Maralyn's Updates

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Two Tracks

When something tragic happens, our human minds try to make sense of it.

Some have said to me, “I’m really angry at God that he would send such a terrible disease to you. You have served him faithfully and now he gives you this? I don’t get it!”

Another person said, “This disease is from Satan. He’s trying to stop you because you’re a threat to him.”

I have another perspective. I don’t think this is from God or Satan. We live in a fallen world; therefore, we all have pain, loss, death, suffering, and disappointment. These things go with the territory.


In walking through this broken earth, if we have chosen to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives, we have access to the grace he gives which is always in perfect balance to the pain we’re going through.

This diagnosis is the toughest thing we’ve ever encountered, but the grace God is dispensing is also enormous--more than we’ve ever experienced.

Last year we received an e-mail “forward” about an interview with Rick Warren during the time his wife Kay was battling cancer. He put it this way:

“I used to think that life was hills and valleys—you go through a dark time, then you go to the mountaintop, back and forth. I don’t believe that anymore. Rather than life being hills and valleys, I believe that it’s kind of like two rails on a railroad track, and at all times you have something good and something bad in your life. No matter how good things are in your life, there is always something bad that needs to be worked on. And no matter how bad things are in your life, there is always something good you can thank God for. You can focus on your purposes, or you can focus on your problems. If you focus on your problems, you’re going into self-centeredness [your problems, your issues, your pain]. But one of the easiest ways to get rid of pain is to get your focus off yourself and onto God and others. We discovered quickly that in spite of the prayers of hundred of thousands of people, God was not going to heal Kay or make it easy for her. It has been very difficult for her, and yet God has strengthened her character, given her a ministry of helping other people, given her a testimony, and drawn her closer to God and people. You have to learn to deal with both the good and the bad of life….”

We received that piece months before the doctor said that I had ALS, but I have never forgotten the picture. Two rails on a railroad track. The good and the bad. Side by side. Always together.

What’s your left rail? Mine is my ALS. What’s your right rail? Mine is the abundance of God’s grace expressed in dozens of ways. The love of my family, the outpouring of love from you, God’s love which bursts forth daily through illumination of certain passages of scripture, and even through songs on the radio. It’s everywhere. God’s grace. Enormous. Just the size of my problem.

I saw my neurologist on Tuesday. He said that my body doesn’t seem to have changed in the three months since he saw me last. He’s going to do an MRI on October 2 to make sure that there’s not some other illness that could be causing my symptoms. We are praising God!

This past weekend we helped our grandson Levi celebrate his third birthday. He loves trains so his mommy and daddy arranged for a ride on an old-fashioned train pulled by a steam engine. It was a delightful day!

Now don’t forget this: Life has two tracks, the good and the bad. Accept God’s help in balancing whatever pain this fallen world has handed you. His grace is always enough!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

No Darkness

The endocrinologist didn't give me the answer I wanted today.

I wanted her to find problems in my thyroid and discount the ALS diagnosis, but it didn't happen. She said that my thyroid appears to be functioning normally. She did do some tests for which I'll have results on Monday, but all indications are that my thyroid is fine. Which brought us to directly face the ALS for the first time.

When we got to the car I cried...Jim cried...and we held each other.

But then as we drove away, God gradually began to restore our perspective. We KNOW He's in charge. We KNOW He's a good God. We KNOW our times are in His hands. We KNOW He loves us. We KNOW that in He is a bright spot of light.

Now flash back to the days just following the diagnosis, during the last week of June. We had a lovely evening with David's parents-in-law, our good friends, Dean and Grace Merrill. That evening Dean read me a poem that his sweet mother wrote as she went through a difficult time. It lifted me then, and it catapults me now, into the truth that God is light--no matter what!


They tell me that the way is dark
As I go on ahead,
They say my days will surely be
Filled with pain and dread;
But somehow I cannot believe
These words of doom are right,
The God I've loved these many years
Is still the God of light!

In Him, there is no darkness,
No shadows, no despair,
How can I doubt the One I love?
On Him, I cast my care;
And so the path ahead seems bright,
The night shines as the day,
The darkness and the light are both
Alike to Him, I say.

So I will see the Light ahead,
And trust, and love, and pray,
For "in His light, I will see light,"
I know that is His way!
The darkness cannot hide from Him,
He hears me when I call,
He lights my path--and so I see
NO DARKNESS--none at all!

--Mary Merrill--

"This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." I John 1:5

No matter what you're facing, and no matter how dark it looks, remember He is the light source. Let's not stare into the darkness, but rather focus on "The Light"!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Goodbye & Hello

"Parting is such sweet sorrow!" (William Shakespeare)

Yes it is!! Our five weeks in Finland was FILLED with goodbyes. Sad goodbyes. Sweet goodbyes.

The very last goodbye was given by our home group as they came to the airport at 7:30 A.M. to say one more...GOODBYE!

The trip went easily and quickly, probably because we had so many tender memories to reflect upon.

Then the plane landed, and here came David's WHOLE family with a wonderfully warm welcome. Poster, flowers...the whole deal! (Yes, Baby Micah was there, too, but you can't see him sleeping in the back of the double stroller.) It was a memorable HELLO!

Thank you for praying for us during those weeks. Our time there couldn't have been more satisfying!! Nor could the closure have felt any more complete. Praise God!

So! A new chapter of our lives has begun. The goodbyes are over. The hellos have friends, neighbors, former students, new friends...I believe that we have many happy days ahead.