he expected either.

So I want to become a WARRIOR! That's my self-coaching goal, getting my eyes on the vision and knowing where I'm going. I want to be drug-free, healthy, strong, pain-free, and physically active again. Can that be part of the warrior definition? I hope so, in time perhaps!

Yet it starts inside, reformation of my inner-woman from a weeny-woman to a Woman-Warrior! And so I go to school again..."Take my yoke on you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." I have a number of wonderful teacher-family & friends in my life. My sister, my daughter & son-in-laws, Sue, Janet, Debbie, and others...I just know school is/was great for their students! But for me, I hated school growing up. Maybe it had to do with being 5 years old in 1st grade, and one of 51 students being controlled by a cranky old woman who whacked my hand with my pencil for my poor penmanship. And here I am again, behind a desk needing instruction and growth.

But look at my Teacher now....Jesus! He's gentle and humble in heart, and wants to help me find rest for my soul. I'm in! Now may I just stay at my desk, keep my eyes on my Teacher, listen well, and walk forward past all-residual weeny emotions into my Warrior Self just waiting to be revealed! Naughty children sit all around me trying to distract me from my Teacher's face, and I must not let them become my friends. The meds have been permitted to be a tool to healing and warrior-status. I will choose to be grateful for a choice that promises to have positive benefits. So down go my weekly 6 pills with a big green juice, in hopes that I'm one of the 30% this drug impacts in the 3 month trial. And if not, back to the desk....

"THE LORD IS A WARRIOR. THE LORD IS HIS NAME." Exodus 15:3 
In You I choose to trust!

A wonderful song of truth.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHdcyue0bSw

Friday, June 29, 2012

RELEASING CONTROL


Had the vegan diet been the thing to positively impact this RA my body is struggling with, it surely would have worked! I gave it my best and have enjoyed the benefits of feeling good, except for the bad of the RA:) And my cholesterol jumped way down to a super healthy level, so we'll keep eating this yummy way.

But it's time to let go even more into the Lord's care and hands. Perhaps I controlled my life a bit. (Really?) Or thought I was controlling it. 

So now I'm seeking advice and possible help at OHSU, so I can hold my grand babies without painful ramifications, and hopefully avoid permanent debilitations. I still long to do so without pharmaceuticals.

Sunday night, the Lord spoke to my spirit while reading a psalm, highlighting that it's better to trust in Him than in man. That the victory is His, and today is the day of His victory. That there are more for me than against me. I just need to open my eyes and see. So I rest in God's victory, rest in His strong hands, and trust Him. What a place to land! Safe, secure, good. What a blessed girl I am!

Monday, June 18, 2012

ALL THINGS COME TOGETHER FOR GOOD

I have experienced and recognized God's words to be true in a new way today! Cool!

"ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD 
for those who love God and are called according to His purposes." 

I love it when God speaks to my mind and heart through multiple sources, driving deep His message of truth and love! So it was yesterday. I woke at 2:30am with both shoulders and arms being in bad shape. Shucks. I hadn't felt that discomfort since early February, pre-prednisone. Yes, I did drop the drug yesterday one mg, but I also moved a few mattresses and stuff upstairs in an attempt to bring a little organization to the grandbaby storage closet. Guess I shouldn't have done that.

But God still speaks, even when I'm not very wise!

In the early hours of the morning, I opened my eyes and my iPad to read Joni & Friends devotional, just for me it seemed!

 "Why is life given to a man whose way is hidden, whom God has hedged in?"  Job 3:23 
 "He has walled me in so I cannot escape; he has weighed me down with chains." (Lamentations 3:7)


Yet it is GOD who hedges us in. God who has built the wall.  God's chains. I don't blame Him for this disease, but He seems to know well how to use difficulties in our lives for good! So I rest in that truth. God knows our sufferings and pain. He knows our struggles and limitations.

I am aware of the much greater suffering of those imprisoned for Christ's name abroad, suffering persecution and separation from loved ones. That is deep suffering.  And those like Joni who have the suffering of confinement and pain all of their lives. I can't imagine. Nonetheless our physical or emotional pain occasionally have quite a voice and demand a hearing. It can all feel relative.

title
I then listened to Gregory Dickow's devotional about feeling like one's life is out of control. I can get into a little drama when I hurt, so I was there with the title of the message! I was reminded that life isn't all that I can see. Elisha's servant saw from "above" and realized there were more FOR him than against him (2 Kings 6:14-17) That was a fact he hadn't been aware of, even though it was as true as true. I know that was an Israel thing God was at work on, and this is little me. But....greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world! The Spirit in me is greater than the issue at hand. He's greater than the unknown solution and necessary way of endurance. He is greater.

He is great! All things do work together for good for those who love Him. 
He is good and to be trusted.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

OVERFLOWING CUP

My cup is not half empty, it's not half full, 
it's OVERFLOWING with the goodness of the Lord!

Beautiful Hannah Ivey Burge was born last Thursday....they are all doing so well 
and loving being a full-fledged family of four! 
 

 Grace is a big helper, and likes to point out 
where Hannah's nose is, and her ears, and eyes....

 Hannah brought Grace a home-coming gift of some golf clubs. 

Someone in the household must have given Hannah that good idea!

And then there's adorable Marisa Lee Milne, 3 weeks old now. 
She's sleeping nice little 4-5 hour stretches at night, and I hear she's giving her mom and dad a sample of Michelle's baby-opinion and evening dissatisfaction, 
until she wears herself out and drifts off to sleep:) It's got to be hard to be a baby!


I'm still working away with experiments in my diet, in great hopes and expectations that I'm going to land on something that will work for me soon. I have some good support from a few who've walked this exact path and have found the way out of the forrest without drugs, so I'm encouraged. These Oma hands and arms are anxious to hold these babies! And after responding to a question a few days ago about what I'm doing this week with, "Well, besides daily naps and friends visiting this weekend, I don't really have a life right now," I'm looking forward to stepping into a life of service as the Lord permits me. It seems I just gotta have hands and feet and energy that works....it seems to me. 

YUMMY VEGAN RECIPES, 
approved of by three discriminating male connoisseurs:

Black Bean Dip (from the Epicurean website)
1 med red onion
1 peeled garlic clove
3 cups black beans (2 cans rinsed well, if not freshly soaked/cooked)
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 T lime juice
1 T chopped fresh cilantro
1 t cumin
Whip it all up in a food processor, and enjoy with veggies and black bean chips! EASY!

Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers (from Dr. Fuhrman's website)
1/2 cup raw cashews, ground in a food processor
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 can, rinsed well)
3/4 cup baked sweet potato (or cut a raw sweet potato in 1/2" slices and steam for 15 min or so - retains the most nutrition that way)
1/2 cup diced red onion
3 T chopped cilantro
1 t garlic powder of 1 clove
1/2 t black pepper
1/4 t red pepper flakes or a jalapeƱo pepper (seeds removed)
1 T cider vinegar
1 T lime juice
Whir it all up in a food processor. Form or blop & shape into 6 patties with a spoon. Place on a baking pan sprayed or wiped with oil. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or so, until lightly brown and done enough inside. Greg said these were fantastic on a romaine lettuce leaf with mayo, dijon mustard and optional hummus. Serve with slices of avocado & tomato.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

HANNAH BURGE

No pictures yet, but she's here! All 7+ pounds, 21" of this beautiful baby with a head of blond hair! We don't know any relative who looks like Hannah, so it will be very fun to watch her morph out of newbornishness and into herself! Alyssa is doing well, although very tired. Pitosin is useful, but makes for a rough labor. She handled it really well! Mike is sleeping soundly in his own bed now, I'm sure, after he picked up his BIG 17 month old Gracie from their neighbor-friends tonight. I've managed to lock myself out of my laptop, where I post photos on my blog. I hope I can figure it out by the time I get pictures of Hannah, which will probably be tomorrow or Friday. Wow. Another blessing of a grandbaby girl, I love being an Oma! I got to facetime with Michelle and see Marisa today too. Being a grandma IS all its said to be! Now to get these hands and wrists in good baby-holding-order!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A LONGER ROAD THAN EXPECTED


I am learning what to do when on a longer road than expected, when I must wait.  I thought my current pain-journey would be over a few months ago. Or at the least, I would have seen that I was almost there. There - in the perfect solution. There - in the results I want. There - in the life I want to live. 

Maybe it's in the "there" that I fall short of understanding God's best for me.

What is "there?" There is - 

an end destination
a desired location
a hoped for spot
a planned arrival point
a prepared for end-of-the-journey
a chosen path ending

We have a timeshare in Cabo San Lucas which we (foolishly) bought with my grandma's inheritance $ years ago. Now, that sounds like a "there" where I would love to go right now. I love Depoe Bay, and really enjoy going "there." When we get to visit Gracie in VA, it's a joy to visit "there." And now to get to drive to Creswell to see Marisa...another favorite "there" spot. 

But we love living "here" and have a hard time leaving, even to go to our favorite there spots. We are content here....don't necessarily want to leave here, even if we'd love to be there. It's nice here at home. And it's comfy to be content when things are nice.

If only I could be content in all things, whether full or hungry, in hardship or not, like Paul. I wouldn't want most of Paul's life, but to be content no matter what.....before arriving "there..." that's a destination to pursue. To be content, I must wait. Yet I want to get to my "there" of health, like really soon, this week, today, now, yesterday!

We have a beautiful framed calligraphy of Psalm 37 in our family room. When I notice it, I'm reminded of what I must do..."Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him." I must seek...I will seek to find the pocket of peace to rest in while I wait, in this land which is not so comfy....the parking lot that looks like kids dropped off to go to camp, full of loads of people doing the same thing I am doing. Waiting in expectation, bags packed, and aiming to bunk in with trust and peace.

Could my praise of Jesus' healing touch in my life speak as loudly as my struggles to obey in contentment now?

I think I know the answer. I don't like the answer very much, but I know Jesus has me hedged in - back, front, sides, top, bottom. He has His best for me in mind, and I have great hope I am not set aside out of the fruit-bearing life, regardless of what it looks like to me. 

So I will wait...for Him...here. Patiently. Breathing in deeply the fragrance of life today, here. Grateful for so many many blessings, here, today. Happy for the journey-partners God's given me, right here and right now. I'll wait. Patiently, as the unknown demands. Here. Now. Waiting for Him.  


Sunday, May 20, 2012

SMITTEN AGAIN

What a treasure to get to participate in welcoming Marisa Milne into this world, and participating in her first 6 days of life in this world! Michelle and Rich are such cute parents, calm and adoring of their little gift!





Now to await the next call from Mike and Alyssa, that Hannah is on her way! Soon, very soon!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

TWO RAILINGS

Rick Warren said something brilliant a few years ago when his wife was going through cancer treatment. He said that life isn't up OR down, joyful OR sad, good OR bad. That it's some of both all the time, like having each hand on a handrail. One's a rail of joy, and one's a rail of sadness or difficulty. They are both always present in varying degrees.

I thought that was a deep and meaningful statement, one which I've quoted a number of times since.

But you know, when one's life really is just that, both joyful and sad, good and difficult at the same time, I don't like it that much! It's not quite as brilliant to live it as to speak it! I like seeing the good in everything and staying there! Brush over the difficulties with prayer and patience, and go on creating joy.

So as I muse today, I'm tired of complaining. Aren't you glad? I mean I could complain if you egged me on....just kidding. Really, I want to be done. Paul was right in saying that we are to do everything without grumbling or disputing, that we may show ourselves as children of light in the midst of a dark generation. What a breath of fresh air to be with people who are grateful in the midst of real life. I like to be with them.

I HAVE SO MUCH JOY....oh, and yes, a little difficulty. But don't we all?
We're sitting on the edge of our seats, waiting for "that call," as Michelle goes into a slow warm-up to labor...
Greg serving me by getting all the goodies to plant a multiple number of outdoor pots
Disappointment that my sweetness goes into remission when I'm an observer and opinion-lender vs. an active participant in the pot project
The stunning beauty of a walk along the Deschutes River at Tumalo Park this morning
The realization that afternoons are when my pumpkin turns into a carriage and I can spin my wheels, not the mornings
Mountains...the Sisters mountains are just stunning! Still mostly covered with snow, they shine brightly reflecting the sun.
Asher gobbling a rabbit in our courtyard before we could reverse the scenario (don't know which category this falls into, but he thought it was sheer joy)
The gift of a sweet woman to clean our house
The sort-of disappointment that it's not me
Watching my body heal - forward, backward, better, not so much better, different
Settling into the new diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis. I don't even like the word rheumatoid. It brings up pictures in my mind of witches in movies with gnarled hands and creepy faces. But alas, it is what it is.
Wishing I could write like Loralei Friesen (I'm thankful for Laura's gift of her book)
Great medical support about eventual remission and relief from issues through an ultra-healthy, plant-based diet. May it be so Lord!
Sitting with the fact that Dr. Silva was "practicing medicine" as they all do, and her diagnosis was incorrect. Still think I'm better off for those 12 treatments.
Mountains....they just keep taking my breath away. Solid, stately, beautiful snow-covered rock.

Which reminds me of THE Rock of Ages. Cleft for me. Let me hide myself in Thee.



Friday, May 4, 2012

THE LAND IN-BETWEEN


Sometimes one can be too honest in the space of a blog. I think I found that space in my last entry. Thanks for loving me anyway, even when I....complain! I listened to a CD Kathy mailed me later the same day I wrote the last entry. This hit a spot with me and is reshaping my thinking. And maybe it will with one of you too.


THE LAND IN-BETWEEN.....like the land between Egypt and the Israelite's promised land of milk & honey. This Land In-Between is fertile ground....

For Complaint....."Manna again?" Or I hear my grumble saying, "Pain again this morning?"

Fertile ground for.... Emotional Meltdown...."If you will treat me like this, kill me at once," Moses cried out to God. Or me, "God, I don't like this and don't want to handle it again...."

Fertile ground....to experience God's Provision....like God telling Moses to call 70 elders to help him carry the responsibility for the Israelites. (If I open my hands to release my fear and anxiety, and then keep them open in trust to receive God's provision, maybe I'll too experience His goodness, graciousness, and provision.) "Is the Lord's arm too short?", God asked Moses in Numbers. Of course not. I look at the family and friends God has given me to help me carry my tiny load, physically & emotionally. It overwhelms me with gratitude.

And the Land In-Between is fertile ground for....transformational growth. Here's where the real work comes in, where the opportunity shows up, where the choice is to be made. This Land In-Between is the best soil in our lives to trust our heavenly Father. For the Israelites, it was their time to become trusting, God-fearing people. For me, it's my place to learn to pray, to trust God, to surrender again and perhaps over & over.

Yet my heart is in danger in this Land In-Between. My faith can die or grow. And only I choose. Complaint doesn't want to leave and demands to come back if I send it away. I deter complaint's return by inviting trust and gratitude into my house, help it unpack it's bags, and settle it into my thoughts and emotions, my mind and heart, my prayers and cries of my heart....day after day after day.

The space in my life which I most resent is the very soil where God wants to produce what I so desperately desire, where God does some of His richest and deepest work. 

God help me guard my heart. May my trust in You grow.

Willow Creek Conference speaker, Jeff Manion. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

ENDURING

"Sometimes all we can do is endure," my dear friend Kathy wisely said to me months ago.

So in this enduring time, that's what I'm again striving for. I upped (with my MD/ND's permission) the dosage of prednisone hoping for relief and the stop of the return of issues, and the hope to then drop it more slowly beginning in a couple of weeks.

I hear on one medical side from two MD's to be patient and wait, that the great foods and diet I am on will work in time. And on the other medical side, that I need to get myself all lined up with a better rheumatologist for the heavy hitter biologic drugs, in case my plan #1 doesn't work before I start to see deformities happening. (My aversion to those drugs is their reported 400% increase in cancer cases with those on them for a while, as well as the shot-in-the-dark with which one might work.)

So I am enduring with God's help. I am seeking an attitude of gratitude, which is in hiding a lot of the time. I am aiming at a focus on others and joy, in spite of the throbs and other random joint issues. I am learning to live a new way. (Can I say I don't particularly like it? This is hard!)

Yet there's always joy to be mined out in the sorrow, Henry Nouwan says. So again I ...take Jesus' yoke on me to learn from Him, for He is gentle and humble in heart, and I will find rest for my soul. His perfect love casts out all fear....

Monday, April 30, 2012

IN LOVE....

We had such a great time in VA visiting with Mike, Alyssa and adorable Grace! I haven't had anything worth blogging about with her on my mind. Being an Oma IS all it's cracked up to be, and more! 

We went to the D.C. zoo one sunny afternoon......very fun. Grace loves the animals.
 And what Opa and Oma would leave the zoo without getting their grandbaby a stuffed toy? Grace loves her soft and cuddly cheetah!
Leave it to me to see if Grace likes my green smoothies...and she loved them! 
That's a smoothie mustache on her lip, by the way! 
Spinach, banana, blueberries, and soy milk 
all whirred up in the blender until smooth and creamy. 
The spinach disappears in taste, but helps to turn the yummy smoothie a nice brown color!
We can't wait to see them again this summer. It was a great trip! Now to wait for the upcoming delivery of Grace's baby sister, and Michelle & Rich's Marisa....coming very very soon!!!

In fact my cell phone rang at 3am this morning. My heart leapt, as I tried to focus on the caller. I expected to see Michelle's name, or maybe Mike's (although we hope not for them, not quite yet!) I was SO disappointed to discover it was United Airlines confirming Greg's flight.....

Friday, April 13, 2012

A NEW DAWN

It dawned on me today, the day after I began to surrender my future again, that I had grasped the slippery handle of control again. My mind began to operate in the "when I'm fully well" stage. I began to picture myself doing what I had always done, with maybe some tweaks and new insights added in.

But today I am wondering. I think that perhaps the Lord doesn't want me to be and do and live as I used to. By default, I lean towards what I've always done, how I've always been. But with such a traumatic ordeal these last 6+ months (to me), it's not without purpose (thank you Jana for those words of encouragement at the beginning of my journey!) To unintentionally run from the many lessons and treasures of this difficult time leaves it void.

So I'm pondering, since the Lord sees fit that I'm slowed down and not quite so comfortable again in various degrees. (Praise Him, it's not what it was in early February!)

My friend Ellen sent me a thought provoking newsletter from a missionary couple we both know. It spoke of the new seasons of getting older and of doing less, because one has less of themselves to "do" with. And to merely look for the door the Lord is opening for each of us. I don't have to have 5 doors to go in and out of, as much as my former self would like. I just need to keep my eye out and my heart willing to walk through the one door. Who knows to where it will open!

Remember "Let's Make a Deal?" I loved that show as a kid....wondering which door the contestant would choose, and what is behind each one. The exciting thing about God's doors is that He never sets before us a gong-prize door. Perhaps not what we expected, but what do we know!


Nothing compares to His wisdom, power, might, love, plans, and purpose!

Father, please help me to listen to Your Spirit within me, to discern Your open door and Your ways for me, and to relax in the process of living each day with what I have today. Please help me choose gratitude. And to thank You in the questions and the unknowns. For You Are Truly and Eternally Good!

Monday, April 9, 2012

STILL LEARNING

It is so hard to be patient! 

When I felt lousy all over and had no idea of whether I would get well or not, somehow it was easy to ride the storm. But now that I am way way better than I was 2 months ago, I can taste health....and I can hardly wait! The mornings I awaken stiff-sore-fatigued, which are frequent at this stage of my prednisone withdrawal, my faith falters. My eyes look down. At me. At my issues. At my teeny tiny world. When my discomfort lasts most of the day, I tend to walk with a heaviness that only One can carry. I forget. Forget to take His yoke upon me (remember Barb that it's easy), I forget to look up, forget to let my heart raise into His presence and away from little me.

I have just enough energy many days to focus on cooking good food, on rest, on saunas, and maybe a little more. So how do I make my focus others and Jesus? This is more difficult than when I had none of myself. It makes me think of Paul's words...and the answer to my dilemma.

I Cor 15:57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

So I run to Jesus again. He has already won this battle. I flee from my self-centered thoughts. I enter into praise and gratitude. I give Him "a sacrifice of praise" and "a sacrifice of thanksgiving", which really are not sacrifices at all! I remember a devotional a while ago that encouraged me to recognize that this time of quiet and worship IS the "work" given me by the Lord for right now. Today is a gift. This wanna-be-busy-again-woman still has much to learn.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

DEEP WORDS AND SHALLOW THOUGHTS

"In Me, you have everything. In Me you are complete. Your capacity to experience me is increasing, through My removal of debris and clutter from your heart (idols referred to a few days ago). As your yearning for me increases, other desires are gradually lessening....desiring Me above all else is the best way to live." Jesus Calling, April 3

I long to yearn for God, and ask Him to help me want to know Him more....

On a more shallow note....we are loving this new way of eating, the one with the term we don't want to use. And our bodies are feeling so so good, in spite of the flu Greg came home from his business trip with, and my slow recovery! No, I'm not out of the woods and the jury is still out just a teeny bit in our minds about the paint-diagnosis (but not in Dr. Silva's mind). In coming down from prednisone addiction (that's what it is), I'm finding it to be a bit of a tough road. It's odd to me - on the drug for two weeks, and then it takes months to get off of it. I have some swelling, stiffness, weakness, fatigue, and am sore in my hands/wrists/fingers/feet, shoulders....but I was told to expect this. And online, I read the same. As long as I'm not reducing the mg too quickly (Dr. Silva is overseeing this.) My adrenal glands sitting on top of my kidneys are now being called back into action, a job they were laid-off of in early February. It's hard to get back to work I guess when one's  been sleeping for 8+ weeks!! I hope I'll kick into gear more quickly when I emerge from this strange cocoon I've been in!

This is what we ate last night for dinner....very yummy and filling! We started outside on our patio, but the breeze-turned wind drove us back in!
Cream of asparagus and cauliflower soup, salad with kale (a superfood) and quinoa (high in protein) on it, and cornbread made without eggs, sugar, or anything white or processed. Ummmm, ummmm!

Here's the cornbread recipe. You might like it!

CORNBREAD

WHISK TOGETHER: 
1 ½ cups cornmeal
½ cup your favorite unprocessed flour (whole wheat or something gluten free)
1 TBL Baking Powder
½ t salt
ADD, STIRRING UNTIL JUST COMBINED:
1 cup nondairy milk (soy, almond, rice, oat, etc.)
¼ cup applesauce
¼ cup real maple syrup
Optional: 2 TBL raw sugar
POUR INTO 9” Square or Round GREASED BAKING DISH. 
BAKE 20 MIN at 400 degrees, or until done.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

WILL YOU STILL BE SWEET?

Mr. Wonderful-in-my-life wrapped his arms around me and asked me, "Will you still be sweet when you are well?" That is not an easy question to hear. It is not an easy question to answer.

I know the RIGHT answer, but how can I do and be what I don't do and be, well, by myself? Sweet.....what does that look like towards Greg in the midst of all my opinions and thoughts and ideas and desires?

I asked MWIML (code for above description of Greg) a few weeks ago, when I sensed some distance and formality towards me, whether he liked me and "us" better when I was sick and fully dependent on him. He stopped and paused, which is not something typical for this guy. He thoughtfully said that he liked it when I needed him.

Huh. Yikes. I apparently have some personal character and attitude work to do. I need to learn to be sweet. I need to learn to show my husband how much I need and appreciate him in the midst of my growing independence. This somehow feels like hard work for this self-focused woman.


"But if you do not drive out the inhabitants of the land, those you allow to remain will become barbs in your eyes and thorns in your sides. They will give you trouble in the land where you will live." Numbers 33:55

I have unkind inhabitants in my land! They are desiring to make me see things incorrectly - barbs in my eyes! I have self-focused, ungrateful thorns that have grown up and around my home! They are pointing out and pricking my much-loved man. Ahhhh.....Lord Jesus, help me! Please let me take Your yoke on me and learn from You....You Who are the One who is humble and gentle in heart!


"If I had cherished sin in my heart...." Ps 66:18 I do not cherish these sins of independent unkindness. I must be ruthless with myself. As kind as a lamb to Greg. As fierce as a lion towards my sin...utterly driving it out. I must surrender again to the Spirit's control. Yes. Thank You Lord.


Thank you for your prayers. God is continuing to change me, which is a very good thing! Please pray He helps me drive out and utterly destroy all the sinful inhabitants in my land. I suspect there are a number of them I think are friends, but they're not....maybe you've encountered a few of them when I've been with you. I'm sorry.


I had two more acupuncture treatments this week, leaving just two more in this series. I am so so thankful for them....and so thankful that they will be done for at least a month. They are p-a-i-n-f-u-l! Not because Dr. Silva and her colleague Benson aren't doing a fantastic work, but because I really messed my body up with this paint toxicity to such a degree that it hurts getting the toxins out, as well as the slow process of coming off  the prednisone (I'm only 5 mg away from the "no-possible-complications" dosage)!!! I much prefer the comfort of perspiring out toxins in the little sauna Greg purchased from Costco for me. (What a guy. He will do anything for me....and has.) Dr. Silva wants me to be patient, that this could take until summer until "I won't remember this anymore." I like that description and the hope she gives me! I tell you, most people go to her as a last resort, and most find substantial help for almost anything re their bodies (i.e. lifelong migraines, back issues, allergies, etc.). But I would recommend you go first! Go before heading into drug-land! She may just help you get well naturally and without surgery or drugs! I am also continuing on this new way of eating, which is very delicious! My body likes it, and Dr. Silva says eating no meats/dairy/refined or processed products has tremendous healing benefit. I know I recommended seeing the film, Forks Over Knives. I am recommending it again. Our food, as good intentioned as we may be, might be hurting us.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

ARE WE GETTING SOMEWHERE?

I think we're getting somewhere with this body. Oh my. To not talk about it will be a joy! (Don't you agree? Thanks for YOUR endurance!) This seems like such a long process. The timeframe doesn't really matter, except that I talk on and on about it and it gets in the way of what would feel like a meaningful life.

Dr. Silva believes I'm on a normal and good track towards health. That the bumps in the road are normal for coming off of prednisone and restarting my adrenal glands. That's so reassuring, since any little step back could otherwise make me think the sky is falling. It's a several week process and stepping back more slowly this week from this drug is helping. Crazy!! I was never interested in this stuff, but so glad for professionals who are and know what to do!

The fact that I've been busy is a good thing, and really quite a miracle considering that 2 months ago I had only 50% physical capacity! With Michelle's baby shower, Michelle & Rich visiting us until today (food, games, reading, walking some), going back and forth to Salem for the acupuncture treatments, and learning/practicing a new way of cooking, my life feels more useful than before. However.............I would never ever trade anything for all the Lord's taught me and all He's shown me of Himself. I aim to daily take Jesus' yoke on me and learn from Him, the One who is gentle and humble in heart, and I will find rest for my soul. I long to seek Him the rest of my life....

Father, You are. And You are all I need. Jesus, I seek to know you more. I desire to love you with my all. Holy Spirit, please help me.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

STILL WAITING

I am still waiting. As time goes on, I am tempted to become frightened that this new diagnosis by Dr. Silva is inaccurate. Although I am way, way better, and my painful right shoulder and arm are at about 90% up from 10, when I wake up in the morning with my sore hands in the morning and a new knuckle a little puffy, when my wrists are weak when I pick something up, I'm tempted to....freak out. Freak out that the horror of pain and disability I previously experienced is going to come back and be a reality in me and our lives (this is not an individual game...Greg is in it for the long haul too). Freak out that I won't have the life, the rest of my life, that I desire - and long for. Freak out that I won't be able to swoop up my grand babies and wrap my arms around my husband as I desire without pain.

And then Jesus talks to me, as He does through devotionals and His word and people and His Spirit in me. This morning He rested my soul with the words from Jesus Calling and Scripture, reminding me that in this world, I will have trouble. But to take heart, He has overcome the world. To abide in the vine, to remain in His love.

Learn to live above your circumstances. This requires focused time with Me, the One Who overcame the world. Trouble and distress are woven into the very fabric of this perishing world. Only My life in you can empower you to face this endless flow of problems with good cheer. As you sit quietly in My Presence, I shine peace into your troubled mind and heart. Little by little, you are freed from earthly shackles and lifted up above your circumstances. You gain My perspective on your life, enabling you to distinguish between what's important and what is not. Rest in My presence, receiving joy that no one can take away from you."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

THE ISSUE OF TRUST

We had to take our Bouvier dog to the vets again today. His surgery from a few months ago in his abdomen is failing to heal and then stay healed.

Greg calls Asher from wherever he is lounging in order to take a look. Asher comes to him without much hesitation and rolls over without being asked. I watch how this dog's veterinarian-wanna-be dad gently cleans his continually opening wounds, not something that is pleasurable I'm sure for this boy. Today, the call from dad was to get in the car without his buddy dog....certainly a sign by this time that something is up and it's not going to be so good. Then to follow his master into the vet office, go into the exam room, and obey everyone poking and prodding him. Only to be stuffed in a small cage to wait another surgical operation.

If only Asher could see the big picture. Then he'd know it's all worth the pain and will be good on the other side of healing.

"I can fit everything into a pattern for good, but only to the extent that you trust Me. Every problem can teach you something, transforming you into the masterpiece I created you to be. The very same problem can become a stumbling block over which you fell, if you act with distrust and defiance. The choice is up to you, and you will have to choose many times each day whether to trust or defy Me.


The best way to befriend your problems is to thank Me for them. This simple act opens your mind to the possibility of benefits flowing from your difficulties."

March 16, Jesus Calling