Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Truth is, I was looking forward to heaven . . .

The following isn't easy to share, and it may not be easy to read, but I have to be honest. There’s always a lesson to be learned in life, and this was a powerful one for me.

Not sure how many read my Facebook, but there was a time I wrote: “Even if I wanted to die, you guys aren’t going to let me!” It was true. When the announcement of my cancer came out, prayer warriors sprang up from out of nowhere, and I knew I wasn’t going to have my way!

You see, when I found out I had a tumor on or near my brain, all I could think of was FINALLY I can be done with this life! I was exhausted (from already fighting MS and the many crises I had to face). My life has been hard. I know, I know. I think most of us can say that. Some of you are probably familiar with my story of wanting to die at age five after getting a beating from my dad. I couldn’t wait to grow up to get out of the abuse and start running my own life, make my own choices. But I soon came to learn that you don’t always reap what you sow (not on earth anyway; it’s all waiting for us in heaven; Hebrews 4 talks about the believer's rest).

Well, I longed for that REST.

Anyway, while I was sitting in the hospital and the doc told me that I had a good chance to “fight this thing,” my family cheered all around me (I had my mother, a couple aunts and my grandma there with me). But while they were cheering, . . .

I got ANGRY.

Heck, I was prepared to leave on a GRAND TRIP, something a million times better than going to Hawaii! I was going to HEAVEN to finally be with my Lord and Savior!

I’ve already written posts on this blog about what I think it’d be like to meet Him. But my doctor’s words made all those dreams of FREEDOM come to a screeching halt.

Now I had to FIGHT AGAIN?! I didn’t want to fight anymore! I was done FIGHTING! Please God, just let me DIE already, will ya? I was EXHAUSTED from the trials of this life.

Yes, that was my thinking. I've been fighting my entire life, and I just wanted to be DONE.

I won’t name all the trials and heartache and crises’s I’d faced up until that point. Let’s just say, MS was taking its final toll. It was the icing on the cake, so-to-speak. And considering everything I'd already been through, none of my family were surprised I "caught" MS. They say stress causes disease. Well, it's true.

At the time of my cancer announcement, I had a loving husband and four children who needed me. But I saw absolutely no value in myself. I figured, my mother-in-law would do a better job raising my kids than I would, so I could die and let her do it! And my hubby could easily remarry. Truth is, I was ready to throw in the towel.

But God had other plans.

Many of you realize my diagnosis came on the very day my first book, THE MASTER'S WALL, released. I didn’t even get to have the pleasure of fully enjoying that success, the type of success every writer dreams of experiencing. To me, it was just another disappointment that I would live with (or not) . . . story of my life. I wasn’t going to be allowed to reap what I sowed. Nothing new with me.

But . . . it was a blessing. Bittersweet, I might add. One of the greatest successes of my career was shared on a day I was told I might not have long to live. God managed to soften that blow. Interesting. Still, I was making my plans. I was going on a trip, a heavenly trip! Whooo, hooo! People on earth could enjoy my book (I’d just finished the second one), so my kids would have that part of me. I’d accomplished all my goals.

Or had I?

As the weeks of chemo went by, thoughts started penetrating my mind . . . .

Who would be able to sing to my kids the way that only their mother could? Who would prance in to Chelsea’s room in the morning (when Mom was feeling like herself and not like MS had her in its
grip), and sing to her and kiss her ALL OVER until she giggled uncontrollably? Who would teach my kids to laugh at life and their mistakes? Who would teach my son that God planned for him to grow bigger than his sisters so he can protect them, and protect those weaker than himself? Who would listen to Whitney talk without end, knowing she would need to be heard, to cover every microscopic detail, because she's a talker like her mother? Who would know to watch Kirsten closely because she's so quiet. And who would know when she got too quiet? Who would know when to reach out to her to find out what's going on and help her through it? Who would teach them the importance of loving God and keeping their faith? Who would tell them what it's like to love God as much as their mother loves Him? Who would love them as deeply as only a mother can? Yes, they have a father to do these things, but there are things only a mother can give. 

As I watch my mother-in-law (who is a WONDERFUL woman, by the way; Did you know she came all the way from Holland to help us out? She’s a HUGE blessing!), I realize she can teach my kids some wonderful things, things that I fall short in, but she can’t be to them what I can be, what only a mother can be.

Hmm . . . maybe I am of value?

Then I looked at my husband, he tells me all kinds of things about why he needs me and why he would never want to remarry if he lost me, but it wasn’t until the day he kissed me on my bald head (when he had to help me bathe), that I realized just how much this dear man DOES LOVE ME! That I, despite no longer (in my opinion, because he tells me I’m beautiful all the time) having any outside beauty, could inspire a man to feel such a deep passionate love that he would kiss me on my BALD head . . . all I know is, I broke down in tears when he did that. And he didn’t think twice about kissing me there.

After that, I kept getting more prayers, and GIFTS, TONS of gifts, even from people I didn’t know! My ENTIRE FAMILY got gifts! And I found out my writing and Christian friends were promoting my book in ways that it never would have gotten promoted had I remained healthy (or as healthy as one could be with MS). Honestly, the pouring in of help and gifts has been utterly mindboggling. None of us (including my MIL) has ever seen anything like it. Ever!

Who were these gifts and help really from?


God worked through all of you to show me His LOVE, love I so desperately needed to see, to FEEL! Why I don’t feel valuable is another story, one I won't get in to here.

Hubby keeps saying, “God must really love you! Look at everything He’s doing for you during this time!” My MIL (mother-in-law) has stood before us more than once with her mouth hanging open at the outpouring of love surrounding us and TEARS in her eyes. We’ve all shed tears over it!

It was as if God was shouting in my face, “YOU ARE LOVED!!!! YOU ARE VALUED!!!” And He’s continuing to SHOUT! He has put my book in magazines, newsletters, church announcements . . . in more places than I ever imagined it would get noticed. Not only that—SO MANY, a COUNTLESS MANY are PRAYING FOR ME. And so many of these people have never even MET ME! God has swooped in with all his prayer warriors, telling me He loves me.
“SANDI!” I hear God shouting because I tend to be deaf. “You are loved!”

One dear friend recently told me to ask what God thinks of me. Ask Him what he thinks, and listen to his still, soft voice.

He’s flooding me with His answer, bending my trunk over with His mighty wind, tossing His waves over me and pressing against me with such mighty passion, He can’t be ignored. I can no longer believe that I am unworthy.

So, on the day of my fortieth birthday, just before I blew out all those candles, I was surrounded by my giggling kids, my smiling husband, and my happy mother-in-law (this was after spending all night in the ER), and when I saw the joy on their faces to have me home, especially those of my kids and husband . . .


So, just before I blew out those candles, I made my wish, only it was a prayer to my God, and . . .

For the first time, I really asked Him to please, please LET ME LIVE.

I’m sorry to disappoint or discourage with my feelings of not wanting to be here, but even Paul wanted to be with the Lord when he knew he was still needed on this earth. I also had to be honest with all of you. It's not that I was wanting to commit suicide or anything like that. I simply saw cancer as a way out. It’s been a rough road. I wanted to escape the pain of this world. But God has shown me the blessings, has taught me how to count them, to SEE THEM. He is my TRUE FATHER.

So, now I’m fighting (again, sigh, lol), and it’s only through His strength that I’m able to do it. It’s all up to Him. I now have the WILL, but only He has the POWER. And no matter what happens in the end, whether I live or die (it's God's decision), He WAS, HE IS, and ALWAYS WILL BE my GOD, MY SAVIOR, and my LIVING LORD . . . the God and Master of ALL.

It's interesting. As tired as I was of fighting, I suddenly find . . . I have the STRENGTH.

Dear Father God, forgive me for allowing the world to wear me down. Help me to now focus on YOU, on Your light, on YOUR STRENGTH.

And please dear Lord, I beg You . . . LET ME LIVE.

***You know how I love to share songs. Well, I want to share one sung by some friends of mine. It's a song that really speaks to my heart, and it was written by Veronique Dijkstra-Hofman. Believe it or not, it's called LET ME LIVE, and it's taken from the end of Psalms 119. I really think you'll like it! They were kind enough to put it on YouTube just so I could share it with this post.

Here's the LINK to the song.

And here's the LINK to their site.

You can buy their singles even if you live in the U.S. (1 U.S. dollar = 0.7 Euros)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Prayers for my Medieval Series

I haven’t told many folks about this, but I decided to share it in the hopes that you’ll send up some prayers. My agent is sending out a proposal for a series of picture books I created that take place in medieval times. They’re called THE VILLAGE TALES.

I just wanted to ask you to pray that a publisher will take these on. It’s something I’ve had in the works for years, but I didn’t pursue it because I wanted to pick my own illustrator (see the Toy Maker's Shop illustration, by my brother-in-law, Reuben Rog: http://rrog.deviantart.com/). Anyway, publishers prefer using their own artists. Now, I’ll be happy to work with whomever they choose. All I know is, this is something I can accomplish. I’m working on Father’s Rock (Book Three in my Iron series), but it’s kind of overwhelming right now, and the publisher is being understanding about what I can and can’t accomplish at the moment. I’m working on it, but it’s good to have these short stories to give me a sense of accomplishment, and it’s something I absolutely love.

Each tale creates a part of a village, and they take place in the shops, the nearby castle, out in the village fields, and on the village streets. I’m full of ideas for this series. The stories are parables where God represents the shopkeepers, the king, or whomever is in charge at the time. I’ve completed six titles with more to come.

Here’s what I have so far:

The Toy Maker’s Shop
The Cobbler's Shop
The Potter's Shop
The Jeweler's Shop
The Lamp Maker's Shop
The Great Snowmaker

Each story ends with a one to two sentence moral like the classic tales of old.

Of course, I know the following costs money, and the publisher will have to see if the first books sell before going to this extreme, but . . . imagine each book in the shape of a shop, castle, village street, or the trees and fields. Visualize the books displayed so they resemble a village. It’s my hope people will want to collect the whole set!

A person can dream, right? :-)

Anyway, please pray that a publisher will want them. I know picture books are hard to sell, but with God, all things are possible. And I really feel like these stories will encourage, not only children, but adults as well.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

I Will Praise You in this Storm

Just need this song, right now.



Thank You, Lord.



By Sandi Rog

 NOTE: If you haven't read THE MASTER'S WALL, the following will contain spoilers!

1)    What makes young David a hero in the first chapter? What does that say about his character?

When David was taken and enslaved, was there anything that surprised you or worried you during this transition in his life? What do you think will come of little Sarah?

When David and Alethea first meet, what was your favorite part about their first encounter (if you had one)?

2)    When children are abused or faced with adult situations, it forces them to grow up faster than they should (sadly, some of us know this from experience). David and Alethea are quite young in this story. How do you think you would have responded to these situations if you were either one of them? What are your impressions of David and Alethea’s responses to what’s happened to them? What reaction(s) touched you the most?

As they become friends, what was your favorite scene displaying their friendship (please warn for spoilers)? Why?

3)    Do you think Titus teaching David how to fight is a good thing? How does David hope to use his new skills? What’s David’s greatest weakness? Do you think learning to fight can be a stumbling block to David or a benefit? How?

What are your impressions of David’s relationship with Titus. What do you think Titus wants from David?

SPOILER: Titus has to do things he doesn't want to. Are there examples of silent rebellion to those orders by showing compassion? (Tied Alethea's dad lightly, had David flogged the first time by Lucius.) Are these signs of his possible redemption?

4)    When David tries to escape, but changes his mind, how did you feel about that? Do you think he should have stayed or escaped? What would you have done/felt if you were in his situation? Are there any situations in your life now that might evoke similar emotions? How do you think God wishes you to deal with them? Who did David put above himself in his situation?

5)    What makes the setting of this book unique to other books in this time period, what makes it similar? What are some similarities you see in ancient Roman culture to our culture today? What are some of the differences of ancient Roman culture compared to our culture today?

6)    When David teaches Alethea how to pray, what touches you the most about Alethea’s private prayer? Is there anything we can learn from Alethea’s prayer life?

David and Alethea often meet in secret in the woods. What was your favorite meeting? Why? How did it touch you? (Leave a warning for spoilers.)

Sometimes Alethea’s impressions of Christianity and God are shocking. What took you the most by surprise? (Again, leave warning for spoilers.)

7)    SPOILER: How did God use Alethea’s betrayal and David’s banishment for good in the story?

Hint: What did David do for the Lord while serving in the vineyards? What did Alethea’s lie make her realize about herself?

Are there similar situations in your own life where you can see God using a bad situation for good?

8)    How does Alethea's name play a pivotal role in the book? Explore the irony.

David struggles to forgive Alethea. Why? Have you ever faced a similar struggle?

9)    When Alethea tells David she believes in his God but is not a Christian, what were your thoughts? What did you think of David’s response? What verse was David referring to? Based on this verse, do you think it’s possible to believe in God but not be saved?

In Matthew 7:15-29, it talks about how people will cast out demons and perform miracles in Jesus’ name, and in the end, Jesus will say to them, He never knew them. Just below that, we read the old familiar verses about building our house on the rock.

After reading to the end of Matthew 7, go back up to verses 15-20 where it talks about knowing others by their “fruits.” I always thought “fruits” were “good works,” but right after verse 20, it talks about amazing GOOD works for the Lord, and yet Jesus says he won’t know them, and even accuses them of practicing lawlessness! It baffled me for many years.

Then I read further down. Based on verses 24 and 26 we must “act” on Jesus’ words. My understanding of “acting on Jesus’ words” is “obedience.” Apparently, we can still be performing “good works” for Jesus but still be acting in disobedience. John 15 wraps everything up in a perfect package, explaining it ALL, and Jesus makes it very clear in verse 10. Therefore our “fruits” are our “obedience,” and NOT our “good works.” Of course, “good works” will naturally come with acting obediently.

Now for my QUESTION: Alethea believed, but what more did she need in her life?

Key verses for answers: 24 and 26 in Matt. 7 contrast these two thoughts, and John 15:10 (not to mention Christ’s repetition of this in John 14:15,21,23-24, and Christ’s own example to us in verse 31).

In the end, what did Alethea do to demonstrate her obedience?

10) Some characters in the story allude to other characters or events. Who do you think David represents? Why? How does this touch you? Who do you think Alethea represents? Why? How does this touch you?

11) What motivates Aloysius and Demetri? How does that affect their decisions and actions? (greed, power, control, property = abuse of those who stand in their way)

Being twisted inside by jealousy, Demetri learns Alethea intends to marry someone named David, and years later still burns with internal rage over that information, to the point of arranging to have David publicly killed to celebrate his wedding to Alethea. How does jealousy warp logical decision-making?

12) Demetri displays good and bad behavior for a villain. At times he gives the impression that he cares for Alethea, sparing her of her grandfather’s abuse. Do you think all “bad people” are “ALL bad” or do some have redeemable qualities? Did you see any “bad” in the main characters? If so, what? Do you think if you were in their shoes/sandals, you would have made the same mistakes? What can we learn from their mistakes? What can this teach us about the “villains” in our own lives? Do you think it would have helped if David and Alethea had prayed for Demetri? What should they have prayed for specifically?

13) David sees himself as a slave and is treated by the world like one, when all along he's really an adopted son. Have you ever not lived according to the truth of who you are?

14) What was your favorite scene or “moment” in the story? What was your emotional response to that scene? What makes this your favorite?

The opening verse in the book quotes Jesus as saying, He came to bring a sword. What was the sword in THE MASTER’S WALL?

Is that sword of persecution present today? In what ways? Family, politics?

15) There are several verses quoted throughout THE MASTER’S WALL. Did any stand out to you, touch you? Can you name a few?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Update: Donors

Sorry it's been a while since I've posted. Just too tired to write anything. But I've been doing well the last three days, so that's good!

I don't know how many of you know this, but my lovely sister, Kelli, moved out here from California to be here for me. She's my "little sister" (four years younger). That's her on the right. Isn't she pretty? Anyway, she's terrified of needles and doctors, but she submitted herself to allowing the doc to draw TWELVE viles of blood so he could test her to see if she would be a match for me.

You see, at the end of this whole chemo run, I'll have to undergo a bone marrow transplant. Well, that means I need a donor. But, after watching her undergo the blood-draw, I said, "There's no way you're gonna be able to do this!" and the nurses agreed! LOL Anyway, not long after that, I started having nightmares about her having a heart attack if she were a match, sigh! She said she'd do it no matter what. She felt it was the least she could do if it meant saving my life. And she would have, but it turns out . . .

she isn't a match.

Thank you for trying, Kelli Belly. xxx

When I learned that Kelli wasn't a match, I was then told that they had actually found THREE people in the world who DO match me a full ten out of ten!

These three donors have already come forward to have their blood tested, and the docs say they'll most likely follow through with the donation because when they go that far, they usually go all the way. These are all young, healthy men (21, 26 and 26). Two are from Europe and the youngest one is from the US. I asked if it would cause "problems" getting bone marrow from a man since I'm a woman (don't want any hair growing where it doesn't belong; although, I don't think I can complain about having too much hair right now). The doc said a male donor was actually better then a female donor. Apparently, if a woman just happened to be pregnant (even for a few weeks and lost the baby), it can cause problems because they had another human being inside of them. Interesting, huh?

All I know is when I found out that they found THREE donors, I wept for thirty minutes nonstop. I didn't realize how much I was stressed about this. I just bawled like a baby, thanking God for such GOOD NEWS (Lord knows, I needed it!), and full of relief that there are people out there who are generous enough to do this for someone, for a perfect stranger! I never knew people like this existed. It touches me deeply and makes me want to cry all over again.

Thank You God! Thank You for these people! xxx