Sunday, October 30, 2011

Prayer, prayer sticks, some random things, and a few pictures

Do you pray? Regularly? Do you use a prayer list, or how do you organize how you pray for people? The longer I am a parent, and the longer I am involved in new/outreach work here, the more important prayer becomes to me. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the main reason the Lord allowed me to be a mother and a missionary, is so I would learn to pray!

I used to have a vvvvveeeerrrryyyyy long prayer list while I was in college. I prayed for everyone on it almost every day.  Then I got busy and gave up.  I just prayed randomly - praying for family, close friends, difficult times, etc.  Until this year.  Yes, it was for that long.  This year I was given the idea that I don't have to just have one prayer list to pray every day (Okay, I could have thought of it myself, but for some reason didn't.) So now I have two sheets up paper that I did up on the computer. Each is divided in half, so I have 8 separate prayer lists. On each one I have Tim and the girls and our immediate families. Then on the others I have different things: extended family members, friends, people who aren't saved or who are away from the Lord, the Christians here in Hermosillo, some back in Canada, people we know from outreach works, people who are sick, other missionaries, etc. Now I feel it's not so overwhelming, AND I can pray for so many people, adding names as I go. Mika liked my prayer list, so I made one with our immediate families and her special close friends on it too.
Something else we use as a family to help us pray for others are prayer sticks:
I read about it on someone else's blog, and loved the idea. As you can see, I got two plastic cups and a bunch of coloured popcycle sticks, and wrote names of people we know and love on them. We have about 50 sticks, and after breakfast each morning, we all take one and pray for the person/couple/family on the stick. With six of us praying, we cover lots of people over a short amount of time - then start over again when one cup is empty.

Continuing on the 'prayer' theme, we have had several chuckles recently over the girls praying. The other day, Vivian had the hiccups when she started praying. She mentioned two names, then made an airplane out of her stick and was "Vrrooom, Vrrooom"-ing in the middle of her prayer. Well that, combined with the hiccups, made it very hard not to have a severe case of the giggles (even though Tim tried very hard to keep her on track). I admit I had to leave the table a couple times I was laughing so hard! She's also classic for saying, "Kyla (or whoever)! Eyes!!" If someone isn't closing their eyes!

The other day, Kyla prayed: "I pray for Auntie Jeff and Uncle Marianne, and that they would obey their children..." =)

I would just ask you to pray for missionaries in the Ukraine right now. Here and here are two families who have, or have had to leave the country because the laws there have changed regarding visas, and they no longer know whether they are allowed to stay or not.

We are about to begin our 9th week of school tomorrow. Hard to believe this much time has passed already! The beginning of the year was very disorganized, and I really struggled getting it together each day. We are now finally into a fairly good routine, and things are flowing better. We finished memorizing Jonah chapter one the middle of September, and are now more than half way through chapter two. Even Vivian knows several of the words as we say the verses. Mika is learning division, if you can believe it!?! I don't remember learning division in 3rd grade, but maybe I just don't remember. She enjoys typing, science and language especially. Spelling is going well, but she really doesn't like penmanship (not that I blame her!), but she is definitely progressing - if only in a better attitude about having to do it. Shaelyn has taken off in reading - and is really getting the hang of it. Her printing is also getting better, and she's still quite enjoying school. Kyla also enjoys her schooling for 2-3 days a week. Her letters - although she doesn't always recognize them - are being printed quite clearly, and she can do most sounds. Still having trouble putting two letters together though, so we are working on that each day. Vivian is quite happy not being a student, and plays most morning quite well - either by herself, or with Kyla. Alisa continues to be a sweet, adorable and practically edible little girl, with her sweet smiles, chubby arms and legs, and pixie ears! Here are a few recently pictures of her:
I have wondered for a while at the wisdom in having our kitties. They've made their share of messes, and it's definitely a pain in having them watched while we're away for more than a day. Recently though, they've earned their keep a little better. Some of you will remember when we had a problem with rats - yuck! The other day I went outside to put clothes in the drier, and when I turned it on, a rat ran out from behind, and straight towards our open door! It must have smelled the cats or something, because it ran past the door, and into the garage. The next morning, one of the cats had killed it, and left it as an "offering" at the front gate. I've never been so proud! =) I feel like they've at least somewhat redeemed themselves!

Some other funnies from the girls:
Kyla - "Maybe we can have leftovers from tomorrow."

The other day we were talking about setting the table, and I said,
"When we set the table, we put the knife and spoon on the..."
Shaelyn - "Right side of the plate."
Me - "Good! And the fork goes on the..."
Shaelyn - "Wrong side!"

Eva was over the other evening, and the girls were playing doctor. They were quite pleased when Alisa was able to join them so they could have a "real baby"!

Okay, here are some random pictures!
Here is a recent picture of a tea party!
A week ago Friday night we were invited to a tiny town an hour outside of Hermosillo to visit with a family and some other believers.  When we got there, the ladies all got to work at making tamales.  I had only made them one other time, so it was neat to see and help!
The lady who helps us clean occasionally gave Vivian this little broom as Vivi always likes to help!
Isn't this what you do with raspberries?  =)  Kyla
Mika
Shaelyn
Here is a picture Marika drew on the white board - I love it!
Okay, I think that covers things for a bit. We plan to go up to Phoenix next weekend for the inaugoration of the Orange Grove GH there. I'm looking forward to hearing ministry in English again!!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Brayden!!

Today is Tim's brother Rob and Ada's eldest son Brayden's second birthday!
Is this boy completely adorable or what!
Family photo in June - Rob, Ada, Brayden and Joshua
Take a look what Brayden has a hold of...  =)
Giving baby brother Joshua a smooch
(wish Mommy's proctective hand close-by! ;)  )

Dear Brayden, you are so precious, with such energy and enthusiasm in your little body! You are sure to keep your Mommy and Daddy hopping over the next several years. =) We continue to pray for your salvation, as well as help for your parents as they desire to raise their children for the Lord. "For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;," (Proverbs 2:6). Always remember that true wisdom is not found anywhere but God's Word. Read it, memorize it, and hide it in your heart.

We love you, Brayden - Happy 2nd Birthday!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

One Year Ago

This last year has had several ups and several downs. I would say it's been one of the most difficult years of my life. One year ago today, Tim sat me down in our room, and said, "Bethany's gone." I remember wondering where she had gone to, and why it was so serious - not understanding that she had died. It took several minutes for it to sink in a little, and weeks and months for me to fully comprehend that she really was gone. "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:" (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Bethany - Duncan's wife of just a few short months; a young woman recently moved to Mexico to be a missionary, wanting to serve the Lord with all her heart; a daughter and sister; a young woman who had lived in our home; our co-labourer, neighbour and friend - not quite 24 years old. "And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19)

She couldn't be gone - we had just had Canadian Thanksgiving dinner together, had just swam in the pool together but a few days before - we didn't know when we said good bye that it was good bye until we meet again in Heaven. That's possibly a long time away!  "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)

We grieved - a lot. We saw Duncan grieve. We saw other friends and co-workers grieve. We cried. We shook. We asked "Why?" We tried to trust. We never wanted to be the same again. We wanted her death to seem like it was worthwhile.  "This God--his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him." (Psalm 18:30).

The cutting pain for many has dulled - life has gone on, as life does. Thinking of her death still makes me cry. As the anniversary of her death has approached, I've tried to look back, to see if I have allowed God to change me. I was determined that I would never take my marriage, and having a husband at my side for granted again. I was determined to make sure there was nothing between the ones I love and I, so there would be no regrets. I was determined I would allow God to work in me as He willed, no matter the cost.  "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16)

I've failed on all acccounts. I won't tell you how miserably, but I have. However, I do believe that despite all that, the Lord has changed me this past year - for the better.  They've been little changes, mind you, but changes. I've realized that God does not want me to be a mediocre Christian, wife or mother. The trials we have faced, and face today are not to drive our noses into the dirt, but to drive us to our knees. God only wants our good. "But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)

Our fifth little girl, Alisa Bethany, was born to us in March. She will always be a precious reminder of a young woman who gave up her life for the gospel, and dedicated herself to her God she loved and served. "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." (James 1:17)

Please pray for Duncan and his family, Beth's parents and family, and all their friends today who still miss Bethany. Pray that lives will continue to be changed to the honour and glory of God. "To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen." (Philippians 4:20)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Happy Birthday, Kiernan!!

Today is my sister Liz and Trevor's son Kiernan's 3rd birthday!!
You are THREE, birthday boy!!
Their three kiddos: Ellie (1.5), Kiernan (3), Katja (5)
Trev and Liz, Katja, Kiernan and Ellie - Oct. 2011
Mr. Kiernan, what a sweet, special boy you are - and with so much potential to glorify the God that made you! My verse for you is this: "My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad." (Proverbs 23:15) There is so much foolishness out there in the world, little one! Make sure you listen to what your parents teach you while you grow up. Take their advice and learn from them. Make the most important book in all the world to you be the Holy Book - the Bible - the Word of God. You will be truly wise if listen to what the Lord says to you, and do as He says. When you follow Him completely, you will have no regrets. We pray for you every day, and love you so much!

Happy 3rd Birthday, Kiernan - have a wonderful day!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Happy Birthday, Lizzy!!

Today is my sister Liz's birthday! We were so blessed to be able to see Liz and family at their own place this year during the summer - it's always great to re-connect in so many ways!
Liz and Trev
Love this family picture!
Their 3 sweeties: Kiernan (2.9), Ellie (1.5), Katja (5)
Wifehood and motherhood are high callings, and I think Trev and your kiddos are blessed to have you as their own (my completely unbiased opinion, of course!)  =)  I read today on a blog that, "We are grateful for the joy and responsibility of parenthood.  It is no doubt the most difficult and rewarding job on earth."  It's easy to get sidetracked from our focus though, and I imagine that's why Paul wrote to Titus that:

"Older women ...are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."  (Titus 2:3-5)

I've been thinking a lot about marriage and parenting recently - more often than usual probably.  I've been thinking how easy it is to take for granted what we have - both our husband and our children, and then miss out sometimes because we've lost focus of what God wants on our hearts. Because I know how easily I do this, I thought for sure others could be reminded too!! =) I pray that you will continue to follow the LORD'S direction for your life - that He will be your 1st priority, Trevor will be next, your children next, and everything else should fall into place after that.

I love you so much - have a wonderful day today, Kiddo!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cancer

A word that strikes fear into almost every person's heart, I'm sure. We all know someone who has or has had some type of cancer, and of course, you can't think about cancer without thinking of your own mortality: One day I am going to die. And if you are honest with yourself, you also think, Am I ready to die?

We received news recently that Tim's Aunt Heather had "Joined the Club" - the cancer club. She is his Dad's youngest sister, and is only 14 years older than Tim. Heather and her husband John have 3 adolescent children. She wrote to say that she was diagnosed with a low grade non-Hodgkins lymphoma called Waldenstrom's. It is quite treatable and she started chemo on close to two weeks ago, which is to be followed with more chemo every three weeks for 6 months. She wrote, "We are trusting in the unchanging God and his sovereignty in this situation and we of course cherish your prayers." Aunt Heather also attached an article by John Piper/David Powlison, which she says is becoming her manifesto. I have added it at the bottom, and encourage you to read it - it is called, "Don't Waste Your Cancer".

We also received news that Tim's grandpa is ill. About six weeks ago doctors found some some 'spots' on his liver and one kidney. These are suspected to be a spread of his two previous bouts (several years ago) of colon cancer. He was booked for an appointment last week with an oncologist, but the appointment had to be cancelled, because he ended up hospitalized in Orangeville last Tuesday feeling extremely weak and sweaty. Blood and other tests indicated that his hemoglobin was low because of some gastro-intestinal bleeding, so he was treated over several days with several blood transfusions. He's still feeling pretty weak and requires assistance to even get out of bed.

We received news recently as well about the wife of one of Tim's second cousins, whose name is Kim. She is younger than Tim, and has four young children. She's been diagnosed with breast cancer. Another two of the same family (previous generation) have also been diagnosed with cancer recently.

Tim's dad's eldest sister died of cancer when Tim was just a couple years old, and Tim's younger brother Rob, also had cancer when he was just a teenager, so the Woodford family is well aquainted with cancer.

So why post all this terrible news? First, I'm hoping that you will pray for each of these dear people:
For Heather, Grandpa Wilf, Kim, Jim and Bob.

Second, I want to tell you that there's something different about all of these five people - they have a sure hope. Not necessarily hope to get better, and it's not that they themselves are any better than anyone else, but they have hope because they know where they are going, and to Whom they are going when they die - whenever that may be. It isn't that they don't care whether they die or not - I'm quite sure each one wants to live, but they know that there is a purpose in all of this, even though it's a difficult thing to bear, and they have Someone to trust in, to guide them, and strengthen them and their families.

They believe in a great God, Who made the heavens and the earth, Who made you and me, and Who also desires to have a personal relationship with each person! He wants us to trust Him with all of our being, to be obedient to His Word, the Bible, and to follow Him at all cost. He has provided a way of salvation through the sacrificial death of His Son, the Lord Jesus, and offers forgiveness for our sin to all those who repent, and turn to God in their need.
"The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent," (Act 17:30)
"Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures," 1 Corinthians 15:3,4
"I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life." (1 John 5:13)

Below is the article "Don't Waste Your Cancer", but it totally applies to any other life-threatening illness, or struggle or trial you might be going through right now. I pray it is an encouragement to you.
"I write this on the eve of prostate surgery. I believe in God’s power to heal—by miracle and by medicine. I believe it is right and good to pray for both kinds of healing. Cancer is not wasted when it is healed by God. He gets the glory and that is why cancer exists. So not to pray for healing may waste your cancer. But healing is not God’s plan for everyone. And there are many other ways to waste your cancer. I am praying for myself and for you that we will not waste this pain.

DP: I (David Powlison) add these reflections on John Piper’s words the morning after receiving news that I have been diagnosed with prostate cancer (March 3, 2006). The ten main points and first paragraphs are his; the second paragraphs are mine.

1. You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.
It will not do to say that God only uses our cancer but does not design it. What God permits, he permits for a reason. And that reason is his design. If God foresees molecular developments becoming cancer, he can stop it or not. If he does not, he has a purpose. Since he is infinitely wise, it is right to call this purpose a design. Satan is real and causes many pleasures and pains. But he is not ultimate. So when he strikes Job with boils (Job 2:7), Job attributes it ultimately to God (2:10) and the inspired writer agrees: “They . . . comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). If you don’t believe your cancer is designed for you by God, you will waste it.

DP: Recognizing his designing hand does not make you stoic or dishonest or artificially buoyant. Instead, the reality of God’s design elicits and channels your honest outcry to your one true Savior. God’s design invites honest speech, rather than silencing us into resignation. Consider the honesty of the Psalms, of King Hezekiah (Isaiah 38), of Habakkuk 3. These people are bluntly, believingly honest because they know that God is God and set their hopes in him. Psalm 28 teaches you passionate, direct prayer to God. He must hear you. He will hear you. He will continue to work in you and your situation. This outcry comes from your sense of need for help (28:1-2). Then name your particular troubles to God (28:3-5). You are free to personalize with your own particulars. Often in life’s ‘various trials’ (James 1:2), what you face does not exactly map on to the particulars that David or Jesus faced – but the dynamic of faith is the same. Having cast your cares on him who cares for you, then voice your joy (28:6-7): the God-given peace that is beyond understanding. Finally, because faith always works out into love, your personal need and joy will branch out into loving concern for others (28:8-9). Illness can sharpen your awareness of how thoroughly God has already and always been at work in every detail of your life.

2. You will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). “There is no enchantment against Jacob, no divination against Israel” (Numbers 23:23). “The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11).

DP: The blessing comes in what God does for us, with us, through us. He brings his great and merciful redemption onto the stage of the curse. Your cancer, in itself, is one of those 10,000 ‘shadows of death’ (Psalm 23:4) that come upon each of us: all the threats, losses, pains, incompletion, disappointment, evils. But in his beloved children, our Father works a most kind good through our most grievous losses: sometimes healing and restoring the body (temporarily, until the resurrection of the dead to eternal life), always sustaining and teaching us that we might know and love him more simply. In the testing ground of evils, your faith becomes deep and real, and your love becomes purposeful and wise: James 1:2-5, 1 Peter 1:3-9, Romans 5:1-5, Romans 8:18-39.

3. You will waste your cancer if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God.
The design of God in your cancer is not to train you in the rationalistic, human calculation of odds. The world gets comfort from their odds. Not Christians. Some count their chariots (percentages of survival) and some count their horses (side effects of treatment), but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7). God’s design is clear from 2 Corinthians 1:9, “We felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” The aim of God in your cancer (among a thousand other good things) is to knock props out from under our hearts so that we rely utterly on him.

DP: God himself is your comfort. He gives himself. The hymn “Be Still My Soul” (by Katerina von Schlegel) reckons the odds the right way: we are 100% certain to suffer, and Christ is 100% certain to meet us, to come for us, comfort us, and restore love’s purest joys. The hymn “How Firm a Foundation” reckons the odds the same way: you are 100% certain to pass through grave distresses, and your Savior is 100% certain to “be with you, your troubles to bless, and sanctify to you your deepest distress.” With God, you aren’t playing percentages, but living within certainties.

4. You will waste your cancer if you refuse to think about death.
We will all die, if Jesus postpones his return. Not to think about what it will be like to leave this life and meet God is folly. Ecclesiastes 7:2 says, “It is better to go to the house of mourning [a funeral] than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” How can you lay it to heart if you won’t think about it? Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Numbering your days means thinking about how few there are and that they will end. How will you get a heart of wisdom if you refuse to think about this? What a waste, if we do not think about death.

DP: Paul describes the Holy Spirit is the unseen, inner ‘downpayment’ on the certainty of life. By faith, the Lord gives a sweet taste of the face-to-face reality of eternal life in the presence of our God and Christ. We might also say that cancer is one ‘downpayment’ on inevitable death, giving one bad taste of the reality of of our mortality. Cancer is a signpost pointing to something far bigger: the last enemy that you must face. But Christ has defeated this last enemy: 1 Corinthians 15. Death is swallowed up in victory. Cancer is merely one of the enemy’s scouting parties, out on patrol. It has no final power if you are a child of the resurrection, so you can look it in the eye.

5. You will waste your cancer if you think that “beating” cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ.
Satan’s and God’s designs in your cancer are not the same. Satan designs to destroy your love for Christ. God designs to deepen your love for Christ. Cancer does not win if you die. It wins if you fail to cherish Christ. God’s design is to wean you off the breast of the world and feast you on the sufficiency of Christ. It is meant to help you say and feel, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” And to know that therefore, “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 3:8; 1:21).

DP: Cherishing Christ expresses the two core activities of faith: dire need and utter joy. Many psalms cry out in a ‘minor key’: we cherish our Savior by needing him to save us from real troubles, real sins, real sufferings, real anguish. Many psalms sing out in a ‘major key’: we cherish our Savior by delighting in him, loving him, thanking him for all his benefits to us, rejoicing that his salvation is the weightiest thing in the world and that he gets last say. And many psalms start out in one key and end up in the other. Cherishing Christ is not monochromatic; you live the whole spectrum of human experience with him. To ‘beat’ cancer is to live knowing how your Father has compassion on his beloved child, because he knows your frame, that you are but dust. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. To live is to know him, whom to know is to love.

6. You will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about cancer and not enough time reading about God.
It is not wrong to know about cancer. Ignorance is not a virtue. But the lure to know more and more and the lack of zeal to know God more and more is symptomatic of unbelief. Cancer is meant to waken us to the reality of God. It is meant to put feeling and force behind the command, “Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord” (Hosea 6:3). It is meant to waken us to the truth of Daniel 11:32, “The people who know their God shall stand firm and take action.” It is meant to make unshakable, indestructible oak trees out of us: “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:2). What a waste of cancer if we read day and night about cancer and not about God.

DP: What is so for your reading is also true for your conversations with others. Other people will often express their care and concern by inquiring about your health. That’s good, but the conversation easily gets stuck there. So tell them openly about your sickness, seeking their prayers and counsel, but then change the direction of the conversation by telling them what your God is doing to faithfully sustain you with 10,000 mercies. Robert Murray McCheyne wisely said, “For every one look at your sins, take ten looks at Christ.” He was countering our tendency to reverse that 10:1 ratio by brooding over our failings and forgetting the Lord of mercy. What McCheyne says about our sins we can also apply to our sufferings. For every one sentence you say to others about your cancer, say ten sentences about your God, and your hope, and what he is teaching you, and the small blessings of each day. For every hour you spend researching or discussing your cancer, spend 10 hours researching and discussing and serving your Lord. Relate all that you are learning about cancer back to him and his purposes, and you won’t become obsessed.

7. You will waste your cancer if you let it drive you into solitude instead of deepen your relationships with manifest affection.
When Epaphroditus brought the gifts to Paul sent by the Philippian church he became ill and almost died. Paul tells the Philippians, “He has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill” (Philippians 2:26-27). What an amazing response! It does not say they were distressed that he was ill, but that he was distressed because they heard he was ill. That is the kind of heart God is aiming to create with cancer: a deeply affectionate, caring heart for people. Don’t waste your cancer by retreating into yourself.

DP: Our culture is terrified of facing death. It is obsessed with medicine. It idolizes youth, health and energy. It tries to hide any signs of weakness or imperfection. You will bring huge blessing to others by living openly, believingly and lovingly within your weaknesses. Paradoxically, moving out into relationships when you are hurting and weak will actually strengthen others. ‘One anothering’ is a two-way street of generous giving and grateful receiving. Your need gives others an opportunity to love. And since love is always God’s highest purpose in you, too, you will learn his finest and most joyous lessons as you find small ways to express concern for others even when you are most weak. A great, life-threatening weakness can prove amazingly freeing. Nothing is left for you to do except to be loved by God and others, and to love God and others.

8. You will waste your cancer if you grieve as those who have no hope.
Paul used this phrase in relation to those whose loved ones had died: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13). There is a grief at death. Even for the believer who dies, there is temporary loss—loss of body, and loss of loved ones here, and loss of earthly ministry. But the grief is different—it is permeated with hope. “We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8). Don’t waste your cancer grieving as those who don’t have this hope.

DP: Show the world this different way of grieving. Paul said that he would have had “grief upon grief” if his friend Epaphroditus had died. He had been grieving, feeling the painful weight of his friend’s illness. He would have doubly grieved if his friend had died. But this loving, honest, God-oriented grief coexisted with “rejoice always” and “the peace of God that passes understanding” and “showing a genuine concern for your welfare.” How on earth can heartache coexist with love, joy, peace, and an indestructible sense of life purpose? In the inner logic of faith, this makes perfect sense. In fact, because you have hope, you may feel the sufferings of this life more keenly: grief upon grief. In contrast, the grieving that has no hope often chooses denial or escape or busyness because it can’t face reality without becoming distraught. In Christ, you know what’s at stake, and so you keenly feel the wrong of this fallen world. You don’t take pain and death for granted. You love what is good, and hate what is evil. After all, you follow in the image of “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” But this Jesus chose his cross willingly “for the joy set before him.” He lived and died in hopes that all come true. His pain was not muted by denial or medication, nor was it tainted with despair, fear, or thrashing about for any straw of hope that might change his circumstances. Jesus’ final promises overflow with the gladness of solid hope amid sorrows: “My joy will be in you, and your joy will be made full. Your grief will be turned to joy. No one will take your joy away from you. Ask, and you will receive, so that your joy will be made full. These things I speak in the world, so that they may have my joy made full in themselves” (selection from John 15-17).

9. You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before.
Are your besetting sins as attractive as they were before you had cancer? If so you are wasting your cancer. Cancer is designed to destroy the appetite for sin. Pride, greed, lust, hatred, unforgiveness, impatience, laziness, procrastination—all these are the adversaries that cancer is meant to attack. Don’t just think of battling against cancer. Also think of battling with cancer. All these things are worse enemies than cancer. Don’t waste the power of cancer to crush these foes. Let the presence of eternity make the sins of time look as futile as they really are. “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:25).

DP: Suffering really is meant to wean you from sin and strengthen your faith. If you are God-less, then suffering magnifies sin. Will you become more bitter, despairing, addictive, fearful, frenzied, avoidant, sentimental, godless in how you go about life? Will you pretend it’s business as usual? Will you come to terms with death, on your terms? But if you are God’s, then suffering in Christ’s hands will change you, always slowly, sometimes quickly. You come to terms with life and death on his terms. He will gentle you, purify you, cleanse you of vanities. He will make you need him and love him. He rearranges your priorities, so first things come first more often. He will walk with you. Of course you’ll fail at times, perhaps seized by irritability or brooding, escapism or fears. But he will always pick you up when you stumble. Your inner enemy – a moral cancer 10,000 times more deadly than your physical cancer – will be dying as you continue seeking and finding your Savior: “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity, for it is very great. Who is the man who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose” (Psalm 25).

10. You will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.
Christians are never anywhere by divine accident. There are reasons for why we wind up where we do. Consider what Jesus said about painful, unplanned circumstances: “They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness” (Luke 21:12 -13). So it is with cancer. This will be an opportunity to bear witness. Christ is infinitely worthy. Here is a golden opportunity to show that he is worth more than life. Don’t waste it.

DP: Jesus is your life. He is the man before whom every knee will bow. He has defeated death once for all. He will finish what he has begun. Let your light so shine as you live in him, by him, through him, for him. One of the church’s ancient hymns puts it this way:
Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger
(from “I bind unto myself the name”).
In your cancer, you will need your brothers and sisters to witness to the truth and glory of Christ, to walk with you, to live out their faith beside you, to love you. And you can do same with them and with all others, becoming the heart that loves with the love of Christ, the mouth filled with hope to both friends and strangers.
Remember you are not left alone. You will have the help you need. “My God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Pastor John
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

So, it's been a while... Will life ever slow down? 'Cause when I have to decide on whether my house should get cleaned, I should sleep, or if I should maybe blog - well, you can obviously see what I've chosen!! =)

Today was a beautiful Canadian Thanksgiving Day we celebrated in Mexico! We got together with the Cains, Eleo, and Jesse & Emily for a yummy meal at 2pm today, and enjoyed each other's company, turkey with all the trimmings, and LOTS of pie! Then we worked off off our dinner by having a beautiful English sing, and playing games. It was such a nice day! We're so thankful for our dear friends who are like family to us. How great is our God!!

We were also blessed this weekend by a conference less than 3 hours south of us in Ciudad Obregón. Dr. S. Higgins came down last Thursday, and we enjoyed hearing some ministry right here in Hermosillo on marriage, then on Saturday after the children's meeting in Tirocapes, we left to go down for the rest of the weekend. I told Tim that it had to be one of the best conferences. It was close, AND Dr. Higgins only speaks English, so we understood every word! It was a very good, convicting conference! We spent Saturday night at Shad and Debi's, and then came home last evening.

We received some special news from Tim's brother Andrew over the weekend - he just got engaged to his sweetheart, Bethany! Congratulations you two!

Our weather here has wonderfully dropped down to high teens to low 30's with no humidity. We've had our a/c turned off for several days now - it's so great to be able to have the windows and doors open again.

I've got lots to say, but it's already late at night, Tim's in bed, and my pillow is calling me... =) I'll have to save some of the rest for another day.

But before showing some pictures that I've finally put on here, I wanted to make sure I updated you on the prayer request of Sept 27th. Doug has been transferred back to the US, and these are some recent updates from his parents and wife. Please continue to pray for the family, and especially Alexi's (Doug's wife) salvation.
UPDATE from Doug's parents Monday 10/10/2011 - 5 PM - We had the opportunity and responsibility today to visit with President Obama at Doug’s bedside. I knew it would be brief, about two minutes or so. As we expected he got His photo opp, but then he said to Becky “I give the mom’s hugs” so he reached for one and Becky gave him a very strong one (she said after, “He is a very frail man”) After a couple more photos (we might post them some time, when we get them) he turned to us and said a few words, I felt responsible to share briefly what God had given me for comfort earlier, so we looked into his eyes while holding onto his hand again and said “Mr President, we are so glad to tell you that we have One that sits on the highest throne in Heaven who is touched with the feelings of our sorrow, and our Son Doug is resting in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ for Eternity” to which he gave a general reply and said “that’s right, thank God” - His secretary then gave us Her card and email (which I’m sure we will not use) he handed a Presidential coin to Lexi, assured us of his concern and left the room. Our human nature would liked to have unloaded our minds on the situation there in Afghanistan, and this tragedy that has ripped through our family, and the tragedies we see coming in here every other day out of that terrible place! But in the larger picture of eternity, does it really matter? Would that conversation really make a difference? most likely not! What a shame to hold one of the most powerful seats of authority in the world, and then to miss Christ and to be separated from Him for ever and ever. . . We walked back to our room and I thought of the words of the hymn ’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take HIM at His Word; Just to rest upon HIS promise, And to know, “Thus saith the Lord!” - Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er; Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! Oh, for grace to TRUST HIM MORE!

UPDATE from Doug's parents Monday 10/10/2011 - 1 PM - Doug has returned from todays surgery, all is the same, a little debriding of the wounds, and cleaning of His left leg, not ready for closure yet - Were are to visit with President Obama in a little bit, He is coming to Doug’s room to talk to us, what does one say? All I can think is, that we have ONE who is touched with the feelings of our infirmities and HE occupies a throne far higher than the highest of any land to HIM and Him alone we bring our petitions - and find grace to help in our time of need - I am so comforted with this - “O what a Savior. . . “
UPDATE from Alexi, Doug's wife Monday: It has been 2 weeks since this tragedy began. We went from being told Doug wasn't going to make it, to he was most likely brain dead, to him now breathing entirely on his own, with blood flow to even the most damaged parts of his brain, and so many other small steps of positivity. Thank you all for praying so diligently.
Finally, some pictures!!!  I called in the cleaning crew a few weeks ago, and you should have seen them work!  They washed walls, cupboards, chairs, doors - and the results were fanastic!
Shaelyn getting right into her work

They washed everywhere they could reach
Oh, and even where they couldn't reach!
Vivian helped too
Happy little chunk-a-lunk in her exesaucer
Quite the pose!
Those walls took a Lot of effort!
Done with work, now time to play...
Some of us kept at it still - they all did a great job!
One of their favourite things to do - have a tea party!
The day before children's meetings started up again
All the young ladies came over to celebrate Eleo's birthday!
A dear friend, sister in the Lord and co-worker!
Cake time
Vivian seriously checking out some books
Mark and Rebekah gave this "contrary" puzzle to Vivian.  The rest of us helped put it together - it was a fun project!
Saturday morning children's meeting in Tirocapes - an outreach in the south of the city.
Friends having a tea party with their dollies
Baptism on Sunday night -  Isaac
Too cute not to take a picture of - they were sitting there singing away
Mika and Alisa
So sweet!

That's all for now - Good night, and Happy Thanksgiving!!