Monday, September 28, 2009


Job 19:25-27
"I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!"

Job 42:2
"I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted."

One of my favorite games when I was growing up was Mille Bornes (which is French for 1,000 milestones). The point of the game was to travel 1,000 miles by playing mileage cards. Opponents tried to slow you down or stop you by playing hazard cards (flat tire, accident, out of gas, speed limit or stop). You responded by playing remedies (spare tire, repairs, gasoline, end of limit or roll) or, better yet, safeties (Puncture Proof, Driving Ace, Extra Tank or Right of Way). Remedies allowed you to resume your pace, while safeties allowed you to resume your pace and kept you from getting that type of hazard again. If you had the right safety at the time the hazard was played, you'd say, "Coup-Fourré!" to signify you were immune from that type of hazard. There was nothing like shouting "Coup-Fourré!" when someone tried to slow you down.

So why do we bring this up today? Today is Day 180--a huge milestone--in Tammy's post-transplant journey. If something really bad is going to happen because of the transplant, it usually happens within the first 180 days. But it seems like we've gone through 1,000 milestones.

Through the past 180 days, she has encountered many hazards. She's had flat tires and accidents (like the sudden gall bladder surgery around Day 100). She has run out of gas (with a constant lack of energy to get done what she wants to get done). And she has been given a speed limit or a stop card (with her low immune system keeping her from doing some of the things she dearly loves doing, like being with small children and hugging her family and friends).

But God has provided the remedy cards. He gave her a repair card and allowed for a perfect surgery to take care of the gall bladder. He has given her a gasoline card to allow more energy as the days go by, and has given her patience to wait for the energy to come back slowly. And He has given her end of limit and roll cards to allow her to go back into public, at least on a limited basis.

We believe that the prayers offered by thousands of people on five continents (Australia and Antarctica where are you?) are our Coup-Fourré card. Satan may think he's winning this game. But we know we'll win the game, no matter how we get to the milestone.

Do you remember what we wrote last November? We said that God would be glorified no matter how this turned out. If He chose to heal Tammy quickly, He would be glorified by His power. If He healed her slowly, He would be glorified by Tammy's patience. If He took her home, He would be glorified by Tammy's peace.

All appearances are that He has chosen to heal her slowly. But during this 180 days, and the days leading up to her transplant April 1, Tammy has been able to live out her prayer: to be used in a mighty way.

Just tonight, we were doing some shopping, and we had a chance to share Tammy's story and bless someone else. A wonderful lady was ringing us up, and she was humming, "My Redeemer Lives" by Nicole C. Mullen. She apologized for her humming, but said she couldn't get the song out of her head. We told her it was okay with us, because we loved the song. She told us how her faith had allowed her to establish a ministry, even through one of the darkest periods anyone should have to endure. We shared that God has been faithful with Tammy, and shared the blog address with her. We prayed together, right there in the store at the front register. It was a blessing to all of us.

We don't know where you are in your faith journey right now. It is our prayer that you would be able to look at the hazards you face and use God's remedy cards, and ultimately His safety cards to get through.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Ephesians 2:4-9
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast."

I recently became aware of a great example of grace. A person I know forgave someone, even though that person did not deserve it. She did that, because she understood the concept of grace, because she has received grace from Christ.

Grace is all about getting something you don't deserve, because of the kindness and/or generosity of the grace-giver. When someone wrongs you, and you forgive them and move on, you are practicing grace. It's much easier to do when you have experienced it yourself. You can overlook the faults of someone else when the feeling of freedom that accompanies grace is fresh in your mind.

All of us have been offered grace, whether we accept it or not. The ultimate example of grace is God sending His Son to earth, to die on the cross, to pay for our sins. You may have heard the acronym for grace: God's Riches At Christ's Expense. God wants to have a relationship with us, but our sin prevents it. He sent Jesus, who was perfect, to pay for our sins, because we could not pay that debt.

When you've been given grace, there is a tremendous feeling of freedom. It's not the freedom to keep doing what you were doing that required grace. It's the freedom to do the right thing, to respond to the gift and to pass grace to someone else.

How does this relate to Tammy's journey? It's pretty simple. Thousands of people around the world have been praying for Tammy to recover. They were earnest prayers, prayed through love, to the God who loves Tammy more than any of us can imagine. But He didn't have to say "Yes." He could have displayed His power and glory by taking Tammy home, and He would have been glorified by her peace throughout. But He granted her grace in a physical way and has brought her through to this point. All indications are that a complete recovery is very possible. But that's only through His grace.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Back in Her Element

Matthew 19:13-14
"Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them. Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'"

Okay, so we just posted earlier this afternoon, but we had to post again.

This evening, we attended a surprise birthday party for a close friend who turned 30. There was a good crowd of people there, and Tammy is supposed to stay away from crowds. But Tammy really didn't want to miss it so we went anyway. There were quite a few people there who were not expecting Tammy to be there, and the reaction was great.

But it didn't take long for Tammy to connect with the small children. She misses her weekly contact with the little ones. The kids stayed back, because their moms had told them that Tammy couldn't be hugged. But they couldn't stay too far away. They wanted to tell her what was going on in their lives, just like they always had.

Tammy looked at each one of them and listened intently. She had "that look." I managed to get a picture of it (sorry, it's blurry). It was so good to see her relating to the children.

You know that we believe this journey has been an answer to Tammy's long-time prayer of being "used in a mighty way." But we also believe that one of Tammy's gifts is her ministry to children, and we believe she will be able to resume that once she's sufficiently over this illness. Tonight was a fun reminder of how precious these little ones are to her.

How Great is Our God

2 Samuel 7:22
"How great you are, O Sovereign LORD! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears."

Not much has changed since the last time we posted. In fact, not much has changed in the last couple of months. Progress is slow, but steady. Tammy continues to improve, though very gradually. It can be a little frustrating for me, because I want her to be able to resume normal activities. But her energy level is just not there yet. It's what was expected, but it still has been frustrating for me.

One of the songs we sang today in church was "How Great is Our God." Here are the words:

The Splendor of the King, clothed in Majesty.
Let all the earth rejoice, all the earth rejoice.
He wraps Himself in light, and darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice, trembles at His voice.

How great is our God.
Sing with me, how great is our God.
All will see how great, how great is our God.

Age to age He stands, and time is in His hands,
Beginning and the end, beginning and the end.
The Godhead, Three in One: Father, Spirit, Son,
The Lion and the Lamb, the Lion and the Lamb.

How great is our God.
Sing with me, how great is our God.
All will see how great, how great is our God.

Name above all names,
Worth to be praised.
My heart will sing,
How great is our God.

How great is our God.
Sing with me, how great is our God.
All will see how great, how great is our God.

At first, the song made me think of our daughter, Julie. When she returned home from Poland the first time, she sang this song to us in Polish. She has led our congregation in singing it, and every time I hear it, I think of her passion for Poland, for missions and for the Lord.

But as I sang that song today, it humbled me. Who am I to tell God how, or at what pace, to heal Tammy? He has been so faithful to deliver her through so many trials. Instead of being thankful for those miracles, I had the audacity to question Him.

The words that grabbed me most were, "and time is in His hands." He has everything in His hands, including the timing with Tammy's healing and whether or not that healing occurs. Many of our friends are dealing with critical issues in their lives, including some with life-threatening issues. We pray for them regularly. I must remember to thank God for the blessings He has given us as well.

When I read this to Tammy, she told me that she has had Psalms 31:14-15a highlighted in her Bible for many years: "But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands...." She said that this verse reminds her to depend on the Lord's timing. "I would rather have my progress be slow and sure, and know that it is within God's timing, than have it speeded up in my timing and mess it up," she said. "The doctors say there are different steps of healing that you must go through. I've been very fortunate that those steps have not been a problem, but have gone smoothly. It's just a matter of seeing the big picture."

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Philippians 3:12-14
"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Sometimes steps feel more like giant leaps (just ask Neil Armstrong). Other times they feel more like a Tim Conway old-man shuffle, where you barely make any progress.

Lately, we feel like we're more in the Tim Conway mode, as progress is very slight. But we keep reminding ourselves that progress is better than retreat.

Let's talk about steps. Last week Tammy and I took a lot of steps and walked all the way around the block. We live on a slight hill, so it means we had to walk up to the end of the street, then down, then back up to the house. Her pace was good and she wasn't too winded when she got home.

This recovery has been a long process, and there still is a lot of steps to go. Even when we reach the 180-day mark later this month, we'll still have a long road ahead of us. Most of the restrictions should be lifted, but she'll still have to visit the clinic on a regular basis. She won't be risk free for five years.

Tammy remains positive. She is anticipating what's next, and even though the steps of progress are not as dramatic as they were a few months ago, she is thankful for each step. We now recognize differences in terms of weeks, rather than days. For example, she notices differences in her weekly appointments at the clinic. People who don't see her every day, like I do, notice a difference in the way she looks. They talk about her color and her alertness.

Our walk with the Lord sometimes seeks like a slow progression. We want to do the Lord's will, but we get in our own way. When we make progress it's barely noticeable. Especially when we examine our own lives, because by default we're around ourselves all the time, we don't see much change. But if you've become a Christian as an adult, someone who knew you before He came into your life will see a big difference.

But here's the best analogy. The difference between us before Christ took control of our lives and after He became our Lord is the difference between darkness and light. Darkness is not the opposite of light, it's the absence of light. When we become Christians, God looks at us through the lens of forgiveness offered by Jesus' sacrifice. That's pure light. Christ takes our sins away and lets His light shine on, in and through us.

As the Scripture from Philippians states, we don't consider ourselves complete. We're 50 years down the path toward eternity, and hopefully we will have many years ahead. But our goal is not a rich life here. It's reaching that day when we will see Jesus face to face, and He will look at us and say "Well done, good and faithful servant." (Matthew 25:21, 23)

Step by step.