Thursday, July 30, 2015

Embracing Dormancy

Winter Aspen
I penned this poem in February as I looked from my bedroom chair to the tall winter Aspen thriving by our deck.

Thriving - was that an appropriate February word? Bare and brownish-grey it was living its annual season of dormancy; it was winter-thriving. Growth and development seemed lacking, but its energy was being conserved for the beauty of the summer and fall tree it was becoming.

A few weeks ago, I paused over John 4:6 and following,

... so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, 
was sitting beside the well.

Summer Aspen
Jesus was weary - he sat down.
Jesus was thirsty - he asked for a drink.
Jesus was alert - to the needs of others.

August is the annual month of dormancy for Echoes of Grace

This writer is a bit weary from the journey of the past year.
She is thirsty and asking for a bit of rest, renewal, and rejuvenation. 
And truly, even during August, our month at our sanctuary, I hope to be alert to needs. 

Like our Aspen tree, I need a season of dormancy.

Echoes of Grace will return Thursday, September 3.

And my God will supply every need of your according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:19

Can you see our Sanctuary?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

What does it look like to TRUST?

I've mentioned this question before. I ask it often in my special morning conversations. Sometimes, the answer rings from a crystal bell. Other times, I say amen and wonder.

You, my friends, have walked with me through an incredibly hard season. We are still walking. Thank you. Like Moses' friends, Aaron and Hur who held up his hands when the battle was just too long (check Exodus 17:8-13), you too have held me up. You have brought me to Jesus; you have prayed with and for our family; you have wept with me; you have brought much generous practical helps; you have loved well. Our family is overwhelmed.

As I scroll through my words since the beginning of June, I see a theme. God is teaching me what trust looks like; God is teaching me to trust.

There have been times (many times) when I've wanted to help God out. I had a solution. I knew it would please Him. Thankfully the reminders came ... from His mouth or from yours--Sue trust.

And without faith (trust), it is impossible to please him,
Hebrews 11:6, parentheses mine

My (our) trust journey started in earnest for Bill and I in 1999. And Bill has generously shared our story in his recently published book, Lay it Down, Living in the Freedom of the Gospel.
Yes, I'm his wife; yes I'm bragging. 

But more than that, I want you to know about this book. I want you to hear from a different perspective how freedom and trust intersect. I want you to be encouraged. My guess is you'll read it and return to order more for your friends.

You can buy it at your favorite bookstore; order it from Navpress/Tyndale at 855-277-9400 or at this link

And after you have read it, would you consider writing a customer review on Amazon and the Navpress/Tyndale websites?

Several years ago, I first heard this message by John Lynch. It is a key in understanding the difference between pleasing God and trusting God. I hope you'll take a listen.

I'd love to hear your stories! How have you learned to trust? When are you tempted to please? How do you know the difference?

... much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness
 reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:17

Ready to party; gramma ready for bed!
Ezra update,  July 27, 2015

Bill and I came home from CHOP last night after spending almost a week with Jeff, Aubrey, Ezra, and their other visitors, a special gift for gramma and grandpa.

Ezra is doing well. His smiles continue to minister encouragement and grace to everyone.

His doctors are working on the right dosage of his meds to control his Hyperinsulinism. When he is stable for three days, they will let him come home. It's getting closer!  

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What Other Choice?

The Sanctuary.
Sunday, July 12. Ezra's surgery two days hence.

I sit on the swing on our covered porch my journal, Bible, and coffee close by.

I start to pray and scriptures flow quickly to mind:

     * present your requests to God and the peace of God ...
     * the LORD is near, have no anxiety ...
     * ask ... seek ... knock ...
     * who when asking for bread ...
     * trust in the LORD with all your heart ...

And then the word beg floats into my thinking. I check my concordance and am reminded of another child brought to Jesus by his father in Luke 9. The story is familiar; and more familiar when I read Mark's account and then Matthew's rendering.

Please, please (The Message translation of Luke 9:38) Jesus, will you heal him? He's my only child.
The disciples had tried to heal him and failed; Jesus himself was the father's last hope. If you can ...
Jesus exhorts, All things are possible for one who believes. And then those well-known, and oft-prayed words,

I believe; help my unbelief!
Mark 9:24, ESV

Yup, I've prayed them hundreds of times for hundreds of different reasons. Haven't you? (But without looking, I could not have told you the narrative they were buried in.)

Then Matthew's words bring another well-known phrase forward:

... if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed,
Matthew 17:20, ESV
Another, not so familiar phrase appears in all three accounts, O faithless generation (Luke 9:41; Mark 9:19; Matthew 17:17). 

Believe, faith, trust ... the keys, it seems. 

I identify with the child ... I too need to be brought to Jesus, helpless on my own.
I identify with the disciples ... I too do what I know to do.
I identify with the father ... 
     * Often when listening to myself, I find myself begging (not trusting).
     * Ezra is as important to me as this father's only child.
     * I do what I can.
     * I believe, help my unbelief. Convicting.
     * I also know that Jesus is my only hope.

But my mustard seed is cracked, imperfect; my faith waivers.

Believe and faith ... two words communicating the same.
Faith is the noun for of the verb trust.

What can I do? Trust. I'm learning to ask the question, What today does it look like for me to trust?

And I return to those familiar scriptures about prayer. Especially Philippians 4:5 and 6. And this scripture ...
Of Benjamin he said,
The beloved of the LORD dwells in safety.
The High God surrounds him all day long,
and dwells between his shoulders."
Deuteronomy 33:12
From Moses' blessing to the people of Israel.
Like Benjamin, Ezra is our youngest GRAND. 

An Update on Ezra, July 15, 2015
While we are digesting our disappointment that the surgery didn't turn out as planned, the entire physician pain team has been working to make Ezra more comfortable. It seems they have been successful. This evening Ezra smiled at his nurses. And tonight they are letting him sleep on his tummy ... his position of preference. We covet your continued prayers as Jeff and Aubrey and all the medical staff continue to discern what is the best plan to manage Ezra's Hyperinsulinism. They are all very thankful to be at CHOP.

Ezra Update, July 20, 2015
And the good news is ... Ezra is back on full feeds, even getting to nurse once yesterday--picture happy momma. His blood sugars are good. He hopes to be saying good-by to the NICU today and moving to the regular endocrine floor to get started on a regimen that will allow him to go home.

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Ezra's Surgery Updates - 4

From Aubrey ...

Just a quick update: we appreciate all the prayers. Ezra did fine during surgery. Unfortunately, instead of finding a focal lesion that could be removed (which would likely have cured him), the biopsies done showed that he has the diffuse form of hyperinsulinism. They didn't remove any pancreas, but instead placed a g-tube. The plan going forward will be some combination of medications and sugar water through his tube. Jeff and I are pretty bummed, as we had hoped for a cure. But we are thankful he did well during surgery, and trust God's plan for our sweet Ezra.

Trust God's plan for our sweet Ezra. 

As I prayed this morning I wandered over to Psalm 91; verse 14 clamored for my attention ...

Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.

The commentary teaches that holding fast to me (God) in love is the ideal of what trust looks like.

I often pray, God, what would it look like to trust you today? I prayed that this morning. When I read the words of Psalm 91, I felt I received God's answer, holding fast to him.

The outcome of Ezra's surgery forced a decision, would I trust, would I hold fast to Him? 

I don't get it, but
I cannot close my heart to thee!

Ezra in the pre-op earlier today. I want to follow his lead.



Ezra's Surgery Updates - 3

When each of Jeff and Aubrey's children were born, they chose a hymn for them that they often sing to them as they put them to bed. For Ezra it is O Love That Will Not Let Me Go.

Can you read the words to the third verse?

O joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee. 
I trace the rainbow through the rain, 
and feel the promise is not vain,
that morn shall tearless be.

There is GOOD news and there is DISAPPOINTING news.

The leison was not focal; it was diffuse, the disease scattered across his pancreas.
So the two plans we entered surgery with,  a resection or the roux-en-y were not appropriate means of treatment.

The doctor inserted a g-tube through his abdomen and they can treat him with sugar water and medication.

Bottom line, this is not a cure. However, his recovery will be much quicker.

As you can imagine, there are lots of questions.

I cannot close my heart to thee!

Ezra Surgery Updates - 2

Dr. Scott Adzick, the C. Everett Koop professor of pediatric surgery at CHOP is Ezra's surgeon.

Surgery is in process and Dr. Adzick has just started his part, a little after 2 pm, EDT.

Father, please give Dr. Adzick skill, wisdom, the ability to make decisions that will benefit Ezra. I pray that his hands would stay steady. I pray he would work well with the entire team surrounding him both in the surgery suite and in the pathology lab and anyplace else he is in communication with.

We pray Lord, for the least invasive procedure ... but more than that for a cure for sweet Ezra.

Would you allow Jeff and Aubrey to experience peace that passes understanding and to love each other well in this time.

Ezra's Surgery Updates - 1

Noon EDT, July 14, 2015

These are the prayer requests Aubrey shared:

Ezra's surgery is tomorrow, starting around noon. We have several specific prayer requests: 1. There are several possible procedures he could have, but we won't know which one until they start operating. We are praying that he will need the least invasive (called local resection) as opposed to the more invasive (called roux-en-y pancreaticojejunostomy). 2. That he will do well with anesthesia. 3. That whatever procedure he gets will be curative. Additionally, my astute mom (once a nurse, always a nurse) noticed some arm swelling this morning and they found a small DVT in Ezra's arm. Because of the surgery tomorrow, we are not doing anything about this today, but will remove the PICC line he has during surgery and put in a new one. At some point post-op, we will have to start anticoagulation. So please pray that there are no issues from the DVT while we wait to treat it. We are so thankful we can be here and have surgery from the best surgeon out there for this type of procedure, and appreciate all the prayers! Jeff Tell

Who needs anesthesia when Nana can rock you to sleep?
Ezra was just wheeled back (noon-ish). First stop - anesthesia. 

His surgery was scheduled as the last one of the day because they are anticipating it being the longest.

Deuteronomy 33:12
"The beloved of the LORD dwells in safety. The high God surrounds him all day long, and dwells between his shoulders".

Thursday, July 9, 2015

An Open Letter from Ezra to YOU!

Hello, Ezra here,

Gramma invited me to write a letter to you in her blog this week. 

Like Gramma, I’m an extrovert so I always like meeting new friends. So here’s a bit about me, and I look forward to hearing about you too.

Have you ever gotten to fly all the way across the country in your own personal jet? I did!

Last week with my Mommy, two pilots, a nurse, and 2 EMTs, I flew from California to Pennsylvania.
The morning started with a rather boring ambulance ride (#4 in the last 8 weeks) from UCLA’s Mattel Children’s Hospital to the Van Nuy’s airport. Mommy rode with me. Daddy and my GREAT Aunt Ruth Ellen met us at the airport to see us off and take pictures. I guess I’m not going to remember all this hoop-la, so I need lots of pictures.

On the way to Pennsylvania, the EMTs would check my blood sugar levels and give me those yucky meds. Mom got to hold me a lot and I really liked that part. I worked hard to make everyone smile. We stopped in Tulsa, OK to re-fuel. I had never been to Tulsa before.

Gramma and my Nana followed my jet on their computers. I bet others did too.

Finally we arrived in Philadelphia. Ambulance #5 was waiting to whisk us off to CHOP (Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia). Really ambulance rides are not all that exciting. Mine don’t put on those blinking lights or loud sirens. I guess I’m just not all that special.

I really like my new digs at CHOP. The doctors here are great. They decided I didn’t need to take those awful tasting meds two times each day. That won my heart right away.

Even my shots are easier here. They use teeny-tiny needles that I hardly feel. I don’t even cry. You know, I am 7 months old now.

The big reason I’m at CHOP happens in 5 days on July 14. Those really great doctors are going to do surgery on my pancreas. Just 8 weeks ago I didn’t know I had a pancreas. And what is surgery anyway? The hope is that this will cure

my Hyperinsulinism … that genetic thing I was born with. The doctors are going to give me medicine so that I will take a nap through it all. I think that is a good thing.

I guess the doctors won’t know how big the surgery will be until they see that pancreas thing. And that will decide how long I need to stay at CHOP recovering. But it will be into August anyway.

Mommy and Daddy, my big brother and sister, my Gramma and Grandpa, my Nana and Poppa are praying for me, my family, my doctors and lots of other things.

Will you pray for me too?
*for wisdom and skill for my doctors.
*that I’d only need the easiest surgery.
*that I’d recover well.
*for peace for my Mommy and Daddy and all those others who love me so much. 
My latest accomplishment!

If I was a little older, I’d probably be scared, but I’m not older and I’m not scared. I’m a little child, so trust is my default.

And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, "Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:2-4 

Thank you – I’ll be sure and let you know how I’m doing.

Love, Ezra

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Psalm 127:3


Thursday, July 2, 2015

June Life-Lines

Five weeks with three precious GRANDS provided new glimpses of the gospel of grace.

"My grace is sufficient for you,
for my power is made perfect in weakness."
II Corinthians 12:9, in part

Glimpses traveled across the street. A new friendship with Jackie, an unexpected grace, provided special times for Judah and some one-on-one time for me with Naomi.

My sisters and me celebrating Mom's 90th
Glimpses traveled across the states. I'm so thankful for the love and support that emanates from my sisters and cousins. Many times their kindnesses called for tissues. I kept them close. 

Liberty Springs in the winter.
Glimpses from New Life Burbank and Liberty Springs PCA, the church our son now serves as pastor and his previous church; they are loving so well.

Glimpses traveled across the world through the prayers of many.

Glimpses from the mouths of babes. Judah's prayers for Baby Ez bless the socks off me.

Judah enjoying the salt water pool.
Glimpses came in the form of refreshing fun ... swimming in the neighborhood pool ... ahhh.

Glimpses came in the hospital room cuddling, caring for, and playing with Ezra.

Glimpses obvious as I conquered the Los Angeles freeways in Aubrey's 5-speed. PHEW!

Glimpses from others sharing God through their art. Thank you Sally for forwarding, Trust His Heart. The chorus reflects my desire -- to trust His heart.

Glimpses from the heart of God daily nourished especially in times when there was no time for opening my Bible. You, my friends shared many other words. Some encouragements are ...

"Yes, he loved his people,
all his holy ones were in his hand;
so they followed in your steps,
receiving direction from you,"
Deuteronomy 33:3
I pray these words for Jeff and Aubrey.

"Of Benjamin (the youngest) he said,
"The beloved of the LORD dwells in safety.
The High God surrounds him all day long, 
and dwells between his shoulders."
Deuteronomy 33:12 (parentheses mine)
I claim this for Ezra ... he is the youngest.

Glimpses from being back in our home church last Sunday through the words of the guest preacher and former pastor, Joseph Wheat. He shared from Lamentations 3.
"But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:21, 22
These encourage me to look for God's mercies each day. 

What do your glimpses of gospel grace look like for you today?
As she sat in the hospital with Baby Ez, Aubrey stitched these words for me.