The malls and shops here in the US are beginning to resemble everyday crowds in Taiwan! While most everyone bemoans the shopping frenzy, I'm just beginning to feel "at home!" We're all out looking for the perfect gift to give to a friend or loved one this Christmas and won't give up until we've acomplished that goal.
I've noticed another thing too. There seems to be an increase in a "demanding-my-rights" type of attitude. I avoided going out shopping on the day after Thanksgiving for this reason. I really didn't want to encounter those kind of people.
Today's verse is a good one for this holiday season: Seek the Lord, seek righteousness, seek humility. It would be wonderful to find the perfect gift. But how much greater the benefit if I succeed in finding the Lord's presence and pleasure, the peace in knowing I have done right, and the grace of humbly putting others first.
Malcom began his 8th chemo treatment this morning...it will run through Friday. Lately it takes longer for him to recover from these treatments than before. Pray for healing and enduring strength. Our friend, Mike, is in the hospital again. He is struggling with a severe yeast infection in his mouth and throat. Keep him in your prayers as well.
Today Pastor Bill Taylor and his wife Joyce arrived safely in Taiwan. They will be living in our apartment and overseeing the English ministries of our work for a few months. Pray for their adjustment and that the Lord will use them to be a blessing to Dali Faith Baptist Church.
It is difficult for me to totally comprehend the full impact of the word "forever." In an ever changing world, there just isn't much of anything that lasts through decades or even a lifetime. Yet, all through the Bible I keep bumping into this little word with an amazing scope . It almost always is used to describe something relating to the character and reliability of God. I sometimes wonder at God's purposes, but I never have to question the durability of what He does. For myself, I often do things that later I go back to undo, redo, or change entirely. Not God. His ways are absolutely perfect, therefore forever is okay. I praise God that He is the Eternal God, that what He does is forever. Nothing, not even cancer or death, can add or take away from that awesome truth.
I'm praising God also for a blessed Thanksgiving week filled with many wonderful times together with family and friends. Looking ahead, Malcom will have another chemo treatment beginning either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Today I had a conversation with a young wife who was complaining about all the Thanksgiving family get-togethers she would have to attend. Parents and Grandparents on both sides wanted to spend time with her and her husband. I recognized right away that her perspective of Thanksgiving was off. She was spending time bemoaning what she didn't have (leisure time or private time with her husband) rather than being thankful for what she did have--3 generations of loving family all able to be together. Being unthankful was robbing her of a calm and peaceful spirit with which to approach the coming holiday.
I, too, struggle with letting the peace of God rule in my heart. Monday (Nov. 21) was Sue's birthday. She would have been 30 years old. We took flowers to her grave and I allowed myself to grieve. Those times can be healing times for the soul, but there is a point when I need to remind myself to focus on what I have and be thankful, rather than dwell on what we have lost. Making a concerted effort to allow God's peace to reign in my thoughts, choosing to be thankful, this changes my whole perspective and lightens my heart.
I'm so thankful that Malcom's health is continuing to improve. Today he underwent a procedure to remove the stint that had been placed in his ureter several months ago. The procedure went well and the doctor says things look good. The mouth and throat infection has also cleared up. He'll be able to enjoy the Thanksgiving feast with even a few days of leftovers before the next chemo on Monday, the 28th.
This Thanksgiving I am vividly aware of God's abundant blessings toward me. I'm planning to appreciate all that I have...it's not "things," but the people in my life--my husband, my children and grandchildren, my mother, sisters and brothers, my church and wonderful friends all over the world who have been so loving and supportive.
I was cruising along through the opening chapters of Nehemiah this morning. You know, all about which guy from which family was repairing which part of the wall. In the middle of all these details, suddenly I was pulled up short by this sentence in chapter 3 verse 5: "...but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord." What a shame to be remembered as the ones who were not willing to do the Lord's work! In Judges 5:23 I read how one group of people were cursed because they were unwilling to help the Lord.
For the Christian, having a heart to help the Lord is really a key ingredient for serving Him. In Nehemiah, those that worked were commended. Some were more enthusiastic than others--3:24 Baruch earnestly repaired--but most of the workers just did their part. And why not serve? Is the work too hard or perhaps below your station in life? Are you too busy, too sick, too poor, too rich, too old, too young? If there is an excuse to be had, it can be found.
Oh the power of being willing! Malcom could have used his illness as an excuse to do nothing. But instead he was willing to serve and a soul was saved! There are some people in Taiwan at Dali Faith Baptist Church who were willing to step in when needed. The result is several souls have been saved and the church membership has grown!
Recently my 4-year old grandson, Spencer, asked me if he could help. I found something for him to throw in the trash for me. He took the trash and bounded away shouting, "Hallelujah! I get to help!" Yes! That's the spirit! Imagine the difference in this world if we all had a heart to serve.
A quick update: Malcom still needs prayer for the throat and mouth infection. Michael is responding to the treatments and may go home from the hospital soon. Thanks for serving the Lord by praying.
"The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord." Prov. 16:33
Yesterday brought a huge blessing and answer to prayer. Malcom has been visiting Michael at the hospital daily. Yesterday Mike bowed his head and accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior. We praise the Lord that in His sovereignty we became friends with this young man and have had the opportunity to direct his heart toward God. He needs continued prayer especially for physical healing as the leukemia is once again active in his body.
Thinking back on all that has transpired the last few months, I can see the hand of God directing and working His purposes. In Malcom's case and Michael's too, the doctors really just do what they can hoping that something will work. In the final analysis, it is God that uses feeble human effort to accomplish His plan. I think about the multitude of nutritional supplements available now...it's almost impossible to know which one to choose. Yet we made a choice and it seems to be helping. We cannot give the glory to one doctor, one particular medicine, or one brand of supplements. The glory is to the Lord who is sovereign over all.
Malcom has finished receiving the 7th chemo treatment. The side effects of neuropathy (sensitivity to cold) and the mouth/throat infection are especially bothersome this time. With the onset of the bitter cold winter season, we ask prayers for patience, endurance, and protection from viruses and flu.
I worship You almighty God, there is none like You
I worship You Oh Prince of Peace, that is what I want to do
I give you praise for You are my righteousness
I worship You almighty God, there is none like You!
I sense that God has given us a calming of the winds and raging seas which we have been experiencing for four months. Last Wednesday Malcom had another CT Scan and met with the oncologist on Friday. Upon my return from Taiwan Friday evening, he gave me the good news: the cancer is shrinking and his CEA level (tumor marker) is down to 30! Since the treatments he has been using are effective, the doctor wants to continue with the same "mix" and not add the clinical trial drug yet. Everything is on track for the 7th round of chemo next Monday, Nov. 14.
In the Bible story I took today's verse from, the disciples were afraid even though Jesus was with them. He was resting...allowing the storm for a time...and then he rose up and calmed it. God knows and cares about our circumstances through every storm. He allows these times for a purpose and calms them in His time. And just because He calmed the storm once didn't mean another would not come. As I scan the pages of the gospels I find that there were other storms, other raging seas which must be faced. Each time, the Lord was there. I know He'll be here for us too.
But for now, I thank Him for the calm.
Coming back to Taiwan these days I'm reminded of the paradox we missionaries experience. That is, the heart strings are pulled from one side of the world to the other. It is a joy to be back on the missionfield and to be "home" in our church here. At the same time, my heart longs to be with those I love back home in Missouri, especially Malcom! I can never quite be satisfied in either place. It amazes me how God blends the hearts of believers of different ages and different cultures so that we truly feel like family. It is a delight to do the will of God.
Sunday in Taiwan with our Dali City Faith Baptist Church was delightful. It was the first Sunday of "Missions Month." I was thrilled to see old and new faces and I think they were encouraged to see me as well. An extra special blessing was to see 2 young adult men accepting Christ as their Savior.
From all reports, Malcom is doing okay back home. I think the grandchildren have been keeping him company. Monday and Tuesday he will be a guest lecturer for a couple of missions classes at BBC. This will be his first time to speak publicly other than short testimonies since his illness. Pray that God will give him added strength and use him to encourage the students.
Tomorrow morning I will leave for a 10-day trip to Taiwan. This is the first time since Malcom was diagnosed with cancer that we will be apart, so today's verse is a great comfort to me. No matter where I am, the Lord is tracking my progress and He is on call 24/7! I see the Lord stretching us once again as we put into practice complete trust in Him. Remembering back just a few months ago, I could hardly bear to leave Malcom's hospital room long enough to go home for a shower and rest, so this is a big change! Well, we're used to taking care of each other, depending on each other...and that's the way it should be, but we need to depend upon the Lord most of all.
...safe travel to Taiwan
...stable health for Malcom following this chemo treatment
...God's blessings on us as we minister to others both here and in Taiwan
I'm looking forward to seeing everyone in Taiwan, and I'm counting on the Lord to keep an eye on things back home. After all, He's "on call!"
Have you ever worried about something only to discover later that there wasn't a thing to worry about? That's kind of how I feel today. When Malcom was having "new pain" that had not been there before, I began to worry. I tried not to, but that nagging thought of "what if" began to bother me again. He had the CT Scan done and the initial report from the doctor was there was nothing to worry about. But I was almost afraid to be too hopeful. Malcom, on the other hand, decided to ignore the pain and carry on. To my surprise, this morning he told me it wasn't hurting anymore! At the clinic we received the complete CT scan report and it shows improvement in many areas.
I am reminded of a verse in Philippians that says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." (Phil. 4:6) Even when I was tempted to be anxious, there were those who rallied to my aid, taking the request to God and He responded.
If you could see Malcom today, your comment might be like many others who say how good he looks. He has gained back about 20 pounds and really does look so much better than before. Today he began his 6th chemo treatment which marks the halfway point for those. Keep the prayers going on his behalf. We are finding that God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ever ask or think. To Him be glory!