Saturday, March 19, 2016

What is your favorite season: spring summer, autumn (fall) or winter?

Blessed by the spring robin and faith in Jesus

Blessed Spring Robin by Elizabeth Knaus using Adobe Illustrator software.

The calendar is marked and the climate changes with seasons. God’s creation instinctively knows what to do in order to survive and thrive. 

He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting. Psalm 104:19 ESV
In one year, four distinctive three-month seasons each bring something different: occasional snow in winter, pleasant temperatures in spring/fall, and intense heat during summer. This fluctuation occurs in Kansas where I live; yet, near the equator temperatures remain steady and seasons are marked by the amount of precipitation that is received.

We live during the season of grace on earth before Jesus Christ returns on the Last Day.

“Every generation should expect Christ’s return as they see the signs of the end times. … God wants all people to come to believe and trust in His Son for their salvation and to lead holy lives in service to Him, eagerly awaiting with patience and perseverance His return on the last day.” Excerpt from pdf “What About . . .The New Millenniumby Dr. A.L. Barry, past President of The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod
We know there will be an end, yet in sin we often:
  • slip up on good intentions
  • procrastinate
  • reject opportunities to receive His gifts of Word and Sacrament
  • ignore chances to honor Him through caring and sharing with others
  • worship and praise Him less or not at all
  • become selfish with time, talent and money
  • separate ourselves from Him
  • apathetically, become complacent toward churches who support false teachers that twist His truth or flat-out reject it
  • claim we don’t need Him/His forgiveness (are blind to our own sin)
  • are lazy
  • the list goes on as we think and act in ways that are against His commandments
There is no getting around it. We sin without even knowing it!
They do not say in their hearts, ‘Let us fear the Lord our God, who gives the rain in its season, the autumn rain and the spring rain, and keeps for us the weeks appointed for the harvest.’ Jeremiah 5:24 ESV
God loves us and hates sin. The Spirit provides faith, desire and ability to repent and turn away from sin. His command for us is to put Him above all our “small-g” gods and look to His Son whose virgin birth, perfect life, suffering, death and bodily resurrection took away the punishment we deserve. Only in Christ we receive forgiveness. Wisdom, courage and power is ours when we hear and read His Word. Out of thanksgiving, we strive to honor Him by making an effort to do great things and share His love.

Lovely sights in nature draw me to my Creator. 

I grew up in Minnesota where a robin sighting marks the beginning of spring. We enjoyed ice skating and building snowmen, but winters started early and were long-lasting. Whoever happened to see the first robin was somewhat of a hero who brought a little joy into the day! After I moved over 500 miles south, I learned that Kansans see robins two months before Minnesotans do and the warmer climate allows us to grow different plants. With the help of God we: confess/repent/recieve forgiveness of sin; watch our diet and exercise to improve our health; keep up property landscape aesthetics. We must clean the yard, prune pampas grass, physically and spiritually clean up our act. Spring is a season to start fresh growth.

Today I went for a walk and saw the largest flock of robins I’d ever seen; a rough estimate is over 50 of them! Repeatedly, they were taking-off and landing in the grass ditch near the Solomon River. I enjoy observing the mysterious lives of birds and imagining dreamy things like the ability to fly. I’m not alone—the birding hobby soars in popularity across North America. It is an art and science.
My parents enjoyed watching birds. They kept this pair of antique binoculars by the back door window. The vintage globe sat on the filing cabinet in the room we called den. Now they’re displayed on a stacking bookcase I inherited from my maternal grandmother. The cherished handiwork of my mother, Hardanger embroidery or “Hardangersøm”, was a Christmas gift which must have taken many hours to create. The green vase holds April plant clippings from my back yard including purple iris and viburnum alleghany.

Dad’s favorite bird species inspired him and Mom to study their patterns. 

Dad built fancy hotels for purple martins. To track migration patterns, Mom went online at the library to check sighting data which she reported back to Dad. Together, they anticipated the arrival of when their martins would check in. I imagine their bird watching hobby was sparked by their interest in the weather which had been an important aspect of their occupational livelihood as seed crop farmers before retirement.

In their lives I remember that in everything — the good and hard times — they studied the Word, gave thanks, and trusted His will to be done through Jesus Christ. They had peace.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Matthew 6:25-26

In the seasons of a Christian’s life,

… we walk by faith, not by sight. … 2 Corinthians 5
No matter what we face, in God’s Word we can start each day fresh. His forgiveness is always there for us to receive when we pray and remember our baptism in Jesus Christ who suffered for us so by His pure grace we can live. He knows our challenges and pain. He comforts us and celebrates our joys — right here, right now — until the day we die and eternal life with Him is ours.
For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven: 
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 ESV

Antique binoculars, Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV
If you have heard of the following terms…
  • Ash Wednesday
  • Season of Lent
  • Holy Week
  • Maundy Thursday
  • Good Friday
  • Easter
…but you don’t know what it’s all about and want more information, please call and ask a pastor at a church near you.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

I have cancer?! How do I tell others? Help me, God. What’s next?

Life is short or long; nobody knows.


Physicians and Ministers are intersecting occupations which I honor and respect; they’re arts of science and spirit.

Dr. Merle Hodges, Sr. delivered my precious baby boy several years ago. Two years later, his son Dr. Merle (Boo) Hodges, Jr. delivered my beautiful baby girl. This very important man in my life, last month, diagnosed me with Grade 1 Endometrial Cancer. I am thankful, not that I wanted cancer—it was tough news for him to deliver, but for his knowledge of it and his advice which led to life-saving action.

It’s difficult to tell people you have cancer. Suddenly, there’s this sense of sadness as we realize how short life can be; how much we love and will miss each other someday. We connect on a new emotional level. We humbly wonder what the future holds. It’s out of our hands. We pray.

Within two days of my cancer diagnosis, I met my new gynecologic oncologist Dr. Jed Delmore and he performed a robotic hysterectomy that same week. To God be the glory for skilled physicians and medical teams as well as for modern technology of the healthcare industry in Salina and Wichita, Kansas!

Through the process I saw God’s hand in everything. 

My pastor came to Wesley Medical Center to pray with me and sit by my husband on the day of my surgery. I imagine that God wanted many other people to see a man wearing clerical collar in the hospital, too. My fellow church members prayed for me in a phone-prayer-chain and also in regular worship services. Awesome is the blessing of having family and friends near me who share the faith! I was encouraged with hugs, kind words, cards, Facebook messages, calls and personal visits.

Surgery removed all of the known cancer!

No cancer was found in the other “extra parts” and fluids removed during surgery to be tested. It had only been in the endometria which they’d already determined from the initial D&C/hysterscopy. I was happy to get a call from nurse Lindsay with news that pathology testing reported that it was stage 1A, an early diagnosis.

During my 3-week follow-up the doctor mentioned that Grade-1, Stage-1A was the best possible outcome and, statistically, my chances for this cancer to return somewhere else are 3 to 5% for the first two years after surgery. If I pass two years in good health, the prognosis is lowered; it becomes only one-half of a percent. Well, that allows for some optimism!

Thankfully, I am in recovery mode now and won’t need further treatment such as radiation or chemotherapy. I know how difficult this is by remembrance of my husband’s journey with esophageal cancer.

I pray, God-willing, frequent follow-up check-ups during the next couple years will have good results and I may live a long life. I thank the Lord for spiritual care my Minister offers each week in his sermons and worship services that include The Lord’s Supper; plus, the privilege to pray and be in His Word everyday.

Yet, even if long life is not to be, I have comfort for whenever the Last Day arrives.

I know God is always by my side and has gone before me. Our Father in Heaven loves us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to live as God-Man with us. In His birth, perfect life, suffering, death, burial, descent to hell, bodily resurrection, and ascension, Jesus claimed victory over death for everyone! He hears believers repentant prayers, forgives sins, crushes boastful pride, encourages/teaches humility/love; and, finally, He awards heaven as the prize for all who receive the one true faith which the Spirit freely offers (in baptism and the Word). Through Christ, believers trust the promise we will live forever in Paradise when death takes our earthly body.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. Mark 13:31-33 ESV

God provides food, drink, work skills and everything to enjoy life.

I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 ESV
A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed. Proverbs 15:13

Today in my quest for making good use of my time and finding enjoyment, I discovered a tutorial How to Prepare an Old Book for Altering or Art Journaling on Pinterest. Experimenting in creating art journals has been on my bucket list. God has blessed me with a creative spirit. I hope to use this gift more often for enjoyment to the glory of God.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Colossians 3:17 ESV

My body was designed with the miraculous ability to become pregnant and give birth. I am Pro-Life; I do not support Pro-Choice-to-End-Life by abortion or human euthanasia.

I praise the Lord for creating me with a healthy uterus to protect and nurture my unborn children during those months of my youth. I thank Him for blessing me with a faithful daughter and a theologically-devoted son who takes time to read and talk with me and others about God’s Word. Just yesterday we discussed Colossians 3.
and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise’?” Matthew 21:16 ESV
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:3 ESV

Life is full of wonderful surprises and it also jolts us with shocking challenges we must be prepared to face. 

Like a cancer diagnosis which leads to death, ever since the fall of Adam and Eve, we’ve been diagnosed with sin which leads to death. Physical symptoms warn us to take medical actions; similarly, the Ten Commandments act like a mirror to help us see our sin. Symptoms of cancer don’t just fade away. Sin doesn’t go away in God’s eyes unless faith washes them away, whiter than snow, by Jesus blood (Psalm 51). This faith points us to want to follow God’s instructions for living and loving in this life He’s given us. Surgery may remove cancer, temporarily saving life on this earth; but, for sure, Jesus saves believers who inherit eternity in Heaven with Him. This is far better than to reject the gift of faith, leading to everlasting-punishment-without-God which is Hell!

I pray that you seek to read/hear His Word (the Bible) and receive the Spirit’s help so you, also, are confident that nothing will be able to separate you from His love. If you live near me and don’t go to church, please, will you join me at mine (Faith Lutheran Church)? If you live in another area, here’s a link to help you find one that shares my faith. I want you to be blessed by Christian fellowship and grow strong in the gift of faith in Christ which promises peace that passes human understanding.

Do you have questions? Comments? Please post them below. I review them and it may take up to a day for them to show publicly, so please check back. I will do my best to respond as soon as possible.