Just Changing Mountains

(NOTE TO MY READERS: Several have commented that it is sometimes difficult to get to this site, and others have reported problems with the security certificate. I regret that you have encountered these issues, but the problems are more with WordPress or the server that hosts this blog than my specific site. As for the security issues, that may be related to the security settings on your computer. Let me suggest that you scroll down this page and subscribe to the RSS Feed. Your email address is safe and is not shared with anyone. By subscribing to the RSS Feed, you will get the posts downloaded to your email and thus bypass the website and security issues. If a particular post is a blessing and you want to share with someone, you can easily forward from your email. I appreciate the feedback and thank you for your encouragement. Geneva)

William Congreve was right when he wrote “Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.” Music that reflects Scriptural truth always touches me deeply, and often in the midst of trials God will use a song to stir my soul and refresh my spirit. In this case, there have been several songs that have spun around in my head in these recent weeks of trial. These Gospel songs represent the cries of a soul before God – cries I found myself singing to the Lord in recent days:
Strike One Luis Argerich via Compfight
“In the dark of the midnight have I oft hid my face,
While the storm howls above me, and there’s no hiding place.
‘Mid the crash of the thunder, Precious Lord, hear my cry,
Keep me safe til the storm passes by.”

In the midst of storms and trials, sometimes all you can do is cling to the promise that “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee” until God chooses to lift the fog and reveal himself in the trial.
It Just Isn't Cricket, Is it. Neil Howard via Compfight
“When I’m low in spirit, I cry ‘Lord lift me up. I want to go higher with Thee.’
But nothing grows high on a mountain, so he picked out a valley for me.
And he leads me beside still waters somewhere in the valley below.
And he draws me aside to be tested and tried; in the valley he restoreth my soul.”

The screensaver on my computer is of a beautiful high mountain on which there is little vegetation. Truly “nothing grows high on a mountain,” but in the valley of verdant green pastures and soothing, flowing water we are refreshed and strengthened. The Psalmist David near the end of his life penned Psalm 23 and spoke so lovingly of the Shepherd in the valley who meets all of his needs. In the valley, even the valley of the shadow of death, God declares his presence with us and strengthens us for the start of the journey back up the mountain.

The Christian life is often a series of peaks and valleys. When we are on the mountain with Christ, it is easy to have faith and trust, but it is in the valley that our faith is greatly exercised.
Dry Mountain SP8254 via Compfight
“You talk of faith when you’re up on the mountain
But talk comes easy, when life’s at its best.
Now it’s down in the valleys, trials and temptations,
That’s where your faith is really put to the test.
For the God on the mountain is still God in the valley.
When things go wrong, he’ll make them right.
The God of the good times, is still God in the bad times.
The God of the day, is still God in the night.”

Our God NEVER changes! Hallelujah! It was his steadfast love and constant presence that saw me through these weeks of discouragement and repair.

“Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee.
How great thou art! How great thou art!”

With praise to the Lord, I am not in the valley. I’m just changing mountains!

Feeding My Faith in 2013

An internet buddy sends me all sorts of unusual things. Today he sent me something with this tag line at the bottom: “Feed your faith and your doubts will starve to death.” The quote was timely for me.

The doubts I have truly are not related to my faith. I do not doubt anything I find in the Word of God; I do not doubt my salvation. My “doubts” are probably more precisely translated as fears and anxieties, and they arise when I read publications, listen to the news media – even conservative news media – and see the collapse of much that I hold dear. Like you, I feel a certain amount of anxiety over the “Fiscal Cliff” and how it will impact my meager income. I am sad to see the family unit as ordained by God being attacked and marriage as defined by God being redefined. To look at all these things in the aggregate creates a lot of fear, anxiety and raises questions to which there is humanly speaking no answer.  But all of this just means I am viewing life at eye level and not at God-level.

Shortly after viewing the tag line and considering the truth it conveys, I sat down to complete my Bible reading for the year. Like many, I was closing out the year in the book of Revelation. The Word of God is always timely in its message, and yesterday was no exception. Revelation 17:14 reads, “These shall make war with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them: for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings….” My heart leaped with rejoicing. There is much in our world that is even now making war against Christ (the Lamb), but our victory is in Christ who daily helps us to overcome. My doubts were assuaged because I was feeding my faith through reading God’s Word.

So at this time when we traditionally make New Year’s resolutions, my resolve is to be even more diligent about feeding my faith in 2013 through these activities:
•Read the Bible through in a year.  I follow a chronological reading system and find that helps me to follow the story of redemption that begins in Genesis and ends victoriously in Revelation.

•Build a stronger prayer life.  This will be my biggest challenge, but I am asking the Lord to help me be more deliberate and focused in prayer.

•Read those things that point me continually to Christ and his purposes.

•Surround myself with Christ-honoring music.  Music has such a profound effect on me that I must pursue that which edifies and encourages.

•Be effectively engaged in ministry to others.

While most of these things are already a part of my life, a recommitment to them is definitely in order to the end “…that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness…(but) the righteousness which is of God by faith.”  Philippians 3:8-9.  Let’s feed our faith and watch our doubts starve to death!

Happy New Year!  May the Lord continually be praised in 2013.

The Cancer Story – Part IV

When we left off last time, we were preparing for my daughter’s wedding.  I had a second chemo treatment before the wedding and was experiencing weakness and lack of stamina.  With all of the last-minute details to be taken care of, the greatest in my mind was how to get the rented flowers and plants from the nursery to the church and back.  God sent a man in our church who borrowed a covered van from his company and took care of this for us.  I have thanked him more than once for coming to our aid.  Friday night of the rehearsal, God had more helpers to do the physical work of attractively arranging the foliage.  How blessed to have people with talent and a servant’s heart to assist.  I was instructed to just sit on a front pew and give directions.

Wedding days are long days, and there was some concern as to how I would hold up.  But, the Lord be praised, I was there for the pictures beforehand and the reception afterwards.  As my son escorted me down the aisle to my seat, I saw tears of rejoicing in the eyes of people who knew of my struggle.  I drew great strength from those demonstrations of love and care.  It was interesting as many came through the receiving line and commented, “It’s so nice that you did not lose your hair!”  I guess the wig looked truly natural.  Others were curious enough to ask, “Geneva, is that your hair?”  I replied, “Of course it’s my hair!  I have the receipt to prove it!”

With a beautiful wedding behind us and the happy couple off to start their lives together, life continued in a routine of work and chemo treatments.  We finally settled on a schedule whereby I would have a treatment on Thursday afternoon, go to work on Friday pumped up by steroids given to counter nausea, have an okay day on Saturday, end up on the couch Sunday too sick to attend church, get up on Monday morning, vomit, and go on to work! What a life!

As I stated earlier, I was so naive about how long I would need the chemo treatments.  As the weeks stretched into months and then into years, I was growing more uneasy about how long I might have to keep this up.  Regular CT scans showed that while the tumors were not growing, neither were they shrinking.  My treatments were handled at an ambulatory infusion center.  After several months of chemo, my veins began to collapse, so an access port was surgically implanted.  For some reason, my port was difficult for the nurses to access.  It was a very painful process as they pressed a curved needle into the narrow access point.  One nurse tried three times and finally admitted, “I have no idea what I am doing.”  After that, I insisted that the access be done only by a nurse who was familiar with my port. Because it was so painful, the goal was to get the needle in on the first try.  One sweet nurse confessed that she prayed before sticking me.  God was still sending his angels to minister to me.  How gracious was my God.

In July 2010, after four years of chemo and no real evidence that the tumors were being impacted, I told the oncologist that I wanted to stop.  I had sensed the Lord dealing with me for a number of months, so I finally summoned the courage to tell the doctor I’d had enough.  He was willing for me to take a break for four months and then do a CT scan in October to assess the situation.  Over the years I had continued to educate myself on the power of nutrition to heal, and one friend kept me flooded with good information.   Thus, concurrently with suspending treatment I began changing to a vegetarian diet and added juicing to my lifestyle.  Within three weeks after stopping treatment and changing my diet, I felt like a new person.  October came when the doctor wanted to do the CT scan.  Please remember that during all these years of chemo, I had absolutely zero insurance; but between the goodness of God and generosity of the Greenville Hospital System, the medical costs had been covered.  Since I would qualify for Medicare in January 2011, I asked the doctor if we could hold off until then to do the next CT scan.  He was agreeable.

What unfolds next is a testament to the power and grace of God.  Looks like we are headed to Part V only because I want these posts to not take too much of your time to read.  Also, there are some details that should not be skipped because they show the working of God in my life.  With more to come, may the Lord be praised!

The Cancer Story – Part III

With the type of cancer confirmed – granulosa cell carcinoma – I began regular consultations with the gynecological oncologist, a fine doctor who is a believer.  Since his mother died of breast cancer, he is even more passionate about his work with gynecological cancers.  Because the granulosa cell is fairly slow growing, it was almost a year before any significant growth or change in the tumors was detected.  The doctor was now recommending chemotherapy.

A couple of years before the cancer was found in my lungs, I had learned about some powerful glyconutritional supplements that started me on a journey of learning about the importance of nutrition in maintaining good health.  I began taking those supplements and recommending them to others. I had always told myself that if ever I had cancer, I would NOT take chemo.  It was an agonizing decision as I prayed and sought counsel on both sides of the question.  Do I continue with the nutritional approach or do I start chemo?  I was consulting with a medical doctor who had left conventional practice because of her belief that if you feed the body properly, the body can heal itself.  She had much first-hand proof that this was true, and her following was growing.  After exchanging several emails on the decision facing me, this courageous doctor finally said, “Geneva, if it were me, I would do both.  I would take the chemo and stay with the nutritional supplements.”  I was comfortable with that approach, and my family concurred.  We began talking with the oncologist about a date for the first treatment.

While trying to make the best decision about my health care, we were also in the throes of planning my only daughter’s wedding scheduled for the end of July 2006.  I was so excited!  After three trips down the aisle as mother of the groom, I was finally going to be mother of the bride.  I had even taken on the task of making the bridesmaids gowns.  The pattern and fabric were chosen, and I finally managed to cut out three simple dresses when God stepped in with a different agenda and I came down with another severe upper respiratory incident.  Knowing how these things go, I realized I would never finish those dresses in time for the wedding, so I called friends whose daughter was a professional seamstress and invited them to lunch after church on Sunday. Although I was getting worse and breathing was difficult, I managed to serve a meal and hand off the dress project before being instructed by the doctor to get to the emergency room that afternoon.

The ER doctors decided I had blood clots in my lungs, so I was admitted to the hospital on July 2, 2006.  After nine days in the hospital that included a wrong diagnosis and medications that caused my lungs to hemorrhage, it was decided that I would have my first chemo treatment before leaving the hospital.

I was so naive about this chemo thing and a little arrogant as well.  Somehow I had the idea that one or two treatments is all it would take to eradicate this cancer; and despite what the doctor said, I was just sure I would not lose my hair.  God knows me so well, but in his loving and gentle way, he shepherded me through the tears when my hair started first to thin, then to come out in clumps as I showered.  I was so weak from the chemo that my son had to accompany me for the final wedding shopping to push the wheeelchair.  We also shopped for a wig.  It was one week before my daughter’s wedding and all of my hair was gone.  I learned something about my own vanity through this experience and even more about the kindness and mercy of my God as the wedding neared.

At this juncture I am not sure how many more “Parts” it is going to take to finsh the story.  In truth, the story will not be finished until God writes the final chapter, but the goal is to bring you down the early roads I traveled so that you can appreciate the magnitude of God’s working in all of this.  I hope you see God in these details.  He is working all things for his glory and my good.  His strength is being made perfect in my weakness, and he is molding me for the future.  See you next week.

The Lord be praised!

The Cancer Story – Part II

Fast forward from 1994 to the Spring of 2005.  My husband was preparing to visit his father in Texas for a week.  I was eager for him to be on his way because I had a list a mile long of things I wanted to do in his absence.  In fact, I said “Lord,  I have so many worthwhile things to accomplish.  Please don’t get in my way!”  What a foolish thing to say!

My husband had not been gone 48 hours before I was flat on my back with the worst upper respiratory incident I had ever experienced.  I seemed to get these sinus/bronchial infections at least twice a year, but this one was worse than usual.  I had to sleep in a recliner so I could breathe.  None of those important projects such as visiting people, doing deeds of mercy, or housework had even been started.  What a graphic illustration of the saying “Man proposes; God disposes!”  It was clear I was not the one in control of my agenda.

By Friday of that week I was not getting any better and I was fighting for every breath.  With the weekend looming and fearing that pneumonia was setting in, I asked my daughter to take me to the emergency room.  The ER experience was typical….lots of waiting…..and waiting.  They did a chest x-ray and took their time getting back to me with the results.  I will never forget when the doctor walked into the room where my daughter and I were waiting and announced, “Well, Mrs. Anderson, you do not have pneumonia but you do have cancer!”  The date was April 1, but this was no joke.

There were many things in that moment that I had no answers for.  It had been 11 years since the doctor said, “We got it all,” when my worst fear that the cancer might return had been realized, and it had taken up residence in my lungs.  The x-ray showed two larger tumors and many peanut-sized tumors scattered throughout my lungs.  A CT scan followed that evening that confirmed the diagnosis.  This news was so overwhelming that trusting God was the only thing I could do.  Metastatic disease could not have come at a worse time as I was both unemployed and uninsured.  Yet the God with whom I had been so brazen lovingly flooded my heart with his peace.

My husband was still out of town but was due home in a couple of days.  I shared the information with my children but did not think it fair to deliver the news to him by phone.  I wanted to talk this over in person.  Upon his return, we gathered as a family to contemplate an uncertain future and to pray together for the Lord’s guidance.

I was referred to a thoracic surgeon who performed a bronchoscopy hoping to collect enough cells to determine the exact type of cancer that was in my lungs.
When that procedure did not yield enough material for testing, a lung biopsy was ordered.  The doctor made it sound like such a simple procedure that I made plans for the weekend following the surgery on Thursday!  Again, I was such a fool.  As it turned out, this was major surgery requiring the usual six-week recouperation period!   Tests  proved the cancer to be the exact same granulosa cell that had been in my ovary.  That being confirmed, I was then referred to a gynecological oncologist.  It is hard for people to understand that I do not have lung cancer.  I have ovarian cancer in my lungs!

I will pause the narrative here and take it up again next week.  Stay tuned.  God is at work.

The Lord be praised!

 

The Cancer Story – Part I

In the fall of 1993, I started with symptoms not uncommon for a 47-year-old female.  Thankfully I had kept up the annual internal exam so that when changes began manifesting themselves, the doctor noticed right away.  At first he thought it might be fibroid tumors; but as the symptoms continued, he recommended an ultrasound that revealed a mass on my right ovary.  I was referred to a gynecologist who conducted further tests. As I sat in his office in January, 1994, the diagnosis of ovarian cancer was pronounced and surgery was recommended.

As I tried to take in the information, I noted that the doctor was visibly moved.  I also remember intense peace flooding my being at that moment, so I reassured the doctor that everything was going to be okay.  I sensed the presence of the Lord there in the doctor’s office.  However, there was still something unreal about this whole experience.  Was it really possible that such an enemy as cancer could live in my body?  Nevertheless, the peace of God continued to reign in my heart.

Surgery was performed on February 3, 1994. The doctors were meticulous as they worked to remove the cancer, then carefully explored the abdominal cavity to be sure there was no sign of cancer anywhere else.  Before I ever left the operating room, the excised mass was tested.  I had Stage 1A granulosa cell carcinoma.  If you have cancer, this is the stage where you hope it is caught.  From that standpoint, I felt blessed.  My records were further reviewed by the tumor board.  It was then I heard those reassuring words, “We got it all!”

There was more good news….well, sort of.  The granulosa cell is a rare form of ovarian cancer.  The doctor pointed out that this cancer cell is very slow growing and rarely metastasizes, so his prognosis was very good that truly they had removed all of the cancer.

My recovery from surgery would be classed as routine; and after the perfunctory six weeks of recovery, I was released to return to work and to resume my normal activities.  I was feeling so good that I stripped and refinished the metal cabinets in my kitchen.

Many people encouraged me during this time.  A few days before surgery a sweet friend stopped by with a new pair of pajamas.  Another friend gifted me with a robe.  A nurse friend stayed a night while I was in the hospital.  There were so many expressions of love and care that I could not possibly name them all, but each reminded me of God’s love and care most of all.

The ensuing months were not all smooth sailing as the doctors worked to get my hormones leveled out, but life continued.  While my four children were still living at home, they were self sufficient and proved to be very helpful and loving.  My husband was constant in his love and support in every way.  God had been merciful and my heart was full of praise.

The years passed.  I kept having this recurring thought:  What if the cancer came back?  But the doctor said they had gotten it all.

The Lord be praised!

The Finest of the Wheat

Psalm 81:16: “But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”  One of God’s sweetest blessings to me has been the thoughtfulness of friends.  In the years while I was enduring chemo treatments, meal preparation for my husband and me was a challenge physically and emotionally.  Not only did the chemo sap my strength, I had no appetite and could never decide just what to prepare.  Some dear friends faithfully gave us gift certificates to local restaurants.

One Wednesday I went to the mailbox to find an envelope with $50 gift cards to Outback Steak House and City Range, a local upscale restaurant!  I just stared at those gift cards and said out loud, “Lord, this is fine wheat!

By Friday my husband decided we should go to City Range for dinner.  As we walked in the door, I saw a friend from Toastmasters.  It had been a long time since I had seen him, and we spoke only briefly in passing.  However, the hostess seated us near his table.  While we were perusing the menu, this friend approached our table and dropped two $25 City Range gift certificates on the table.  He said that he just wanted to bless us.  Wow!  Here we were with a $50 gift card in our pocket and God brings us $50 more!  The wheat was getting finer by the minute!  We used those certificates to cover our meal and left with the other gift card to use another day.

We drove home and stopped to check the mail.  There was an envelope from – you guessed it – City Range!  Inside was a $10 gift certificate but no indication who had sent it.  Later, I learned that this $10 certificate was from my sweet son in Pittsburgh for Mother’s Day.  When he found out about our tremendous windfall of City Range gift certificates, he felt his gift was insignificant.  I immediately reassured him that while the Lord had promised to feed us with the finest of the wheat, he also said “with honey from the rock would I satisfy you.”  I told my son the next time we went to City Range that we could afford to have dessert!

These events occurred several years ago, but remembering has brought encouragement for what I am currently facing.  God’s faithfulness in the past is prologue to his continuing faithfulness in the present and the future for as many days as he chooses to give me.  I cling to his promises and rest upon his Word and take hold of the truth that the same God who parted the Red Sea and caused his children to walk through on dry ground is the same God who will meet my every need.

Without going into a lot of detail just now, things in my life are changing.  But how precious and sustaining to lay hold of this:  “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever!”

The Lord be praised.

From Miracle to Miracle

“Geneva, you just live from crisis to crisis,” observed one of my friends many years ago. While an overview of my life would seem to support her statement, I choose to believe that I have lived from miracle to miracle. Here is one case in point.

My mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor and was scheduled for surgery. This news could not have come at a worse time for me. It was one of the few times in my life when I was not working, and my husband had a job as a commissioned salesman in a local department store. I was in South Carolina. Mother, my sister and five brothers were in Arizona. The family wanted me to come, and they chipped in to cover the plane ticket. But travel takes more than just a plane ticket, and I had absolutely no funds for expenses. God, in his forethought, brought a gentleman who needed some typing done. I finished his project the day I was to leave for Arizona, and he paid me $20. Continue reading

What God Does Not Have

I have something God does not have. What could it be, this something God does not have?  He is the creator of the Universe, the stars hang in the sky at his command.  If he created all things and is the sustainer of all things, how can it be that I might have something God does not have?

Now this thing I have that God does not have was actually given to me by God.  As to why God would give me something he had not also kept for himself is a quandary, but we have to trust his infinite wisdom.  This thing I have that God does not is actually something according to his word that he cannot have.

Well, I am not sure you are ready for this, but the one thing I have that God does not have is GRANDCHILDREN!  Gotcha!

And God has graciously given me the most beautiful, most handsome nine grandchildren ever.  Of course, each one of the 5 boys and 4 girls is precocious, highly intelligent and outstanding in every way.  And these nine grandchildren have become the delight of my life.  Now it is oaky for you to be envious – I completely understand!

As we continue this blog, no doubt you will hear about many of their exploits. but here are a few for your enjoyment.

Jake (age 6) has been a special treat.  One night Jake and I had a date that included a stop at Wal-Mart.  In the lobby he saw one of those coin collectors that lights up as a quarter rolls down to the bottom, so he naturally wanted to put in a quarter.  Grandmas never leave home without quarters, so I was prepared.  And he enjoyed watching the brief but brilliant light show.

We completed our shopping and at the checkout counter I gave Jake a $20 bill so he could be the big man and pay for our purchases.  There was a little change left over which I told him he could put in his pocket and keep.  On the way out of the store he stopped in front of that coin collector again and looked at me in anticipation of another quarter.  I reminded him that he had some money in his pocket.  He reached in and sure enough pulled out a quarter.  He looked at that quarter, he looked at that coin collector, thought a bit, and then announced he was going to save his quarter!

When I travel I enjoy buying souvenirs for the grandchildren.  On one trip I bought Jake a t-shirt with “No matter what it is, I did not do it” printed on it.  One morning he asked his mother if he could wear that shirt to school.  She reminded him that he had worn it the day before and got red dirt on it.  Jake insisted, “but I want to wear it anyway to remind me how great Grandma is!”

Max (age 8) is quite a thinker.  Max and I were looking through a Christian magazine and there was an article about step-fathers.  This was a new concept for Max and he had questions.  I explained what that meant and immediately Max showed how well he understood by saying, “Grandma, I think you need to get married again so I can have a step-grandpa!”  On another occasion the possibility of Grandma remarrying came up.  Max very astutely observed, “Grandma, if you get married again you won’t be an Anderson – and we will all have to change our names!”

Shannah (age 3) announced to her father that she was not a human.  He queried, “Shannah, if you are not a human, what are you?”  Shannah had this all figured out and responded quite confidently, “I am a hu-lady!”

As much joy as my grandchildren bring to me, there is something that brings even greater joy and that is my personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Because of my faith in Christ who died on the cross for my sins, I am a child of God.  I did not become his child because I had Christian parents.  I did not become his child by osmosis.  I became his child when I understood that it was my sin that nailed him to that cross.  The love he showed by dying for me compelled me to come in simple child-like faith to a loving, kind and gracious heavenly father.

I have grandchildren because my children have children. God does not have grandchildren. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born…of God.” John 1:12-13.  Are you a child of God?