Tuesday, January 25, 2011

More Warm Surprises

I've been wanting to put this up for a long time now, ever since I was discharged from the hospital during my last visit. I've been trying to get a picture up with no luck; hence, the delay. So, I gave up on the picture. I'm just sorry you all won't be able to see it. I got a new computer (my family got together and pitched in to get me a new laptop for my 40th!), but I haven't figured out how to put pictures on it yet. I can get pictures from the Internet, just not my personal pictures. sigh

Anyway, all that to say, when I got out of the hospital last week, I came home to a LOVELY afghan made by several of my writing friends. Each square was made by an individual (from different States!), and then pieced together by one person. I'd name everyone who was involved in making this afghan, but some of the cards fell off (they each left a card with their name on the square they made; I didn't want to take them off because I enjoyed seeing the names of the people who did this for me), and I'm afraid I might forget someone. All I know is, I was deeply touched and really, words are so lame when expressing one's appreciation for such a beautiful, thoughtful, generous gift!

Just think of all the time each of those ladies put into making each square, and then the time it took to piece them all together . . . all for me! It really makes a person feel loved. And after this last stay in the hospital, I was fighting depression and asking God to just let me know that He was there for me. Well, it's amazing how God reveals Himself and His love through these giving individuals.

Thank you, ladies! Thank you for the blessing you are to me. xxx

I go into the hospital today for a week, so I probably won't be able to post or comment. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can't. We'll see!

More chemo, here I come.


HERE'S A PICTURE OF THE AFGHAN! I'm in the hospital, and normally I can't access my blog or leave comments, but for some reason, it's letting me right now. Yeah! See the lovely afghan below. Thank you, Rachel! xxx All those little cards on it have the names of each individual person who made that square! :-)

Friday, January 21, 2011


My pupils are different sizes. I finally figured out it's the MS! My vision is blurred in the eye where the pupil is enlarged. Here's a link where you can read more about it: http://ms.about.com/od/signssymptoms/f/ms_apd.htm.

I go in on Tuesday for more chemo. My oncologist really needs to work together with my neurologist. I mean, how can they treat both cancer and MS?! ARG!

Also, my dizziness is increasing because of the lovely intestinal infection I have that was caused by all the antibiotics I've been on (the vertigo is also the MS, grrrr), and the expensive drugs I got for it aren't working. I'm actually getting worse. sigh

I can also feel my tumor "doing something." I only felt these twinges when it was growing, so I'm a little nervous about this. While it was shrinking, I felt nothing.

And lastly, my book is up for discussion on the ACFW Book Club loop, but it's awfully quiet over there. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/acfwbookclub/

Just trying not to worry . . . sigh.

Dear God, I praise You because You were, You are, and You always will be. You are my Father, and You are sovereign. You reign over me and those who are treating me. I commit myself into Your hands. Thank You that I may be Your daughter. Please hold me close and take away my fear.

In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Praise God!!!

Good news! I went to the hospital today to have my blood drawn. You see, for weeks now, my blood counts haven't been coming up like they should. The doctor started getting worried (and so did I), because it meant I might have a blood disease (umm . . . I reminded them I have MS, that's a disease, e-hem! I should clarify, it was actually the nurse practitioner who said this and not the actual doc because my doc already said it was my MS that was slowing everything down), and who knows what else. Anyway, I went in today, and my counts are where they should be! Yeah!!! I was so grateful to God, I told my hubby that when we got in the car we should thank Him. I mean, how often do I go to the throne of God and simply "thank Him?" Really? I know I go to His throne constantly to ASK for things. But I rarely go to just THANK Him for what He's blessed me with. sigh Anyway, so that's what we did.

This also got me to thinking about when I say the words, "Praise God." You know, I usually only say those words when I'm happy about something. Like . . . my blood counts being up! :-) But do you remember Job? He praised God when he lost his ENTIRE FAMILY! If one of your children died, would you be able to drop to your knees and worship the Lord, praising Him? Hmm. I hate to say, I'm not sure I'd be able to do that. I wonder if I'd be able to do it when I'm lying sick in bed wondering if I'm going to see the next morning. I've had A LOT of those days lately. Maybe it's time I attempted it.

Last summer my computer crashed. I thought I'd lost everything: all my books, my pictures, my videos . . . EVERYTHING! Well, I took it to the store and the computer fixer-upper guy said he recovered ALL my files! I was so thrilled that as I drove home, I was praising God. Then I thought, "God, would I praise you if things weren't going well? I should be able to do that." Well, when I got home, I checked for all my files, and all my book files were missing. He retrieved everything else, but not the books I spent hours, months and years of blood, sweat and tears writing! So . . . on the way back to the store (it was about to close, aaaack!), I recalled my earlier conversation. Could I praise God even during this time when it was possible I lost all my hard work? Well, I said the words aloud. I must say, they didn't come out as easily as when I was on my way home thinking I had everything. But I said it again, and then again, until I FELT it. That helped.

When I got to the store, my computer was packed up in a box, ready to be shipped off to the manufacturer, but the computer fixer-upper guy dug it out, and guess what! He retrieved ALL my story files. I got EVERYTHING back! Whew! Thank you, God. And . . . praise You!

He is God. As you know, I like to say: He was, He is, and He always will be.

Let's praise the Lord, even in our adversity!


I'll let you all know if I can manage this when I'm on my sick bed wondering if I'm going to make it through the night, when I'm afraid my children are going to be left without a mother, when . . . you get the picture. I'm asking God to remind me to praise Him when that time comes. sigh I think I'll pray that that time DOESN'T come. It's so miserable! But . . . IF it does . . . I will praise Him. Again, the Lord may have to remind me, e-hem, so I'll ask Him to do that! He's good at that, I noticed. He seems to prioritize spiritual matters. And I'm pretty forgetful, sigh. It's just sad when I have to ask Him to remind me to praise Him, or pray to Him. Yes, I ask Him for prayer reminders too. I don't know why, but despite prayer being the most powerful tool, I tend to use it as a last resort! So, I ask God to REMIND me to pray. And well . . . He does! So, I know He'll remind me to praise Him too. Poor Guy. He shouldn't have to send out reminders all the time! It's like a husband asking his wife to remind him to tell her he loves her! I'm pathetic. sigh

There's just something about praising God, especially during those difficult times. Right after the ground drops from under your feet, praising God puts the foundation back in place and you have something . . . Someone . . . to stand on. That's what praising God does. It's amazing really.

I love You, Lord. xxx

Monday, January 17, 2011

Loving Truth

I wrote the following in the hospital and it wouldn't let me post, so I'm posting it now. This is a subject that's been on my mind a lot lately.

I’ve had numerous talks with my children about the importance of telling the truth. How it’s much better to tell the truth and be honest about a situation even when it’s difficult. Even if it means getting punished. The punishment is temporary, but if they don’t stop lying, the lies could build up on top of each other, and the next thing they know, the lies cause them to lose friends, and ultimately, family in their adult years. I’ve explained that if they don’t learn to tell their parents the truth, they won’t learn to tell their teachers the truth, and then they won’t be honest with their boss, and ultimately they likely won’t be honest with God. I use this theory with “obedience” a lot. If they don’t learn to obey us, they won’t learn to obey those in authority, and with God as the ultimate authority, they won’t even obey Him.

I’ve explained to them that a person who doesn’t love truth can get so wrapped up in their own lies, that even they themselves begin to believe them! And it’s my understanding that God allows it to happen. In 2 Thessalonians 2: 10b, 11 and12 it emphasizes the importance of our love for truth, and if we don’t “love it,” God will send a deluding influence over us to believe a lie.  

2 Thessalonians 10b-12 says (emphasis mine), “They perish because they refused to LOVE THE TRUTH and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”

There was a time I was arguing with my husband, and we were both so adamant about our own stance that the argument turned into a near fight (not physical, just words). I don’t even remember what we were arguing about, but I remember the emotion. I couldn’t “see” his side, and I was so angry that he wasn’t “seeing mine.” In that moment, I prayed and asked God for help. That’s all I said, “Help.” Not long after that, I stopped and listened, and finally “heard” my husband, and I realized (was stunned, shocked, and dismayed to realize) that my husband was right, and I was wrong! Dare I continue to hold my ground, push my position just so I could be right and come out the victor? I couldn’t do that because while my husband might not know I realized the truth, God would. And what good would it do anyway? All it would do is create contention in my marriage. Why do that? So, I stopped arguing and choked out the words, “You’re right. I didn’t see it that way, and well . . . you’re right.” It was NOT easy to admit the truth. Again, I don’t recall the subject matter, but boy do I recall my feelings, and I did not “feel like” admitting the truth! What’s funny is, when I admitted to the truth, it totally took him by surprise, not to mention the wind out of his furious sails. At first, he didn’t even know how to react! LOL

Did you know lying is on God’s “hate list?” Twice! Can you believe, our kind, loving Father has a hate list? I couldn’t believe it when I first discovered it. And notice the wording here. It doesn’t say He hates people who lie, but instead, He hates a lying tongue. Notice how he separates the person from the behavior?

Proverbs 6:16-19 says (again, emphasis is mine), “There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a LYING TONGUE, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush to evil, a false witness who pours out LIES, and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.”

Who would have thought God hated lying so much? I know I get tempted to lie to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. You know, “little white lies.” But even those are detestable to our Lord. I remember doing that when we were first in Holland. The Dutch are very blunt, and the woman asked me out right, “Are you just saying that to spare my feelings? Because you don’t have to do that, you know. I just want the truth.” Wow. That really made me rethink those “little white lies.”

What if someone wants you to lie on their behalf? This can happen in all sorts of situations. Allow me to share one of mine. I was eighteen when my grandfather died. My dad didn’t get along with Grandpa’s wife (she wasn’t very nice, so few really “got along” with her). At the house after the funeral, my dad was arguing vehemently with Grandpa’s widow. They were both in the kitchen, and their voices carried into the living room. I was shocked that they were going at each other right after the funeral. Next thing I knew, Dad called me into the kitchen, so I set down my cup and shuffled into the eye of the storm. Gulp. I don’t remember what they were arguing about, but Dad asked me to answer a question. All eyes were on me: Dad’s, Grandpa’s widow, and the others who were standing in the kitchen trying to put out the “fires.” Well, the truth ended up not supporting Dad’s argument. I told the truth anyway, and peace settled over the house. No more arguing, no more fighting. It had come to an end and we could all go about our business of saying "goodbye" to Grandpa. 

On the way home in the car I got a verbal thrashing. How dare I not support my own father, and it’s my duty as a daughter to support him before others, etc. I said, “But it wasn’t the truth!” And suddenly, that didn’t matter, not to him, anyway. Despite his fury, I knew I’d done the right thing because all that mattered was that I was pleasing to God, and I knew God wanted the truth. What I didn’t know, and I wish I had, was the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. They claimed to have sold all their land and gave it to the church. I don’t know what Sapphira’s motives were, if lying to begin with was even her idea, but she chose to support her husband in a lie, instead of telling the truth when she was questioned by the apostles. Because of that, she died on the spot. So . . . even in circumstances when your own father, spouse, best friend, or relative wants you to lie for them, it’s not a good idea if you want to be pleasing to the Lord.

It’s not always easy to admit the truth. Painful even, especially if you know you might hurt someone else or yourself, but God expects it of us. I’d so much rather know the truth, no matter how painful, than be told a lie.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Socialized Medicine

If you don't want to read a venting session, then skip this post.

I've been sent home from the hospital with a bacterial infection in my intestines (caused by all the antibiotics they've got me on), and my blood counts are too low for them to start chemo. Doc says I tend to have a slow recovery from the chemo treatments, likely because of the MS. Speaking of, when I got this lovely infection, my MS flared up (it's normal for it to "come to life" when I get an infection of some kind), so I've been suffering from vertigo. It's just plain been awful!

Anyway, now that I have an infection, we had to buy some meds for it. GUESS how much the meds are for two weeks worth?! 1500 DOLLARS!!! My husband nearly fell over when they told him the price as we were buying it at Walgreens. The guy behind the register then said we could come back another time or forego buying the stuff. My husband's response: My wife's life depends on it, so I have no choice but to get it.

And this is America! Land of the FREE! Sorry to be sarcastic, but after living in Holland for thirteen years, I can tell you in a land with socialized medicine this NEVER would have happened. I miss being able to AFFORD treatments, not having to worry about costs of going in to the ER (something else we had to do last week), I miss being able to afford dental work, surgeries, and not having to worry AT ALL about COSTS when it came to anything health related. Yes, we had to pay, but nothing exorbitant like the other day--and that was just for the meds! We expected those kinds of costs from the hospital (that could be paid off in increments), but not from meds!

You know, people are worried about socialized medicine because it may mean they'll have to wait months to get treated. Well, I know of a man who's suffering from paralyzation in his arms and legs and has no idea what's wrong with him. GUESS how long he has to wait here in America to see a specialist about what's "ailing" him? They squeezed him in for March! He's been sick since last summer! Well, that would also NEVER happen in Holland. My son had a lump in his neck, and the docs got him in the very next day! He was fine thank goodness, but my point is, they were prompt. In fact, I was surprised at how prompt because I was so used to the slowness out here. Honestly, even the waiting room time in Holland is significantly shorter.

I know, I know. You're probably thinking, then go back to Holland. sigh Well, when it comes to medical mess, I would if I could because this country really stinks where that's concerned. It's not about the patient here. It's about how much money can be made. It's frightening, really.

Throughout this entire treatment, I've often wondered what in the world people do without insurance?! We're blessed in that we're insured! All I know is, as I go along with this treatment, this isn't the first drug company I've seen taking advantage of sick people.

Americans think they have it "so good." Guys. This is a wakeup call. After living in another country for thirteen years and moving back here, I was SHOCKED by what I came home to. I've never seen so many sick people in my entire life (and this is BEFORE I got sick)! Out of all the years in Holland, I never saw ONE person carrying around an oxygen tank. Here, I've seen so many, I can't count them. There are even commercials here selling bags to carry them! In Holland, I've never seen one commercial about the best drug to take (along with a slew of all the horrendous side-affects). And the most shocking thing of all after returning to the States was the food. Ask a European, ANY European, if they like the food here, and see what kind of answer you get.

The food in America is what I'm thinking may be killing us. The veggies are tasteless! The tomatoes here are NOT RED. I know you think they are, but they're really not! I've seen a red tomato. I've eaten red tomatoes, and they taste TEN TIMES BETTER than anything I've had out here. The food here tastes like plastic. Milk I grew up on, cheese I grew up on, veggies and fruits I grew up on (things I enjoyed as a kid), were suddenly the worst things I'd ever tasted! I've been spoiled in Europe. Spoiled with healthy vegetables, healthy fruits (you won't believe how much more flavor there is out there in just those things!), that our family still isn't satisfied with anything we can find out here. We saw fish for sale at the grocery-store. One was dyed red, yes DYED, while the more expensive and wild caught fish was naturally red. They don't have to dye their food in Europe to get it to sell. Really, that should be illegal. If that became illegal, I'm wondering just how "good" any of the food would look. E-hem!

Back to healthcare. If America wants to follow a pattern that works for socialized medicine, I suggest they follow Holland (at least the way they had it four years ago when we were still there). I wouldn't follow Great Britain. I've heard of the hospitals there, and my great aunt who stays in a nursing home in Holland (she's Scottish) doesn't even want to go back there because the care in Holland is so much better. She would rather stay in a country where she doesn't speak the language because the care is BETTER than go back home to her homeland where the care isn't nearly as good! Both places have socialized medicine. Clearly, one country is doing it "right." Just because you put a label on it and call it socialized medicine, does not mean everything is going to be better. They need to look at countries who have succeeded at it.

My best friend who lives in France had her mother get her dental work done while visiting France because it was TEN TIMES cheaper. It's sad when we as Americans have to fly out to other countries to get "fixed" because we can't afford it in our own country! I'm not saying this to complain. I'm saying this to inform. When this is all you know, then how can you know there's a better way? I've LIVED the better way for thirteen years. And I'm sad to say, it's not in America.

No, this is how it is in America. Truly! I've experienced it! We often don't bother going to the doctor because we know he'll just issue us some drug, rather than attempt to get down the the nitty gritty to find out what's really wrong. And this has been experienced not just with our doc (in fact, he tends to do more searching), but numerous other docs we end up with when our doc doesn't have room in his schedule. They're so quick to issue a drug than to really figure out what's wrong. In Holland, their last resort is passing out drugs. I often feel like we're into legalized drug-dealing here in America. sigh

Anyway, enough venting. I'm just so frustrated with everything right now. Thanks for listening.