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Wednesday, December 28, 2005
Keeper, Sustainer
"Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." Psalm 127:1

There is a principle here: It is the LORD that builds, it is the LORD that keeps. He is the establisher, keeper, and sustainer of all our work.

God brought this verse to mind today as I was talking to someone about our work in Taiwan, expressing our concern for the church there--especially the Chinese ministry. We really feel the burning desire to return and continue the work that has been started. I guess our natural fear is that without the presence of the shepherd (missionary/pastor) the sheep will weaken and scatter. Ah! But the GOOD SHEPHERD is the One who is building the work. He orchestrated the events that have affected our life and work at this point in time. We must trust Him for the ultimate outcome.

Chemo session #10 began today. Continue to pray for endurance and healing.
Pray for our Taiwan church and for God's blessing on it.

posted at 11:28 PM  

Saturday, December 24, 2005
All is well
"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people." Luke 2:10

To me some of the most beautiful and powerful words related to us in the Christmas story are these two small words "fear not." Joseph was in a quandary and the angel of the Lord said fear not. Mary was troubled and the angel gently spoke fear not. The shepherds were afraid and the angel assured them with fear not.

"Fear not" can be expressed as: don't worry, everything is okay, all is well. These words spoken from the lips of one who has authority to declare it to be true have the power to calm, strengthen, soothe, instill courage. These are words we long to hear. Feel the tension resolve as the doctor says, "He's going to be okay." Recall the relief when an apology is accepted. Imagine the contentment when a grown child calls home and says "I arrived safely." What sweet relief to know all is well.

A few weeks ago I sang this song at church and it still speaks to my heart:

All is well, all is well
Angels and men rejoice
For tonight darkness fell
Into the dawn of love's light

All is well, all is well
Let there be peace on earth
Christ is come, go and tell
That He is in the manger

All is well, all is well
Lift up your voice and sing
Born is now Emmanuel
Born is our Lord and Savior

Sing Alleluia, All is well!

It is a blessing to know that because Christ came, my fears need not overwhelm me. Jesus speaks peace to all the storms of life. All is well. Entering the Christmas weekend, I praise God that Malcom is beginning to enjoy a few good days. We are anticipating the joy of spending time with our children, grandchildren, extended family and church family. Our thoughts and prayers are with our Taiwan church family. Whatever 2006 may hold, we know all is well.

posted at 1:27 AM  

Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Perfect Peace
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusteth in Thee." Isaiah 26:3

It has been a week since the start of the last chemo. Malcom is struggling with a lot of different side affects. The neuropathy is bad. His hands and arms are very red (looks like he is burned). They are super sensitive to things (hurts to put his hands in his pockets) and he's losing the hair on his arms and hands. He's been aching as if he's coming down with a cold. These things in addition to the fatigue and "chemo brain" (inability to think or react quickly) tend to pull him down.

I was encouraged when he shared with me this verse in Isaiah. Here is a promise from God, the promise of perfect peace. Like many promises in the Bible, there is a condition to be met in order to receive the promise. "Who's mind is stayed on Thee..." How easily our focus can be drawn away from Him! Whatever that thing is that pulls your trust away from the Lord is the very thing that will rob you of peace to face every trial. In Malcom's case, he must concentrate on putting his focus on the Lord and not on the side affects of chemo. For me, I must focus on the Lord and not on the uncertainty of the future. What about you? What robs you of God's perfect peace?

I want to share some good news about our friend, Mike. Three weeks ago he was near death. But God has answered our prayers and lifted him up again. Today the doctor said the leukemia is going into remission. The last few weeks his father has been here in Springfield caring for him. We invited them to our home on Monday for dinner and enjoyed a nice evening together. The Lord gave us opportunity to speak of spiritual things. We really feel that his father is searching for truth. Thank you for your prayers as we seek to be a blessing to Mike and his family.

posted at 1:07 AM  

Friday, December 16, 2005
One generation to another
"One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. I will speak of the glorious honor of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works." Psalm 145:4-5

We are excited about the latest test results. Malcom's CEA number is down to 18.5! Praise the Lord! He also seems to be tolerating this round of chemo fairly well. Praise the Lord again!

I can now report that our Christmas tree is duly trimmed. We made some memories with 3 of our grandchildren tonight--decorating the tree, sipping hot chocolate, and reading a story aloud to them. It is a joy to speak of the Lord's majesty and wondrous works to this next generation of Feistel children.

posted at 1:00 AM  

Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Getting through the holidays
"Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? Hope thou in God; for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." Psalm 42:11

Here it is December 13 and we finally managed to put up some Christmas lights on the outside of the house. No tree to trim inside yet, but as they say in Taiwan "slow, slow, come" meaning "take it a little at a time." If last year and this year are any indication, I think that's the way we are going to get through the holidays for a while. Grief does that to us. Every holiday season, especially Christmas, brings a fresh reminder of the now incomplete family circle. Depression rears it's ugly head and threatens to steal our joy. This year I gave myself excuses for delaying the decorating, but finally I had to admit that whether consciously or subconsciously, I was avoiding it because truthfully it's painful. I busied myself last week with sewing costumes for the Christmas parade, with practicing music for Sunday's special and focusing on other things. For some strange reason I can do those things joyfully, but the thought of bringing out the Christmas ornaments and trimming a tree seems too hard. I guess there is no need to explain it or understand it. God created me with the capacity for these emotions and it's okay to just accept that certain intimate family traditions will naturally stir up the grieving heart.

As always, God's Word is an encouragement to me. In Psalm 42 I discover from the Psalmist how to deal with depression:
(1) Pour out your soul to the Lord (vs.1-4)
(2) Remember the past blessings of the Lord (vs. 5-8)
(3) Hope in the Lord (vs. 9-11)
(4) Praise the Lord (vs. 5, 11)

Tomorrow Malcom begins chemo treatment #9. He is dreading it because it makes him feel so bad, but yet he knows it is helping. There will be another CEA test done and we will know how things are progressing. All prayers gratefully accepted and appreciated!

posted at 12:46 AM  

Thursday, December 08, 2005
The blessing of another birthday
"Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; in whose heart are the ways of them. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee." Psalm 84: 5, 12

Today is Malcom's 53rd birthday. This morning I praised the Lord that I opened my eyes to another morning snuggled next to my wonderful husband. This day is a blessing!

In Taiwan we always tried to give special recognition to the birthday people. I usually baked a cake at least once a month for the birthday celebrants. It is interesting how different cultures view this. Americans, for the most part, like to celebrate birthdays, especially for children. As we get older we often let the day go by without mentioning if we can get away with it. If it is celebrated, it's others bringing the greeting to us. Taiwanese don't make a big deal about birthdays except the "big" ones like 60, 70, 80, etc. On the other hand, the Filipinos love marking their birth date and they are the one to put on the party, preparing food and cake for all their friends!

I like our Filipino friend's view of birthdays. They have taught us to bless the Lord for the day. Many times I have heard this type of praise: "I thank God that He has blessed me with another year." Rather than dread growing older, they look forward in anticipation and bless the Lord for His graciousness in adding another year of life.

That is my praise today, especially as I reflect on the last few months and realize that at one point we did not know if Malcom would be able to celebrate this day. Today truly is a blessing. And I am so blessed to have him in my life--a man of God who epitomizes today's verses. His strength, his heart, and his trust are in the Lord.

posted at 11:28 AM  

Monday, December 05, 2005
Reclaiming my identity
"I am the Good Shepherd, and know my sheep and am known of mine." John 10:14

The other day someone asked me is I felt like I had lost my identity. I hadn't really thought much about it until then and so I've been contemplating it ever since. When tragedy strikes or when life as we know it changes drastically, yes it is possible to lose one's personal identity. What defines me is a myriad of things: I'm a missionary, a wife, a mother, a teacher, a daughter, a musician etc. When Malcom was diagnosed with cancer, suddenly things narrowed down to focus on the "wife" part of me. Taking care of him of necessity consumed much of my time, thoughts, and energy. When people saw me or talked to me their first thoughts were to ask about how he was doing. I have had to make adjustments to do things and handle things that previously he did. So I guess for a while I felt defined by the circumstances of life.

Now that Malcom is well on his way to restored health, the other things that define me are emerging again. I've begun to find ways to use my music for the Lord at church. I'm able to give more attention to doing those things that a missionary does...for even though we are not bodily present in Taiwan, today's technology allows us to still be very much involved with our people and ministry. Besides that, the work of a missionary is not limited to a geographical area!

I think it's important to remember that first and foremost my true identity is wrapped up not in who's wife I am or who's mother I am, but rather in the fact that I am Christ's child. Or as He puts it, I am His sheep. He knows me and I know Him. There is no loss of identity there! I am His and He is mine.

Malcom finished his chemo treatment last Friday. He had an allergic reaction to some medication given for the inevitable mouth infection, so that has caused some discomfort. All the other side affects are there as well, a little more bothersome each time it seems. But over all he is doing well, a fact for which we continually lift our praise to God.

posted at 7:23 PM