Maralyn's Updates

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

God's Perfect Timing

When I led her Bible study group in a Youth For Christ club in 1973, Nancy was a teenager and I was a young mother. In GOD’S PERFECT TIMING, he has brought her back into my life. Now she’s my physical therapist.

When I began my therapy on December 31, I scored 49/56 on the Berg Balance Test. Today she retested me and I scored 55/56!! She said that after only one month it was “remarkable” progress! She couldn’t wait to send the results to my neurologist.

We had to laugh because now that we're both grandmothers, it seems that our ages are getting closer and closer.


Another example…

A couple of weeks ago, I had just sat down to have my morning devotions. Progressing to the next chapter, which was on God’s holiness, I had just read Isaiah 6:3 “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

…and my phone rang. Normally I would have ignored the phone and called back later, but this time I trekked to my phone to see who it was. It looked like it was my daughter-in-law, Kristin, in Pennsylvania. So, I answered. It was actually my son Paul, and he explained that he and Kristin were in their chapel service at Valley Forge Christian College, where they work. They had just listened to a devotional about healing. “Dr. Meyer is here with us and he’d like to pray for you on the phone.” My eyes stung with tears. I kept thinking, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty…” When he finished praying, I could barely respond because I was so choked up. A few minutes later I wrote them an e-mail explaining the amazing timing of their call.

But I didn’t know the half of it. Dr. Meyer wrote back saying that just after the devotional, he had gone to Paul and Kristin and the three of them had prayed for me, then they all went to pray with students. It occurred to Dr. Meyer (he and Evie are close personal friends of ours) that he would like to call me and pray over the phone, but he didn’t have my cell phone number with him, so he searched out Paul and Kristin again, but they were each praying with others. So he waited. Finally, all three were available so they called me on Kristin’s phone.

And they called precisely after I read the phrase, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Was it a coincidence? No, I believe God was showing me that he is almighty, and that HIS TIMING IS PERFECT...even in relation to my illness.


And another one…

Six years ago God laid on the heart my friend Theda Bennett to pray for my physical healing. Several times she reminded God that I was healthy and strong, but He insisted that she pray. And she did. For five and a half years she obediently prayed. Then came my ALS diagnosis, and she realized why she had been praying all along.

We shook our heads in wonder, but we shouldn’t have been amazed. I believe God wanted us to see that he is a holy, but loving God; so he “wowed” us once again with HIS PERFECT TIMING!


As human beings, we are bound by the calendar and the clock…but God is not. Why wouldn’t we trust the One who has a perfect view of past, present and future all at once?


Thursday, January 24, 2008


Throughout my adult life I’ve been “consistently inconsistent” in eating right and exercising. I've always started strong, then weakened and eventually faded away, kind of like my friend Carmen who said, “I exercise consistently---sometimes!” ☺

But this time I’m motivated. Really motivated.

Remember my December 13 appointment when the doctor said my body hadn’t changed in three months? (See entry “The Bark of Life.”) That same day I told him that my torso felt weak, and he said that wasn’t necessarily part of ALS. So, he wrote me a prescription to begin physical therapy.

My first appointment with Nancy was December 31. She tested my range of motion for my hamstrings, my balance, the flexibility of my heel cord, my core strength, and lots of other things. She gave me a set of exercises to do twice daily, and then she set up several appointments with her colleague, because the next day she was going on vacation. I didn’t know it, but she also set goals for me to reach while she was gone.

Yesterday I saw her again for the first time since her trip, and she was amazed. My body is rallying. I had made BIG improvements in all of those things.

The first day I could balance exactly one second on my right foot and zero seconds on my left foot. She hoped that after three weeks I’d be able to balance for five seconds on each foot. Yesterday I did it for 36 seconds on the right foot and 23 seconds on the left! Plus the hamstrings and heel cords and core strength were all much improved. There's another "post test" she will give me this coming Wednesday and I'll let you know how that goes.

Anyway, I walked away from the appointment “wowed”—smiling from ear to ear!

My God, who is the same “yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8), has been gracious once again to Miss Consistently Inconsistent Me.

But now? Consistent? You bet! I wouldn’t miss my exercise time. I exercise about 60 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes in the evening, and I’m eating so healthily it’s…disgusting. ☺

Thank you for praying for me. I’m feeling very good. God is definitely at work in my body.


P.S. I still talk funny and walk funny, but hey! If this disease has stopped here…I can LIVE like this. ☺

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Waves of Grace

There’s a question that has been running through my mind for almost seven months. This surge of God’s grace that I have been feeling during this time—has that much grace been available my whole life and I just missed it? Or is it a special dispensation just for this hard time?

If you heard me speak at Valley Forge Christian College (October) or the Thanksgiving service at our home church (November) I told you that I was pondering this question. Well, in God’s grace, December’s topic in my Bible study was “Grace: God’s Provision for Every Need.”

My ears were open.

As I searched each scripture, I asked God to teach me.

As the writers of “Seeking Him” (Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Tim Grissom) so aptly pointed out, God’s grace is totally available to us, whether we need forgiveness of sin, or assistance with Christian maturity, or support when we are suffering.

Yes, I knew that. But why the surge now like never before? Was it God’s initiative or mine that caused this wave of grace?

I missed it the first time through the Bible study, and there were still question marks, so I went through the entire chapter again, examining every scripture, digesting every illustration, praying for God to show me. I had to know.

And then there it was…Eureka! How could I have missed it the first time through?

The necessary ingredient on my part was HUMILITY.

Scripture is clear. When I humble myself, and admit that I need God, his grace is there. Instantly. When I finally recognize how much I need him, he's very ready to send a flood of grace. Wow! So it's my initiative AND his!


“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this [Paul’s thorn in the flesh], that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” II Corinthians 12:8-9

““Humble yourself, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:6-7


The writers of the study said it this way [referring to I Peter 5:6-7 above], “When we are humble, do you see where God places His hands? Above us to cover us and beneath us to carry us. Sometimes our humility comes via repentance from sin, and sometimes it comes through the pain of suffering. In either case, humility hails the presence of God, and He cups us in His hands. What better place to be?” p. 96.

Humility has been the necessary ingredient all along, but I have usually been too self-sufficient to REALLY need God. Before this disease, I could always plan, organize, orchestrate things and make them happen…pretty much on my own.

Then came the ALS diagnosis. Suddenly I was up against something over which I had no control. It drained me of self-sufficiency!

Now, after almost seven months of battling this disease, I’m amazed at how much more open I am to help…from God and from people. Physically, I’m getting along well, according to the doctor’s assessment, but I still have difficulty talking and walking. It’s been kind of naturally humbling--sometimes humiliating.

The amazing thing is that I don’t think I would have learned this pivotal lesson if I had been healthy and whole. I had to be really needy to see it.

And now I want to say something to my precious women friends at Espoo International Christian Fellowship in Finland, who are doing the same Bible study. Let’s not miss this life-changing lesson. Don't wait until you're sick to figure it out:


Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Every New Year I “recalibrate.”

Do you like my new word? I had heard the word many times, but it had never gotten into my vocabulary until a few weeks ago when we were with our friend Ed Schmidgall. He had driven across the city to treat us to breakfast near O’Hare airport. In our conversation he said that in his lifetime he had been "fortunate" enough to have to recalibrate nine times. “Each time I’ve lost someone close to me, it has made me recalibrate and evaluate what’s important on this earth.”

I’ve been thinking about that ever since, because that’s what’s been happening to me.

Perhaps recalibration is kind of a “guy word” because it’s necessary for guns, laser levels, and computer thermal sensors. So for my girlfriends I’ll explain. Recalibration is the resetting of everything. Realigning. Fine-tuning. Dialing back. Adapting. Adjusting. Putting right.

I guess recalibration happens naturally when the doctor tells you that you have a terminal illness. It’s like suddenly you know what’s important and what isn’t. I, like Ed, feel blessed to have been through this recalibration process.

Now with the normal New Year re-evaluation upon me, I find I’m thinking differently than before. As I make my plans for the year ahead I feel embarrassed when I think of how “ME-centered” my resolutions have sometimes been in the past.

If you’ve been a regular reader of my blogs over this six month period, you know that God has been challenging me to rethink my thinking. He’s giving me glimpses of what matters for eternity and what doesn’t. It’s been a time of major recalibration.

This may sound strange, but my New Year’s wish for you is that you will be faced with a situation that will make you recalibrate. Maybe you, like Ed, have already had to do this many times. If so, you know exactly what I’m saying.

So if it happens to you during 2008, don’t run from it. Seize the opportunity!

Yesterday I went to the physical therapist and she gave me exercises to strengthen the muscles in my torso. Hopefully, that will help my walking become stronger. Next Monday I’ll meet with a doctor who I’m hoping will be able to help me manage the mucous that is limiting my speech. Other than these two things many days I feel quite normal.

And what about my neurologist’s evaluation two weeks ago that indicated "no change” in my ALS for three months? Well…it allowed me to...........RECALIBRATE! ☺