Flip-flopping into Seventy

Since I was born in 1945, this was the year I was scheduled to turn 70. For many weeks leading up to August 8, though, I was dreading it.

Seventy! Threescore and ten. According to the Bible, once you reach that age even your best days are full of sorrow. “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow.” (Psalm 90:10)

None of that sounded good, and I didn’t feel like celebrating. But with daughter Linnea and her family of six staying with me, how could I disappoint the children? “You know how important birthdays are to kids,” she said. So I decided to swallow my worries and go with the flow.

Bday party number oneLinnea and Louisa put together a lively family celebration that included streamers, glitter, balloons, spaghetti with all the trimmings, made-from-scratch cakes, gifts, and 29 relatives. The house was rockin’ with joy and gladness, and the 15 kids on hand weren’t the only ones who had fun. I did, too.

The next morning my three daughters had a much smaller celebration in mind – brunch for just the four of us. But before we left, Klaus came by and gave me a gift I’d been hoping for: a birthday motorcycle ride. A birthday wish“I’ll take you to the restaurant, Mom,” he said, and off we went.

The girls followed by car, but that was the end of what I thought was planned.



When we walked into the restaurant, 20-plus friends came out of hiding singing “Happy Birthday” in three part harmony!

Dumbfounded...Sister Mary (who is still feeling great, by the way) and friend Mary Jo had put together this beautiful event, robbing their own yards of hydrangeas and also giving each guest a flower to wear.



Bday......Knowing of my love for summertime, Mary had instructed each person to bring a pair of flip-flops, which even included flip-flop earrings and flip-flop cookies!

But there was more….

Linnea shared memories of being raised in our family, touching my heartstrings in deeply emotional ways. Bday,,,,,Her loving words warm me still. I know it wasn’t easy for her, especially when talking about her father, but she did a wonderful job and blessed us all in the process.


And then, dear blog readers, came the grand finale. YOUR gift!

Mary had collaborated with several others to notify you of my birthday. And the giant box in my living room today is overflowing with your greeting cards, some I haven’t even opened yet! Feeling overwhelmed with your kindness, all I can do is express a huge “THANK YOU” to each of you in these words, hoping you feel my intense gratitude!

THE BOXThese cards will re-gift themselves as I go through them slowly for the second time during this year-of-70. And in trying to bless-you-back, I plan to use the words you wrote to me, to pray blessing back over you.

Now, as I look back at turning 70, I can see God in a fresh way. Isn’t it just like him to take an event I was dreading and flip-flop it, transforming it into a day of joy?

IMG_5729And I hope my “happy feet” will help me remember that for next time!

“God, who is enthroned from of old, does not change.” (Psalm 55:19)

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. ]