Monthly Archives: October 2013

A Big Fish



“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.”  Mark 1:17

The year was 1973.   My husband had been pastor of a small church in western Montana for two years when he resigned to accept a call in Minnesota.   We were at his going away party.   Many people stood up and shared how the Lord had used Pastor Howard for good in their lives.  Afterward a fellow pastor’s wife who had been invited to the party, walked up to my husband and said, “You caught a big fish here, Howard.  A Big Fish.”

Howard has been at home in northwestern Wisconsin this fall of 2013, fighting lymphoma and wishing he could go to the school where he volunteered as a book buddy before he became ill.   As he sorted through the third wave of home made get well cards, letters, and art work from the children at the school, I said, “You caught a big fish here, Howard.  A Big Fish.”

I am thankful to be married to a man who has kept “fishing for men”  in all the circumstances and seasons of his life, even in this season of doing battle with cancer.   I believe he will have another big catch, maybe even a bigger catch, in these dark and troubled waters.

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Autumn Rains and Prayer

Anne Lamont has said that there are only 3 kinds of prayer:  Wow, Thank You and Help.  There are seasons in my life when I am unable to pray with clarity of thought or length of time.   This current season of having my husband Howard engaged in a battle with cancer is one of those seasons.  I am distracted and unable to focus on anything but the urgent.  I find my prayers are mostly help and thank you.

Howard wanted the leaves removed before it rained last evening.  Yesterday’s prayers were: “Lord, help me get these leaves blown off the lawn before it rains,” and “Thanks for all my husband used to do, Father God.  I always appreciated him, I think, but this is a whole new level of gratitude.”

The rain is pouring down this morning.   I am saying. ” Wow! Thanks for helping me do the leaves before the rains came and thanks for saving me the work of having to water all my plants before winter sets in. ”

Perhaps the most profound prayers, the most effective prayers are these simple prayers voiced in humble faith when I am at the end of myself and desperate for help from the Father in Heaven.

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Heaven, Our True Home


The veil between the visible and the invisible is thin.   For my husband Howard the veil is even more thin as he fights cancer.  He peers through the veil into heaven.

One morning I awakened early to find my husband pouring over his systematic theology textbooks.  He was studying heaven.  Later he told that the most distinctive aspect of heaven is that it is the place where Jesus will be seen and known face to face.   “Peter Kreft, the catholic professor of philosophy wrote a book  titled: Heaven: the Heart’s Deepest Longing.  It is true, my deepest longing is for heaven,” said my husband as he shared more of his thoughts with me.

More than streets of gold or foundations of precious stones, the wonder of heaven is Jesus himself.  More than being the place where sadness and tears are long forgotten, it is the place Jesus designed to share with us.

” “in C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle, the heroes have been transported from Narnia to Aslan’s land.  Aslan’s land is to Narnia what heaven is to earth.  But what soon strikes the characters is how much like Narnia Aslan’s land is – and yet somehow different. They can see all the old familiar landmarks, mountains, rivers, and towns.  But in Aslan’s land these features of Narnia can only be described as “more like the real thing.”  In fact the traveler’s conclude that Aslan’s land is the real Narnia.  The old Narnia was “only a shadow or copy of the real Narnia, which has always been here and always will be here.”   In his excitement, one of them speaks for them all when he says, ” I have come home at last!  This is my real country!  I belong here.  This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it now. The reason we loved the old  Narnia is because it looked like this.” ”  *

For now Howard’s home is here with me.  Someday he will go to his real home, the one in Heaven that Jesus has made for him.

*  Ben Patterson from his introduction to the book of Hebrews in the Prayer Devotional Bible

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The Beauty of Dark Days


On cloudy days the autumn colors are more vibrant, more intense.  Like the cloudy days, the back drop of a journey with cancer makes the Scriptures richer, deeper, and even more meaningful for my husband Howard.  As he copes with the weakness and fatigue of chemotherapy, he has a whole new appreciation for Philippines 4: 13 and 19.   ” I can do everything through him who gives me strength…And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

I feel sad that my husband has to suffer.   As his caregiver, I feel anxious.   The back drop of these emotions makes the promises of my Lord more dear and more beautiful.   I share my sadness with The Father, knowing he said,  “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.” (Isaiah 66:13)   I take courage as I remember his words, “Don not be afraid, for I am with you…” (Isaiah43:5)

Father, Thank You for the cloudy days, the dark seasons in life.  Thank you for the way they highlight the colors, the spectrum of your beauty and the beauty of your marvelous words to us.

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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

Hope.  My husband and I need to hope as he battles cancer.  This verse helps us know how to keep the hope flowing.

Trust.  We need to trust.   Joy and peace are gifts God fills us with as we trust in Him.   Hope overflows out of this joy and peace.   Trust = joy + peace.    Joy + peace = hope.

Romans 5 tells us that hope doesn’t disappoint because God has poured his love into our hearts.  My hope is in God, in His heart, whether or not He heals my husband.  I will not be disappointed in God no matter what happens.  Nevertheless,  I do hope my husband will be healed because nothing is too hard for the God of wonders and miracles

I am thinking about next spring.   I am thinking about what Howard and I will do to celebrate when he is cancer free.   I hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.   It is like breathing.

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Faith Is The Victory



Our son and daughter-in-law gave us a copy of an essay by Pastor John Piper titled, Don’t Waste Your Cancer.   One of the points Piper made was to view cancer as gift, not as a curse.

As we drove to church last Sunday, Howard told me, “I think I am getting there.  I can almost call my lymphoma a gift.  That doesn’t mean I like it or would choose it, but I can receive it as a gift with gratitude.”

Howard is coming to this attitude because in the presence of the temptation to doubt,  he knows and believes two truths.   God is Love, and God loves him.   He knows he can trust the loving purposes of his God.   If God allows cancer in his life, then that cancer will be redeemed to serve a good purpose.   This is faith.  It doesn’t exist in a vacuum.  It exists in a crucible.

The apostle John tells us:  “For everyone born of God overcomes the world.  This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”  I John 5: 4-5

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