Mary: Good News, Bad News

Today was a day of waiting. Mary, with her husband Bervin and their firstborn, Luke, moved from one clinical waiting room to another for blood tests, scan prep, and then the full body scan itself. It was tempting to lose patience, but Mary testified to a heart and mind overflowing with peace through those many long hours. This, she believes, was the result of the prayers of people like you, Blog Reader. And Mary wants you to know she is filled with gratitude tonight!

First, the results of last November’s scan: a ¾” tumor in Mary’s liver, nodules in one lung, and lymph nodes in her abdomen that were also cancerous. Today’s results, nearly 7 months later, are these:

The lung nodules and lymph nodes are virtually unchanged. This was good news! But the liver tumor has grown to almost 2 inches. As Mary put it, “That’s not such good news.”

Even so, there are things to be thankful for. Mary’s doctor told them that the slow-growing nature of her cancer is not typical in pancreatic patients. That’s one more item in the “good” column. And another: all of Mary’s blood tests today came back normal! For example, though she has always leaned toward anemia, today’s hemoglobin count was up in normal range.

But the best news of all today (the #1 “good”) is that God is in the process of working all these things, both the good and the bad, together for good in Mary’s life and even in the lives of all those who love her. We may not be able to see the details yet, but we believe the promise because it was made by a trustworthy Person.

Over the course of many hours of waiting today, Mary said she was reminded of our Mom when she went through a painful medical procedure years ago. She began quietly singing a favorite old hymn, and as she did, she was able to disassociate from the misery of the moment and be transported to “things above:”

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.”

MEPMary also mentioned being encouraged by the many word pictures of Psalm 91: the shelter of the Most High; the shadow of the Almighty; God as her Refuge and Fortress; being covered by His feathers; being protected under His wings; knowing angels were standing guard.

When all was said and done, her summary of the day was a good one: “I’ve decided just to be thankful for the good and trust God with the bad.”

“You [Lord] will keep [her] in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because [she] trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

Update on Mary

Living lifeGreetings to all you blog readers!

My last word to you about Mary’s pancreatic cancer was, “No news is good news.” Until something changed, she thought it best not to continue posting about her. I want to assure you tonight that this is still true: nothing about the way she feels has changed. She says she’s fine; she looks good; and she’s got plenty of energy! Actually, she amazes the rest of us with the busy schedule she keeps, outdoing even her youthful, healthy past!

But this coming Tuesday, June 9, will be an important day for Mary. She has decided to have a full body scan (along with blood work), at the recommendation of her doctor. It’s been 6 months since her last scan, which showed cancer in three places. And so, as is her pattern, she’s asking you to pray.

Mary wants whatever the Lord decides is best for her. If she learns the cancer has spread, she says she’ll be ok with that, though of course it would be a disappointment. If the cancer has stayed the same, that will be wonderful news. And if by God’s doing her cancer has lessened or even disappeared, all of us will be singing, “Hallelujah!” But as Mary says, we ought to be singing hallelujah every day.

Today she reminded me of one of her favorite acronyms: Acronym

So, in whatever way God leads on Tuesday, Mary intends to follow. In the mean time, she mentioned these three prayer requests:

  1. Pray for an absence of worry and a good night’s sleep on Monday.
  2. Pray for a spirit of acceptance for whatever is discovered on Tuesday.
  3. Pray that she will be a good example to others of someone who lives by faith in Jesus Christ.

“The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

[ We will share Mary’s news on Wednesday’s blog post. ]


A Blog Hiatus

In 2005, my sister Mary and I began talking about writing a book together. Our children were mostly grown, some married with children themselves. They were asking for advice, and we wondered if sharing our mothering experiences might make a helpful book. It wouldn’t be a compilation of quotes from experts or the experiences of other moms but simply what worked and what didn’t in raising our 14 kids.

17 cousins

(17 first cousins: Mary’s 7 — my 7 — our brother Tom’s 3)

After months of discussion, our first official meeting finally took place on September 27, 2006, during which we spent time praying over our book idea and recording names of women who might pray along with us. We created a statement of purpose and began making notes.

But life got in the way. My family moved from our home of 29 years to a much smaller place and had to focus on eliminating and concentrating. Shortly thereafter, Nate got sick, and in a whirlwind of upheaval and grief, he passed away.

While we were still reeling, Mary and Bervin’s home of 40 years sold, and they too were eliminating and concentrating to make a move. Then shortly after that, Mary learned of her pancreatic cancer and began treatment with major surgery and 6 months of chemo. During these same years, the two of us greeted 19 new grandchildren and 6 new in-law children. Our book was firmly stuck on the back  burner.

But now, 10 years after our first book-discussion, God suddenly began giving me a repeated prompt: “How about that book on mothering?”

PrayersSince my book of prayers for widows is in its final editing stage, I began praying extensively about resurrecting Mary’s and my book. “Lord, should we really try to do it?” But as always, he was way ahead of me and was all set with his answer.

Two weeks ago, I was listening to a sermon while readying for the day, glancing at my open Bible now and then. When the preacher referenced Proverbs 4:23, I turned there and found brackets and a star at that exact verse. I’d also written a note there, 8 years ago:

“Whatever my assignment from God, I must focus intently on it and do it without distractions, gazed fixed, looking directly ahead. 11/07 (Mary’s and my book).”

Bible marginI’ve often wished that after I’ve prayed about something, God would just send me a letter with his answer. This was pretty close!

What were the odds I’d hear that particular sermon referencing that particular verse after that particular week of prayer about the book? What were the chances I’d have even chosen that particular Bible to use that day, of the many I own? No other Bible had that particular note in it.

Immediately I thought about the Lord watching me write in that margin in 2007 while knowing he was going to impact me with it in 2015. Only God…

And so I stepped into his directive, “gazed fixed on the book,” and talked to Mary. These days she is feeling tip-top, another fact that defies all odds. But with God, who believes in odds? She shared my excitement about revisiting our book and was all for walking through the door God had re-opened.

So… as we move forward “looking directly ahead,” I will be the writer; Mary will be the organizer, fact-checker, side-bar creator, and brains behind the words. In order to find new writing time, though, I’ll need to dial-back on blog posts for a while. Though I may blog occasionally, it will no longer be 5 posts a week.

This decision was a difficult one, since I feel attached to you readers and look forward to blogging each day. But I’ll continue to pray for you, and you’ll be on my mind daily. Also, I promise that if anything changes with Mary’s health, I will immediately resume regular blogging. Meanwhile, concerning Mary, you can assume that NO news will always be GOOD news!

As for our book? Stay tuned….

“Show me your ways, Lord…. Guide me in your truth and teach me….” (Psalm 25:4,5)