Monday, December 27, 2010

Delighting in Interruptions

I have to say that I do not do well with interruptions...especially when those interruptions immobilize you from the errands you have to do to keep your household running.  Grocery shopping, post office, bank, Target, etc...  Our car battery died and my husband had to take my car to work.  So I called AAA to ensure that the problem would be solved, and I would be back in business. 

A tired alternator was the culprit, and the man from AAA said that he knew a good mechanic that he could refer us to.  I thanked him and said that my brother is a Black hawk helicopter mechanic and does all of our repairs.  He said that his brother was an Apache crew chief before he retired from the military.  He mentioned that he was in the military as well and that he retired when he was injured after having been shot off of a Hummer in Iraq. 

Instantly, I had a platform to ask him about his thoughts on God.  He said that God would not be interested in someone like him and went back to talking about my car.  "David was a man after God's own heart, and was a soldier who was praised for killing his ten thousands,"  I said to him.  I told him it would be easy to receive Christ into his heart.  And with conviction in his voice he said that God would not accept someone like him.  I continued to press him, and he finally told me why...

During his deployment in Iraq, he was forced to choose between taking the life of an 8 year old girl who was armed with a mortar, or losing his own life.  

"Only Christ could remove the guilt that you feel," I told him, and reassured him of Christ's love for him.  I gave him the address of our church and let him know that he could always find an open door and a listening ear.  I said goodbye to him and with a heavy heart, went back to my day.  Having a car that wouldn't start was not much of an interruption after all. 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Shopping - Part 2

I did it again!  I shared at the cash register, but this experience was completely different than the previous.  I was in Office Depot buying paper and I was in line with one person ahead and two people behind.  The man at the register casually joked with the man ahead of me about being careful with the product he was buying or he could end up electrocuted.  I made a comment about not fearing death because I am pretty confident about where I am going.  The cashier chimed in with a scripture, the man ahead of me agreed and the woman behind me also made a comment indicating that she was a believer. 

On the way out of the store, the gentleman who was ahead of me admitted to having a desire to know Christ deeper.  I encouraged him to take the time to spend reading the bible more regularly and assured him that the Lord will surely give him more of a passion.  Then we prayed and parted ways.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Dreaded News

I have often wondered what this day would be like.  I've feared and I've fretted and could never predict the painful ache that would resonate in my heart.  My father's doctor emailed me.  He is on vacation and will not be in the office until the 27th.  Judging from the results of the blood tests that were taken today, he suspects that my father's leukemia is back. 

It is perplexing, but the feeling that I am exhibiting is not fear, like I have felt since learning about his diagnosis,  but peace...

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus...Philippians 4:6-7
This peace in my heart is evidence of a God that loves me and is concerned with the details of my life.  It is evidence that there is a God and His word is true.
I know this means that my time with my father is short.  We have had a year since he first went to the doctor and received the diagnosis, and it has been such a blessed time spent with him. 
Pray for me, that I will continue to have this peace, and that I will be able to delight in these moments that I have with my Daddy. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Holiday Shopping

In my effort to bring up the topic of Jesus Christ with those that I interact with on my shopping excursions, I tend to feel that my conversation gets a little forced.  After all, the entire transaction does not take more than 5 minutes.  An extremely service-oriented, Leonard, helped me in the express checkout this evening.  We started talking about the extended holiday hours, which led to what his holiday traditions are, which led to me asking him if he will be going to church this year.  He quickly answered that he was agnostic.  He also told me that as a child he attended Christian church with his aunt.  And just before I could ask the next question, another customer came behind me and it was time for me to take my bag and head out to my car.

Oh, but I would have loved to ask him about his experience as a child and what may have led to his discontinuance of seeking the Lord.  I would have loved to tell him that Jesus loves him, even though he is not searching and remind him of those everlasting arms that he could always run into.  Lord, I pray that Leonard would think deep into his past and remember those times of church.  I pray that those seeds planted by his aunt may continue to be tended by others.   

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Oversized Glasses, Outlandish Hairstyles and Back-up Dancers

I put so much garlic in my dinner last night that it is oozing from my body this morning.  I guess I was trying a little too hard while making dinner for my friend who I have know since the eighth grade.  We were laughing so hard as we recounted memories of ourselves with over sized glasses and outlandish hairstyles.  We caught up on all our friends and family.  Who she still sees, who I still see, what our siblings are up to... 

Ever since I could remember, her brother and sister were constantly being whisked away to dance class.  It paid off for her brother, as he has gone on tour after tour as a back-up dancer.  He has danced with Brittany Spears, Aaron Carter, and several other popstars.  His latest tour is with a Latin pop artist who has been touring all over the United States. 

Stacey's brother is on the far left.

Over the last few months, Stacey has felt the Lord prompting her to have a talk with her brother about his lifestyle and his need for Jesus.  After waking from a terrible dream about him, she wrote him a heartfelt letter that was definitely guided by the Lord.  To her surprise, he was responsive and will be coming to church with her this Wednesday night. 

After hearing Stacey's story, it made me think that the Lord wants to use us in the lives of those we know and love in a mighty way.  If we are open and receptive to his prompting, He could be moving us that way as well.  My prayer for him is that he would see something that attracts him to seek Christ and that it would leave him unsettled as he returns to finish out the tour.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thank You Kind Stranger

I was in a bind tonight as I was out running errands and am humbled to say that I had to ask a favor of a stranger.  My gas light was on and I was mortified to find that I had left my purse at my previous destination.  No wallet, no cell phone, there was no way I was going to make it anywhere to get help from someone I knew.  I was going to have to ask for help. 

Pulling into the station, there was no one around.  I reluctantly went to the man behind that counter and told him my dilemma.  Without hesitation, he grabbed his wallet and instantly punched in $5 into the credit card machine.  There are still kind people in this world that often seems cold and scary and uncaring.

I wanted to give him something back for his kindness...some token of my appreciation...and all I could think about was Peter when he spoke to the man that was crippled.  "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you:  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."  And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength...Acts 3:6-7. 

I had no money that night, but I wanted to give him Jesus.  And that's what I did, I took that moment and shared with him the love of Christ and how he wants to take us from our crippled state (emotional, physical, financial...) and give us strength.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Outreach

There is nothing like going out to bless others and being more blessed in return.  Our church held it's second annual Thanksgiving outreach to the community on Thursday.  Turkeys, sides and love were all donated to the church and served to our neighbors from 9am-1pm.  My husband and I were privileged to have had the opportunity to be part of this event. 

PB252892The best part was not the feelings we received from being able to extend generosity to those less fortunate, but looking forward to meeting those in the future who will become part of our fellowship because they were touched by events such a these. 

Pray for those who came out to the event, that they will not be able to forget the love they felt from so many who gave from their time and resources to reach out to others.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Something Different About You

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.  2 Corinthians 2:15
My husband is a salesperson by trade but a baker at heart.  He has been often asked to make cakes for baby showers and birthdays.  On Sunday, he was asked to make 200 cupcakes for the wedding of some good friends of ours.  We arrived at the hall three hours ahead of time to set up the table and were welcomed by the owners of the Crystal Marque Ballroom, a family owned establishment.  And when I say "family owned", I mean it, as family members were all around us setting up for the evenings events. 

As we began setting up the table, the owner's mother, came up and asked us what company we were from.  Piedad was surprised when she heard that we were not from a business at all and that we were friends of the bride and groom.  As the day progressed, she continued to make several excuses to come and speak with us.  Finally, she said, "I see something different in you.  What is it about you?"

Now, honestly speaking, there is really no difference between me and anyone else.  I often fall short of the things I need to do in the daily occurrences of life and am constantly struggling through relationships with those I love the most.  The difference that Piedad saw in me, was Jesus.  The attraction she saw in me was the fragrance that Christ was diffusing in that place.  She listened to my testimony and marveled at the transforming power of Christ in my life.

Pray for Piedad to seek Christ for herself and to become that difference she saw in me.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Busting at the Seams!

Have you ever planned an event and had it go even better than what you had ever hoped for?  As I reflect upon the events of this evening, my heart is just filled with thankfulness to God.  More than filled, I think my heart is busting at the seams!  We celebrated my father's birthday with an intimate group of family and friends.  I wanted my father to be showered with love, so I had a couple of ideas up my sleeve.  I asked my nieces, nephews and my kids, who range from ages 2-14, to write a little something about why they love their Papa.  Also, with the help of a wonderful friend, I put together a slide show of pictures ranging from his teenager years to the present. 

The kids were nervous, not quite understanding what I was asking them to do.  They panicked when they finally gathered that they were going to be speaking in front of all the adults at the party.  I pulled them all together and had them practice what they were going to say out loud.  I then reminded them about what the bible says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."  We prayed together and then went back out to the party. 

The kids did really great.  It was so touching to hear each of them talk about their love for their Papa.  It was also fun to look at all the memories of our time together over the last several years with my family.  Then a good friend of my parents went up and shared a scripture with my father that the Lord had put on her heart.  It was precious to hear the encouragement that came from one who loves my family and loves the Lord.  Best of all, was that we were able to recognize someone that means so much to us on this special occasion.  Too often I am deluged with my own cares and concerns, and I don't take the time to look around at those around me that do so much for me.  This is a memory that I will treasure in my heart.

Some of the friends and family that were in attendance do not know the Lord.  My prayer is that through the love showered upon my father, they would see Christ for themselves.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Smell of Freshly Cut Wood

I love the smell of freshly cut wood.  I suppose it's like those of you who like random odors, like gasoline, nail polish, etc.  I get my opportunity to smell wood when I go to the lumber department of Lowes.  This Saturday and Sunday we had our second annual Christmas Boutique at our church before and after our Womens Christmas Brunch.  So I headed off to Lowes to pick up some wood and bricks to prepare some crafts to sell at the boutique.

I imagine I must not be like their average customer.   I'm always looking at the wood, examining it to see which piece has the least blemishes.  Then when it comes to cutting the wood, I am always asking them to cut it up for me at just the right measurements.  What a high maintenance customer. 

Well at the end of my last visit, just as I heard the two employees talking about taking a break, I just asked them about their thoughts on Jesus Christ.  In each of my conversations I tend to find some kind of common ground, carefully bringing up topics that may spark something.  But this time I just threw it out there.  Both of them seemed open about listening to the conversation, and when I asked them if they would like to have an assurance of salvation, the younger of the two said he would.

Please keep Robert and Eric in your prayers.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Where's the Beef?

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Phil. 4:19
We have all done it one time or another.  We overspend in one area and we suffer the consequences in another.  For my family, it was a vacation.  It had been four years since we had visited my husband's family two states away, and being the loving, generous man that he is,we insisted on picking up the tab several times during the week.  Needless to say, it left for some creative grocery shopping for me now that we are back.
I hit the grocery store, carefully planning how I would fit all the items I needed into the small budget.  At the checkout of the first store, I could hardly suppress the apprehension that was coming over me as I saw how little was left to buy meat.  As I was thinking about what store I would go to next, the cashier to told me about a woman who had purchased $145 worth of meat for $35.  She insisted on looking after my cart while I went back to the meat section.  Apparently the meat department had overstocked and they needed to clear the meat before the dates stamped on the packages.  I came home with 12 packages of ground turkey, 6 whole chickens and 4 top sirloin steaks...all under $20!

The man in the meat department explained the sale as a fluke.  I explained the sale as a divine oversight.  This afforded me the opporutunity to share about Christ's love and His provision for us with him.  Weeks ago, when meat orders were being placed the Lord knew that this day would come and He knew the needs that my family would have.  "Wouldn't you like to get to know this God who loves you and is concerned about your every need?"  I asked him.  Then I encouraged him to know Christ through taking time to read a chapter a day in the book of John.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Strength to do ALL Things

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"  Philippians 4:13
There are times when a supernatural dose of strength is needed.  Day to day, it manifests itself in different forms.  Sometimes it is the strength to step into the bathroom and scrub all the shower tiles...other times it's the strength to face one of your greatest fears.  This year I have come head-to-head with a towering giant, the health of a parent, and today I have found myself in considerable weakness.  In these times of frailty, God is accessible.  The pages of the bible offer comfort and His Spirit gives me the peace I need to stand firm upon the hope only He can give.

But what about those who don't have this strength?  Where do they go when their world is falling apart?  "When my heart is overwhelmed; lead me to the Rock that is higher than I" Psalm 60:2.  These are the times I realize what a blessing it is that I know Christ, personally, and the fire is fueled in me to lead others to the Rock that is higher than I.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Delighting in Carne Asada

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!  Psalm 133:1
Until my brother went to Iraq and my father was diagnosed with cancer, I don't think I truly realized what a gift I have in my family.  I guess I would liken it to breaking a limb.  You are grateful for all your body parts, but you don't fully come to appreciate them until one becomes incapacitated.  Then you come to the realization of how blessed you are when all the parts are functioning normally.  When the possibility came up that I could lose one of my family members, my mind flashed back to all the family gatherings we had shared together; Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter...  Did I spend the time loving and sharing with my family, or was I concerned about petty things?

Last night we had a BBQ at my brother's house.  There was no particular reason for us to get together, but we were all there.  My husband, children, mother, siblings and their spouses, nieces and nephews.  It was pure bliss, listening the the noise of steady conversation, laughter, children shouting, little feet running back and forth.  Appreciating the qualities that each person contributes to the dynamics of our family.  My brother's humor, my sister's love for children, my mom's constant nurturing, my brother-in-law's servanthood....

I want to teach my children to appreciate family.  Not only to be thankful for one another but to truly know what a blessing it is to be a part of a whole.  Today I need the ablilty to reflect a heart of appreciation in my home that transcends the ordinary.

Monday, August 30, 2010

4th Prayer Request

Hello Everyone,
When we stand before our Lord one day, and "no longer see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face", I believe we will be in awe at the detail in which He weaves our lives together with one another.  Day to day, it is easy to overlook, but in extraordinary circumstances it becomes more visible.  There is a family that has been unconventionally woven together with us.  The parallels are uncanny.  He is the same age as my father, their kids have same ethnic mixture as us kids, they have three children: two daughters and a son. His wife  is even my mother's height if you can believe that! 
He also has Acute Myeloid Leukemia and left the hospital one week before my father did following the same course of intense chemotherapy.  They were both in remission, however, due to the aggressiveness of AML, were still given months to a year of life unless given a bone marrow transplant
Two weeks ago we found out that his cancer relapsed.  A week and a half ago he contracted a cold and this week his lungs filled with liquid.  Within the last couple of days, they put him on life support and last night the family made the difficult decision to take him off.  His daughter called me this morning to ask for prayer.  They are praying for a miracle or for rest for their father.  I would also like to add assurance of salvation for him.  Please join us as we pray for this family.  His wife and their children are solid believers and have been a tremendous support as we have sought out empathy in this trial with one another.
Thank you for your continued support and prayer for my family as well.
So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom...Psalm 90:12

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

3rd Prayer Request

Hello Family and Friends,
Thank you so much for continuing to ask about and pray for my parents.  My father looks so great these days as his coloring is back and he has gained back the weight that he lost.  He tells me that he is enjoying every day.  My mother also continues to stand upon the encouragment and comfort of God's word and is a strong anchor for my father and for the rest of the family.  
His oncologist let us know a few weeks back that his leukemia is in remission, meaning that his bone marrow biopsy shows less than 5% of his cells containing cancer.  However, he also told us that a study of the chromosomes of the infected cells show that this form of leukemia is aggressive and, although it responds well to chemotherapy, will typically return within weeks to months of being in a state of remission.  Thus, the doctor continues to give my father months to live but no less than a year without a bone marrow transplant.  
In the meantime, a patient with this acute leukemia awaiting a transplant would normally go through another round of the aggressive chemo where they are hospitalized and quarantined for a duration of about 3-4 weeks.  The doctor does not believe my father would survive another intense chemo so he has started him on a less intense, 5 day outpatient chemo which started on Monday.  He says that it may or may not keep his cancer in remission, but will keep in on this 5 day treatment every 28 days.  
As I learn more about the bone marrow transplant, I am facinated at how much has changed over the last several years.  To become a bone marrow donor is much simpler of a process than what I thought it was.  Stem cells can now be collected through a process similar to donating blood.  On the other hand, receiving a bone marrow transplant is much more of a dangerous procedure than I had ever imagined.  Statistics show that 1 in 3 people (of all ages) will die from the bone marrow transplant itself.  
With all that said, you can imagine how much there is to pray for.  We are praying that the Lord will continue to keep the Leukemia in remission despite the fact that my father is receiving a less intense form of chemo.  We are also asking that the Lord will lead and guide my father as he decides whether or not he should even get the transplant.  That the Lord would open and close the doors and opportunities for the transplant if it is not in His will.  We are still believing that the Lord has the power to heal my father despite the circumstances but continue to ask for the grace to accept His perfect will.  Most of all that the Lord will be glorified through this trial in our lives!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

2nd Request For Prayer

Hello Everyone,
Thank you so much for all of your prayers.  The last three weeks have been very eventful for all of us.  My father was diagnosed on Wed. Dec. 30th and decided to go home for the holiday.  His two sisters came into town on that Friday and we all spent the weekend together.  At times, if we didn't think about our circumstances too much, it was almost as if we were just spending time together for Christmas.  It was wonderful.
My father returned to the hospital on Tues., Jan. 4 and by Thurs., he started his chemotherapy treatment.  The treatment consisted of 7 days of a continuous drip of chemo through an IV.  The doctor told us to expect his white blood cell count, red blood cells, and platelets to decrease drastically after the 7 days.  At this point, his body will be unable to fight any kind of sickness or infection until his body begins regenerating.  This is considered the riskiest point of his treatment. 
Today marks the 9th day after the chemo has ended and he is having a number of complications.  He has an obstruction in his intestines which is keeping him from passing fluid or gas.  As a result, he is being fed intraveneously, which also causes difficulties.  Please pray for his body that the obstruction will be worked out on it's own and for the tremendous pressure his body is going through from all of the treatment. He has been battling high blood sugar levels, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, bloating...daily it seems like something new.  Also pray for his white blood cell count to begin to grow as there is not much the doctors can do until that number increases.
Despite all of the discomforts, my father is still desiring to get through this.  My mother has been living at the hospital with him and does not plan to leave his side.  They are both clinging to the Lord and looking to Him for daily sustenance, physically, spiritually and emotionally.  My mother tells me of how together they read the bible daily.  I am humbled and blessed at my father's courage to fight this battle against cancer and my mother's unwavering devotion and care for her husband.  In the face of this tremendous trial in our lives, I must say that the Lord is proving Himself mighty. 

Saturday, January 2, 2010

First Urgent Request

Hello Everyone,
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and New Years with your families.  We certainly did as my brother is home safely from Iraq and we all managed to be together at the same time to celebrate.  I thank the Lord for such a blessed memory. 
In the last couple of days things have happened so quickly that I have not had the chance to call or ask for prayer sooner.  My father has had several small health issues that hadn't resolved themselves quickly enough in the last few months.  After one final visit with another complaint of a lingering cough he was given a blood test that indicated that he needed a blood transfusion.  He was admitted into the hospital on Tuesday and underwent more tests.  By Wednesday night, the doctor diagnosed him with Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  It is a rare form of Leukemia that causes a rapid growth of abnormal blood cells and interferes with the production of red blood cells, platelets and white blood cells.  On Tuesday his platelet count was 50,000 and on Wednesday it was 29,000.  A healthy adult has between 450,000-150,000.  The oncologist's prognosis is that he will have 3-4 weeks to live without treatment and has given him three options that may or may not increase his life taking into consideration his age. 
We know that the Lord is the one in control of my father's life and that the doctor's prognosis may or may not coincide with the plan that the Lord has for him.  My mother has such an incredible perspective with the understanding that the Lord has blessed her with 34 years with my father, but if he wants to keep him around a little longer she would be so appreciative.  Nonetheless, it is still difficult for each one of us to deal with such unanticipated news.  My father jokes about his condition now and then but is very disappointed and fearful.  He was discharged from the hospital on Wednesday night for the holiday weekend and we went to have sushi as is the great Iwasaki tradition when any big news comes our way.  My aunts have come in from out of town to be with us and we have been getting together everyday to enjoy one another. 
My prayer request comes in five parts:
1.  That we will be able to hear the Lord's voice as we call out to Him for guidance as to which option would be the best for my father.  We will all be coming together as a family to discuss his options and he will be seeing the doctor on Tuesday.
2.  For physical strength and endurance for my father if he undergoes treatment.  Our hope would be that his cancer would go into remission and that his sister would be a bone marrow match for a transplant. 
3.  My father has prayed to accept the Lord into his heart many years ago, but it is unclear if he has an assurance of his eternal destination.  Please pray that in the next few weeks he will have that assurance. 
4.  That his two sisters who are visiting with us will also give their lives to Christ.  May our witness to them be powerful and effective. 
5.  For each of us to have the hope to believe that the Lord can make a miracle happen, but the grace to accept whatever the Lord's will may be. 
My aunt was asking me how I am dealing with the news, and it was wonderful to tell her that I know I have the spiritual support of all of those who belong to the body of Christ.  I too am fearful of what the future my hold for my family, but those fears quickly dissipate as I remember the power of Christ's love and comfort and the great cloud of witnesses that surround us.  Thank you for joining together in prayer with us.