Good Friday & Happy Easter

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?  No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.  Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him."
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.

~John 3:10-19

As we look to celebrating on Sunday that event - the only event - that forever changed mankind, I wish you all a beautiful, beautiful Good Friday and Happy Easter.

He is Risen.  He is Risen indeed.


Another friend...

I think I'm starting to understand more Jesus' command that we become like children in our trust of God.  When I was little, I know I ended up witnessing some difficult situations - fights, falls, sadness, even death.  The thing is, though, I never worried about any of what I saw or heard.  I knew for an absolute certainty I had nothing to worry about - my parents were there, I was safe.  As I bring some of those situations to my mind these days, it never fails - either my mother or my father are there, standing over me and usually my brother is there with me - and we are both protected by one or the other.  Or both. 

As the news keeps coming at me, even if I don't have to live the experience, I live the heartache of knowing I can't fix things.  The latest is friends who just learned their baby has Trisomy 18.  The defects and issues this causes are so numerous I'm not even going to begin to list them.  It doesn't matter, anyhow.  What it means is their baby, if it lives to full term and survives delivery, will not live long on this earth. 

The heartbreak this means for them overwhelms me.  I can't begin to come up with the words to describe the anguish I feel hearing this so I know their sadness is without words.  We can ask the regular "why" of God but what purpose would that serve?  God is perfect in everything, He is Sovereign and He knows about this, it is not a surprise to Him and He knows what He's doing.

I have to look up at Him in the midst of this turmoil and not pay too much attention to the details.  Just...trust in Him, feel that deep feeling of content, relaxed and sure that He will handle it.  I need to do nothing more than trust in Him and it all will work out. 

It isn't known if this is a baby boy or a baby girl.  I don't know if I'll learn that or not.  All I know is now I pray for this couple and their little one and the one still yet to come...I pray for God's comfort and direction.  He will use it, I know He will and it will glorify Him in all of it.

To glorify God...that is our purpose.  By carrying this baby until God calls it home is the way my friends will glorify God.  For as long as He offers life, they will honor it.  An amazing, beautiful and wonderful gift from Him...ultimately.  Somehow.


Sunday Strength

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.

~1 Corinthians 13:8-10


Vacation Week

I took vacation this last week, April 4th-8th.  It was a very, very rough week.  A dear, dear friend of ours passed away on the 2nd.  There was his memorial and funeral.  Then, the day of his memorial, my mother was admitted to the hospital with complications from her cancer/chemo.  It's been a rough week. 

This morning, though, I was doing some mindless reading and was directed here.  Now...this looks like a recipe to try.  Comfort food at its best.  I'm all about comfort food right now.  Anyone have any favorites they'd like to share?  I've already done my big three - cheese pizza, chocolate ice cream and iced tea with lemon.  ::ahhhh::  Everything else is just... bonus...

Hope you have a gloriously beautiful weekend!  I'm going to rest... and rest... and rest....


At home

Our prayer...

God welcomed you home, Jesus met you with open arms.

Congratulations on your home-going, Keith.  You will be greatly missed by those of us who loved you on earth.

Until we see you again.

Sunday Strength

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

~1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Daily drop cap by Jessica Hische


Tribute to a Dear Friend

Keith came into my life a little over 5 years ago.  He was my friend Denise's neighbor and they had started getting close.  Actually, they had been dating for a little while and the first I heard about him was when she wanted her friends to meet him.  At a Christmas party thrown by another friend, Aaron and I met Keith.  We ended up spending a good part of the night on a very big couch, the four of us just chatting away.

That following May, Aaron and I attended Keith & Denise's wedding.  What a beautiful, beautiful day that was.  Mukilteo beach, Puget Sound the backdrop for their wedding, the lighthouse nearby.

My husband and Keith grew very close and for  five years our lives have been significantly intertwined.  Keith and Denise are part of our Lifegroup.  Lifegroups are home groups at our church, started so we could "do life together."  That's what we do.  Keith & Denise are 3AM Friends.  You know - those friends you can call at 3AM when there is an emergency and (1) you know they'll come and (2) they aren't going to be mad at you for calling in the middle of the night.

Fast forward to this last December.  Just five short years after meeting Keith, I sat in my living room and listened as he and Denise explained his skin cancer had returned.  Metastatic Melanoma.  A tumor in his shoulder this time.  His oncologist named it Bob.  It was a big'un.  The prognosis was grim, though.  His oncologist said 8-12 months.  We all looked at each other, the same thought looming in our head.  A year isn't enough time... and quickly followed by... the doctors are always wrong.  Maybe 18 months?  Two years?  Five years?

Chemo started.  That wasn't working as they hoped.  They changed his chemo, added radiation.

And then...  pneumonia.  It settled in about a month ago and almost wiped him out.  Fortunately, he battled through it.  We thought.

More chemo, more radiation and then his last CT scan.  The tumors in his lungs (we knew it had spread there) were growing in number and now there was a tumor on his pancreas.

Really grim.

Then...the blow that took us all to our knees (at the same time).  Pneumonia never actually went away and had come roaring back.  This last Tuesday, Keith was admitted and intubated.  He's been sedated ever since because the one time he woke up, he ripped the tube out.

Yesterday afternoon one of the guys in our Lifegroup went with his wife to visit.  He learned the doctors' latest prognosis:  Keith won't have the tubed removed unless there is "significant" lung function improvement.  That isn't going to happen and they say 2 weeks.  And he probably will never regain conciousness.

Two weeks?  Never wake up?  How can that be?  He was JUST at my house.  He used, for the first time, the electric blanket I'd bought for him because he could never, ever get warm.  No matter how many blankets he piled on so...I bought him one that would heat him rather than needing his non-existent body heat to keep him warm...   Our last conversation?  He attempted to thank me for the blanket.  Couldn't hardly get the words out it was so hard for him to breathe.  I just smiled, kind of cut him off and told him "I know what you're trying to say.  You're welcome.  'nough said."  And we hugged. 

Truth is?  It's not about me.  Nothing is ever about me and I know that.  I still make it about me, though - even when I know I shouldn't try.  Here is where I will, for just one second, make this a teensy bit about me.  See...something about me drove Keith nuts.  I don't know if I reminded him of his ex-wife or another family member he had difficulty with or what but Keith almost never missed an opportunity to chastise me, or slam me or attempt to shut me down.  He'd try to cover it sometimes, make it appear as a joke but it was bad enough that a few times my husband would step in and tell him it wasn't appropriate.  Keith would always apologize and always said it came out wrong but I know...something about me rubbed him the wrong way.  It made me sad, too and I'd try so hard to NOT drive him crazy.  He made Denise so happy and I was thrilled for my friend and I like Keith.  I didn't mean to irritate him.  Somehow, though, I almost always did.

Now?  Now I'd love the chance to irritate him again.  He needs to get fiesty with me.  I need to get fiesty back.  We serve a God who does mighty things.  I know, with every fiber of my being, He can heal Keith.  I'm just concerned it's not in His plan to heal Keith my way.  I think He's healing Keith by taking him home.  That breaks my heart - a little bit.  I am thrilled for Keith (except for the suffering he has to go through to get there part).  Going home is what we all want to do, right?  It's where we belong, where we can't wait to go.  If I had the choice between gray pallor, an inability to breathe or sleep, constant pain and going home to Jesus you can bet I'm choosing Jesus every time.  Who am I kidding, I'd choose Jesus even perfectly healthy.

But... and then there is always the but, right?  We will miss him here.  His quiet strength, his lead for prayer requests, his gentle love and compassion for his wife.  Differences schmifferences... we want to have him with us for many, many years to come.

And therein lies our hope, doesn't it?  He will be with us again.  Someday.  Healed, whole, beautiful in God's glory... Whether it be we join him in heaven or he returns with Jesus, we will see him again.  Death will not win - even if it thinks it has.  Cancer will not take Keith, no matter how many of his cells it destroys.

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”

~1 Corinthians 15:54-55

I rest on that.  And while we wait to all be together again, we love Denise.  We work together to bury our petty selves and live for Christ, loving one another.  Getting it wrong - and right - together.

We love you, Keith.  Rest in the arms of Him who loves you - and knows you - best.