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Tommy Wilkes
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The Palmetto State
I have always told my kids that the best state in America is South Carolina, with North Carolina a close second. I have engrained in their heads a love for the Palmetto Tree, talked about the Caroli- na Wren, taken regular trips to Charleston and Myrtle Beach, taken them to the best University of our State (in the midlands) numerous times for games and concerts, taken them through the Rivers and on tours, gone with them to the State Fair many times where we have eaten cotton candy & candied apples, ridden the rides, worn the wristbands, and met at the Rocket when we were lost. We have visited the State Capital Building, talked about the Cannon Ball Scars now marked with Stars in the outer walls. We have heard the stories of the Pirates off the coast, camped in Dreher Island and Lake Jocassee, hiked Table Rock and Caesar’s Head, we have experienced Mission trips in this state yearly, and felt the love and southern hospitality of South Carolina again and again. My kids know about our state shaped like a piece of pie, and about the benefit of a state that gives us both the Mountains and the Sea. So I was puzzled when my middle son said he want- ed to move out West to California.
Of all places, Los Angeles, California. Now, I had been to LA as a teenager and done the walk of the stars and the Chinese theater, and even as a teenager I noticed the traffic and the 10 million people living in California.... but now my kid was moving there.
Last month we traveled to LA to get a handle on Seth’s moving and found very gracious people and we found a beautiful state.... like ours. Meg went back last week and dropped our son off in Burbank, California for school at MUD (MakeUp Designory) where he will study beauty, cinema and FX makeup artistry to prepare for a career in the entertainment and special makeup design industry.
Things are different in California; but if Jethro and Granny can make it there, I guess Seth can too. If Walt Disney came from there, I guess it can’t be that bad. As long as the San Andreas Fault holds together and the Earth stays still, it might be good. As long as the Water system lasts, the smog decreases and everybody continues to support movies, it can’t be that bad. With the Terminator as their former Governor and Venice Beach around the corner, there might be hope. I even saw churches out there in California, including United Methodist Churches. May- be it will be better than I thought... I did notice they have both the Mountains and the Sea in one city; that’s pretty cool.
To be honest, my Niece and Nephew already live in LA and multiple friends have come forward confessing that their loved ones had already made the move to California.
I guess we never know the future, and like Meg says “things change.” This is painful. So I turn to a song ~
Jo Dee Messina says,
Heads Carolina, tails California Somewhere greener, somewhere warmer Up in the mountains, down by the ocean Where don't matter... long as we're goin' Somewhere together.... I got a quarter …. Heads Carolina, tails California
Well it still feels like I lost the coin toss, because I am now 2400 miles away from my son. But my Prayers make it to him ~ for protection, for guidance, for love, strength, peace, hope,
purpose and always faith...
I guess this is what it feels like to drop the baby chick out of a tall tree. The only problem is, there is a lot of money falling down with him. He is still connected to my cell phone bill, my insurance, to tuition payments.... but I miss him.
I remember when Seth was a little kid dressing as Disney characters daily, watching The Fox and the Hound and Pirates of the Caribbean... Now he is just a few miles away from Disney Studios in Burbank (as well as Warner Brothers etc.) and is learning and working with people who make up Johnny Depp ~ but the distance still gets me.... And remember that Bear in Fox and the Hound....?
I wonder what it must have felt like for the Father to Send Christ to the Earth? I wonder what it felt like for the Son to leave the Paradise and come to this World? Well, at least I still have Lydia for one more year (I’ve already said goodbye to Luke) ~ I am going to double down on my South Carolina Jasmine stories and take her to the Carolina Beaches a few more times....
And maybe look for a coin where both sides are heads. If you have one, please give me a call.... Joy and Peace ~ Rev. Tommy Wilkes

Born in Charleston.... Now resident of Clover ~ which brings up a problem... If I happen to die across the state line, please drag me back to SC for the planting until we wake again until that great getting up morning. I want to be in the East Coast Time Zone. I think I have issues. Love y’all, and thanks for your support of all our kids.
PS ~ On a personal note to my little sister ~ Come Home, Angie ~ there is Still Time.
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Studies on the Power of Physical Touch ~ illustration from John 20:19-31

https://youtu.be/GW5p8xOVwRo

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Ban on Assault Weapons?

Ever since I was a kid, i have owned some sort of firearm. When I was little it was cap guns or pop guns, then it was bows and arrows and then BB guns, and then my first a one pump gun, then a multi pump "crossman."

When I was about 10 my dad took me Dove hunting where I shot a big 4:10 shot gun. If you know anything about guns, this gun has an extremely small span of shot and hitting a dove with this gun would take a miracle or a great/lucky shot.

But stil, I had a real gun and it made me feel important and powerful as a young boy growing up. My Father taught me to respect guns and to never point them at people (loaded or unloaded). I was taught to load and unload the gun, to use the gun safety, to never load the gun in the house, how to walk with the gun while loaded, how to shoot, how to avoid getting shot, how to respect firearms and a love for nature, animals, the outdoors and hunting.

For instance, I was told never to shoot a bird that I would not eat and to look until you found it when you shot it or at least searched diligently for the bird. Good stewardship was a part of my upbringing and that included hunting and firearms. I was growing up.

Now that I am an adult, I also own guns (shot gun and a rifle) with which I hunt Dove, Duck, Rabbit and Deer etc... If you do not hunt, you might not understand how hunting is very natural and when done properly brings a respect for Animals and Nature. I also fish, but that is another topic.

I tell you all of the above to say, we have gotten crazy with our access to guns. When I purchased my last Rifle, I bought it from a licensed dealer, did a background check and registered the gun, but many do not. I understand that in yesteryear, people would swap guns and trade guns at will and never think twice about it, but times have changed.

Today in the wake of Columbine, Los Vegas, Sandy Hook, Kentucky, Blacksburg, Orlando many others and now Parkland Florida. We need to make a change in access to assault weapons.

As I have said before, I am not against Guns and the Good Stewardship of Fire arms for hunting or even for protection. We have this right as American Citizens to defend our homes and those who would seek to harm or violate our private space, but we do not have the right to own Assault Weapons as US Citizens. There is no hunting of animals where one would need an Assault Weapon or an automatic weapon. In my opinion, we should never, as citizens have the right to "out fire" the police who are charged with keeping order and the peace.

In my opinion, I believe every gun should be registered in America, fines imposed for unregistered guns and Background Checks done for everyone buying any type of gun, or present owners of Guns over a BB gun.I also think people who own handguns should be required to receive training on how to use and not use the gun. It just make sense that we would make sure we keep the guns in the hands of law abiding citizens who have a good mental health and no violent record. It also makes sense to register guns and do what we can to get the guns out of the hands of criminals or those who have shown a propensity to misuse weapons or have broken the law.

When so many in our world believe exactly the way I have described, why is this not being done already? When young people from the high school in Parkland, Florida and crying out for the laws to change, why are we not listening? When Police Officers, and even people like me who own guns and have always owned guns cry out for Background Checks, Tighter Restrictions and a Ban on Automatic Assault Weapons, why is this not being Done? We cannot allow lobbyist to control legislation for the common good. Please track your Political Candidates and who is funding their campaigns and you might see some answers to why the laws on this matter are not changing.

I believe it is a shame that we have cowered to the politics of the day and refused to make some changes when necessary for a better and more perfect nation.

Please do not get me wrong, I believe that we have a right to have fire arms in our homes for protection and fire arms for hunting. I believe in our 2nd Amendment Right, but the rights of the Common Good and our current culture also much be considered and laws adjusted accordingly. Please pray for our National Leaders, the Congress and our Local Officials that they might have wisdom as they direct laws at a more safe and blessed community. May God help us and may we learn to live in Peace, Love, Humility, Good Stewardship and Order.

Joy and Peace ~ Rev. Tommy Wilkes

PS/ I have heard so much on this matter so I figured I needed to speak out at least on this small blog space. Maybe you can also be so bold as to speak out with your opinion, knowing we will not all agree, but we need to make our voices heard. I am so impressed with the young people from Parkland, Florida and their passion to speak out and to be heard. We could learn a lot from these young people if we were to just listen.
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Call to Worship/ Eating with My Enemies/ Psalm 23:5

L: Lord, You were accused of eating at table with enemies.
C: In that day, they were Tax Collectors, Sinners and Samaritans.

L: Today, we dine by invitation only, and our invitations are selective and short.
C: Truly, hospitality is sometimes too scary for us.

L: We often feel more comfortable inviting "friends only" or maybe just "family and friends"
C: After all, we have a limited number of resources and money doesn't grow on trees.

L: The more we give away, the less we will have for us.
C: Why would we invite enemies to our table?

L: Yet, you sat with sinners and ate with them, even though you knew others would judge you; Why?
C: Maybe there is something we are missing at our Tables.

L: I am reminded of the Shepherd's Song ~ You (O God) prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
C: Wasn't it, at the Table that Zacchaeus made his changes?

L: Maybe Your Table is bigger than I thought?
C: Could I also learn to invite an outcast/ enemy to supper?

L: Lord, teach us what Grace looks like.
C: Help us to Forgive others and become Your Ministers of Reconciliation.

L: Forgive Us Lord, As we Forgive those who have Trespassed Against Us.
C: Open Our Eyes and Hearts in the Breaking of the Bread and Fill our Cups.

All: Let us Worship Together

Written and Permission Given for use in Worship by Rev. Tommy Wilkes,
Sr. Pastor of First UMC, Clover, SC

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The Empty Cross
The Empty Cross We stand in the gap of Palm Sunday, where the crowds screamed Hosannah, Hosannah, Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord..... Where some screamed saved us, save us, but yearned for a military king like David to overcome the Roman A...

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Referenced in the Transfiguration Sermon on Matthew 17 (2/19/ FUMC, Clover) as I explored the difference between "Being and Doing." There are so many helpful points in this article, I wanted to link it to you so you could explore your own Mary, Martha Syndrome/ and possible obsession with busy-ness and our explore our practices of how to "Be" with Self and with Christ.

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Attached is the promise link from a while ago when I spoke about the song Howard Gray/ Ed Kilbourne and "the rest of the story" check this out ~ this is a great lesson on love, bullying and making a difference through song!

http://www.leedomann.com/howard_gray.html

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Does anything make a difference in this life?
Check out this youtube link below of a young woman coming to grips with her life and her effect on other people

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tsf0cZyPL

This thought was used in a sermon 1/29/17 on Matthew 5:13 "Salt Life"

Where Jesus said ~ You are the Salt of the Earth, but if salt loses its saltiness how will it become salty again? Its good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people's feet"
We know that
Salt Preserves and Salt Adds Flavor ~
But did you know that Salt (pure sodium chloride) never loses its saltiness? Maybe Jesus is reminding all of us and his disciples ~ you have it in you ~ don't forget to share it.

We understand that there is a reason for our saltiness ~ We have each been given the ability to change the world in our own way.

We have all heard messages on this theme, but in this sermon I was again impressed with the reality that so many have not heard that life means something and what we do in this life matters. I was struck in this video by a young woman who discovers that she can be an inspiration to others and thereby found her strength and voice to encourage others through videos...

She now has like 50+ videos on a variety of subjects ~

In this video above she shares how she discovered her strength when others here inspired by her video entitled ~" I am fat and it doesn't mean anything that I am fat."
I love young people ~
Sometimes it takes our stumbling across another persons story before we can discover that what we do and say matters. Sometimes we need to be reminded that Faith is not faith until it is unleashed in acts of love and kindness... Salt it not salt until it flavors ~ until it preserves.... Salt matters because it makes a difference in the world ~

Maybe you feel stuck today, like a salt shaker with no rice in it and too much moisture... STUCK
or maybe you feel like a salt shaker with no holes in the top ~ I don't know ~ but I am encouraging you, just like this girl in the video does; to discover ~ Your Saltiness Does matter and it makes a difference ~ when we choose to let it out into the world.
May we become the Salt of the Earth ~ Inspired to Preserve Love of God and Neighbor ~ Inspired to Flavor the World with Love, Joy and Peace and Patience and Kindness ~ In the 2nd Century in the Epistle to Diognetus ~ we hear ~ the world would come to destruction if the christians were not present in it.. Please find your way out of the bottle ~ there is a world that needs your saltiness!

the message will be posted http://www.cloverfumc.comin a few weeks ~ for now its a work in the progress...

Also love this woman Lauren Daigle who sings about Salt and Light
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZNx5S5zuqs

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Mary Stewart's Manuscript from her talk at
First United Methodist Church, Clover, SC
Laity Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014 – Message by Mary Stewart “Prevenient Grace: God Sends Zacchaeus Up A Tree”
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Good Morning!
Thank you for allowing me the privilege of speaking today.
You are looking at one very stubborn person. God has been nudging and prodding me for 2 years to witness to you. I am finally here where I need to be.

This mug was given to me by my dear friend Kirkie – it is Rough and earthy -­‐ Not always easy to drink out of, and when you cup your hands around it, you feel its roughness, not smooth shinyness like most mugs.
It is engraved with (Psalm 19:14) “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, Oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” It is not always easy to make that happen, but I will try.

How many of you have ever gone Zip-­Lining? That is how I feel right now. How do I start?
It is such an awkward feeling to jump off the platform and suddenly be suspended and spinning through the air as you try to make sense of what to do with your legs and arms.

I remember being envious of the guide in front of me who effortlessly stepped off and in total relaxation, arched his back and spread his arms and legs out, and just let go, seemingly totally relaxed. So, I will try to let go and trust that God is supporting me as I speak to you.

Today I would like to share with you a snapshot of my life and how God has enabled me in many ways, including my experience with neuroendocrine cancer, to cherish the beauty of the life he has given all of us.

This leads me to consider how prevenient grace has worked in my life as far back as I can remember. I am not a theologian, but did find a definition that I think is fairly clear:

According to Dr. Charles Gutenson :
“Prevenient Grace is the intervention of God in our lives in such a way as to be able to overpower the negative effects of sin in our life just enough to free us to be able to respond to God’s offer of salvation.
He doesn’t do it in such a way that overpowers our free will, in fact he does it in a way that empowers our free will.”

The gospel reading is Luke 19:1-­‐10 which is found on page 912 of your pew Bible. I will be reading from the NIV:
“Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was,

but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
In this story, Zacchaeus “wanted to see Jesus.” So God is already nudging him enough that Zacchaeus runs ahead and climbs a tree to make sure he would see him. Despite the crowd, Jesus specifically picks Zacchaeus out and tells him, “I must stay at your house tonight.” Jesus does not wait for Zacchaeus to repent or mend his ways, before he promises to come to his house. But when the crowd starts complaining about Jesus going off with a sinner, Zacchaeus promises out loud to them that he will give half of what he has to the poor and also would pay back 4 times if he has cheated anyone. I like the way Zacchaeus acts with the mind of a child by running to climb the tree. He could have just tried to push his way to the front of the crown, and maybe missed Jesus, but he was very determined.
I think there is a lot of prevenient grace going on in this story and love this story because I can see myself in Zacchaeus.

Now I will jump in and tell you about my life:
I was a “Chiquita baby”, born in Honduras in 1953, while my Dad was working as a chemist for the United Fruit Co.

Only 9 months later, our family was whisked away on a very fast banana train thru the jungle to catch a flight to Florida. My Dad wanted away from the unrest and corruption of both the company and the local government.

Later my Mom found out the company was sneaking one of their supervisors out on the same train with us, since the striking native workers were threatening his life.
This explained why the train was moving lickety split down the line and why my Dad told her to duck if she heard shots. So the excitement had already started in my life and I wasn’t even aware of it!

After my Dad finished his doctorate in Chemisty from the University of Florida, we moved to rural eastern North Carolina, tobacco country, where he worked for DuPont.

In the 1st grade my best friend was a little blond haired girl with braces on both legs. She was probably one of the last victims of Polio. This was back in the day when we had see-­‐ saws on the playground and I remember being very careful to raise and lower it slowly when she was on the other end.
Even at the young age of 5, this area seemed so poor and sad to me, and in retrospect, I think it was still under the long shadow of Reconstruction and the Great Depression.

I believe that God was at work in me at this tender age, starting to mold me and give me empathy for my fellow man.

A few years later, my Dad decided to go into teaching, so we moved to Misenheimer, NC where he taught college Chemistry. These were some very happy years for me, as I was in a rural area, but in a neighborhood full of children my age, with the outdoors as our playground.

Here I formed a great appreciation for the natural world and even the universe. Our neighbors at the top of the hill had a perfect back yard to lie in on starry nights and watch for shooting stars and try to pick out the constellations.

But this was not to last, as we moved to Charlotte where Dad took a teaching job at UNC-­‐C. I was a shy, country tomboy in what at the time was a little big city, wanting to be Atlanta. The fit was not comfortable at all until I hit high school. Oddly enough, I thrived during what many refer to as the “tumultuous” late 60’s and early 70’s amid the busing of students to achieve racial integration.
Fortunately my parents raised me to be tolerant, and my Dad instilled in me three things:
1) respect everyone regardless of their station in life,
2) never forget how to laugh at yourself,
3) and don’t burn your bridges.

I did burn some bridges in my youthful foolishness, but hopefully managed to remember the first two.

But growing up is not always pretty. 17 years of age and clueless, I partied my way through one semester at Chapel Hill, dropped out and got married to my high school sweetheart, who was also the class clown. That did not turn out well and lasted less than 2 years. Fiercely independent, as much as I loved my parents, when they wanted me to come back and live at home, I knew there was no way I could do that. So I stayed on my own, and worked my way through CPCC, receiving an Associate degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology.

I gradually got my act together, enjoying my work, and being independent. This was at a time when there weren’t very many women in engineering, so I occasionally got some funny reactions and raised eyebrows from people.

One memorable experience happened while I was employed by Duke Power. I was sent to work for a few days at Oconee Nuclear Station. As was standard procedure, we had to put white disposable coveralls over our street clothes. At the end of the day, while peeling off the coverall, I impatiently shook the sleeve loose from my arm, which was a no-­‐no. I was supposed to carefully and slowly roll it off, so as not to contaminate myself with any potential radiation on the surface.
Basil, who worked in Health Physics, was watching me like a hawk, and gave me down the road for my sloppy procedure. But the minute I was out the door and off work, he sauntered out and offered to take me out on the town, assuring me that I would not have any fun in Clemson, unless he showed it to me!
I politely declined, but never forgot his cockyness, which isn’t the best thing to have in Clemson territory!

Going forward a few years, I am 29 years old, and as I told my friend “I am fed up with dating!” but she insisted on setting me up on a blind date, so I said “Oh, I guess I’ll try anything once!”

So “anything once” became my dear husband, Jeff. Life is good, and rolls along. Adrian and Seth are born, as I continue to work. Then my little surprise, Nathan, comes along when I am 40, and the stress of working, driving an hour each way, and trying to raise 3 kids gets the best of me. I am diagnosed with a “panic attack”, but in my heart I know this is God telling me that “maybe you can have it all, but what kind of quality of life are we talking about here?”

Here is miss independent taking one of the biggest plunges of her life, quitting work and cutting the family’s salary in half. I was feeling kind of like I did on that zipline platform. But I just knew I had to do it. So, Nathan and I had more fun than is imaginable. Adrian assures me I spoiled him rotten but I was home to support the 2 older children too.

Fast forward to 2010, and life is rolling along again with one child out of college, one in college, and the youngest rollercoastering through high school. So, it all seems somewhat predictable and mostly comfortable, but wait:

I’ve always liked the sound of the word “epiphany”. According to Merriam-­ Webster it is “an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking.”

My epiphany came after a visit to my family physician, Dr. Love, whom, I am thankful, was a very good listener. After describing to her my worsening digestive symptoms and fatigue and weight loss, and showing her that when I laid on my back I could feel a bulge just below my rib cage on my right side, her face dropped and she immediately sent me for an ultrasound, and then a CT scan, only to discover that I did indeed have masses on my liver and pancreas. This was an early step in my diagnosis, the details followed shortly thereafter.

What seemed to be my life rolling on into middle age, was suddenly shaken and stirred as if to unsettle the sediment of 56 years, allowing me to see my past unfold ever so clearly. It was as if my own movie was re-­mastered and old memories glowed instead of being faded and fuzzy.

I remember sitting in the car, after having just walked out of the doctor’s office. My body was in auto drive, my mind was knocked flat, and I stared up at the light filtering through a big bush. It was the strangest feeling, but I realized then that God was so close, shining down on me. I told him in no uncertain terms what I wanted, although I know he already knew. I felt as though he was carrying me up from an undertow, as I was flailing about, and fighting to figure which way to swim. I was overwhelmed with fear, but at the same time, had never felt closer to him.

I found myself counting out so many prayers of thanks, starting with all of the special people in my life. How providential that Gail, my friend since elementary school, randomly called to meet me for lunch and instead immediately drove all the way from Matthews to Shelby to sit with me while I waited in panic for the CT scan.

Dr. Love referred me to my oncologist, Dr. Reza . My cancer was identified as pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer, metastasized to the liver. These were biggies, the tumor on the pancreas and the largest one on the liver, both being about the size of grapefruits. I never recall asking “Why me?” but I did think “Why not me?” Each and every one of us on this planet are children of God, so why should it seem so surprising that one of my challenges in life should be this relatively rare cancer?

Dr. Reza said that the surgeons were very excited after looking at my scans and felt they could help me immensely by debulking my tumor load, which is just a fancy way of saying they would cut out as much tumor as possible.

At my initial visit with my surgeon, Dr. Dave Iannitti, I felt like I was in a whirlwind. Sitting on the examining table with my legs awkwardly dangling over the side, and being popped with 3 vaccines at once; pneumonia, meningitis, and HIB (HIB? I thought they only gave that to babies?), and at the same time listening to him describe his battle plan : he would cut from sternum to below belly button, remove gall bladder, remove spleen, remove tumor on end of pancreas, remove largest tumor on liver, and whatever else he can. “Can I breathe now!” As the surgeon noted “You need to consider this cancer your new BFF,” since it is treatable but not curable. Somehow this did NOT give me a warm and fuzzy feeling!

This is what I wrote while waiting for my surgery date, and I quote: “In the midst of my own doubts, one evening as the date for my July surgery approached the birds kept up their chorus, the tomatoes turned red, and evening settled so gracefully as the heat of summer subsided, and I could almost hear the leaves on the plants relaxing in the gathering dusk.
Come the morning and all creation sang again and there was no turning back but fresh new steps on the road to adventure. Bumpy and rocky, but only on this road

can one feel the pulse of the universe and view the panorama of an ever-­‐changing creation. If you let your soul open your eyes, all the colors and shapes shimmer and dazzle the senses. The love of fellow travelers on this road will lift you off your feet and give your spirit wings.”

Post Surgery: Being so thrilled to have made it through the surgery, I made the best of this time by learning where all of my caregivers were from, which under the influence of the morphine, turned out to be a challenge at times. These places included Laos, Uzbekistan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Canada, Guinea, the Philippines, Vietnam, and of course Charlotte. So in essence I took a little trip around the world with some of these folks instead of going on our planned vacation.

Just a day after the surgery I had a sirsphere treatment for some of the smaller remaining tumors in the liver. I barely remember being wheeled down to radiology and back, but did not remember the radiologist at all.

Later someone asked me what Dr. Wang, the radiologist, said about the procedure, and I drew a total blank and said “Dr. Who?” That was such an eerie feeling to realize that everyone else seemed to know more about what was going on in my life than me. Fortunately I did have many more dealings with him and learned that he is a very caring and dedicated radiologist, and not just “Dr. Who?”

Since then I have had another liver surgery, 11 liver embolizations, and 3 different oral chemo drugs. So there have been lots of ups and downs and being knocked back to square one. The cumulative effect of all this physically and mentally has taken its toll, and I have learned to listen to this body that God has blessed me with, and to say enough is enough when I am overwhelmed. Dr. Reza rightfully compares my situation to a marathon, not a sprint.

I do confess that after about 2 years I did finally get Mad at God. I was home alone and it just hit me that I felt adrift and not sure what I needed to do. I literally screamed and cried to God, begging him not so much to take away the cancer, but to give me insight and guidance.

While keeping Jeff company during a doctor visit a few years ago we entertained ourselves by studying the gory poster on the wall detailing the organs of the body. He pointed out that “Look, Mary, you don’t have this, or this, and you only have half of this and half of that!” I found it nothing shy of a miracle that I am missing so many parts and pieces, and yet continue to chug along.

The machines I designed while in engineering, including railroad jacks and piping systems for power plants , could not even begin to compare to the complexity of the human body.

Take a gear out of the railroad jack, and the rail car will not go off the ground.

One nuclear power plant contains about 44 miles of piping, which requires frequent maintenance and repair. The human body contains about 60,000 miles of blood vessels. If our vascular system required as much maintenance as the piping in a power plant we would be in the doctor’s office 24/7.
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This journey has blessed me in many ways. I appreciate being in the here and now. Lots of fears and hesitations I used to have no longer hold me back. And last but not least I have met so many wonderful people on my way, which is really what life is all about.
Prevenient grace has served me well on this long and amazing journey.

Without all of the love and support I am encircled in, I would at best be knee walking and maybe even pushing up daisies!

In closing I would like to share this prayer, supposedly from an unknown Confederate soldier. It must be good, because I gave a copy of it to Nathan when he was about 19, and instead of it ending up in the trash or collecting dust under his bed, it is still tacked to his wall.
I hope that some part of this prayer speaks to you. Let Us Pray:
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve;
I was made weak, that I might learn to humbly obey.

I asked for health, that I might do greater things; I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.

I asked for riches, that I might be happy; I was given poverty, that I might be wise.

I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men; I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life; I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing I asked for but everything I had hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.

I am, among men, most richly blessed.
AMEN.




We will Miss You Mary!
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Garden of  Gethsemane~ the pressing place of Christ
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2016-03-17
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